Stonehenge Builders May Have Used This Method

Modern-day students haul huge stones the old-fashioned way
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2016 11:45 AM CDT
Stonehenge Builders May Have Used This Method
Researchers and volunteers make adjustments to their track.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Researchers in London think they have solved one of the most enduring mysteries of Stonehenge: How did a bunch of prehistoric Britons haul massive stones from a quarry in Wales to the site of the monument more than 100 miles? "The answer," per the Telegraph, "is surprisingly simple." By mounting a giant stone on a wooden sleigh and dragging it along a track of timbers, a team from University College London found that just 10 people were able to move a more than 2,000-pound stone at a rate of about 1mph. “We were expecting to need at least 15 people to move the stone so to find we could do it with 10 was quite interesting,” doctoral student Barney Harris tells the Telegraph. The rocks in question, the ones at the center of the monument known as bluestones, were quarried in Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales, according to a separate study last year.

They were laid at Stonehenge, some 140 miles away in Wiltshire, around 2400 BC, according to The larger stones around the perimeter, called sarsens, are local sandstone and were laid during a second phase of construction about 500 years later. The sleigh-and-track method, if that's what Stonehenge's architects used, is not unique, Harris tells the Telegraph. “We know that pre-industrialized societies like the Maram Naga in India still use this kind of sledge to construct huge stone monuments, he says, adding that the Japanese are known to have used similar sleighs thousands of years ago. Could oxen have been used to pull the stones along the track? "Oxen are quite belligerent and difficult to control," Harris says. "This experiment shows that humans could have carried out the task fairly easily." (A century ago, Cecil Chubb bought Stonehenge on a whim.)

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