Blog Post

Stonehenge Stone Transportation

Exploring the origins and transportation of the stones used to construct Stonehenge continues to be a fascinating subject, ripe with theories and controversies. The viral interest generated by my blog post this week, which highlighted a map showing three known sites of the stones’ origins, barely scratches the surface of this complex logistical puzzle. Indeed, there are stones from even greater distances, opening a myriad of questions about how these megaliths were transported to their final resting place at Stonehenge. This essay aims to delve deeper into these logistics, providing a comprehensive overview based on the latest research and theories.

Stonehenge Stone Transportation
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The Bluestones

Recent advancements in micro-spectrum analysis have significantly contributed to our understanding of the origins of bluestones. However, this is not an exact science, as the movement of rocks due to glacial activity and post-ice age water flows complicates their traceability. Some academics have proposed that the bluestones found at Stonehenge were not quarried and transported from Wales but deposited nearby by glacial action. This theory, however, conflicts with geological evidence indicating that the last ice age glaciers did not reach as far as Stonehenge, stopping instead at the Bristol Channel. This discrepancy raises doubts about the glacier transport theory, suggesting a need to consider earlier ice ages, such as the Anglian, which occurred over 500,000 years ago. Yet, the immense time scale involved means any stones moved by such glaciers would be deeply buried under millennia of soil, making their discovery improbable.

Furthermore, the lack of bluestone erratic’s in the vicinity of Stonehenge further challenges the idea of glacial transport. The site at Craig Rhos-Y-Felin, identified as a source of the bluestones, shows clear evidence of human quarrying activity, contradicting the theory that these stones were randomly picked up from glacial deposits. The discovery of human hearths and quarrying tools at Craig Rhos-Y-Felin, along with a partially quarried bluestone, strongly suggests that these stones were intentionally selected and transported for use at Stonehenge.

Craig Rhos-y-felin to Stonehenge
The overland path from Craig Rhos-y-felin to Stonehenge is insane. It goes from 75m OD to 541 OD and crosses 95 valleys – the idea that you can either roll, drag or ox-cart such a route without a road is bonkers!!

The Sarsen Stones

The origin and transportation of the sarsen stones present a different set of challenges. These stones are found scattered across the Salisbury Plain and further afield, in areas never reached by the ice sheets that covered Britain during the last ice age. The popular theory that the sarsen stones came from West Woods near Avebury suggests that they could have been dragged to their current location. However, recent observations indicate that many of these stones are in paleochannel riverbeds, not rock outcrops. This suggests that they were transported by ice-age floodwaters rather than being quarried from nearby outcrops.

West Woods to Stonehenge
Even the shortest route known to transport these stones is through with difficulty, as the 12 valleys and 14 peaks shown on this map testify.

Theories of Transportation

The theory that the stones could have been moved over frozen rivers during the ice age is intriguing but fraught with logistical issues. The absence of a significant human population capable of organising such an endeavour, coupled with the challenges of moving heavy stones over potentially thin ice, makes this theory less plausible. Additionally, the radiocarbon dating of Stonehenge would be significantly off if the stones had been transported at the end of the ice age.

LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser light to densely sample the earth’s surface, creating highly accurate topographic maps. It has revolutionised archaeological surveys by uncovering features difficult or impossible to see from the ground or through traditional surveying methods. Regarding Stonehenge and the transportation of the stones used in its construction, LiDAR technology offers invaluable insights into the landscape and potential transport routes used by ancient peoples.

Ditching to Stonehenge
The trilithon stones, weighing around 50 tonnes, reportedly come from Sussex. Such weights were successfully transported down the Nile on boats.

LiDAR Evidence and Stonehenge

LiDAR has been instrumental in mapping the landscape around Stonehenge, revealing details that have remained hidden for millennia under vegetation or soil. This technology has the potential to identify old riverbeds, trackways, and other features that could suggest routes for transporting the massive sarsen stones and bluestones used in the monument’s construction. However, despite its capabilities, LiDAR has not yet provided definitive evidence of prehistoric roads or paths leading directly from the quarries to Stonehenge.

Key Findings from LiDAR Surveys

No Prehistoric Roads from Quarries: LiDAR surveys have not discovered any signs of engineered roads or paths originating from the bluestone quarries in Wales or the locations where sarsen stones are found. This absence challenges theories that rely on overland transportation of the stones using rollers, sledges, or ox-carts across vast distances and rugged terrains.

Ancient Waterways and Paleochannels: One significant contribution of LiDAR is the identification of ancient waterways and paleochannels. These features are crucial for understanding the prehistoric landscape, suggesting that rivers and watercourses could have played a significant role in the transportation of the stones. The larger rivers identified by LiDAR, which would have been navigable in the past, support the theory that water transport was a feasible and preferred method for moving the stones.

Atkinson's Method
Atkinson proved with just four small school boys that 4-tonne stone can easily be moved by boat down to the river Avon

Landscape Features: LiDAR has revealed the complexity of the landscape through which any transportation route would have had to navigate, including valleys, dense forests, and waterlogged areas. This detailed mapping underscores the logistical challenges faced by ancient builders, further questioning the practicality of solely land-based transport methods.

We have now found empirical evidence of boat yards in which catamaran design is made to carry large weights in Wales dating back to the Bronze Age and beyond

Implications of LiDAR Evidence

The evidence from LiDAR surveys, particularly the absence of prehistoric roads and the emphasis on natural watercourses, suggests a revaluation of how the stones were transported to Stonehenge. The lack of direct routes from quarries to the site and the identification of navigable ancient rivers and paleochannels lend weight to theories prioritising water transport. This perspective aligns with the understanding that ancient peoples were highly adept at utilising their natural environment to achieve monumental feats of construction.

Alter Stone to Stonehenge
The Altar Stone is now suspected of coming from as far as Scotland as its Geo signature is not available down south (I would guess Doggerland for obvious reasons) but even if it just came from the Yorkshire Dales the idea of l, and transportation is pure nonsense

Short Transportation systems from the Boats harbours to the Monument

Mechanical Advantage of Poles (from the book – Dawn of the Lost Civilisation)

The principle of leveraging, applied through poles, serves as a mechanical advantage in handling heavy weights. Professor John Cunningham, an art professor at Skidmore College, has introduced a novel concept, creating a new class of simple machines based on flexible rods. Unlike traditional machines, Cunningham’s design not only multiplies force but also distributes it and stores mechanical energy.

Consider a scenario with a 20,000-pound stone. If you attempt to support it on two rigid beams, each will bear half the weight (10,000 pounds), posing a risk of fracture. Now, imagine spreading the load across 20 solid parallel beams, and each only has to support a fraction of the total weight, making the burden manageable. Cunningham’s innovation takes this idea further by replacing solid beams with flexible poles.

Stone Transportation and Dumb Censorship
The Bluestones were carried not dragged to Stonehenge

In the flexible pole structure, each pole can be raised independently without affecting the others, thanks to their flexibility. By lifting one end of a pole, a small amount of extra energy is imparted to that pole, and the energy is distributed across the structure. The weight rises by a fraction of the raised end, divided by the number of poles ends. If one end is lifted by a foot, the weight on each of the other pole ends diminishes by a corresponding fraction. Using this method, heavy loads can be lifted with significantly fewer people, as each person is only moving a fraction of the weight at a time.

This innovative approach allows for the efficient handling of substantial weights, introducing a unique perspective on the application of mechanical advantage in lifting and distributing loads. (Stone transportation and censorship)

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Cunningham has distilled the concept to a formula:
D = S x 1/N

Where D is the distance, the load is raised, s is the distance any one pole is blocked up, and N is the total number of pole ends in the system. Given n is the number of pole ends lifted simultaneously, the mechanical advantage for any symmetrical pole configurations will be N/n.
So, the fact that a pole bends like a bow storing energy makes it easier to carry. So easy in fact, that it acts as a lever and gives you a mechanical advantage. This principle would be well known as it is the same principle as how a bow works as it is a store of potential energy, you can’t throw an arrow 100 metres, but the bowing of the wood channelled through a small area (the string) give you the potential energy.

Walk like an Egyptian

The experiment showed that 48 students ( four x 12 poles) could lift 2.3 tonnes – which was the weight of one of the pyramids building stones – the larger the stone the more poles and men you need but quite easy even for wimpish students. In prehistoric Days with Cro-Magnon works you would need only 24 people to move a Pyramid stone or a Bluestone at Stonehenge without the rest blocks the video has included in their H & S safety assessment….LOL!!

A-Frames and Cranes

The advancement of technology and the movement of massive stones, such as the Sarsen stones at Stonehenge, Avebury, and Carnac, demand a closer examination of the engineering and logistical challenges faced by the ancient civilization of Homo Superior, also known as Cro-Magnons. The Sarsen stones, weighing up to 60 tonnes, were not merely transported but meticulously erected, presenting a feat that even modern attempts struggle to replicate.
In our exploration of ancient technology, we encounter the question of transportation and the handling of colossal loads. The Sarsen stones serve as an illustrative example due to their significant size, and it is perplexing that historians and archaeologists often overlook the intricacies of moving and placing these stones. This oversight persists even though, even with today’s technology, replicating the achievements of Homo Superior at Stonehenge remains a daunting challenge.
The crane, a machine designed for lifting and moving heavy materials, is pivotal in the transport and construction industries. Equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, a crane utilizes mechanical advantages to lift and lower materials beyond the capacity of human effort. Historically, the invention of the crane is attributed to the Ancient Greeks in the late 6th century BC, evidenced by cuttings for lifting tongs and Lewis irons on stone blocks of Greek temples around 515 BC.

However, when scrutinizing Stonehenge, we encounter a fascinating divergence. In contrast, archaeological evidence points to the use of lifting devices, particularly with cuttings indicating the application of cranes, the peculiarities of Stonehenge’s construction challenge conventional narratives. Notably, the placement of lintels on Sarsen uprights and the presence of holes like Y & Z, potentially serving as foundations for A-frame crane legs, hint at a more sophisticated lifting apparatus.

The reluctance of some scholars to acknowledge advanced lifting devices within the historical context of Homo Superior may stem from the challenge it poses to established historical frameworks. Nevertheless, the investigation into the engineering marvels of Stonehenge encourages us to reassess the capabilities of this ancient civilization, prompting a deeper understanding of their technological prowess and organisational acumen.

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The transition from ramps to the more sophisticated winch and pulley hoist marked a significant shift in construction technology during ancient times. The emergence of the compound pulley system, attributed to Aristotle in the Mechanical Problems, coincided with a notable decrease in the weights of stones handled on Grecian building sites. This transformative period saw the prevalence of smaller stones, weighing less than 15–20 metric tonnes, in contrast to the archaic era’s trend of using larger blocks.

The adoption of the crane, facilitated by the compound pulley system, introduced a more efficient and practical method of vertical motion. Grecian temples of the classical age, exemplified by the Parthenon, favoured the use of several smaller stones over fewer larger ones. Monolithic columns, a prominent feature in earlier constructions, were gradually replaced using multiple-column drums.

The reasons behind this technological evolution are not entirely clear. It raises intriguing questions about whether the shift from larger to smaller stones was due to a loss of past techniques, improved quarrying methods enabling faster cutting of shorter blocks, or other factors influencing construction practices. The shift in societal dynamics, with smaller, professional construction teams being favoured over larger bodies of unskilled labour, is proposed as a potential contributing factor. The crane, with its efficiency in handling smaller stones, became preferable in the more volatile social and political conditions of ancient Greece.

While the exact circumstances of this transition remain uncertain, the historical record indicates that the compound pulley system and the crane became integral to Grecian construction sites. The literary evidence from Aristotle’s Mechanical Problems and the resurgence of larger block sizes at Grecian temples suggest a correlation between the adoption of the compound pulley and advancements in construction techniques. The earliest construction cranes, likely powered by humans or beasts of burden like donkeys, marked a transformative period in ancient construction methods.

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The evolution of cranes played a crucial role in the construction of tall buildings, and their development over time enabled the lifting of heavier weights. In the High Middle Ages, harbour cranes emerged to facilitate ship loading and unloading, often integrated into stone towers for enhanced strength and stability. The earliest cranes were crafted from wood, but with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, materials like cast iron and steel became predominant.

At Stonehenge, the construction methods are a subject of speculation, with suggestions that timber A-frames were employed to raise the stones. Teams of individuals may have hauled the stones upright using ropes, and the topmost stones (lintels) could have been incrementally raised on timber platforms and slid or pushed into place. Carpentry-type joints on the stones indicate a high level of woodworking skill among the builders.

The idea of A-frames finds support in demonstrations by individuals like Wally Wallington, a retired construction worker, who showcased techniques based on lever principles to rotate, lift, and position heavy monoliths. An A-frame, essentially a basic crane without a pulley or winch, operates on similar principles, facilitating vertical movement. Adding a swivel base could transform it into a fully functional crane, a concept compatible with the mortise and tenon joints observed at Stonehenge.

Estimates of the manpower required for Stonehenge construction suggest a substantial effort, with millions of hours of work involved. The various phases of Stonehenge’s construction, from the initial to the third phase, may have required extensive human labour, reaching up to 20 million hours for working the stones. The primitive tools available at the time necessitated considerable effort, highlighting the strong will and advanced social organization required to build and maintain such a monumental site. Stonehenge stands as a testament to the ingenuity and determination of its ancient builders. (Stone transportation and censorship)

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Further Reading

For information about British Prehistory, visit for the most extensive archaeology blogs and investigations collection, including modern LiDAR reports.  This site also includes extracts and articles from the Robert John Langdon Trilogy about Britain in the Prehistoric period, including titles such as The Stonehenge Enigma, Dawn of the Lost Civilisation and the ultimate proof of Post Glacial Flooding and the landscape we see today.

Robert John Langdon has also created a YouTube web channel with over 100 investigations and video documentaries to support his classic trilogy (Prehistoric Britain). He has also released a collection of strange coincidences that he calls ‘13 Things that Don’t Make Sense in History’ and his recent discovery of a lost Stone Avenue at Avebury in Wiltshire called ‘Silbury Avenue – the Lost Stone Avenue’.

Langdon has also produced a series of ‘shorts’, which are extracts from his main body of books:

The Ancient Mariners

Stonehenge Built 8300 BCE

Old Sarum

Prehistoric Rivers

Dykes ditches and Earthworks

Echoes of Atlantis

Homo Superior

For active discussions on the findings of the TRILOGY and recent LiDAR investigations that are published on our WEBSITE, you can join our and leave a message or join the debate on our Facebook Group.

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