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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Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Postglacial sea-level

Found these two excellent illustrations in Bell and Walker, "Late Quaternary Environmental Change."  They are relevant to some our discussions over the past couple of weeks.  Click to enlarge.  Sorry they are a bit fuzzy.

The sea-level rise graphs for the Holocene are all based on research in the areas indicated.  They match very closely the sea-level curves obtained in other stable parts of the world where there is no tectonic or isostatic "interference" -- so they can be taken as pretty reliable.

The map shows Upper Mesolithic sites known in Wales as at 1990 -- in the years that have followed, more mesolithic sites have of course been discovered.  Many of these sites show human settlement at or even below present sea-level.  Some are higher, in river valleys -- but there is of course no reason why Mesolithic travellers should not have also moved into the uplands as well.  They are thought to have been restricted to the coastlands for the most part because they provided a more varied food supply for a hunting, fishing and gathering society, and because movement was generally easier along the coast than it was in the inland jungles.
 The submerged forest is at Borth on Cardigan Bay.  This great expanse of tree stumps, fallen branches and root systems, with peat beds, was a healthy forest, well clear of sea-level c 5,300 years ago, ie about the time when bluestones were starting to be used in monuments (evidence from Boles Barrow) on Salisbury Plain.


Robert Langdon said...

Brian, According to your chart the postglacial sea-level was 5m lower than today when doggerland disappeared (5400 BC).

If we accept 'Tradition' theory doggerland must be 5m below the current sea level? - but it's NOT it is 30m to 60m which then places the 'flood' date at 8-9000 BC according to sea-level theory - the archaeological evidence clearly shows that this 'model' is WRONG!

If this model is wrong then all these assumptions you state as facts are also wrong.

Geologists need to understand how Isostatic movement caused doggerland to survive the initial glacial melt and then sink - I did read about a tsunami that flooded the island (the same one that supposed to have placed sea shells in Scottish mountains lol!), but tidal waves are not a fixed body of water otherwise Sumatra (Christmas 1994) that was hit by the biggest wave for some centuries would still be under water - and it clearly isn't.

This type of misinformation does not help your archaeological colleges, who are trying to piece together an accurate history of the UK - there is clearly a phase that has been misplaced in the geological world, which other 'sciences' use for such informed papers - 'unsubstantiated'.

I have the same problems in my field with 'archaeologists' who find artifacts in water and 'inform' us that these items are 'religious' and offered to the gods. The truth of the matter, is that they fell off the boat when loading!!

No doubt archaeologists in the future will find coins down backs of arm chairs and interpret it as a offering to the 'sofa god!!'.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Robert -- I'll do a post on Doggerland soon -- but at present I don't see any anomalies which might show that the "conventional" explanation" of the Dogger Bank is wrong.

It might simply be that your understanding of the conventional explanation is wrong! Watch this space....

Kosta Dean said...

Thanks for your posts Brian. Very useful indeed. Your blog is emerging as 'the' place to go for useful and thoughtful information and analysis about Stonehenge. For the benefit of your visitors, however, who may not be very familiar with names and places in the UK and geological periods that you refer in your posts, may I suggest that in parenthesis you indicate the general geographic location of these places and the time periods in years?

The photo of the submerged forest is especially intriguing to me. From just a superficial look it seems that this forest may have been wiped out by some great catastrophe. I say this because of the very sharp tree stumps and from the fact that the tree trunks generally are missing. Certainly conditions that preserved the tree stumps for all these millennia would have also preserved the tree trunks if they were there submerged alongside.

I assume that all the evidence of forestation is found along the coasts. And that makes sense to me. But what evidence is there that Salisbury Plain contained similar mature forests? Judging from the soil conditions of present day Salisbury Plain it just is inconceivable to me that such soil could support forests. Do the 'human transport' advocates advocate otherwise?


What are your main arguments for your 'inundation theory' ? Please don't ask me to read your book to find out! For my explanation of Stonehenge, however, you can read my paper “The un-Henging of Stonehenge”. Just Google the exact title and you will find it. But I warn you. You will not like what I write there!


Robert Langdon said...

Well Kosta - via Brian (sorry!)

Read your hypothesis - interesting! some information I agree with some (The Avenue)and most I do not.

In my book I have gone to great pains to find 39 pieces of evidence, which is 35 more proofs of hypothesis than the current Stonehenge theory and dating evidence.

As a consequence, we have found the actual boat mooring station where the Stones were unloaded (pieces of bluestone in the in-fill dated at 7335 BC) and dated the wooden remains of these posts - 7500BC to 8000 BC on the shoreline by Stonehenge which Geologists had previously dated as 400,000 BC (but I feel my carbon dating is harder evidences that the geological guess work based on strata!)

No other book on archaeology has come close to giving so much evidence in support to a new hypothesis - that's why I give poor Brian such a hard time!

The web site give you some extracts to show the strength of evidence.

In the book (just for you Brian ;-)) I have dedicated a whole chapter on geological theories that when carbon dated in the past 50 years have been proven wrong!


BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas, the submerged forest is very interesting because it is so interesting -- in almost every bay in west and south Wales, extending from mid-tide to well below LWMST and almost everywhere covered by the sands and pebbles of the modern beaches. The "spiky" appearance of the tree stumps? I don't think that necessarily shows that there was a catastrophic submergence -- when trees rot insitu and then the branches and the trunk drop off, that is what you get. You find the same in Scandinavian forests today. And there are plenty of trunks and branches lying atound in the peaty debris -- I have seen that often myself.

That having been said, how would these forests have been affected by a rising sea-level? Probably in some places by an initial waterlogging, with salt penetration gradually killing the trees, and in other polaces by the old woodlands being overwhelmed by the sea during storm surges at times of high water spring tides. In one or two places it does look as if there has been a catastrophe, with trunks all having been snapped off and lying parallel on the ground. In the most famous example in West Wales, there is a skeleton of a deer with a Mesolithic arrow-head embedded in its shoulderblade, with the poor then animal crushed beneath a falling tree trunk. Was the animal already dead? Or did the tree come crashing down on it when it was fully alive, during some wild winter storm.......? Ah. of such things are folk tales made......

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Langdon
Bits of bluestone at the mooring station eh! -as I have said elsewhere there are as many pieces of bluestone dropped along its suggested route from Wales to Wessex as there are of the True Cross and like St Thomas I need to see and give an imprimatur before I could possibly believe it.
Swap you bits of the True Cross for bluestone.
GCU. In two minds

BRIAN JOHN said...

".........on the shoreline by Stonehenge which Geologists had previously dated as 400,000 BC ."

Robert, what is this all about? Which shoreline? Which dates?

"......I have dedicated a whole chapter on geological theories that when carbon dated in the past 50 years have been proven wrong!" Is that a cause for celebration? The scientific literature (in many fields -- not just geology) is crammed with dating attempts which are later proven to be out -- that's what happens when scientific methods improve. That's what happens in science. No big deal.

Kosta Dean said...

Robert, you write

“... we have found the actual boat mooring station where the Stones were unloaded (pieces of bluestone in the in-fill dated at 7335 BC) and dated the wooden remains of these posts - 7500BC to 8000 BC on the shoreline by Stonehenge”

Can you post some photos of the 'actual boat mooring station' and a map that pinpoints their location at Salisbury Plain where the Stones were unloaded? And couldn't these be differently interpreted?

I would like to have an in depth conversation about our views on Stonehenge, but I must be respectful to Brian and not impose too much (as I am sure I have in the past). Is there another public forum or blog where we can have such exchange? Your 'inundation theory' may just have one detail wrong! The evidence of water that you find may just be 'frozen water'!!! That would explain why there is no 'colluvial evidence' – among many many other facts on the ground that have no consistent coherent explanation by any other theory, except mine! Let's have this exploration of Stonehenge, if you are up to it.

Constantinos Ragazas

Robert Langdon said...


Crustal uplift in southern England: evidence from the river terrace records 2000 - D. Maddy, D. R. Bridgland and C. P. Green

Put the graphic on the web site if you don't have access to the report.

It shows that the river avon was 30m higher in the past - this would have given it a shoreline as shown on my web site - where you find the post holes Kosta and maps!! Play the book promo for a complete animation.


Robert Langdon said...

Brian - fig 4.10 - How is that calculated?

Is it an estimation of the amount of water that melted after the last ice age and how it would relate to todays shoreline?

If so, does it use the scientific method of calculating:

1.mass of the continents
2.temperate variations
3.gravity fluctuations
4.moon acceleration (the moon's gravity 10,000 years ago was greater than today, because its moving away)
5.Rotational variations (the ice age made the earth wobble for a while and slowed down the day)
6.Storms and winds (in the region)
7.Atmospheric pressure

into consideration?

Or is it form observation against the present shoreline (finger in the air jobby)?

If its the latter - you have a problem - for it shows that sea level was 35m lower 9,000's ago - but according to models like - James Clark's, Shorelines of the Great Lakes 1990.

The isostatic rebound could have made the shoreline been between -200m to +50m different than today dependent on the amount of Ice Cap on the Landscape at its peak.

So to make a claim of the sea level being -35m lower they must have an exact figure for Isostatic movement in the area 9,000 years ago, do we?

Secondly, for the same reason North Wales would be lower than the south (more ice) - so who has calculated the difference and what is this figure?

As an engineer and mathematician, I find these claims quite bewildering and hence my use of the word 'unsubstantiated'


BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry Robert -- you misunderstand river terraces. In the Severn and Avon Valleys, and many others, terraces are left high and dry when streams are incised. Maddy and the others have suggested -- quite reasonably --that the incision of 30m or more is related above all else to isostatic rebound related to the big glacial phases -- and especially the Anglian. (See my latest post.)

These terraces are very old. You can draw NO conclusions about absolute sea-level positions from them -- and certainly they have nothing whatsoever to do with the period of human occupation on Salisbury Plain during the Mesolithic and Neolithic.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Fig 4.10 is strictly evidence-based. Hundreds of papers and probably thousands of C14 dates -- it has nothing to do with isostatic factors. And it is closely in tune with the thousands of other papers published from around the coasts of the world -- including many STABLE coasts which have not been subject to glacio-isostatic depression and rebound.

PLEASE READ THE LITERATURE! Mr Google will help you to find it....

Kosta Dean said...

Robert, tried the link and looked to find some useful information about all that you claim in your posts here. But all I found is a price list to the various editions of your book!

I seek in earnest and an open mind to make sense of your argument, but I just find “dollars and cents”. So I ask you, provide your evidence here (if it is OK with Brian) or let's move to another open public forum where we can discuss this. I like your 'inundation theory' and want to know what scientific evidence you have for it. We may be closer on this than you think! The only think that separates us is 'ice'.

Constantinos Ragazas