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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Carn Meini summit stone




Noticed something in NP Figgis's book "Prehistoric Preseli" -- he says that "a recent study of human environments" suggests that the highest stone on the Carn Meini outcrop was deliberately placed there to enhance the significance of the site.  He says this proves that Neolithic people moved stones like this for a non-functional (ie ceremonial, ritual or ornamental) purpose. Hmmmm....

He also says that there is a corrugated earthfast stone nearby which looks as if it was used as a polishing stone -- for polishing tools.  He says that in 1986 another possible polishing stone was recorded at Carn Meini.

Not sure who is responsible for these ideas -- maybe the Darvill / Wainwright SPACES project?  They all sound very dodgy to me.  For a start, there are six or seven outcrops in the Carn Meini area, all with rocky summits with a jumble of stones on top of them  I know these summits well -- and don't know of any stones that look "unnatural" in their placing.  As for corrugated stones, corrugated surfaces are everywhere -- this is a natural consequence of the weathering of the dolerites, as internal "banding" or foliations are picked out by weathering processes.  Polished surfaces?  Haven't seen anything up there which looks remotely like a man-made polished surface. 

Sorry chaps -- I put all of these "phenomena" down to wishful thinking -- all part of the process of seeking to demonstrate that Carn Meini was special in some way, and therefore worthy of reverence as the source of those famous magical bluestones.

10 comments:

TONY said...

I note that Cambridge University educated archaeologist N P Figgis is himself very cautious in his remarks about Neolithic human activity in the Carn Meini vicinity and elsewhere in the Preseli landscape.
e.g:-

"Bluestone weathers into blocks ideally suited to monumental masonry, and has been used as such in the historic period, as indeed it is now. The indicators of activity around Carn Meini could belong to any age later than, but including, the Late Neolithic."

AND:-

"All in all, it has to be said that there is no clear indicator, let alone evidence, that the Preseli bluestone outcrops had any non-physical or physical significance whatever in the Late Neolithic that might account for their [human] removal to Salisbury Plain."

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, sensible comments. As I have mentioned earlier on this blog, the mountain hereabouts has been used by the local farming community for years as a "quarry" -- and at least two nonconformist chapels (in Velindre and Mynnachlogddu) were partly built with spotted dolerite stones collected by horse and cart by the congregations themselves, who did the building. Because the land was common land, nobody had to be asked for permission, so effectively the stone was free.

TONY said...

I note that Darvill & Wainwright are linked to "The Landscape & Perception Project", whose objectives can be viewed at:-

www.landscape-perception.com/art-and -archaeology

It is interesting to note that this project is working at both Preseli & the Avebury wider landscape.

Polishing stones (polissoirs)do exist in the Avebury landscape. Some of them are also Avebury Avenue or Henge standing menhirs.

I suspect the jury will be out for some time on the corrugated earthfast stone near Carn Meini, and any other claimed polishing stones thereabouts.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I did a post on this on 15 December --

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2010/12/preseli-stone-age-holy-land.html

The site from Paul Devereux is quite a jolly site with sound effects. But not too sure about the science.....!!

TONY HINCHLIFFE said...

Brian, are you aware yet of the just-published March 2011 issue of Current Archaeology? This contains an article by Tim Darvill & Geoff Wainwright on their take on the significance of the provenance of the Bluestones (also the sarcens), and talks of finding prehistoric quarries in Preseli.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, I know the territory pretty well, and don't find a single prehistoric quarry, let alone multiple ones. I'm quite convinced that the Neolithic and Bronze Age inhabitants of West Wales were utterly opportunistic, picking up the stones they needed for burial chambers, stone settings etc from wherever it was most convenient.

TONY HINCHLIFFE said...

Question may be, when all the dust has settled in the alleged prehistoric quarries, are some members of the archaeological researching community essentially also being rather opportunistic, or, at any rate, quick to jump to conclusions?

BRIAN JOHN said...

The truth of the matter, I suspect, is that certain archaeologists, having stated over and again down through the years that the bluestones were transported by Neolithic tribal groups from A to B, NEED those quarries. I think they have simply invented them, and see them where others see nothing, since without them the "bluestone myth" loses some of its force!

Anonymous said...

NP Figgis is a woman and a notable academic in her field.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah sorry about that! Why don't women inform the world gladly that they are women, and call themselves Nora (or whatever), thereby avoiding confusion?