For centuries, experts have been baffled by the mystery of how Prehistoric Britons transported the bluestones of Stonehenge 140 miles from the Presili Mountains in Wales, to their current arrangement on Salisbury Plain.
A recent experiment by University College London has shown that in fact it may have been achieved by around 20 people per stone. Researches build a sycamore sleigh, similar to those used by pre-industrial societies like the Maram Naga in India, and by the Chinese to build the Forbidden City. The experiment needed 10 people to pull a 1 tonne stone, which moved at around 10 feet every 5 seconds – faster than one mile per hour if pulled continually. Although these stones are smaller than those found at Stonehenge, which are approximately double the weight, researchers believe that the experiment shows that each stone could have been used by a ground of just 20 people.
Recently, archaeologists have found the quarries that produced the stones, confirming that they can only have come from Wales. The formation of the rocks at these quarries would have allowed the prehistoric quarry workers to detach the stones with minimum effort. Professor Mike Parker-Pearson of UCL believes that the Stonehenge stones were once part of a monument in Wales, which was then dismantled and moved to Wiltshire.
Applicants for Archaeology and Anthropology should look more into the history of Stonehenge and the archaeological discoveries over the last few years. History and HSPS students should explore the society of prehistoric Britain and how it is linked to later societies and societies today. Those interested in Earth Science or Geography should investigate how we can establish where specific rocks originate from and what their formation can tell us about the past. Engineering and Physics applicants should examine how the mechanism of the sleigh meant it successfully moved the stones.