Royal Navy team from HMS Queen Elizabeth lift 3.5-tonne stone at Butser farm using a wooden sledge and rope

SAILORS from the Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier have used traditional methods to move and install a 3.5-tonne standing stone.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 7:14 pm

The procedure involving a wooden sled and ropes was carried out with staff and volunteers at Butser Ancient Farm in Chalton to mark the centre’s 50th anniversary.

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The ship’s company of the Portsmouth-based supercarrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, helped move monolith, which is formed from Purbeck limestone from Swanage, Dorset, where it has been quarried since at least the time of the Roman empire.

Crew members from HMS Queen Elizabeth and volunteers help raise a 3.5 ton standing stone, using only traditional methods, at Butser Ancient Farm to mark its 50 year anniversary

The determined naval personnel managed to first move it approximately 90ft before standing it up,

Simon Jay, director of Butser Ancient Farm, said: ‘The standing stone will act as a 50-year marker for us and we are planning to coincide its erection with the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology which has the theme of journeys this year, so the movement of the stone fits well with that theme.

‘We will also attempt to align the stone to the midsummer sunrise and over time we may add more smaller stones in the surrounding area that can create different alignments such as at midwinter too.’

He added: ‘This is an important year for us. Butser Ancient Farm began life in the 1970s as an experimental archaeology site looking at Iron Age life.

Crew members from HMS Queen Elizabeth and volunteers help raise a 3.5 ton standing stone, using only traditional methods, at Butser Ancient Farm to mark its 50 year anniversary

‘We were and still are completely ground breaking with no other site in the UK taking such an in depth look at how life was really lived by our ancient ancestors.’

Reverend Eddie Wills, from HMS Queen Elizabeth, said he organised the ship’s involvement after he had previously volunteered at Butser.

He said: ‘I knew how much the ship’s company would enjoy visiting the farm and getting stuck in.

Crew members from HMS Queen Elizabeth and volunteers help raise a 3.5 ton standing stone, using only traditional methods, at Butser Ancient Farm to mark its 50 year anniversary

‘I got in touch with Butser to offer our services for a community project and this is what was suggested. It struck me as a great opportunity to demonstrate the Royal Navy’s can-do attitude.’

Butser features archaeological reconstructions of ancient buildings from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Britain and the Anglo-Saxon period.

While HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers – the biggest warships ever made for the Royal Navy.