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Scientist Suggests Simpler Stonehenge Origin Story

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An Earth scientist in Wales has offered an intriguing new theory on the origin of the iconic bluestones which were used to build Stonehenge. Dr. Brian John says that the long-held belief that the exotic-for-the-area and massive stones were transported to the site by ancient humans is nothing more than a myth. On the contrary, he posits that there is a much simpler explanation for how the rocks arrived at the site: they were carried there by glaciers.

John bases this conclusion on an examination of the specific stones found at the site as well as a lack of evidence for quarries from the time that Stonehenge was built at Preseli Hills, which is where legend states that the bluestones had been procured by the builders of the monument. As such, he believes that the idea that humans had engineered elaborate methods to transport the two-to-four-ton rocks is more of a fantasy rather than a realistic way for the pieces to have arrived at the Stonehenge site.

To that end, he lamented to a Welsh newspaper that "over the past fifty years there has been a drift, in Stonehenge studies, from science towards mythology." Partially to blame for this, John observed, are "constant media demands for new and spectacular stories." And, perhaps the most popular of them all, in his eyes, is the tale of ancient people constructing a complex transportation system to take the massive rocks over the waterways and hilly terrain to deliver them to the Stonehenge site.

While some may see his analysis as demystifying the legendary site, the scientist argued that his version of events is "every bit as wonderful" as the triumph of human spirit that many see when they look at the famed ancient monument. Seen from another perspective, John's theory can be framed as a testament to human pragmatism is that the builders of Stonehenge were smart enough to make use of the materials around them to build the monument with a minimal amount of work. If his theory is correct, perhaps it's an indication that the axiom of 'work smarter, not harder' has roots dating all the way to ancient times.


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