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Friday, 30 September 2011

Alice in the rain

So there we are then.  Geoff and Tim have been digging for Britain, in the pouring rain, in that old Neolithic tomb on the slope beneath Carn Meini.  One has to admire their fortitude, and I hope they didn't catch their death of cold in all that horrible weather........

What Alice Roberts (or her producer) did was to turn this into a Stonehenge story, whereas the burial mound and whatever might lie beneath it has nothing whatsoever to do with Stonehenge.  But so solidly embedded is the myth of the bluestone quarry at Carnmeini, and the idea that there are sacred springs in the area, and that somehow anything elongated means that it must have been headed for Stonehenge, that all we got was a rather feeble non-story.  The "twin standing stones" were so small that I could have used them to prize off a muddy pair of wellington boots -- how on earth they were supposed to provide a link with Stonehenge, only Prof GW will ever understand.  I think that the BBC might have edited out the bit about the tomb possibly being the place where the architect of Stonehenge was buried........  so maybe they are starting to get a wee bit embarrassed by all this nonsense?

This is from the BBC web site:

Prof Wainwright said: "The important thing is that we have a ceremonial monument here that is earlier than the passage grave.
"We have obviously got a very important person who may have been responsible for the impetus for these stones to be transported.
"It can be compared directly with the first Stonehenge, so for the first time we have a direct link between Carn Menyn - where the bluestones came from - and Stonehenge, in the form of this ceremonial monument."

That last sentence (about a "direct link") is supported by no evidence whatsoever  -- how come that Prof GW is allowed to get away with this sort of stuff in an interview, and how come the BBC is prepared to paste it up on its web sites?   So a message for Alice -- next time you talk to these eminent gentlemen, try at least to question some of their assumptions, and PLEASE ask them what they have in the way of evidence to support their fantastical stories.


Tony Hinchliffe said...

For all last night's episode's inaccuracies, could we at least discern what I might call, using a somewhat ironic metaphor, a Sea-Change in Thinking by the Great Minds of British Archaeology? You may accuse me of taking rather a Pythonesque "Look On The Bright Side of Life" stance, but, first, on September 15th at Newport, Pembs., you heard (as I have on a separate occasion) Mike Parker Pearson say he was coming round to the view that the bluestones were NOT transported during prehistoric times by sea. Then, last night, NO MENTION was made of movement of stones by sea. I'd say you've won a quiet Victory for Science and Common Sense!

So you have won a quiet Victory, even if you have yet to win the entire "war" with respect to the role of glaciation in the movement of the bluestones.

Incidentally, you say in your current Post that the idea that there are sacred springs in the Carn Meini area is a "solidly embedded myth". But, lest we all forget, remember it is only Darvill & Wainwright as recently as this 21st Century who have STARTED this myth in their work for S.P.A.C.E.S., and then tagged it onto thir April 2008 Stonehenge dig. You have told us, Brian, that despite having lived in Preseli most of your life and having researched the folk lore of the Mountains there for your work as a local history book writer and publisher, you have not found ANY trace of stories from the past attributing healing powers to the springs of Carn Meini or anywhere else thereabouts.

I thought Alice was struggling, in her summaries of the Carn Meini dig, to say anything at all even approaching meaningful about the claims of TD/GW, and this contrasted mightily with all of the other archaeological projects discussed in last night's programme.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree, Tony. You are quite correct in saying that the "myth" of the sacred springs is just in the minds of Darvill and Wainwright. Solidly embedded it may be, but restricted in extent!! as you say, I have never heard anybody else who has anything positive to say about their theory, or about the reliability of their "evidence"......

Agree too that the other sites featured in the programme were much more interesting and well presented.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


'quite victory for common sense' - last nights episode suggested dragging stones from Preseli Mountains - there's is no sense in that, because its impossible - i'll rather back mad Brian's localised stone collection theory!


The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Its very rare that I agree with your conclusion but this is one!

Watching two rather 'wet' old professors clinging to obscure ideas was painful - two upright small stones suddenly become a signature for Stonehenge...give me strength!

What was worse for archaeologist was the other 'facts' that seems to go unnoticed, such as 'tam and his team' of volunteer pensioners (systematically destroying good soil evidence)finding Neolithic pottery and Mesolithic microliths ON THE SAME LEVEL - conclusion this was the site that transformed Mesolithic man suddenly become Neolithic man - OMG is this the state of archaeology today?

No missing link here for the anthopologists - complete change of tools and lifestyle within a couple of years - what complete rubbish!!

All it proves is that archaeologists are so stereotyped that when they find new evidence of mesolithic pots that they change the time-line instead to fit in with current 'expert' beliefs (or the funding goes!!).

Even Star Carr when they find 30m split-planked walkways - which clearly is not what hunter-gatherers do on their 'walkabouts'- they show a sketch of naked men around the fire - so they have the technical ability to plank wood but not weave clothes!!

The entire programme was an embarrassment!


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the size of the Stonehenge stones in 'Spinal Tap' were not an error but a bit of cinematic pre-ignition (sic).
Nigel Tufnal

BRIAN JOHN said...

It's amazing what you can do with a camera -- mind you, on this occasion the cameraman didn't even try to make those stones look bigger. Probably he / she was very wet and miserable.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tony. Thinking about your suggestion of a sea-change in thinking re the transport of the bluestones, not sure I would agree. I think the idea of land transport (MPP) is possibly even crazier than the idea of sea transport (TD and GW). They each have a problem with the increasing number of possible locations for the sources of the "bluestone assemblage" at Stonehenge -- and the increasingly difficult geographical locations of those sources. Are we now up to 30 sources? Or back to 20 again, if Pont Saeson is really a major source? Doesn't really matter.....

But all the professors and their helpers seem to me to be just as firmly wedded to their theories as they ever were. The difference is that some others (including some EH personnel) seem to be looking at things rather more pragmatically...

Anonymous said...

Brian - I was probably rather pre-occupied with the Michael Palin et al notion of Looking On The Bright Side of Life. Certainly, the claim for a land transport route via the route of the A40 seems a nonsense. I think we should go for what may be Robert JL's option of using a prehistoric water artery along the line of the Welsh M4, but beyond the area of the Wye at Chepstow perhaps even he might be stumped.

It will certainly be interesting to hear what David Field has to say at his Wiltshire Heritage Museum talk on Saturday December 10th about English Heritage's Stonehenge Landscape Project, as he seems to me to blessed with eminent common sense and pragmatism in his approach to his work.

PersePHONEY said...

There is an increasingly trenchant New Age conviction that specially-bred Neolithic/ Bronze Age porpoises from the Newquay area were involved in the navigation process around the Pembroke peninsula with the Stone seafarers. You could say the creatures stuck to their task porpoisefully, though I wouldn't go so far as .....

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Easier to go via the Bristol Channel via Bristol or the Somerset Flats to the Avon then all the way down to about 95m from the site.

Even Dr Brunning of Somerset Archaeological Dept admits that the flats were fresh water from the Ice Age now - see my blog.

Who knows the 'periglacial striations' on the Avenue may not be natural - Lt-Col Hawley did not think so, and lets be honest in 1923 you would have a much greater knowledge of how cart-marks looked than today.


The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Did you notice what problems they are having with Star Carr on the programme?

Groundwater dropping and its been doing that since The Mesolithic when it was a lake.

And nature magazine has just published an article about how groundwater is the major contributing fact to sea level rises!!(Nature, DOI: 10.1038/367054a0) I wonder were all that water came from?

What flavour of humble pie do you like my old adversary?


BRIAN JOHN said...

Robert, you are quite priceless! I don't eat humble pie -- I prefer a good bowl of blackberry crumble with custard. Heaven!

I see you have a new post up about the valley of the Afon Brynberian -- full of water. Very pretty graphics -- as ever, a pity about the lack of evidence for any of it.....

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


I, like you, are partial to crumble but with some apple and a nob of Devonshire cotted ice cream :-)

As for evidence - I'll just sit and wait for the 'dead bones' and 'rock collecting' clubs to catch up with my hypothesis... I fortunately, have enough time on my side (at least another 50 years - unless the ice cream gets me) to turn around a say to the academia - 'I told you so!'.