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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Silbury Hill bluestone fragment

In the letter reproduced below, I am accused of being over-excited. Excited maybe, but OVER-EXCITED?!! I am happy to admit that I did make a mistake about all those bluestone fragments. One is only as good as one's sources, and as I have explained in other forums and blogs, I was working off an extremely scruffy typed manuscript which purportedly itemised all of the stone finds from Silbury Hill. The columns and the pages were so chaotic that I didn't realise that there was a lot of "double reporting" of stone fragments -- and I didn't discover this until I had gone through the ms over and over again -- it wasn't helped by the very faint type -- the doc was a copy of a copy of a copy.

The problematical report (Geological Survey) was by Harrison et al in 1971 -- and we have only the first 4 pages -- the rest of it is lost. We had a discussion about this on the Eternal Idol website about a year ago:

Letter in Brit Arch Jan/Feb 2010

The Silbury myth buster

Jim Leary

"Bluestone" has been mentioned a lot recently, and with the recent work at Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, I thought it would be useful to help bust a little myth that seems to resurface every now and again. During Richard Atkinson's excavations on the summit of Silbury Hill (1969–70) he found a fragment of rock "apparently identical with one of the varieties of Stonehenge bluestone". This stone is currently on display in the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury. In The Bluestone Enigma by Brian John (reviewed Books, Nov/Dec 2009) the Silbury bluestone fragment is mentioned again; he evens claims (slightly over-excitedly) that "over a thousand bluestone fragments" have been found at Silbury. However, this one stone fragment is hornblende schist and therefore not of a type normally described as bluestone; it was examined sometime between 1972 and 1983 by the implement petrology committee, and the results were published over 20 years ago (Stone Axe Studies volume 2, ed T Clough & W Cummins, CBA 1988, available to download from ADS). Hopefully myth busted.


PeteG said...

It's good to see this one finaly laid to rest.
I spent too much time researching this subject.
The flying ant myth has also been killed off.
Back to the search for bluestones between Stonehenge and Wales now....

Brian said...

Not sure that it is laid to rest.....there doesn't seem to be any recent geology done on this stone. Didn't you have a photo of it, Pete? It certainly looked like spotted dolerite in the pic.