Rock ends up in a hard place instead of Stonehenge

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The Independent Online

As a new century dawned, Stonehenge would be recreated. It was to be a tribute to a wonder of engineering. So, with much fanfare and £100,000 of lottery money, the Millennium Stone project began.

As a new century dawned, Stonehenge would be recreated. It was to be a tribute to a wonder of engineering. So, with much fanfare and £100,000 of lottery money, the Millennium Stone project began.

But by yesterday the project had sunk into accusations of "cheating", "ineptitude" and wasted money. Also sunk was the three-ton rock that was meant to be the centrepiece. It lies on the seabed four miles off the Pembrokeshire coastline.

The bluestone rock from the Preseli mountains was being moved on two curraghs, "Stone Age boats", when it slipped its fastenings and disappeared beneath the waves. The Millennium Stone organisers admit it may be impossible to recover.

Things had not gone smoothly from the start. The rock was meant to be dragged by hand to the boats from its source in Mynachlog-ddu, near Haverford but a lorry had to be used to cover some of the more difficult terrain. The volunteers found the rock too heavy to travel the proposed three miles a day. Then the sled used to carry the rock was stolen.

The project was organised by the rural development organisation Menter Preseli with the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Len Mullins, from Pembrokeshire County Council which supported the project, said: "On Sunday they set off but the wind got up quickly and after several hours they had only managed to cover four miles. By 6pm they decided to return to Dale but the stone slipped off its cradle and sank."

The débâcle has not surprised critics. The historian Dillwyn Miles said: "We were told this was going to seriously recreate the efforts made by Stone Age man to take the rocks to Stonehenge. Butthey've used modern methods to help the stone on its way. The whole thing is utterly insane and a total waste of money."

The project co-ordinator was unavailable for comment.

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