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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Chalk bedrock, soils and infills

A number of our threads on this site have dealt with the nature of the bedrock and the soils in the Stonehenge area (away from Stonehenge itself).  There has been much speculation as to what everything looks like beneath the surface.  On the "Modern Antiquarian" site there is an excellent series of photos from recent digs at the western end of the Cursus.  These pics show the solid chalk bedrock, the broken chalk in the lower part of the regolith, and the reddish brown modern soil layer close to the surface.  In the photo above we can also see the ditch infill.  Well worth a look:


The Stonehenge Enigma said...

These are indeed very good pictures!

So come on you rock collecting club, take a good look at these pictures and come to some rational answers for once.

Pictures 17,18,24 show the two metre ditch - what's that strange ripple in the centre of the ditch? is this a clue to why they bothered to build a massive ditch?

And the picture of the cursus 45 - did anyone see any sign of this bank in the excavation cutting?

Lastly they found evidence that the ditches were re-cut in 2500BC (antler carbon dating) what is the chances that the Stonehenge ditch was re-cut at the same time - making both monuments somewhat older?

Or is this too much science for a Sunday afternoon?


Alex Gee said...

Doubt it, seeing as they wouldn't have seen the "ripple" until they'd dug the ditch.

Picture 29, not sure that it's aligned with Beacon Hill looks more like its aligned with the ninth cow from the right.

Picture 27 This was obviously some sort of dry dock,for repairing the boats that brought the bluestones to Stonehenge. It was probably excavated when holocene sea levels were c. 100m above present levels.

This is only a tentative hypothesis, The only text that I can find that suggests Holocene sea levels reached this elevation is Robert's Book.

The SPECMAP data I have in front of me, is obviously grossly flawed.

I think most of us can cope with this amount of "science" on a Sunday afternoon.
According to the Sunday Times Science Correspondent, Prof Mystic Meg. Uranus is in the ascendant.

Geo Cur said...

RJL , Considering the perimeter it was a massive undertaking but the ditch is less than a metre deep .There was a suggestion of a possible palisade in the ditch but despite the lack of excavations of the monument the "strange ripple " doesn't seem to be have been noted elsewhere .
The Stonehenge Cursus is dated from the antler find in the terminal ditch and is keeping with similar dates from other bank and ditch cursus monuments i.e. Early Neolithic , approx .3600 -3300 . The first phase of Stonehenge also dated from antler finds equally makes sense as that phase of the monument it most resembled a formative henge or early enclosed cremation cemetery both types of monument having similar dates to phase 1 Stonehenge . Stone described the bank in 1947 as being 15 inches high but also noted it was 13 feet from the edge . However
Pat Christie had noted that the ditch at the western terminal was much deeper providing a massive bank .

The Stonehenge Enigma said...


Sorry to wake you from your slumber!

My book has nothing to do with sea levels its based on ground water levels - you must have been dreaming about another hypothesis.

I was hoping for a helpful debate about how flowing water traces gets on the bottom of a porous chalk ditch, without a rise in the water table?

Consequently, your comments do you justice.


The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Geo Cur

'There was a suggestion of a possible palisade in the ditch'

Shear genius!!

There's me thinking remains of a stream and then this revelation. I can see now why they wanted to have my book peer reviewed so much, I feel ashamed that I overlooked such a clear sensible solution.

Its so obvious now why our demented ancestors took 1.25million man hours to built a ditch with a palisade inside - I think we should extend this 'break through' to all prehistoric sites with ditches.

Why on earth did we stop this advanced technological practice? Perhaps we should jointly write a paper on how farmers should JCB ditches and place fence inside the ditch - think how much time and effort it would save?

Do you think that they trimmed the palisade at ground level to make it look environmentally 'invisible' ?

I think its time for me to 'take my hat off' to you academics and retire by the fire as there is no way I could have dreamed at coming up with such a brilliant observational hypothesis.

Wow.... and these me thinking that there's no post holes and it was a natural formation, let alone that palisades are built on top of the ground if not banks to maximise height...what an idiot I am!!


PS do you think it could also be used to keep the Koi Carp separate from the Angelfish?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I don't agree with Robert on very much, but I have to say that I raised my eyebrows when I read that the pits or hollows in the bottom of the trench were thought to have been post holes. Now why on earth would one want to put up a line of vertical posts in the bottom of a trench? The only thing I can think of is that if the poles or posts were supposed to have been very long -- maybe 5-10m in length -- then there may not have been sufficient stability in pits dug in the broken chalk detritus near the surface ..... so they had to dig into the solid chalk beneath, so as to stop the posts from toppling over. What do the archaeo boys and girls think?

Geo Cur said...

RJL , keep your hat on , does it explain your barber's lack of "shear genius " ?
It was a " suggestion" , by some members of those digging a short section the ditch ,it wasn't apparent elsewhere and may have had some other more obvious explanation .It certainly hasn't been mentioned since .

Constantinos Ragazas said...


If the ditch within the ditch was made by water, why couldn't the ditch be made by water? And if the ditch at Stonehenge Cursus was made by water, why couldn't the ditch at Stonehenge be made by water?

Question: Where did this water come from?
Answer: ICE!


BRIAN JOHN said...


Post rejected -- that's enough nonsense to be going on with.

Anonymous said...

Seems like most contributors (in % of total content terms at any rate, are losing the Thread and may have lost the Plot (or trench). Nevertheless i take my hat off to you all.

Melvyn Bragg