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Monday, 21 November 2011

Sarsen Speculations

Thanks to Tim Daw for drawing attention to his site, and especially the latest post, dated 31 December 2011 (which I believe is still in the future, but what the hell -- time has no meaning on this site, and we exist in a different reality from the rest of mankind).  This is about the route supposedly used for the transport of the sarsen staones from Fyfield Down to Stonehenge.

Tim publishes a little map showing the proposed transport route.  But he says:  "..........there is no other credible source for most of the stones than from around Fyfield Down to the west of Marlborough, 18 miles to the north of the monument, where many stones still remain on the surface to this day."

Sadly, he does not support that statement with any evidence, and he omits to mention that the current drift of opinion is that the sarsens have simply been collected up from the vicinity of Stonehenge (as proposed in the latest Field and Pearson work for EH).  In one of his posts, Tim cites this from Mike Pitts:

"...........sarsens are local to the area, and as far as we know it has never been glaciated. What we hope to find (though it may be a long shot) are pits where stones had been removed in neolithic times. As they would likely have used antler picks to dig them out, there’s a good chance we’d find one or more we could radiocarbon date, offering a more reliable date for stone moving (and presumbaly erection) than we’re ever likely to get from Avebury itself. If we found signs of stone dressing, then the stone would have been for Stonehenge (the only site we know with carved stones), offering huge insight into the technology and transport issues of the site."

Here are two maps, one showing the Tim Daw route and the other the Richard Atkinson route.

 As far as I'm concerned, this is all unnecessary speculation -- I have many posts on this blog about the sarsens and how they were collected.  But there are lots of other interesting things on Tim's site.  Well worth a look.


Tim Daw said...

Thanks - I will respond later - at the moment I'm busy repairing my workshop door which was smashed open by thieves last night with an axe.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh dear -- sad to hear that, Tim. What a world we live in.....

Tim Daw said...

Brian - Again many thanks.
My problem with the natural transport theories is simply the lack of any appreciable number of other stones in the vicinity of Stonehenge. The absence of Sarsen or bluestone in the old structures and soils of the area point to their rarity. It is so marked I tend to think that Stonehenge was never completed.

Tony Hinchliffe said...

The notion that the Fyfield Down broad vicinity had to be the source for the Stonehenge mega-sarsens became conventional wisdom quite a while ago. I do wonder if this came about because that area was used, to a great extent, for the obtaining of stone in medieval times, and in about 1840 the sarsen masons from Buckinghamshire, who had been excavating buried sarsen, heard of the surface deposits which existed on the Central Marlborough Downs, and so they moved to Wiltshire. From about 1840 to 1940 families such as the Frees and the Cartwrights exploited the sarsen deposits, squaring them into blocks for building stone and road setts. Much of the stone probably was used in the South-East, some tranported by canal as well as rail.
[SOURCE for above historic background:- Ken Watts. Exploring Historic Wiltshire: Vol 1 North. Ex Libris Press,2001. ISBN 0948578 85 8]

The notion that this area was also the source for the Stonehenge mega-sarsens may, I would suggest, have been a case of drawing false parallels and false conclusions, based on 19th Century supply and demand for the same raw material viz sarsen stone.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tony -- that's very interesting info.

tony H said...

Brian - re Fyfield Down/ Marlborough Downs sarsens - that is entirely my own opinion in respect of what I described as the Stonehenge "mega- sarsens", not Ken