Stones on Solstitial Axis most Carefully Shaped and DressedA detailed analysis of the first comprehensive laser survey of Stonehenge reveals that those stones on the outer sarsen circle visible when approaching from the north east have been completely pick dressed - that is, the brown and grey crust on the surface has been removed exposing a fine, bright grey-white surface. ....
The study also shows that the techniques and amounts of labour used vary from stone to stone. These variations provide almost definitive proof that it was the intent of Stonehenge's builders to align the monument with the two solstices along a north-east/south-west axis.
The sides of the stones that flanked the solstice axis were found to have been most carefully worked to form very straight and narrow rectangular slots. These stones include two of the north-east facing sarsens in the outer circle, the Great Trilithon in the inner sarsen horseshoe, and a now isolated upright stone in the south-west segment of the outer circle.
Since all other stones have visibly more natural, less neat outlines, this strongly suggests that special effort was made to dress those that flank the NE/SW axis to allow a more dramatic and obvious passage of sunlight through the stone circle on midsummer and midwinter solstices.
Reading Gowland's report of his 1901 excavation around Stone 56 adds to this story.
He says;"The underground face was found to be carefully tooled over its entire surface as shown in fig.28, which represents a large flake that became detached during the operation of raising the stone."
"This was particularly well seen on the base of No.56 where it extends below the ground, and had thus been protected from the action of the weather..."
"This tooling was apparently executed with small quartzite hammers. In order to demonstrate that a piece of sarsen was tooled in a similar manner by Mr Stallybrass with a quartzite pebble. On comparing it with the blocks tooled by the builders of Stonehenge, they were seen to be almost perfectly identical. I may say in this connection that Mr Stallybrass failed to produce anything at all like it with any of his mason's tools."
So why did the builders carefully dress the large area of the stone that was going to be buried?