British scientists believe they have finally been able to determine with certainty where the vast majority of the stones used in the construction of the ancient megalithic complex at Stonehenge in southern England came from.
Workers from the National Museum of Wales and Leicester Unversity have located the origin of the building material at Stonehenge just a few dozen metres from Craig Rhos-y-felin at Pont Season. Museum director Richard Bevin stressed that with this startling discovery, scientists can now begin to solve the mystery of how the stones were transported to Wiltshire.
For a long time, the scientific community has believed that the Bronze Age builders of the complex sourced the stones from the Preseli Hills.Scientists have been collecting samples from the Pembrokeshire cairns with the aim of uncovering the origins of the stones at the complex near Amesbury in southern England. They analysed the mineral composition and texture of the rocks. Using this petrographic method, they found that 99 per cent of the samples were the same as those found in Pembrokeshire.
Did the glacier help?
It is a rock of volcanic origin called rhyolite, which is different from other rocks in South Wales and is found exclusively in an area of just a few hundred square metres. Once archaeologists know the origin of the stones, they can now proceed to ascertain how the stones were transported from Pembroke to Stonehenge between 3000 and 1600 BC. It was thought that the heaviest pieces were transported on rafts along the River Avon and Bristol Channel.
However, this hypothesis is complicated by the fact that Pont Season lies to the north of the Preseli, relatively far from both watercourses. Theoretically, the Bronze Age builders could have been helped by nature itself – the route of an Ice Age glacier could have brought the stones closer towards Stonehenge. However, there are no other stones of the same origin in the aforementioned Welsh area, so this possibility is also unlikely.
Moreover, in April 2000, an attempt was made to transport a gigantic piece from Wales to Salisbury both by land and by sea. The route was 386 kilometres long and only manpower and technology from 5000 years ago was used during the transport. The boulder still rests on the seabed at Milford Haven harbour.
Source: National Geographic
Author: Editor | Published: 08.09.2018