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Friday, 12 February 2010

Goodbye to the Bluestone Quarry.........


Carn Meini -- ice-smoothed surface on the clifftop

After wasting thousands of hours of everybody's time on the arid debate about the Darvill / Wainwright fantasies of the last couple of years, can we now forget about this wretched Bluestone Quarry? The latest Ixer / Bevins paper, called "The petrography, affinity and provenance of lithics from the Cursus Field, Stonehenge" in the Wilts Arch and Nat Hist Mag 2010, is a very impressive and detailed piece of work. It describes in great detail the characteristics of 15 bluestone fragments from the Stonehenge area, and then reviews much other information. And this is their conclusion:

"Although a few of the Cursus Field lithics, especially the basaltic tuffs, show some similarities to volcanic rocks from North Pembrokeshire, the majority, because of significant differences in mineralogy and textures, cannot be matched with certainty to the Lower Palaeozoic or Neoproterozoic rocks cropping out in southwest Wales, including those found on the Preseli Hills. This situation opens the possibility that, while the spotted dolerites are from the Preseli Hills, other Stonehenge orthostats together with the Altar Stone may come from a far wider and, as yet, unrecognised area, or more likely areas."

As I have pointed out on innumerable occasions in the past, there is absolutely no evidence that the famous Stonehenge spotted dolerites were collected from this area by human beings, and absolutely no evidence that spotted dolerite was "preferred" in any way by the builders of the monument. If there was any quarrying at Carn Meini, it had nothing to do with Stonehenge. The bluestones at Stonehenge were classified by HH Thomas according to what was known at the time -- and I have always thought that he twisted his evidence to suit his theory. But now, with much more sophisticated techniques, geologists have concluded that the bluestones have come from all over the place, and that there are many more rock types than those which HH Thomas described.

Many of the bluestones are indeed from Pembrokeshire, mostly from the area to the north of Carn Meini, on the northern slopes of the upland ridge, but many others are not -- their origins are still unknown. They have to be glacial erratics.

Can we now please consign that wretched quarry to the dustbin of history?

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