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Friday, 16 September 2011

Credit where credit is due.....

In spite of my hearty criticisms of the people involved in the latest archaeology researches in Pembs, I really don't want to frighten them away!  The natives are not all that hostile......... and it's great that some attention is being paid to our very rich heritage of features across North Pembs in particular.

And there were some very interesting things coming out of the talk last evening.  Here are some snippets:

1.  MPP suggests there are no less than nine rectangular dwellings on the slopes beneath the Carn Meini outcrops.  He suggests that they are probably Neolithic, because Bronze Age and Iron Age dwellings tended to be circular.  Sounds reasonable to me -- more info eagerly awaited.  (Mind you, not sure I'd go along with the aside that this was probably a "quarryman's village".........)

 If you zoom in hard on this Google image of Carn Goedog, you can see some faint rectangular patterns at the top left corner.  Maybe these are the "Neolithic" dwellings?

2.  There was some very interesting work reported by Colin Richards on the cromlechs / dolmens of the area.  There has been a big dig at Garn Turne (the one with the enormous capstone) -- and he reckons that here, as at Pentre Ifan and Carreg Samson the stones that have been used as capstones were originally embedded in the ground and have been lifted up onto supporting pillars without being moved very far, if at all.  He thinks they may not have been at the centre of earth or stone mounds at all, but that they were megalithic monuments in the true sense of the word, in the same sense that the trilithons at Stonehenge are "monuments".  He also thinks that they are very old -- maybe as old as the dolmens of Brittany, some of which go back to 4,500 BC.  I like the "use what's on the spot" idea -- and that of course is exactly what Steve Burrow says in his book.  But a little bit of me thinks that he's got another ruling hypothesis going here -- namely that these monuments like Pentre Ifan were the precursors or the "models" for what came a bit later art Stonehenge.....

3.  MPP reported on some recent geophysics (as yet unpublished) that suggests that the empty quarter at Stonehenge was indeed an empty quarter, and that the monument was never finished.  Well well, never thought I'd hear him saying that.....  Dave Field must be pleased, as I am pleased.

4.  To my unpracticed eye, it seems to me that the digs at Garn Turne and Craig Rhosyfelin have been conducted with great professionalism, carefully marked and meticulously recorded.  I look forward to seeing the info when it is all written up, and hope that the papers will tell it like it is, and just spare us the fantasising.


The Stonehenge Enigma said...

It seems the more research you academics do the closer you get to my published conclusions.

1. Yes Neolithic structures are rectangular as they are similar to the boat houses of the Mesolithic prior to the social stagnation and retrogressive cultures of the Bronze and Iron Ages (this is common in anthropology and seen most clearly after the Roman evacuation of Britain to which we now call the dark ages for obvious reasons). Structural archaeologist and engineer (Geoff Carter) has the designs for these buildings if your interested -

2. The Dolmens are Neolithic path markers (forget the burials as we have seen with Barrows, these are added at a much later date to satisfy some kind of ancestral mythology, no doubt?) and Long Barrows found throughout Europe are even earlier in the Mesolithic - so 4500BC dates for these Dolmens are a major step forward - if only small!

3. You know from previous comments why Stonehenge has only some stones in that quadrant - so I wont go over old discredited ground.

Unfortunately, it will probably have to be the next generation of dusty academics that confirm my true dates and uses of these features, as I fear this generation is far too 'institutionalised' and tarnished with dogma, even though you find them somewhat 'gung-ho' - which I find most amusing :-).


Anonymous said...

"The problem with archaeology is when to stop laughing" ~ Glyn Daniel


Geo Cur said...

The raising of some capstones from the bedrock immediately below was noted by Colin Richards in " Neolithic of ther Irish Sea " (2004).Rather than a case of opportunism a la Burrows it has been suggested that it may be similar to the single spilt tee trunks found as portals in mortuary enclosures .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Nice quote PeteG.

I believe you used it in 2005 when archaeologists suggested Silbury Hill was built in stages?

Recent excavations by English Heritage confirms that fact.... lets hope history repeats itself.


Geo Cur said...

RJL ,The two Mesolithic houses that we know of in the UK, Star Carr and Howick were both circular .
Whilst boats would certainly have been used in the Mesolithic in the UK we have yet to find one, never mind a boat house .
There are plenty of well provenanced burials from before the Bronze Age in Portal Tombs e.g. ,e.g. Parknabinnia in Co.Clare had bone dated from 3635-3370 cal BC ,Balyedmond in Co Down 3635-3375 cal BC ,Poulnabrone 3761-3373 cal BC Sperris Quoit 3633-3557 cal BC .

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Wondering if there will next develop a "Preseli Resistance", now the guys wanting 'labensraum' have rolled in with military precision from the East? And who will be the collaborators?? Not you, Brian, surely?

Is this the New Neolithic Revolution? Still got my copy of Sonia Cole's "The Neolithic Revolution" [published by, obviously, the British Museum, London], 4th edition, 1967.

Seriously, though,glad to hear you're welcoming these archaeological Newcomers into north Pembrokeshire. They may well boost your economy!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, they are always very welcome to come to our candle-making workshop, where we also have books on sale. A few quid here and there helps to pay for the groceries. If they ask me nicely, I may even agree to sell them a signed copy of "The Bluestone Enigma"!

Tony H said...

For what it's worth, I did give the details of your " Bluestone Enigma" book to a captive Josh Pollard when he gave us a talk here in Trowbridge a year or two back. And he did seem genuinely interested. How are the sales at the Heritage Museum, Devizes, Wiltshire, going?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

'Mesolithic occupation at Bouldnor cliff and submerged prehistoric landscapes of the solent' CBA Research Report 164 - tells a story of how they found a 8000 year old planked boat with mortice and tenon joints (as seen at Stonehenge).

With 10m split planks you will not only find you can build ships with rectangular 'steering' houses as seen in Egyptian paintings or (if your a good archaeologist) the outline of Long Barrows, which have stern entrances as they are boats to their afterworld modelled, as again the Egyptian did, on their own boat designs.

If you read Geoff's blogs you will understand that the post holes found can be easily misinterpreted by 'institutionalised' academics.


Geo Cur said...

RJL , There was no boat found at Bouldnor . I have seen Geoff’s site ,he is more concerened with showing that timber circles are possibly houses and iirc has nothing to say about Star Carr and Howick not being circular houses .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

"The most significant finding that emerged from the analysis was the use of technologies on some of the worked wood that are 2,000 years ahead of anything else seen in the UK to date. The largest piece of timber recovered so far measured 0.94m long by 0.41m wide and provided a radiocarbon date of 6240-6000 cal BC )...the timber had been converted from the edge of a large tree in the order of 1.5m to 2m wide. The length of such a plank may well have been over 10m long."

What do you do with 10m x.5m planks of wood? You either make a boat or a rectangular house?

Geoff's Blog

"Having a roundhouse means your site is part of the pattern, fits in, and can be understood as part of the big picture.

However, things were never going to be that simple, because if we look only for roundhouses, that is all we will find, and we may be tempted to think that is all there is to find.

This is bad news for those sites where no obvious roundhouses can be found, giving the excavator a problem: The site won’t fit into the big picture. The problem is usually not a shortage of postholes, but rather a lack of circles, which is what fellow archaeologists expect you to find, and increasingly is the only shape they will accept for a building."

He shows a two story rectangular house on the site - suggest you open your mind or climb back on your dusty shelf.


Constantinos Ragazas said...


Here we are again debating the 8000 year old wooden 'boat plank'!

If I was to carve out a 'Venus' out of this wooden plank, would my Venus be 8000 years old?

Why don't you mention the clean sharp notch in the wooden plank? What kind of stone ax would have made it so sharp and clean? Could this be the reason why the archeologists that found this piece of old wood did not think of it as significant?

We need to separate the date of the material from the date of when the material was used.

It is possible that an 8000 year old tree trunk, well preserved in the bottom of the sea, washed up on shore say in the 1800s and was used by shipbuilders at that time as a deck plank. And certainly they could make any clean cuts into the wood using metal hand saws!


Geo Cur said...

RJL ,as I said no boat found at Bouldnor ,a piece of wood 0.94m long by 0.41m is simply that , not a boat or a house for that matter .
If you read what Geoff has to say there is no mention of Star Carr or Howick and he is clearly not saying that there are no round houses . Maybe you should ask him about these specific cases rather than misrepresent him .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

I can see now why Doctor Watson needed Sherlock Holmes to join the dots and solve mysteries.

Are you really telling me that unless you find a complete boat (with sails) you cant comprehend the techniques used in boat construction?

Do geologists refused to believe in dinosaurs because they only find a toe or shin bone?

The technique of splitting these planks is the interest here, not the wood. This technique was used in Roman times and throughout the dark ages some 7500 years later - and we know what they used this method to build.

As for you favourite site Star Carr I can see is 4 post holes - it could be any shape!

The real question about Star Carr serious archaeoloists and geologists should be answering is if at the of occupation 9500BC the sea level in the North Sea was 40m - 60m lower than today.

Star Carr is 25m above OD today - that makes the camp at least 65m above sea level, but as they now have found out, it was on a lake.

Were did the water from the lake come from?

Why is it not a lake today?

What factors have changed as I take it for granted the sub-soils will be the same?

If your without a clue try....... the watertable


Geo Cur said...

RJL , Dinosaur DNA ,if we could find some , would be direct evidence of the existence of the dinosaur ,the Boulden log is not in the same category and is clearly not a boat .

The evidence for a round house at Starr Carr is provided by up to 18 post holes not 4 .
No mention of Howick ?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

So what are hunter gatherers' doing with planked wood, why would they bother?

I know, a bit of decking for the outside of the round house - you're a genius!

Consequently, why would a skilled tree splitter live in a round mud hut if you could split wood into planks? or even the builders of Stonehenge with Mortise and Tenon joints?

Star Carr - which you keep referring to had Amber objects dating back to the Mesolithic Period - Amber comes from Denmark, did our wood splitter make wooden shoes to walk to Denmark to trade rather than a boat?

I know cricket bats!! to bash over the heads of mammoths and drag them back to their mud huts for dinner?

To paraphase PeteG - "The problem with academics is when to stop laughing"


Geo Cur said...

RJL , why is it that when confronted with their mistakes people resort to being rude and creating straw men ? If you fail to see why the Bouldnor wood is not a boat then there are no grounds for discussion .
I mentioned Star Carr once , as an example of a round house , it was you who in your erroneous belief that it wasn’t round and only had four post holes kept on referring to it , if ,as in the case of Howick you had remained silent and realised that there were round house in the Mesolithic it would never have been referred to again .
We don’t know where the Star Carr amber came from , whilst the most famous source is the Baltic I doubt anyone claimed it came from Denmark . It is not uncommon to find it along the east coast of England and the two sources can’t be differentiated , Andrew Ross who knows a bit about the subject doesn’t believe the Star Carr or for that matter the earlier Gough’s Cave amber is from the Baltic .

Chris johnson said...

The evidence for Mesolithic building styles is so scarce that common sense is a better guide. Circular buildings are easy to erect and make better sense for a nomadic group - like a wigwam. They also leave few traces, at best a central post hole. When you decide to build square you are presumably spending extra effort because you intend to stay a while, as when occupying a quarry.

Personally I think we will find evidence of sophisticated boats from the Mesolithic because people did seem to move over oceans - common sense again. You can hardly blame them for not lugging their ocean ships up a mountain so we could find them easily (rising sea levels).

The possible similarity between a long barrow and a boat in interesting in itself.