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, 16 September 2011

The Craig Rhosyfelin dig





Since you asked .... here are some pics of the dig at Craig Rhosyfelin. As you will see, we are looking at a craggy outcrop of rhyolite on the flank of a gorge cut by glacial meltwater and now occupied by a relatively small stream (Afon Brynberian).  Adjacent to the jointed and sloping surface of the rhyolite, there is a big bank of blocky scree -- this is obvious from the photos.  Many of the angular blocks have been left in situ by the diggers.  Some of the blocks have rounded-off edges, suggesting to me that there has been meltwater erosion at some stage, with a stream maybe flowing over and through the scree bank. This would not be surprising, since the dig site is at the point where a little tributary valley comes down into the main valley.  The big block, which is causing so much excitement, is incorporated into this scree and lying on top of it.  There is another big block beneath a tree stump which the diggers have left in place.  On top of the scree there is an accumulation of slope deposits rich in organic material  -- no doubt the dig team will send some of that for radiocarbon dating.

On the rock face, there is another large slab of rock which is still in place -- but it would not take much in the way of pressure from roots -- and maybe frost shattering - to prize it off and send it crashing down.  No human involvement needed.  This is the slab:

So what can we say about the history of the site?  Well, the gorge may be very old, but it will certainly have carried meltwater torrents during the ice wastage phase of the Devensian glaciation.  That means that on the floor of the valley there will be abundant fluvio-glacial deposits containing rounded and sub-rounded pebbles of all shapes and sizes. (In the dig, the archaeologists have not got down deep enough to find these fluvio-glacial materials -- sands and gravels -- but I would put a few quid on the fact that they are there all right.)  When the ice retreated from this area around 20,000 years ago, there were a further 10,000 years or so of periglacial conditions during which rocky outcrops all over West Wales were subjected to frost shattering processes, with steep slopes partly covered by accumulations of scree.  There would also have been considerable snowmelt from snow-patches, in deep valleys such as the Afon Brynberian gorge.  Then the climate ameliorated in the Holocene -- after the final cold snap of the Younger Dryas.  The slope deposits shown in these photos have accumulated over that period -- there are some quite clear layers, and it will be interesting to see how these are interpreted with reference to Holocene climate changes during the Mesolithic and Neolithic -- and more recently as well.   So that's my bit of geomorphology, in which I have considerable confidence.

The upshot of all of this is that I don't see the slightest sign of any quarry here -- but I am always open to whatever evidence the archaeologists might wish to bring forward in support of their thesis.

I would have been only too happy to look at the dig in the presence of the archaeologists, and to help them in their interpretations, but two Email offers to MPP that we might meet for a chat were ignored, and I would have been only too happy to make a site visit in their company.  The Dyfed Archaeology team also know my views well, and if I had been asked, I would have been only too keen to help.  Then last night I arranged to meet the dig leaders at the site at 9 am -- and found, when I got there, that they were nowhere to be seen.  A few friends and I pottered about a bit, and took some photos, and Felix did some sort of ritual, in his bare feet.  Then when it started to rain we wandered off, patience exhausted.

Not sure what the etiquette is relating to photos of other people's digs, but in the circumstances I have no qualms.  After all, I helped to pay for it.  Anyway, so many people have visited the dig over the past two weeks that there are probably hundreds of photos of it on the web already.....

32 comments:

Geo Cur said...

Thanks for the pics and talk info Brian .
If you had been a menber of the dig then possibly there might have been something to consider about posting pics , but as a visitor it's public domain .

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Yes, many thanks for putting forward your geomorphological side of the Craig Rhosyfelin dig, for those of us who still possess open minds on prehistoric Preseli.

I wonder what N.P. Figgis, who wrote Prehistoric Preseli: a Field Guide, 2001 (which I managed to purchase in Fishguard tourist information centre last year) would make of the eminent professors' findings? I note 'Paddy' Figgis studied his Archaeology at Cambridge; and since you studied your Geography and Geomorphology at Oxford, it could be said that your combined
academic credentials are worthy of at least some respect from these visitors to Dyfed.

Tony H said...

Wonder whether the British Science Association (formerly the British Association for the Advancement of Science) would like to get involved in this whole debate? I believe they were around when Charles Darwin's views on evolution started to frighten little old ladies and Vicars.

BRIAN JOHN said...

You mean a formal complaint about misrepresentation and scientific fraud? Now that would be interesting....

BRIAN JOHN said...

re Figgis -- I like his calm and reasoned approach to things. An excellent book.

Tony H said...

How about asking for a more balanced representation of disciplinary approaches towards the discovery of truth? Sounds a little less provocative.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't worry, Tony. Only joking! I don't take these things THAT seriously....

Tony H said...

But you are a seeker after truth, Brian, are you not? I did not think you WERE being that serious either, but I merely point out that maybe the British Science Association could balance things out somewhat - if not them, then whom? In the interests of Academia, there must be, to coin a cliche, a ROAD MAP (whatever that is!) through this man-made jungle!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, we keep good company on this blog. Kostas (as he keeps on reminding us) is also a seeker after truth!

But yes, there has to be some way of getting a sensible debate here -- what makes me rather sad is that nobody withing the archaeological establishment seems capable of getting these guys to back off some of their more extreme ideas and to look seriously at the evidence coming from the earth sciences.

I'm sure geomorphologists have been far too timid as well -- maybe for fear of upsetting their colleagues in archaeology departments up and down the land.

Tony H said...

Interestingly, have just located Colin Richards' personal research interests at Manchester University.
These include seeking out and finding Neolithic quarries on Orkney and Isle of Lewis, Scotland. I know he's worked in tandem with Parker Pearson in Scotland over the years. So we may have something to compare his findings in Preseli to.
Try:- www.manchester.ac.uk/research/colins.c.richards/research
- OR simply Google him

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Their refusal to consider your views makes your views even more 'shinny'. Stay in the 'light' as they continue to be in the 'dark'!

Kostas

Tony H said...

Does it all come down to money and funding for research in Universities? T'was ever thus, I suspect.And I'm glad you included Kostas within the orbit of our collective searchings. Everybody matters. I'm sure Spike Milligan would agree if he were still with us.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, Quarryfinder General! Every respectable research team needs one! I wonder if he ever looks and DOESN'T find.......

In this case, Carn Goedog and Rhosyfelin were labelled "quarry sites" well before any of these guys had even set eyes on them.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tont, when I was a teenager I always thought of Eccles as a man of infinite wisdom. Sorry Kostas -- that's probably a mystery to you. The Goon Show was all the rage at the time on BBC Radio.... look it up on Google!

BRIAN JOHN said...

oops -- sorry. That should have been "Tony"...

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Brian, when I was at Primary School, my brother presented me with a "crystal set" radio (nothing New Age about that, I hasten to say) he'd made for me himself, so I was able to listen to Eccles and his Goon friends pontificating on all matters serious. NOW you know why I come on your Blogsite - brings back happy memories (only joking - again!).

Anonymous said...

GO Compare!
Compare the blocks in your second photo with Atkinsons photos of SH stone 32e.
Put them on this site!!and we can all see.
Thomas Rhymer/TamLin.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I thought you said that the Craig Rhosyfelin samples matched some of the debitage, but not any of the existing stones at Stonehenge? Stone 32e is reputed to be rhyolite, but where from?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I sense and sympathize …

Listening to the 'esteemed presenters' fabricating more myths at the meeting must have felt a little like watching your 'true love' exchange wedding vows with your rich and self-indulging school mate!

But this should give you more resolve to carry on with your quest. It gives your blog unique significance as a place where honest and open-minded discussions are possible.

Kostas

Tony H said...

Don't think Thomas Rhymer will be able to tell you that, as NO ONE (not even the Stonehenge Riverside Project bods) is allowed to snaffle a sample off Stone 32e (or any others at Stonehenge) in order to subject it to geological analysis - am I right, Thomas? Wouldn't the security guards shoot on sight?

Anonymous said...

Ah the Devil is in the detail.
Sh32e is a buried stump so is not an extant orthostat (38,40,46,48only) (all is explained briefly in Ixer and Bevins 2011. Ferret Club Mag. (WANHM).
If I understand the current thinking (I have asked) Pont Saeson is the dominant source for all the SH debitage, cannot be the source of SH38..48 but is macroscopically matchable with SH32e
Of course were we to go the Easter Island myth-source we could explain why that is so.
but shall we?
Tam Linn

Tony H said...

Cor blimey, guv'nor.............

Tony H said...

Brian/Tam Linn

I'm a bit slow on the uptake, guv'nors, but what exactly does Tam Linn's last sentence mean/imply?

Blimey, you sometimes have to be a regular Arthur Conan Doyle, or 'is finest creation, to grasp what's being meant, honest! And it's getting late....But at least we're all Seekers After Truth, eh, Kostas?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tam Lin -- or whatever your name is -- full reference to that paper, please? For those not in the know...

And Ferret Club has nothing to do with rabbit catching, as far as I can make out...

BRIAN JOHN said...

I have found the Atkinson photo -- will put up a post tomorrow. Getting late...

Anonymous said...

Ixer and Bevins 2011 The detailed petrography of six orthostats from the bluestone circle Stonehenge.
Wilts Arch. and Natural History Mag. (aka Ferret Club Mag) 104 1-14.
Easter Island myth-source-why is the ‘debitage’ not from the extant orthostats. But is quite probably from the lost (some now buried stumps) ones. Clan rivals –the joy of anthropology is you can just make it up.
Tamme Lynne
I too have had trouble with fairies and time

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thank you, man with many names. That's great.

THOR HYERDAHL said...

Tam Linn or Lynne/ Thomas the Rhymer/ Liege & Leaf.

My Liege,
hope you're not suggesting that members of The Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society, based at The Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes, just "ferret around"?

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Now I'm hot on the trail if Thomas Rhymer's thought processes/inside information, here's a VERY interesting website address which quotes from a lecture Thor Heyerdahl gave, about the Rano Raraku quarries and the history of quarrying and statue-building on Easter Island, backed by pollen analysis among other things, to the Swedish Society of Anthropology & Geography in Stockholm.

www.bradshaw foundation.com/thor

I believe both Joshua Pollard & Colin, 2 of the 3 of the lecturers at the Newport, Pembs. lecture in Brian's back yard, have been involved in very recent Easter Island visits/research.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony H

You ask if I am a “Seeker After Truth”.

To see it, you must be it!

Kostas

Anonymous said...

No inside info(not on this anyway)just what I remembered from a BBC doc. many years ago about destruction of the Easter Island monuments.
Extant orthostats and 'debitage' are mutually exclusive lithologically...DAAAAA
I am sure the MPP-boys have come to the same conclusion-
as I say anthropology-- its an-ology!! oy vey!
L and L. Great Folk Rock album as is
Ten Man Mop.

tony H said...

Kostas

I see (what you mean). Eureka!

Tony