Tuesday 25 June 2024

Meta-review of How to Build Stonehenge

Having featured the fabulous guest review of Mike Pitts book by Rob Ixer - https://www.sarsen.org/2023/08/how-to-build-stonehenge-by-mike-pitts.html -
here is a meta-review of it as well.

 Mike Pitts' book "How to Build Stonehenge" offers a comprehensive and engaging exploration of the construction process behind one of the world's most famous prehistoric monuments. Drawing on decades of research and recent scientific discoveries, Pitts provides readers with a detailed account of how Stonehenge was likely built.

The book focuses on answering the "how" rather than the "why" of Stonehenge's construction, addressing questions about the sourcing of stones, their transportation, and the techniques used to erect them[1][2]. Pitts combines archaeological evidence, anthropological records, and his own expertise to present a compelling narrative of the monument's creation[3].

Key aspects of the book include:

1. Stone sourcing: Pitts discusses the origins of the bluestones from the Preseli Hills in Wales and the larger sarsen stones from Marlborough Downs[2].

2. Transportation methods: The author draws parallels with recent megalith-moving practices in Indonesia and other parts of the world to suggest how the ancient builders might have transported the massive stones[2].

3. Construction techniques: Pitts explores the possible methods used to carve and raise the stones, offering insights into the engineering challenges faced by Neolithic builders[1].

4. Timeline and phases: The book acknowledges that Stonehenge was not built in a single event but evolved over nearly 1,000 years, with various phases of construction and modification[3].

5. Preservation efforts: Pitts also discusses the more recent history of Stonehenge, including preservation attempts and the impact of visitors on the monument[2].

Reviewers praise the book for its readability and Pitts' ability to weave together various sources of information[3]. The narrative is described as conversational and engaging, making complex archaeological debates accessible to a general audience[3]. The inclusion of numerous photographs and descriptions of stone-moving practices from other cultures adds depth to the discussion and helps readers visualize the possible methods used at Stonehenge[3].

Some minor criticisms include the book's focus on the main construction phase, which may overshadow the monument's long-term evolution[3]. Additionally, one reviewer noted that the quality of the black and white photographs could have been improved with better paper[4].

Overall, "How to Build Stonehenge" is considered a valuable resource for those interested in understanding the latest research and evidence surrounding the construction of this iconic monument[3]. Pitts' approach offers a fresh perspective on Stonehenge, emphasizing the human aspects of its creation and the impressive feat of engineering it represents[1][2][5].


[1] https://thamesandhudson.com/how-to-build-stonehenge-9780500024195

[2] https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2022/0518/We-can-t-know-the-why-of-Stonehenge.-This-book-reveals-the-likely-how

[3] https://the-past.com/review/books/how-to-build-stonehenge/

[4] https://www.sarsen.org/2023/08/how-to-build-stonehenge-by-mike-pitts.html

[5] https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Build-Stonehenge-Mike-Pitts/dp/0500024197

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