Sunday 22 April 2012

Stone Transport Lessons From Newgrange

I recently visited The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange which was built about 3200 BC - so several hundred years before the stones of Stonehenge were erected.

The amazing complex of tombs in Ireland involved moving thousands of tons of stones and earth. The kerbstones are similar in size to the Bluestones of Stonehenge and came from about ten miles away on a trip that is presumed to involve sea transport.

That neolithic man was moving such stones much earlier than Stonehenge was an eye-opener to me. I had lazily assumed that earlier monuments only involved erecting local stones. The ability to move stones was obviously well established before Stonehenge.

(A model from the Newgrange visitor centre).

And one for Brian John of how they may have transported them around the coast.

The diagrams are from the excellent book "Newgrange" which I wish I had bought before I went.


  1. Good that you got to see both sites while there! Did you also do Dowth?

    As this is about Newgrange, Brian won't be concerned? There is a much simpler method of transport of stones using a system called encasement. In effect, all you do is obtain some logs, preferably pine or similar fast growing species, and encase the rock, then drag it through water using various ships. It requires a ratio of about 1:6 (volume of rock compared to volume of timber)

    Encasement doesn't require the stone to be lifted: The art is to not have rope on the external rolling face. Similar systems are used today for some types of modern construction.

    1. No didn't manage to get to Dowth as well, that is for next time!
      Slinging rocks under boats does seem a bizarre idea - image getting the boat to stay on top of the boulder while tying it on!
      Towing the rock which encased in some sort of log raft seems much more likely.