Bizarre Stonehenge Controversy: Man Vs. Nature — Scientists Dispute ‘Glacier’ Theory Of Bluestones’ Journey

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As The Inquisitr reported last week, a new book offering a dissenting theory about how the Stonehenge bluestones were transported from Wales to southern England’s Salisbury Plain, where they still stand today after an estimated 5,000 years, stunned scholars who study the mysterious monument — claiming that the stones were not transported by ancient human beings, but were instead carried by glaciers.

The bluestones — the massive, unevenly shaped rocks that form an inner circle behind the towering “sarsen trilithons” seen in the image at the top of this page — reached the Salisbury Plain long before the builders of Stonehenge arrived, according to the book The Stonehenge Bluestones by researcher Brian John.

John claims no evidence exists that bluestones were mined from the Welsh quarry where they are believed to have originated. Nor is there any evidence, he writes, that human beings then transported those gigantic stones across about 140 miles of rugged terrain to the Stonehenge site, for reasons unknown.

Actually, the “glacier” theory of the Stonehenge bluestones dates back to 1902, when it was published by two British archaeologists in a professional journal.

But in 1923, a geologist named Herbert Henry Thomas turned what was then the accepted wisdom of Stonehenge’s origins on its head, with the theory that glaciers simply could not have carried the stones from Pembrokeshire in Wales, where he believed they originated — and that therefore, ancient humans must have found some means of transporting the stones.

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Students attempt to demonstrate how ancient humans may have transported the Stonehenge bluestones, in a recent experiment in London.Featured image credit: Matt DunhamAP Images

“People have loved this story … all of the heroic ancestors slaving away, collecting up these stones from west Wales and then carrying them all the way to Stonehenge,” John told the site Live Science.

“We all love heroic tales, and I think that’s why people have just accepted this, more or less, at face value without any questioning of the evidence on which it’s based.”

But according to University of Southampton archaeologist and Stonehenge expert Josh Pollard, John is the one sticking to an “increasingly untenable” story, ignoring the fact that there is no trace, according to Pollard, of glacial rock deposits at the Stonehenge site.

“We just don’t find evidence of glacial deposits with big chunks of bluestone anywhere near Stonehenge. And it’s inherently unlikely that Neolithic communities would have entirely picked over and removed all deposits of glacial [stones],” Pollard told Live Science.

One of the primary arguments against the idea that human beings transported the bluestones from Wales is simply that neolithic — that is, late Stone Age — human beings simply lacked the technology or means to transport the stones over a long distance. However, a 2016 experiment appeared to show that the human-transport theory was highly plausible.

“An experiment by University College London found that mounting huge stones on a sycamore sleigh and dragging it along timbers required far less effort than was expected,” reported the Telegraph newspaper in 2016.

The students who conducted the experiment found that only 10 people were required to move a one-ton stone block at a speed of about one mile per hour, using a wooden sled pulled by ropes — materials that would have been readily available 5,000 years in the past.

Working just eight hours per day, ancient Britons would have required just over two weeks to haul each stone from Wales to the site of Stonehenge, the experiment determined.