Chapters 2 › Unit 2: Chapter 2 Journal Activity View instructions Hide instructions

Chapter 2 Journal Activity

Credibility Gap


'When' and 'by whom' seem to be fairly universally agreed upon. It is the 'how' I have difficulty with.

I come from a family of engineers, who are great at thinking up practical solutions; however, I have enormous difficulty in accepting the methods of moving and erecting stones so far suggested.

As I stated in question, earlier this evening, I just do not think that 'how' Stonehenge was built fits in with our understanding of their technical ability. That does not mean that given the same education and experience, I do not think that a Neolithic person could be typing this journal instead of me.

Stone axes and reindeer antlers to hew wood level enough to make platforms to elevate lintels? Anyone who has played Jenga will know that there has to be a stable and level platform before the next piece is laid. The slightest misjudgement leads to collapse. To add to this, the land is on a gentle slope.

As far as we know, the Neolithic people did not have a method of recording information to make calculations. Engravings on Late Neolithic Entrance Burials use a limited range of symbols - spirals, circles, zigzags, grooves and cups. Curiously, on the local Calder Stones, we have six toed feet impressions too! This does not seem an adequate visual vocabulary to enable complex diagrams or plans. As for designing a mortice and tendon joint on a curve that keyed into the next lintel...... Even if these were all laid out on the ground before being mounted, the margin for error was infinitesimal when it came to mounting and aligning the standing stones.

More importantly, how on earth did the blue-stones from Wales arrive here? It is apparently just possible to float one on three canoes in calm water. Given that there were no maps and that the sea is far from calm, it is difficult to imagine this being a solution. Unless of course they did have plans far more accurate than the ones we see emerging 4000 years later. Overland? Navigational problems, even if the stars were used to guide them by seems hardly adequate. How was distance measured? There was a lack of plans of the terrain. We are looking at long distances and a limited lifespan - even if someone did develop an oral plan of a route(left by the third mountain?), would they live long enough to pass that information on and would it be passed on accurately? There are just too many areas of high land in the way to make this movement seem feasible. There may have been ancient herding routes, but that implies a level of social integration, nationally, that may or may not be emerging as an hypothesis to explain this level of social organisation.

The 'why' seems more credible. People did travel, we know that. If communities became more stable then the need for allegiances and a shared culture - leading to social cohesion, would become greater. A need for shared totems to express that cohesion, is evident in primitive society. It may be that only representatives of different groups came to Stonehenge. It still poses the question of how aware, fairly isolated groups would be of the existence of other groups and their distribution. It would argue for the existing languages of the UK to be similar enough to allow and understanding of other groups intentions to be clear.

So yes we know what we see on the ground and what we can now technically prove, but no, I am yet to be convinced that we understand enough about the technical and intellectual capability of the Neolithic people to render current theories, convincing.

Your Comment

Please login to leave a comment.