Stonehenge builders may have transported megaliths down ‘stone highway’ from Wales. Has the secret of Stonehenge been solved?

29 06 2018

The mystery of how the gigantic rocks of Stonehenge were transported may finally have been solved.

A new study claims the huge hunks of hardened earth and minerals were moved from Welsh quarries on a ‘stone highway’ encompassing roads and rivers.

Experts have long been baffled by how the massive boulders were transported from Wales to Salisbury Plain.

Now, they believe they may have found the source for the stones as well as the route used to deliver them from Pembrokeshire to Wiltshire.

  • New study claims to have uncovered the mystery of how Stonehenge was built
  • Giant stones that made up the monolith were transported from Wales to England
  • Experts are baffled as to how neolithic man moved them to Salisbury Plain 
  • New study claims ‘stone highways’ of roads and rivers were used
Stonehenge

Stonehenge, located near Amesbury, in Wiltshire, is an iconic site but historians often debate the origins of its construction and how the stones reached there

The smaller bluestones come from Pembrokeshire, and the huge sarsens come from Marlborough Downs.

However it is unknown where the sandstone of the main Altar Stone originates, but Richard Bevins of the Museum of Wales and Rob Ixer of the University of Leicester told The Times that it “very probably” came from the Senni Beds which go from Llanelli to Herefordshire.

Stonehenge was built in three stages, with some parts being a huge 5,000 years old. The outer bank of Stonehenge was made in around 3000 BC, while the stone settings were built in 2500 BC.

Read the full story:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5899227/Has-secret-Stonehenge-solved.html
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6654449/stonehenge-builders-megaliths-stone-highway-wales/

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Stonehenge may have been first erected in Wales, ‘amazing’ finds suggest

7 12 2015

‘Evidence that bluestones were quarried in Wales 500 years before they were put up in Wiltshire prompts theory that Stonehenge is ‘second-hand monument’

Archaeologists at one of the Stonehenge quarry sites in Wales. Photograph: UCL

Archaeologists at one of the Stonehenge quarry sites in Wales. Photograph: UCL

Evidence of quarrying for Stonehenge’s bluestones is among the dramatic discoveries leading archaeologists to theorise that England’s greatest prehistoric monument may have first been erected in Wales.

It has long been known that the bluestones that form Stonehenge’s inner horseshoe came from the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, around 140 miles from Salisbury Plain.

Now archaeologists have discovered a series of recesses in the rocky outcrops of Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, to the north of those hills, that match Stonehenge’s bluestones in size and shape. They have also found similar stones that the prehistoric builders extracted but left behind, and “a loading bay” from where the huge stones could be dragged away.

Carbonised hazelnut shells and charcoal from the quarry workers’ campfires have been radiocarbon-dated to reveal when the stones would have been extracted.

Prof Mike Parker Pearson, director of the project and professor of British later prehistory at University College London (UCL), said the finds were “amazing”.

“We have dates of around 3400 BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3200 BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2900 BC,” he said. “It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view. It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.”

The dating evidence suggests that Stonehenge could be older than previously thought, Parker Pearson said. “But we think it’s more likely that they were building their own monument [in Wales], that somewhere near the quarries there is the first Stonehenge and that what we’re seeing at Stonehenge is a second-hand monument.”

There is also the possibility that the stones were taken to Salisbury Plain around 3200 BC and that the giant sarsens – silicified sandstone found within 20 miles of the site – were added much later. “Normally we don’t get to make that many fantastic discoveries in our lives,” Parker Pearson said. “But this is one.”

Parker Pearson heads a project involving specialists from UCL and the universities of Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton, among others. Their findings are published on Monday in the journal Antiquity alongside a new book by the Council for British Archaeology titled Stonehenge: Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery.

Prof Kate Welham, of Bournemouth University, said the ruins of a dismantled monument were likely to lie between the two megalith quarries. “We’ve been conducting geophysical surveys, trial excavations and aerial photographic analysis throughout the area and we think we have the most likely spot. The results are very promising. We may find something big in 2016,” she said.

The long-distance transport of the bluestones from Wales to Stonehenge is one of the most remarkable achievements of Neolithic societies. The archaeologists estimate that each of the 80 monoliths weighed less than two tons and that people or oxen could have dragged them on wooden sledges sliding on rail-like timbers.

Parker Pearson said people in Madagascar and other societies were known to have moved such standing stones long distances and that doing so created a spectacle that brought together communities from afar.

“One of the latest theories is that Stonehenge is a monument of unification, bringing together people from across the many parts of Britain,” he said.

He recalled the moment he looked up the near-vertical rock-face and realised that this was one of the quarries. “Three metres above us were the bases of these monoliths that were actually sitting there ready simply to be lowered out of their recesses,” he said.
“It’s the Ikea of Neolithic monument building. The nice thing about these particular outcrops is that the rock has formed 480 million years ago as pillars. So prehistoric people don’t have to go in there and bash away … All they have to do is get wedges into the cracks. You wet the wedge, it swells and the stone pops off the rock.”

 Article source:  (Guardian News)
The Stonehenge News Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Stonehenge bluestones had acoustic properties, study shows

4 03 2014

The giant bluestones of Stonehenge may have been chosen because of their acoustic properties, claim researchers.

A study has discovered that rocks in the Preseli Hills, the source of some the stones at Stonehenge, have a sonic property

A study has discovered that rocks in the Preseli Hills, the source of some the stones at Stonehenge, have a sonic property

A study shows rocks in the Preseli Hills, the Pembrokeshire source of part of the monument, have a sonic property.

Researcher Paul Devereux said: “It hasn’t been considered until now that sound might have been a factor.”

The study, by London’s Royal College of Art, was to try and record what “Stone Age eyes and ears” would have heard and seen in a prehistoric landscape.

Since the 1920s, it has been known stones quarried in Mynydd Preseli were hauled 199 miles (320 km) to Wiltshire by its makers. But, trying to establish why has been more difficult.

‘Like a bell’

With this study, thousands of stones along the Carn Menyn ridge were tested and a high proportion of them were found to “ring” when they were struck.

“The percentage of the rocks on the Carn Menyn ridge are ringing rocks, they ring just like a bell,” said Mr Devereux, the principal investigator on the Landscape and Perception Project.

“And there’s lots of different tones, you could play a tune.

“In fact, we have had percussionists who have played proper percussion pieces off the rocks.”

Thousands of stones along the Carn Menyn ridge were tested and a high proportion were found to "ring" when struck

Thousands of stones along the Carn Menyn ridge were tested and a high proportion were found to “ring” when struck

According to Mr Devereux, the discovery of the “resonant rocks” could explain why they were selected for Stonehenge.

“There had to be something special about these rocks,” he said.

“Why else would they take them from here all the way to Stonehenge?”

‘Pre-historic glockenspiel’

Built between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC, it has remained a mystery why the monument’s bluestones were lugged all the way from north Pembrokeshire.

But Prof Tim Darvill, who has undertaken hundreds of excavations at Stonehenge, insists “pre-historic attitudes to stone” must have been very different to those of today.

“We don’t know of course that they moved them because they rang but ringing rocks are a prominent part of many cultures,” he said.

“You can almost see them as a pre-historic glockenspiel, if you like and you could knock them and hear these tunes.

“And soundscapes of pre-history are something we’re really just beginning to explore.”

Inside Out was on  BBC1 at 19:30 GMT on Monday.
Full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-26417976

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog





Another piece in Stonehenge rock source puzzle.

20 11 2013

Research to be published this month may bring us a step closer to understanding how bluestones from Pembrokeshire ended up at Stonehenge. A team of geologists have identified a hill in the Preseli Hills as the site from which 11 stones known as spotted dolerites were transported to Stonehenge

Scientists from Aberystwyth University, University College London and National Museum of Wales have located the specific outcrop, Carn Goedog, in the Preseli Mountains.

The chances of Stonehenge's spotted dolerites not coming from Carn Goedog are 'infinitesimally small'

The chances of Stonehenge’s spotted dolerites not coming from Carn Goedog are ‘infinitesimally small’

This is where the distinctive spotted dolerites originated.

The findings are to be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Geologist Herbert Henry Thomas first proposed in 1923 that the rocks which form the giant inner ring were specifically quarried for Stonehenge by Neolithic man around 5,000 years ago, and were hauled to Wiltshire via land and sea.

However, other geologists theorise that they were carried east on an ice-age glacier 20,000 years ago.

“Trying to match the rocks at Stonehenge to a specific outcrop is considerably more complicated than looking for a needle in a haystack”

End Quote Dr Richard Bevins National Museum Wales

While the new discovery will not answer the debate, according to Dr Richard Bevins, of the National Museum Wales, it may eliminate some of the unknown variables.

“I’m not here to come down on one side of the argument or the other,” he explained.

“But our research is aimed at better informing the debate.”

Dr Bevins, keeper of natural sciences, added: “Trying to match the rocks at Stonehenge to a specific outcrop is considerably more complicated than looking for a needle in a haystack but the more we can trace them back to their original source, the closer archaeologists and geologists can hunt for clues to back-up their theories.

Rock sample The research has brought together archaeologists and geologists

“Archaeologists can now search an area of hundreds of metres rather than hundreds of kilometres for evidence of Neolithic quarrying.

“While geologists supporting the glacier theory know exactly where to hunt for the scarring they’d expect to find on the landscape if enormous chunks of the stone had indeed been swept east on a glacier.”

As the name suggests, the spotted dolerites have highly distinctive markings created by the elements contained within, cooling at different rates in the minutes after they were spewed out of an underwater volcano 450 million years ago.

In 2011, Dr Bevins’s team located the source of another of Stonehenge’s Pembrokeshire Bluestones – the rhyolites – 3km away from the spotted dolerites at Craig Rhos y Felin.

Although the relative proximity of the two discoveries offers evidence to both camps.

“Three kilometres is both closer and farther away than expected, depending on which theory you support.

“From a geologist’s point of view, 3km is nothing, and the rocks which ended up close to each other in Wiltshire could easily have been carried on the same glacier.

“However, for the archaeologists a distance of 3km between the potential quarries could be seen as evidence of planning and forethought, and a suggestion that the different types of stone were chosen for some specific purpose.”

‘Each piece of the puzzle’

Dr Bevins’s team are able to say so categorically that they have discovered the source of the spotted dolerites thanks to a range of laser mass spectrometry techniques which analyse both the chemical composition of the rock and the microbiology present when it was formed.

He says that the chance of them having originated anywhere other than Carn Goedog is “statistically-speaking, infinitesimally small”.

And while he is the first to admit that this discovery on its own gets us no closer to solving the riddle, he believes a definitive answer will come eventually.

“I’ve been studying the bluestones for over 30 years now, and I’m no closer to finding an answer which convinces me either way. But the one thing which I am increasingly sure of is that each piece of the puzzle we find brings us another step closer to the truth.

“We’ve located two of the sources, and there’s another five or possibly six to go.”

He added: “By the time we have identified those then I’m certain we’ll have an answer either way. Whether that happens in my career, or even my lifetime, who knows?”

By Neil Prior BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-25004282

Link:http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/origin-stonehenges-blue-stones-pinpointed-6317230

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Merlin @ Stonehenge
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