On this particular structure set we were blown away by the need for concrete repairs and crack stitching. Where the many thousands of tourists trample by daily, there is no way that these should still be standing however, these few bits of stone have stood the test of time far better than most buildings built today will.
Taking it back to basics though, when Stonehenge was built, simple logic was applied – the structures have a firm foundation, the lintel sections are square on the pillars connected utilising mortice and tenon joints and the stone sections are heavy enough to withstand strong winds and prevailing weather conditions.
So how did Neolithic people build it using only the simple tools and technologies available to them?
The first monument at Stonehenge was a circular earthwork enclosure, built in about 3000 BC. A ditch was dug with simple antler tools, and the chalk piled up to make an inner and an outer bank. Within the ditch was a ring of 56 timber or stone posts. The monument was used as a cremation cemetery for several hundred years.
In about 2500 BC the site was transformed by the construction of the central stone settings. Enormous sarsen stones and smaller bluestones were raised to form a unique monument. Building Stonehenge took huge effort from hundreds of well-organised people. Some people believe that the bluestones could have been brought to Salisbury Plain by the movement of glaciers, but most archaeologists think that they were transported by human effort. How this was done over a distance of more than 250 kilometers remains unknown, but it is probable the stones were both carried via water networks and hauled over land.
To fit the upright stones with the horizontal lintels, mortice holes and protruding tenons were created. The lintels were slotted together using tongue and groove joints. These types of joint are usually found only in woodworking. To erect a stone, people dug a large hole with a sloping side. The back of the hole was lined with a row of wooden stakes. The stone was then moved into position and hauled upright using plant fibre ropes and probably a wooden A-frame. Weights may have been used to help tip the stone upright. The hole was then packed securely with rubble.
Timber platforms were probably used to raise the horizontal lintels into position. Then, the final stage of shaping the tenons took place, to ensure a good fit into the mortice holes of the lintel.