Mike Parker Pearson ey al, 2019. Long-distance landscapes: from quarries to monument at Stonehenge MEGALITHS AND GEOLOGY. Boaventura, Mataloto & Pereira, eds. (2019). pp. 183-200
Today, in glorious sunshine with hardly a breath of wind, my wife and I enjoyed a walk on Brynberian Moor (Waun Brwynant). We had our picnic lunch at Bedd yr Afanc, which I have described before.
Now I am quite convinced that the bedrock on the slight ridge (on which the grave of the fearsome monster is located) is rhyolite, which looks remarkably similar to that of Rhosyfelin. The geology map confirms this, showing Fishguard Volcanics for some distance south of Brynberian -- rhyolitic tuffs (ashes) and lavas. Rhyolite fragments are littered about everywhere, and there is one large slab projecting though the turf which I think is a bedrock outcrop:
The pretence that the bluestones at Stonehenge are all pillars has been promoted vigorously for many years, by many people who should know better. As I have pointed out many times before, the great majority of the 43 bluestones are not pillars but slabs and boulders which look for all the world like an erratic assortment collected from near the front of a wasting glacier. They are weathered and heavily abraded, with very few sharp edges -- suggesting that wherever they have come from, they have been collected or gathered up, and not quarried. The members of the MPP "quarrying" team seem to be in complete denial about this, and never mention it in their papers......
Cosmogenic dating methods have come on by leaps and bounds, and we are now in the "mature investigative phase" with thousands of cosmogenic dates in the bag and hundreds of studies which have gradually ironed out the inconsistencies which were at first puzzling. This happens with all "new" scientific methods -- pollen analyses, C14 dating, amino acid dating, X-ray studies of rock surfaces and so forth. (To a large degree this explains the recent spat between me and David Nash over the "discovery" of the source of the Stonehenge sarsens. He believes implicitly in the accuracy of his new techniques, and his interpretations, whereas I employ a degree of scepticism on the grounds that the methods are immature, and are bound to be improved as experience accumulates......)
Below I cite two quite important studies of erratic boulders on or near moraines, which have led to the same conclusion: namely that boulders carried in glaciers tend to be modified sufficiently (even if they have not been carried very far) for any "inherited age" characteristics to be eliminated. This means that the dating of surface almost always underestimates the real exposure age, with incomplete exposure due to post depositional shielding by (for example) vegetation, snow cover, or blown sand.
So let's get those bluestone boulders at Stonehenge sampled and measured. I am quite certain that the ages will come out at far in excess of 5,000 BP -- which is what they should be if they were quarried by our Neolithic ancestors. I would estimate that the exposure ages on the boulders will be around 20,000 - 15,000 yrs BP, with some irregularities down to intermittent surface shielding.
Gosh -- this is impressive. What an intelligent, wise and compassionate man he was....... in this interview he makes a multitude of hugely important points with extraordinary lucidity. And I think he is spot on when he bewails the lack of understanding of science (and respect for evidence) across society. In the context of this blog, we are talking archaeology and the manner in which fantasy has replaced careful evidence-based assessments of what is on the ground. Things have not improved since 1996 -- in fact they have got worse. In the interview he also bewails the lack of intelligent and informed scrutiny of those who insist on making headline-grabbing claims about the importance of their work. Sounds familiar?
There is just one point on which I would have parted company with him, if I was to have met him face to face. That is on the manner in which he occasionally conflates science and technology. In my mind the two are NOT the same, even though they are related. You can be a brilliant technologist and a lousy scientist, as Arpad Pusztai pointed out many years ago. And one of the big problems with archaeology right now is that archaeologists use "scientific techniques" (and work with others who have new methods of looking at things and analysing sediments and organic remains, for example) and then pretend that because they have complex diagrams and vast data bases, they are in possession of "the truth" when in fact they are fooling themselves and the rest of us........
Anyway, please watch the interview!