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2 July 2000
Unforeseen obstacles for the Millennium Stone project

Some experts believe bluestones from the Preseli Hills in southwest Wales were heaved 240 miles on sleds and boats to Stonehenge in about 2150BCE. By 2000BC, sarsen stones were erected, with the largest weighing in at 50 tonnes. Within 150 years, the bluestones were rearranged in the horseshoe and circle seen today. Originally, there were 60 stones in the circle but many have since crumbled.
The ill-fated Millennium Stone project has attempted to recreate to journey of one of these stones from Pembrokeshire (Wales) to the ancient site in Wiltshire (England) but the bluestone's progress had been hindered by a series of unforeseen obstacles. Volunteers found dragging the stone harder than expected and managed about one mile a day rather than the three they had hoped for. The journey was further delayed by tired volunteers failing to turn up for towing duty. On the last leg of the 20-mile overland journey the sled was towed off in the night by pranksters, but was later recovered.
The project nearly stroke disaster when the stone, which was being carried on a platform between two replica Stone Age boats, broke its securing ropes in heavy seas and vanished into 60 feet of water. Dillwyn Miles, a Welsh historian and long-standing critic of the Millennium Stone project, said yesterday: "I'm not in the least bit surprised that this has happened. The whole thing is a complete fiasco, utterly insane and a total waste of money. The 100,000 ($151,000) grant from the Millennium lottery fund should have been spent on something deserving instead of this farce."
After ten days the three-ton stone was lifted from the sea. It was lying off Milford Haven and Royal Navy reservists winched it up using salvage vessels. The journey, organised by the rural development group Menter Preseli, had already been criticised as a waste of public money. Critics pointed out that the modern landscape was so different from that of prehistoric Britain that success would be virtually meaningless.

Sources: BBC News, Fox News, The Times (20 June 2000), The Stones Mailing List (30 June 2000)

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