About three years ago the exact location of the quarries used for the bluestones of Stonehenge was found, using petrography, a kind of geological fingerprinting. A few days ago I was lucky enough to go to one of the sites.
This is it – a humpback mass rising from the base of a small river valley. The current archaeological dig is in the foreground at the base of the outcrop
A bit closer, and you can see how the rocks naturally weather into vertical slabs and so would be relatively easy to extract. The ground to the front and right is heavily worked, the earth along the base of the outcrop has been moved by the dig.
How the neolithic people actually moved the stones to Stonehenge is unknown, the fact they did so, and with the simplest of stone and wood tools, is astonishing. Around eighty of these stones, each weighing two to four tonnes, were moved 150 miles. (43 remain at Stonehenge today, the rest are inferred from their holes.). Sitting at the bottom of a very steep-sided valley, I wondered if they used the stream to move the rocks out of the quarry, not to float the stones, but simply as a natural flat trail.
This shot, looking back the other way shows a slab sitting on ‘rock rollers’. The slab is badly cracked, so could be a stone abandoned after extraction. However, it doesn’t look very weathered considering it should have been lying there for 4,500 years, so maybe it became covered in topsoil or was a more recent attempt. A lot of the rocks in the foreground also very fresh edges.
It doesn’t really matter, the location is the thing, and It was nice to sit there for a while and think about the whys and hows of the people who worked here so long ago, the real purpose of this great effort, and what it might have been like to be a part of it.
~How to get there: The site is on public land close to a ford on an unclassified road between Brynberian and Ffynnangroes on the B4329.