Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- due for publication on June 1st 2018. After that, it will be available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The missing pieces of the Stonehenge jigsaw -- still missing

On digging a little deeper, following my last post, I found this resistivity survey of the innermost part of Stonehenge, where the stone settings are. The survey, taken alongside the map of stone numbers, confirms that no less than 67 stones are totally missing from the "idealised" reconstructions that we all know and love.

The resistivity survey image (from the chapter by David and Payne, Proc British Academy, 92, 73-113: Science and Stonehenge) shows a large number of "anomalies". The stones are shown in black. The white areas are mostly areas of disturbed ground coinciding with areas of past exploration and excavation. The dark grey areas may represent areas where there are high densities of intersecting pits or sockets, ie areas where stones have been moved about many times. The indistinct lighter grey mottled areas are difficult to interpret -- but the X and Y holes do show up as indistinct blobs. Note that they are not arranged on concentric circles, and that the spacing of these pits is imperfect and even erratic.

Apart from the white blobs marked A, B and C, there are no signs of "missing" stones buried in the turf in places where we might expect them, and in many places where we might expect sarsen and bluestone sockets there are not even dark grey shadows.

The conclusion from this work has to be that the 67 missing stones are not hiding anywhere on the site --- they are indeed missing -- and as I have already suggested, there is no reason to believe that they ever were put into the positions where the archaeologists would like them to have been.........

So there we are then. Gaps galore. Stonehenge never was finished.


Kostas said...


These diagrams are fascinating. It's especially interesting that the X and Y holes do not form concentric circles and are erratic at places. Shouldn't this feature disprove that they are 'post holes' for an earlier monument made of wood? I also find your explanation of the many empty sockets unconvincing. From these diagrams, these empty sockets are all over the area. From previous photos they are also very shallow to have held huge stones in place. “The un-Henging of Stonehenge” explains all that (and more) in one consistent and coherent theory. For the benefit of others that want to read another explanation for Stonehenge, I provide the link below to the article. Hope you approve.


BRIAN JOHN said...

I'm not an expert on resistivity surveys, but it's my understanding that "anomalies" which show up as either darker or lighter areas on the image can have many different causes -- changes in soil texture or depth, moisture content, increases of "stoniness" in the ground, areas of disturbance (trenches, archaeological digs etc), and even things like areas of exceptional animal activity in the regolith. I don't think we can go so far as to say that all of the blobs on the maps show the positions of sockets or stone pits or post holes.

No problem in passing on your URL and PDF for others to look at. Looked at it again today -- interesting stuff, although as you know I disagree with much of it!

Kostas said...


What the resistivity image shows is what all the Atkinson photos show of what lies beneath the soil at Stonehenge. Are there other such studies made of the surrounding area for comparison purposes? I speculate that the resistivity image of the Stonehenge Layer is different from such images at other places in the vicinity.

In the resistivity image in your post the Y and X holes are specifically marked. These marked holes certainly show revealing anomalies, as you yourself have stated. From these anomalies does it make sense to conclude that these held posts of an earlier wooden monument? And could holes like these, 1 meter in diameter and just 1 meter deep could have held securely posts 10 meters high? How are the bottoms of these holes shaped? Let me guess! They are bowl-like!

What are your thoughts about this?


BRIAN JOHN said...

Actually I'm not that bothered whether the Y and Z holes (did I say X and y?) held posts or stones. Maybe they held posts at first and stones later? Or maybe they held nothing and gradually filled up naturally, after being abandoned? Anthon Johnson thinks they were intended to hold the bluestones -- in yet another setting -- but that that never came about. From the evidence of the excavated holes, Hawley, Atkinson and Co thought that the sides of the pits are so "fresh" that they cannot have held stones -- there would have been damage at the side from which the stones were levered or slid in.

welshlass said...

I had a funny thought which comes from one of the lines in the film "Antworld" a cartoon on the lives of ants. When the leaf cutter ants lost their way because there were gaps along the way, one ant tried to explain to his student, "Gaps, happen!"
And so they do without our understanding as to why or where they have happened--no logical explanation. So the gaps are in the stones and we may never have a full understanding of why htey are there, what they were intended to be filled with, etc.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Welshlass. Reading significance into the gaps? Not sure I want to go down that track. People have analysed the stones and the gaps in such great detail already that all we have is a sort of muddy confusion. Too much seeking for significance and order -- and too little recognition that what we actually have is a mess of stones and old pits. A ruin is a ruin is a ruin, even if the original designers had fanciful and grandiose notions of what they wanted but never got.

Anonymous said...

From Robert Frost's 1914 all-knowing poem 'Mending Wall'
"The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there".
I find this poem a total inspiration when thinking of Stonehenge.
Do read it.
GCU In Two Minds

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks, Anon. Lovely poem! Thought I'd share it here:

Mending Wall
by: Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."