The Lithology Of Stonehenge

Weatherworn and overgrown by lichen, it is not possible at the present

day to see clearly the nature of the stones which go to make up

Stonehenge. For that reason only the barest outline of the monument as

it appears to the unknowing eye has been given, in order that the

original plan may be grasped thoroughly before entering into those

important issues which help to solve the enigma of its origin. Careful

reveals the fact that the stones vary very much in

material, and that, further, just as the stones are placed in

systematic order, so, too, has the same care been exercised in the

selection of the material from which each circle or horseshoe has been

built. Moreover, just as the stones can be divided into groups of

uprights and imposts, or Trilithons, and simple uprights, so, too,

has it been found that while all the Trilithons are composed of a

local stone, known generally as Sarsen; all the simple uprights

are of foreign stone, sometimes classed together roughly as

Syenite. This latter term must be understood in a very comprehensive

sense since the simple uprights show considerable variation in

quality, but one and all are foreign to the county of Wiltshire;

whereas the larger Sarsen blocks are to be found in considerable

numbers scattered over the Wiltshire Downs. This difference in

material seems to present a considerable difficulty; and the question

naturally arises, How did the foreign stones come to Salisbury Plain?

This point will be considered later, as it is one involving other

matters, such as the ethnology of the builders and the probable region

from which they obtained these unusual materials. But the Sarsens

present no problem, and so may be considered first of all, for

familiar as they are their story is full of interest.