Friday, May 27, 2011

Recreating the Crime?

by C.L. Phillips

Nova on PBS recently examined the many mysteries of Stonehenge.  You know, the big rock thing in England.  I was fascinated by a minor part of the story.

A 70 mm round ball.  Actually a set of different balls, each ornate and beautiful with only one common attribute - diameter.  Were they Christmas tree ornaments?  Large marbles?  Dinosaur toys?

At the risk of ruining the story, let me say *spoiler alert*.  Watch the show if you don't want to know the ending right now.

The round balls were early ball bearings, created between 3000 and 2500 B.C.  These little round balls were the secret to moving the huge stones one hundred and fifty miles from the rock quarry in Pembrokeshire, Wales to their final resting place at Stonehenge, England.  Don't ask me why they have beautiful patterns hand-carved into the stone.  Or why it took archeologists until 2010 to discover their true use.  Make that alleged true use.

Since we don't have any eyewitness accounts from that time, archeologists are speculating.

Why am I so engrossed by these stone balls?  Because they represent the ultimate mystery clue.  Hiding in plane sight, examined by every researcher for probably two hundred years, they provide a plausible theory as to how the stones at Stonehenge came to be.  As a mystery novelist, I dream of creating compelling clues like this.

My question to you - what is your ball bearing?  What have you hidden in plain sight, only to have your readers discover in the denouement, and shriek, "of course!"

Go ahead, spill some secrets.  You know you want to.  

And for those of you in the United States, as you reflect on Memorial Day, send a kind word or thought to our service men and women, our emergency first responders, and the families across the Midwest and South struggling to recover from the recent storms.  Our thoughts are with you.


Gina said...

Interesting post, C.L., especially the part about archeologists not figuring out the use of the round balls. When I was in Malta several years ago, there were similar stone balls at megalithic sites, and their use in moving the big stones was known then. I wonder why it took archeologists in Britain so long to catch on?

C.L. Phillips said...


Good question. It might have been the fact that the balls looked so different, or that they were found 150 miles away.

I couldn't help wondering if they would turn up in an Agatha Christie novel. :)


Diane_Holmes said...

Great article, Cindy! And what an excellent example of planting "game changing" clues. :)

Patg said...

The latest round of 'how they moved them' theory is interesting enough, but logs or large balls the distances to drag those stones is still the major mystery.
Frankly, I'm sticking with alien visitors. Around the same time a whole mountain top was made flat with no debris below in Peru (we won't even mention Nasca), and instructions to build a landing pod for a cone bottomed vehicle was made available in India. All mysteriers and there are many more.
I forget where those mega-ton-carved-to-connect-stone blocks are, but their preciseness is greater than the pyramids'.
And the largest "ball" carving is the huge stones in Mexico with faces that seem to have helmets.
And science magazines scratch their heads and wonder why a little archeology or astronomy in every issue guarantees better sales. Humph!;)

C.L. Phillips said...


Now I'm off to google Nasca!


Good to see you again. Hope your interview yesterday introduced you to some new writers. Thanks again.


Diane_Holmes said...

Thanks, Cindy! I've loved meeting the Writing Stiffs community! Hope to see you all at Pitch U. :)

Anonymous said...

The 'huge' stones came from the chalklands around Stonehenge, only the relatively small Bluestones came from Wales. If you put 'ball bearing' stones under the massive sandstone blocks (sarsens) that make up the Iconic structure (and in contact with a second hard surface to allow movement) they would be crushed to dust in moments.

AJ said...

I don't believe the Stonehenge ball bearing theory either. But if you really want to see what people have missed ever since Stonehenge has been investigated (over 400 years) have a look at 'Solving Stonehenge'. This book deals with hard evidence and is described by Thames & Hudson as a 'detective story', and more in keeping with the sentiment here than myths and speculation.