Stonehenge experiment proves too much of a drag for materialist modern Britons

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Stone-age Britons, of course, didn't have to worry about the temptations of Sunday shopping, the EastEnders Omnibus and multi-section Sunday newspapers.

Stone-age Britons, of course, didn't have to worry about the temptations of Sunday shopping, the EastEnders Omnibus and multi-section Sunday newspapers.

Perhaps that is why they managed to build the magnificent stone monument that is Stonehenge; whereas yesterday, 4,000 years of increasingly comfortable living later, too few volunteers turned up to shift just one three-tonne stone from the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, Wales, significantly closer to Wiltshire, where a modern team plans to take it.

On Saturday, a team of 40 volunteers moved the stone just one mile, rather than the three they had hoped for, leaving them with another 239 miles to go. (Stone-Age humans, by contrast, shifted 60 of the stones to their present site.)

Menter Preseli, the rural group that is managing the project with a £100,000 lottery heritage grant, called off the stage yesterday. "To be honest it has not been as successful as we hoped it would be," said Philip Bowen, a spokesman for the group. "The reason for that is a lack of volunteers. We just did not have enough."

The problem wasn't moving the stone, which is carried on a wooden sledge lubricated with grease, but having enough people for the less glamorous task of laying out the protective coating needed for the road.

The plan is to drag the sledge and stone three miles a day to a replica Neolithic boat, which would carry it across the Bristol Channel, and then along the river Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal. From there it would be dragged the final 26 miles to Stonehenge.

However, in deference to other modern distractions, the dragging is only planned for weekends. The group hopes to reach the site by September. Mr Bowen said: "We will be back next weekend and we still think we can do it."

The intention is to demonstrate how our ancestors may have built Stonehenge: experts say the inner ring of the monument consists of 30 "bluestones" which were carved out of the Welsh mountains.

Though the first, wooden parts of Stonehenge were placed around 8,000 BC, the stones we see today are thought to have been brought there around 2,100 BC.

Comments