Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- due for publication on June 1st 2018. After that, it will be available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Friday, 14 October 2011

The sad tale of Bedd Morris - version 2

Below is an extract from that well-known source of archaeological wisdom, the Daily Mail.  Very sad about Bedd Morris, which is just up the road from where I live.  It was knocked over and snapped off the other day, in mysterious circumstances.  It tells us something about the strength of the Stonehenge myth, does it not, that the Mail managed not only to build Stonehenge into the story, but also to stick in a photo of Stonehenge, for good measure?  Of course, Bedd Morris has about as much to do with Stonehenge as a pencil has to do with Cleapatra's Needle, but anything will do to turn a little story into a bigger one.....

It's witnessed Britain's history for 4,000 years but this ancient standing stone was no match for a 21st century hit and run driver

By Simon Tomlinson

It had been a landmark for 4,000 years - ever since our ancient ancestors hauled a two-ton 6ft stone to the top of a Welsh mountain.
Until a bungling driver decided to do a three-point turn, that is.
The monument, which is as old as Stonehenge, was flattened when a day-tripper reversed his car onto the grass verge alongside the narrow country road where it stood.
The stone, called Bedd Morris, toppled to the ground, knocked down a farmer's fence and left a huge dent in the ground as the culprit sped away.

Experts were called in to investigate the damage to the Bronze Age stone, which was put up on Dinas Mountain, near Newport, Pembrokeshire, beside the Ffordd Bedd Morris road.
The monument is a bluestone - the same as those at Stonehenge 150 miles away on Salisbury Plain.
The stone was removed today by the Pembrokeshire National Park Authority to prevent it being stolen after last weekend's collision.
Phil Bennett, the park's culture and heritage manager, said: 'The stone has been an important landmark for 4,000 years.
'But someone has come along and given it a clunk with their car and it was enough to topple it over.
'We've moved it for now to a secret location because we felt there was a very real chance it could have been stolen.'
Mr Bennett said: 'Local people have been brought up with the monument which is an important landmark in the parish. We want to get it back up as soon as possible.'
Archaelogists are carrying out a small dig at the site while the stone is out of the ground.
It will be returned to the site later this year - this time set in 21st century concrete.
Archaeologist Professor Geoffrey Wainwright, an expert who has worked on several sites in the Preselis, plans to play an active role in getting the stone reinstated.
He said: 'It’s a tragedy, the stone has snapped and it’s a real mess.
'It’s an important landscape feature and an important archaeological site and it must be put back as soon as possible.
'Hopefully the stone should go back up and no-one will ever know the difference.
'For centuries people have gone up the top road and seen the stone, which is a scheduled monument.'
The Bedd Morris dates back to the formation of Stonehenge, which experts believe was built in around 2500 BC.
It weighs two tons and is around 6ft tall. It is a bluestone - the same as those used at Stonehenge.
The landmark was named after a legendary bandit called Morris who robbed people travelling in the West Wales hills. The word 'bedd' means grave in Welsh.



The Bedd Morris stone dates back to the Bronze Age by which time Wales had been settled by migrants from Europe.
At around the time the stone was put up, 80 similar bluestones were quarried in the Preseli Mountains of Wales and taken to Wiltshire where they were used to create Stonehenge.
The stone has been standing for so long that it witnessed almost the entire Iron Age in Wales, which stretched until about 50AD, when hill forts were prevalent during a time of tribal warfare.
By the first century AD, what is now known as the Celtic language had taken root and Celtic culture established.
During this century Wales was also under threat from the Romans after they invaded Britain and pushed into the east of the Wales. By the end of the first century, Wales largely accept Roman rule and remained part of the Roman Empire for more than 300 years.
In its aftermath, various kingdoms were established within Wales and by the late 800s some were under threat from raiding Vikings. During this period Christianity emerged as a religious force in the country that was previously pagan in nature.
Not long after the Norman Conquest of 1066AD, Wales was also touched by the foreign invaders but drove them out in a series of revolts around 1100AD. However their influence continued to seep across the border.
In the centuries that followed Wales became increasingly Norman in character and by the 13th century AD the Principality of Wales was established.
But wars of succession ensued and ended with the English King Edward's settlement of Wales - who built Harlech Castle (above) among others -  and by the 14th century the beginnings of modern-day Wales had been established.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh dear -- now the story is in THE SUN as well. And they can't resist mentioning Stonehenge either......

Anonymous said...

It all helps to sell the papers, especially during a recession - is it Page Three in The Sun??

Tony H said...

So archaeologists are conducting a small dig where the Bedd Morris stone stood, before it is re-erected. Let's hope they are very 21st Century and analyse everything in the soil in the hopes there may be a Carbon-14 dating, and evidence of what vegetation was there prior to the stone being put up.

Tony H said...

In contrast to that fount of all knowledge, the Daily Mail, N.P. Figgis says in his 2001 "Prehistoric Preseli- a field guide":-

'Not mentioned by early antiquaries, so this handsome stone may be a modern boundary stone'

- although I note Wainwright says it's an important landscape site and the stone is a scheduled ancient monument. Wonder who is right? Presumably Wainwright? If so, on what grounds was it scheduled? Anyone know?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, there has always been some doubt about its Bronze Age credentials. Sir Thomas Davies Lloyd, the then Marcher Lord of Cemaes, went around marking his boundaries with great enthusiasm in 1850 -- and there is a boundary inscription on the stone, as well as an OS bench mark. The stone, along with others, was used to mark the boundary of the parish of Newport, and the edge of the barony land. As I mentioned in my 2008 book on Carningli, there is some doubt that the stone is in its original position. Maybe when GW gets to examine what's under it, he might find a nice silver coin with Queen Victoria's head on it?

Anonymous said...

The photo makes it look rather like a fg red sst rather than a bluestone.
Has anyone, who is qualified, identified the lithology?
Rob. Ixer

BRIAN JOHN said...

It's a standard chunk of local dolerite, Rob. I have known the stone for years, and have never thought that there's anything "far travelled" about it. There are quite a few outcrops of dolerite locally -- and something that looks seriously like gabbro a bit further down the slope.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Have added a couple more pics so that you can see the rock texture a bit more clearly.

Geo Cur said...

It doesn't mean much but it is marked as a boundary stone on the 6 inch 1891 OS map .

Conspiracy- Theory Callum said...

Did anyone get a description of the hit-and-run driver?

BRIAN JOHN said...

No -- probably he was an dastardly Englishman intent on pinching another bluestone for Stonehenge -- but he was probably disturbed in the act by an approaching tractor, and had to flee before completing the theft. But he may strike again.....

Barrie Foster said...

Anonymous: Page Three of the Sun? Are you suggesting that this well-respected periodical is only interested in topless stories?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Surely not -- topless stories AND baseless rumours, keen to maintain balance at all times.

Ivor Trowel said...

Being of true Celtic origin and therefore psychic I foresee the proposed archaeological investigation discovering traces of paint from the offending vehicle.
Carbon-14 dating will prove inconclusive, only showing that it was a 1950 Morris Minor with a blue stoney sort of colour.
A witness said that it was spotted, doleriting along at a tremendous pace.
The Police are appealing, (but not very, and then only to sad individuals).

T Hinchliffe said...

Brian, your photo image of Bedd Morris, on my computer at any rate, is missing its UPPER half - is this legal?

BRIAN JOHN said...

OK guys -- problem fixed?