Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Carrying The Bluestones To Stonehenge

Mike Parker Pearson  at the end of his recent excellent video lecture reveals the possibility that the Bluestones may have been carried from Wales to Stonehenge.  Gowland put forward some similar thoughts in 1901

From: Gowland, W, 1902, Recent excavations at Stonehenge.
Archaeologia, 58, 37–82

Transporting the Stones.—Our special concern will now be to see how the
stones could have been brought to Stonehenge, the manner in which they were
shaped, and the means adopted for setting them up. For these ends no elaborate
engineering appliances were required, neither was a knowledge of metals necessary.
All the operations could be efficiently carried out with tools of stone and deer’s
horn, trunks of trees, and ropes of hide.....
... as regards the transport of the blocks, they throw but
little light. For the solution of this problem we have, therefore, to turn to the
examples of similar work in countries where primitive methods for moving heavy
stones are still, or have been recently practised.
In Japan, where megalithic remains abound, and where the use of rude
massive stones was common almost up to our own times, and even now is
occasionally seen, enormous blocks were transported for considerable distances
without the aid of any appliances which were beyond the reach of the men of the
neolithic age.
In the walls of tue Castle of Osaka, built in the seventeenth century, there
are several enormous stones, the largest of which measures 40 feet by 10 feet by
at least 5 feet, and must weigh moro than 160 tons.
A picture printed in the eighteenth century, which I have seen, represents
the transport of one of these stones. In it the stone is represented resting on a
low frame of massive timbers fitted with rude solid wheels of wood. This is being
hauled by a vast number of men by means of huge cables to which numerous
small ropes are attached.
In other cases a number of rollers were substituted for the wheels, and this
method I have seen in operation.
The block is placed on the frame by first raising it to the required height
by the application of long wooden levers to either end alternately, and packing
it up with timber as it is being raised. The frame is then slipped, under it and
the packing removed.......
Another method which is illustrated in Plate V.b may be seen in use every-
where in Japan and in China for carrying about stones and timber of much
greater weight than the bluestones. In some of the hill districts in India stones
of 20 tons weight are thus carried. The huge block which is the pedestal of a
tomb stone is pierced with a central hole so that a strong beam of timber passed
through it is all that is required for the attachment of the bearing poles.

Generally, however, several horizontal beams are lashed to the stone, and to
these, at intervals of about two or three feet, transverse poles are fastened, of
sufficient length to accommodate the shoulders of from two to three or more men
at each side in the manner shown in the figure. The men keep time by shouting
simultaneously at each step, and in this they are guided by the man standing on
the stone waving his wand.
Any of the methods I have described were perfectly possible to the builders
of Stonehenge, and it is in the highest degree probable that the same or
similar methods were employed by them for the transport of the stones from
the places where they were found.

Click to embiggen


  1. Sadly the method is rather obvious and I'm amazed that people still persist inventing the most ridiculous ideas to transport these stones. You need a boat and some poles - even a bunch of underfed Skidmore College kids did it back in 1987, the people who built Stonehenge would be hardened men, who could lift twice as much weight - so half as many.


    All we need to do now is get this other nonsense about astronomical alignments and ceremonial functions debunked and we might get the real story of Stonehenge.

  2. There are great musing on this Lecture all over the sites that I frequent: Movement, Method and Purpose.

    For me, the thunderstroke wasn't How they moved them (never has been - who cares?), but in what direction? MMP now comes up with the idea that they were taken to a site down-slope to the North of their provenance and may have been installed first at Castell Mawr - a Monument that still exists today. From there, they were taken to Stonehenge.
    Now it starts to get interesting ...

    South, East & West have always been the Directions used to illustrate the suspected Transport Route. No one has suggested North.

    I await with baited breath to see some excavation and dating at this site!