The Building Of Stonehenge

The question is often asked, How did they build Stonehenge? There is

a refreshing simplicity about that indefinite word they, but for the

present, whoever they may be, it is possible to some extent, at all

events, to furnish an answer to this ever recurring query. In the

first place, however, it may be well to recapitulate very briefly the

conclusions already arrived at, before entering into a more detailed

of the tools which were employed in the work of erection,

and the methods by which the huge Sarsens were reared into position.

Stonehenge is a circular monument, enclosed by a circular earthwork,

and approached by an avenue lying north-east and south-west. Without

the circle lie four Sarsen stones. The Hele Stone, and two smaller

stones unworked, occupying definite sites with reference to the

rising and setting of the sun at the Summer and Winter Solstices; and

the so-called Slaughtering Stone, the use of which is at present a

matter of speculation. The monument proper, consisting of a circle of

Sarsen Trilithons, enclosing a circle of upright foreign stones.

Within these, five detached Sarsen Trilithons, of graduated height.

These five Trilithons are set horseshoe wise. Before them a standing

horseshoe of foreign stones, and in the front of the great Trilithon a

flat slab or altar stone. From this stone it is possible to look

outwards towards the Hele Stone, which lies in line with the axis of

the monument drawn through the centre of the Altar Stone. The Sarsen

stones were obtained from the immediate neighbourhood, the foreign

stones must have been imported from a very considerable distance. All

the stones, with the exception of the four specially indicated, have

been worked. The question naturally arises how were they worked? The

answer to this may be given without the least hesitation: with stone

tools. For many years the method of working the stones was a matter of

great debate, and the uncertainty then prevailing permitted many

theorists to speculate on the Roman origin of the structure. Now,

however, the entire absence of any metal which resulted from Mr.

Gowland's excavations in 1901, at once precludes the possibility of

the builders being anything but a primitive people, to whom the use

of metal was unknown, or only partly known. The stone tools in use in

the construction of Stonehenge were of four kinds.

i. Axes of rude form roughly chipped, and with a cutting edge.

ii. Hammer-axes, chipped to an edge on one side and flat on the other.

iii. Rounded hammer-stones; many of which show signs of bruising and

hard wear. The material used in these three classes was flint. All of

these tools would have been used in the hand, and not set in a handle.

iv. Rounded hammer-stones of Sarsen, varying from one pound to six

and a half pounds in weight. They would have been used for the surface

dressing of the stones, to which reference will be made later.

v. Mauls of compact Sarsen weighing between thirty-six and sixty-four

pounds. The broadest side of these was more or less flat, and when

wielded by two or three men they were capable of giving a very

effective blow. Their use would have been for breaking the rude blocks

into more or less regular forms; and consolidating the rubble

foundations. It is specially notable that no ground or polished stone

implements were found among them.

In addition to the stone tools, picks of deer horn were employed for

quarrying the chalk when making the foundations of the uprights. Those

who are familiar with the antlers of the deer, will recall the sharp

pointed tine, known as the brow tine, which projects forward from

the horn above its core or socket. This was the tooth of the pick, all

other tines being sawn off; thus transforming the antler into a very

rough implement closely resembling a pick, with a single point. Many

splinters from these picks were found actually embedded in the chalk

of the foundations, and one entire discarded example was discovered

showing great signs of use, the brow tine being worn away to a

considerable extent.