WorldWide Drilling Resource

23 OCTOBER 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Solving the Mysteries of Stonehenge Compiled by Caleb Whitaker WorldWide Drilling Resource® Stonehenge is a famous megalithic monument located on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. The structure was built in several stages with the first monument being an early henge structure, constructed about 5000 years ago. In 2500 B.C., the unique stone circle was built. Then in the early Bronze Age, many burial mounds were added nearby. Building the stone circle would have been a huge undertaking, needing hundreds of people to transport, shape, and erect the stones. Additional people would have been needed to provide food for workers and supply equipment, including hammerstones, ropes, antler picks, and timber. A project of this size would have required careful engineering, planning, and organization. As published in the October 2020 issue of Worldwide Drilling Resource®, workers hired to restore the monument in 1958, drilled into one of the stones and extracted core samples. In recent years, these core samples have been analyzed by researchers trying to solve many mysteries surrounding Stonehenge. A team of researchers affiliated with a host of institutions in the UK, South Africa, and Belgium have discovered why Stonehenge has survived for so long. The research effort involved slicing the core sample into very thin wafers, which allowed for a wide variety of geochemical studies. Researchers also used CT scans, X-rays, and microscopy on the samples. They concluded the stone was 99% quartz with different grain sizes. Quartz is an extremely durable mineral, and it does not easily crumble or erode. Furthermore, the sand-sized quartz grains in the rock used at Stonehenge created an interlocking mosaic of crystals, which the researchers noted served as a type of natural cement. This helps explain how the stones used to build Stonehenge have not drastically deteriorated. The explanation for the stones’ durability leads researchers to speculate whether the Neolithic people who constructed the monument knew these stones were more durable. This would represent quite the engineering achievement for the builders of Stonehenge. While many theories exist as to why Stonehenge was built, the analysis of the core samples is great evidence to support builders constructed the structure with longevity in mind. Stonehenge courtesy of the English Heritage Society. The core sample used in the analysis and the location in the stone it was drilled courtesy of English Heritage Society. ENV