Building Stonehenge by hand, with gravity and sticks

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26 Responses to “Building Stonehenge by hand, with gravity and sticks”

  1. thelibrarianne says:

    That’s pretty cool. I’m not sure it’s more impressive than Foamhenge, though. As the name suggests, it’s a full-scale foam replica of Stonehenge located in Natural Bridge, VA. Seriously.

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/VANATfoamhenge.html

    Unfortunately, though, it recently blew over. It’s a shame.

  2. Tom says:

    The problem with applying these methods to green construction is you’ve gotta be willing to ignore the time value of money. For individual builders who don’t really care how long it takes to get things done, that is no big deal.

    Basic economics though, which is not going away, tells us that capital will be allocated where the return is highest, and getting the same result in a shorter time means higher return. You could argue, perhaps correctly, that if we did proper accounting of environmental costs the results wouldn’t be “the same” in the two cases. Until we start doing that, however, either by carbon taxes&tariffs or cap&trade, techniques like this will be primarily restricted to hobbyists.

  3. NewHomesGuy says:

    That’s crazy! It will be a great accomplishment if/when its done. At least he’s staying busy after retirement.

  4. jesanders says:

    Good job Wally!

    I hereby name this: “Stone Punk”

  5. isaac says:

    that made me very happy.

  6. Tom says:

    Err… that should be cap & trade in my previous comment, not some mysterious trademarked system for capping carbon emissions. Apparently our bb overlords are aggressive about entity interpretation.

  7. sirtin says:

    “one-ton concrete blocks over a ton each” That’s some fancy math!

    This is an awesome lesson in physics, and all sorts of self confidence “builders” as well. Regardless of if this is how Stonehenge was put up, this guy could bring the mountain to Mohammad (PBUH) if he had to.

  8. mrfitz says:

    no. it was peace-loving druid wizards who levitated the blocks into place. dwarfs carved them.

  9. huntsu says:

    SIRTIN beat me to my snark, so I guess I have to post a real comment.

    Does anyone know what the real Stonehenge stones weigh?

    And, no MRFITZ, the dwarfs did not carve them. That’s just a rumor started by the wizards to excuse their lack of artistic skills.

  10. padster123 says:

    I have a great deal of respect for this guy, but what the video doesn’t address is that fact that his method for transporting the stones woudn’t have worked for Stonehenge, as far as I can see, as it relies on very hard ground. From Wales to Wiltshire is a few hundred miles of very soft earth!

  11. Tom says:

    Placing the lintel: rocker lift the way he demo’d in the film, then roll it over.

    Rolling can be accomplished much the same way as the rocker lift. Raise it higher than the receiving blocks, so it is sitting on three pillars, one at each end and on in the centre, all butted hard up against the vertical receiving blocks. Back a little material out of the pillars on the side away from the receiving blocks so the lintel rolls off the wood supporting it on the side close to the receivers. Then remove material from the near side and tip the lintel over the balance point. Considerable care is required to keep from accidentally squishing yourself, but it’s really just a matter of taking your time and applying the same principle over and over again.

    There are other ways of going about it, but this one would certainly work well enough most of the time.

    • lithicman says:

      Wondering how he gets the first fulcrum under a multi-ton object. Possibly with wedges or some type of lever, but says he doesn’t use metal of any kind. i.e., how did he raise the barn onto its’ fulcrum in the first place to move it?

  12. Antinous says:

    There are dozens of megalith monuments in Britain, many of them in more remote locations than Stonehenge. However they did it, they did a lot of it.

  13. Takuan says:

    was wondering about that. How about a hard road surface you lay down and take up as you go?

  14. Takuan says:

    they already use this technology for green construction. It’s called the third world.

  15. Jeff says:

    That was a nice demonstration. At least Flint as this going for it. But of course this guy is wrong. Ha! Everyone knows alien tractor beam technology was used to build Stonehenge.

  16. cole scego says:

    A rural missouri man has also recently built a working stonehenge using nothing but ramps, levers and rollers. Article from Rural Missouri Magazine. April 2008. It is a 32ft circle with the largest stone weighing in at over 7 tons. Steve Wagoner is a retired miner and now raises goats on his farm. He missed forming a perfect circle by only 1.5″
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  17. stratosfyr says:

    I used the “two small rocks” method to move a washing machine a little while ago. It works pretty well.

    To move the blocks over a longer distance, though, they might have used a technique that’s been suggested for the building of the Pyramids… putting a series of round logs under the blocks, rolling the blocks forward, then moving the logs from the back to the front as the block rolls off of them.

  18. Moon says:

    He’s STILL at it? Or is this a video from around 1996?

  19. FoetusNail says:

    Chk out the Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida. Definitely worth a visit.

  20. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    That’s a typical retired Midwesterner for you. I know the type well.
    What was really impressive to me was the shot of the barn being moved. It costs huge money to have a building jacked up on wheels and towed.
    Brains and leverage beats brute force every time.

  21. skatanic says:

    I know it showed in the video that the man had been able to place the horizontal block on top of two vertical ones, but how did he do it?

  22. Tom says:

    This isn’t so much a demonstration of physics as engineering. Scientists are good at conceptualizing, analysing, calculating, and stuff like that. But I’ve never seen anything in the graduate curriculum in physics that touches on the practice of construction, much less construction using minimal tool, small crews and large balanced forces. Scientists are good at analysing what clever guys like this come up with, but not necessarily so good at coming up with it ourselves.

    With regard to the soft-ground problem: note that when he moved the barn it looked like he was using a wooden base about a metre square. A human with a mass of 50 kg and a foot size of 10 x 20 cm would have a ground pressure of about 12 kPa standing still. A 1 tonne block with a 1 m**2 base under it would have a ground pressure of about 10 kPa. So it doesn’t seem like much of a problem.

    In the early bits of the video when he’s rolling blocks along wooden rails, he’s using a technique of cutting ramped edges into the rails that match the size of the block so that is is always comes to rest balanced on a point. The cases he demonstrates are for blocks with square cross-sections, but using asymmetric profiles you can do the same thing with rectangular cross-sections, although there are practical limits that would probably prevent it from being used on relatively high aspect-ratio blocks like those in Stonehenge.

    Given the losses that are typical of construction projects, I wonder if anyone has surveyed low-lying areas along the presumptive route the Stonehenge blocks were transported along? All of these balancing techniques depend on carefully opposed forces, and as soon as one of the blocks gets away from you it’ll go wherever it damn well pleases, often taking a few members of your crew with it. The odds of that happening a few times in the course of construction seem high, suggesting there might be a few orphan megaliths buried in swamps along the way.

    In any case, a truly wonderful thing, this.

  23. Takuan says:

    orphan megaliths sounds fascinating. Although, in thousands of years of continuous habitation, I wonder if the locals wouldn’t have quarried them up for other uses.

  24. demidan says:

    And to think how much time and effort has been spent on trying to figure this out. Just think of the ramifications! How could his methods be used in modern green building and construction? Sure there are limitations but you could work around them to be sure.

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