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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?

The Process Of Erection

Contrary to another cherished belief, the Sarsen Trilithons were
erected first, followed by the foreign stones. The building of the
group was continuous and no gap separates the Trilithon from the
foreign upright. Of this abundant ocular proof was forthcoming in
1901, when the foundations of the great Trilithon were laid bare, and
the leaning upright restored to its original perpendicular position.
When the ground was opened it was found that each upright had been
differently bedded in the earth--and for a very good reason. The one
was twenty-nine feet eight inches long, while the other was only
twenty-five feet. Obviously they were the two finest grey wethers
obtainable in the flock, and because of that, they were set aside for
the most prominent place in the enclosure. The master builder decided
that the height of this central Trilithon should be the equivalent of
twenty-one feet at the present day. Therefore it was necessary to bed
one stone deeper than the other, in order that their two summits
should be level to receive the lintel, or impost. One stone,
therefore, was sunk to a depth of four feet, while the other extended
downwards eight feet three inches. To compensate for the lack of depth
in the shorter stone, its base was shaped into an irregular projecting
boss to give it a greater bearing area. It was decided to raise the
larger stone first, and the foundation was dug as follows: A slanting
trench was cut with the deer's horn picks through the earth and chalk,
having at its deeper end a perpendicular chalk face against which the
Sarsen could rest when upright. Rubble and chalk were cleared away,
and the stone carefully slid down the plane to its foundation. To
raise it, now that its base rested against a solid wall of chalk, was
not a great matter. The same ropes of hide and tree trunks which had
served for its transport would again have come into play. Slowly it
would be levered up, and packings or wedges of wood or stone inserted.
Thus inch by inch, probably, it rose higher and higher, strutted up,
perhaps, by strong saplings as it reared its head above the busy crowd
of builders. Blocks of Sarsens were packed beneath it to equalise the
bearing, and then the excavation was filled in with chalk and rubble,
which doubtless was well rammed down and consolidated with the big
sixty-pound mauls. Among the packing of chalk and rubble were found a
considerable number of the rough implements already referred to.

The shorter upright was next set on end. A shallower excavation had to
suffice in this case, but the base of the stone, as has been already
intimated, was wider, and to secure greater stability blocks of Sarsen
were provided for the stone to rest on, other blocks being packed in
carefully as it was raised, and curiously enough among the firm
packing were several large stone mauls, fitted in to make the whole
mass solid and compact. There is no direct evidence as to the actual
method of placing the imposts upon the uprights. It has been
suggested, and with every show of reason, that one extremity of the
imposts would be raised and packed with timber. The opposite end
would then be similarly treated. In this way, by alternately raising
and wedging first one side and then the other, the impost could have
been brought, in time, level with the summit of its upright, and
levered over on to the tenons.

Such a method is employed by primitive races to-day.

Next: Raising The Foreign Stones

Previous: Tenons And Mortices

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