Many people insist that ancient megalithic construction can best be explained by appeals to giants, aliens, or other supernatural phenomena. It is an old claim. A poem from around AD 960, The Ruin, tells of the “battlements broken, giant’s work shattered”. European traditions were known to attribute constructions like Stonehenge and Roman ruins to giants.
The idea is still out there. In April of this year, the The Huffington Post published an article about one creationist’s claim that Satan created a race of giants to build Stonehenge. He makes an illogical connection to the stones' alignment with the sun on the solstice in England and giants being created to destroy Israel and contaminate the human race. There is no other plausible explanation according to this individual. He stated;
“Why and what is the evidence for giants being on this Earth? We all know about Stonehenge, right? And that’s just one out of hundreds and hundreds of gigantic places around the world that testify that some sort of supernatural power or giants were involved in its construction”
The rock slabs at Stonehenge are big, weighing anywhere from four to fifty tons, and were moved from hundreds of miles away. Are supernatural giants required to explain how it was built?
A new hypothesis by Dr. Andrew Young reveals prehistoric people or oxen could have dragged the slabs along wooden tracks lined with carved wooden roller balls. With only a team of six or seven people, they were able to move the same four-ton bluestones found at Stonehenge. Ox bones were found at Stonehenge and appear to have been burned in some kind of ritual, maybe a sacrifice. The carved balls are not at Stonehenge because wood artifacts cannot survive in English climate for thousands of years. Hence, the idea that only giants could have created these structures because there is not “obvious” evidence of these wooden balls lying around for people to find.
Another piece of evidence that giantologists can use is the supposed discovery near Durrington Walls, where people believe the builders of Stonehenge resided, of human remains between 6 to 8 feet tall. Upon investigation of the cracked bones and smashed skulls, the team concluded they suffered violent deaths possibly because they were outsiders to the settlement because they were so tall. Still . . . how would an 8' person be able to move a fifty ton rock when a 5'11" person could not?
Experimental evidence has also shown that the large stones of Rapa Nui (better known as Easter Island) could have been moved by normal-sized people. In 2012, Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo, and archaeologist Sergio Rapu developed the idea that Rapa Nui’s Moai, the roughly 14 ton statues, were moved upright in a rocking motion. The bellies of the statues allowed them to be titled forward easily and their D-shaped bases helped them to move from side to side. An average of 18 people with only the help of some ropes could move a five-ton Moai replica a few hundred yards. The answer from indigenous peoples as to how the stones were moved is very clever: “the statues walked”.
There's no evidence that giants were required to move the Moai. That hasn't stopped the speculation, however. This article written in 2014 tells of tall, seafaring people with elongated skulls, red hair, white skin, and advanced technology and skills came to Rapa Nui and the indigenous people created the Moai in reflection of those giants. A 1830’s ship’s captain describes that these men were all above five feet, even some six footers. According to another article, the giants were 12 feet in height. Also, other reasons why schools and the “elite” deny the existence of giants on Easter Island and other places in the world is to ridicule those who follow Biblical teachings and to “suppress real history in order to manufacture a false history to deceive and control the regular state controlled populations.”
In addition to experimental evidence, there are ethnographic accounts showing that normal-sized people, not giants, construct megalithic monuments with just ropes, wooden rollers, and a lot of person power. The West Sumba peoples of Indonesia are a perfect example of present day, normal-sized people moving these monuments with only the help of simple technology and a lot of people. Other examples of normal-sized present-day people capable of constructing these megaliths are the people of Nias, Indonesia and the Naga, India.
Ron L. Adams worked among the peoples of West Suma from late 1990s to early 2000s. He explains in his paper the main reason why these people build these megalithic tombs is to display power and social standing. The Anakalang and Kodi areas are where most of these tombs show up. They are roughly 1.5- 3 meters high and some stone slabs can weigh over 30 tons. The size of a tomb is related to social standing of the tomb builder and construction is tied with accessing power within clan groups. The traditional method for transporting megalithic stones is to haul them from a quarry on wooden sledges attached with ropes, requiring 100-1000 people. This can take up to a few months to finish. The video below shows a stone in Sumba being prepared for moving.
The activities of Wally Wallington provide another example of how it's possible to move large rocks with little technology. Wallington is a retired construction worker who is interested in building heavy rock structures with simple devices. In a video (embedded below) he demonstrates that he can lift a Stonehenge-sized pillar weighing 22,000 lbs. He moves all kinds of heavy structures just to prove that it can be done with simple technology. Wally is no giant from what I can tell.
The default hypothesis is that all ancient megalithic structures were made with the hands of human beings and relatively simple human technology. There is no evidence that the Sumba people and Wally Wallington are giants or need help from giants and and their supposed advanced technology. If people of the present can move and build these structures, it seems that people of the past were fully capable as well. Or, to believers of giants, am I just giving them too much credit?
The people who believe in giants don't actually try to falsify their theories but demand time and time again that people of the mainstream academia are just lying to us and keeping secrets from the world. And yet there is no real evidence that people in the past were giants or were using any kind of "advanced" technology and plenty of evidence that normal-sized people in the present can build megalithic structures.
It is likely that the answer is "no."
North Salem Balanced Rock is a strange geological feature in the Hudson Valley of New York, a sixty-ton boulder supported by five smaller stones. As an unknowing visitor to the site, it might appear to be a momentous feat, potentially put there by aliens or even giants. It is hard to believe that the structure could be man-made, or even that it has occurred naturally.
Hugh Newman, an author, researcher, and public speaker, paid a visit to Balanced Rock and produced a video. Newman is convinced that this particular structure was built for a specific purpose, noting that the rock is not native to the surrounding area. He suggests the rocks might have been placed for a specific purpose as a megalithic dolmen. By dolmen, he means an ancient burial site. He comments on the "negative energy" from the magnetic field surrounding the rocks and claims that there is a negative magnetic anomaly below the site and a higher than usual magnetic field around it. This is called “conductivity discontinuity.” It has been said that storms avoid the spot and that accidents are known to happen around it. Newman claims that the site has a “profound energy,” all 90 tons of it. When photographed, orbs have been known to appear around the structure which presents even more mystery.
What is North Salem Balanced Rock? Boiled down, the argument is really whether the structure is man made or whether it occurred naturally.
One idea is that it's a human-made structure, possibly built by ancient Celts who traveled to the New World before Columbus. In America B.C., Barry Fell called Balanced Rock “…the largest Celtiberian dolmen yet discovered in North America…" Fell believed that it is likely the memorial of a Celtiberian king and adds that it parallels a monument in Dublin. Fell also notes that, nearby in Connecticut, are six supposedly Celtiberian megalithic chambers, associated with Ogam and Iberian dedications to the sun god Bel.
Men moving rocks of the size of Balanced Rock is a feat in itself, but not unknown. The largest man-made dolmen is the Brownshill Dolmen in County Carlow, Ireland. Its capstone weighs 100 metric tons. It was built between 4000 and 3000 BC by the earliest farmers to inhabit the land. Another example of a large megalithic burial mound is the Dolmen of Menga. This dolmen was built in the third millennium BCE. The largest stone in this structure weighs two hundred tons.
A simpler idea is that the Balanced Rock could be a glacial erratic from the Ice Age. A glacial erratic is “a piece of rock that differs from the size and type of rock native to the area in which it rests.” In my opinion, this seems to be the most likely geological explanation considering the material. It is also noted that there are glacial striations present on the structure. It is true that humans could have moved this massive glacial rock, but unlikely. Steven Schimmrich mentions on his blog, Hudson Valley Geologist, that dolmens “typically were a large flat rock supported by three or more uprights.” Strange things often occur in nature and something like this appearing would not surprise me at all.
It's possible that Balanced Rock is a natural formation that was used by Native Americans for rituals or even as a trading post. The biggest mystery to me about the site are the claims of abnormal magnetism. I only wish that I knew more about physics, so that I could come up with my own possible explanation for the phenomenon. A possible explanation could be the iron content in the rock.
I do not think that we will ever know the truth of the North Salem Balanced Rock. As a skeptic, I think that the accidents and ghostly sightings reported near the site could be exaggerated, and the resemblance to man-made dolmens could be simply coincidental. It reminds me of the well known mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. A common explanation for it is that there are magnetic anomalies in the area that cause compass problems. This led to many strange incidents of planes and ships disappearing without a trace causing the area to become notorious. As far as it being a Celtic dolmen, there are known dolmens all over the world throughout history that are likely man-made. I do not think that this theory is completely preposterous, but it still seems like a stretch. I would be interested to know if radiocarbon dating could be done on the site or maybe if someone could dig underneath the site. I feel that it could clear up a lot of questions.
For now, Balanced Rock will remain a tourist attraction bringing visitors to a small, quiet town.
These blog posts were written by students in Forbidden Archaeology (Fall 2016)