Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Friday, 30 April 2010

More on stone shapes

This is the simplest type of stone shape analysis -- it can help to determine the nature of the deposit you are looking at. The technique is to collect 50 or 100 stones / pebbles fragments in a determined size range, and then visually classify them into the 4 categories. Then express as percentages on the histogram. The histograms show some work I did for my doctorate, back in 1963! Note that the "head" (a periglacial slope deposit) (A) has a clear peak in the angular category. The two types of till (B and C) have peaks in the sub-angular category. The fluvioglacial sands and gravels (D) have more rounded and sub-rounded pebbles and few angular ones.

Simple stuff, but quite helpful...... now how about something similar for Stonehenge, and all those pebbles and flakes in the ground?

If the great majority of fragments of bluestone are sharp-edged and angular, that would of course support the contention that they are for the most part flakes bashed off the bluestones in the process of dressing. But even if this is "dressing debris" one might expect parts of the stones to be smooth or weathered, representing the outer and exposed surfaces of the original monoliths and boulders.


Kostas said...

Brian, from the photographs of the Atkinson excavations it appears that the entire area at Stonehenge is uniformly covered by such mix of soil and stone gravel. If these chipped stones were the result of work done on the sarsen and bluestones themselves, shouldn't such stone debris be more concentrated around and in the vicinity of the bluestones and sarsens themselves? So whether the gravel is sharp-edged or not, this seems to me to be secondary to the uniformity of the gravel throughout the entire area and the even mixing of these chipped stones with the soil. Also, there is no distinct layer of such chipped stones as you would expect if these were the result of polishing or smoothing the sarsens and bluestones. These facts are more significant in identifying the source and cause of such stone fragments, in my opinion.

Another thought Brian. Has the soil around other stone circles (like Avery Circle) been excavated for such soil-gravel mix similar to Stonehenge? If that is so, then this would certainly disprove that these broken stones were the result of men working at the bluestones to shape them and smooth them. (are these really that smooth and that shapely? Really?)

Does the Stonehenge Layer extend out into the surrounding area? Or is it concentrated at the monument site itself!

My theory answers all these questions about Stonehenge and more … it must be correct!

Constantinos Ragazas

Steve Garcia said...

This is a cool subject matter here. I must have been here in the past, because I am still logged in, but can't recall when I stopped by before. I must have been curious then, too, to have registered. Cool.

If the main purpose is to tray to track down what the blue stone story is, you have my full support. Peripheral discussions, too? Why not?

I've never been to Stonehenge - and if I can't get at the stones themselves anymore, all the more shame - but have read up on it for close onto 45 years. I'm not any kind of expert, but somewhat informed. If I had my choice, I'd rather go to other sites that have full access. I've read long ago that there are over 1,000 stone circles in the British Isles, and some of those are fascinating, too. Hahaha, if I had a bucket list for all of them it would take me 100 years or more to get to them all.

Now, on this post, the monoliths have mortise and tenon connections on top, and to me that indicates that they had some smarts and the capabilities to rough hew the stones just about any way they wanted to. Including the bluestones. I am a retired mechanical design engineer (and open-minded, too), so I am capable of comprehending most of the possible methods (and ruling out certain ones that don't hold water). I claim at least a little expertise and experience that gives me such standing. At the same time, I am fully aware that a modern techniques are different, though they SHOULD be based on the same principles (yield strengths of materials, including possible tools' strengths, etc).

The mortise and tenon shapes indicate a high level of understanding goals and methods of material removal. This alone makes them at least the ancient equivalent of craftsmen. And shaping the monoliths and other stones tells us that they were capable of applying adequate force at the point of attack (at the cutting tool edge) - and how to control that force.

I will leave off there for now. They impress me to no end.

But I'd point to the Stones of Stennis on Orkney, a stone's throw from Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar, as absolutely remarkable stone working on stones pretty much as big as most at Stonehenge. (I haven't looked at the tonnage numbers and lengths for comparison, but will soon.)