|30 April 2000
The Stonehenge experiment
Using brawn and primitive technology, volunteers began on April 8th to move a 3-ton stone from Wales to Stonehenge, re-creating the labor of ancient people who are believed to have built the mysterious monument. About 40 volunteers started the 240-mile journey in Mynachlog-ddu, near Haverfordwest in southwestern Wales, and covered about three-fourths of a mile in the first 2 1/2 hours. They hope to end the trip in Stonehenge, in south-central England, in September. They will go by land and boat.
Stonehenge, on Salisbury plain, is the most visited ancient site in England and was built between 3000 BCE and 1600 BCE The "bluestones" arranged within the circle of tall standing stones at Stonehenge are believed to have been quarried in the Preseli mountains of Wales.
Volunteers will use a wooden sledge to drag the stone - roughly the size of a large dining table - overland and a replica Neolithic boat, called currach, to transport it across the Bristol Channel. It will then be dragged the final 26 miles to the Stonehenge site. The volunteers will work in teams of up to 40, with most of the journey being made at weekends. They expect to travel around three miles a day during the land journey. The problem isn't moving the stone, which is carried on a wooden sledge lubricated with grease, but having enough people for the less glamorous task of laying out the protective coating needed for the road.
Though the National Lottery-funded Millennium Stone Project - funded by a £100,000 Heritage Lottery grant - assumes that the stones were moved by humans, some scientific experts question whether the stones were dragged to Stonehenge at all. Archeologist Dr. Aubrey Burl thinks they arrived there through glaciation. "It is a lovely romantic story all this great effort of dragging stones and rafting stones and then putting them along rivers and in the end reaching Salisbury Plain. It is a wonderful story but I think it is only just over 70 years old -it is not a pre-historic story, it is a recent one, he said."
Sources: Associated Press (9 April 2000), The Independent (10 April, 2000)
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