12/12/2019Is this the earliest family photo taken at Stonehenge?
An 1875 photograph believed to be the earliest family snap taken at Stonehenge will go on display for the first time today, as part of a new exhibition chronicling 150 years of visits to the ancient monument.
The image was shared with English Heritage by the descendants of Isabel, Maud and Robert Routh, who are pictured in a horse and carriage enjoying a day out at the stones.
The remarkable photo can be seen as part of Your Stonehenge – 150 years of personal photo, a new exhibition chronicling 150 years of visits to the ancient monument. The 148 images on display span three centuries, revealing Stonehenge as a backdrop for romance, poignant moments and enduring family memories.
The pictures were selected from the hundreds submitted in response to last year's call to mark 100 years of public ownership of the monument.
Above: "My father was the senior architect responsible for ancient monuments in England and Wales and took personal charge of the work at Stonehenge in the 50s. In the school holiday I was left to play around the stones.
When the largest of the trilithons was lifted ready to be placed in position, it was held about 2 feet above the original hole it had come from. I crawled under the stone and into the hole to place a new 1958 penny there, before the stone was lowered again.
No picture was taken of that, but this photo shows me studying my father's drawing board. He always used an old wheelbarrow as shown, it effectively providing a mobile desk!"
"Backdrop to millions of family memories"
At the heart of the new display is the Stonehenge monument's enduring appeal as a place where family memories are made.
Photographer and Guest Curator of the exhibition, Martin Parr said:
“I first photographed Stonehenge years ago and it was fantastic to be invited back to photograph it again for this exhibition. I loved looking at the images that people sent in. They really show what the stones mean to people and how our relationship with a site like Stonehenge has changed and yet stayed the same through time. I want to find the couple in the image I took at Autumn Equinox and present them with a copy of their photo, and I’d really love to see the picture that they were taking at the time!”
Susan Greaney, English Heritage Historian, said:
“People have been visiting Stonehenge for centuries, for all sorts of reasons, and taking photos of themselves and their loved ones in front of the stones since the very earliest days of photography. The monument has provided a constant backdrop to millions of family memories, and in some cases has even played a part in changing the course of people’s lives. Our captivating new exhibition shows just how we are all a part of Stonehenge’s story and it is a part of ours.”
Ten of the images have been specially selected by Guest Curator Martin Parr, and the most recent photograph (above) was taken by Parr himself at the 2019 Autumn Equinox. It features an unknown couple taking a selfie against the backdrop of the stones. English Heritage hopes to identify the couple and gift them a signed copy of Martin's image of their memorable day out.
Do you have a family photo taken at Stonehenge dating back earlier than 1875? Or do you recognise the couple in Martin Parr's Autumn Equinox “Kissing Selfie” photo? Get in touch with us at YourStonehenge@english-heritage.org.uk