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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Fragments, stumps and layers




This old photo shows stumps 32c, 32d and 32e, together with standing stone 33. Note also the sockets or pits that presumably held different stones, or maybe the same stones in different settings.......... Note the large number of fragments beneath the turf, in the "Stonehenge layer."

Does it actually matter whether the debris in this litter is the same as, or different from, the rocks represented in the bluestone settings? Not sure that it matters very much, one way or another. As Rob Ixer reminds us, many of the standing stones themselves are not properly identified or sourced -- very few of them have actually been sampled and examined with the use of modern techniques, and the identification of the monoliths as dolerite, spotted dolerite, rhyolite and ash is based mostly on rather primitive visual identifications by Thomas, Atkinson and others.

On the whole, we know just a little about the makeup of the bluestone settings, about the stumps and about the precise lithologies represented in the Stonehenge layer. Most the the superficial layer within the stone settings is a complete mystery still -- as some have pointed out, the popular view that Stonehenge is thoroughly excavated and well known is actually far wide of the mark.

2 comments:

Kostas said...

Brian, when I first looked at the same photo of Atkinson awhile back what intrigued me about it is how relatively shallow the stone pit settings were. If these were actually dug out by the builders of Stonehenge to erect the huge stones in them and securely back filled the holes and even packed the holes with packing stones, it doesn't seem to me that these stones would withstand millenniums of wear and tear, ground erosion and extreme weather conditions.

The 'Atkinson demonstration' in the UTube video clip of how the stones were erected is not convincing and raises more questions and answers none!

Constantinos

Brian said...

I agree -- some of the pits used for stone settings do appear to be very shallow. But maybe they didn't hold stones for very long -- and I agree with many others who have remarked that the builders were either very indecisive or liable to sudden changes in priorities. So they put the bluestones (and maybe many small sarsens as well?) into settings that were very short-lived -- and then took them away again and placed them in another setting -- and then another and another. These abundant shallow empty pits are one of the reasons for my speculation that the builders never had enough "bluestones" to complete their project or projects. Maybe they started with a plan and got on with the building while they were still scouring the countryside for smallish monoliths -- and eventually had to come to terms with reality -- namely that there weren't enough stones within easy hauling distance......