Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Monday, 14 April 2014

Historic photos

I found these in my photo album -- from the millennium Stone Pull in the summer of 2000.  I was there -- pulling hard.......

Top photo -- there was almost a nasty accident when the sledge went out of control on a downhill section, on the approach to Blackpool Mill.  Luckily nobody was hurt.
A carpet of Netlon which was laid in advance on the stone route so as to reduce friction and make haulage easier.

Bottom photo -- showing the pulling technique used, and the smooth carpet of Netlon.  This reminds me that I still have major doubts about rope technology, and the ability of Neolithic tribes to manufacture ropes strong enough and long enough to sustain at least 80 stone-hauling expeditions between West Wales and Stonehenge.

Messages going astray......

Sorry I might have missed some messages lately........ have been using my laptop, and for some reason Blogger doesn't inform me when messages / new posts come in.  But with a bit of luck I will catch up with everything within the next couple of days.....

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Early Bronze Age boat found in Ireland

Log boat dating back 4,500 years found in Lough Corrib

Annaghkeen log boat

The oldest of the 12 vessels located, the 4,500-year-old Annaghkeen log boat, had already been lying on the bed of Lough Corrib for 3,500 years when the Vikings arrived, Capt Northage has pointed out.

The 12m vessel is almost identical to the Lurgan log boat found in 1902; and the Carrowneden boat found near Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, in 1996.

“The Annaghkeen boat was made from a very big tree, and it took a lot of skill and effort to make it,” said UAU archaeologist Karl Brady.

“The fact that all three boats were located within 30 miles of each other would suggest that they were made by the one builder, or that there was a vogue for early Bronze Age boats of this type,” he said.

Another vessel dating from the 11th or 12 century and found near Carrowmoreknock on the Corrib may have been on a raid when it sank, he added.It is likely the warriors on board were Irish and had adapted for their use the Viking weapons found on board.

Capt Northage noted the Annaghkeen vessel was the same age as that estimated for the oak trackway recently revealed by storms along the north Galway shoreline.

“These people were living in a very different landscape and working at the forefront of technology back then,” he said.

All of the weapons have been recovered for conservation by the National Museum, including bronze spearheads and a very rare wooden spear.

There are no immediate plans to raise the vessels, due to the high cost involved. “The lake water obviously has very good preservation qualities,” Mr Brady said.

Mr Deenihan has warned that all are protected under the National Monuments Act, and a licence is required from his department to dive at any of the sites.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Rhosyfelin "alcoves"

 The two alcoves in the Rhosyfelin rock face from which two of the Stonehenge bluestones were apparently taken.  Where are the alcoves?  oh, anywhere will do......

The ruling hypothesis rolls on, getting ever more elaborate.  In "Coast to Coast 2014" (the Pembs Coast National Park's free tourist newspaper) there is a big feature about those famous bluestones.......

Ir mentions the latest geological work, and the discoveries that the geologists have made in the last couple of years, allowing the provenancing of dolerites EXACTLY to Carngoedog and rhyolites EXACTLY to Craig Rhosyfelin.  Hmmm -- not sure that the provenancing is that exact, but let that pass for the moment.......

To quote the article, presumably written by PCNPA archaeologist Peter Crane, archaeologists "from universities across Britain" have discovered "two alcoves."  Presumably these are in the cliff face.  He goes on: "It seems that two of the bluestones were removed from this site and taken to Stonehenge."

Two alcoves?  Two bluestones?  Would somebody please show me where these two alcoves are supposed to be?  I have looked for ages at the rock face and can't see any alcoves anywhere from which orthostats might have been taken.  And it would not be a bad idea for people to be told the truth here -- namely that there is some debris at Stonehenge that appears to have come from Craig Rhosyfelin.  No standing stones.  There are two stumps in the ground that may be all that is left of two rhyolite orthostats, but these have never been properly sampled, and so we have no idea whether they are linked to Rhosyfelin ot not.

I imagine the National Park people saying -- "Oh, the tourists don't have to be told the truth.  All they want is a nice simple story without too many complications........"

And so the myth machine rolls on, driven by MPP and his merry band, with all sorts of hangers-on who appear to have lost the capacity for intelligent thought, let alone scientific analysis.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

St Non's and Stonehenge

I was out at St Non's today, doing a bit of filming for ITV (relating the folk tale of the birth of St David) and while I waited for the film crew to turn up I had a quick look around the old chapel.  It's in the foreground in this photo -- the St Non's retreat centre and the 1934 "hermitage" chapel are on the skyline.  The latter was intended as a replica of the original small chapels that were built in medieval times in coastal locations in Ireland, Wales and Brittany, often to commemorate the landing places of assorted Celtic saints.

The interesting thing about the ruined chapel (probably built around 800 AD and then re-fashioned around 1400) is that it consists of an extraordinary collection of stones of all shapes and sizes, but all collected from within a radius of maybe 200m.  At the base are the biggest glacial erratics -- some of them rounded or sub-rounded boulders weighing up to 2 tonnes.   They all seem to have come from the W and NW, where assorted Pre-Cambrian volcanics (including ashes and rhyolites) outcrop.  Particularly noticeable are the dolerites and gabbros, probably from St David's Head.  One or two very big blocks, which appear to have been shaped, are made of the red Cambrian basal conglomerate, which is probably the most distinctive rock-type in Pembrokeshire.  The outcrops of this rock are within 200m of the chapel site, and I think these blocks have been moved into position by the builders.  I also think that some of the biggest stones have come from a ruinous Bronze Age stone setting in the same field, which now only has 5 stones left in their original positions.  Was the chapel built here because this was already a sacred site?  It's quite possible, but it was not so sacred as to stop the Christian builders from pinching a few standing (or lying) orthostats.

If you click on the photo to enlarge, you can see many smaller rounded glacial erratics built into the wall, together with red or purple slabs which are much more angular -- suggesting that they have been quarried locally or collected from rockfalls beneath the cliffs.  They have all come from the Lower Cambrian flagstones, shales and sandstones in the cliffs which are only about 100m away from the site. 

Relevance for Stonehenge?  Same old message -- if you want to build a building which has some religious or spiritual significance, you just use what's handy........ and since you end up having a nice cleared patch of land around you, it becomes much more desirable for animal grazing, farming and having delightful picnics in the sun -- in the times when you are not praying or doing penance for your sins.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A mighty crack...

This is quite something -- a vast crack that opened up on the floating section of the Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica.  Somewhat larger than your average crevasse, this was the precursor to a major calving event........

The crack was at least 25 km long, and was first observed in 2011.  The calving event finally took place between Oct 28th and Nov 13th 2013, when Iceberg B-31 was born.  It is 35 km x 20 km in extent -- ie roughly the size of Singapore. 

This is a satellite image of the same crack:

Friday, 28 March 2014

Beyond Belief -- Stonehenge

Julian Thomas, trotting out the same old stuff.....

A 30-minute programme investigating the spiritual significance of Stonehenge.  Presented: Ernie Rea -- guests Prof Ronald Hutton, Julian Thomas and Frank Summers. 

Interesting conversation, but the usual nonsense from Julian Thomas about the "periglacial runnels" being the reason for the location of Stonehenge where it is, and a rather arrogant dismissal of the glacial transport theory without any explantion about why it is "out of fashion."   Perhaps, if he had been prepared to be a bit more honest, Julian might have admitted that it is science that is out of fashion, because the present generation of archaeologists prefers fantasy.......

Anyway, the prog is available for listening via the BBC web site (link above).