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, 12 December 2018

Severn Estuary -- the glacial context

The area shown in this map is crucial for our understanding of what happened during the Quaternary, and what the string of events might have been which resulted in the hypothesised glacial transport of the bluestones. The distribution of upland and lowland is crucial; during glacial episodes uplands tend to accumulate snowcaps or even small ice caps, and ice coming in from further away (ie ice from the Welsh ice cap of the ice of the Irish Sea Glacier) will always tend to fill depressions first and then spill out of them under the influence of the ice surface gradient and the dynamism of the ice mass.  Those who have, in the past, drawn "straight line" ice edges across this territory have portrayed situations that can never have happened.  In this sort of terrain, all ice edges must have been crenulated.  Where exactly they were located during the Anglian and the Devensisn glaciations (and maybe others as well) is still open to debate!

The pattern or rivers shown here is inherited to some degree from pre-Pleistocene times,and some details will be down to diversions linked to ice action and meltwater overspills from pro-glacial lakes.

I'm giving a lot of thought just now to that latter issue.  How and where might substantial bodies of meltwater been impounded?  Was there dead icei n the depressions, with a ribbon of meltwater between of the ice and the containing hillsides?  Were the water bodies joined together -- with a common surface level?  And was there a vast expanse of water across the Somerset Levels, with hill masses standing above the surface as islands?  If so, how much debris was introduced into this water body by the melting ice, and where are the resulting deposits?

Interesting questions -- watch this space......

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Mud, mud, glorious mud........

There is something rather wonderful about tidal estuaries at low tide, when all the mud banks are exposed.  This particular scene is from Slebech Park, well up the Eastern Cleddau (also called Cleddua Ddu or "Black Cleddau")  and a few miles from Picton Point.

There's not just mud here -- we can see in the bed of the creek that there are many boulders, and there are stony deposits exposed in the banks too.  One warm summers day, when I feel inclined, I might  check out whether any of these exposed deposits can truly be referred to as till........

Poppit raised beach platform and overlying sediments

I visited Poppit (at the mouth of the Teifi estuary) the other day, just to check out what might have changed since my last visit.

The raised beach platform is as prominent as ever,  just round the corner from the main beach and most easily accessible at low tide.  But a lot of storm waves have been breaking onto the RB platform surface, and the overlying deposits are in something of a mess.  There has been a lot of slumping, and the sequence is in many places difficult to discern.

Here are some images:

Broken rock platform some metres above HWM but still affected by storm waves.  Much slumping here in the drift cliff, with some traces of the raised beach and much mixing of periglacial (brecciated bedrock) deposits and glacial deposits related to the Irish sea Glacier.

At the base, c 1m of brecciated bedrock debris (head) representative of Early and Middle Devensian (?) periglacial conditions but also containing raised beach cobbles.  There is a clay-rich matrix, suggesting that this is a reworked deposit incorporated into the base of the overriding Irish Sea Glacier.  In the top part of the photo we see 1.2m of clay-rich Irish Sea till with apparent shear structures.  Above that, a 1m thick glacial deposit with a greater sand and gravel content, suggestive of flowtill deposition during ice wastage.  At the top of the section, a darker sandy deposit which might be sandloess.

This section is a bit of a puzzle.  Bottom left -- the exposed surface of the RB platform, here composed of thin-bedded soft dark shales.Above that (at the base of the section) a 30 cm layer of convoluted brecciated  bedrock fragments incorporating larger local sandstone clasts and erratics.  Above that, up to 50 cms of brecciated sandstone and shale rubble held in a matrix of silt and clay.  Well-rounded RB cobbles are incorporated.  This is probably a basal glacial deposit incorporating periglacial and interglacial deposits.  Above that, up to 1m of relatively stone-free flow till (?) with more sandy materials towards the ground surface.  

A good exposure of the raised beach platform overlain by the sequence of deposits as described above.

I am puzzled by the layer of fine broken shale fragments at the base of the sequence.  Surely it cannot predate the raised beach?  At the moment I am inclined to think that it post-dates the beach sediments, which were protected near the innermost edge of the platform while the platform itself was subjected to severe periglacial conditions at a time of relatively low sea-level -- during the Early and Middle Devensian.

More work needed here.......

Saturday, 8 December 2018

The Somerset pro-glacial lake

I have done an earlier post on this -- based largely on some of the recent glacial modelling:

The idea of a large lake covering the Somerset Levels has been mostly ridiculed in recent years, but I have been forced to think about it again by the evidence from Bleadon Hill, which suggests a terrace that might be a kame terrace or glacial lake shoreline deposit at around 82m OD.

When I looked around the Mendips with Alex back in October, we visited two rather interesting sites -- one at Blagdon Coombe, and the other at Crook Peak, at the western end of the Mendips.

At the former site, at the western end of what must surely be a winding glaciofluvial meltwater channel, there is a broken up rock face of Carboniferous Limestone in the woods opposite Rickford Church, displaying some rather interesting features.

The exposed limestone cliff faces are in the woods, on the south side of the valley, where it opens out to the west -- more or less where the head of the arrow is located.

There appears to be a horizontal "precipitation layer" made of calcium carbonate on the vertical rock surface.  Maybe there are two layers?  Alex has made several visits to the site, and will enlighten us.  The only obvious explanation for these layers is that they represent a water surface.  But was this the surface of a lake?  And if so, when was it present, and for how long did it survive?  The only other explanation is that the water was ponded within a cave which has subsequently lost its outer flank by vast slabs of rock tumbling down into the valley.  And there does not seem to be any sign in the landscape that this has happened.  If the concretions can be dated, that would solve the problem.......

These are the slight ridges of calcium carbonate cement, about two-thirds of the way down from the top of the photo.  They appear to be precipitation features, but they might just be solutional, etched into an older crust on the rock surface.

I'm not sure whether Alex has done any accurate surveying here, but it looks to me from the maps that the altitude of this surface or "level" is around 82m.  Sounds familiar?

Moving swiftly westwards to Crook Peak, there is another interesting exposure of Carboniferous Limestone on the hillside above the car-parking area on the minor road between xxxx

There are a number of extensive exposures of slabs with smooth undulating rock surfaces which I thought at first were glacially moulded surfaces.  I have revised my opinion on that, and now think that the surfaces expose primary mega-ripples and other sedimentary surface features on bedding planes.  These planes coincide more or less with the slope of the ground surface, and here and there we can see the "steps" along which overlying strata are -- bit by bit -- breaking off, with the debris then sliding downslope and accumulating in hollows are piling up against areas of well-anchored vegetation.  We can see a bedding plane and a step in this photo:


I don't dismiss some role for glacial erosion here, and ice may have had a "cleaning up" role.  But what I find really interesting is what happens upslope, where the limestone surface is more fractured, with a greater cover of algae and other plants, and with more rock debris littering the surface:

I'm not sure what is going on here, since we didn't have much time for detailed observations or measurements, but in my mind I have memories from Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica, where I spent much time in the past searching for marine limits and "washing lines" created by wave sapping -- in which debris beneath the line was carried down into deeper water, and debris above it was left in place.  In Scandinavia hills with debris caps on them and water-washed lower slopes are called "kalottberg hills."

And what is the altitude of this apparent washing line?  As you might have guessed -- around 82m.  So we have three different localities on the flanks of the Mendips with apparent traces of a water-level at around 82m -- can that really be a coincidence? 


We have talked on many previous occasions about the significance of Mendip, and the apparent signs of meltwater activity on a rather grand scale:

I still think there may have been a small ice cap on the hills at some stage -- or maybe more than one stage -- and that great volumes of meltwater have had a substantial effect on the landscape.  Some of that meltwater might have been flowing in subglacial channels, as many authors have suggested in the past.

Then we come to Lake Maw.  It was suggested by Maw in 1864 that there might have been a large pro-glacial lake in the inner part of the BristolmChannel at sone stage during the Ice Age -- and this idea was developed by Frank Mitchell in 1960 -- in one of the papers that had a great influence on my own work.  Later on Prof Nick Stephens thought that there might have been a great body of water trapped on the Somerset Levels, providing an explanation for some of the deeper gravel deposits beneath the peat and also explaining the substantial terraces of gravel that exist to the south, beyond the Chard Gap and in the valley of the Axe.  These terrace gravels have been examined in detail at Chard Junction, Broom and elsewhere.  The deep valley in Chard Gap was interpreted by Stephens as a spillway for  pro-glacial lake.  Other authors have dismissed Mitchell's ideas on the basis that there are no independent signs of this vast glacial lake -- but this is perhaps not surprising, given that most of the Somerset Plain is today deeply buried beneath peat layers.  Also, those who dismiss the pro-glacial lake hypothesis have failed to adequately explain where these vast thicknesses (in places more than 20m thick) of sands and gravels in the Axe Valley have come from.........

The extent of Lake Maw as defined by Mitchell in 1960.  There is a fundamental illogicality in not extending the lake into the Somerset Levels, since there can have neen no obstacle to the water flooding eastwards.....

A segment of a larger map from Stephens (in 1970).  There is much of interest here, but if we concentrate on Lake Maw, we see it as much more extensive, flooding the whole of the Somerset Plain and spilling southwards via the Chard Gap.

The lowest surface altitude in the Chard Gap today is around 90m, but I have no idea whether the town and the countryside immediately to the east of it are underlain by thicknesses of gravel or other deposits. The geology maps are not particularly helpful, showing colluvium, alluvium and head, with gravel terraces occurring a few kilometres downstream, on the flanks of the main Axe Valley.  The bedrock altitude in the highest part of the Chard Gap is what matters -- and I might hazard a guess that it is somewhere around 82m.........

So are we about to bring Lake Maw back into fashion?  I hesitate to say that, but there is certainly something interesting going on here.  Watch this space.........

Monday, 3 December 2018

The glaciofluvial gravel terrace at Bleadon Hill

Close-up of the terrace gravels exposed on the flank of an animal burrow (thanks to Alex for this)

I have received some very interesting info from Alex, who has been over to take a look at the famous patch of gravels on the southern flank of Bleadon Hill (ST349573) not far from Weston Super Mare. The altitude here is about 82m.

In the past, this has been described as a "moraine ridge", but it is clearly not a moraine since there is no evidence -- in the few published studies -- of any directly deposited glacial materials.  It has been described by Findlay and his colleagues (in 1972) as a ridge, but from the description and photos provided by Alex it looks more like a terrace.  What one cannot say without further work is whether it is a constructional terrace composed of a thick sediment sequence, or a thin veneer resting on an erosional bench.

It's not easy to pick up the topography from this photo (thanks, Alex!), but it looks as if the two houses are resting on the gravel terrace......

The photos taken by Alex of the materials currently exposed (around badger setts etc) show pebbly gravels at least 2m thick which comprise pebbles mostly under 2 cm across, with some up to 8 cm across, without much of a matrix.  They have been described as "openwork gravels".  Other observers suggest that the gravels are dipping towards the NE -- more or less parallel with the contours and suggesting current flow around the flank of the hill, broadly from west towards east.

Most of the clasts are sub-rounded, suggestive of water abrasion -- and to me they look like classic glaciofluvial materials.  There is some cementation, on the points of contact between clasts -- but the solid cementation that we see in raised beach deposits (for example) is absent. Most of the pebbles are made of Carboniferous Limestone, but Alex says there are many erratics as well.  They must have come from the west.  Findlay and his colleagues suggested that there were partly cemented sands and silts beneath the gravels, but they were not able to see a clear contact between these gravelly beds (above) and sandy beds (below).  Intriguingly, they said that the lowest sandy beds were unconsolidated, with beds dipping southwards at c 37 degrees.

I think we can dispense of some of the wilder explanations of these gravels and accept that they are of glaciofluvial origin.  I can see no possibilities of them being pre-Quaternary deposits here, and I see no merit in trying to explain the gravels away as old beach deposits or as the high remnant of old river terraces.  So they must indicate the presence of glacier ice from the west with a surface at least as high as 82m.  There are two possible explanations.  The gravel terrace might be a kame terrace against a hillside, emplaced by meltwater flowing along an ice edge towards the NE.  The other possibility is that the gravels represent the shoreline of a glacially-impounded lake with its surface altitude at 82m.  I don't like this explanation so much, since we still have to find a source for the pebbles, and without the presence of a nearby ice edge, where might they have come from?  Also, if there was a prolonged water-level stillstand here, where are all of the other shoreline traces elsewhere on the hillside?

So -- there was ice present on the flank of Bleadon Hill.  A kame terrace was formed between the ice edge and the hillside.  When?  The assumption has to be that the glaciation was the Anglian -- and this might be confirmed by the partly-cemented nature of the deposits.  But we can't rule out a Late Devensian ice incursion from the west -- and in the light of the accumulating evidence from many other sites about the extent of the Irish Sea Glacier, around 20,000 years ago,  I think we should keep the dating options open..........

Saturday, 1 December 2018

New paper on the Altar Stone -- or is it?

There is a new pre-publication paper on the Altar Stone, with a 2019 date attached.  Details as follows:

Alternative Altar Stones? Carbonate-cemented micaceous sandstones from the Stonehenge Landscape

by Rob Ixer, Richard Bevins, Peter Turner, Matthew Power and Duncan Pirrie 

Wilts Arch and Nat Hist Mag 112 (2019), pp 1-13

The six-tonne recumbent Altar Stone is perhaps the most enigmatic of all the Stonehenge bluestones, differing markedly from the others in size, tonnage, lithology and origin. It has therefore had more than its fair share of speculation on all of these aspects and many questions remain: was it always recumbent, was it a singleton or half a twin, where did it come from? Clearly it is not from the Preseli Hills hence the debate as to its geographical origins for over a century. However, any provenancing of the Altar Stone must rely on a detailed and accurate lithological and petrographical description. New descriptions of material labelled ‘Altar Stone’ held in museum collections and a re-evaluation of suggested Altar Stone debitage using automated scanning electron microscopy and linked energy dispersive analysis using QEMSCAN technology suggests that modification of the published petrographical descriptions is needed. A new ‘typical Altar Stone’ description is provided including the presence of early cementing barite and a better characterisation of the clay content. These new data should continue to narrow the search for the geographical origin of the Altar Stone, one that is expected to be at the eastern end of the Senni Formation outcrop, an outcrop that reaches as far east as Abergavenny in the Welsh Marches.

Here is the URL: 

As fellow bloggers will know, we have spent a lot of time on this blog pondering on the origins of the Altar Stone, and on the relationship of the stone itself with assorted samples claimed to have come from it.  One of the biggest mysteries relates to "sample 277"  -- assumed but never proved to have come from the stone:

When Ixer and Turner published their "definitive" paper on the Altar Stone in 2006 they were criticised for assuming that "sample 277" was from the only reliably provenanced piece of Altar Stone available -- and for assuming that in describing its characteristics they were describing the true characteristics of the Altar stone and its petrography.  They said at the time:  ".........the thin section labelled ‘277 Altar Stone Stonehenge’ in the Salisbury Museum Collection is likely to remain, for the foreseeable future, the only piece of the monolith available for investigation. It is imperative then that it should be described as fully as possible and that this description becomes widely available."

This last sentence contains the justification for the writing of the paper.

But the authors also said:

This paper represents the first detailed description of the Altar Stone for over eighty years and is in broad agreement with H.H. Thomas other than his identification of abundant garnet and glauconite. Glauconite is a green, chlorite-like mineral and so, if present, has been subsumed under chlorite in the present description. The disparity over the amount of garnet is more significant and puzzling. Thomas noted significant amounts of garnet in his ‘heavy residues’ (Thomas, 1923, 244) but did not report garnet in his thin section description of the Altar Stone. Although trace amounts of garnet can be overlooked/underestimated in thin section the present study could not confirm significant amounts of garnet microscopically. The presence and amount of garnet is important as Thomas was struck by the coincidence between the garnet-rich nature of his Altar Stone ‘heavy residues’ and the unusually garnetiferous nature of the Cosheston Beds and it was the presence of these unusual amounts of garnet in both, that led him to suggest the Cosheston Group might have been the origin of the Altar Stone. Without further sampling (this would require many grammes of Altar Stone to crush before separating the heavy minerals) the garnet problem must remain unresolved.

In an earlier post I said this:
The big issue here is the amount of garnet among the heavy minerals in the rock. Herbert Thomas and Richard Thomas have both stated that there are substantial amounts of garnet in the Altar Stone itself -- but garnet is missing from thin section 277. There are also substantial amounts of garnet in the Cosheston Beds. So was HH Thomas right all along? And have Ixer and Turner simply assumed that thin Section 277 was correctly labelled, when it might have just come from a piece of debitage assumed -- unreliably -- to have come from the Altar Stone?

So in 2006 there was a muddle, and the muddle has got worse since then, with arguments not just about the labelling of so-called "Altar Stone" samples, but also about the ownership of the samples and the thin sections taken from them.  English Heritage could, of course, sort the whole thing out right now by giving permission for a small sample to be taken from the stone -- but they presumably would prefer for as many Stonehenge mysteries as possible to be kept alive and unresolved!  So, in attempting to make the best of a bad job, Ixer and Bevins and their fellow authors have tried to draw together as much material as possible into this new paper.

Was it worth the wait?  Have we now got the answers?

There are problems in the very first sentence of the paper.  The authors insist that a bluestone can be defined as "any any non-sarsen ‘foreign’ stone used as an orthostat within the Stonehenge circle."   Wrong.  There are plenty of bluestones of all shapes and sizes (including fragments in the debitage) that are NOT established as having any link with the standing stones.   I have crossed swords with Ixer and Bevins on this issue many times before.......

There are three sandstone lumps at Stonehenge that are deemed to have been orthostats:  stone 80 (the Altar Stone) and stones 42c and 40g (assumed, but not confirmed, to be made from Lower Palaeozoic sandstones from West Wales). Not one of these stones has been sampled in modern times -- so all that has been written about them is based on the analyses of fragments found in the debitage.  That makes the geology very difficult........

Twelve samples from fragments have been examined during the present study -- including some collected during the Darvill / Wainwright excavation of 2008.  A number of different methods were used  on all of the samples so as to permit strict and reliable comparisons.  In describing previous studies (of which there are many), the authors have to admit that all of the samples studied in the past have suffered from the lack of certainty about any links they might have with Stone 80 which lies there today, peacefully embedded in the ground and trapped beneath those big sarsens.  

The bulk of the paper consists of sample descriptions and analyses -- all very carefully done. Then we come to the discussion.  The authors admit that there is no confirmed relationship between the Altar Stone and any of the debitage or the examined samples -- and they say: " Rhyolitic/dacitic standing orthostats SH 38, 40, 46 and 48 have little or no recognised debitage and this is true for the Altar Stone. "  They go on to say that there are great similarities in the characteristics of most of the 12 samples analysed, and they then take three "altar stone samples" (why do they refer to them as such?) from the 2008 excavations as probably being REALLY representative of the Altar Stone -- choosing sample 08/196 as the "type sample."   They suggest that this is a better type sample than sample 277........ which "may be atypical".

On the matter of possible provenances for the samples analysed, there is an intriguing suggestion that  the common presence of barite cement may mean that the samples have not come from Wales at all.  This is also intriguing:
".......well-crystalline kaolinite and mixed layer illite-smectite are common in the east of the ORS outcrop (see Figure 1) but are unknown/uncommon in the rocks at the western (Pembrokeshire) end of the outcrop. As the QEMSCAN data show kaolinite and mixed illite- smectite are present in the Altar Stone samples (but so is chlorite, although much, perhaps all, is detrital) and this is in accord with the suggestion that the Altar Stone originates within the Brecon Beacons (Parker Pearson et al. in press) rather than further west."   (Note:  the "in press" paper is the one already published in Antiquity 2018)

The issue of the abundant garnets in the heavy mineral assemblage is mentioned but not properly addressed.

All in all, this is a strange paper.  There is no new fieldwork here, and no new sampling of the Altar Stone.  It's good to have all these samples examined, described and compared, but since not one of them is properly provenanced to the Altar Stone itself, there is a degree of futility in the whole exercise.  And the authors themselves get into quite a tangle, sometimes stressing that they are NOT describing the characteristics of the Altar Stone, and sometimes pretending that they are.

So we are a bit closer to knowing where some of the debitage might have come from, but no further advanced than we were before in establishing the origin of the Alar Stone. 

There is another paper to come:  The relationships, or rather the lack of any, between sandstones found within the Stonehenge Landscape (Altar Stone and Lower Palaeozoic Sandstone) and the Devonian rocks of the Milford Haven area (Cosheston Group) area are being explored, in detail, in a companion paper. 

That will be designed to demonstrate that the Cosheston Beds link is now discredited, but  since the new paper will also be hindered and devalued by the lack of any new work on the Altar Stone itself, I don't expect much in the way of enlightenment.  The object of the exercise is clearly to establish the eastern exposures of the Senni Beds as the place where the Altar Stone came from, because that is what happens to suit the latest MPP hypothesis, but I fear that my scepticism about all of that is just as great today (after reading the new paper) as it was yesterday.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Waun Mawn - clutching at straws

The so-called slight mound on which the eastern recumbent tone is supposed to rest.  There are undulations -- up and down by around 10 cm -- but this degree of surface roughness is no greater than that seen right across the site.  The "slight mound" mentioned by Dyfed Archaeology was not beneath this stone at all, but beneath the western recumbent stone which we see in the distance. 

Below I have copied in -- without any editing at all -- a commentary on MPP's talk to the National Park Archaeology Day on 17th Nov, written by a member of the audience.  I'm very grateful to him.


MPP led us through a rapid list of works in North Pembrokeshire: the Roman villa, Banc Ddu, and Dryslwyn  (should that be Pensarn?), before ending with Waun Mawn in a thrilling performance.

The Waun Mawn segment started with a reference from the RCAHMW published in 1925, from a visit to the site on 18 June 1914. Within this is the sentence “ the surface of the common is much broken up by turf cutting, which has evidently obliterated traces of further stones of the circle, though it is probable that a further examination would reveal their positions.” It is curious that there is no apparent evidence of peat extraction over this area to be seen today. MPP didn’t dwell on this subject at the time, but drew attention to HH Thomas’s discoveries in the years afterwards and how we were lucky that they had not drawn the obvious conclusion that we have with this site.

The significance of the digging on the moor did not become apparent until the end, when there was a question about this disappearance of the peat across the site. MPP said this was due to the digging mentioned in the Royal commission. I not sure there is any evidence of peat digging on the ridge, it could be possible down in the col to the south. As a reader of this blog, any digging at Waun Mawn immediately calls to mind the quarrying to south and northwest of the site. I suspect any peat here would have been extremely thin. MPP pointed out that the name means ‘peat moor’. The site is however close to the summit of the ridge, Cnwc y Hydd, or the Stag’s Knoll. How much of a tradition of peat or turf cutting was there on Preseli?

Evidence for the stone circle is not strong. MPP marked up seven (I think) stone holes excavated. Two images of holes were shown, which were very convincing, although possibly small – it is difficult to tell in the lecture. We were shown a hole for the easternmost recumbent stone, which looked very dubious, but was obviously suffering from the effect of the weather. There may well be better evidence for this. I think this was the area of ground repaired by DAT in 2007.

One interesting facet is that all the material in the holes has been sieved to retain any stone chips to be examined for petrological evidence. We may have the start of a Waun Mawn debitage thesis to match the one from Stonehenge.

A range of large stone circles were outlined – Long Meg, Ring of Brodgar, Avebury, etc. Waun Mawn may be the third largest stone circle in the British Isles. While looking at these plans it was pointed out that some of them have gaps where stones should be, so why couldn’t Waun Mawn have equivalent gaps? I have gaps in my teeth, does that make me related to a certain film actress with gaps in her teeth?

A disclosure during the talk is that the easternmost recumbent stone sits on a small mound, possibly make it more distinctive. The final slide shown had Waun Mawn superimposed on a drawing of Stonehenge phase 1. This gave the tantalising suggestion that from the centre of the supposed circle to this mound is an alignment to the Midsummer sunrise as happens at Stonehenge. The conclusion was that more digging was needed next year.

There was no mention of where the stones went, or of other such similar matters. The audience were not looking for this aspect of the story. The site location slides happened to show Rhosyfelin, Carn Goedog and curiously, Cerrig y Marchogion along with the other sites, but they were only mentioned in passing, if at all. The synchronicity of events in radiocarbon years after 3000 BC was pointed out several times. There does seem to be a lot of activity around this time. It would be interesting to look at an analysis of radiocarbon dates of the region now that there are starting to be large numbers of them.

Top marks for an interesting, well presented talk that ran through all the various sites and episodes in North Pembrokeshire. it will be very interesting to look at the detail in the specialist studies as they come out.


So yet another bravura performance from our old friend MPP, in front of an audience not particularly inclined to question anything.  One has to admire him for sheer brass.......... and so the hoax rolls on, getting ever more elaborate.

Just a few points:

1.  The comment from RCAHMW about peat cutting is, I think, nonsensical.  For a start, there are no traces of peat cutting here, because this is not a blanket bog area.  As NRW and the National Park have noted, this is an area of dry heath, and the soil horizon here is just the same as the soil horizon in many other parts of Preseli where the slope is quite steep and where there is good surface drainage.  I have published some images showing what it is like.  Secondly, if there had been peat cutting here (in other words, if the surface had been lowered), it would not have obliterated traces of any ancient stone circle -- it would have made them more obvious.  (There are some signs of peat cuttings on Preseli, especially near Foelcwmcerwyn -- and they are pretty obvious to anybody who walks over them.)  It may be that some of the quarrying traces on Waun Mawn and Cnwc yr Hydd were mistaken for peat cuttings, by people who did not examine them properly.

2.  Agree that the evidence of stone sockets is not very strong.  In fact, it's downright lousy.

3.  I imagine that as we speak, Rob Ixer will be ploughing through a bag of fragments collected from the site.  He will be searching desperately for fragments of foliated rhyolite and spotted dolerite -- both of which seemed to me -- on the basis of a superficial examination -- to be missing.

4.  The significance of gaps in a stone circle?  What is the point MPP is trying to make here?  Again, we see the complete commitment to the idea that there was a circle here -- but if truth be told, there is no evidence and he's just joking......

5.  Eastern recumbent stone on a small mound?  MPP has got this all wrong.  The recumbent stone recorded by Dyfed Archaeology as being on a slight mound was the western recumbent stone, not the eastern one. See this document:

Groom,P , 2006 , Erosion Control Works at Waun Maun Standing Stones SAM Pe124

That mound is in any case too small to be noticed by anybody who does not have the eye of faith.    There is no discernible mound at the position of the eastern recumbent stone.

6.  Does the imaginary mound at Waun Mawn lie in exactly the compass position, from the proposed circle centre-point,  of the Midsummer sunrise on the Stonehenge horizon?  As we all know, the precise position of the midsummer sunrise (and any other sunrise, for that matter) varies from place to place, depending on the nature of the far horizon -- hills or plain, near or far........  To suggest that the builders of any stone circle at Waun Mawn knew the precise compass direction of the Stonehenge midsummer sunrise and then replicated it here by making a nice mound (which happens to be invisible today) strays so far into Robin Heath territory that I think we might be wise to forget about it.  The superimposing of one carefully drawn map on another carefully drawn map is as old as the hills, an old conjuring trick designed to cause gasps of delight in a gullible audience........

7.  More digging needed next year?  OMG -- will this nonsense never stop?

8.  Synchroneity of radiocarbon dates around 3,000 BC?  The coincidence of some dates around this time is completely meaningless without secure archaeological contexts, and these are completely lacking.  Also, we  have no control sites to work with -- so the density of dates at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog, and their distribution through time, may be no different from the situation pertaining at innumerable other sites in a landscape that was occupied in Neolithic and Bronze Age times.


So there we are then.  We are not an inch further forward, except that the story has become ever more elaborate and has strayed even further into the world of fantasy.  As our intrepid reporter says, we look forward to the specialist studies more in hope than expectation.