AskDefine | Define Sarsen

Extensive Definition

Sarsen stones are stone blocks found in quantity on Salisbury Plain, the Marlborough Downs, in Kent, and in smaller quantities in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Dorset and Hampshire. They are the remains of a cap of tertiary sandstone which once covered much of southern England. It is a dense, hard rock created from sand bound by a silica cement, making it a kind of silicified sandstone.
Natural sarsen boulders created by glacial and periglacial effects can be sometimes found scattered on the ground surface, moved by solifluction; the stone is also present in surviving outcrops of the rock.

Human uses

The builders of Stonehenge, Avebury and many other megalithic monuments in southern England chose to build with sarsen stones.
From the middle ages until the nineteenth century, sarsen megaliths in Europe were a target for destruction by both religious zealots and commercial enterprise. The stones were sometimes toppled, cleared from fields under cultivation, or broken up for reuse. Fire or explosives were sometimes employed to break the stone into pieces of a suitable size for use in construction. Sarsen is not an ideal building material however; William Stukeley wrote that Sarsen is "always moist and dewy in winter which proves damp and unwholesome, and rots the furniture". In the case of Avebury the investors who backed a scheme to recycle the stone were bankrupted when the houses they built proved to be unsaleable and also prone to burning down.
Sarsen in Hebrew: סארסן
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