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Saturday, 20 November 2010

Bluestone debris and the matter of Stonehenge quarrying



My thanks to Pete G for drawing this (from 1933) to my attention.  Newall obviously thought that the lump of bluestone had come from Stonehenge -- and the same assumption has been made about all of the other bits of bluestone scattered about.  Recently I heard about a mantelpiece in Amesbury that was made of bluestone (presumably spotted dolerite?), and there has also been mention of bluestone lumps in many of the house foundations in Amesbury.  The conventional wisdom is that because these stones exist, that proves that Stonehenge has been used as a "bluestone quarry" in recent centuries.  However, it is just as likely that this is wishful thinking, and that the stones have come from a genuine "bluestone" erratic litter in the Stonehenge - Shrewton - Amesbury area.

As far as I know, there is no inventory of these stones -- the closest thing I have seen to a "list" was in the big 1991 report from the OU team including Richard Thorpe and Olwen Williams-Thorpe.  There are "anomalous" stones all over the place on Salisbury Plain -- the best known of which is of course the big bluestone boulder that came from the long barrow known as Boles Barrow, near Heytesbury.  For years archaeologists and others have been striving to prove that the spotted dolerite boulder now in Salisbury Museum wasn't actually from that Neolithic structure at all.  We know why -- if it really was incorporated in that monument it must have been present on Salisbury plain around 5,500 years ago -- far too early to fit into the thesis of long-distance stone haulage associated with Stonehenge.

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