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

Friday, 19 August 2011

Stonehenge -- the empty quarter

 Above:  the recent EH plan of Stonehenge, showing the "empty quarter" (the south-west quadrant) very clearly.   Below:  the resistivity survey, showing relatively undisturbed ground in the "empty quarter" and suggesting that there are no buried stones or stumps there.

 About a year ago I made the post which is reproduced below:


"The resistivity survey image (from the chapter by David and Payne, Proc British Academy, 92, 73-113: Science and Stonehenge) shows a large number of "anomalies". The stones are shown in black. The white areas are mostly areas of disturbed ground coinciding with areas of past exploration and excavation. The dark grey areas may represent areas where there are high densities of intersecting pits or sockets, ie areas where stones have been moved about many times. The indistinct lighter grey mottled areas are difficult to interpret -- but the X and Y holes do show up as indistinct blobs. Note that they are not arranged on concentric circles, and that the spacing of these pits is imperfect and even erratic.  Apart from the white blobs marked A, B and C, there are no signs of "missing" stones buried in the turf in places where we might expect them, and in many places where we might expect sarsen and bluestone sockets there are not even dark grey shadows.  The conclusion from this work has to be that the 67 missing stones are not hiding anywhere on the site --- they are indeed missing -- and as I have already suggested, there is no reason to believe that they ever were put into the positions where the archaeologists would like them to have been.........   So there we are then. Gaps galore. Stonehenge never was finished."

Well, I was hoping that somebody would come up with some evidence to show that the Empty Quarter was indeed built on when the monument was being created, and that Anthony Johnson's "immaculate conception" as to what Stonehenge was like in its prime, has some foundation in fact.  Nothing has been brought to my attention, and I'm increasingly convinced that no stones were ever erected in this area.
 
The immaculate conception -- pure fantasy?

45 comments:

GREEK ERN said...

Is there then to be no Archimedes "Eureka" moment for some intrepid 21st Century Stonehenge researcher? Or is the South-West Quadrant going to be devoid of prehistoric human activity?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I should have thought that that quarter would be the most obvious place for a new dig -- but maybe nobody has ever asked for permission?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

What I find very interesting and revealing is that the 'empty quarter' of Stonehenge is on the SW part of the site.

Though my 'local ice' theory differs in ways from your 'glacier transport' theory, we do agree that the stones of Stonehenge came from a northern (for the huge sarsens) and northwestern (the bluestones) direction. This fact, along with the location of Stonehenge on the eastern side of a hill, determined where the 'empty quarter' is.

It makes sense that the part of Stonehenge 'missing' would be from the southwestern side. This being the most 'protected side' in the movement of the stones on the ice surface.

What do you think …

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't agree with any of that, Kostas. There is no evidence that the sarsens came from the north -- I think they were collected up from the vicinity of Stonehenge. Yes, there is geological evidence that the bluestones came from the W and NW rather than from any other compass direction -- that is one of the most compelling arguments for glacial transport. And I don't follow at all your logic in arguing that the SW quadrant should be empty simply because the site is on the eastern side of a hill........

The segment is empty of stones simply because the builders never got round to completing it -- they ran out of stones or ran out of energy.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Can't say that I am surprised by your reply. I think you take too much for granted and not ask more probing questions. You leave too much to the intentionality of a people whose intentionality we know nothing about.

You write,

“The segment is empty of stones simply because the builders never got round to completing it -- they ran out of stones or ran out of energy.”

This may explain why there is an “empty quarter”. But it does not explain why the “empty quarter” is along the SW part of the site.

My argument is that this part of the site was more 'inaccessible' to the movement of stones coming from a N and NW direction with the hill blocking the western flank of Stonehenge. So, the SW section of Stonehenge would be most 'inaccessible'.

If these stones were just “... collected up from the vicinity of Stonehenge”, they could have been placed anywhere at Stonehenge. Yet it's the SW section of the site which is the “empty quarter”.

Is this just coincidence? Such argument would be more convincing if it wasn't for the other 'facts on the ground' which also show the same tendency of leaving the SW section 'less developed'. Like the ditch and embankment, etc.

All these features of Stonehenge seem to be consistently less developed along the SW section and consistently more developed along the N, NW and NE parts of Stonehenge.

I don't believe this is a coincidence! There are good reasons for such geomorphology that I believe go beyond the intentions of Neolithic men.

But if the unquestionable presupposition is that Neolithic men build Stonehenge 'from the ground up', than we are left with no other explanation than the intentionality of these men.

Our presuppositions dominate our logic on such and many other matters.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Occam's Razor, Kostas. If there is nothing there now, the first and simplest conclusion is that there was nothing there to start with -- I'll hang onto that until something comes along which will enable me to devise a more complex answer.

This is a man-made structure, no matter how much you might wish it otherwise. Nobody tells me to say that -- that is my conclusion from a wealth of evidence on the ground.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I respect your opinion. And I respectfully disagree!

There is much on the ground at Stonehenge that can be best explained by considering the role that Nature played.

The location of the “empty quarter” at the SW section of Stonehenge is just one of many details that can only be explained by my theory.

I can list others. Why, for example, are the sarsens arranged in a circle with the width running along the circumference? Why not have a circle with the width of each sarsen arranged radially rather than along the circumference? Such arrangement would lead to better lintel placement and a far superior structure. Can your theory answer why the lintels are so awkwardly placed half-off the tops of the supporting sarsens?

Why are there “empty pits” in the Stonehenge layer? And why is the embankment on the inside of the ditch rather than on the outside? And why are there distinct dug-up sections of the ditch rather than one continuous circle? Did Neolithic men ran out of dirt or time or energy and just gave up?

Current explanations invoke human fickleness and indecision. Since there is no logical purpose to any of this, we are left with random human intention as an explanation. My theory does better consistently.

You write,

“This is a man-made structure, no matter how much you might wish it otherwise.”

My only wish Brian, is that we know the Truth of Stonehenge. Such knowledge will not only honor Neolithic people by recognizing their true lives and struggles, but will give us an even greater awe and inspiration of the recent geological history of the entire area – much like the awe and inspiration one feels visiting the Grand Canyon and other entirely Nature-made monuments. With Stonehenge, however, we have a perfect collaboration between Nature and Man. What can be more inspiring than that!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

As an afterthought, I just have to respond to your argument in your last reply. You invoke Occam's Razor and write,

“ If there is nothing there now, the first and simplest conclusion is that there was nothing there to start with”

The question is not whether there was 'something there then' and there is 'nothing there now'. So what happened to the 'something' that now is 'nothing'? Legitimate question, if it was the question!

Rather, putting it in your terms, the question is “why the nothing is where it is, then and now?”

You don't have an explanation of this simple fact. But I do.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

You don't, Kostas.From where I stand, your "explanation" is based on all sorts of dubious premises, and on assumptions about processes that have never been observed or recorded -- and it makes no sense whatsoever.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

What are your explanations to some of the questions I raised in my last post?

1)Why is the SW quarter of Stonehenge the most undeveloped?
2)Why is the embankment on the inside of the ditch rather than on the outside?
3)Why are the sarsens positioned with their width running along the circumference, rather than radially?
4)Why is the ditch in segments, rather than continuous?
5)Why is the design made up of concentric circles?
6)Why are there “empty pits” under the Stonehenge Layer?

Let me guess! That's how Neolithic men intended all these to be!

Kostas

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

The 'empty quadrant' is towards the midsummer sunset and hence also the moonset.

That being the case, why would this 'temple' NOT reflect the moon, by building a 'crescent' pointing to the setting of the sun and moon at the festive time of midsummer?

Stones 17 & 18, 13 & 14 do not exist for this purpose but Stones 15 & 16 exist as a stand alone 'trilithon arch' which line -up with the larger fallen trilithon arch in the centre of the monument.

Moreover, if we follow the logic of your argument to the centre of the structure - where's the missing trillithon to make that a circular inner ring?

You clearly accept its a 'horseshoe' shape - the problem is that there was no horses to have shoes in this part of history - so 'crescent shaped' would be the correct terminology for these type of prehistoric monuments and hence if archaeologists used the right words we would all see the simple ideas behind the building this 'temple'.

So nothing missing except a basic understanding of prehistoric man.

RJL

Geo Cur said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Geo Cur said...

The sun sets in the NW at mid summer not the SW as seen from Stonehenge .The moon sets a variety of bearings as seen from the monument at mid summer depending on date and year .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

Oops sticky keyboard ;-)

Quite right it should be midwinter sunset - for the exact alignment, between the two trilithons.

The moonset because it varies is not so important as we still see the sunset as the END of the day and then the moon takes over until the sun is reborn again.

Clearly as they built The Avenue for the midsummer sunrise they would have done something similar for the sunset of the shortest day.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I take RJL's point about the horseshoes! Yes, we should refer to a "crescent" rather than a horseshoe, and maybe qualify the term with words such as "compressed, open or closed" to refer to the extent of the closure between the crescent points.

Geo Cur said...

"Horseshoe " is more accurate than cresent when it comes to describing the shape found in many monuments sometimes described as coves e.g. Arminghall , Croft Moraig ,Cairnpapple , Stenness , Stanton Drew , Avebury ,Beckhampton etc .If you want to be pedantic then get rid of terms that are not accurate e.g. stone "circles " , cursus ,hill fort , rock art all arguably descriptively inappropriate, but the horshoes at Stonehenge are certainly not crescentic .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Fair enough --- I agree that on the map the shapes do look more like horseshoes than crescents as they are normally understood.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, et all

We do not need to have horses in order to have horseshoe shapes !

Kostas

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Sorry I thought the blog was about the missing stones not talking about the semantics of shapes.

If the missing stones were not part of the round 'temple', like it or not it makes it a perfect crescent and if it's a crescent its a monument to the moon - not a horse.

And hence complete!

RJL

Geo Cur said...

The term horeshoe was only ever used , quite reasonably , to describe the bluestone and sarsen monuments of that shape and never as far as I'm aware ,here or elewhere , the sarsen "circle " .

Geo Cur said...

Kosta , the internal ditch at Stonehenge is attypical but it is also found at the early(iest ) British henge , llandegai .
The segmented ditch is also a feature of earlier monuments starting in the continent in the 6 th millenium with similar type of enclosures around LBK settlements which in turn led to the kreisgrabanlagen/rondels until the causewayed enclosures of the early Neolithic in Briatin which were named after the segmented ditches ,the causeways being the non dug segments ,these were built a good half millenium before the start of any building at Stonehenge and a millenium before any stones were erected there .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

"the internal ditch at Stonehenge is atypical"

Your very much correct as it is made up of individual pits and NOT a V or U ditch like the ones you mentioned.

I think the Bluestones have something to do with the answer!

If you need dates for Stonehenge try the car park for carbon dating evidence.

RJL

Geo Cur said...

RJL ,the Meso dates for the car park posts are not for the Stonehenge monument anymore than the equally as close B.A. barrows .btw Hambledon Hill also had post pits with Meso dates . The sites I mentioned i.e. causewayed enclosures and earlier European LBK , Michelsberg enclosures etc. did have segmented ditches .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

"the Meso dates for the car park posts are not for the Stonehenge monument"

These post holes were interchanged for over 1500 years at a site less than 50m from the present monument and you want us to believe it was then abandoned to return 4000 years later to almost the same spot? which was at that time in a middle of a forest - after 4000 years of growth would it not be lost or was it a coincidence???

I'm lots of things... gullible is not one!

RJL

Geo Cur said...

The posts belong to the Stonehenge landscape not the monument itself (which may well have been the site of meso activity but we don't know that yet ).No other meso artefacts were discovered and we don't know the sequence of erection they may have stood together as a group or ereceted sequentially. The nearest post was not 50m from Stonehenge ,190m from the ditch is the closest . The Meso palynology indicates that the area was covered in open hazel and pine woodland

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

"The posts belong to the Stonehenge landscape not the monument itself"

If you wish to use mathematics to correct me, then let me show you the fantasy of your above claim.

Mainland Britain is 243,610 square Kilometres in size - therefore for Mesolithic man to come back and build Stonehenge in a place used 4000 years ago by 'chance' within 1Km of the original site is 243,610 to 1 - but as you quite rightly say its 190m from the original site not 1Km.

Which makes the area about 27.7th of a square Km (190m x 190m) - that now give us the PROBABILITY of 6,747,997 to 1, that the site of Stonehenge was built 190m for the original 'totem poles'.

Moreover, as you rightly point out, in the car park there is no remains for over 1500 years of seasonal visits. Therefore, are you suggesting that they used fire to cut down trees but did not bother with fires for eating or use flints to carve their 'totem poles' ?

Looks like a touch of blind faith rather than science!!

RJL

BRIAN JOHN said...

Robert -- this point is absurd. there is no point at all in seeking statistically meaningful relationships on this sort of thing unless you can show that both Stonehenge and the wooden poles in the ground are unique. Stonehenge is unique, but we have no way of knowing how many hundreds, or thousands, of other poles might have been erected in the Mesolithic period all over the UK, in places that have absolutely nothing to do with Stonehenge or the tribal groups living on Salisbury Plain.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

The current theory supports the idea that Stonehenge and these posts are 'unconnected' - statistically as shown here this is 'impossible'.

As the university of Manchester has shown there are only 2500 people in Britain during the Mesolithic Period and therefore the mass of poles you suggest is limited.

Simple 'common sense' shows that these posts and Stonehenge Monument are linked in some way. If people lack this ability we can use the 'SCIENCE' of mathematics to prove the bias of some scholars is unfounded, by using probability.

The 'uniqueness' of Stonehenge is immaterial - we are talking about the probability of two prehistoric sites being built 'almost' in the same spot - all other prehistoric sites where this has happened it has been recognised that they built on a site because of location i.e. a hill top or on previous locations for religious, churches on Stone circles or defensive reasons, reusing ditches.

This can not the case at Stonehenge!

You talk about Mesolithic tribal groups living on Salisbury Plain - where are the camps? where are the camp fires?? The only flints in quantity in this region is on the Stonehenge monument site which according to English Hertitage was not used for another 4,000 after these posts had rotted!

RJL

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

What if these ditches were not built by men but made by Nature?

I wont elaborate, since Brian would feel I am abusing his blogspitality!

But you can read more on this by clicking on my name above in this comment. It will take you to where you can find a link to my article, “The un-Henging of Stonehenge”. (look for a link 'paper pdf file' at the bottom of the Abstract)

Now that is an ice-breaking thought!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

RJL " These post holes were interchanged for over 1500 years at a site less than 50m from the present monument "

There is no evidence for interchanging , never mind totem poles and the the post holes are 190 m from the monument .

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , many monuments before and after Stonehenge in Europe and Britain had exactly the same type of segemented ditch .I am unaware of any that were considered to be natural .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

Sorry to say you do not have full knowledge of the facts - I will not list them here but my last blog at www.the-stonehenge-enigma.info has the details of the post holes found and the dates attributed to them - one post hole was found to have been replaced 3 times in 400 years.

If the best argument here is that the ditch is 190m from the post holes (which it's not as there was another one found in 1988 much closer) then I believe my point has been established.

RJL

PS As for "Birch and Pine woodland" this is a picture of how Salisbury plain would have looked 10,000 years ago - spot the totem pole??

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1014014

Geo Cur said...

RJL , There is no evidence to support “These post holes were interchanged for over 1500 years at a site less than 50m “
The 1988 post hole at 135 m is still much closer to 190 m than your original 50 m .
I don't believe 21st C imaginative drawings are evidence of totem poles .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

Nature is everywhere! If it is true that Nature made the segmented ditches at Stonehenge, why would it not be true that such segmented ditches in Europe or elsewhere were also made by Nature?

Stone circles have been found all over the world! Including at the bottom of Lake Michigan, in Australia, in Armenia, in Russia, and other places.

What common human purpose could account for all these to have been made by humans? But Nature is everywhere!

We see what we believe! Until we wake up to the truth of what we see!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BRIAN JOHN said...

Cite your sources, please, Kostas. Exactly which stone circles are you talking about? And what is your evidence that these features are natural?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

A hypothesis is proven by its power to explain the raw data!

The hypothesis that men built these monuments explains the scientific data through twisted logic and patched up narratives. You say so in your most recent blog entry!

The hypothesis I apply to all the 'facts on the ground' (and not interpretations of such facts) provides consistent and sensible explanations.

No need to invent Mesolithic Lost Civilization, superhuman primitive capabilities, or socioeconomic development totally unsupported by historical records and reasoning.

As to some references of stone circles around the world:

Lake Michigan: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Stonehenge-in-Lake-Michigan.html
Armenia: http://www.astrologycom.com/armstone1.html
Hong Kong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Circles_(Hong_Kong)
Golan Heights: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rujm_el-Hiri
Portugal: http://www.ancient-wisdom.co.uk/portocromleqdosalmendres.htm
France: http://www.stonepages.com/france/erlannic.html

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

No problem with any of those, Kostas. I repeat -- what is your evidence that these features are natural rather than man-made? I suggest that there is none.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Bravo Kostas!!

Spoken like a true Geologist.

RJL

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , I don't believe nature made the segmented ditches of these monuments or stone circle which clearly have repeated architectural features and evidence when excavated of man made sockets for orthostats complete with chocking stones and depositions etc . There are some examples in the UK of what are believed to be stone circles that are obviously fortuitous arrangements of rocks but they are a very rare and usually recognised for what they are .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Message for kostas

Kostas, I'm accepting nothing more from you on this until you put up some evidence which is well authenticated and verifiable. You go on about the falsification of hypotheses, as if that makes your hypothesis respectable. It does not, since your hypothesis is NOT founded on accurate observation of the real world, and it does NOT arise from accumulated evidence. We are all wasting our time on this -- no more, please.

BRIAN JOHN said...

RJL -- Kostas has not spoken like a true geologist. A geologist who is worth his or her salt accumulates evidence and then formulates an hypothesis that best explains it, and then he or she tests it to destruction. Kostas has created a hypothesis out of thin air, based on nothing in particular, and then seems to spend his time trying to fit "evidence" into the hypothesis in order to "prove" it. He then expects the rest of us to falsify it! Whatever it is, it is not science.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

It's a delicate subject! I am struggling to find the right words and tone to address these issues in Brian's blog; and answer your questions.

I want to be sensitive to the feelings of Brian and others in this blog on matters that they deeply believe. Suggesting that Nature may be responsible for Stonehenge is equivalent to the “Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie. If this was a theological debate, I would have avoided any participation all together.

Let me gently suggest that you read my article, “The un-Henging of Stonehenge”, for my ideas and reasons on Stonehenge. If you then have questions, I invite you to communicate with me directly using my email address kostadinos@aol.com That way we can avoid upsetting Brian by what I argue.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

OK -- that's the last one from Kostas on this. If you guys want to continue, please do it in private!

Radwulf said...

Well Well very interesting. Quite right lets use the archaeology and not what we want things to look like. There are many theories because of our own perceptions.

We didn't build it and those that did for what ever reasons had their own agenda .