Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click HERE
Saturday 2 December 2023
Friday 1 December 2023
What intrigues me is the existence of human and animal remains which clearly pre-date the LGM in many of the caves -- which means that the caves survived (at least once) deep submergence beneath active glacier ice and then the ice wastage phase that followed, without filling up with sediments. Not only that, but the sediments associated with the bone finds are often very subtle and difficult to interpret.
Thursday 30 November 2023
I have been looking again at the gigantic multi-authored paper that rounded off the work of the BRITICE team about a year ago. Great work! Reference:Growth and retreat of the last British–Irish Ice Sheet, 31 000 to 15 000 years ago: the BRITICE-CHRONO reconstruction. Chris D. Clark et al, Boreas Volume 51, Issue 4, October 2022, pp 699-758
First published: 07 September 2022
The problem with the Bristol Channel and South Wales segment of the map is that they have (I think) fed into the computer model all sorts of data that are unreliable. I suspect that they have told the computer that there are no traces of Devensian glaciation on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, that Lundy Island was not glaciated at the time, and that there was a strange ice-free enclave in mid and south Pembrokeshire. My article about the latter came out too late for the BRITICE work, but my suggestion that the "enclave" did not exist appears to have been accepted by everybody working in the field -- at least, nobody has challenged either my field evidence or my conclusions!
Brian John. 2023. Was there a Late Devensian ice-free corridor in Pembrokeshire? Quaternary Newsletter 158, pp 5-16.
Anyway, let's see what the next generation of Devensian models looks like. I'm still waiting for some sensible modelling of the Wolstonian and Anglian glaciations; that's when we will start to see some serious guidance as to the likely course of events in the saga of the bluestones.
Tuesday 28 November 2023
Not long ago I took the geologists to task for suggesting that the Altar Stone should be "declassified" as a bluestone because they now think it might not have come from Wales. This is the ultimate manufactured absurdity -- maybe designed to divert attention from all the things they have got wrong over the past decade.
Friday 24 November 2023
Once upon a time an ice giant with frozen fingers travelled from the far west, where he lived close to the setting sun, to visit a cousin of his who lived on the chalklands close to the place where the sun rises. He was called Dafydd and his cousin was called Cuthbert. Anyway, Dafydd carried with him a bag of pretty pebbles as a gift for his host, because that is the way with giants. (He thought they were pebbles, because he was a giant, but for ordinary people they were HUGE......) When he arrived he was welcomed with open arms by his cousin, who lived in a warm and pleasant valley with not many trees. He just loved his gift from the west, and the two giants arranged the pebbles in a nice pile where they could be admired by all who travelled that way. They passed the time pleasantly enough, talking of other giants and the latest happenings here and there. But then Dafydd began to feel uncomfortable because his fingers started to thaw, and he was much happier when they were frozen. So at last he took his leave and headed back to the icy lands of the west. Cuthbert was very proud of his collection of pebbles, but he was not very intelligent and not very attentive, and when he was out wandering one day a gang of human beings came and stole the pebbles because they wanted to arrange them in a pretty pattern to show to their friends. They left one behind because they were in a bit of a hurry, but a human being who lived nearby (Mr Bole was his name) stole that one and buried it in the middle of a mound in his garden. Cuthbert was distraught for a while, but soon forgot about the pebbles, because he had other pressing matters to deal with. But after the passage of a few centuries Dafydd came on another visit, but without any pebbles this time because he was feeling his age, and anyway, pebbles had gone out of fashion. He was welcomed warmly enough by Cuthbert, but he immediately noticed that the nice pile of pebbles had gone. Cuthbert explained that they had been stolen by some humans, but poor Dafydd was distraught because his cousin had not looked after the pebbles better, and because of the evil ways of human beings. He broke down and wept giant tears, and ever since then the pleasant valley where Cuthbert lived has been called Breakheart Bottom...............
So there we are then.
Even if the above folk tale is not necessarily true, I am intrigued by the manner in which both Aubrey Burl and Geoff Kellaway homed in on the area around Chitterne, Heytesbury, Boles Barrow and Imber as the possible area in which the Stonehenge bluestones were deposited by ice and from which they were collected up by our heroic ancestors. Breakheart Bottom is in the middle of that area, and around half of the territory on the map below is within the MOD firing range.
I just wonder whether this is the area in which the truth resides, just waiting to be uncovered?
Tuesday 21 November 2023
I have just caught up with the fact that the big (definitive?) volume edited by Ros Cleal et al is now online as a free PDF, available for download. So well done, EH and the Archaeology Data Service.
I refer to it frequently, and I really do like its cool, matter-of-fact approach in which evidence is presented methodically, analysed and assessed as to its importance -- all mercifully free from the hype and hubris that we see all too often in Stonehenge studies........
It's not perfect -- no book ever is -- but since it was published in 1995 nothing has come near it in terms of value for money. And now it's free! Enjoy........Summary:
This volume represents a detailed discussion of the structural history of Stonehenge, arrived at by the integration of evidence from primary records of excavations carried out between 1901 and 1964. These major campaigns of excavation and recording include those of Prof William Gowland (1901); Lt-Col William Hawley (1919-26); Profs Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson with J F Stone (1950, 53-5,56,58 and 64) and some smaller, previously unpublished campaigns as well as more recent, small-scale excavations which are already published. The evidence for the use of the monument from the Middle Neolithic to the present day is discussed in terms of its landscape and social settings. The evidence for the rephasing of the monument, including artefactual and ecofactual assemblages, details of the radiocarbon dating programme, geophysical surveys, transcripts of all available field plans, sections, and stone elevations is presented together with a variety of summary lists, concordances, and a guide to the site archive. A new suite of radiocarbon determinations has been obtained which redefines our understanding of the sequence of construction and use of the monument and augments the surviving archaeological evidence.
Saturday 18 November 2023
This image is doing the round in social media, on assorted nutty archaeology sites and Facebook pages galore. Almost everywhere it is accompanied by serious discussions about how this mammoth was entombed in crystal clear ice and so on and so on. It's all complete rubbish, of course. The accompanying text was about the discovery of a baby mammoth in the permafrost -- that's an old story anyway, now recycled -- and all regurgitated by people who skim science stories in learned journals, extract the spectacular bits and seriously misrepresent almost everything because of the obsesssion with "impact." To hell with ethics. The image has been created by somebody having fun with AI technology, which is contributing -- faster than any of us thought possible -- to the death of science. It's now almost impossible to separate out the real images from the manufactured ones.......
In reality, the remains of mammoths found in the permafrost are always scruffy, squashed and very dirty. Permafrost ice does not look like crystal clear glacier ice or lake ice. And when animals die in Arctic bogs they do tend to fall over in the process.....
Sounds familiar? For years we have had nonsense press releases flagging up the wonders of Neolithic quarries, lost stone circles and heroic stone transport expeditions, and as we speak people are probably working on "photographs" of precisely what is supposed to have been going on.
Here is my contribution. This, by the way, is a real, undoctored photo from Antarctica.
Breaking news! Just discovered in Antarctica -- a pyramid which is far larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza, and next to it a smaller pyramid is just emerging from the melting ice cap. This proves that Ancient Egyptians discovered Antarctica and developed an advanced civilisation, well before the start of the Ice Age. This of course transforms our understanding of the ancient world, and the history of the world must now be re-written.