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Archeologist, Dr. Aubrey Burl
"It is a lovely romantic story"
 real 28k

Project co-ordinator Phillip Bowen
"Volunteers' enthusiasm is overwhelming"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Stonehenge haul grinds to a halt
stone
Volunteers only managed to drag the stone one mile
A team of volunteers which began to pull a huge three-tonne stone from the Preseli Mountains in Wales to Stonehenge say they are not giving up despite only managing one mile on their first day.

The ambitious project aims to follow in the footsteps of the ancient builders of the famous monument on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

But organisers say a lack of numbers meant they only covered a third of the three miles they hoped to manage on the first day.

Now the rural group Menter Preseli, who are managing the project, have decided to call off a stage planned for Sunday.

Spokesman Philip Bowen said they wanted to regroup, decide how to attract more volunteers and try again next Saturday.

Secret location

He said the problem was not moving the stone itself but having enough people to lay out the protective covering on the road.

"To be honest it has not been as successful today as we hoped it would be," said Mr Bowen.

"We wanted to travel three miles and we only managed one.

"The reason for that is a lack of volunteers. We just did not have enough.

"The pulling itself was not a problem it was laying out the plastic which was the difficulty."

Now the stone is being kept in a secure location with 239 miles of the 240-mile journey still to go.

Mr Bowen said: "We are having a debrief later and then a meeting on Monday but we will be back next weekend and we still think we can do it. We are certainly not giving up."

Stone Age boats

About 40 volunteers set off in glorious sunshine from Mynachlog-ddu, near Haverfordwest, at about BST 1030.

The plan is to drag the stone at weekends and reach Stonehenge in September.

The trek will include taking the stone across the Bristol Channel on the route which may have been used by Neolithic workers.

Some experts say the inner ring of the monument is made of bluestones which were carved out of the Welsh mountains before being heaved on sledges and boats to the Wiltshire site.

They will use a wooden sledge to drag the stone overland, at a rate of three miles a day, and a replica Neolithic boat to transport it across the Bristol Channel in a bid to demonstrate how our ancestors may have build Stonehenge.

The stone will be loaded on Stone Age boats called currachs for the journey across the Bristol Channel before being transported along the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal.

It will then be dragged the final 26 miles to the Stonehenge site.

The National Lottery funded Millennium Stone project will involve up to 300 volunteers.

It is being funded by a 100,000 Heritage Lottery grant.

Never happened

But some scientific experts question whether the stones were dragged to Stonehenge at all.

Archeologist Dr. Aubrey Burl thinks they arrived there through glaciation.

"It is a lovely romantic story all this great effort of dragging stones and rafting stones and then putting them along rivers and in the end reaching Salisbury Plain.

"It is a wonderful story but I think it is only just over 70 years old -it is not a pre-historic story, it is a recent one, he said."



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09 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
Facing up to the Stone Age
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