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, 4 November 2009

In case you missed it.......

One of the supposed "healing springs" at Craig Talfynydd. The rock here is not blue (even when fresh), and is not spotted dolerite.

That programme is on BBC iPlayer, here:

Frankly, I'm amazed that Dr Toby Driver and the Royal Commission should have allowed themselves to be suckered into involvement in that programme, and to have apparently signed themselves up to all that rubbish about sacred springs and healing stones, quarries, sledges and rafts. Are they incapable of independent thought, and so in awe of senior academics that they are incapable of noticing that there is not actually any EVIDENCE to support anything that Prof Wainwright said to the camera? Sheer fantasy, from top to bottom.

"New light from the Preseli Hills...." ?? Nonsense.
"... 80 bluestone monoliths...." ?? Nonsense.
"... we know the precise outcrop..." ?? Nonsense.
"Evidence of quarrying lies all around..." ?? Nonsense.
"...a number of springs are known to this day as having medicinal properties..." ?? Nonsense.
"Quite common for monuments to be built of stone from elsewhere..." ?? Nonsense.
And the Banc Du settlement? What on earth has that got to do with bluestones or Stonehenge? Nothing at all.

Here is a link to the Banc Du description:

Oh dear oh dear. This is getting tiresome.


Grimes's Ghost said...

Absolutely Right. The informed public expects that government-funded archaeology will present any matter of serious scientific interest through better-balanced, more responsible reporting. The issues as broadcast last night were so mixed up and inacurately informed as to suggest that their presenter was well out of his depth, of not actually away with the fairies.

aardvark said...

Wow, you really didn't like it did you?

I'm not all that sure that either Toby Driver or the RCAHMW got 'suckered' in to anything. The whole series, is after all, about the work of the RCAHMW. The whole reason Toby Driver was that it was his work which identified the Neolithic enclosure at Banc Du, which Wainwright's team excavated. This was done as part of their wider work in the area, and inevitably we were treated to some lovely footage of Geoff Wainwright rehearsing his sacred springs/sacred stones arguments. Granted, it didn't present a balanced view of the whole 'origins of bluestones' debate, but it was only a ten minute slot! I could have done with a bit more about the enclosure myself, which I thought worthy of greater focus. Personally I suspect that the sacred springs idea is a red herring, especially given the numerous sources for the stones. But then Stonehenge has always excited strange theories from overexcited experts.

As for humans moving stones, why not? Even if we accept that the idea that the stones may have been moved by glaciers (clearly a glaciation with an eye for picking only stones suitable for use in a circle, and one which then dropped them off in the immediate vicinity of Stonehenge without scattering them indescriminately across the rest of the landscape) they still had to be picked up, moved and dressed, so they clearly had the technology to do it..... As far as i can see, the big argument about the glacier idea is that there are no comparable erratics in the area....

Brian said...

No, I didn't like it at all -- and neither did the ghost of Grimes, by the sound of it! I thought the programme was rubbish, and that it can only have harmed the reputation of the Royal Commission.

A programme slot about the Banc Du enclosure would have been fascinating -- and it was absurd that those responsible felt the need to "jazz it up" with that footage from Carn Meini and Stonehenge, with Wainwright trotting out his jolly little theory and dressing it up as fact.

Sorry, but it's just intellectually lazy to say "People moved big stones elsewhere in the world, so therefore they probably did it here as well." What about that little thing called evidence?

On the matter of glaciers and erratics, I hope I've covered these points in my November posts.

aardvark said...

Hi Brian

Not sure that I actually said 'People moved big stones elsewhere in the world, so therefore they probably did it here as well', and I certainly didn't intend that to be your impression. My point was that clearly the people who built stonehenge had the ability to move dress and erect big stones, hence the big pile of rocks by the A303. Once you accept that point, then it is only a short step to suggesting that they moved them from source, particularly when there is good evidence for widespread travel and exchange in the late Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Had a look at November. Couldn't find the bit why you explained why the glacier was so selective, and why Salisbury Plain isn't littered with similar stones... Or did they use them all in building Stonehenge?

What we need is a map of Stonehenge indicating where each stone came from. Perhaps something for you to work on?

Brian said...

Sorry Aardvark - I accept that you didn't actually say that. But that is the gist of what a lot of people say -- and I keep on asking them to come up with some evidence. Nobody has any.

All glaciers are selective in what they erode and what they dump. I think that all the handy stones within striking distance may well have been used up in the "bluestone settings" -- and I also think that Stonehenge was never finished. It's a reasonable hypothesis to say they simply ran out of stones. And there are bluestone fragments all over the place -- Normanton Barrows, Boles Barrow, various Amesbury Barrows, Cursus, Avenue,and now Bluestonehenge. Goodness knows what stuff is still buried beneath the turf.......

aardvark said...

Hi Brian

What evidence do you need? We know they could move big stones. They moved the big stones to build Stonehenge.

Using all of the available bluestones up in building Stonehenge smacks of being a bit too convenient to me :)

As for Stonehenge being incomplete - why would you think that? Which bit was never completed?

And on to Bluestone fragments - the key is in the word fragments. Why are they only fragments? If the very selective glacier (VSG) carefully selected nice menhir sized lumps, why are there not more of them about on the plain or in other stone monuments of similar date in the area, or eeven re-used in local buildings?

Brian said...

I don't think we are getting anywhere, Aardvark. There is evidence -- lots of it -- that glacier ice crossed West Wales and pushed across the coasts of Somerset, Avon and Devon. It carried erratics broadly eastwards from the west. Again, lots of evidence. Therefore it is, in my book, reasonable to suggest that the bluestones were erratics collected from somewhere to the west of Stonehenge. there is still a leap of faith there, but at least it is soundly based. Your assumption (and it is no better than that) is that because people moved big stones elsewhere in the world they COULD have done it at Stonehenge and therefore probably did do it. No evidence. And I'm not sure how many big stones were moved long distances elsewhere, this early........ we are talking about the Neolithic here, not the Bronze Age or the Iron Age. OK, the builders of Stonehenge must have moved the stones around in the process of building Stonehenge -- but across relatively easy terrain. Quite different from the really rough terrain of West Wales.

Are you seriously telling me that the "stone hunters" collected stones from around 20 different locations in West Wales?

As for Stonehenge being incomplete, it's all in the book. We do not KNOW that there were around 80 bluestones and around 80 sarsens. We just ASSUME it -- there are traces of around 43 bluestones, and around 50 sarsens. Masses of stones totally missing, including approx one-third of the sarsen circle, which has never been excavated. Can you give me some evidence that there actually were more than about 90 big stones on the site at one time?