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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
Stonehenge
Stonehenge Summarised Useful Facts For The Attention Of Visitors
Tenons And Mortices
The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain
The Building Of Stonehenge
The Druid Question
The Earthwork
The Foreign Stones
The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel
The Legend Of The Friar's Heel
The Lithology Of Stonehenge
The Men Of The Barrows
The Process Of Erection
The Round Barrows
The Slaughtering Stone
The Stones Without The Circle
The Story Of The Sarsens
Valedictory
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?



Dressing The Stones








There can be little doubt that the Sarsens were first of all roughly
hewn into shape, before they were conveyed to the site. It stands to
reason that a primitive race, when faced with the problem of
transporting a vast mass of stone, would first of all reduce its bulk
to the approximate proportions which it would have when finished and
erected. Moreover, the chippings and mason's waste discovered in the
excavations of 1901 reveal comparatively little Sarsen stone, and only
a few large fragments, such as must have been broken off in finally
reducing the Grey Wethers to monolithic pillars and lintels. It must
not be forgotten either, that the Sarsens occur naturally in tabular
blocks, well adapted to the purpose of the builders. The surface of
these blocks is often soft, and sugary, while the body of the stone
is dense. The nature of their composition is such that no two stones
are quite alike in hardness, some can be disintegrated easily, even
with the fingers, while others are dense, and will resist blows with a
hammer and chisel.

But in any case the natural structure of the stone made it an ideal
material for the Trilithons, or, it may be, that the Trilithons were
the natural outcome of the physical peculiarities of the rock. The
preliminary dressing may very possibly have been effected by lighting
small fires along the proposed line of fracture, and heating the
stone, and then by pouring cold water upon it, which would originate a
cleavage in the grain, which would readily break away under blows from
the heavy mauls referred to in Class V. of the Implements. Sides and
ends could thus be roughly squared.

The next point was the transportation of the rough ashlar to the site.
Here the problem is not so formidable as it appears, when it is
remembered that time was no object to the builders, that labour was
abundant, and that in all probability the work was undertaken under
the stimulus of religion.

Labour, tree trunks, and stout ropes of twisted hide would have proved
sufficient. It is only necessary to consider very briefly the
megalithic monuments in Egypt, Assyria, and elsewhere, to see that
such tasks were well within the capacities of a race emerging from
comparative savagery. There exists on the wall of a tomb at El Bersheh
in Egypt a very characteristic illustration of the transport of a
Colossus; such as are to be seen in situ in Egypt to-day. The
approximate date of this is B.C. 2700-2500, and prior to Stonehenge by
about 1000 years.

Arrived at the site, the more skilled work of final dressing was
completed. A close examination of the face of some of the fallen
stones reveals several shallow grooves on the face with a rib or
projection between them. It has been suggested that the rough stone
was violently pounded with the heavy mauls until the surface was
broken up and reduced to sand for a considerable depth, and the
débris brushed away. The projecting ridge resulting from this could
then be cut away by hammer and stone chisel, or even by the hammer
alone.





Next: Tenons And Mortices

Previous: The Building Of Stonehenge



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