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As Merlin Said
"To Carry the Stones the Giants Must Dance"

This site presents a new theory about Henges, Stonehenge, Woodhenges, Stone Circles, Seahenges, Standing Stones and Rock Art. The development and file of a Portuguese patent technology PT103437 of 17 February 2006 and recently the international patent application PCT WO2007/094693 of 23 August 2007, were based on the study of an engineering principle proposed by professor S.D.Antunes. The development of the patents called the attention to the design and construction of Stonehenge resulting in this article about Henges and Engineering in Prehistory.

The new Henge theory has been discovered in the 17 January 2005 and has been developed crossing engineering know how with stones monuments and archeology information. This theory is not confirmed by Archaeologist experts, it is based only in engineering investigation associated to gears technologies. Further studies must be carried on to validate Archeology perspective. This site pretends to be the beginning of more studies having a totally new point of view about Prehistoric Societies.
In Memory of Professor S.D.Antunes
“Ser Professor não é só saber mas também saber ensinar.”
To be a Professor is not only to know but also to know how to teach.



1 - Introduction


The tools used in prehistory were rudimentary because the production means and know how did not existed as they exist today. Therefore the solutions that have been found had to be simpler but having higher effectiveness because even today they surprise us with monuments that cannot be fully understood. Some of our today sophisticated techniques can become obsolete if we apply and use the same technology with already several thousands years.

What is an Henge?

The traditional definition can be found in the web, one of them says it is a monument comprising a circular ditch with an external bank which encloses a circle or number of circles of stones or wooden posts. Henge is literally, "hanging rock", this term is often applied to the Neolithic stone monoliths found in Britain. This concept of Henge needs to be revalidated.

The new concept of henge proposed here is wider than the traditional one and needs to be explained. The Henges were tools created by "Engineers" in prehistory to allow the traction of heavy loads. The technology developed by them was based in nutating structures having high speed reduction ratios and very high torques. They could be used to transport or move heavy loads such as stones and other goods. The Henges should be understood as a whole, the "rocks for nutating hanging structures" and the structure itself. More, the Henge doesn't have necessarily to have rocks, because it can only have a ditch and a structure.

An Henge is nothing more than a prehistoric crane to move heavy loads.

Everything happened at a time where the Man intended to work the iron and bronze. The casting was a promising activity and probably it would be necessary to carry ore to casting places as well as moving other essential goods throughout great and long distances. The Henges could also be used for agriculture to farm and plow the land, but there are no evidences of this. But Man also would want to work the stones, to polish and cut rocks, and thus he would have the necessity to carry them to places where means, technicians and experts existed to work them. The Henge mechanisms, as the case of Stonehenge, would be in this time a source of income and prestige for their owners, who would charge taxes to transport loads and who could have subordinated workers.

The Henges would be without doubt the main axle of development and progress of these prehistoric populations.

This way Henges were composed normally by two structures, a fixed structure that could be a circular ditch or a stone circle and an hanging circular nutating structure, certainly constructed in wood. The henges could also have an axle structure, normaly a standing stone that worked as the structure to hang the circular nutating structure where could be hanged a shaft. The Henges were design to pull heavy loads with ropes, this way ropes were tied to the hanging circular nutating structures and rolled around the structure in zigzag. If a central shaft were used than the rope could be rolled in this shaft with higher torque results.

2 - Technology

The technology concept is quite simple and can be explained throwing a coin to the table. When the coin is oscillating in the table and before it stops you can see that the face of the coin is rotating slowly in one direction while the tip of the coin in the circular peripheral region touches the table in a fast oscillating motion. This motion is called nutation and simultaneously it can have a planetary motion. Imagine you could walk over the periphery of the coin, pushing it hardly to the table so that no slipping occur between the coin and the table. Then attach a rope to one tip of the coin and roll it around the periphery, the rope will be pulled slowly at the speed of the rotation of the coin face because the perimeter of the coin is different of the perimeter where the coin touches the table.
The Henges work the same way, but in a bigger proportion and very slowly when compared to the coin. To achieve the non slipping contact the Henges can use circular stones so that a gearing mechanism between the structures is obtained. The number of teeth in both structures should have just one teeth difference so that maximum reduction can be achieved.

Why this technology was lost?


This question is quite difficult to answer and only with investigation and hard work we can reach closer to the answer.

The lose of the technology can explain why nobody else could understand what Henges were build for. Probably the circular wood structures have been destroyed by vandalism and/or burnt due to wood necessity, for heating, casting, or any other reason or could also be lost by degradation over long time. Those wood circular structures could also be carried from one side to the other, to places where other fixed structures of Henges already existed, this would depend of their necessities, for this reason it will be difficult to find vestiges, therefore they would be necessary in inferior number compared to fixed structures.

3 - Stonehenge

What is Stonehenge?

This question has been done over and over again along uncountable generations, this site proposes a completely new theory based on engineering principles. If this theory is correct then,

Stonehenge is a crane.

Stonehenge is a set of several Henge mechanisms, each one constructed in different phases and replaced or added by more efficient ones. Most of them were build with gearing technology. Stonehenge is the most known Henge of all time and is located in England, surely because of its dimensions and construction technique. It certainly had an intensive use at that time due to the stones degradation. It is a notable work of mechanic engineering, not only because of the dimensions and finishing quality of the stones that it has but also because of its efficient working principle that exceeds all the mechanics technology that existed until the Ninetieth or Twentieth Century. As we see it now, the circular sarsen stones correspond to a fixed circular gear with 30 teeth's that may have geared with a circular nutating wood gear, probably with 29 teeth's. Some evidences can be observed in the next figure.

This image shows current Stonehenge view. We can notice some tangential
lines in direction of the Sarsen circle. Those lines look like rope directions
that were used for traction ropes to transport heavy loads.

Numbers legend:

1 - Sarsen Stones
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 - Sarsen Stones tangent rope directions
8 - Trilithon Stones
9 - Initial ditch Henge
10, 12- Small ditch Henge
11 - Small Standing Stone Henge


The lines in the figure represent the most used rope directions (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) that are tangent to the main circular Sarsen Stones (1). The ditch (9) corresponds to an initial Henge. We can also figure out smaller Henges (10, 11, 12). Notice the filled ditch (9) intersections with the tangent directions of the ropes as well as the ditch Avenue directions. The first phase of Stonehenge could work only with the external big ditch (9) and a large circular wood structure that was moved by hand or by animals. The wood structure could have been hanged in a central stone shaft, but there is no evidence in the field. Next figure shows a red rope that could be rolled in zigzag near 180 degrees around the wood structure. A long walk around the ditch and over the wood structure would be necessary to result in a very slow rotation of the gear mechanism. The gear rotation would pull the rope slowly but with great force.


This figure shows how the first construction phase of Stonehenge could be used as a crane. A rope (in red) rolled to a nutating gear (in yellow) was pulled slowly but with great force.


Looking at the Sarsen stones, in the next figure, we can see how the circular wood structure (in red) worked inside the stones having attached ropes going out the structure in tangent directions. Take a closer look at the degraded stones at the lower right corner where the ropes usually scraped. The red wood structure would have 29 teeth's. The yellow structure would be another smaller henge with fewer teeth's. The blue line represents another henge, external to the Sarsen stones.


This image give us notion of the annular structures size
as well as rope directions.

Notice the lower right stones abrasion due to traction ropes (in red).

Abrasion of the stones due to traction ropes

The stones degradation due to the traction ropes can be seen in the tangential directions where the loads where transported. The type of nutating motion of the structure produced a movement of the rope up and down resulting in a wide stone abrasion.


This drawing make things clear, identifying several henges as well as stone positions and tangential rope directions.

English Heritage drawing with annular structures positions (Drawing based on fig. 13 of
Stonehenge in its Landscape: Twentieth-Century Excavations by Cleal et al)

An old balloon photo, before any land work took place at Stonehenge, reveals many more positions where Henges where used. Many of them using the same circular nutating wood structure represented here with the same color. Some of them may have been used for its own construction.

This is an old aerial photo taken from a war balloon that shows clearly the
positions of henge structures before land changes at Stonehenge.
The tangential lines can be analyzed to discover henges that worked together
with Stonehenge and find directions where loads could be transported.

Here we can see a computer model of the Sarsen stones and Bluestones with its internal circular nutating wood structure. A red box represents one or more people or animals that walked around and over the nutating structure, pushing it to the floor and forcing it to rotate. The circular nutating structure gears with the stones having a difference of one teeth.

This figure is a computer generated model of the Sarsen Stones of Stonehenge
with the internal wooden structure.

The rope (in red) could go inside the stone structure from one side and go out in the other side, but it could also be just attached to the wood nutating structured and rolled around it, going out only from one side where the load would be. Note the rotating directions of the structure, because of the minus one teeth, walking in the clock direction results in inverse clock rotation of the structure. The Henge can work in both directions.

This figure is a computer generated model of the Sarsen Stones of Stonehenge
with a traction rope around the wood structure that could go inside
the Sarsen circle in one side and go out from the other.

The reduction ratio of Stonehenge is 1:30 because the fixed structure has 30 teeth's and the internal should have 29 teeth's. This means that 30 turns around the henge will result in a full rotation of the nutating structure.

This figure shows a cut view of the model of the Sarsen Henge with its circular wood structure inside.
More information can be analyzed with elevation data from Google Earth. The elevation decreases along the Avenue. The Cursus elevation also decreases to the center. It looks like an old river was near Stonehenge where maybe boats could navigate to transport goods and heavy loads. A topographic analysis can bring many more answers to this questions. The circles drawn near Stonehenge look like other henges that could work before or together with Stonehenge. More study is required.
Stonehenge Google Elevations

This figure shows a Google Earth map with Elevations of the terrain
and some circles that look like other henges.

4 - Barrows


Considering the new definition of Henge, Barrows are another type of Henges built with a land mount with or without a ditch around it. The figures show how a circular wood structure could have a nutating motion supported by the land mount. There are many ways to make a structure oscillate, the key is to find a support to hang the nutating structure that is higher then the position where the structure makes contact with the fixed structure (in this case the floor ditch).

The figure shows several type of barrows that could be used in several manners

Numbers Legend:
1 - Circular wood nutating structure
2 - Hanging ropes
3 - Traction rope
The circular wood structure (1) in red has a rope (2) attached to it radialy and that can be attached to a wood shaft or not. The traction rope (3) is then rolled along the circular nutating structure or rolled in the wood shaft. The solutions found in these drawing must be further studied considering the size and shape of the real barrows.
This figure exemplifies how several barrows could work together to transport
the same load. Notice the tangent alignment of the barrows.
The figures show clearly several land mounts, some of them having their base aligned tangentially meaning that the ropes of one Henge could eventually be tied to another Henge to achieve higher torques and to pull the same load with several Henges.
This hill could work as a fixed structure of an Henge
where a shaft hanged a circular nutating structure.

Numbers legend:
1 - Traction rope
2 - Wood shaft
3 - Hanging ropes
4 - People walking
5 - Circular wood nutating structure

At the bottom of the hill is drawn a nutating structure (5) where people (4) (or heavy animals) could walk, pushing it to the floor. The traction rope could be connected to the top shaft (2) or to the the nutating structure (5). The nutating structure (5) is hanged with ropes (3) to the shaft (2). The scale of the drawn items are not correctly scaled and are just an example of the working principle.

5 - Woodhenges

This is a computer generated model of a woodhenge.

The woodhenge has its fixed structure made of wood, fixed in the floor or attached to circular drilled stones. In this model the circular base was made in wood. The teeth difference of the fixed structure and the nutating structure is one, resulting in 1:20 ratio.

This figure is an example has few persons could manage to pull heavy loads.

In the left side several persons walk over the nutating wood structure while in the right side people hold it in the air. One person could move the rope with a stick to roll it in zigzag along the structure. The internal circles could be used for smaller nutating structures and for smaller reduction ratios. Heavier loads need higher diameters with higher number of teeth's and higher distances of walk to nutate the structure.

6 - Standing Stones

This figure is a front view cut of a standing stone (4) with a rotating shaft (2).

Numbers legend:
1 - Circular wood nutating structure
2 - Wood shaft
3 - Hanging ropes
4 - Standing stone
5 - Floor
6 - Traction rope
7 - Walking person

This cut view model show how standing stones (4) could be used as hanging axles for rotating shafts (2). The wood nutating circular structure (1) is hanged by ropes (3) to the shaft (2) where the traction rope (6) is rolled. A person (7) or animal walked over the nutating structure (1) pushing it to the floor (5) to avoid it to slip.


7 - Stone Circles


The stone circles are the fixed structures of Henges with gearing technology. Stones were aligned in a closed circle and a nutating wood structure, with one tooth less than the number of stones, would gear to them. A central hanging axle could be used over a central shaft in stone or wood to allow the rotation and nutation of the structure.

This drawing shows a stone circle with its circular structure and traction rope.

Click the image to see an animated small scale model of an Henge Stone Circle.

Henge Circle Animation
Animation of a Henge model based in a Stone Circle

The animation of this Henge model shows the the motion of the circular structure as well as the way ropes could have been rolled around the structure. The motion was certainly done by hand with several people at the same time. The type of motion looks like the "dance" of the "giant" structure. Take a look at the left stone that has been broken while oscillating the internal structure. This could happen when the loads were too heavy for the fixed structure construction.

Stones in Avebury

Numbers legend:
1 - Radial wood of nutating structure slipping over the top of the stone
2 - Fixed position of the radial wood
3 - Direction of rotation of the nutating structure

Stones circles could be very large, and it is difficult to imagine their corresponding nutating structures and how they could be moved. In this figure we see one stone of Avebury. The stone is in a position that can help the nutating structure to slip over the stone (1) making a vertical down force and then fixing it in the lower position (2). The direction of rotation of the nutating structure would be the one of the arrow (3).

8 - Seahenges


The stone circles in the sea are called Seahenges. This one was found with a tree root in the middle. Further investigation should be done in order to discover if the root was used has a central shaft of the Henge.

This drawing shows a Seahenge that was used maybe to load and unload boats.

9 - Other Stones

This is an example of what could be the linear stones for.

The linear stones could work as a fixed structure of a linear gear where a circular and vertical wood gear with closer teeth's than the distance between the stones could gear. The traction ropes in red would be rolled in zigzag around the vertical gear, then walking inside the wood structure and going down the hill would roll the rope more than the length of the walked distance, producing a high traction force up the hill. Several structures could work together in parallel in the left linear line of stones. This would work just has the other circular henges, but this time in a linear manner. What could be pulled in the end of the two parallel traction ropes is a mystery. The ropes could also work outside the stones, this way it would be easier to roll the ropes around it. Only with an experiment it will be possible to say if it works.

This stone with a hole seam to have been used to guide ropes.

The hole in this stone has some abrasion suggesting that it was used to guide ropes when the traction direction needed to be changed. The two stones near it could be used to hold the ropes in position while there was changes from one henge to another one, or when the ropes needed to be changed.

10 - Rock Art


The following analysis of the rock art drawings are a new type of reading adapt to the henge theory proposed here. Further investigation must be done in order to prove the following propositions.

This figure shows several symbolic drawings that seams to be related to Henges.

Numbers legend:
1 - Zigzag of the rope around the nutating structure
2 - A rope with zigzags in both ends for two different henges
3 - Looks like a walking stick (báculo) but it could be used to drive the rope in zigzag
The figure looks like a plan study to transport a load over a long distance using several henges.

Numbers legend:
1 - Ropes
2 - Center shaft of an Henge
3 - Nutating structure of an Henge
4 - Stone to hang nutating structure


The Rock Arts look like maps of several henges. Each symbol corresponds to a different type of henge.

Numbers legend:
1 - Standing Stone of the Henge for hanging the nutating structure
2 - A nutating structure of the Henge whithout gear teeths
3 - Maybe Henges with small Barrows
4 - Path for transport of heavy loads
5 - An Henge with gear teeth's, henge with stone circles or woodhenge
6 (left) - Incomplete Henge, can be used but needs to go forward and backward
6 (right) - Path or rope of the Henge
7 - Looks like a walking stick ("báculo"), it could be used to drive the rope in zigzag


The drawing at left is the Rock Art in black of one of the stones of the map in the right drawing.
In red we see the standing stones used for several Henges, in blue several identified henges.

The "Cromeleque dos Almendres" has a drawing in one of its stones with the map of the henges that used to work there. Notice the center stones used to hang the nutating structures.

This Rock Art seams to show several henges with ropes that can be
used together for the same or several loads.

The rock art figures show several circular and linear henges.
Numbers legend:
1 - Henges with nutating structure with different number of teeth's
2 - Ropes in zigzag
3 - Linear Henges
4 - Looks like a double but symmetric linear Henge
5 - Henges without teeth's
Here we can see several photos of a well known Portuguese coffee shop in Praça do Giraldo, Évora. In the wall are replicated in marble some Rock Art images.
Évora Rock Art 2 Évora Rock Art 1
Évora Rock Art 4 Évora Rock Art 3
Rock Art replicated in marble in the wall of a coffee shop at Évora
Numbers legend:
1 - Spiral showing the rope rolling
2 - (upper left) - Circular nutating structure and standing stone to hang it
2 - (upper right) - Circular nutating structure with two persons nutating it
2 - (lower right) - Circular nutating structure with crossed ropes to be hanged in a stone
3 - Rolling rope technique
4 - Place where the loads are connected to the rope
5 - Ropes rolled around the nutating structure
6 - Nutating structure with teeth's

11 - Eastern Island


The technology used in Stonehenge was also discovered in the Eastern Island where the famous statues were transported over long distances to the places where they are standing now. The principle used in the transportation was the same but using a different approach. The theory of Eastern Island was firstly proposed by Prof. Silvestre Dias Antunes.

The figure shows the top and frontal view of he same statue.
The base of the statue is conical allowing to create a nutating motion
when forces are applied in a circular sequence.

Numbers legend:
1 - Conical base
2 - Statue
3, 4 - Nutating ropes
5 - Force due to fixed traction rope
6, 7 - Conical base touching the floor with nutation motion
8 - Traction rope

A conical base (1) is cut in the stone to allow a nutating motion of the statue (2). A circular sequence of forces is produced in the statue with several ropes in radial shape (3, 4) or by hand forcing the conical region (6, 7) to touch the floor. A traction rope (8) is attached to the statue and fixed in the other side to a tree or stone. As a result of the nutating motion the statue will rotate and the rope will be rolled around the statue forcing it to move. As the legend says, the statues walked alone while dancing. Some of the hills of Eastern Island seam to have a circular shape that could be used with circular structures as Henges and that could help the transport of the statues.

12 - Future Work


With the information presented in this site it is important to analyze and discover if other civilizations used this technology, such as the Egyptian. With further investigation and if this theory is confirmed a movie about prehistoric technology would be very interesting and fascinating!


New archeology questions emerge with this new theory, one of them is why this technology has been forgotten? Other question is what kind of heavy loads did these civilizations transported to need such big technological monuments beyond the stones? Was it available the technology to build such strong ropes that could hold the force of large henges? What could have been moved by those henge machines? In order to create larger machines smaller henges would have been needed.


I propose the following clues for further investigation, normally prehistoric people could use smaller henges to transport consumption goods but sometimes they had larger and heavier items to transport such has big stones. First they would need to build smaller henges to build the large ones as Stonehenge, in order to transport its stones. The need for wood was surely great so many trees would be cut for henges and to build boats or houses. In that time the sea level was higher and big henges such has Stonehenge could be used to load and unload boats near an old river.


Further studies should be taken by experts to find more information and conclusions.

13 - Google Earth

To view the model in Google Earth click this kmz file. Check 3D buildings and maximize terrain detail in Tools->Options->3D Visualization->Terrain Quality->Set to Maximum. Look at the henges alignment following several water levels and the rope directions pointing to the water and to other henges.
Stonehenge Flood 1
Stonehenge Flood 2
Stonehenge Flood 3
Stonehenge Flood 4
Stonehenge Flood 5
Stonehenge Flood 6
Stonehenge Flood 7
Stonehenge Flood 8
Stonehenge Flood 9
What made people move large stones? Could be for cultural or religious ideals (like the Pyramids construction) or a real need when life was at risk? The first one seems unlikely, there are too many stone circles without construction and finishing quality, people didn't invest much effort in building appearance, except for Stonehenge. So it surely wasn't something cultural or religious, built to preserve, adore or bless, but rather a tool, with a specific functional purpose. The purpose would be a transport technique for saving life and society goods while water was taking their lands.

Megalithic Studies
Interesting study about integer perimeter division of henges, makes sense for gearing teeth's, as said by the author: "exact multiples in perimeter lengths were more important than multiples in the radii and diameters"
Article - " The rising sea level and its effects " by Dr. William P. Patterson

15 - Acknowledges


Because it was impossible to take the photos of the places you can see in this site, backgrounds were searched in the world wide web and were transformed to obtain these drawings. I would like to thank all archaeologists and experts who share information in the net contributing this way for the study of this theory and for the development of this web site. A special thanks to English Heritage who answered and sent precious information for the investigation.

João Caeiro Antunes

Last Revision - July 2012
Second Revision - May 2010
First Revision - May 2008
First Published Edition - July 2006


All information and drawings of this site are
João Caeiro Antunes Intellectual Property
and must have authorization to be published.
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