The Stonehenge site in England is a popular tourist attraction, especially at the time of the summer solstice when mystical rites are conducted by druids. The collection of massive stones was arranged in a circle some time between 3,000 BCE – 2,000 BCE but the origins and purpose are unknown and have spawned many theories as to what was the point of it all. After all, it must been incredibly hard to make it and so required a strong motive.
Some have suggested that it was a burial site, others that it served some sort of astronomical purpose. The more imaginative theories suggest that it had something to do with extra-terrestrial visitors. Now a new theory suggests that it was built as a monument to tribal unification.
But more interesting to me than the purpose is the physics: how the massive stones, some of which were quarried over 100 miles away, were brought to the site. The popular theory was that they were rolled on logs. But now there is a theory that the Easter Island statues, which are also massive and had been believed to also have been transported by rolling on logs, may have been ‘walked‘ there. This video shows how it could have been done.
It struck me that if the Easter Islanders could have done that, the same idea may have occurred to the Stonehengers. It is true that the Easter Island statues were built much later (from 1000 to 1680 CE) but the technology involved was not that sophisticated and would have been available to the Stonehengers. There are some obvious differences that would cause immense difficulties in the latter case. The Easter Island statues are about 10 feet tall and weigh about 5 tons. Some of the Stonehenge pillars are much bigger (about 20 feet and weigh as much as 25 tons) and the distance they had to travel much longer. It is also not clear how well this walking technique would work over rough terrain. But whatever the method chosen, you can be sure that it involved a lot of hard work.
Comedian Eddie Izzard’s take on Stonehenge is my favorite..