Ancient Wonders Intro/ Stonehenge

May 13, 2009
by: rwsargent

    It fascinates me how in this day and age, with all our moder technology, hydraulic tools and advanced engineering are unable to replicate the feats pulled by the Ancient peoples of this earth. I'll be doing a series on the marvels of our ancient world, ranging from construction to astrology and beyond. We'll look at the ancient pyramids in Giza, the marvels of the Parthenon in Athens, and The mystery of the Mayan calendar. First though, we'll look at the Strangeness of Stonehedge.

    It has been said that Stonehenge is England's greatest national icon, symbolizing mystery, power and endurance. Very, very little is known about these odd circle of rings found in Southern England. Scholars have no concrete evidence on what the circle of rings is for. They know not who made, why it was made, or the exact time. It is difficult to precisely date the stone rings because of the scarcity of datable remains associated with them, but it is known that they were constructed during the Neolithic period, which ranges from 4000 BC to 2000 BC. The actual act of a construction is an amazing feat of manual labor. In its first phase, Stonehenge was a large earthwork, a bank and ditch arrangement called a henge. It is believed that the ditch was dug with tools made from the antlers of red deer and, possibly, wood. The underlying chalk was loosened with picks and shoveled with the shoulder blades of cattle. It was then loaded into baskets and carried away. Modern experiments have shown that these tools were more than equal to the great task of earth digging and moving. Perhaps one of the most amazing things is the sheer size and distances the builders had to overcome to make Stonehenge. The stones used in the first circle are believed to be from the Prescelly Mountains, located roughly 240 miles away, at the southwestern tip of Wales. The bluestones weigh up to 4 tons each and about 80 stones were used, in all. Just think how a group of people moved something weighing the better part of 9000 lbs 3000 years before Christ. Scholars have a few ideas, but again all of this is speculation.

Modern theories speculate that the stones were dragged by roller and sledge from the inland mountains to the headwaters of Milford Haven. There they were loaded onto rafts, barges or boats and sailed along the south coast of Wales, then up the Rivers Avon and Frome to a point near present-day Frome in Somerset. From this point, so the theory goes, the stones were hauled overland, again, to a place near Warminster in Wiltshire, approximately 6 miles away. From there, it's back into the pool for a slow float down the River Wylye to Salisbury, then up the Salisbury Avon to West Amesbury, leaving only a short 2 mile drag from West Amesbury to the Stonehenge site.


    Today, it would take all the modern machinery we posses to move and place these blocks. When Stonehenge was built, they didn't even have metal to work with. Humans, for all our many faults, are a miraculous species. Five thousand years ago, we were moving rocks weighing four tons with naught but ropes, sledges, and elbow grease. It's curious to think where (if) we'll be in the next 5000 years.