THE BOOK
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....
To order, click
HERE

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Pentre Ifan and Stonehenge



Now here's an interesting thought, which I contribute without charge to all those who are interested in conspiracies and fairy tales.  Pentre Ifan, the most famous Neolithic site / megalithic monument in Wales, is located slap in the middle of the Fishguard Volcanics area, about 2 km from Pont Saeson.  It is made of locally-derived slabs and pillars of volcanic rock, very similar to that which appears to be represented in the debitage at Stonehenge.  It is normally referred to as a variation on the portal dolmen theme, and as a precursor of the Severn-Cotswold type of tomb found in SE Wales and as far east as Salisbury Plain.  Pentre Ifan is dated to about 3,500 BC or 5,500 BP.

Pentre Ifan is very spectacular structure, built by people who understood how to "lift" very large slabs of rock and to perch them rather precariously onto supporting uprights.

At Stonehenge we have an even more spectacular monument, with the big uprights and lintels made of sarsens but with many stone fragments in the soil layer which MIGHT (still to be proved) come from the Fishguard Volcanics.  According to conventional wisdom, the first stone settings at Stonehenge were made around 2,400 BC or 4,400 BP -- a thousand years or so after Pentre Ifan. 

But I offer this as a suggestion to the makers of future TV programmes:  

Stonehenge was built by a tribal group that migrated eastwards from the Pentre Ifan area in Pembrokeshire.  They were very clever builders, who had inherited skills in working with big stones, and the inhabitants of Salisbury Plain accorded them high status.  They were typically Welsh, very good at starting things but not finishing them.  When they had the monument almost half-finished, and stones became increasingly difficult to find, their enthusiasm started to flag, and to encourage them the Stonehenge chieftain sent emissaries to Pont Saeson (where Uncle Dafydd lived) to bring back some buckets full of magic stones.  These were ritually scattered across the site at Stonehenge, with a view to reinvigorating the workers.  But what happened was unexpected.  The workers all became afflicted with hiraeth, and before you could say "Llanfair PG" they had all downed tools and returned to Wales, singing soulful songs and complaining about lousy working conditions.  So Stonehenge never was finished, and there remains to this day a vague folk memory that Stonehenge has something to do with Wales.

And if you think THAT'S far-fetched, just take a look at the publications of English Heritage and the magazine articles of certain learned professors..........

4 comments:

sem said...

Stephen Oppenheimer in his book "The Origins of the British", which is concerned mainly with DNA, suggests exactly this, only that such movements were carried out earlier. Quote - "During the Mesolithic much population expansion occurred among pre-existing populations in the west from before the Younger Dryas". The accompanying map shows a population (in the form of gene frequency) spreading out from Pembrokeshire.

ASTERIX said...

WHAT IF the "buckets full of magic volcanic stones from Pont Saeson" (however they got there) ENRICHED the local spring water [a la 'Volvic' French bottled mineral water] and made the local boys - or travelling boyos - SO envigorated, nay, virile and super-stimulated, that they soon erected AND re-erected the sarcens, complete with MULTIPLE trilithons (to the delight of their adoring womenfolk), and shuffled and re-shuffled the puny bluestones with increasing rapidity ad infinitum to the future puzzlement of hengiphiles thousands of years down the track? Well, I'll drink to that. Clearly the volcanic mineral water eventually lost its potency and Stonehenge was never finished. Has anybody got a better theory that fits all the current evidence??

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sem -- ah yes, I always knew that Pembrokeshire was the centre of the universe!! If the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic populations were spreading out from Pembrokeshire, that seems a little strange to me -- how did they get there in the first place? Probably by coast-hopping, with a long succession of short journeys by sea, or by walking on the shore, gradually moving along the emerging coastline, over many centuries? And then, having got to Pembrokeshire, they started moving back out again?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Asterix -- I like it! The standing stones were clearly phallic symbols, erected and de-erected at frequent intervals and no doubt accompanied by all sorts of goings-on. Not the sort of stuff that could find its way into English Heritage Stonehenge publications, since these are intended for family reading.......

But Rodney Castleden came close to this in his books, referring to the alternate placing of tall thin stones (male) and short stumpy stones (female) -- with some sort of fertility associations. He was just referring to the bluestones, of course.

If we develop this theme too much, maybe we will have to risk being shut down by the Blogger censorship department.....