The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Erecting A Trilithon Or Stonehenge Upright    Erecting a Trilithon or Stonehenge upright that make up the outer circle of Stonehenge is, to my mind, a much easier proposition than erecting an Egyptian Obelisk.    But before I come to the technical difficulties of raising upright, heavy stones or megaliths, I would like to explain how I, a simple carpenter, became fascinated in the subject of experimental archeology.    The seed for this was sown when I was still at school and one afternoon picked up a book in the school library. Entitled “The Kon-Tiki Expedition” by Thor Heyerdahl, I found this book both fascinating and thought provoking and being a 13/14 year old boy, one of the greatest real-life adventure stories I had ever read. We fast forward now and I am a married man, a carpenter, with a young son and I am again wandering round a library looking for something interesting to read when I spotted another book by Heyerdahl. This was entitled “Aku-Aku” and was about Easter Island were he had gone looking for peace and solitude after the end of World War Two. It was this book that sparked my interest in the transportation and erection of heavy stones.    We fast forward again and now I'm a proud grandfather approaching my mid-fifties, it was the early spring of 1999 and I picked up a newspaper where there was a story about an attempt by a university professor to move a stone to Stonehenge by dragging it along on wooden rollers. After I had stopped laughing  I put the paper to one side and continued with what I was doing but later that evening I began thinking again about this problem. A problem I had wrestled with many times over the intervening years, all to no avail.    Yet, now I began to think in a different way, I began to think that if a megalith is too heavy to move by  dragging it along then the only alternative is to move the megalith by picking it up!........ I was now approaching the problem from the completely opposite direction. Instead of trying to find the easiest method of dragging a megalith along, I began to think about, not only the easiest way of picking up a megalith but also how to move it in the right direction.    I was already accustomed with the use of levers from my time on heavy construction sites and within seconds in my mind's eye I could see one of the Sarsen stones floating almost effortlessly across Salisbury Plain propelled a by group of men using wooden levers in the manner of sailors on a Roman rowing Galley.    See Pic Below.    After much experimentation over the next couple of years the result was as above, and worked like this:     1. Slide the levers over the fulcrum logs and under the stone.     2. Apply body weight to the ends of the levers.     3. When the body weight brings the whole thing into balance, pivot the levers to move the stone into a new position.     4. With the stone now moved forward release the pressure on the levers, let the stone resettle and reset the levers.     5. Repeat this procedure as often as necessary until the destination is reached.    There are many advantages in transporting a stone this way, not only does this substantially reduce the amount of manpower needed per ton of stone but the manpower savings increase dramatically when travelling uphill. I found this difficult to believe at first but it was true nonetheless, when moving the stone uphill it was easier because the men on the levers were walking downhill. The weight of the stone remained the same whichever direction it was being moved. On fairly steep slopes however we had to use a braking mechanism to stop the stone sliding off the ends of the levers when the stone was lifted clear of the ground.But after a little practice we were soon able to initiate the forward movement as soon as the stone was clear of the ground and so stop the stone backsliding, which made the breaking system almost redundant.    Apart from the advantages mentioned above another great advantage of Stone-rowing is the ability to change direction at will, to skirt difficult obstructions that may become insurmountable otherwise. This also gives us the ability to approach the intended stone hole in exactly the right alinement for the proposed erection as well as to place the stone in exactly the right place over the sloping side of the stone hole with the balance point exactly at the top of the slope.    See sketch below:    The stone is rowed into position over the sloping side of the stone-hole and allowed/persuaded to slide down the slope until the support logs come up against the stop cut into the bottom of the hole. The Spanish Windlasses holding the top and bottom logs together are then released and the stone is allowed to slide down the support logs until it is in the correct position at the bottom of the hole. The top logs are then removed.  See sketch below: Continue reading click here return to top of this page

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