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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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Winter wonderland

Another quirky ice phenomenon.  This photo, from the BBC web site, shows "mini icicles" adjacent to a road in Herefordshire during the recent cold weather.  What has happened, apparently, is that a puddle on the adjacent road as been driven through by many cars, splashing water droplets onto the hedge and fence at the roadside.  Because of the sub-zero temperatures, these droplets have frozen on contact or shortly thereafter, and this is what has created these icicle formations.  There is a certain amount of randomness, as you might expect, and more of the drops have hit the lower part of this eccentric ice sculpture, with gravity then playing its part as the moisture has run down each icicle, growing some of them to lengths of almost 20 cms.  Hallelujah!  isn't nature wonderful?

Monday, 26 January 2015

Worth knowing, or not?

I found this rather entertaining -- relevant maybe to our current discussion on whether archaeology, history and museums are worthwhile in the great scheme of things!

Perhaps we should investigate whether archaeologists, not archaeology itself,  are worthwhile......

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Stonehenge Lecture -- 31st January

News of a new lecture at the end of the month.  Happy to give it some publicity,  and happy to publish any reports from anybody who manages to go along........

It looks as if this is largely to do with more accurate surveying and recording and with the "visualisation" of the landscape -- so I'm not sure what this will throw up in the way of important new information which will increase our understanding of what went on, and why.    Anyway, let's wait and see......

LECTURE: The Stonehenge Landscape – 31st January

by stonehengenews

There will be a lecture by Sharon Soutar of English Heritage at Devizes Town Hall, Wiltshire, England from 2:30 pm on Saturday, 31 January 2015. 

With the construction of the new Visitor Centre at Airman’s Corner it was vital that Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape were re-presented with the fullest and most up-to-date information available. Fantastic as it may seem very few of the monuments, not even Stonehenge itself, had been surveyed to modern standards. To rectify this English Heritage set up a project to significantly enhance the record and understanding of all upstanding archaeological monuments within the World Heritage Site. The fieldwork was conducted between 2009 and 2012 and the book is nearing publication, while a number of research reports on the different areas are available through the website (see below).

The fieldwork covered just over 15% of the World Heritage Site in detail. It included Stonehenge, the Greater Cursus and all of the principal barrow cemeteries and incorporated sites later in date, such as the medieval settlement earthworks at Lake. English Heritage surveyed almost half of the known or suspected round barrows within the WHS; nearly all of those surviving as earthworks. At the same time colleagues looked at the historic buildings, added high resolution Ground Penetrating Radar [GPR] to complement earlier geophysical surveys and took new photography of the landscape and artefacts found within it. ~English Heritage also commissioned a laser scan of the stones and surrounding henge.

Sharon will describe some of the important discoveries resulting from the project and take a look at the more surprising aspects of the field archaeology in the Stonehenge landscape.

Sharon is a landscape archaeologist specialising in the survey and visualisation of heritage landscapes and data; from maps and site plans right through to infographics. After a number of years interpreting and mapping archaeology visible in aerial photographs and lidar data for different parts of England she was lucky enough to join the team investigating the Stonehenge WHS landscape.

The project webpage is:

The project monograph is due for publication in the spring of 2015:
Bowden, M.C.B., Soutar, S., Field, D.J. and Barber, M.J. forthcoming. The Stonehenge Landscape. Swindon: EH.

The 1:10,000 scale map - Stonehenge and Avebury: Exploring the World Heritage Site is available in our shop

The various Research Department Reports are available through:

Essential. To contact us, either:
* Tel: 01380 727369 to book and pay using credit/debit card (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm preferred)
* Send an e-mail
Visit the Wiltshire Museum website:

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Whatever happened to Rhosyfelin?

Time for another gripe.  After four seasons (2011-2014) of excavations at this site by Mike Parker Pearson and his team, all we have to show for it is a terrible mess. (This photo was taken shortly after the end of the 2014 dig; God knows what it looks like now.......)

There have been no published excavation reports, no published radiocarbon dates, no peer-reviewed articles, and nothing at all for interested parties to analyse and discuss.  Assorted pop articles and a chapter in MPP's book are no substitutes for proper reporting and informed discussion.

In place of scientific rigour we have seen endless press releases, media coverage and hype, and evening lectures in the 4 village halls in the local community -- and that's all we have in exchange for thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money.

Has anybody ever done a cost / benefit analysis on all of this?

Does anybody know anything?  What on earth is going on?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Sleek Stone

Nothing to do with erratics!  Worth sharing.  This is for geology buffs -- the stripped-out core of the pitching monoclinal fold of Sleek Stone, Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire.  A real text-book landform......  the barnacles cover that part of the feature affected by the tides each day.  Almost certainly the "stripping out" of broken blocks of sandstone and shale has been done entirely by wave action in this exposed coastal location.

Erratic pebbles - Abermawr and Flat Holm

Since we are on about erratic behaviour just we have a nice little collection of small pebbles (up to 3 cms in length) from Abermawr and other North Pembs beaches.  These are on the Cardigan Bay coast.  We can assume that there is nothing here from Ramsey Island and the outer end of St Davids Peninsula -- although one or two do look similar to some of the pebbles I saw yesterday on the beach near Sleek Stone.  Note that these pebbles are wet......

 This is a photo of the beach on the east side of Flat Holm -- mostly limestones and other Carboniferous rocks, but if you click to enlarge, you'll see some igneous material in there too.....

 And this is the collection on the windowsill of the farmhouse on Flat Holm -- collected by Linda and others.  Varied and colourful, as as we might expect, from a wide variety of sources.  Sid Howells staggered off the island back in October with a much more comprehensive collection in his rucksack -- and we look forward in due course to seeing what treasures might be included.

We might expect a collection of pebbles from the Croyde - Saunton area to be similar -- although of course we would expect to find some pebbles exclusive to North Devon.

Croyde - Saunton - Baggy Point erratics list

 Grateful thanks to Paul Madgett for permission to reproduce these two tables, from his 1987 paper written with Ann Inglis.  NB the 37 erratics listed are all classified a "boulders" with 25 cm or more on the longest dimension; Paul has mentioned that there are many more smaller cobbles and pebbles which have been found in the area, on the beach and in head deposits.

The creation of the list in Table 2 is all down to enthusiastic searching by two families -- with Abigail and Barnaby being rewarded with a stick of rock for every new and verified erratic discovered......

As it says in the Good Book -- "Seek and thou shalt find......"  I was struck by that yesterday, when I was grovelling around in the sleet and rain down at Broad Haven!