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Sunday 8 August 2010

Another flight of fancy?

Here are the two images widely reproduced in the world's media for the new "Woodhenge" found on Salisbury Plain. One might be forgiven for thinking that the scan image (made from a combination of radar scanning and magnetometry) is very interesting, but maybe an inadequate basis for the very fanciful reconstruction of what the site might have looked like c 4,500 years ago. Remember that there has been no excavation on this site. This is an ongoing survey -- and probably many more interesting things will emerge from the work in the environs of Stonehenge.

But why on earth can't the academics involved resist the temptation to go into all sorts of wild speculation about the materials used, the age of the structure, and even its purpose? There is even speculation that this might have been another "Bluestonehenge" -- although in that case there was precious little info to go on, and here there is even less. Mike Pitts has sought to damp down the enthusiasm of the wildest speculators, and Dennis Price has had a real go at them on his "Eternal Idol" Blog. I agree with both of them. But there is a sort of madness that infects people as soon as Stonehenge is mentioned, causing normal rational thought processes to be abandoned........

See here:

1 comment:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Hello Brian, and good to have you back on the saddle! You write,

“ … why on earth can't the academics involved resist the temptation to go into all sorts of wild speculation about the materials used, the age of the structure, and even its purpose?”

I have wondered about that myself. I have noticed that typically there are news stories about Stonehenge circulating at the beginning of each summer!

While in London visiting earlier this summer I did take a drive to Stonehenge and Salisbury Plain, all the way down along the southern coast, and back again. Stonehenge proper as you forewarned me was closed to the public and could only be seen from a roped trail around it. Its location at a hillside is interesting and raises many questions. Seems more likely, if the purpose was to worship the sun or observe the stars, to have this monument erected at the very top of the hill, rather than on the side.

What fascinated me more, however, was the landscape as you go further south and closer to the coast. You see greater elevations and hills, taller trees, and generally more mature soil. At Portland Island you see exposed sarsens, easily comparing in size, shape and composition to the sarsens at Stonehenge. And further east along the coast at Jurassic Park, there is a huge round hill (I know it was huge, I had to climb it!) and on top of the hill was a small round mount with the typical earthen ditch and embankment. The same as you see in all of the 'henges' at Salisbury Plain. I don't know if anyone claims this mount was man-made, but its location and size wont make it likely.

These and many other observation Brian raises the following question. Could Salisbury Plain at one time been a lake? Could the Lake District further North be the present day remains of a geological feature that extended all the way down to SW of the UK? And could the draining of these lake masses be attributed to isostatic loading and rebound with the consequent sinking of the SW coastline by some 140 m, as you reported in previous posts? That would create a gradient resulting in the draining of such lakes.

Always interested in your thoughts ...