A NEW AND UNIQUE THEORY ON THE MOVEMENT
OF HEAVY STONES
by Gordon Pipes
All Contents on this page are Copyright 2004 by Gordon Pipes
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission
A pyramid can be constructed without the use of ramps, heavy stones can
be moved without dragging them along and with 75% less manpower than is
presently thought necessary. This article will show how. It has been
compiled as a result of actual experiments conducted in my back yard with
a 4 ton block of concrete made expressly for this purpose and hopefully
will lead to properly conducted experiments that will prove this theory
- How to elevate a 50ton stone to the upper levels of a pyramid without the
use of ramps, ropes or extensive manpower.
- How the ancient Britons could have transported the sarsen stones to
Stonehenge without dragging them along.
- How to erect a 40ton stone without the use of ramps, ropes or 'A' frames
and with less than 25 men.
- How to place the lintel stones on the uprights at Stonehenge with less
than a dozen men.
IS THIS REALLY HOW PRE-HISTORIC MAN BUILT STONEHENGE AND THE PYRAMIDS ?
The picture shows a 40 ton stone being hauled down a slope of 1:20, note the
apparent strain on the leg muscles of the men on the ropes, remember this is
downhill. How long do you think the human frame can maintain this kind of
Archaeologists would have us believe men can haul such loads uphill and
down-dale all day long. If you believe them, try this little experiment. Take
the car and park it on a gentle slope, release the handbrake and gravity will
propel the car downhill. Now stop the car and see how far you can push it back
up the slope before your leg muscles cry stop. Do not try this experiment unless
you are fully fit.
Quote by Prof I E S Edwards, British Museum.
"Only one method of lifting heavy weights was open to the Egyptians, namely
by means of ramps composed of brick and earth which sloped upwards from the
level of the ground to whatever height was desired".
This statement by Prof Edwards is just an opinion, not a fact.
Quote by Prof John Baines, Oxford university.
"As the pyramid grew in height the length of the ramp and the width of its
base were increased in order to maintain a constant gradient ( about 1 in 10 )
and to prevent the ramp from collapsing. Several ramps approaching the pyramid
from different sides were probably used".
Again an opinion, not a fact.
HAVE THESE LEARNED GENTLEMEN EVER ACTUALLY TRIED DRAGGING SUCH STONES ABOUT?
EXPERTS ARE NEVER 100% RIGHT 100% OF THE TIME
In this case I believe the "Experts" are 100% wrong, in fact I know the
experts are wrong. A pyramid can be constructed without the use of ramps, heavy
stones can be moved without dragging them along and with 75% less manpower than
is presently thought necessary.
The Great Pyramid contains over 2 million cubic metres of stone.
A ramp with a gradient of 1 in 10 capable of reaching the top of this
pyramid would need to be 4800ft long and would contain 8 million cubic meters of
If the builders of the Great Pyramid had used a ramp to construct
the pyramid, what did they do with the 8 million cubic meters of ramp when it
To answer this question Egyptologists have come up with a novel solution.
Instead of constructing a mile long ramp up which to haul the stones, build a
ramp that wrapped itself around the pyramid. Much less material would then be
required, solving the problem of subsequent disposal. BRILLIANT!!! Eh, not
The Great Pyramid was constructed using dressed stone blocks each
weighting from 2 to 12 tons on the outer skin, in-filled with random stone and
rubble. A number of chambers and passages were created inside the pyramid as it
was being built, the most amazing of which is the main burial chamber which was
constructed in the upper levels of the pyramid, This chamber was then sealed
with more than 40 massive slabs of granite each weighing as much as 50 tons.
If a ramp which wrapped around the pyramid was used to move these
massive slabs of granite, how did the builders negotiate the corners of the
ramp? This operation would be difficult with even the smallest of the stones
used in the building of the pyramid (2 tons), extremely difficult with larger
stones ( up to 12 tons ) but would have been totally impossible with a stone
weighting 50 tons. To haul such a stone up a ramp of 1 in 10 would require a
team of at least 400 men pulling on ropes strung out far in front of the stone,
when the leading members of this team rounded the first corner they would be
unable to assist further, bringing the whole operation to a halt. Without a
system of pulleys ( and pulleys at this time had not been invented ) this idea
simply will not work.
POWER OF LEVERS
For more than 20 years I have been looking for an answer to the problems
posed above. When the answer came it was all so simple. Instead
of trying to find a way of dragging heavy stones 20 miles or more ( in the case
of Stonehenge ) find a way to move the stones just a few feet, but in a way that
takes so little effort it can be repeated time and again.
I knew that levers could be employed to lift extremely heavy objects with
almost no effort at all. Suddenly I could see how to move the object at the same
time equally effortlessly. ( In theory anyway, but would it work in practice)
A visit to see my friend ( a local builders merchant ) confirmed the theory.
The two of us were able to move a pallet full of concrete curbstones quite
I was sufficiently encouraged to contemplate a more ambitious experiment.
Lack of available space, money and helpers put a limit on my ambitions however.
In the end I decided that an experiment with a stone of 4 tons would be both
meaningful and within my scope. I worked out the dimensions of a concrete block
that would weight 4 tons, built a mould and filled it with concrete.
The experiment was set up as below.
With the stone in this configuration moving the stone along the track is easy
- STEP1. press down on the ends of the levers. (The stone will rise
clear of the support logs).
- STEP 2. While holding the levers down move the ends of the levers
forwards. (The stone will move back along the track).
- STEP 3. Release the levers. (The stone will settle in a new position
on the track).
- STEP 4. Reposition the levers, this can be done simply by raising
the end of the lever above head height until it is clear of the fulcrum
log and walking back to a new starting position. The stone will now be
in a new position on the track (about 2 feet along) and the lever will
have automatically repositioned ready for the next lift. This operation
can be repeated time and again all day long without causing undue
tiredness in the lever operators. With practice it should be possible to
move the stone up to 1 mile per day.
Below is a series of obvious questions you might like to ask about this
Question & Answers
Q: What were the levers made of and what size?
A: Freshly felled young larch tree
trunks 20ft long and 6in in diameter at the base.
Q: Could the method be used on bigger stone, such as the sarsen stones at
Stonehenge weighting up to 40tons?.
Q: Yes. I estimate that as few as 24 levers of
this size arranged 12 on each side, with two men on each lever would be more
than sufficient to lift and move a stone of 40tons.
Q: Would there be a problem synchronizing that many levers?
A: No. a simple whistle
or drum would be enough. Such a system worked well on the Roman slave galleys.
In practise the weight of the stone helps.
Q: How does the weight of the stone help synchronization?
A: Until all the lever operators are working in unison the stone simply will not
Q: Is the position of the fulcrum log important?
A: Vitally. The nearer the fulcrum
log to the stone, the easier it is to lift. However this results in less
distance gained with each lift. More research needs to be done to find the
Q: What is wrong with the old idea of moving the stones on timber rollers?
idea has been tested by archaeologists and abandoned for a variety of reasons.
Below is an extract from a paper presented to the British Academy entitled
Science and Stonehenge by archaeologist Julian Richards and engineer Mark Whitby.
"The orthodox method using rollers to move the stone was considered but
rejected. Subsequent experiments in moving the 10 tonne lintel proved that it is
a practical system, but has limitations. The direction of the stone is difficult
to control on all but the most level ground and the method involves high risk as
rollers have to be placed ahead of the moving object. As the load goes up, the
system becomes prone to binding as the weight of the whole load will at times
bear on only one or two of the rollers due to the unevenness either in the
rollers or in the ground surface. The latter can be overcome by running the
rollers on a flat, possibly timber track, and the former by selecting rollers of
a uniform diameter. However, directional control remains an issue, as any roller
placed out of true to the track will cause the load to veer off."
Overcoming all the problems with this method is more difficult than is suggested
in this extract. To find rollers of a uniform diameter would have been almost
impossible for pre-historic man. I presume tree trunks would have been used for
the rollers, tree trunks naturally taper in their length, and are therefore
useless as rollers as a tapering roller will roll in circles. Hand crafting such
a roller to a uniform diameter with stone tools would have been extremely
difficult, if not impossible. Hand crafting sufficient of these rollers to
exactly the same diameter? I offer no comment.
Q: OK. What about greased slipways?
A: This idea works well downhill, although the
slipway must be smooth and level. On level ground it is much more difficult and
on anything but the slightest of uphill gradients almost impossible.
Using a greased slipway as a method for transporting stones has one great
drawback. While the idea makes good sense when travelling downhill (gravity will
do most of the work), uphill, gravity becomes the enemy. With the friction
between stone and ground reduced, the force of gravity on anything but the most
gentle of gradients will send the stone back downhill. In the case of the Great
Pyramid, with a stone of 50 tons on a slope of 1 in 10 this force will become
irresistible when the pulling team begin to tire (as they surely must). When the
team are unable to resist this pressure any longer, gravity will take over and
the stone will begin, slowly at first, but with increasing speed and momentum,
its journey back down the ramp.
Q: Will your method work uphill?
Having satisfied myself that the method worked on level ground, the next
question was, will it work uphill. This was the big question, (I accept that
heavy stones could have been hauled downhill, however I was skeptical how far
Neolithic man could have hauled stones of the size that make up Stonehenge over
level ground before exhaustion set in. Furthermore I was convinced that hauling
such stones uphill would prove impossible, human leg muscles are not up to the
task.) As I had no way of moving the stone to a suitable hill, I decided to jack
up the track to an angle of 1:8.
Unbelievably it was no more difficult to move the stone up the ramp than it
had been to move it on level ground, with one exception, after step one "pull
down the levers" step two "push the levers forward" had to be initiated
immediately, otherwise gravity took over and caused both the levers and the
stone to slide down the ramp. This problem was overcome by having a "brakeman"
behind the stone using a short lever as a brake, as long as the "brakeman"
prevented the stone from gaining any initial momentum, (and this was not
difficult) moving the stone to the top of the ramp was as easy as on level
The method was now beginning to show massive advantages over orthodox
theories, stones could now be moved up fairly steep hills, (I am confident that
hills much steeper than 1 in 8 could be negotiated this way) without greatly
increasing the workforce. Thus such stones could be transported in a direct line
from there place of origin. Only a crude log track-way was needed, a small
workforce (less than one man per ton of stone even uphill). Great economy of
effort means the team can work all day. The advantages are such that I believe
this idea deserves serious consideration by academics.
Erecting the stones
Flushed with success from my experiments I began to wonder if the same small
workforce could also erect the stones, using the same crude implements, wooden
levers and rough logs.
After much head scratching I eventually began to see how it might be
possible. I dug a hole and positioned the stone horizontally across it. The idea
was to raise the horizontal stone into the air (levers were again used for this
task) supporting it as it rose on two stacks of rough logs. As I had no logs
available I used timber pallets instead. When the stone had reached what I
estimated as the right height I placed a collapsible 'A' frame (made from two
rough logs joined together at one end with a wooden dowel, a length of rope
between the legs of the 'A' frame held the legs in place) under one end of the
stone so that the stone was now resting on the 'A' frame at one end and the
tower of pallets at the other. I now removed the tower of pallets that had
Now all I had to do was cut the rope holding the legs of the 'A' frame and
the 'A' frame would collapse allowing the stone to fall into the hole, as it did
so the forward motion created by this action would propel the stone perfectly
upright. That was the theory anyway. To accomplish this safely I built a small
fire under the rope, light it and retired to a safe distance. As I had no way of
retrieving the stone once it was planted this experiment had to be 100%
successful first time. Unfortunately, I had overlooked one thing, as the stone
arced down and into the hole the stack of pallets moved back, it was only a
matter of inches but it robbed the stone of much of its forward momentum. The
stone was bang on target but only stood at about 80 degrees.
I could not repeat the experiment, as I had no way of retrieving the stone.
However I was fairly satisfied, the stone was in the hole and I was confident
that if I ever got the chance to repeat the experiment with a bigger stone, next
time I would get it right. All that was needed to stop the support tower moving
was a buttress of wooden props. this would ensure the stone finished perfectly
Although this experiment was conducted on a stone of only 4 tons, I am
confident that this method will work just as well on a stone even as big as the
biggest at Stonehenge, 40 tons.
The advantages of this method are:
- Great savings in manpower. A 40 ton stone could be erected by a team of less than 25 men.
- Great savings in time. The whole operation could be completed in one day.
- No preparations required. The orthodox method requires the
construction of a massive earth ramp (read the segment below).
* * *
Another extract from the paper entitled "Science and Stonehenge".
Raising the uprights.
"This part of the experiment involved raising one of the 40 tonne uprights to
vertical in a stone-hole (prepared by machine excavation) the profile of which
was based on that of stone 56 excavated by Gowland. the assumption was made that
the stone was inserted from the ramped side of the hole.
Most published diagrams and illustrations of raising the stones to vertical
show various systems whereby the stone is levered up from its top end, or hauled
up using ropes on a timber 'A' frame (see for example Atkinson 1956, 128;
English Heritage 1995; 26-70) Both systems would require a lifting force of at
least 20 tonnes, some 3.5 times greater than the maximum 6 tonne force generated
by the team of 130 volunteers. Whilst the 'A' frame could give some considerable
mechanical advantage and levers could be used to generate lifting force, both
systems lack the necessary control that would ensure that the stone could be
inserted into the hole without sliding forward on tilting and jamming against
its front face. Precise positioning of the stone would be of critical importance
as its recovery from a partially inserted position would have been extremely
difficult. A system was required which allowed the stone to rotate to an angle
of 70 degrees from horizontal, to clear the front face of the stone-hole and
finally drop the remaining short distance into the bottom of the hole.
The approach that was adopted recognised that for the stone to rotate
successfully into the hole, it would require a hard 'pivot point' on which to
rotate. An alternative means of generating the force required to rotate the
stone was also sought. The most suitable pivot point that could be envisaged was
one of stone and initial thoughts were that the upright could be notched in
order to hook over the pivot stone as it rotated. The present appearance of the
upright sarsens at Stonehenge does not support this concept which was eventually
modified to one where the front of a wooden sledge, to which the upright was
tightly lashed, provided the 'notch'. The pivot 'stone', triangular in section
and reminiscent of some of the wedge-shaped stones in the sarsen circle, was
made of reinforced concrete and was set immediately adjacent to the stone-hole,
the line of the sloping face of which extended up through the sloping side of
the pivot stone (70 degrees from horizontal). A ramp of crushed stone
(representing a chalk ramp) laid to a slope of 1 in 20 was constructed behind
the pivot stone, and timber rails, identical to those employed in the moving
experiment, were laid on its surface.
Trial models suggested that the pivot was best set 1500 mm above the ground
level, so that the stone, bearing in mind it was heavier at its 'bottom' end due
to its shape, was not in danger of overbalancing either forward when near the
horizontal or backwards once tipped to an angle of 70 degrees. The stone was
placed on a sledge on the ramp with its centre of gravity positioned to the rear
of the pivot point. In order to provide force to assist with the rotation of the
stone, timber rails were placed along its length and on these was placed a small
wooden sledge to which were lashed six, 1 tonne concrete blocks. The principle
of this method was that the near horizontal stone could be pivoted using the
weight of the 'tilting stones' as they reached the tip of the stone overhanging
the hole. The stone was lashed to the sledge in such a position that
theoretically, on completion of its rotation through 70 degrees, the leading
edge of the sledge would engage with the lip of the pivot stone. The stone would
be held momentarily in this position before breaking free of its lashings and
dropping into the base of the hole"
See drawing below.
When the stone had settled in the hole it was hauled upright as in the photo
below by means of ropes attached to a massive 'A' frame.
I have several reservations about accepting this as the method used by the
builders of Stonehenge. Firstly, the amount of preparation required, hundreds of
hours wasted building a ramp with a hard pivot point, more hours wasted making
thousands of yards of rope by hand.
Secondly, the use of an 'A' frame as gearing to reduce the amount of manpower
required, it is one thing to suggest that Neolithic man probably knew how to use
a simple lever, (something he could have discovered by accident thousands of
years before) but something else entirely to presume that he had a grasp of the
engineering principals involved in using an 'A' frame as gearing.
Thirdly, the amount of manpower required, even using an 'A' frame at least
130 individuals, without the use of an 'A' frame around 400. The population of
Britain at this time was small and spread thinly from Cornwall in the south, to
the Orkneys off the northern coast of Scotland.
* * *
Raising The Lintel Stones
I was happy that with a limited workforce heavy stones could be transported
to and erected on site at Stonehenge without undue effort and using only
materials that were readily available at the time Stonehenge was built. Only one
question remained. Could the lintel stones be put in place just as easily?
Raising the lintel stones is a comparatively easy task. Use the same method
as used when elevating the upright stones prior to erection. A crib of logs is
progressively inserted under the stone as it is being raised by the levers. When
the levers have reached a height that causes difficulty for the operators,
provide the operators with a platform on which to work that rises as the stone
This method has been tried and tested by archaeologists with some success,
below is an extract from a paper presented to the British Academy by
archaeologist Julian Richards.
"The timber 'crib', essentially a platform of alternating horizontally laid
timbers, has often been suggested as the method by which the lintels were
raised. Some illustrations show a plank decking on which workers use levers to
raise alternate ends of the lintel, which are then supported before the process
continues. This method was tested using a platform of railway sleepers and
demonstrated that the lintel could be raised quite satisfactorily. Each end of
the stone could be raised by the depth of a railway sleeper (approximately 150
mm). The process of levering was shown to be quite easy and swift, with
considerably more time being taken to raise the remainder of the platform up to
the corresponding level. Once the platform had reached a height above which a
direct down-ward pull could not be applied to the ends of the levers, then the
levers could only be operated by means of ropes. Operated in this way the levers
were prone to slipping."
Had the archaeologists concerned with this experiment thought to provide the
lever operators with a working platform as in the sketch above this problem
would not have arisen. The stone could then have been raised to whatever height
was required easily and swiftly.
Below is another extract from the paper presented to the British Academy
entitled "Science and Stonehenge".
"The method devised for raising the lintel (see below) is essentially a
variation on the ramp method suggested by a number of previous authors (e.g.
Stone 1924a) and tested at a considerable scale by Pavel (Pavel 1992). A 30
degree scaffolding ramp was constructed, intended to represent one built of
timber and earth, but with due regard to health and safety.
A slipway of three parallel wooden rails was built on the ramp up which the
lintel was to be hauled, lashed to a sideways running sledge. At the point at
which the angled ramp joined the horizontal decking around the top of the
uprights, the final section of the rails projected the 30 degree ramp angle. The
rails here were designed to break as the stone reached this point, allowing it
to slide the final horizontal distance of 1.5 m into a position just in front of
the two uprights. The level of this was such that it was set to clear the top of
the tenons on the upright stones, by running off the slipway onto two greased
blocks set on top of the stones.
It was calculated that the force required to haul the 10 tonne lintel up the
greased slope of 30 degrees was approximately 6 tonnes, with a team of 90 people
the lintel on its sledge was hauled up the ramp using the 'A' frame lever, at
each stage the sledge was tied back and the lever reset. Once teething problems
with both lashing and with the sledge binding on the rails had been overcome,
the lintel was raised in about 3 hours. However in pulling up the ramp, the
lintel had drifted out of line with the tenons and was 100 mm out of position.
Over 4 hours was then spent coaxing the stone over that final short distance
Reading this last sentence I can only presume that modern man has forgotten
how to use levers correctly. By using levers correctly, with the necessary
fulcrums an adjustment of 100 mm should take no more than a minute. It is not
therefore surprising that modern archaeologists cling to the notion that the
only way Stonehenge and the pyramids could have been achieved is by means of
The ancient Egyptians could also have used this method to build the pyramids.
Why build a massive ramp to haul heavy stones up a pyramid, when the pyramid
itself is nothing but a giant staircase up which it is easy to move a stone with
levers? Elevate the stone to the level of the first step, then use the pivoting
action to move the stone onto the step. Again provide the lever operators with a
simple working platform that rises at the same rate as the stone. As the stone
progresses up the pyramid the support logs at the lower level can be reused as
they become redundant.
Using this method to build pyramids offers many advantages, great saving in
manpower, less than ten men to transport and to elevate a stone of 10 tons.
Great savings in construction time, by eliminating the need to construct
ramps, the volume of which would necessarily have had to be around three times
the volume of the pyramid itself, this time could be devoted to pyramid
With only a comparatively small team needed to transport and elevate each
stone many more stones could be moved at the same time by any given workforce,
each stone could be delivered to the exact point of the pyramid were it is
needed and many stones at once could be elevated from all four sides.
To anyone who remains unconvinced by my arguments I conclude with one last
fact. Two thousand years before the building of Stonehenge or the pyramids,
stone-age man was transporting a large stone several kilometres across northern
France. Known as Le Grand Menhir Brise this stone, now broken into four pieces,
lies on the coast near the town of Carnac. Compared to anything used in the
construction of either Stonehenge or the pyramids this stone is truly colossal.
According to archaeologists it once stood erect and was as tall as a four storey
building, it is estimated to weigh as much as 350 tons!!! An army of thousands,
hauling on ropes, could not have moved this stone, not by so much as one inch!
Yet it was moved several kilometres by our ancestors. How? There can be only one
answer to this question, levers.
It is my ambition to repeat the experiments described on this web site on a
more meaningful scale, using a stone of perhaps 10 or even 40 or 50 tons. As an
ordinary working man, a carpenter, I lack the resources to further this
ambition. If you think you may be able to help in this respect, or would just
like to comment on the experiments so far, I would be pleased to
hear from you.
Copyright © 2004 by Gordon Pipes
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission
About the Author
Gordon Pipes is a carpenter. He is presently working on a
book about his experiments and attempts to convince the establishment of
the validity of these theories.
Many thousands of construction workers, farmers, third world villagers,
etc could tell the academics how to move heavy stones with levers, but few
are interested in pre-history so they have not applied their knowledge to
the problems of the pyramids, Stonehenge etc.
Gordon Pipes web site:
Coral Castle Links
In construction, concrete is a composite building material made
from the combination of aggregate and cement binder.
The most common form of concrete consists of Portland cement,
mineral aggregates (generally gravel and sand) and water. Contrary
to common belief, concrete does not solidify from drying after
mixing and placement. Instead, the cement hydrates, gluing the other
components together and eventually creating a stone-like material.
When used in the generic sense, this is the material referred to by
the term concrete. Concrete is used to make pavements, building
structures, foundations, motorways/roads, overpasses, parking
structures, brick/block walls and bases for gates, fences and poles.
Concrete is used more than any other man-made material on the
planet, with water being the only substance on Earth we utilize
more. An old name for concrete is liquid stone.