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Two Penn’orth



The Coral Castle in Homestead Florida was built by Ed Leedskalnin, an immigrant from Latvia, as a home for himself and for his ‘Sweet Sixteen’ for whom he waited all his life, but who never came.

Many people build their own homes. But most have help, and most do not build it from blocks of coral rock weighing up to 30 tons.

Today the Coral Castle is a tourist attraction open to the public.

Edward Leedskalnin. 20th Century Megalithic Builder.

Edward Leedskalnin grew up in Latvia. A turning point in his life seems to have come at the age of 26 when he was jilted the night before his wedding by the girl he called his ‘sweet sixteen’. Following this, he emigrated to America. He eventually settled in Florida where he set about building a home for himself and for his sweet sixteen who he hoped would come to join him there.

A sad but unremarkable story. Except for a couple of things. While a great many people build their own homes, not many people do it entirely single handedly. And not many people build them from blocks of stone weighing up to 30 tons. Ed Leedskalnin did both. He built his home single handedly from huge blocks of stone.

For most people this immediately begs the question of how he did it.

The answer by my definition is magic. Mr Leedskalnin was a wizard.

It may, of course, depend upon your definition of magic. For me, it’s a matter of wonder and secrecy.

People look at the Coral Castle and they wonder. How could this be done by one small man. But they do not know how it was done. Because Mr Leedskalnin did not tell anybody.

In fact, he went beyond that. He appears to have deliberately concealed his technique. Most of the work was undertaken at night, under cover of darkness. And it is reported that if he heard anybody approaching, he would at once cover his work and his tools before approaching them.

The closest he came to explaining his technique was that when asked by visitors how he did it, he would reply ‘It’s not hard when you know how’.

When he died in 1951, he took the secret of his construction techniques with him to the grave.

Today the Coral Castle is open to the public and attracts visitors from all over the world.

Why? Not, I would suggest, simply because it is there. But because people are fascinated by the mystery of how it was built. It is the mystery rather than the monument that fascinates. The enigma of Ed Leedskalnin is that he achieved feats that we can not explain.

He knew how it was done. And he said it’s not hard. So he could readily have explained. But he didn’t. He left us in mystery. And it is that mystery, rather than the Coral Castle, that is his legacy to us.  

How did he do it?

It has all the characteristics of magic. An enormous megalithic monument built single handedly, at dead of night, by a man standing 5 foot tall and weighing little over 7 stone. It’s not something that most of us could envisage doing, or even have a simple explanation for.

Unsurprisingly, theories abound. The most popular appears to be that he had discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) the secret of anti-gravity or levitation. This is supported by the witness account of some small boys who sneaked up on him one night as he was working and described how he floated rocks across his site like hydrogen balloons.

He is certainly known to have written on the subject of electricity and magnetism during his life, and to have carried out a number of peculiar experiments. Could some have these been about negating or harnessing the forces of gravity?

Others suggest that he was taught new scientific disciplines by aliens. The merit of this theory is clear. Aliens must be more technologically advanced than us. This is evidenced by the mere fact that they have travelled across unfathomable distances of space to reach us. It follows that they could teach us a lot if they came to visit.

Sadly there is a less sensational explanation. It is recorded that Ed Leedskalnin came from a family of stone masons in Latvia. So he may well have possessed some sort of secret knowledge passed down from father to son for generations.

And (perhaps sadly) we have the more recent evidence from Wally Wallington showing that large stone blocks can be moved by one man using only basic tools and equipment. But Wally Wallington is physically more substantial than Ed Leedskalnin. So who knows?

Perhaps we will never know. Ed Leedskalnin worked under cover of darkness. He died on 7th December 1951 and he took his secrets with him to the grave, leaving behind his Coral Castle as a monument and a puzzle for generations to come.