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....
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Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Iceland satellite image

 This is one of the most striking satellite images I have ever seen -- it's from Apple Maps, and shows Iceland as it appears with a sprinkling of snow in the high mountains and on upland plateaux in the north.  The ice caps in the south are very clearly shown, and when you zoom in all sorts of landscape features are shown with remarkable clarity, enhanced by the subtle colourings.

Friday, 30 April 2021

River Boyne log boats

One of the recent images of a log boat almost 3m long and about 60 cms wide.  

There has been more recent coverage of the discoveries of log boats in the mudbanks of the River Boyne near Drogheda.  Of course, Newgrange is not far away  -- so the temptation is to say that the log boats are somehow connected, and that they must be Neolithic in age.  Maybe they were used for the transport of stones?

However, expert opinion seems to be that of the 20 log boats found thus far, the majority are likely to be of medieval age, probably occupied by a single paddler for crossing the river or fishing.  Work is ongoing, and it will be interesting to see whether any of them can actually be dated to the Neolithic or Bronze Age.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Banc Llwydlos passage grave number one


The previously described Banc Llwydlos passage grave, seen from the closed end -- which is probably where the burial chamber was located.  This is about 450m away from the Banc Llwydlos "village",  to the NW.  About 40m away from this passage grave is the strange "ruined cromlech" with the massive dolerite slab resting on a small boulder and another cantilevered slab........

Grid reference:  SN 08746 33223.

Banc Llwydlos -- another passage grave?


Yet more features from Banc Llwydlos.  At this location the old maps show "hut circles", but on my visit today I was only convinced by ONE circle or oval on the west bank of a northward-flowing stream.  It's quite a distinctive feature which others have interpreted as one small circle and another larger one.  The embankment is easily distinguished, made of boulders and smaller stones which are largely turf-covered -- and therefore difficult to photograph.  The maximum diameter is about 22m -- far too large to be a hut circle.  So I'll call it a ring cairn or embanked circle.  There was no obvious "entrance" to be seen.  Location SN 09303 33114.

Of greater interest is a rather indistinct feature to the west of the "circle" made of two more or less parallel embankments about 50 - 60 cm high and obviously cored by boulders and stones.  Each bank is about 1m wide, and the elongated hollow between the two banks is about 1m wide. The southern end is closed off, and at the northern end, about 8m away, there is an area of irregular mounds and hollows which may be made of material taken from an entrance portal or maybe from a mound that existed at one time.  My instinct is to classify this feature with the other three passage graves already known from this area of moorland.  It's not as spectacular, but in scale and orientation (opening to the north) it looks as if it might be part of a family..........  Grid ref:  SN 09285 33102.


Friday, 23 April 2021

South Pembrokeshire pipeline research

This looks interesting -- at long last, the results of the survey work undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology along the rote of the gas pipeline installed in 2005-2007 between Milford Haven and Tirley in Gloucestershire. I'm most interested in the Pembrokeshire bit of the 317 km route. The book (in which Tim Darvill is the lead author) is published by Oxbow at £20.  From the published summary of the book:

Timeline is a synthesis of the results and covers over 10,000 years of human history, from at least the Mesolithic period to the beginnings of industrialisation. Pipelines by their very nature provide a thin slice across the contemporary landscape and present opportunities to explore past landscapes in areas not usually affected by commercial development. They often provide new and complementary information to existing knowledge that challenges our preconceptions of the past – where people lived and the routine of daily life. Ken Murphy (Dyfed Archaeological Trust) writes about Iron Age settlement in upland areas, Andrew David (formerly Historic England) and Prof Tim Darvill (Bournemouth University) report on Mesolithic and Neolithic activity (the latter including the discovery of a new henge monument), and Heather James (now retired) focusses on Early Medieval farming and diet. Seren Griffiths provides a radiocarbon chronology based on Bayesian analysis for many of the key sites, and James Rackham has written a synthesis of the past environment. Jonathan Hart sets the scene and provides discussion. The project produced large datasets and the book is a gateway to a significant online resource that can be explored at CA Archaeological Reports website (keyword search: South Wales Gas Pipeline).

It's one of my great regrets that when the pipeline work was under way, I was too preoccupied with writing my Angel mountain books to keep an eye on the open trench across the landscape.  I suspect that it would have told us a great deal about the Pleistocene deposits in the inland parts of Pembrokeshire......

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Swinside and Castlerigg


Swinside stone circle, near Broughton-in-Furness, Lake District

Castelerigg stone circle, near Keswick, Lake District

Many thanks to Charlene and Martin for these pics of the two best preserved stone circles in the Lake District.  They are both made from a mottley collection of locally sourced glacial erratics of all shapes and sizes.  There was clearly no preferential use of "pillars" rather than slabs or boulders.  It's assumed that both were made from stones quite closely spaced.  If there ever were stone circles worth the name in Pembrokeshire,  these two classic sites probably provide good models showing what they might have looked like.  Both Castlerigg and Swinside are probably Neolithic rather than Bronze Age structures.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Devensian till at Parrog, Newport


Beneath the Parrog footpath, in front of the houses, there are several excellent exposures of till which is likely to be of Devensian age.  There has been a lot of disturbance here over the centuries, and it's difficult to see what the full sequence of deposits is. The till is up to 2m thick, and it is not particularly clay-rich, so I would hesitate to call it "Irish Sea till".  It's more like a melt-out till or ablation till, and it has characteristics in common with the till deposits that we find on clifftops and in embayments all around the Pembrokeshire coast.  It's overlain by about 1m of slope breccia, which is then overlain by another slope deposit made of colluvium, and then by a sandy modern soil.

So what we have here is the top part of the Devensian sediment sequence, matching well with the upper part of the sequence at Abermawr and many other sites.