The mystery of Stonehenge is one of the longest-running in human history. Erected 5,000 years ago, the giant stones have been the subject of movies, conspiracy theories and a lot of research, yet have remained shrouded in mystery. Now, scientists can finally say where the stones came from—but they’re still totally stumped as to how, and why, they got to Stonehenge.
About a hundred years ago, scientists thought they had figured out the source of the stones. But a new analysis of the stones’ composition suggests that they came from an outcropping even further away. Tia Ghose at Live Science explains:
In 1923, geologist Herbert H. Thomas pinpointed the source of one type of the stones, known as dolerite bluestones, to a rocky outcropping known as Carn Meini on high ground in the Preseli Hills of western Wales. He became convinced the other bluestones (made from other types of igneous, or magmatic, rock) came from the nearby location of Carn Alw. That, in turn, lent credence to the theory that Stonehenge's builders transported the stones south, downhill, to the Bristol Channel, then floated them by sea to the site.
This new study, however, found that the levels of elements like chromium, nickel, magnesium oxide and iron oxide point to a slightly different location. According to this new analysis, about half the bluestones at Stonehenge actually came a place called Carn Goedog, about 1.8 miles further north.
Adding two miles to the stone’s trip is interesting, but dwarfed when compared to how far the stones had to travel to actually get to their current resting place. Somehow, 5,000 years ago, people managed to transport the giant rocks 140 miles. How they did that is still a mystery.