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Stonehenge Engineering

December 23, 2010

A new hypothesis explains how prehistoric people transported huge slabs of rock to Stonehenge.


Engineering Stonehenge…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Before even wheels were invented, prehistoric people moved giant rocks to Stonehenge from dozens to hundreds of miles away. Now, British archaeologists may have finally figured out how they did it. University of Exeter archaeologist Andrew Young believes they dragged the slabs along wooden tracks lined with carved wooden roller balls. He and a few students tested the technique on the smaller, four-ton stones.

ANDREW YOUNG (University of Exeter, England):
And we were able to move the blue stones of Stonehenge, just seven of us, pushing. We didn’t even have to push very hard. We could go twenty miles a day.

Young suspects the slabs were actually pulled by oxen. He got the idea from identically sized stone balls found at a similar monument in Scotland. A chalk model of the same type of ball at Stonehenge suggests the technique caught on. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.