Monday 26 September 2011

Nail in Stone 52 of Stonehenge

An old small copper nail in Stone 52 of Stonehenge, it seems to not to have been hammered hard into the plug of the hole, the hole may have a putty like plug, it certainly wasn't driven into the sarsen. I can't find any information about it, anyone know anything?

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Saturday 24 September 2011

3D Stonehenge Model Unveiled | English Heritage

3D Stonehenge Model Unveiled | English Heritage

A detailed survey of every stone that makes up Stonehenge using the latest technology, including a new scanner on loan from Z+F UK that has never before been used on a heritage project in this country, has resulted in the most accurate digital model ever produced of the world famous monument.
With resolution level as high as 0.5mm in many areas, every nook and cranny of the stones' surfaces is revealed with utmost clarity, including the lichens, Bronze Age carvings, erosion patterns and Victorian graffiti.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Mike Pitts on The Sarsen Quarries

Source: Fourth Plinth « Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper:

Hi Mike,

Read an article about your plinth stint in the online Gazette and Herald today, where it says:

“Mr Pitts said he was also hoping to lead a search for the quarries or pits from which the Avebury sarsen stones were originally excavated more than 4,000 years ago. The stones were left by the retreating glaciers but would have had to be excavated, he said.”

I thought that the sarsens were native to the area being silicified Cenozoic sediment boulders, rather than glacial erratics transported from elsewhere.

Can you comment?

July 22, 2009 at 11:23 am

Reply from Mike Pitts

Golly! Goes to show you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers. Yes, sarsens are local to the area, and as far as we know it has never been glaciated. What we hope to find (though it may be a long shot) are pits where stones had been removed in neolithic times. As they would likely have used antler picks to dig them out, there’s a good chance we’d find one or more we could radiocarbon date, offering a more reliable date for stone moving (and presumbaly erection) than we’re ever likely to get from Avebury itself. If we found signs of stone dressing, then the stone would have been for Stonehenge (the only site we know with carved stones), offering huge insight into the technology and transport issues of the site.

July 22, 2009 at 11:43 am

Sunday 11 September 2011

Stonehenge Building Climate 2

Source :
File:Holocene Temperature Variations.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The main figure shows eight records of local temperature variability on multi-centennial scales throughout the course of the Holocene, and an average of these (thick dark line). The data are for the period from 10000 BC to 2000 CE, which is from 12000 BP to the present time. The records are plotted with respect to the mid 20th century average temperature, and the global average temperature in 2004 is indicated. An inset plot compares the most recent two millennia of the average to other recent reconstructions. At the far right of this plot it is possible to observe the emergence of climate from the last glacial period of the current ice age. During the Holocene itself, there is general scientific agreement that temperatures on the average have been quite stable compared to fluctuations during the preceding glacial period. The above average curve supports this belief. However, there is a slightly warmer period in the middle which might be identified with the proposed Holocene climatic optimum. The magnitude and nature of this warm event is disputed, and it may have been largely limited to high northern latitudes.

Marden Henge Excavations

Marden Henge Excavations: "Mike Parker Pearson has recently put forward a new theory regarding the route for the sarsens from the Avebury area to Stonehenge. He believes that the stones were taken from the sarsen fields of Overton Down, down Clatford Bottom to the River Kennet where there appears to be a causeway that would assist the crossing of the river. From there they would take the easy sloping valley up to Knap Hill on the edge of the Marlborough Downs, and cross the Vale of Pewsey by way of Marden, on a direct route to Stonehenge.

It’s an attractive theory, because it neatly links three highly significant sites."

'via Blog this'

Sunday 4 September 2011



Moving the stones must have been one of the most consuming jobs for the builders. Hawkins (1965) calculated that with sixteen men per ton, and at an average weight of thirty tons (with the trilithons weighing up to fifty!), it would have taken eight-hundred men to transport the stones via a sledge and log rollers. Even more amazingly, this process would have taken at least a full seven years! Others, up to two-hundred, were probably along just to help clear the way and guide the sledge. Numerous theories abound as to how the transport actually might have taken place, but in any case, it was a colossal endeavor.

Once at the location, the stones had to be worked using tools such as mauls weighing up to sixty pounds! Because of sarsen's extremely hard composition, the tools used to shape the stones would have had to have been made of an equally hard material, such as sarsen itself. Experimenters found that a strong man bashing away at a block of sarsen with a maul can chip away just a scant six cubic inches per hour! With at least 3,000,000 cubic inches needing to be chipped from the Stonehenge sarsens, this endeavor alone could have taken a considerable amount of time. This dressing, of course, was only the coarsest of the process, with many more days spent smoothing the stone to its final shape.

My new hammerstone

Video of making it below.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Hammer Stone Making.3gp

My seven year old daughter helping to make a sarsen hammer stone or maul.
It surprised me how easy it was to fashion one using just another sarsen fragment and a block of wood. We finished it off by smoothing one side by damping the chips and dust on the wood and using it as a sanding surface.

Friday 2 September 2011

Hambleden Bucks archaeology Romans

Hambleden Bucks archaeology Romans

'Seeking Sarsens'

This part of the project is still continuing and is worthwhile research for the next part of the programme - anytime you are walking in the Chilterns, please look out for the different types of sarsens as shown below:...

Please support if you can .

Sarsen Stones of Stonehenge: How and by what route w... [Science. 1961] - PubMed - NCBI

Sarsen Stones of Stonehenge: How and by what route were the stones transported? What is the significance of their markings?
Hill PA.[Science. 1961] - PubMed - NCBI

A route via Lockeridge and the Avon Valley, involving a slide down the chalk escarpment, is postulated for the sarsen stones of Stonehenge. The transportation problem would have been greatly simplified if the stones had been relayed from point to point over snow or slush during successive winters. Markings on the stones hitherto undescribed are interpreted.

Origin and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of sarsens

Origin and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of sarsens:
Nature 281, 137 - 139 (13 September 1979); doi:10.1038/281137a0

Origin and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of sarsens


School of Geography, Mansfield Road, Oxford, UK

No detailed explanation has yet been provided for the origin of sarsens (silicified Cenozoic sediments) which are widely distributed across southern England (Fig. 1). The problem of sarsen formation is related to that of analogous terrestrial siliceous deposits recorded from every continent except Antarctica1–7. In addition sarsens are of considerable archaeological interest as they were extensively used in the construction of megalithic monuments, notably those at Avebury and Stonehenge. It has been suggested that sarsens are glacially traitsported erratics8,9, although this view has been challenged10. Their occurrence in areas in which other evidence of glacial activity is lacking, and the preservation on the surface of some sarsen stones of pockets of very weakly cemented sand, does not concur with the idea of long-distance transportation, but rather suggests local derivation from an original Cenozoic cover. Here the initial formation of sarsens is considered and recognition that they represent silcrete remnants enables broad conclusions to be drawn about their genesis and palaeoenvironmaental significance. From macromorphological, micromorphological and chemical comparisons with low latitude sileretes, primarily from southern Africa, it is concluded that sarsens represent remnants of surface and near-surface silicification developed on technically stable landsurf aces of minimal local reitet. Most sarsens seem to have formed under a semi-arid or arid climate, although there is evidence of development in a relatively humid environment for some occurrences.


1. Smale, D. J. sedim. Petrol. 43, 1077–1089 (1973).
2. Dewolf, Y. Bull. Ass. Géogr. fr. No. 424–425, 141–147 (1975).
3. Langford-Smith, T. (ed.) Silcrete in Australia (University of New England, Armidale, 1978).
4. Thiry, M. Bull. Bur. Rech. Géol. Min. Ser. 2, Sect. 2, No. 1, 19–46. (1978).
5. Dury, G. H. & Habermann, G. M. in Silcrete in Australia (ed. Landford-Smith, T.) 223–259 (University of New England, Armidale, 1978).
6. Fersmann, A. & Wlodawetz, N. C.r. Acad. Sci. l'U.S.S.R. Aug. 145–148 (1926).
7. King, L. C. The Morphology of the Earth 2nd edn (Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1967).
8. Kellaway, G. A. Nature 233, 30–35 (1971).
9. Kellaway, G. A., Redding, J. H., Shephard-Thorn, E. R. & Destombes, J-P. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A279, 189–218 (1975).
10. Green, C. P. Nature 243, 214–216 (1973).
11. Clark, M. J., Lewin, J. & Small, R. J. Southampton Res. Ser. Geogr. 4, 3–40 (1967).
12. Kerr, M. H. Proc. Leeds phil. lit. Soc. (Scientific Sect.) 6, 328–337 (1955).
13. Summerfield, M. A. & Goudie, A. S. Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr. (in the press).
14. Cecil, C. B. & Heald, M. T. J. sedim. Petrol. 41, 582–584 (1971).
15. Heald, M. T. & Larese, R. E. J. sedim. Petrol. 44, 1269–1274 (1974).
16. Millot, G. Geology of Clays (Springer, New York, 1970).
17. Watts, S. H. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 41, 1164–1167 (1977).

Thursday 1 September 2011

South East Facing Hut Doors

Musings from a Stonehead: "we position the huts with the back wall into the breeze and the entrance facing south-east."

Not really about sarsens but an aside as I noticed much being made about Iron Age round houses having their doors facing south east. So do pig arcs. It is simply the most comfortable place considering the winds and rains to have it. Don't necessarily read into the positioning anything more.