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Essentially British?: Stonehenge, Panorama of the Ancient Druidical Remains (1900)
In the Classroom


You might start by thinking about the title, Stonehenge: Panorama of the Ancient Druidical Remains. What do historians know about Stonehenge? Encourage students to investigate when and how Stonehenge was built. Can they come up with a list of key words that help to describe the monument (prehistoric, megalithic, ceremonial, astronomy etc.). Why do students think that Stonehenge is such a popular tourist attraction with British people and foreign visitors?

Alternatively, challenge students to compile a list of the top ten monuments and/or memorials in Britain. Individual students or groups can argue the case for their chosen monument or memorial to make the cut - why does it deserve to be recognised and celebrated? What do students' choices tell us about what they value in Britain's past and present?

This panorama offers us an interesting insight into late Victorian, early Edwardian culture and society. Given that the film would have been exploited commercially, why do students think that Stonehenge was chosen as the subject? Can students make the link between a film like this and the increasing leisure time and income of the middle classes at the turn of the century? Likewise, why would many people in the audience be unable to visit the ancient ruins? Perhaps show students a couple of other examples of early film using Screenonline's extensive collections: Phantom Rides, Street Scenes and Mitchell and Kenyon are good places to start.

Why not use this panorama, in conjunction with other examples of film from across the twentieth century, to get students thinking about how film's place in society has developed over time (as well as the ways in which the distribution and exhibition of film has changed). Would students pay to see a panorama like this in the cinema? Probably not! What are the most obvious differences between a film like this and those they are used to seeing (length, content, sound, colour etc.)? How have technical developments impacted on the way films are made and watched? What kind of impact do they think the introduction of television had on society? How significant are films and television in providing information and affecting opinion? What did people in the 1900s rely on for information and ideas?

Useful films for comparison

  • Phantom Rides: vehicle-mounted cameras provide a popular spectacle for early filmgoers.
  • Street Scenes: a fascinating record from British cinema's earliest days.
  • Mitchell and Kenyon: rediscovered films that transform our understanding of early cinema.