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Friday, 2 September 2011

Alice in Wonderland

The "Digging for Britain" series, to be shown in 4 episodes (it started on 19 August) is being made by 360 Productions for BBC2.  Looks as if the Prehistory programme was shown on 26 August -- produced and directed by Serena Davies.  Did anybody see it?  Must check if it can be got at via iPlayer.......  all complaints directly to the BBC please!

Anyway, below I have added a few comments to that absurd BBC press release, which has -- predictably -- now found its way onto websites all over the world, demonstrating to people everywhere what a bunch of idiots we are in the UK.

1 September 2011

Tomb found at Stonehenge quarry site
By Louise Ord
Assistant producer, Digging for Britain

The prehistoric stone circle of Stonehenge has mystified architects and historians for generations (That bit I agree with)

The remains of the original builders of Stonehenge could have been unearthed by an excavation at a site in Wales. (That is an extraordinarily wild supposition that goes well beyond the realms of journalistic licence -- it is sheer fantasy.)

The Carn Menyn site in the Preseli Hills is where the initial bluestones used to construct the first stone phase of the henge were quarried in 2300BC. (That is sheer fantasy too -- there is no quarry, and there is no evidence as to which of the stones used at Stonehenge were the "initial" ones used.)

Organic material from a tomb there will be radiocarbon dated. (Good -- and I assume the dates will confirm a Neolithic age.  So what will that prove?  Nothing -- other than that this site is Neolithic, like hundreds of other sites in West Wales.)

Archaeologists believe this could prove a more conclusive link between the site and Stonehenge.  (Nonsense -- it will do nothing of the sort.)

The remains of a ceremonial monument were found with a bank and ditch that appear to have a pair of standing stones embedded. (I'd like to see the evidence for this -- and of course "standing stones" were used all the time, in the creation of passage graves and other Neolithic tomb sites.)

The bluestones at the earliest phase of Stonehenge - also set in pairs - give a direct architectural link from the iconic site to this newly discovered henge-like monument in Wales.  (Nothing but wild fantasy.)

The central site had already been disturbed so archaeologists chose to excavate around the edges.
The tomb, which is a passage cairn - a style typical of Neolithic burial monument - was placed over this henge. (I would like to see the actual evidence for that.)

The link between the Welsh site and Stonehenge was first suggested by the geologist Herbert Thomas in 1923.  (He first suggested the link in 1908 -- but that's a small point.)

This was confirmed in 2008 when permission was granted to excavate inside the stone circle for the first time in about 50 years. (Nonsense -- the 2008 excavations did nothing of the sort.  The OU team in 1989-1990 confirmed that many of the Stonehenge bluestones were from the Preseli region -- but from many different locations.)

The bluestones had been transported from the hills over 150 miles to the plain in Wiltshire to create Stonehenge, the best known of all Britain's prehistoric monuments.  (Sheer fantasy -- there has never been a scrap of evidence to support that contention.)

Two of the leading experts on Stonehenge, Prof Geoff Wainwright and Prof Timothy Darvill, have been leading the project. (We won't get into a debate about what makes somebody into an "expert" and how much respect he or she should be accorded)

They are now excavating at the site of a robbed out Neolithic tomb, built right next to the original quarry. (What does this mean?  Which original quarry?  There is no quarry.)

They knew that the tomb had been disturbed previously, so rather than excavate inside, they placed their small trench along its outer edge. Prof Darvill said: "It's a little piece of keyhole surgery into an important monument, but it has actually lived up to our expectations perfectly."

There are many springs in the area, which may have been associated with ritual healing in prehistoric times, and also the reason why these particular stones were quarried for another monument so far away.  (This is also sheer fantasy -- which is why the previous TV programme involving Profs Darvill and Wainwright attracted such ridicule.  There are many springs almost everywhere.)

Prof Wainwright said: "The important thing is that we have a ceremonial monument here that is earlier than the passage grave.  (Let's see the colour of the evidence)

"We have obviously got a very important person who may have been responsible for the impetus for these stones to be transported.  (Obviously?! Typical of the fantasies in which Prof W indulges from time to time...)

"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."  (If there really is a ceremonial monument or small henge-like feature older than a Neolithic burial, that might be interesting, but it would still have nothing to do with Stonehenge.  We can have an interesting discussion about when the first henges and earthworks were built -- but what has any of that got to do with Stonehenge?)


The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Poor Old Brian!

You should go for a lay down before you burst a blood vessel!!

The Professors have been 'peer reviewed' - you understand the system, once you have that accreditation you are allowed to bluff your way into all manner of lucrative media productions, for you have the badge of respectability - It's the right of academic passage.

The same closed shop system has been used in the publishing industry for years - until the internet was born and free information flowed - that's why they all went bust and now the old editors are writing books on becoming a self-publishers.

All this shows that because you have a qualification, doesn't make you intelligent - it means you have a good memory and knowledge - hence Dr Watson was better qualified than Holmes but not half as intelligent and only a 'tiny' proportion of 'self made' millionaires have degrees.

Lets put the professors in the Dragon's Den and see if anyone buys into their hypothesis?


BRIAN JOHN said...

Robert -- I'm not THAT upset! Seen it all before, and none of it matters anyway.....

Tony Hinchliffe said...

"It's a little piece of keyhole surgery into an important monument, but actually it has lived up to our expectations perfectly", says Prof Darvill.
Sound familiar? Rewind to the self-proclaimed "Dream Team" at Stonehenge, 2008, where Messrs G & W surgically applied themselves.Go back a little further to crooner Perry Como, c.1958:- "Memories Are Made Of This (false memories you gave to me)" VERY popular both sides of The Atlantic and a big money-spinner.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- it's an ancient skill that professors develop. if you want the funding to keep on flowing, and if you want to keep the interest of the TV producers, you have to learn to utter statements about profound significance even when you have found nothing at all and are actually thoroughly fed up......