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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
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
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?

Tenons And Mortices

Hitherto no word has been said as to the arrangement of mortice and
tenon, by which the Trilithons are keyed together. This has been done
purposely, in order that the constructional questions relating to
Stonehenge should, as far as possible, be dealt with together, and in
due order. In the outer circle of Trilithons each upright had two
tenons worked on its apex, to bear the two lintels or horizontal
stones which rested upon it. Corresponding mortices were sunk in
those stones to admit the tenons. In the case of the Trilithons of the
Inner Horseshoe, only one tenon on each upright was necessary.
Further, the ends of the lintels of the outer circle were shaped so as
to dovetail into one another, and form what is known as a toggle
joint. This can easily be seen to-day, in the group of three
Trilithons which lie between the Altar Stone and the Hele Stone. This
careful arrangement, of mortice, tenon, and toggle, has doubtless very
much to do with the comparative stability of Stonehenge at the present
day. Had these simple but effective measures not been taken, it would
not be exceeding the bounds of possibility to say that to-day the ruin
would have presented a mass of fallen stones, and the task of their
reconstruction would be well-nigh impossible.

Evidently the early mason found the cutting of these tenons by no
means an easy task, for, with two exceptions, the workmanship is not
remarkable. Luckily for the observer to-day the tenon on the remaining
upright of the Great Trilithon is very strongly marked, and stands out
boldly on its apex, thus affording a clue to those existing on other
stones. The mortice holes were easier to accomplish. A small
depression may have been made first of all, and then a round stone
inserted with sand and water. In this way a smooth hollow could soon
be worn. This principle is and has been applied by stone-using peoples
in all quarters of the globe. The rough dovetailing of the lintels of
the outer circle would present no difficulty to users of the tools
already mentioned.

To-day the surfaces of the Sarsens bear undoubted signs of weather,
but in the Stonehenge of yesterday the Sarsens were beautifully
finished with rough tooling all over their surface. This final finish
was achieved by the Quartzite Hammers (Class IV.). A very beautiful
piece of this work was discovered by Mr. Gowland in 1901. In the
process of raising the upright of the Great Trilithon, a thin slab of
that part of the stone which had been buried in the foundation became
detached. The tooling upon this fragment is absolutely perfect, and as
clean and sharp as it was when it left the hand of the craftsman about
four thousand years ago. So remarkable was the workmanship that
experiments were made on pieces of Sarsen with various materials to
endeavour to secure the same quality of surface, during which it was
found that whereas the ordinary masons' chisels of to-day failed to
produce the effect, a quartzite pebble used as a tool at once
reproduced the character and surface of the original finish on the

The foreign stones appear to have been treated in a very similar
manner, but it is not possible to discuss this with the same detail as
in the case of the Sarsens, for the body of the rock to be dealt with
varied vastly in quality and fracture. The method of dressing by
pounding was probably not adopted. Quantities of small chippings from
the foreign stones were found in 1901, so many indeed as to justify
the claim that these stones were actually dressed on the spot, and not
partly shaped before being transported to the circle, as in the case
of the Sarsens. This at once disposes of a popular and ingenious
suggestion that the foreign stones were originally a temple elsewhere,
and that in migrating to Salisbury Plain, the tribe had brought their
temple with them.

Next: The Process Of Erection

Previous: Dressing The Stones

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