THE BOOK
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

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Bluestone rock types at Stonehenge




The one original point in the latest book chapter by MPP et al (2019) is a table of bluestone rock types contributed by Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins.  We reproduce it below, with acknowledgement of the source. 
 

From:
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
https://www.academia.edu/44065619/Long_distance_landscapes_from_quarries_to_monument_at_Stonehenge?

The table lists 13 different bluestone "rock types" found at Stonehenge, and it is very interesting because it effectively blows the quarrying hypothesis out of the water.  

There are actually far more than 13 rock types represented here -- for there is considerable variation in geochemistry and petrology within some of these groups.  The linking of rock types with specific stones is for the most part not at all sound,  since most of the Stonehenge bluestones have not been directly sampled, and the geologists have had to analyse debitage or fragments assumed to have come from particular stones.  For example, we do NOT know that the "Rhyolite Groups A-C" fragments have come from Stones 32d and 32e.  We do not even know that foliated rhyolite fragments at Stonehenge have really come from Rhosyfelin, in spite of what Ixer and Bevins may say.  The "spotted dolerite ungrouped" category  (assigned to 21 different numbered bluestones) contains considerable variation, and many different provenances are probably represented.  No stones have been shown in the scientific literature to have come from Cerrig Marchogion or Talfynydd.  The Altar Stone (80) has never been sampled, and we do not know that it comes from the Senni Beds.  The "Lower Palaeozoic sandstone" should be plural, not singular, and the assignments of studied sandstone fragments to stones 40g and 42c are acts of faith, not statements of fact.  The authors themselves admit that their samples point to two different sources.  We can go on -- but let's just point out that the table is useful as a guide, but that the assignment of particular stones to particular rock types is in many cases NOT solidly evidence-based.  As I have said many times before, there may be as many as  30 different provenances represented in the full assemblage of bluestone monoliths and debris at Stonehenge.

In that context, the very idea of Neolithic quarries having some importance becomes somewhat ridiculous.  Are the authors of this new book chapter suggesting that there were up to 30 quarries?  If not, what are they suggesting?  That they quarried monoliths from Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog (in very difficult locations) just for fun, and just picked stones up from everywhere else?  Interestingly enough, this table of rock types is not discussed at all in the text.  I'm surprised that MPP allowed it to be published at all, since he must have realised how damaging it would be..........

The biggest bombshell here is the admission that most of the spotted dolerites at Stonehenge have NOT come from Carn Goedog, although this has been claimed over and again in the literature and in press releases.  When do we get to see the corrections and the apologies?

Only five stones are now assigned to Carn Goedog -- 33, 37, 49, 65, and 67.  I do not accept that this assignment is soundly based.  Anyway, let's take a look at them, courtesy of  Simon Banton's excellent "Stones of Stonehenge" web site: 

33

37

49

65

67

Are the authors of this new book chapter seriously suggesting that this little assemblage of spotted dolerite bluestones have been lovingly quarried and selected for use at Stonehenge (or even at some wonderful "proto-Stonehenge" at Waun Mawn) as first-class monoliths?  Stones 33 and 67 might loosely be called pillars, but stone 49 is an irregular battered slab, and stones 65 and 37 can only be realistically described as heavily weathered and abraded boulders.  MPP has argued over and again that Carn Goedog was quarried because that is where there was columnar jointing, and where the most perfect pillars could be found..........

These five stones are typical glacial erratics which have been faceted and abraded in glacial transport and subsequently weathered as a result of exposure to the atmosphere for maybe 20,000 years.

Oh dear, for how much longer do we have to put up with the fantasy world created by MPP and his fellow storytellers?



Foliated rhyolite on Brynberian Moor, north flank of Mynydd Preseli


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.

 https://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2016/06/bedd-yr-afanc-geology.html

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:


I was able to look at the stones that make up the remains of the passage grave.  They are quite small, with none of them projecting more than 1m above the ground surface, and they are of all shapes and sizes.  Clearly there was no careful selection -- they were all picked up locally and used more or less where found.  Of the 42 or so stones still visible,  33 are made of dolerite, one seems to be of spotted dolerite, one is gabbro, and seven are rhyolite.  many of the stones are smaller than skull size, and were probably used as packing of filling stones between the larger boulders used for the main structure of the monument.

These are two of the rhyolite stones in the setting:

Small foliated rhyolite stone.

A jagged (broken?) stone  -- rhyolite without obvious foliations.

Out on the moor, the steep slope facing south at SN113344 seems to me made of rhyolite, which then extends out onto the moor for at least another 500m, as far south as SN114341.  It is variable in texture, but the light blue colour is consistent, as is the whitish weathering crust on fragments exposed in the track leading to Hafod Tydfil. Around the northern tip of the enclosed land of Hafod Tydfil, dark mudstones of the Abermawr shales appear in abundance on the track, indicating a change in bedrock type.  I think that the boundary between the Fishguard Volcanics rhyolitic tuffs and lavas is about 500m away from where it should be,according to the map.  

I wonder if the Brynberian Moor foliated rhyolites have been sampled by the geologists?  If not, they need to get looking, since we might have in this vicinity a source for at least some of the foliated rhyolite debitage at Stonehenge.




Saturday, 19 September 2020

The Stonehenge bluestone erratic boulders -- when were they emplaced?

What do Stonehenge and East Greenland have in common?  Not a lot, you might think ---- but it might just be that work done on this massive end moraine may help to solve the problem of when, and how, the Stonehenge bluestones were moved from West Wales to Salisbury Plain......


East Greenland  (Kjove Land) 1962.  On the delta terrace on the eastern flank of the massive Holger Dansker Briller end moraine, at the exit of a diffluent glacial trough. There are erratic boulders on the terrace, and even more on the ice-contact slope and on the inner moraine surface.


In the middle distance, the terminal moraine with its flattish delta terrace top.  Beyond it, hidden from view, are the two lakes of the Holger Danskes Briller.

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......

https://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-stonehenge-boulders.html



Stone 37


Stone 39

There has now been much work on the origins of the stones, but not much work at all on  the amount of time that has elapsed since their weathered surfaces were first exposed to cosmogenic radiation.  all we can say at present is that most of the boulders and slabs have weathering crusts on them, suggesting that they have been exposed to the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years.  Surface sampling would be easy to do, and would sort out the dilemma, if only EH would allow it.  As it is, that august organization treats every stone as if it is a religious relic, too precious to touch, and it seems to be far more interested in mysteries and narratives than in hard science.

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.


====================

TWO INTERESTING PAPERS

Dating of raised marine and lacustrine deposits in east Greenland using beryllium-10 depth profiles and implications for estimates of subglacial erosion

BRENT M. GOEHRING, MEREDITH A. KELLY, JOERG M. SCHAEFER, ROBERT C. FINKEL and THOMAS V. LOWELL

JOURNAL OF QUATERNARY SCIENCE (2010)
DOI: 10.1002/jqs.1380

ABSTRACT: 

Here we combine 10Be depth profile techniques applied to late glacial ice-contact marine and lacustrine deltas, as well as boulder exposure dating of associated features in the Scoresby Sound region, east Greenland, to determine both the surface age and the magnitude of cosmogenic nuclide inheritance. Boulder ages from an ice-contact delta in northern Scoresby Sund show scatter typical of polar regions and yield an average age of 12.8 +/- 0.5 ka – about 2 ka older than both our average profile surface age of 10.9 +/- 0.7ka from three depth profiles and a radiocarbon-based estimate. On the other hand, boulder exposure ages from a set of moraines in southern Scoresby Sund show excellent internal consistency for polar regions and yield an average age of 11.6 0.2 ka. The profile surface age from a corresponding ice-contact delta is 8.1 +/- 0.9 ka, while a second delta yields an age of 10.0 +/- 0.4 ka. Measured 10Be inheritance concentrations from all depth profiles are internally consistent and are between 10% and 20% of the surface concentrations, suggesting a regional cosmogenic inheritance signal for the Scoresby Sound landscape. Based on the profile inheritance concentrations, we explore the first-order catchment-averaged bedrock erosion under the Greenland ice sheet, yielding estimates of total erosion during the last glacial cycle of the order of 2–30 m.


This is the sampled area on the Holger Danskes Briller end moraine / delta terrace -- which I described with my colleague David Sugden back in 1962..........


This is the spillway through which the eastern lake overflows, near the southern end of the moraine. One of our 1962 photos.


The area in which we worked in 1962.  The Holger Danskes Briller moraine is at the eastern end of the eastern lake, and is a relic of an important glacier stage dated to c 11,000 yrs BP.


From Sugden and John, 1965.  We dated the big Holger Danskes Briller moraine to 10,500 yrs BP -- which was not bad, given the limited resources and dating methods at our disposal.   We were, as it happens, about 500 years adrift with the dating.......  and the moraine is now deemed to be a classic indicator of the "Inner Milne Land Stage" in East Greenland.  But our levelling of the marine stillstand to 101m was pretty well spot on.  We measured the marine limit in this region at 134m.


------------------------

Too young or too old: Evaluating cosmogenic exposure dating based on an analysis of compiled boulder exposure ages
Jakob Heyman, Arjen P. Stroeven, Jonathan M. Harbor,Marc W. Caffee


Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 302, Issues 1–2, 1 February 2011, Pages 71-80


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0012821X10007478?via%3Dihub


ABSTRACT

Cosmogenic exposure dating has greatly enhanced our ability to define glacial chronologies spanning several global cold periods, and glacial boulder exposure ages are now routinely used to constrain deglaciation ages. However, exposure dating involves assumptions about the geological history of the sample that are difficult to test and yet may have a profound effect on the inferred age. Two principal geological factors yield erroneous inferred ages: exposure prior to glaciation (yielding exposure ages that are too old) and incomplete exposure due to post depositional shielding (yielding exposure ages that are too young).Here we show that incomplete exposure is more important than prior exposure, using data sets of glacial boulder Be exposure ages from the Tibetan Plateau (1420 boulders), Northern Hemisphere palaeo-ice sheets (631 boulders), and present-day glaciers (208 boulders). No boulders from present-day glaciers and few boulders from the palaeo-ice sheets have exposure ages significantly older than independently known deglaciation ages, indicating that prior exposure is of limited significance. Further, while a simple post-depositional landform degradation model can predict the exposure age distribution of boulders from the Tibetan Plateau, a prior exposure model fails,indicating that incomplete exposure is important. The large global dataset demonstrates that, in the absence of other evidence, glacial boulder exposure ages should be viewed as minimum limiting deglaciation ages.


Friday, 18 September 2020

Carl Sagan on science, scrutiny and a lot else besides

 


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!

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The GBG (Greatest British Glaciation) -- another clue



An Teallach, the highest ridge of mountains in Wester Ross -- 
with traces of at least two glaciations on the slopes and plateau remnants, and summits 
with no trace at all of overriding ice.


This is an old article, c 23 years old, but nonetheless valuable.  it uses a range of geomorphological and glaciological methods to collect data and reconstruct glacial events.  It seems to me to be an impressive and reliable piece of work.  The authors have measured trimlines on many of the high summits of Wester Ross, with till and other glacial traces below them and largely periglacial blockfields, bare rock and scree above.   The ice surface characteristics interpreted from a mass of data make perfect sense, and accord with other evidence from outside this area of study.  On the map below we can see high ground, troughs and valleys (which would have carried outlet glaciers), mountaintops inundated at the LGM, and nunataks.  The ice surface in the interior was around 1000m, and it descended from c 900m through the studied zone to around 700m.  The ice surface gradient makes sense, indicating a rather gentle gradient in the ice sheet interior ( c 5m per km), then a steeper gradient as the ice flowed through the western mountains (around 15m per km), and then a gentler gradient again towards the coastal lowlands (around 7.5m per km).

But the interesting thing in this research, for those of us who are interested in glaciations other than the late Devensian, is the occurrence of erratics in blockfields ABOVE the trimline, on many mountain summits. Erratics occur up to 900m on the SE ridge of An Teallach, c 140m higher than the reconstructed Late Devensian ice surface. Other erratics occur near the summit of Slioch, c 130m higher than the reconstructed ice surface.  However, the upper limit of erratics lies at 880m - 920m around the Wester Ross mountains -- supporting the idea that the highest summits were never glaciated.  So there are three altitudinal zones -- a lower mountain zone affected by Late Devensian ice, a middle zone affected by an earlier glaciation (or maybe several) but not by the LGM, and an upper zone of mountain summits with no traces of overriding ice.

The implications are clear -- suggesting that the Late Devensian glaciation was not the most extensive or intensive of the Quaternary glaciations, at least in NW Scotland.  But we should not be surprised by the idea that this Greatest British Glaciation (Anglian?) pushed southwards beyond its LGM limit, just as it pushed north-westwards in the Wester Ross area onto the islands of the Outer Hebrides. (The Isle of Lewis was by all accounts unaffected by the ice from the main ice sheet during the LGM.)

There are implications for the Bristol Channel area and for the Isles of Scilly.... more of which anon......

=====================

Ballantyne, C. K., McCarroll, D., Nesje, A. and Dahl, S.-O. 1997. Periglacial trimlines, former nunataks and altitude of the last ice sheet in Wester Ross,northwest Scotland.
J. Quaternary Sci., Vol. 12, pp. 225–238.

ABSTRACT: 

High-level weathering limits separating ice-scoured topography from frost-weathered detritus were identified on 28 mountains in Wester Ross at altitudes of 700–960 m, and a further 22 peaks support evidence of ice scouring to summit level. Weathering limits aredefined most clearly on sandstone and gneiss, which have resisted frost shattering during the Late Devensian Lateglacial, but can also be distinguished on schists and quartzite. Schmidt hammer measurements and analyses of clay mineral assemblages indicate significantly moreadvanced rock and soil weathering above the weathering limits. The persistence of gibbsite above weathering limits indicates that they represent the upper limit of Late Devensian glacial erosion. The regular decline of weathering-limit altitudes along former flowlines eliminates the possibility that the weathering limits represent former thermal boundaries between protective cold-based and erosive warm-based ice. The weathering limits are therefore interpreted as periglacial trimlines that define the maximum surface altitude of the last ice sheet. Calculated basal shear stresses of 50–95 kPa are consistent with this interpretation. Reconstruction of ice-sheet configuration indicates that the former ice-shed lay above 900 m along the present watershed, and that the ice surface descended northwestwards, with broad depressions along major troughs and localised domes around independent centres of ice dispersal. Extrapolation of the ice surface gradient and altitude suggests that the ice sheet did not overrun the Outer Hebrides, but was confluent with the independent Outer Hebrides ice-cap in the North Minch basin. Erratics located up to 140 m above the reconstructed ice surface are inferred to have been emplaced by a pre-Late Devensian ice sheet (or ice sheets) of unknown age.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Biomechanical processes at Rhosyfelin


Over the last five or six years, I have spent a lot of time on this blog criticising the MPP team (including geologists Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins) for steadfastly refusing to consider the role of Quaternary earth surface processes in the formation of the "quarrying" features at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog.  I have also called them out for wilfully ignoring (ie refusing to cite) the two peer-reviewed papers by Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd,  John Downes and myself, and even refusing to accept that there is a scientific dispute going on.  Just as significant is their refusal to accept the role of biological processes -- at Rhosyfelin in particular -- in the formation of the crag and the accumulation of debris on its flanks.  This is cited in the RIGS citation for the site, but the digging team continues to publish papers without making any mention of biomechanical processes, and they have done it again in the book chapter entitled " Long-distance landscapes: from quarries to monument at Stonehenge."

If nothing else, archaeology research at the highest level requires multidisciplinary inputs, and the blinkered approach of the MPP team has to be seen as unscientific, designed to "prove" a preexisting hypothesis by wilfully ignoring everything inconvenient.

A reminder:

From a 2015 post:
Biomechanical processes in a woodland ecosystem

It appears that certain people are very sceptical about the manner in which biomechanical processes operate in woodland ecosystems. Strange, since we see them operating almost every day. At the top of the bank in our garden we have a large ash tree embedded in a stone wall. Every now and then the stone wall collapses and has to be rebuilt, because of two observable processes: the gradual and inexorable process of root expansion, and the rocking of the tree in high winds. Both processes push out very heavy stones, some of them far too heavy to lift.

Above is one of my photos from Rhosyfelin, showing a large block of rhyolite that has already been separated from the rock face because of root expansion and the rocking of shrubs -- in this case gorse and heather.


From a 2018 post:
Biological processes at Rhosyfelin

I'm increasingly convinced that biological processes are -- and have been for a long time -- of great importance in the evolution of the landforms at Rhosyfelin.

If one looks back at the Devensian, and at the history of other crags and rock faces (for example, on the coast) one sees the effects of frost shattering over a period of around 70,000 years -- during which there must have been continuous or discontinuous permafrost and an ongoing process of rock breakage at the surface. Many fracture patterns must have been exploited, with fractures opened or widened by freeze-thaw processes. Then, in the intervals when scrub or woodland vegetation was able to take hold, the expansion of root systems must have continued the work, forcing fractures to widen even further, until failures occurred, accompanied by large and small rock fragments crashing down and accumulating on the flank of the crag. This is what we see in all the photos -- interpreted as quarrying waste by the archaeologists and as natural rockfall or slope accumulations by geomorphologists.

The process continues to this day -- maybe at a faster rate now than in the past, given the nature of the present climate and the occupation of the upper part of the crag by gorse, hazel, willow and other bushes and small trees. Root expansion does part of the work, the the rocking of trees and shrubs in the wind is another very active process.

===========================

Further down the valley, biological / biomechanical processes are operating quite prominently, but apparently quite invisibly as far as the MPP team is concerned......




===========================

What we see at Rhosyfelin today is the operation of a set of natural processes which have affected the local landscape for something like 20,000 years since the melting of the last remnants of Late Devensian glacier ice.  Biological processes are crucial in the mix, and so here is another interesting question:  in the Rhosyfelin debate, where are the botanists?  I assume that they have been asked by Prof MPP to look for pollen in sediment samples, and to identify nuts and bits of wood and charcoal by looking down microscopes in their labs, but where are they when we need them in the field?



Saturday, 12 September 2020

Prostrate at the shrine of the Stonehenge Neolithic Mythos

                                      


This latest book is part of a series arising from conferences held in Portugal -- the earler one was in 2015 and the latest one was held in 2019.

Here we go again. It gets positively bizarre and even unhealthy. Same old gang, same old obsession. Another paper from the MPP team that says nothing new, but which repeats the same old stuff in a slightly different format. Same old principle: if you repeat nonsense often enough and with sufficient bravado, people will be badgered into thinking that it is true.


Duty compels me to mention it, I suppose -- so here are the details:

Mike Parker Pearson, Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Joshua Pollard, Colin Richards, Kate Welham. 2019. Long-distance landscapes: from quarries to monument at Stonehenge. MEGALITHS AND GEOLOGY, Boaventura, Mataloto & Pereira,
eds. (2019). pp. 183-200

Abstract

Stonehenge is famous for the distances moved by its stones, both sarsens and bluestones. In particular, the bluestones have their geological origins in West Wales, 225km away. Recent excavations at two of these bluestone sources — one for rhyolite and one for spotted dolerite — have identified evidence of megalith quarrying around 3000 BC, when Stonehenge' s first stage was constructed. This remarkable movement of bluestones from Wales coincided with a decline in regional cultural distinctions between west and east, suggesting that building Stonehenge may have served to unify the Neolithic populations of Britain.

I'm not going to scrutinize or analyse the paper (or book chapter), because it says nothing that is new, but it is interesting in that it does everything that Gordon Barclay and Kenny Brophy complained about in their recent paper:

Gordon J. Barclay & Kenneth Brophy (2020): ‘A veritable chauvinism of prehistory’: nationalist prehistories and the ‘British’ late Neolithic mythos, Archaeological Journal,
DOI: 10.1080/00665983.2020.1769399

https://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2020/07/bluestones-and-interpretative-inflation.html
https://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-origins-of-british-neolithic-mythos.html
https://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-politicisation-of-neolithic.html
https://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-stonehenge-myth-machine-high-time.html


A definition of the Stonehenge Neolithic "Mythos":  
Monuments in the Stonehenge area had a ‘national’, ‘unifying’ role for ‘Britain’ at a time when ‘Britain’ had a ‘unified culture’, and as part of this process of unification, bluestone monoliths deemed to be “significant” were transported from “Wales" and animals to be consumed in feasting were driven from as far away as "Scotland".

Everything in this new paper by Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues smacks of worship at the mythos shrine -- Stonehenge is at the centre of things, and homage to the centre comes from the peripheries.  As Barclay and Brophy point out, this is a weird (and disrespectful) way of looking at things, since it ignores powerful evidence of cultural centres all over the British Isles which had nothing whatsoever to do with Stonehenge and which in some ways were more impressive. Everything in this paper is expressed with certainty -- as ever, there is no acceptance of any disputes, be it in the field of so-called monolith quarrying at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog, or in the field of the so-called "mega-circle" at Waun Mawn, or in the field of strontium isotope studies. 

It is suggested in the paper that this is Stonehenge's single most important defining characteristic.  Quote:  "In contrast to many other megalithic monuments, the purpose of Stonehenge was not to erect a monument from the nearest available materials, but to bring specific stones across varying distances to a location which appears not to have been particularly favoured in terms of locally available stone resources."  That of course is not a statement of fact but a typically irresponsible piece of fantasising.   We don't even know that the Stonehenge stone setting was ever finished, and it has never been shown that the stones were not all collected up within the immediate neighbourhood.   But it's par for the course -- MPP and his team have been developing for years the narrative that the "bringing" of the stones was the important thing, as an act of ancestor worship or reverence.........

Gordon Childe is treated as some sort of prophet -- having written about "a degree of political unification or a sacred peace" centred on Stonehenge.  The authors here say: "We can elaborate on Childe’s hypothesis to suggest that the bluestones (and very possibly the cremated remains of some of the people buried with them at Stonehenge) were symbols of the ancestral origins of Neolithic groups in west Wales, combining their stones with the sarsens of southern and southeast England." And then: "There is growing evidence that Stonehenge may have been an axis mundi, a centre of origin for the people of southern Britain."   And then: "Bringing ancestral bluestones to this axis mundi from the far west could thus have served to unite the people of west and east in southern Britain around 2900 BC, after a thousand years of difference and even dispute between the two regions."

This is precisely the sort of quasi-political, quasi-sociological, quasi-religious claptrap that Barclay and Brophy are so concerned about, and I suggest that in future they might be a bit more direct in naming those who are leading a new generation of archaeologists (and the general public) up a very dangerous and very unscientific blind alley.