Andrew Young, a doctoral student at the University of Exeter, has a novel proposal about how ancient Britons built Stonehenge. He hypothesizes that they placed balls in grooved tree trunks to act as bearings for the heavy stones:
Young first came up with the ball bearings idea when he noticed that carved stone balls were often found near Neolithic stone circles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland (map).
"I measured and weighed a number of these stone balls and realized that they are all precisely the same size—around 70 millimeters [3 inches] in diameter—which made me think they must have been made to be used in unison, rather than alone," he told National Geographic News.
The balls, Young admitted, have been found near stone circles only in Aberdeenshire and the Orkney Islands (map)—not on Stonehenge's Salisbury Plain.
But, he speculated, at southern sites, including Stonehenge (map), builders may have preferred wooden balls, which would have rotted away long ago. For one thing, wooden balls are much faster to carve. For another, they're much lighter to transport.
Link | Photo: University of Exeter