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  • Have you ever wondered how the people who built Stonehenge, may have moved the stones?

  • Well so have we.

  • Here at Stonehenge we've been running some experimental archaeology projects for a couple

  • of years. Last year, we tried to move a stone about the size of one of the lintels using

  • rollers. This year we're going to be testing our new timber framed sledge to move the same

  • stone.

  • The project we're doing today is an experimental archaeology project and that involves using

  • well researched authentic tools made in the correct way. Using the techniques that we

  • can find in the archaeological evidence to produce the sledge. And the idea is that by

  • combining those known methods and techniques we can try and get to some of the unanswered

  • questions that surround this kind of site. First of all we have to take these whole logs

  • and split them down into usable timbers and we do that with wooden wedges and really it's

  • a case of driving a wooden wedge into the log and actually controlling where the split

  • runs to make the shapes we want. We then have to reduce it in length and we're doing that

  • with our stone axes, cross cutting them which is actually probably the hardest thing to

  • do because you're working directly against the grain of the wood. And then the final

  • process is to use an adze, and you actually swing that between your legs and it skims

  • off the surface of the wood. So we're using the adzes to turn a sort of pie-shaped quarter

  • of a log into a rectangular timber, so that we can actually start to joint it really precisely.

  • So we don't know how long it would have taken them to build a sledge like this but

  • the only way we can try to get to that answer is to time everything we're doing and then

  • that will give us some idea as to how long it might have taken. So the lessons we're

  • learning from this project are that first of all we're modern humans and our volunteers

  • understandably on day three are just getting used to the tools so they're producing surfaces

  • and they're using tools well but there is a long, long way to go before we reach the

  • level of sophistication of Neolithic carpenters.

  • I find this whole subject really fascinating because actually we tend to see the stone

  • remains of the late Stone Age but actually what we're missing is that incredible timber

  • infrastructure that must have gone with it and so we can see the sophistication of the

  • mortise and tenon joints at Stonehenge itself but to create the frameworks that must have

  • put those stones in place they would have been using similar joints and even more advance

  • joints in the timberwork they were doing. So in short I think we always underestimate

  • the sophistication of people, not just in the Neolithic but further back into the Stone

  • Age, simply because we're no longer capable of using the tools to the same degree that

  • they would have used them every day. We haven't started at the age of six or seven. We haven't

  • made our own tools and got used to exactly how they work. So we're always sort of approaching

  • it from five steps behind where they would have been.

  • So once the carpentry has been completed we take our 16 different pieces of timber and

  • we have to construct them around the monolith. So the sledge is now finished and what we've

  • found during the course of this project is that it's about five times slower to use

  • a stone tool than it is to use a metal tool. So the aim of the sledge is to test it of

  • course, so what we've got planned is a course, and we're going to drag the sledge down

  • a course that is measured and we're also going to try and drag it on grass so we want

  • to test all of those things and get the public involved to really see whether it would be

  • efficient or less efficient to use a sledge.

Have you ever wondered how the people who built Stonehenge, may have moved the stones?

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B1 stone timber stonehenge neolithic stone age project

Building a Neolithic Sled | Prehistoric Technology

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/28
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