november 2018

ME Construction erects sarsen stone for UCL Institute of Archaeology

Getting involved in removals seems an odd project for a construction company – but not when the object being moved is a rare sarsen stone, similar to those used to construct Stonehenge.

To mark its achieving 75 years as a leading global archaeology institution, University College London (UCL) Institute of Archaeology decided to install a monolith in Gordon Square, where the Institute has had its headquarters for the last 55 years. The monolith – a sarsen stone – was donated by a farmer in the Avebury area, near Marlborough in Wiltshire, but there remained the small matter of removing, transporting and re-erecting the stone.

So ME Construction, a London-based specialist refurbishment contractor, agreed to help.

Dennis Barnard, the firm’s Operations Director, explained: “Our team collected the stone, brought it to London and then installed it in Gordon Square. Installing it involved preparing a foundation for it to rest on; setting the stone in place and then making good the ground works after the installation.

“That, of course, was easier said than done because the installation had to be carried out with the minimum of disruption to the grass, trees, shrubs, paths and features in the square. So we had to use spreaders, boards and other protection for the path and grass while the work was carried out.

“We’re used to working on old buildings – especially when it comes to carrying out specialist conservation work – but this was the company’s first experience of working with pre-historic artefacts.”

Sarsen stones are sandstone blocks. They were used extensively in pre-history in the construction of sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury.

Professor Andrew Reynolds, of UCL Institute of Archaeology and the co-ordinator of the Institute’s 75thanniversary programme, commented: “This distinctive new landmark provides a connection between the public and the activities of UCL institute of Archaeology. We’re grateful to the sarsen stone’s donator and to ME Construction for their help in bringing this about.”