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Monday, 19 September 2011

A prophecy fulfilled



Remember my post of about a week ago relating to the three stones at Waun Mawn, near Tafarn y Bwlch?  Well I speculated that the MPP team would interpret that as the remains of a dissembled stone circle, with the same diameter as one of the key circles at Stonehenge.  I was assuming it would be the Aubrey Circle, with a diameter of 86m, on the basis that the Aubrey Holes might at one time have contained stones. 

And so it transpired.  The speakers at the Newport lecture didn't devote a lot of time to this, but MPP did say that the Aubrey Holes did contain stones, and that the pits or sockets that held them had "exactly the same dimensions" as the known bluestone sockets at Stonehenge and the sockets at "Bluestonehenge" that were also assumed (without any evidence, as far as I can see) to have contained bluestones.  That's all a bit strange, because the bluestone orthostats and stumps come in many different shapes and sizes -- but we'll let that pass.  What's a little generalisation or two among friends?

So the story is this.  A gigantic stone circle was set up at Waun Mawn -- with 59 bluestones in it.  It became a great centre of ritual activities, and then for some reason it was shifted lock, stock and barrel, from here to Stonehenge.  For some reason the engineering teams left three stones behind -- but no doubt the sockets are still there, in the ground, waiting to be discovered in the 2012 digging season.  When they got to Stonehenge with the stones, having taken them overland (MPP doesn't like the maritime transport hypothesis) they didn't have enough stones to make up the whole bluestone circle -- they needed 82, and they only had 56.  No problem.  Just down the road was Bluestonehenge, with all these lovely stones in a circle.  So they took  26 bluestones from there and hey presto! they had made up the numbers.

Here endeth part one of the story.  If you think that's terribly exciting, just wait until I tell you the rest of the story...

36 comments:

Tony H said...

On 10th October 2009 Mike Parker Pearson gave a post-AGM lecture to the Wiltshire Archaeological Society. This included his account of the finding of the so-called Blue Stonehenge. Those stone sockets that were excavated had alluvial clay at their bottom which showed the imprints of the stones. A laser scanner was used which shows their precise imprints. Mike has since told me he is very certain that these are the imprints of bluestones(perhaps he repeated that- and more-at Newport last week?). He even claimed he may have a match with Stone 68 at Stonehenge. In 2009 he told us they had excavated an antler pick at the bottom of one of the holes. Despite saying that this will give an accurate radiocarbon date for the stone's
erection, as far as I know no date has yet been published. MPP claimed that comparative ethnographic evidence from Madagascar shows that it was unlikely that water was used to move stones, and he said even then that he was shifting his opinion towards movement of the bluestones by land.
He stated his opinion that there is a very important relationship between Wales & Stonehenge and Wessex.He cited that the earliest causewayed enclosure is in Ireland or Wales; and that Llandegai, on the mainland close to Anglesea, is very similar to the First Phase of Stonehenge i.e. in circumference.

Someone called Charlotte who is more knowledgeable on archaeology than I, put a report of this WANHS AGM lecture on the web.

Tony H said...

To locate Charlotte Booth's AGM 2009 account, put these keywords in your search engine:-

CHARLOTTE BOOTH HERITAGE KEY BLUESTONEHENGE

Look for her name and Heritage Key (the publication source) in the list produced.

Geo Cur said...

As well as Llandegai ,Flagstones near Dorchester is also very similar to Stonehenge phase 1 same circumferemce ,causeways , internal ditch . Odd ,or maybe not ,that he didn't mention that .Magheraboy near Sligo is the earliest causewayed enclosure and is certainly anomalous , the Welsh examples post date the southern english ones ,there is a clear chronology and movement of causewayed enclosure building from east to west starting in Kent through the Thames valley and Wessex and Cotswolds then SW Wales taking no more than three generations from east to west .But that was all earlier than Stonehenge .

BRIAN JOHN said...

I've got to go and clean the bathroom, but if you are good little boys and girls, I might tell you a terribly exciting bedtime story later on......

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

MPP is talking rubbish!

Bluehenge was post Stonehenge phase I by a long way. The builders followed the River level from it's Mesolithic high at Stonehenge Bottom to its present low at Bluehenge probably in the Bronze/Iron Age.

But where did this 82 figure come from?

If the original circle had 59 stones and only 56 are needed for the Aubury holes at Stonehenge - that would leave 3 behind, would it not?

The inner circle did not exist until Phase II when the Avenue was built and the Sarsen Stones were added, at that point the Bluestones were relocated from the Aubrey Holes to the centre.

RJL

BRIAN JOHN said...

There are three stones on the ground, Robert -- as I have said before. Where the 56 came from, I'm not sure. And as for the 82, you'd better ask the archaeologissts -- that figure (the assumed number of bluestones needed to complete the most recent setting) has been around for years. I have always said it was a mad piece of fantasy, but nobody listens to me... or maybe they do, since MPP has now admitted that Stonehenge was never finished.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

When MPP was digging his Bluestone site, I was surveying Stonehenge Bottom to find a bunch of students looking for the end of the Avenue on the Avon, a few days after he found the first stone hole, which he was more than happy to show me.

When I pointed out that the site must be post Stonehenge as this area was under water at the time of the phase I construction - he ran away at great speed (I have that effect on some academics!).

So I guess I may never find out about the 82?

RJL

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur you write,

“... the Welsh examples [of causewayed enclosures] post date the southern english ones ,there is a clear chronology and movement of causewayed enclosure building from east to west starting in Kent through the Thames valley and Wessex and Cotswolds then SW Wales...”


Assuming this is true, we have one more example of 'earthworks' proceeding in a direction from SE to NW.

I find that interesting, since (according to my hypothesis) this is the direction the Carnac stone alignments suggest for the glacier retreat.

Just coincidence? Perhaps …

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony,

Thanks for Charlotte's Web!

Too much there to question, but just one point to raise here.

Quoting from Charlotte's article,

“… two environmental archaeologists on the team pointed out that these ditches were in fact natural gullies dating back to the ice-age. These natural features were in perfect alignment with the solstice which were then utilised by the builders of Stonehenge as the location of the Avenue.”


How do natural gullies line up perfectly with the summer solstice sun? Only ONE natural process could possibly line up a land feature with the sun: MELTING OF ICE! As I have been claiming in these blogs for a long time!

The Avenue was formed by a meltwater stream originating from an ice retaining basin at Stonehenge and following the direction of the greatest radiation of solar energy – which of course would be around summer solstice!

These 'natural gullies' that mark the edges of the Avenue were formed by meltwater falls over the ice edge marking the Avenue – the same natural mechanism as how the Stonehenge Ditch was created as well as all the holes.

This explains why the Avenue is so straight for 500 m. before it veers off to end at River Avon. If the Avenue followed the landscape contour, as MPP argues, it wont be so straight for 500 meters! But a stream channel etched on the surface of an ice sheet will be!

I can go on explaining many more details that fall in line with my hypothesis, but only if you want me to.

Kostas

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Kosta

I'm afraid Charlotte's article shows that current theory lacks true knowledge and consists of unqualified guess work.

For example the 'Natural' Avenue theory I know you get very excited about is not Natural.

The ditch/moat on the N/W side is deeper than the ditch/moat on the S/E if it was due to water flow it would be the other way around, as their is a natural slop at that point from NE to SE.

The avenue ends abruptly, if it was natural it would end gradually.

The Periglacial Striations within the avenue 'ARE NATURAL'(but not mentioned) probably caused by the overflowing and subsequent freezing of the ditch/moat during a mini-ice age cold snap (probably 3700BC to 3500BC).

RJL

BRIAN JOHN said...

My goodness -- this is getting really exciting now. Robert not only has a Mesolithic inundation that nobody else has noticed, but also a "mini Ice Age" that nobody else has noticed either. One has to be thrilled about his exceptional powers of observation and deduction...

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

Just repeating data from you Geologists - doesn't affect my hypothesis - if the the 'cold snap' is inaccurate this is a good place to correct it.

I would love to have the Periglacial Striations to be cart wheel tracks as in Malta - just imagine drop off by boat at the end of the Avenue and taken my ox cart to the monument down the first man made road - unfortunately, I again rely on the expertise of the Geologists who said they are natural - shame!

Mind you if they think the ditches are natural...you do wonder about their assessment.

What's your expert option Brian? natural or can I have my cart tracks for the next book?

RJL

BRIAN JOHN said...

Nobody, as far as I am aware, has ever talked about a mini Ice Age around 3600 BC. You must have imagined it. regarding those "periglacial ruts" or grooves, I have written about these before -- but I have never seen them so I'm not going to seek to pass judgment.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

Greenland Gisp2 Ice Core Data - is this data in dispute?

I took it for granted as they only appeared in the Avenue and no where else in Stonehenge Bottom, that water flooding followed by freezing could caused them - So a mini-ice age seemed the most likely cause?

It can't be the last ice age as its far too isolated? BUT i'm no geologist so I hope i'm wrong!!


RJL

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

No sorry it was Dansguaard et al 1969 and Schonwiese 1995.

So many sources with such inconsistent data - what is an archaeologist to do?

RJL

BRIAN JOHN said...

You have to remember that the oscillations picked up in the polar regions, in ice cores etc, do not necessarilt translate into dramatic climate changes in the mid-latitudes -- a bit cooler, or a bit more rain maybe, but definitely no great freeze. Check the BRITISH climate change records (there are plenty of them) if you want to know what happened here.

BRIAN JOHN said...

An archaeologist simply needs to look at the British climate record for the UK and the French climate record for France! By now, with thousands of radiocarbon and other dates and accumulated stratigraphic studies too, we have a pretty good idea of what the main climatic phases were during the Holocene. Just read a good text book!

Geo Cur said...

“Assuming this is true “
The model ,based on 2350 RC measurements combined with Bayesian chronological modelling is the most sophisticated approach to archaeological chronologies yet .
“ Coincidence ?”
incredibly unlikely , it shows how one aspect of the Neolithic package and possibly much more moved from east to west in Southern Britain in the early 4th Millenium .
Considering that the Ice had retreated from some of these areas 6,000 years earlier the two are clearly unconnected .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Robert,

I especially liked your account with your chance meeting with MPP at Bluestonehenge! In a nutshell it captures the 'avoidance of evidence' if the evidence contradicts established ideas. It's more than just an intellectual exercise! It is a physical reaction, no less so than the “fight or flight” instinct. Obviously, in the case of your MPP encounter, “flight” took over.

But picking up on you comment to me about the Avenue, you write

“The ditch/moat on the N/W side is deeper than the ditch/moat on the S/E if it was due to water flow it would be the other way around, as their is a natural slop at that point from NE to SE.”

Two points to make on that here:

1)The meltwater stream over the ice cover I am hypothesizing would be coming mainly from the N/W direction. The same as the direction of the glacier advance/retreat Brian has argued. You would expect the volume of water fall flow to be strongest in that direction and lesser further down in the direction of S/E. So my theory is again consistent with the 'facts on the ground'.

2)The “natural slop” of the land has absolutely no relevance here, since we are hypothesizing an ice sheet cover. The surface of a frozen lake (for example) is perfectly flat; whereas the lake bottom can be very uneven and sharply sloped.

You further write,

“The avenue ends abruptly, if it was natural it would end gradually.”


I assume you are talking about the straight stretch of the Avenue for some 500 meters before it abruptly veers off in the direction of River Avon. But I have already explained why that happens.

The straight stretch of 500 meters first started as a meltwater channel on the surface of the ice sheet; starting at a retaining cylindrical ice basin at Stonehenge. The direction of the greatest solar radiation (which happens around summer solstice) determined the direction of this meltwater channel. At some point, this water channel would seek and find its way to the nearest river flow to drain. That's what accounts for the abrupt veering off towards the River Avon.

As for “ The Periglacial Striations within the avenue”, these also have a simple explanation in accordance with my hypothesis.

As the meltwater channel on the surface of the ice sheet got deeper, it eventually exposed the underlying soil. Thus the alluvial characteristics of the Avenue. As at this point it was a small stream. And of course, even with the normal periglacial conditions in the area and seasonal freezing during the winters (no need for a mini ice age!), this exposed soil will develop “ The Periglacial Striations within the avenue”.

This also explains why no such striations can be found elsewhere, since the rest of the landscape was still covered by ice and so protected.

You asked! I answered!

Kostas

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

These are two 'established sources' which shows 'British temperature changes' - but at different times!!

Dansguaard et al 1969 and Schonwiese 1995 - shows a temperature chart with 'Holocene climate maximum' 'Roman maximum' 'Medieval maximum' and MINI ICE AGE 500 years ago were written records endorse the chart - but there are previous one's prior to the written record of similar depth of cold drop - so I would guess a similar result?

The Greenland Gisp2 Ice Core Data which I could have used was from the 'journal of quaternary science reviews 19- 213-226.

This shows the same but the 'mini ice age' at 2700BC to 2500BC.

So I believe the Periglacial Striations appeared either 2700BC to 2500BC or 3700BC to 3500BC depending on what Geologist you believe!!

BUT as it seems that no Geologist has a theory or is brave enough to guess why these lines are only on the avenue - I take it the cart wheels are just a feasible?

RJL

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

If you block a comment, post that the comment was blocked! As you have done in the past but not do now!

Otherwise you create the skewed impression that there was no follow-up comment or the other person is just being ignored!

Not fair!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

“Assuming this is true “
The model based on 2350 RC measurements combined with Bayesian chronological modelling is the most sophisticated approach to archaeological chronologies yet .
“ Coincidence ?”
incredibly unlikely , it shows how one aspect of the Neolithic package and possibly much more moved from east to west in Southern Britain in the early 4th Millenium .
Considering that the Ice had retreated from some of these areas 6,000 years earlier the two are clearly unconnected .

Tony H said...

Geo Cur at 17.29 on 19th September:-

I agree with the clear chronology for Causewayed Enclosures you recount. What is interesting is that these dates only came out (to the public at least) recently in 2011. MPP's version of Life in Neolithic Britain (October 2009) seems to have been superseded. Which makes one wonder; who gives the more accurate story: Mike Parker Pearson or Max Bygraves?

Tony H said...

A new book, by Alistair Whittle and others, gives the new chronology for the causewayed enclosures. It was the subject of a recent "British Archaeology" article. There is also a Post on the blogsite:-

http://armchairprehistory.com

The Post is "Gathering time: bringing pre-history to Neolithic archaeology

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't think I have blocked anything recently, Kostas -- there are so many messages coming in that I might inadvertently have missed something -- in which case, apologies...

Geo Cur said...

Tony , “ Gathering Time “ is two tomes of nearly a thousand pages and I believe will be looked back upon as seminal , a huge step forward . We are now able to think in terms of generations not centuries . The same team had revolutionised the way we saw the treatment of deposition in Long Barrows showing that they were not , in the cases they examined , monuments that were returned to over centuries with the curated bones of the “ancestors “ but in commission for much shorter periods than was previously believed , in some case two generations before being sealed , and the deposits were not curated but the recently dead i.e. the mothers and fathers of the builders or at least members belonging to the same generation . With further advances in DNA extraction the familial aspects will become clearer too .

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , the striations and the Avenue are aligned on the rising of the Solstice sun , hardly the warmest time of day . By noon , the warmest point , the sun will have travelled 130 degrees away from that orientation .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

All my assumptions aim only to clearly establish my logical thinking. Hope you take none personal, as none is personal.

I feel perfectly comfortable with the idea “...of the Neolithic package and possibly much more moved from east to west in Southern Britain in the early 4th Millenium “. All this fits my theory fine.

You write,

“Considering that the Ice had retreated from some of these areas 6,000 years earlier the two [ice and earthworks] are clearly unconnected .”


Well, that's where we disagree. I rather keep an open mind on all of that chronology and question the theories that have lead to such conclusions.

If you believe that prehistoric men built these land features, you'll look at the data differently than if you believe that Nature created the conditions that prehistoric men exploited, commensurate with their abilities.

But there is another issue in all this for me. I believe the dates you give about the 'ice retreat' only account for glacier ice. Local ice (like frozen waterways) may still have existed in many of these areas. I am not saying that it did. I am just leaving that possibility open.

Such a working hypothesis enables us to explain many minute details of the 'facts on the ground' in a simple, sensible and consistent way. This convinces me this possibility is a very real possibility!

I have many issues with the chronology given to various stages for Stonehenge, et al. I hope Brian puts up a post on that topic soon.

My sense is that all the chronology given is driven by 'experts' seeking to fit the data into their 'Man-made Theory'. And it just does not fit without extreme convoluted logic, arranging and rearranging the 'facts on the ground' to different periods.

Kostas

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

'Gathering time' is a severely flawed work.

The construction of causeway enclosures is bordering on fascicle - why would you spend years cutting ditches and then erecting fences around them for livestock.

When was the last time you saw a farmer with a spade in his hand digging trenches to keep his cattle in a field and then putting fences up to stop them falling in the ditch?

Then their conclusions on artefacts - Ground axes used from 4250BC until and ended 3250BC - what rubbish!- its a stone on a stick for goodness sake.

Mitigation from Europe started in Kent at 4050BC and finally walked to Northern Scotland and Wales by 3700BC -
according to their map it took 100 years to get to Birmingham but only another 100 years to get to Glasgow - 5 times greater distance - must have discovered walking fast in 3900BC?

But on a second map shows enclosures all started at the 3710BC in Kent and 3705BC in Cornwall - did everyone suddenly get the same idea or a really fast runner was employed to go around britain in 5 years and say - lets build big ditches and surround them with fences, its the new trend?

Seminal, more like dribble.

RJL

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

Thank you for the opportunity to clear a clear misunderstanding you have on this.

The 'time of day' (morning-noon-evening) is not relevant here! It's the 'time of year' that is important.

The summer solstice is the time of the year of greatest solar radiation on the earth. It is when the sun's orbit through the sky reaches its maximum. It's this trajectory projected onto the ground that determines the orientation of the Avenue; as well as the orientation of all other 'avenues' elsewhere.

Ice being most sensitive and responsive to solar heat, this orientation will be 'etched' on the surface of an ice sheet. Over time, this develops into a meltwater channel on the surface of the ice. And much later, as the ice channel further melts, this becomes a meltwater stream with the soil exposed.

My working hypothesis – that at the time when these land features were formed the land was covered by ice – perfectly explains all the details of the 'facts on the ground' we observe of the Avenue.

It explains the summer solstice orientation of the Avenue; it explains the parallel ditches on each side of the Avenue; it explains why the Avenue is straight for a long stretch before it abruptly veers off at 'the elbow'; and it explains why there are periglacial striation at the Avenue but no where else. And it does so without needing to invent lost civilizations and quirky intentions of advanced primitives.

Hope this helps you …

Kostas

TONY H said...

Geo Cur - thanks for your extra info on "gathering time" posted by you at 00.08 on 21 Sept.

Could I ask what your specialism is?

Geo Cur said...

Kostas I don’t need any help from you or have any misunderstanding regarding solstices . I think it’s you who needs the help , a solstice is an astronomical event and solar radiation has little do with the definition , this is apparent when you consider that half of these annual events occur in midwinter which in this hemisphere means that the solar radiation is limited . The Stonehenge Avenue is oriented (approx 50 degrees )on the rising sun at the Solstice , by mid day when the sun is overhead and at 180 degrees that is when the greatest amount of solar radiation will experienced over the whole area and not just the Avenue .The "trajectory" of the sun , usually known as the ecliptic , if “projected on to the ground “ would not look anything like the short straight section of the Avenue ,it would be a curved line extending from north east to the north west . There are other Avenues associated with British monuments but they are not despite what you say , aligned on the solstices .
Hope this helps you .

Geo Cur said...

RJL , I wonder if you have read the books or just skimmed the reviews . I imagine the latter . If you had read them you would have across a discussion on the old chestnut of these and other similar monuments being Kraals , needless to say it was ,as had been argued about that point many years ago , lacking in evidence , not that that would matter to you , but more importantly only two Causewayed enclosures had sufficient evidence , Etton and Northborough had beetle and phosphate analysis to suggest the presence of cattle but hill top locations are not good for keeping cattle for any length of time nor is concentration of vulnerable herds , and dispersal is a better tactic . You will have noticed that I described the books as being about the shift from east to west in Southern Britain ,Scotland and northern England do get mentioned does get mentioned but it is cursory and that is because ,the subject of the book causewayed enclosures are essentially an southern English monument , once again if you had read the books you would have noticed this and also that the dating of ground axes was more complex than your one example . It wasn’t just ground axes it was various types and source of ground axes and how they related to various types of early Neolithic monument ,if the view is stone a stick then it will not be of interest . The earliest enclosure in Cornwall were built about a century after the start of Neolithic activity i.e. use of cereal this date c 3700 BC whereas Neolithic activity began much earlier in the Greater Thames estuary i.e. the longhouse at White Horse Stone was built 4065 -3940 BC and Coldrum 3985 -3855 BC but the first enclosure was not built until 3665 -3565 BC .

Geo Cur said...

Tony , a wee bit more "GT" in a recent repy to RJL .
I'm a musician /music teacher ,archaeologically ,I discover/record rock art .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

I wrote my comment to you right after I wrote my comment to Robert! The 'attitude' inadvertently carried over! I apologize …

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Calling this one to an end, folks. Interesting as the discussion has been. it has gone way off topic......