Operation Stonehenge episode 2

The forecast for the December day made it look cold and grey outside, even though it was still dark at 6am.   In the brightly-lit farm kitchen the sizzling bacon smelt fabulous.   We all tucked in – bacon rolls, bowls of cereal, mugs of coffee and tea.

As daylight broke, we drove up towards the Down.   In Pickledean, the cameraman set up gear including a crane for overhead shots and a bed for controlled panning at grass level, while the sound guy complained about the rustling made by synthetic fibres of modern outdoors clothing.

sarsens

Sarsens

Much ambling about the stones later, and talking, and filming, and more talking, and it was time for lunch.

In the afternoon, the sky grew ever more grey as the sarsen slowly grew more white.  This is what they had really come for.   Action shots; noisy shots; things that look good on telly.   Technology; experience; knowledge; clever prehistoric people who did amazing things with simple materials.   Other things that might surprise the general viewer – who knew that bits of Stonehenge were once gleaming white?*

Worked sarsen

Worked sarsen

A day’s work for a few minutes of a TV programme.   Possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done yet.   It’s easy to extemporize on a subject; less easy to stick to a story line and give the Director exactly the words and style of delivery he’s after with only a few minutes of instruction.   I think I’d do it much better if I was asked again.

You’ll be able to watch it via the BBC iplayer for a bit, and no doubt there’ll be repeats.   Operation Stonehenge, episode 2, was broadcast on BBC2 on 18 and 20 September.

* all of the Stonehenge sarsens, according to the Production team, rather than just the ones that were worked, and the ones that didn’t have too much brown iron oxide running through them.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Operation Stonehenge episode 2

  1. After watching the second episode of BBC2’s “Operation Stonehenge”, where you try to find a technology to produce parts for the construction of Stonehenge, I realized that you have not tried with methodology fire / water to weaken the stone before hammering. I am firmly convinced that this would be more likely than simply hitting with the harder stone.
    I would appreciate your comment.

    • Hi Predrag, thanks for getting in touch. My work so far has focused on the tools and techniques for finishing the stone surfaces after the initial shaping. A number of the Stonehenge sarsens have finely finished surfaces, although not all of them. This is what I have concentrated on.

      The fire/water breaking techniques suggested for removing large pieces of stone to get the initial shapes are really interesting. The most recent attempt to try this out that I know of was in 2001; described in Gillings et al (2008) “Landscape of the Megaliths”. Fire and water were used to break up sarsens in the past – for example as described by John Aubrey. I’m not convinced that this technique was used in prehistory for Stonehenge, but the research hasn’t been done yet. I worry about how much control, or not, was possible. Mike Pitts (2000) in his book “Hengeworld” suggests that knapping techniques were more important for shaping the sarsens.

      Yours, Katy

  2. After watching the second episode of BBC2’s “Operation Stonehenge”, where you try to find a technology to produce parts for the construction of Stonehenge, I realized that you have not tried with methodology fire / water to weaken the stone before hammering. I am firmly convinced that this would be more likely than simply hitting with the harder stone.
    I would appreciate your comment.

    P.S. Sorry if my comment was doubled. I was not sure did I sent it properly…

  3. Pingback: Hitting things | artefactual

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s