Sam Hill’s Stonehenge Memorial

Sam Hill’s reproduction of Stonehenge built as a memorial to local soldiers killed in World War I is obviously relatively “new.” But for me, personally, it’s as old as old can be. I first saw it when I lived in Goldendale when I was 4 years old, and I’ve never forgotten it. Every time I’ve returned to Goldendale, I’ve made it a point to visit it.

I suspect I associate it with old rock houses we use to see around Goldendale when we lived there. A lack of trees led pioneers to dig their houses into the ground and then build up stone walls above the ground, much like a modern daylight basement. By the time I lived there, the sod roofs had totally disintegrated, and all that was left was hole in the ground with short rock walls. I used to think that Trolls, not people, lived in them. Icann’t even guess what I associated Stonehenge with, though after repeated visits it’s become a photographic challenge.

I’d like to think that these are as good as shots as I’ve taken of Stonehenge, possibly because it’s one of the few times I’ve managed to get there in the middle of the day on a sunny day, though repeated shots have also forced me to see it in different ways.

I decided last year that I much prefer an overall shot taken from this perspective:

Goldendale's Stonehenge Replica

This year, with the addition of a wide-angle lens to my collection, I began to realize what a difference a few feet could make in the entire feel of the inner space. Here the inner ring makes you focus on the central platform,

Inside Outer Ring

but a few feet forward and the whole space seems to open up:

Inside Inner Ring

Once inside, the angle of the sun makes a tremendous difference how you see the outside world,

Through a Door

which to a great extent seems to depend more upon the shape of the shadows than on what actually lies outside the window.

Looking West

10 thoughts on “Sam Hill’s Stonehenge Memorial

  1. I visited Goldendale in February 1979 to see the eclipse. I went with family friends from Bainbridge who lived next door to what’s now the Bloedel Reserve, where Roethke drowned. The family friend was a clinical psychologist, part of a team that moved from Kansas to Washington in 1961 to overhaul the state’s mental health services. His son and his nephew and niece, who were visiting from Denver, were along on the trip to Goldendale. We did see Stonehenge, but only from a distance. We climbed a hillside along the highway and watched the edge of the moon’s shadow roll through the gorge at mach 5. There’s an eclipse scheduled for tomorrow here in Asia. It’ll be partial in Manila, but total in parts of India and China. Stonehenge would have been the perfect spot to watch the eclipse.

  2. Not quite as wonderful as the real one, but wonderful nevertheless. Close to where I live there is another “artificial” ancient monument, Druid’s Temple at Masham. A wealthy landowner paid unemployed workers to built it in Victorian times. It bears little resemblance to any real ancient stone circle. Strange how when we reproduce something we change it by imposing our way of looking on it. Sam Hill’s monument is more formal than the ancient original, while the Masham momument is fanciful and Romantic.

  3. hi loren, another fascinating and lovely to look at post! i wonder if he took the time to organize the stones with the care that the builders of stonehenge did in terms of their astronomical configuration? dominic’s story (and link) are fascinating as well. i’ve walked not far from the place he mentions and had no idea of its existence. have a great day. steven

  4. How interesting! I’ve seen the original Stonehenge and of course it’s not complete…wonder if this is what it looked like when it was new. You got some great pictures of it.

  5. Wow, thanks for the link, dominic. The place looks fabulous.

    Sam Hill’s replica is made with concrete, not stone, so the emphasis is on the overall shape, not the individual columns.

    He, and others, were originally under the impression that human sacrifices were made at Stonehenge, so he made the memorial to honor those who died in WWI and as a protest against war, as mentioned here: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/OVERhenges.html

  6. The link to Roadside America’s list of US henge-replicas is brilliant!

    Incidentally, my favourite UK stone circle must be Avebury rather than Stonehenge. I personally found it more impressive when I visited it. Stonehenge, understandably though, is the more iconic of the two. It’s trilithons are instantly recognizable and it’s easier to convey in a picture or photograph.

  7. The island of Tongatapu in the Kingdom of Tonga has a trilithon, but it’s not a replica. Each of the three stones is massive, weighing ten or more tons and the angle of the crosspiece is aligned perfectly for calculating seasonal influence on the angle of the sun. It pre-dates the first known settlement of the island. The stones appear to be limestone quarried from the reef. The trilithon’s look is less primitive than the stone fortress at Nan Madol in the North Pacific where some of the stones also appear to function as astronomical clocks. I believe I recall that the stones they used were imported by sea from a neighboring island.

  8. Growing up in Goldendale, we sorta took Stonehenge for granted. In fact, I remember being surprised as a boy to learn that England had one, too.

    We used to go rock hunting on the hill below the monument. There was some really pretty jasper to be found if you knew where to look. (And watched sharply for rattlers!)

    Those are some of the best pictures I’ve ever seen of the “real” Stonehenge. 🙂

What do you think?