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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mysterious new bluestone site

There is an interesting brief report on Tim Daw's site (thanks, Tim!) about a new site "close to Stonehenge" where spotted dolerite fragments have been found in surface spoil from rabbit burrows.  Here is Tim's note and a link to a photo of what he has found:
 
http://www.sarsen.org/2013/12/bluestone-chips-paper-by-ixer-and.html

"I discovered this surface scatter in the spoil from animal burrows, the black round object is from a rabbit, last summer.  Over two hundred chips have been seen so far on the surface. It is close to Stonehenge, in the landscape but not within the Stonehenge Triangle. I have of course informed the archaeologists at Stonehenge, and can't tell anyone else the location. Sorry."

We await further info when Tim is ready to give it to us.  In the meantime, this is a bit more evidence that there may be quite widespread "bluestone debitage" across the Stonehenge landscape -- and it's worth recalling that there are thousands of acres of terrain that have never been properly investigated for "extraneous" or erratic stones that have arrived, somehow, from somewhere else.

21 comments:

Geocur . said...



Well spotted Tim .
Expectations ,(bets?) are that site is much closer to T's 44 and 45 than 46 amd upwards .

ND Wiseman said...

I am going to get yelled at for revealing this, but the Debitage came from the A-344 Avenue Ditch excavations last summer; the fills of which were then unconscionable dumped in a random pile off-site.

Lots of people are understandably upset about this 19th-century technique and it's being kept on the down-low for obvious reasons ...

Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Was that just down to shambolic fieldwork, or down to the fact that the findings were "inconvenient" to somebody or other?

Timothy Daw said...

Neil - close but no cigar. I actually first spotted these before the A344 was closed when the grass was short in the late spring. The recent wet weather has washed mud off them to expose more.
But I would be interested where the excavated material from the A344 ended up.
Reminds me I often wonder what we would find in Hawley's Graves.
Cheers Tim

geocr said...

Neil, Oi ,you gubbed the betting .

Brian ,it looks like the spoil was inconvenient rather than the "findings ". The site is probably closer to the monument than T44 .

BRIAN JOHN said...

If the site is close to a road, we have to be very careful. As Rob has often pointed out, Wiltshire roadstone can come from all over the place -- but probably not from Preseli!!

ND Wiseman said...

Timmy me-Buck,
I was obviously given only partial information, therefore I stand partially corrected.

I have a sense that Hawley's pits would almost be more interesting to open than an Aubrey Hole, in many respects.
The down-side of course, is that we'd never get any provenance out of what was found, more's the pity.

Neil

geocur said...

This commnet friom the recent Stonehenge synthesis might be of interest .
"Considerable interest has arisen from the discovery of parallel ditch and ridge features
(Fig 2.3) recorded in Atkinson's 1956 excavation of the Avenue (Cleal et al 1995, 309),
and relocated by the Stonehenge Riverside excavations in 2008 (Parker Pearson et al
2008a). The question of whether these are periglacial features that were visible as parch marks to the Stonehenge builders (Parker Pearson et al 2008a), or ruts associated with
the previous use of the avenue as a by-way (Chadburn pers comm) remains open but
recent results showing their extension northeastwards along a line towards Durrington
supports the latter interpretation (Darvill and Leuth, in prep).

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, so Tim Darvill enters the "periglacial stripes" debate ...... could be interesting.

Steve said...

Interesting development George! Thanks for pointing that out...

BRIAN JOHN said...

So the latest thesis is that the "periglacial stripes" are ruts caused by animal traffic / wheeled vehicles / sledges over a long time, and quite unrelated to the course of the Avenue? So back to the anthropogenic explanation and away from the natural one...... I would like to see what evidence is adduced here. To me, the big ruts look a bit too irregular and sinuous to be caused by human and animal traffic, so I still tend towards the idea that they are related to solutional processes on the chalk surface. But as with many things in life, both human and natural processes might have played a part.

geocr said...


The potentially mundane explanation for the two outer rills/parallel ditch and ridge features (the main reason for the idea rather than the oft mentioned "stripes" within them )seems more striking than the author .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo, the photos seem to show two different scales or "wavelengths" of grooves or channels. One big, and the other small. The smaller rills or channels seem to be superimposed on the big ones. Looking forward to seeing the new evidence....

geocur said...



Brian , the presence of the Avenue may well have been the reason for the
major rills ,and possibly some of the smaller ones . The evidence is likely to be geophysical rather than from excavation .

geocur said...

oooops , I should have said "two " in relation to the major rills .
This seems to have been a major problem too in appreciating what the claim was about i.e. the major rills/stripes not the minor , possibly natural ones.

TonyH said...

Wonder how much of a trained archaeological presence there was at Airman's Cross, site of the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre, as the turves were being lifted and the soil layers beneath disturbed in advance of the new piece of architecture? Was anyone checking for debitage of interest to Messrs Bevin and Ixer and friends?

BRIAN JOHN said...

It's not archaeological presence I'm worried about, but the presence of some NON-ARCHAEOLOGICAL specialists including soil scientists, geomorphologists and geologists. I wonder how many duff interpretations there have been because of a lack of trained earth scientists in digs where they really are needed? Over and again, I suspect, things are assumed to be man-made when they are in reality just naturally occurring phenomena..........

TonyH said...

Agreed,Brian. My point was that Messrs Bevin & Ixer have been participants in the MPP - headed Stonehenge Riverside Project, and thus their methodology of geological analysis should have been utilised at Airman's Cross ahead of the new Visitor Centre, as it has been elsewhere in the Greater Stonehenge Landscape.

Timothy Daw said...

I now have a Press Release on these lithics from Rob Ixer: http://www.sarsen.org/2014/02/press-release-from-rob-ixer-on-lithics.html which will be of interest to you and your readers.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tim. Very interesting -- since your site was right next to the road, not surprising maybe that there should be a lot of roadstone fragments in the soil?

Timothy Daw said...

Brian- yes but it was also right next to the area in the National Trust field where it is beleived the Sarsens were shaped and also in just one area, not all along the road. It was worth investigating properly, even if the results are disappointing.