How do you move a standing stone?

10 July 2016: People who visit the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness — our two stones circles here in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney — wonder how people in the Stone Age managed to move those huge stones from where they were quarried to where they stand now.

The BBC was also wondering about this, so as part of a programme they are filming this summer¬†about Neolithic archaeology here in Orkney, they organised a “stone pull”, and Christopher came along.

Does seaweed on the rollers make it any easier to move the stone? BBC standing stone pull day 10 July 2016

Does seaweed on the rollers make it any easier to move the stone? BBC standing stone pull day 10 July 2016

The first attempt used rollers. It would be difficult to find enough good trees in tree-less Orkney today to make the rollers, but there was a bit more wood here in the Neolithic period.

One, two, three, haul! BBC stone pull, 10 July 2016.

One, two, three, haul! BBC stone pull, 10 July 2016.

Next, we tried putting the rollers sideways, like rails, to slide the stone along it. Still heavy!

The third attempt used seaweed on the rollers. But the best method turned out to be sliding the stone directly on seaweed spread on the ground. It was really slippery!

The best method for moving a standing stone: Seaweed directly on the ground.

The best method for moving a standing stone: Seaweed directly on the ground.

Christopher decorated the stone in hematite with the Ness of Brodgar butterfly, Smerquoy Horned Spiral, and the Brodgar Eye.

Christopher decorated the stone in hematite with the Ness of Brodgar butterfly, Smerquoy Horned Spiral, and the Brodgar Eye.

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