Sea search for 'lost' Stonehenge

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The Independent Online
DAVID KEYS

A diver is planning to search for what he claims are the long lost rocks of Stonehenge off the coast of West Wales.

Sonar tests are to be carried out near the entrance to Milford Haven, Dyfed, in a bid to relocate three huge stones last seen 25 years ago.

The smaller stones at Stonehenge - column-shaped rocks made of a material called dolorite - are known to come from the Presely mountains, north of Milford Haven.

But it has been a subject of debate as to how the stones were actually transported to Salisbury Plain.

Bill Burdett, a former Welsh national coach of the British Sub Aqua Club, was told about the stones six years ago by a colleague who had spotted them 19 years previously submerged 50ft at Milford Haven.

Mr Burdett's informant - who died last year - had described the stones as 15-18ft long, 5ft wide and 3ft deep and covered with barnacles and seaweed.

"I believe the three stones were en route for Stonehenge when they fell off the vessel or vessels that were carrying them," said Mr Burdett, an auxiliary coast guard.

Archaeologists and geologists are, however, highly sceptical about the claim.

The director of the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Don Benson, said yesterday that it was "extremely unlikely that the three stones had fallen off a boat in prehistoric times or had been bound for Stonehenge".

A leading authority on the geology of Stonehenge, Dr Steven Briggs, said that "given the natural cleavage of Presely Dolorite" the three Milford Haven stones "seem to be larger than one would expect".

Most of the stones of Stonehenge are from the within 20 miles of the monument - but a few of the smaller ones, those made of Dolorite, originate in the Presely mountains.

Academic opinion is divided as to whether they were transported from West Wales to Salisbury Plain by prehistoric tribesmen 4,000 years ago or by glacial action thousands of years previously.

If Man was responsible for the journey, then modern stone-hunters argue that some of the Stonehenge stones must surely have toppled of their boats en route.

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