Full-size Stonehenge replica

An article on thisiswiltshire.co.uk reveals that TV production company Darlow Smithson are planning to create a full-scale model of Stonehenge in a secret location in Wiltshire for a TV programme which will be aired live on the UK’s Channel 5 on June 20th and 21st (summer solstice) from 9pm.

This really will be something when it is complete. It will be magnificent to see a full-scale model of Stonehenge at its final monumental stages (i.e. when Bronze Age people stopped reconfiguring the stones). Perhaps I will have more to say about it after the programme (hint – see if you can spot me!).

[Update] The Megalithic Portal has some more information about the model supplied by Mike Pitts and about the thinking behind it.

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5 Responses to Full-size Stonehenge replica

  1. David St. Hubbins 17 June, 2005 at 7:27 am #

    I, for one, do not think the problem was that the TV company was down. I think that the problem may have been that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf.

    Good to see the UK finally catching up with

  2. Julian Emery 21 June, 2005 at 6:45 am #

    The method of moving the stones as demonstrated in the first programme is approaching the idea which I had a few years ago and the following text describes this

    Early Man’s Technology of moving heavy weights.

    Having seen many attempts to simulate the conditions of past ages during which mankind succeeded in what appears to us to be nearly impossible feats of building with vast blocks of stone, I am compelled to try and understand the methods which could have been employed. Even with the aid of our present technology it is still barely possible to achieve what was done. And if we assume that the methods were based on the materials known to be available it has as yet not proved possible to demonstrate effectively how such blocks of stone as were used in the building of Stonehenge were moved. Such demonstrations as there have been are not particularly convincing. I have tried to think in the way that someone living in that period may have thought, and this is my theory which I would like to present for consideration by others who could identify likely weaknesses and hopefully come up with other possibilities or improvements on my ideas.

    In trying to devise a system which would have enabled a few people to move enormous weights over long distances we need to approach the problem with cunning rather than brute force. I have started by suggesting the lever and tried to bring together related concepts which could have exercised the mind of early man. It is interesting to speculate about the early use of the lever and how this must have been a fundamental principle which helped mankind to budge unyielding rock. The position of the fulcrum in relation to the length of the lever must have been an early discovery which would have caused the idea of the multiplication of weight and reduction of effort to take root in the psyche of early man.

    At some point I wonder whether it became apparent that there was a parallel between the use of oars to propel a boat through the water and the lever which could be used in a similar way on land to propel a weight across uneven terrain. The use of weight to move weight by taking advantage of the multiplication effect of levers combined with the idea of neutralising the weight of the mass to be moved to the point where it practically floats on the ends of the levers and requires very little effort to swing it forward with the rowing action of oars does in principle make it possible for very few people to move an enormous mass of stone over rough ground. The number and length of the levers and the weights required to achieve neutrality could be found out by a process of trial and error and the actual movement could be made by as few as two men using linkages between the lever ends. The rowing action which entails the end of the levers sweeping through an arc would be achieved through the use of strong ropes which would accommodate the motion. As the idea behind this theory is based on maritime skills the use of ropes would seem appropriate. The need for a sufficient clearance for weights to be suspended from the ends of the “oars” would be made possible by the fulcrum being higher than the stone at rest. Heavy ropes would be fed under the stone at appropriate intervals and their ends provided with loops to fit over the ends of the “oars” nearest the stone.

    Let us take as an example a rock weighing 20 tons. The stone’s proportions should resemble those of a long boat so that the sides of the stone would present a maximum surface for the rowing action. Think of the levers as oars and the idea will become clear. The factors which will determine the number of “oars” are the length and strength of the timbers available, but let us assume for the sake of simplicity that there are ten foot lengths of suitable material and the stone is twenty foot long, therefore each foot in the length of the stone represents one ton in weight. If we had one “oar each side for every two foot that would mean that each “oar” would have to raise one ton. If the placing of the fulcrum was such that the multiplication factor was four to one that would only need five cwt to be suspended from the end of each “oar” and a distance of two foot of the fulcrum from the end engaging the rope’s loop The sweep of the arc would cover a distance of about three foot which may not seem much but if the repositioning of the fulcrums after each cycle is quickly achieved the motion of taking three foot steps forward every few minutes with only about ten people would make a lot of sense. The weights would not have to be moved with the expenditure of much energy as the whole set-up is based on the principle of the stone only being raised from the ground just enough for it to be swung forward and the neutral balance could be finely adjusted to make this possible with very little effort.

    If the multiplication factor due to the length of the oars was four to one with a fulcrum length of four feet this would mean a 20ft length of “oar”. To move 20 tons would require five tons load on the oars. Each oar would have to support a load of 1.25 tons. Rather than use this system to only move one stone at a time it would make a lot more sense to move three stones at a time but in order to do so one would have to relate their respective weights so that two 2.5 ton stones would be used as the counter weights to the main stone and these would have to be slung from underneath the oars in such a way that would enable the position of the fulcrum to be advanced at least six feet in each cycle of movement. The total vertical load on the two fulcrums of 25 tons plus the weight of the “oars” would require them to be very substantial and resultantly heavy so the limiting factors in the system are best described as falling within the physical limitations of individuals to move these fulcrums in order to achieve the much greater movement of mass relatively easily. Ideally it would be better to try and reduce the weight of the parts which have to be physically moved by individuals and this could be a good reason for using ropes as the means of holding the stone, their being so much lighter than a wooden cradle.

    An additive approach to the loading of the “oars” could also be the best approach but it is a challenge to try and see whether there is a way in which the weight of other stones which are needed for the construction could be used for the counterweights as suggested above as this would make the whole process that much more efficient. The key to this however, is finding the way of relieving the load from the fulcrum at the end of each cycle and advancing the loaded ends of the “oars” in readiness for the next cycle. If the counterweights are moved by a similar approach only using the principle block as a fulcrum this could just possibly be one means of achieving this. There would be another rank of “oars” needed but it might be possible to use them on either side. The point at which the counterweight was raised clear of the ground would also be the stage at which the fulcrum would be moved forward.

  3. Tom 28 June, 2005 at 1:53 pm #

    Alun Salt, in his Archaeoastronomy blog has published a panorama of the Stonehenge model by night. Very atmospheric!


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