Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Walking lumps of stone…

Living on the Isle of Anglesey I’m surrounded somewhat by standing stones. There are a variety of explanations as to how these stones came to be standing where they are, and why. I can see how some are remnants of the glacial movements from a previous ice age, with the lumps of rock being carried along by the slow and steady movement of ice until the end gets caught in or dropping into a rut in the ground below, halted in its path and then nudged upwards to stand vertically until the ice passes and the stone is left standing there. Archaeologists might explain how prehistoric people man-handled the stones into position for religious or ceremonial reasons, astro-archaeologists might explain their positioning in relation to the stars in the sky, like those of Stonehenge, stone avenues like that at Brittany, France, and even the Great Pyramid, but also there are historical myths recounting how stones were positioned by the gods or even that the stones were gods and they walked into position.

This latter idea was echoed to me recently when I watched a documentary on Youtube exploring the ancient tales of how the giant stone heads on Easter Island walked into position. A team got together to explore this possibility and finally towards the end of the show they demonstrated how it was indeed possible.

Since it had been demonstrated to me how these large stones could be walked into position on Easter Island, I wondered if tall or long stones at other ancient sites could have been ‘walked’ into position too.

Generally one perceives the movement of such large stones to be made by the means of wooden rollers with the stone being pulled along them with ropes pulled by teams of men or slaves. There actually seems to be little evidence of this, particularly on Easter Island where perhaps the availability of trees for the provision of such wooden rollers was in short supply. With their reconstructed stone head on Easter Island the team demonstrated how, once such a stone was positioned vertically, and following it’s first few ‘steps’ it could be continuously moved with relative ease.

The movement of the stone heads in this fashion was actually aided, it seems, by the fact of their very shape as a stone head; the ropes needed to be tied up round the eye sockets, and the rocking and walking movement was aided by the shape of the base of the stone. Indeed, their example stone had been created some what more rounded than a typical Easter Island stone head and this hindered their efforts; the sharp angles of the eye sockets and particularly the base made movement in this manner far easier. Therefore, I wonder, what is the common shape of the base of a typical standing stone found on Anglesey and elsewhere?

It has to be said that often tall standing stones I have inspected are quite slender and narrow to a rounded point at top, so in little way do they have the assisting brow features of an Easter Island stone head, but perhaps this isn’t essential; perhaps since the stone heads of Easter Island had eye sockets, this just made things easier, it wasn’t that they cut such features to assist moment, although perhaps the style was both aesthetic and practical.

Occasionally an Easter Island stone head would have fallen over whilst it was being ‘walked’, a finding which helped the team figure out how they had been moved and confirming the old tales. Using statistical analysis the could see how often a stone might have fallen and be left, the positioning, and the size of those fallen stones that had been abandoned. It was clear from these findings that it was such hard work to re-erect the larger stones that they would be left in place. This is an important point when we consider stone circles because if all the stones had been dragged along horizontally on rollers then there would have been an immense amount of work at the site of their final positioning in order to stand each stone up; this would have been more problematic and a delicate operation as the site progressed since care would have to be taken to avoid knocking into other stones. The team investigating the Easter Island heads had the assistance of a crane in order to stand their stone head up.

Looking beyond stone heads and rougher standing stones around the UK and Europe, I consider the large stones positioned at ancient sites such as those in Egypt; how were the large stones used in the construction of pyramids moved, and were such immense lumps of rock as the tall obelisks perhaps walked into position.

When I first thought about this last example I recalled an abandoned obelisks, and with my mind stuck in the idea that they were dragged horizontally I almost discounted the idea that they could have been ‘walked’. But perhaps not. Perhaps an example of an abandoned obelisk, reflects the abandoned stone heads on Easter Island, the ones that had fallen on their way to from the mine to the site of its final resting place; again, once fallen being far too much would to re-erect.

Here is that documentary about the Easter Island heads:




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This entry was posted on 19 March, 2017 by in History, Religion and tagged , , , , .
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