Stonehenge  beneath the thatch

Stonehenge had a Roof

 The blue-stones supported for the front edge of an oval gallery.
The blue-stones supported for the front edge of an oval gallery.

THE ORIGINAL STONEHENGE

The first-century B.C. Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus, cites a lost account set down three centuries earlier, which described “a magnificent precinct sacred to Apollo and a notable spherical temple” on a large island in the far north, opposite what is now France.

Stonehenge was a ‘Cathedral-like’ building with a massive oak-framed roof, and a huge hall at it’s centre. Though only the big stones remain, location and height provide evidence to indicate the original shape.

Viewed from outside, it’s round form and thatched roof were of refined bronze-age form. A magestic, trussed core-roof, spanning the central void, was supported high on top of the large central stones, the trilthons.

Beneath this was a lofty oval hall.

Stonehenge - section across axis_scaledLeaning against this structural core were radiating rafters with their lower end on the stone circle. The central ‘core-roof’ is key to the design’s structural integrity; without this the weight of the roof would force the stone-circle outwards.

Large openings, set high up on both ends, flooded the hall with light.  Shuttered side openings were used in daytime.

Location of the central Bluestones suggest galleries surrounded the central void. Between the trilithons and ring of sarsen stones, blue-stones here hint that a circlar wall once enclosed the hall. A useful veranda-walkway thus existed in the space between the enclosing wall, and the outer sarsen-ring.

A large, ceremonial entrance also supported a roof gable. Thus axial openings existed to connect with both  summer and winter solstices. However these are but moments in time. Such a magnificent, galleried hall was likely used all-year-round, for social gatherings, singing, feasting and dancing, maybe marriage ceremonies.

That it was spectacular is undoubtable, but what’s more remarkable is the amount of evidence that substantiates these findings.

Sunstone elevations Black and white. - Copy

EVIDENCE FOR STONEHENGE BEING A BUILDING.

  1. The horse-shoe of trilithons are set to a pre-drawn design – more below.
  2. The buried blue-stone, unaffected by wear and tear, is clearly fashioned as a lintel.
  3. The shaping of other blue-stones indicate structural purpose – grooves to accommodate door pole-hinges and tapered support stones.
  4. The trilithons are perfectly positioned to take four large evenly-spaced trusses. See plans below.
  5. An ‘oval’ is formed by the feet of the trusses. See below.
  6. The height difference between the trilithons is necessary to raise all four trusses from horizontal to vertical. This exists – see below.
  7. The ‘core-roof’ fits with outer-ring of sarsens. See below.
  8. The outer blue-stone circle is perfectly located where midway support for the lower roof slopes is required. See below.
  9. The Blue-stone oval fits the setting out plan.

BEFORE STONEHENGE.

Much research indicates Stonehenge’s circular site (the annular), had long been important; archeologists have dated remains to thousands of years before Stonehenge was built. Probably there were earlier structures on the site.

But obviously, before Stonehenge was built, plans were made:
• To agree the form of the new structure.
• To decide what material to use. Their choice of hard sarsen stone is why the ruins still stand; large blocks of soft stone would, by now, have weathered away to nothing. Had the stones been smaller, they would have long since been taken for use elsewhere.
• How Stonehenge was set-out on the ground is shown in, ‘The Original Plan, Recreated.’

WAS STONEHENGE A BUILDING?

(https://youtu.be/2XaCuSdvYBQ – Stonehenge had a roof)

Ask yourself , ‘would Bronze-age man go to so much trouble to source, move, shape and erect such massive stones unless for a very good purpose?’ It’s entirely reasonable to suggest the remains are only part of a complex structure.

Look at our Abbey ruins, destroyed some 500 years ago. Though some standing walls remain, roof timbers are long gone. Few have floors: these and easily accessed stone can be found ‘re-used’ in nearby buildings. There’s no chance that even a fragment of Stonehenge’s roof timbers could be found. These will have been burnt, re-used, rotted or stolen; 4300 years is a very long time.

Locked within the remaining stones is physical evidence that Stonehenge is the remains of a building
• One blue-stone is called ‘the lintel stone’.
• Grooves fashioned into the sides of the Bluestone once ‘held’ parts that no longer remain.
• Below is important information locked within the trilithon positions that has long been missed.

Four structural elements, perfectly balanced, rest above the side trilithons.

 

 

Mark the point where weight rests (black dot), then join these dots.

A pattern emerges – an oval of similar proportion to that formed by the bluestones. 

 

            

Shown here are the uprights of  Stonehenge’s roof-structure. The much ‘talked about’ oval, defined by the inner blue-stones, in fact reflects the shape of the core-roof.

 

The green lines above are in fact timber roof trusses, formed from oak. Naturally any large hall  has a significant entrance. At Stonehenge this also served to support the roof. That it no longer exists suggest smaller stones were used. (Since remeoved for use elsewhere).

 

An initial thought, that to span 15 baunt (16 metre) was impossible as too large, was answered by research; Westminster Hall spans 20 metres and that was built in 1097, well before machines and power tools were invented!

The trusses were formed from cranked oak timber. It's likely they were of good design, much as the stones are carefully shaped.
The trusses were formed from cranked oak timber. It’s likely they were of good design, much as the stones are carefully shaped.

To form the large trusses, only eight 15-baunt (16-metre) oak timbers with angled profile are required. Bronze-age oaks were very likely bigger and better than those available today. Apparently ship-building in past-times robbed the UK of the good-sized oaks!

Before discounting this idea ask yourself, ‘If Bronze-age people are capable of quarrying, moving and shaping stones that weight 20 to 50 tonnes, can they fell and oak and shape the timber to form a roof?’

The answer can only be yes.

The fact that most timbers used are curved is no consequence as each piece was shaped by hand. Our obsession with straight-timber come from using power-tools.

In our rainy climate a roof makes a gathering space usable all year round.

THE CORE ROOF.

The plan below shows the four large trusses, two smaller ones at the ends, and a ring-beam that links them. The bluestones, located within the dashed lines of the oval, are the bases for support-posts holding aloft a second, oval ring-beam, support for the gallery.

At the mouth of Stonehenge’s horse-shoe was the ceremonial entrance. (Nothing now remains of the walls that formed this. I’m asking for a leap of faith from you, to trust the pattern derived from the evidence above.) When the various parts of the building are right, the clues and patterns fit very perfectly. I puzzled over for  months before finally finding a solution; in two dimensions this is difficult to explain, but any designer’s goal would be to create a symetrical roof above the offset oval-floor. Our bronze-age designer wished his building to be symmetrical when viewed from outside. He used a clever technique, involving two concentric ring-beams, to centralise the roof. Being at the same level they also provided a platform to access wind’ol (wind-hole) shutters.

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   The core-roof was built first, lower roof slopes were added afterwards. The Bronze-age original wasn’t wonky! Clay men are to scale.

RAISING THE TRUSSES.

Basic technique is shown in this sketch.

Raising a truss_resize.

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Interestingly, four trusses cannot be raised if the trilithons are all of similar height so explains their height difference.

THE WHOLE ROOF

After completing the core-roof, sixteen principal rafters were added and linked by more ring-perlins. On top of this would be common-rafters, then probably woven-wattle panels to support thatch. Stonehenge was effectively a ‘giant round-house’.

Three further wind’ol forms are shown on each side and two more lower ones on the ends. There’s no evidence for positions of these other than logic, and a tendancy to favour the number three and it’s multiples.

The word window is derived from wind-holes, shortened to wind’ol, then window. Bronze-age man had shutters not glass. These were accessed from gallerys situated above the trilithons and extending as far inwards as the oval ring beam shown in the plan above.

More detail on this to follow soon.

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Structural roof from above

 

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Structural roof looking south

 

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Structural roof looking north

 

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Trusses on the trilithons

 

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Bird’s eye view – trusses on the trilithons

 

 The blue-stones supported for the front edge of an oval gallery.
The blue-stones supported for the front edge of an oval gallery.

View up to the roof trusses.

 

STONEHENGE COMPLETE.

When thatched the building looked something like this.

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Stonehenge complete, axial view

 

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Stonehenge complete, side view

 

first sketch of the roof_resize

My first sketch was nearly right!

Sunstone elevations Black and white. - Copy

 A VIEW INSIDE STONEHENGE.

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EVIDENCE again!

 To back up theories detailed above are nine points.

  1. The trilithons are set to a pre-drawn design.
  2. Some Blue-stones are obviously lintels.
  3. The Blue-stone grooves had structural purpose.
  4. That four large evenly-spaced trusses rest on the trilithons perfectly.
  5. The ‘oval’ formed by truss-foot locations isn’t imagined – it exists!
  6. A height difference between the trilithons is necessary to raise all four trusses from horizontal to vertical. This exists.
  7. The core-roof fits with outer-ring of sarcens.
  8. The outer Blue-stone circle is perfectly located to provide, in association with missing structural timbers, midway support for lower roof.
  9. The Blue-stone oval fits the setting out plan.

STILL TO COME.

Internal layout of the building, details of the galleries, ideas on the buildings intended use, method of heating.

THE BRONZE-AGE PEOPLE.

Some thoughts:

• Consider bronze-age people’s needs as similar to ours – for shelter, food and fun, enjoyed with family and friends. That they worked, crafted and traded is obvious. I expect they enjoyed both religious and secular parties, celebrations and performances.
• Remember – Stonehenge was in Wessex (now Wiltshire) in England, where for eight months of the year, weather is unpredictable and usually cool.
• That it’s likely folk were capable, intelligent and ingenius.
• Remember – bronze-age people were not stone-age folk; they didn’t wear furry loin-cloths!

Ordinary capable people.

Our bronze-age ancestors were ordinary capable people.

Building Stonehenge