Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bruce Bedlam's Roller and Roundhouse

Thanks to Bruce for drawing attention to his new Facebook site -- he also has a web site which some may not know about. A number of interesting theories here.  One relates to the method for transporting large stones -- see the photos above.  Another is the idea (not new) that Stonehenge was a large communal building in which the stones were a key part of the circular design, supporting an elaborate timber structure which looked like this:

Here are two links to his pages:

There are also some videos on YouTube, which I haven't got round to looking at yet.  My first impression, when looking at some of Bruce's written material, is "nice ideas -- pity about the factual inaccuracies........."

More to follow....


Anonymous said...

These are good examples of 'modern minds' using 'primitive tools' to make 'modern designs'. But what these have to do with prehistoric people and Stonehenge in particular? If I was to use a stick to scratch on sand the Pythagorean Theorem, does that mean prehistoric people knew the Pythagorean Theorem?

Notice the design for a 'timber round house' uses a complete sarsen circle as support. How does this account for the 'empty SW quarter' at Stonehenge?

Geo Cur said...

Anon if the Sarsen circle was complete there would have been thirty orthostats the “ empty quarter “ at the SW is an area between Sarsens 16 and 19 . Between stone 16 and stone 19 there is a gap of about 8 metres which would accommodate two sarsens at the spacing found in the rest of the sarsen circle The area has never been excavated so we don’t know if there are any stone holes . If it is eventually discovered that there were no stone sockets then “empty 15 th “ may be appropriate .

I did mention the Bedlam “building “ elsewhere , fwiw heres a copy Unlike the plan the spacing of the Y and Z holes are irregular so much so that the area around Z 7 ( no more than a shallow depression ) to Z 11 the irregularity becomes a kink and there is the possibility that there is no Z 8 due to the fallen sarsens 8 and 9 which have resulted in the Z 9 being sufficiently displaced to suggest that the sarsens had fallen before the pit was dug . Hawley and Atkinson who excavated them didn’t believe they ever contained stones , the primary fill was a thin layer of chalk rubble interpreted as the initial weathering of the chalk soon after the holes were dug , antlers from the bottom of two of the holes also support that suggestion . I can’t comment on the engineering but the height of the Sarsen Circle averages about 4.1 m , if a buttress went from the top to the meet a putative stone in Y hole it would mean that putative stones in the Z holes would be at least 3m tall .Thats 30 x 3m tall stones plus another 30 supposedly in the Y holes , not only is there no evidence for them from the Yand Z holes in the first place but even if they were there ,where did they end up ?

alex gee said...

Seems a bit odd to use stones that large to support a simple timber framework?. If you've got timber of sufficient size and length to build the roof trusses, why not make the roof supports from same?

The south west corner must have been the patioed entrance plaza.
Crowded with individuals indulging in whatever the socially unacceptable equivalent of smoking was at the time. :)?

Anonymous said...

Yet another loonie joins the legion of the damned? or mad?
something like that.

Welcome aboard Bruce.

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,
Many good points! That's my point!

Tony H said...

Of course, the Bedlam ( also a little settlement near Frome, Somerset, for those interested) Theory completely explodes the Mike Parker Pearson et al exalted hypothesis for a Land Of The Living [ Durrington Walls, Woodhenge - Wood] and a Land Of The Dead [Stonehenge - Stone]within the wider Stonehenge Landscape. Oh dear.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

You don't need a complete round Sarsen Stone circle to place a roof or a second storey on the structure.

Woodhenge is clearly built as a multi-story building with stairs - see Geoff Carter's blog site which I fully endorse.

THE FACTS ARE they decided to make this structure of Stone rather than wood that the lintels have been given mortise and tenon joints at great time and effort for a VERY GOOD REASON!!

And that reason is to take a considerable weight - so you have three solutions either; a roof, multi-storey or both.

Sadly, I agree with Geo Cur that the Y and Z holes are irregular to count them as part of the roof structure (but they could be a staircase as they are slightly staggered) so the large roundhouse is a nice idea is probably void.

BUT the various heights of the inner megalithic stones, does give you a clue to the purpose and hence the final design - for they again have mortise and tenon joints for good reason.

So Anon, ask yourself what did these 'primitives' have in mind when they put these vast stones in place - what's the motivation??

Astronomy - use poles they are taller and much easier to erect.

If its Ceremonial - use smaller stones and no lintels.

If its a large roundhouse - use wood as in woodhenge.

Time to get the ageing brain cells working gentlemen!


Anonymous said...


Brian in “Erratic Harvest” writes “Scavenging, opportunism and utilitarianism ruled”.

I agree with him. The builders of Stonehenge were utilitarians. So the purpose for Stonehenge was utilitarian. But I can't think what that may be!

Tim Daw said...

In relation to the transport of the sarsens there is a new leaflet and map of their route looking for comments.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tim -- I'll put up a post to tell folks about your new site.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon how do we know the builders of Stonehenge were 'Unitarians' I would favour their having a more polytheistic frame of mind, wooden though it may be it was probably later set in stone.
Still I did not go down the Arian (sic) route that would have lead us to famous Glastonbury visitors.
Why is Utilitarian unitarianism not on Wiki yet are we being kept in the dark.
Myris of Alexandria (a self-confessed polytheist)

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Nice map.

As you point out in your blog 'the route would need to cross two marsh lands' this is a clue to the transport method as today's marsh lands are yesterdays lakes and rivers as the groundwater levels have been constantly falling since the last ice age.

Stick them on a boat and save yourself a considerable time, this would endorse Brian's utilitarianism comments.


heavenshenge said...

"nice ideas -- pity about the factual inaccuracies........."

Yes. Agreed.

The biggest problem would be that none of the special features of Stonehenge appear to be necessary for a roundhouse.

The second problem is that the inner horseshow is very badly configured for its stated structural purpose (though some of the graduate structural engineers I have employed in the past have tried to design botch-ups nearly this bad).

The third signficant problem is that the props (Y and Z holes) are dated some 1300 years after the monument was built. Though builders are sometimes late to complete critical structural items, this particular delay (1300 years) seems excessive.

Anonymous said...

Following through the lines of Darvill's "Healing Stones" theory for a Neolithic A & E Department, pre- Bevin and therefore pre-N.H.S., i.e. pre-A.D. 1948 (if we are being strictly pedantic), I would like to put forward a pre- Brucie Bedlam "BEDLAM theory", viz:-

Stonehenge was an early MENTAL INSTITUTION for those natives of Britain (or whatever it was then called, or not) who had gone 'Bananas', Spike Jones style, through their failure to understand WHAT Stonehenge was, actually, FOR, despite endless speculating and navel-gazing.

Lord Bragg of Honolulu

Tony H said...

Sorry, Bruce, I'm with retired Madagascan archaeologist Ramilisonina on this one, Stonehenge aint no roundhouse, or whatever else incorporating loads of wood.The stones were put up for the Ancestors. You build out of stone when you want something that will not fade away.

The Saxons did much the same. We still have a few of their stone-built Churches That the Victorians, in particular, had not 'improved' (to use their own euphemism), but none of their wooden houses.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not that simple, Tony. the Norwegians had plenty of stone, but they built stave churches. And they built them to last. And many of them HAVE lasted...... they may even have been building the churches both to the glory of God and to the honour of their ancestors.

Tony H said...

Is that what you call a stave Church in Cardiff Bay, Brian? I recall seeing a wooden Church there, originally for the use of Scandinavian seamen. Think there may be another at Swansea, for example.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- that's a nice little church, but not a stave church. The proper ones are all in Norway -- and they are fantastic!!

Bruce said...

The YZ holes were dug when Stonehenge was built. They only became holes much later - when the stones were removed.