Tuesday 18 June 2019

Ribbed and lubricated, how to slide without wood.

Stone 59

How the stones of Stonehenge were dragged to the site is of constant fascination. The title of this note was a scribbled message I left myself that I had to remember what I was thinking about late at night when I wrote it.

On Orkney excellent work was done showing how lubricated ground worked better than rollers under a moving monolith - http://brodgar.co.uk/2016/07/10/how-do-you-move-a-standing-stone/ .
They used seaweed but dewey or rotting cut grass on hard ground is like ice as I know to my cost.

Flat stones have a high drag factor and also slide sideways on any cross slope, so just throwing an idea out there would ribbed stones, like the strakes on a boat's hull, reduce friction and provide directional stability?

Could it have been done without the rollers, or sledges and frames we presume were needed?


  1. Hi Tim,
    Could be, of course -- and it's a good idea -- but -59 is the only stone at Stonehenge which has those ribs.

    Personally, I think the North Trilithon was the last to be raised and they were in a hurry to complete the Horseshoe. They left -59 unfinished, maybe intending to do so after it was lifted. It would be interesting to know what its face looks like.


    1. Also ribbed and unfinished, as far as I could tell https://www.sarsen.org/2012/06/stonehenge-stone-59-peek-underneath.html

  2. I would think that for smaller stones they would have made a re-usable wooden raft like structure with soft chines, and possibly strakes, onto which they placed the stones. The rafts could have had holes/pores through which either rainwater or fluid oils would have passed to lubricate the "hull". Using a long raft with the stone placed towards the rear would lift the "bow" end off the ground.

    At around 2500 BC the people would have been well experienced seafarers with excellent carpentry skills.

    Interesting possibilities.

  3. There are those who suggest that -59 was never raised. I find this opinion unfounded, as Cleal tells us there's a broken stump in the ground precisely where it should be, and BS-71 is squashed under the main body.

    My point about intending to finish it after erection is bolstered in that neither -59-B or -C have those spines. This scenario suggests they left the reachable, main section undone, saved for later.
    That process was either interrupted or they said to hell with it -- looks fine just the way it is.

    Sister Stone-60 has the famous vacancy in the outside bottom, and I believe this stone was selected intentionally for it. It would have made the perfect broom closet to store items used in various seasonal rites, or maybe even -- dare I say it -- brooms.
    All that said, it would indicate that the Horseshoe's finished interior faces were the important ones, so who cares what the backsides look like?

    Richard -- I love the idea of a straked raft! Makes perfect sense and would render difficult terrain much easier to navigate. Of course I will make it sound as if it was my own idea ...