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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

Sunday, 30 April, 2000, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Stonehenge haul continues - slowly
Volunteers only managed to drag the stone half a mile
The controversial 100,000 Millennium project to move a three-tonne blue stone from north Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge got off to a better start on Sunday.

Saturday's pull had to be abandoned because of a lack of volunteers.

But some 20 volunteers turned out to pull the boulder - tied to a wooden frame - a distance of half a mile.

The intention during the May Bank Holiday is to pull the stone a further two miles to the centre of the village of Maenclochog by Monday evening.

The project - co-ordinated by Menter Preseli - ran into difficulties early on in April when volunteers managed just one mile on their first day.

Big operation

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

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

About 40 volunteers had set off at the start of the project in glorious sunshine from Mynachlog-ddu, near Haverfordwest, hoping to make a positive start.

The plan focuses on dragging the stone at weekends and reach Stonehenge in September.

Stone Age boats

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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