Was Stonehenge built with the aid of an ancient machine?

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WLITSHIRE, England – TWH has reported extensively on Stonehenge in recent months: on the current issues with the proposed road tunnel under Salisbury Plain and on competing theories regarding the origins of this ancient monument. Now, a new theory about the methods used to transport the bluestones from Pembrokeshire in Wales to Wiltshire has been raised by Denbighshire resident Steven Tasker.

Tasker is not a professional archaeologist (he is a carpet fitter) but he has taken a long term interest in the history of the henge, and has suggested that a machine referenced in the Bible might have been employed in shifting the stones.

There have been many theories as to the manner in which the big bluestones were shifted, from being drawn by horses or even cows, to being dragged by humans on sledges or rollers, to transport by sea. More fanciful opinions, such as the role of aliens, and the old legend that the magician Merlin flew the monument to Salisbury Plain through the use of magic, have also been put forward over the years.

Steven Tasker is interested in the pyramids and their construction and began thinking about the issue during a visit to Cairo museum in 2004. Some items on display may, he believes, have been other than described: such as thick clay jars which archaeologists believe were used for eye make up but which, Tasker suggests, may in fact have been rollers.

Rockers used for pulling sleds could also, he adds, have been part of this machine. The proposed device operates on a series of pivot points, rockers and ‘feet’ which drive it forwards.

“I tied rockers below a plank of wood to try and work out how they could have been used…By using pivot points, I could counterbalance a 60kg roll of carpet on top and by using the rockers, walk it across the road. Pictures of statues are of them being dragged on sleds. But all statues have flat backs, so this machine would be an easy way to transport them, whatever the weight. A small team of men could do it.”

Tasker added, “It may look like something out of [British TV series] Last of the Summer Wine, but we’ve lifted a third of a tonne with it and theoretically it could move any weight.”

His idea was given further inspiration by a reading of the section of the Bible dealing with the prophet Ezekiel, which involves a vision of God being transported on cherubim, with four wings and “feet shaped like the sole of a calf’s foot”. To Tasker’s mind, the feet were wooden pads and the ‘wings’ were planks of wood operating on a pivotal mechanism.

Tasker finished a prototype of this machine in 2014, but it was not until 2018 when he attended a tour with Dr. Campbell Price, curator of the Egyptology collection at Manchester Museum, that the concept gained traction. The Manchester collection is one of the largest in the UK.

Price took an interest in the prototype, asking Tasker to give a talk on it while on the tour, and commenting that the “efficient movement of large numbers of ancient monuments has never been fully explained…Steve’s experiments give a different perspective into how ancient people were able to plan paths of least resistance, and to manipulate natural forces.”

 

Engineer Shaun Whitehead, in charge of the Djedi robotic exploration of the Great Pyramid, concurs:

“I’m often approached by people who have their own ideas about why and how these great structures were built. I’m careful not to dismiss any of these without a little thought, but most can be shown to be unworkable or impractical. However, Steven’s theories on how massive objects could have been moved demonstrate a very creative and practical engineering mind… [his] idea is as good as any, and better than most…In Steven’s theories, ancient Egyptian symbols such as the Djed pillar may not just be magical or spiritual representations – they may represent engineering devices. This makes sense – there was very little distinction between engineering genius and magic in ancient times.”

However, others disagree. Mike Parker Pearson, Professor of British Later Prehistory at University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, does not believe that such a device would have been necessary, telling the BBC:

“One of the huge misunderstandings [about Stonehenge] is how could you do something with a minimum of effort and maximum efficiency? That is a very 21st Century idea. There are no limits to 21st Century human ingenuity.”

He describes the answer as “simply manpower.”

“It’s a failure to understand [that] megalith builders past and present used vast amounts of [human] labour. One of my researchers has actually calculated the amount of person power it would take to move the stones from Wales to Stonehenge. It’s not as much as you might think.”

He added, “We have done this sort of thing in Madagascar – hundreds and thousands of people turned out. The whole issue is everybody wants to be involved.”

We asked Britain’s Pagan community and those sympathetic to it for their views:

Dr Kari Maund, a medieval Welsh historian said, “It’s an interesting theory, but the geographic range combined with the considerably different landscapes makes this highly unlikely— and that’s before you consider the issues around picking and mixing source materials, the questionable assumptions derived from the DNA evidence and the difficulties in interpretation where Biblical manuscript transmission is concerned.”

“I don’t think it helps his theory that Tasker’s own drawing, used for this article, has the wrong stone on it. The tenon on the top of the stone indicates it is a sarsen stone, not one of the bluestones which came from Wales,” Pagan artist, Chris Down told TWH.

Pagan author Gavin Bone said of the theory, “Over complicated. The wooden rails, greased down fat/lanolin as put forward as a theory several years ago is simpler, easier to make and maintain and would have been faster to move the stones on.”

Archaeologist Malcolm White said, “I think Occam’s razor should apply here. It seems unnecessarily complicated and extremely slow. The machine seems to rely on the load being off centre so that one end can be lifted.”

White also pointed out some of the major problems with Tasker’s theory, “Whilst this is ok for the loads shown in the video, if you scale it up to a bluestone (2 to 4 tonnes) I think it could be quite unwieldy. Plus you’d have to make reasonably consistent stone ball bearings (or cast them in bronze) which might be difficult but also no remnants of said bearings have been found. It is an ingenious idea but, given the Egyptian tendency to illustrate many things in their tombs, I’m sure this would have been shown somewhere if they had used it as he claims.”