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Sarsens in Wiltshire.
Sarsen stones are sandstone blocks found in quantity on Salisbury Plainmarker, the Marlborough Downsmarker, in Kentmarker, and in smaller quantities in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Dorsetmarker and Hampshire. They are the post-glacial remains of a cap of tertiary sandstone which once covered much of southern Englandmarker, a dense, hard rock created from sand bound by a silica cement, making it a kind of silicified sandstone.

Human uses

The builders of Stonehengemarker used these stones for the heelstone and sarsen circle uprights. Aveburymarker and many other megalithic monuments in southern England are also built with sarsen stones.

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 Aveburymarker, 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. However, despite these problems, sarsen remained highly prized for its durability, being a favoured material for steps and kerb stones.

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