Friday, 26 October 2012
Are there more "periglacial stripes" at Stonehenge?
I was struck when I came across this "micro-morphology" map in the 2010 Pearson/Field report (published by EH) by the realization that the old monument is located on the edge of a very gentle spur. It's not obviously apparent when you are walking about on the site, but these contours -- at intervals of just 25 cm -- show it clearly.
The periglacial stripes which MPP has written about quite extensively are in the avenue, which runs away from the embankment and ditch towards the NE. The stripes, so we are told, run in exactly the right direction, exactly parallel with the edges of the avenue and just right for something astronomically highly auspicious. Hey presto! So that is why, in the view of MPP, Stonehenge is where it is -- because the periglacial stripes were aligned in the right direction.
From a geomorphological perspective, the stripes do indeed run in the expected direction -- straight down the rather gentle slope. Just in that one location. But what about everywhere else on the map shown above? If there are stripes in the chalk surface over a wider area, as we might expect, we can speculate that they should have a more or less radiating pattern, always running perpendicular to the contours. So to the north of the Avenue, they would be running NNE, and to the south of the Avenue ENE and then, further round, more or less E-W, and then further south still, ESE and then SE and then SSE. If the stripes were visible at the time when Neolithic people were thinking about building the first earthworks at Stonehenge, ALL of these stripes, with many different compass orientations, will have been visible to the naked eye.
That particular MPP theory about the location of Stonehenge looks increasingly dodgy -- and clearly there is a need for more work on this interesting little periglacial problem.