How much do we know about Stonehenge? Less than we think. And what has Stonehenge got to do with the Ice Age? More than we might think. This blog is mostly devoted to the problems of where the Stonehenge bluestones came from, and how they got from their source areas to the monument. Now and then I will muse on related Stonehenge topics which have an Ice Age dimension...
THE BOOK Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it.... To order, click HERE
Sunday, 1 May 2011
The Bristol Channel Lowlands
With reference to my recent post about Cantre'r Gwaelod (The Lowland Hundred) and the tradition of Mesolithic flooding of the coastal landscape, I came across this excellent map in an article about the Eel Point finds. If you look at the submarine contours (goodness knows why the authors chose that peculiar contour spacing) you can see just how extensive the tundra lowlands of the Bristol Channel were at the peak of the Devensian Glaciation; in fact, the coastline at the time was probably so far off towards the west that it would have been off the edge of the map.
Even given that these contours would have been a little different (because of glacial sedimentation and the post-glacial redistribution of submarine sediments by tidal streams etc) we cannot escape the fact that this was a vast undulating plain crossed by a number of meandering rivers -- of which the largest was the Severn -- and supporting tundra vegetation and herds of "Ice Age" animals including woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, red deer, wolf, wild boar, giant ox etc. As the sea-level rose gradually after the glacial episode, many of these animals became extinct as the climate and vegetation changed and the coastline approached its present position. This coastline is also, of course, approximately the coastline of previous interglacials.
Source of the map:
A Mid-Upper Palaeolithic human humerus from Eel Point, South Wales, UK
Rick J Schultinga, Erik Trinkaus, Tom Higham, Robert Hedges,
Michael Richards, Bernice Cardy
Journal of Human Evolution, 2005