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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Rocks of Stanton Drew

I have done a number of posts before on Stanton Drew -- I freely admit on a basis of ignorance, since I have never visited the site.  Previously I have reported that:

re the geology of the Stanton Drew stones, Geoff Kellaway said that the ice that crossed the Stanton Drew site came from the NW -- it crossed Broadfield Down, eroding the Lower Lias. It carried boulders of Upper ORS from the Failand Ridge, and entrained masses of Triassic conglomerate and Lower Lias breccia from Winford and Felton, and also picked up slabs of Dundry Freestone.  The builders of Stanton Drew used a litter of boulders of all these rock types -- they were opportunists and foragers who (naturally enough) simply wanted to minimise effort.

I have no idea how reliable Geoff's rock identifications were, and whether his assumptions about ice transport from the  NW have good evidence to back them up.  But now (thanks to Alex) I have seen a new report which is very impressive:

Stanton Drew 2010
Geophysical survey and other archaeological investigations
by John Oswin and John Richards, Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society
Richard Sermon, Archaeological Officer, Bath and North-East Somerset (BANES)
With contributions from Vince Simmonds
Bath and North-East Somerset (BANES) Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society
Report compiled by Jude Harris, 85 pp.

So far as I can see from Vince's geology work, there are 4 principal rock types represented in the Stanton Drew circles:  Jurassic Oolitic Limestone, Silicified Dolomitic Conglomerate of Triassic Age, Dolomitic Conglomerate also of Triassic Age, and Carboniferous Pennant Sandstone.  But he says "principal" rock types -- so there must be others, which he doesn't mention.  Here are my questions:

1.  How many other rock types are there?  And what are they?

2.  Can the rocks be preferentially sourced to outcrops to the NW of the site?  If so, that would support Geoff Kellaway's assumptions.

Vince, if you are out there somewhere, can you give us enlightenment on this?  Whatever the non-human transport of these rocks (or some of them) might have been, it does appear from the report that there was no preferential use of any particular "magical" or "sacred" stone, and the builders simply used whatever stones were to hand.  Now where have we heard that before?


The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Its just a stone circle?

What makes you believe its any different to any other??

Stone circles are navigational points on top of high land - so the choice of stone is immaterial.

What might be interesting is looking at stone circles between Stonehenge and Preseli - if your right there should be blue stones in their construction. If your wrong they will be made of any stones.... any bluestones at Avebury??


BRIAN JOHN said...

It's just that it's in an interesting location. You are quite wrong in assuming that there "should" be bluestones there -- nothing is quite that certain in geomorphology. And as for stone circles being navigational points on high land -- what about the ones on low land?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Name one?

What about Avebury - you believe that the Bluestones travelled by ice at random from Preseli and was scattered up to the Avebury plain... so why are they no Bluestones at Avebury?


BRIAN JOHN said...

Gors Fawr -- which you can't see from anywhere unless you are looking down on it from the hills.

And don't put words into my mouth re the bluestones, or glaciation, or Avebury.

Geo Cur said...

How high is high land ?
Some Aberdeenshire examples .
Netherton of Logie 32m OD
Berrybrae 41 m
Potterton 76 m
Hill of Fiddes 82m
and Stanton Drew 42 m

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

High Land is a term I use in reference to my hypothesis to identify land above the groundwater level at various times in prehistory.

i.e. above the local flood plain - these plains can be identified by local rivers which were higher in the past than today, as they were saturated to overflowing by the ice melt from the last ice age.

Groundwater levels are not uniform throughout Britain (above OD) but they are proportionate to the existing groundwater levels.


Geo Cur said...

RJL , would that mean that Callanish at 20m OD Cnoc Ceann a 'Gharaidh at 12 m OD , Ring of Brodgar at 12 m OD and Stones of Stenness at 4 m or Er lannic (south ) which is usually submerged in the gulf of Morbihan would be considered to be "High land " ?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Are you censoring me? Kostas will be thrilled!

your quote:
"I think that's rather interesting -- confirming what many other archaeologists and geologists have said about Neolithic people being opportunists and scavengers, rather that highly organized long-distance stone hauliers. It makes a great deal of sense to assume that both at Avebury and Stonehenge the builders simply used what was on the spot, and cleared a litter of large stones from the landscape. As I have said elsewhere, after they had used up all the stones in the immediate vicinity, they cast about further and further afield, until they finally ran out of stones, ran out of energy, or got bored. Was either monument (Avebury and Stonehenge) actually FINISHED? I doubt it."

So where are the Bluestones of Avebury??

I'll make it easier for you where are the bluestones of Gaws Fawr in the Preseli mountains - did they run out??


BRIAN JOHN said...

Of course I'm "censoring" you, Robert. Somebody has to try and maintain standards around here -- and prevent my blog from being used as a pulpit for people who have theories that are unsupported by the evidence on the ground. I make no apologies. As I have said to Kostas, use your own blog for that sort of thing, if you want. It's a free world, but I reserve the right to maintain some control over that part of it for which I take responsibility.

I am not going to be sucked into endless repetitions of things that have been covered very thoroughly already in previous posts. If you want answers to your absurd questions, just use the search facility.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo, you are not going to get anywhere with this! You and I may have our disagreements, but they are as nothing when compared with the disagreements that Robert has with virtually every branch of science! He has a mighty inundation, and he has books to sell......

Boscombe Bowman said...

There are Men with Black Hats and Men with White Hats, as we all know from the old Westerns. This white man speaks with strangely deluded tongue.Think he drinks Firewater and tries to trade it with my Brothers. Next time you see him on here,look out for arrows in hat....or lower.

Tony Hinchliffe said...


In respect to Vince Simmonds' contribututions on geology in the Stanton Drew report, may I suggest you contact John Oswin, one of the report authors, and he will no doubt direct your questions to Vince for you.

John's email address is:-


If you do not hear from John soon, I suggest you contact The BACAS Honorary Secretary, Ceri Lambdin, at:-

Alex Gee said...

Geo Cur
I think you might be better off sticking to conventional terminology, RE: High ground above the Water table. According to your classification, this term could apply to ground 1mm above the water table.

The absence of blue stones at Stanton Drew, Confirms Brian's hypothesis rather than refutes it.

The transport route suggested by the supporters of the human transport theory, passes quite near to the site. Human Transport of the Bluestones would have required the co-operation of every tribe along the way. If you're planning you're own monument, surely you'd ask for a few bluestones for free passage through your territory??

The truth is much simpler.As Brian has repeatedly stated,Kellaway thought that erratics from Pembrokeshire, would have been routed south of the Mendips. Hence the lack of bluestones at Stanton Drew, Which lies to the North.

Alex Gee said...

Having thought about my last post.
Is there any evidence to suggest that at the time Stone Henge was built, society was integrated enough for the co-operation required for the transport of the bluestones.

Over a long distance and across numerous tribal territories?

BRIAN JOHN said...

There has been a lot of debate about this, on some of the forum and blog sites. I recall some comments from Pitts and Parker Pearson too? I agree that the diplomacy and cooperation required across disparate territories with different rulers would have been enormous, if not impossible. That's quite apart from the fact that there were no maps and probably not any mental maps either, for territories so far to the west of stonehenge....

BRIAN JOHN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geo Cur said...

Alex , I had no classification and used no terminology .By simply giving heights of some low lying stone circles I was enquiring what RJL considered "high land " to be .

Geo Cur said...

What we know of Neolithic - Early Bronze Age territorial integration is that jadeite axes from Alps were found in Neolithic Somerset (Sweet Track ) ,Langdale axes from the lake district are found in Lincolnshire and Ireland , interestingly they are found in areas that are capable of producing better quality axes . Pitchstone from Arran is found in Tayside , Whitby jet is found in Bronze Age contexts all over Britain . The Amarna letters show the Hittites Egyptians Assyrians and Babylonians had diplomatic relations in the period 1500-100 BC . Ireland had no indigenous cattle or sheep in the early Holocene but there are sheep and cattle bone from Ferriters Cove dating from the fifth millennium .
Amber from Nordic countries is found in bronze Age Mycenae and the highest quality of contemporary metal in the Nordic countries at this time had to be imported . it appears that communication across the channel (the ancestral home of many of the Neolithic settlers ) and throughout the country was normal if difficult .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Alex, et al

You raise a very relevant point when you ask if “society was integrated enough for the co-operation required for the transport of the bluestones.”

The feasibility of human transport of the bluestones goes even deeper than that. In a University of Manchester study, it is estimated that the entire Mesolithic population of the UK was some 2,500 people. So the question is whether the population size during the making of Stonehenge could have supported such a massive 'public works' endeavor.


BRIAN JOHN said...

We have discussed that before -- it wasn't a University of Manchester study -- it was a study by somebody from the University, and it may or may not have been reliable. Also, remember that the Mesolithic lasted for many thousands of years, during which the population must have grown quite rapidly.

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , the period of the erection of the first megaliths at Stonehenge was the point when the major building projects of the early Neolithic were coming to an end , 600 hundred years before the ditch was dug at Stonehenge and a millennium before the first stones were erected far bigger projects in terms of man hours , like causewayed enclosures and cursus had been built in the area and throughout Britain i.e. just to the north of Stonehenge is the major cursus it’s 2.8 Km x 100 m ,a similar monument ,the Dorset cursus is 10 km long and estimated to have taken a minimum of 450,000 worker hours to build . The modest 345 m circumference ditch at Stonehenge which required shifting 3500 tons of chalk pales into insignificance . Considering it was more than half a millennium after the bigger projects and assuming the population remained stable there shouldn’t have been a problem with providing the man hours .

Alex Gee said...

Apologies. I was commenting on Stonehenge enigma's post and typed your name by mistake.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

I am responding to your post to me. Hope Brian posts it.

Regardless of our views on Stonehenge, there can't be any doubt that the population size and organization of the UK during the constructions of these prehistoric monuments has to be considered. To argue that the building of Stonehenge came at a latter date and after the completion of massive public works is evidence that the population had to be large and organized enough to have built Stonehenge is a cyclical argument!

From an article in Wikipedia …

Christopher Smith has estimated the population of Britain around 9000 BC to be 1,100–1,200 people, in 8000 BC to be 1,200–2,400, in 7000 BC to be 2,500–5,000, and in 5000 BC to be 2,750–5,500. Francis Pryor estimates that by 4000 BC the population of Britain was around 100,000 while that of Ireland was some 40,000. For 2000 BC his estimates are 250,000 and 50,000.

It is a legitimate question to ask if the population size and organization in prehistoric UK could have supported all of these massive public works, requiring as you say some 450,000 man-hours to build just one such monument, the Dorset cursus. Prof. Atkinson estimated that Silbury Hill took 500 men some 15 years to build. Now multiply all that effort by 1000 or more (since there are at least these many prehistoric monuments and earthworks in the UK) and you have to wonder if all these could be man-made.

If we were to consider the short life span of prehistoric people and that only a small fraction of the population would have been able to participate in such difficult tasks and at the same time provide food and shelter for their families to assure their survival through harsh winters, I ask: is it even feasible for these public works to have been built by prehistoric men? Add to this the very dubious and uncertain significance of such earthworks for the builders, who left no records behind and no known religion … it stretches the limits of sensible credulity!

But I keep an open mind! So far, I am not convinced by any of the evidence and arguments made that these monuments are man-made!


The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Alex Gee

What tribes? Iron age tribes don't exist for another 4000 years - it takes 12 men and a boat to move a stone - not the united nations!

As for 'the swiss cheese theory'

What about Gors Fawr?

What about Bathampton Stone circle

What about Chew stoke s.c.

What about Greay hill s.c.

What about Leigh Down s.c.

What about Tisbury s.c.

Oh yes it when North then turned right I forgot so..

What about Rollright Stones

What about Devil's Qoits s.c.

Too Far East?

Ok how about Broadstones s.c. or

What about Coate s.c.

What about Langden Bottom s.c.


What about Avebury????

Not one standing Bluestone between them!!! Or did these Bluestones park only in the Visitors Car Park of Stonehenge.


Tony H said...


To return to the actual subject of your Post, "The Rocks of Stanton Drew" (remember?!)

Hope you get somewhere by contacting either Bath & Camerton Archaeological Society's [BACAS] John Oswin (he is the main man on all things Geophysics) or the Honorary Secretary, about Vince Simmonds' geology work there. I intend to attend a BACAS group visit there on Sunday, and hope to ascertain from John the whereabouts of Vince, if you haven't already done so.

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , Stonehenge phase 1, the ditch and bank was a later and much smaller monument in comparison with cursus , causewayed enclosures ,Portal Tombs , Passage Tombs and Long barrows . Estimates for the man hours and population of the time are just that we don’t know for sure .
It is not helpful to make up supposed comments of others I don’t do that with you .

I said “assuming the population remained stable there shouldn’t have been a problem with providing the man hours .” Which you have turned into .

“To argue that the building of Stonehenge came at a latter date and after the completion of massive public works is evidence that the population had to be large and organized enough to have built Stonehenge is a cyclical argument! “

Whatever the explanation for these achievements whether much greater numbers or greater efficiency , I imagine you are in a minority of one in believing that these monuments were the result of natural forces .
If the significance of the monuments is uncertain how can it also be dubious ? Do builders of significant monuments have to leave records and a have a “known religion “ before the monuments are accepted for what they are ?

There was a time before RC dating when Stonehenge was considered to a Roman monument as there was no conceivable way that it could be built by anyone from an earlier period .I thought we had moved on from that .

Geo Cur said...

RJL , you asked "name one " in reference to stone circles on low lying ground . I have named quite a few ,but no comment .

Alex Gee said...

My point was about the co-operation that would have been required between whatever social groupings that were in existence at the time. Tribes whatever.

You quote a long list of archeological sites where no bluestones are known. Have you noticed that none of them are anywhere near the proposed glacial entrainment route from pembrokeshire. maybe that could be a coincidence.

I recently visited your site and found it most amusing. None of the theories or hypothesis you propose have any scientific basis whatsoever.

The best description for them is Pseudo-Scientific Bullshit.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo Cur,

Sorry if I misrepresented your argument!

I understood that you are arguing for the availability of the man-hours needed to built Stonehenge by comparing the even greater man-hours that was needed 600 years earlier to built more massive public works like the cursus, causeway enclosures, passage tombs, long barrows, etc.

You write, “assuming the population remained stable there shouldn’t have been a problem with providing the man hours .”

You are assuming that men built the earlier monuments to argue that men built Stonehenge. I find that 'cyclical' when the question is whether the population size and organization at the time could have supported such massive public works.

You write, ”... you are in a minority of one in believing that these monuments were the result of natural forces”.

Truth is often in a 'minority of one'. Does this make it less true?

I am not claiming I know the truth of Stonehenge. But I do, by my intellectual nature, question everything. Many questions remain, but few dare to ask them!

What was the purpose of Stonehenge? Brian, and others, believe that Stonehenge was never even completed!

As to leaving behind 'written records' … The significance of 'written records' is that this is a reliable standard to measure the advancement of a civilization. As religion is a measure of the faith and determination of a people to take on great tasks.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Robert, you have obviously had one more hit on your web site. Happy now?
Hope so, since I'm going to block any more trading of stone circle names -- which gets us precisely nowhere.

The man-hours issue is a valid debating point, although I'm not sure what it has to do with Stanton Drew.......

Geo Cur said...

Kostas , I assume , like everyone else who has looked at the evidence , that the Early Neolithic monuments were man made , as well as the later stone circles ,henges etc ,the man hours and population is not a problem .

You cannot provide any evidence to show the monuments were not man made .
If these sites were natural surely there would be one example that wasn’t utilised by man . Can you provide one that has all the hallmarks of a causewayed enclosure yet was clearly not man made and never utilised by man ?

Because a culture has no written records does that mean it has no ,arts , science /technology and cosmology ?

Harappa is a good case for a civilisation ,some would claim that it does have some rudimentary written records others don’t accept it , if we accept that they didn’t have any writing does that devalue the rest of it’s achievements .
The Incas seemed to be credited a civilisation despite being in the in the modern period and having no writing .
The absence of writing is not an index of civilisation anymore than absence of any “known religion “ . we . Apart from their engraving skills on rock , are also unaware of their artistic achievements . would they have to produce musical notation before being accepted as being musical ?
Why is it that when confronted with excellence whether personal , artistic or collective , there is a reaction by some who just can’t seem accept it . Pacts with the devil in the case of scientists & musicians , alien intervention for technical achievements , cheating by using technology , drugs (sometimes true in the case of athletics ) in physical endurance . In most cases the explanation is simply a lot of hard work mental or physical or both .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

"RJL , would that mean that Callanish at 20m OD Cnoc Ceann a 'Gharaidh at 12 m OD , Ring of Brodgar at 12 m OD and Stones of Stenness at 4 m or Er lannic (south ) which is usually submerged in the gulf of Morbihan would be considered to be "High land "

These Stone Circles are on coastal areas - as Brian has told us many times the SEA LEVEL was some 20m to 60m (meso to neo)deeper than today - so your sites like Er Lannic in France, which is an island today would be on top of hills of at least 40m if not more.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Rober6t -- now I'm really confused. I thought you wanted all these sites to be deeply submerged by your Mesolithic inundation? Now you want sea-level to be well below that of today..... wanting your cake and eating it?

Geo Cur said...

RJL , at the time of build of the circles the usual figure for the sea levels in the Hebrides and Brittany is 5-10m lower . Even if Er Lannic was at 40 m ,which it clearly wasn't would that constitute "High Land " ?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ending this one now -- none of this has anything to do with the rocks of Stanton Drew -- and 34 posts is enough to be going on with......

Alex Gee said...

I know that you wish to end this post, and as I've said before, You must have the patience of a saint.
I hope you can see your way clear to allow this post.


I note that you declined to comment on my previous post. It makes me very angry, to see that in these times of financial stringency. Serious scientists, conducting rigorous scientific research, have difficulty obtaining financial backing.

When Charlatans such as yourself are able to obtain prominent exposure in the media and lucrative financial rewards from publishers. For what is ( as I've previously stated) Pseudo-Scientific Bullshit.

The idea espoused on your website, that Holocene sea levels reached +90m above current sea levels. To allow your postulated mooring posts to be used, is utter nonsense and is contrary to basic physical princples and the findings of numerous respected scientific intitutions world wide.