THE BOOK
Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click
HERE

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

STRAY STONES in South-West England

Some time ago, Pete G suggested that we should start a web site / blog for the recording of "stray stones" (I won't call them "erratics" since that term suggests glacial transport) in the  Bristol - Bath area and the counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall.  Maybe Dorset too.........

These need not be standing stones or monoliths -- they may be lying down or incorporated into prehistoric monuments or otherwise found in walls, hedge banks or in road cuttings, quarry exposures etc.  I'll be happy to use this post as a repository for pictures -- and photos ARE needed as proof of existence!  Although a blog site moves on very rapidly, I can reopen this post at any time and add photos and descriptions.   You can also ask to be notified of changes / updates.

 I won't include stones which have apparently come from local sources -- and that includes all the sarsens at Stonehenge, unless it can be proved geologically that they (or some of them) have come from a long way off.

If anybody wants to send me photos and site details etc I'll be happy to incorporate the data.  You can reply to this blog post and include a URL for a photo, if you have one.

Here are a few to be going on with:


The Boles Barrow bluestone at Heytesbury House (historic photo).  Reputedly spotted dolerite.








The Giant's Rock or Quoit, Porthleven, Cornwall.  Weight c 50 tonnes.  Source unknown.







 Bluestone 68 at Stonehenge.  Dolerite, assumed to be from Mynydd Preseli.  This one has been shaped.










The Worton Stone, near Devizes, Wilts.  Rock type unknown.






One of the Berwick St James stones, now thought to be made of Jurassic Limestone from the fringes of Salisbury Plain.  Precise provenance not known.









The pink granite erratic at Saunton, Devon.  Provenance unknown.  Resting on beach platform.




The Giant's Rock at Freshwater Gut, Croyde Bay, Devon.  Provenance unknown -- assumed to be from Scotland.  Resting on wave-cut platform.





The Altar Stone at Stonehenge  -- that's the one buried in the ground, beneath the recumbent sarsens.  A carbonate-cemented Devonian sandstone, possibly from the Senni Beds of the Brecon Beacons area.





 The Edington stone.  Rock type and provenance not known......







 The stone settings at Stanton Drew.  The stones include Jurassic Oolitic Limestone, Silicified Dolomitic Conglomerate of Triassic Age, Dolomitic Conglomerate also of Triassic Age, and Carboniferous Pennant Sandstone.  There are others too...





Stonehenge clutter.  Old tools and packing stones of densely cemented sarsen, Jurassic oolitic ragstone (Chilmark?)  and glauconitic sandstone( Upper Greensand). Gowland and Hawley recorded 447 mauls and hammerstones from their digs -- and some weigh 60 kg.....



Rhyolite stump at Stonehenge -- exposed in 1958.  Is this the same type of rhyolite as the "debitage" from the Craig Rhosyfelin area?  Work still to be done...









Standing stone on Bathampton Down, near Bath.  referred to by Terence Meaden as a "glacial deposit" -- presumably he means "erratic."  Stone type and provenance unknown...


48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there a known explanation for the shaping of Bluestone 68? Very curious … especially for an orthostat!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, stone 68 is very strange, with a long groove cut into it. It may match with what's left of stone 66, just a stump, which seems to have a tongue on it. Maybe those two stones slotted together at some stage? Then there are stones 150 and 36, which both have mortise holes and which therefore seem to have been lintels on top of pillars at some stage.

All this goes to suggest that worked or dressed bluestones were used in an early stone setting which was later dismantled, with the stones (including the old lintels) being used elsewhere as pillars. This tells us (a) that stone working techniques were employed at a quite early stage, even on very hard dolerites; and (b) that the builders probably never had enough stones to complete their original design (unless it was a very diddy little monument) and that they gave up on it and moved on to something else. That scenario is also supported by the multiplicity of pits / sockets that have shown up in all of the digs in and around the bluestone settings.

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Anon

The Bluestones were brought to the site a lot earlier than the current inner circle arrangement, so it may not be an orthstat originally.

As their is only one stone and no clear inter-connector to it(making a closed wall) and the grove is central to the edge, it clearly is to transport water.

Therefore it could be passing water from the ditch/moat to either the north or south Station Stone ditches/moats or as there are as series of low level walls within the ditch/moat, between individual ditch pits as a water feature.

Either way it doesn't qualify as a 'stray stone'.

RJL

Anonymous said...

I agree with RJL. Bluestone 68 does appear to have some water related function. Perhaps channeling water to some pit. Was this stone put upright as part of the reconstruction work done at Stonehenge?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Stone gutters?!! Whatever next -- stone drainpipes too? This is getting absurd. What about stone 66, which has a tongue on it -- what water-related function did that have?

Anonymous said...

How else would you collect water for storage, for example? Any photos of stone 66 you can post? Was bluestone 68 part of the reconstruction work?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Collecting water? What's wrong with hanging up animal skins to collect rainwater? Or making animal skin containers for fetching water from the river? Why would you spent hundreds of man hours cutting a groove on the EDGE of a slab of stone, when you could make 50 wooden drainpipes in the same amount of time? Doesn't make any sense.

Or are we going to go all sacred now, and say that they had to cut a groove in a sacred stone for transferring sacred water from A to B? The two profs would love the idea!! They can have it from me for nothing.

There's a picture of the stump of stone 66 on p 162 of Anthony Johnson's excellent book.

Geo Cur said...

What a load of passing water .
Preferably with a final H rather than double S

Anonymous said...

Good point! Forget about collecting water! But what about answering the main question? Is bluestone 68 part of the reconstruction work done at Stonehenge? Like bluestone 69 was set upright using cranes and cement pit?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I have no idea what the history of stone 68 may be. Maybe others know the answer?

The Stonehenge Enigma said...

Brian

They do it for the same reason they take time to travel hundreds of miles to bring the Bluestones to Stonehenge - To running the water over the stone and so release the substance they believe is contained within the stone (it also makes a nice blue colour).

The groove takes longer to produce than chipping the rock into pieces, but I'm sure it is perceived as more efficient - particularly, if they cut with a stone axe over the surface at regular interviews to expose fresh stone.

Hence that deep gulley may have started quite small and easy to cut at first and what you see today is the result of hundreds of years years of use.

RJL

Tony H said...

After all the preceding aqueous Secombesque Rhubarb Rhubarb, Rhubarb, I have a very interesting smooth dark curved rock/ boulder to share more fully with you all, and intend to eventually provide a photograph. It could be a Boundary stone of the Westbury (Wiltshire) parish sometime around 1575, since it is close to this boundary. Am hoping to find out if an eminent elderly local historian knows more than this, since he lives very local to it, but it is on private land. It will be investigated record-wise in other ways. Expect Pete G will be interested.

Anonymous said...

WATER

Some of your 'Contributors' really shouldn't wear white trousers (though one insists on wearing a black hat - looks a bit like an urban version of a Country & Waffle singer at best) because they are noticeably dribbling profusely.What was that about prostate rocks? Prostate questions seem relevant.

Anonymous said...

PROSTATE/ PROSTRATE

please spot (no pun intended) the unintended mistake in my previous comment. First prostate should read prostrate (rocks). then you may all go with the flow, so to speak!

Anonymous said...

Where is Dr Rob Ixer, grandfather of puns, when we so clearly need him? Conversing with someone in Greek, no doubt.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, maybe he is disguising himself as "Anon" -- a cunning plan indeed.

Anonymous said...

The Berwick St James limestone rock, it is suggested, once stood at Stonehenge, where I believe it featured in a painting. Eternal Idol website has much more.

R. Gervais, Los Angeles (really)

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes -- I was aware of that.... Eternal Idol had quite a discussion about the supposed "Other Altar Stone."

Constantinos Ragazas said...

No pun can kick stone 68 out of play! And no explanation based of 'human intentionality' can either! Only facts. Here are some factual questions.

1) Was stone 68 erected as part of restoration efforts, as was stone 69?
2) What conceivably was the structural use for stone 68? Not a lintel and not a column.
3) What was the purpose for the groove? Decorative, like the grooves in Greek columns? Where are the other such stones?
4) Are there other stones with grooves similar to stone 68 either at Stonehenge or at any other prehistoric monument?
5) Are there similarities with stone gutters and water channels and aqueducts from latter periods including medieval times?
6) If the groove in stone 68 is not related to water, than what other conceivable purpose was there for it?

When facts are lacking, fantasy takes over. Explanations based on 'human intentionality' are suspect with no historical record to guide us. We would all do well to follow the following wise advice by Briggs quoted by Brian in his most recent post.

“It is important that when proposing or promoting theories of human behaviour, these should be based upon secure evidence”


Kostas

T Hinchliffe said...

Constantinos, my friend, Mike Parker Pearson has much more to tell the world about Stone 68, in relation to the mould of a socket impression at Bluehenge, down by the riverside. All very tantalising, we have to wait for the SRP's full revelations, if and when. Watch this space! OR email MPP via Sheffield University Arch. Dept. His email address is to be found on that website. Go to the Horse's Mouth, why not?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony H.,

Thanks for the advice! As is so often the case with matters of Stonehenge, all we have are questions! All I can do is raise questions that perhaps others may not have. Distractions will not distract me from this!

Kostas

Anonymous said...

On my way to Ithika of course avoiding 'angry Poseidon and the Listrygonians ' as the 'old man of the city' so succinctly put it.

Reluctantly bringing us back to SH
CRAIG RHOS-Y-FELIN, PONT SAESON IS THE DOMINANT
SOURCE OF THE STONEHENGE RHYOLITIC ‘DEBITAGE’ Ixer and Bevins will hit the streets in Dec. It is in Archaeology in Wales 50
Sadly no mention of cascading water fountains, table-top ice flows, Atlantis or other wonders just hard-won facts and the claim of detailed provenance.
Caps for title above are only there because I copied it from the pdf and it would take me too long to retype.
Grandfather of puns I just LOVE it, so no pun-ishment there. My students use to call me 'the evil Dr Ixer' I pretended not to know or be pleased.
Rob Ixer

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Rob Ixer,

Thanks for your facts! Love facts! Love fantasy too, when not masquerading as fact!

Your facts raise the question:

“How did the rhyolitic 'debitage' found at Stonehenge got to Stonehenge from Pont Saeson?”


Kostas

Tony H said...

Kostas

Here's details of an extremely detailed and illustrated account of the discovery of "Bluestonehenge", where you will see MPP's claims that a groove in an outline of a removed orthostat from the west of 'Bluestonehenge' may possibly match the similar grooved base of the famous Stonehenge Stone 68.

It can be found within the Eternal Idol website, http://www.eternalidol.com/?p=269

Find the CATEGORIES LIST to the right of the page. Select BLUEHENGE first of all. Then scroll down to item iientitled: '"It's not quite Tutankhamun's tomb, but.." an account of MPP's recent presentation on Bluestonehenge'.
Brian will remember the late Alex Down was the true author and illustrator of this important detailed account. Brian made some comments.

Geo Cur said...

Tony , that was over two years ago ,I'm not holding my breath on that socket matching stone 69 .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony H.

Thank you for the reference. I appreciate your sincerity and genuine interest in my views.

I carefully read the “extremely detailed and illustrated account of the discovery of "Bluestonehenge"”. I was especially interested on any facts I can find concerning stone 68. Except for a 'possible match' to a pit found at BH, there plainly was nothing. Most of what I read are interpretations of the facts based on a conviction of human agency, attributing human intentions through fabricated narratives. For example,

one lucky excavator found the most incredibly perfect and delicate oblique ripple-flaked arrowhead. It was pointing up the Avenue towards Stonehenge, and must have been a deliberate deposit.

indicates that the Stonehenge area must have been highly significant while the Mesolithic people who erected the posts were living in the valley, near fresh water.

The significance of these posts is that the Bronze Age people must have known of the presence of something highly important from the past – the posts were erected right at the edge of the earlier stone circle.

excavation uncovered patches of flint-cobbled surfaces at the bottom of the henge ditch, so that people could stand in the clayey bottom.

The packing stones gave rise to a mystery. Each hole had an extraction ramp, showing the angle at which the stone was withdrawn. Each stone was extracted whole, for there were no bluestone fragments. And yet the nest of packing stones was virtually complete, which would have been impossible if the stone had simply been dragged up the extraction ramp.

The answer the team came up with was the use of an A-frame. Their hypothesis is that the stones were physically lifted up from the holes by attaching ropes to the peak of the A-frame, and then hauling the frame more upright. This would allow the stone to clear the packing, and then be withdrawn by hand along the extraction ramp.

The gist of the theory was that the 24 bluestones from BH were carefully removed, and then dragged up what is now the Avenue to be reused in the later designs of Stonehenge.

Mike surmises that this natural feature and its significant alignment must have been known to the Neolithic people, and this was a major reason for the siting of Stonehenge.

I don't believe, Tony, that the area where BH is found was dry land as it is today. I believe ten thousand years ago and later the River Avon may still have been frozen (following the Younger Dryas) and was much wider and deeper than it is today. All this area would have been covered, I believe. A point that Robert also raised with MPP while excavating the site. MPP's response was to run away! Not atypical of 'true believers' when confronted with the truth!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Hang on a bit, guys! (and gals?) (why is this blog an overwhelmingly male domain? More female voices needed......)

What has Bluestonehenge (or Bluehenge) got to do with stray stones? There aren't ant standing stones there, and there probably never were. Even if there were stones there at some stage, they are more likely to have been small sarsens. Kostas -- no point in going after MPP on this blog and expecting answers or a reasonable debate -- we have made all these points before (type in "Bluestonehenge" into the search box). MPP didn't respond then, and he probably won't respond now.

I suspect most of the readers of this blog would agree on Bluestonehenge -- nice dig -- pity about the fantasy and the hype.

Back to the topic please...

BRIAN JOHN said...

If there are any further comments on Bluestonehenge, you can always contribute on one of the relevant threads.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry -- that should have been:

"There aren't any standing stones there, and there probably never were."

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

The discussion was about stone 68 you posted in this post. There are honest and relevant questions about stone 68 (as also 69) and I raised some in my comment. Tony was kind enough to respond to your call for information about this stone by others.

Off topic? Perhaps! But some of the most important findings are 'off topic' ! As are some of the most memorable adventures.

Sorry about the diversion!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

It's the Bluestonehenge stuff I was trying to keep away from..... by the way, I found an Atkinson photo of stone 66 -- I'll post it up.

Geo Cur said...

“How did the rhyolitic 'debitage' found at Stonehenge got to Stonehenge from Pont Saeson?”

Any suggestions yourself Kostas ,what does the evidence suggest to you ? Nature ? Surely not human agency ?
Fwiw we know that the rhyolitic stones that are standing did not contribute to the rhyolitic debitage ,much of which is derived from Pont season ,we also don’t know the petrography and geochemistry of all the stones . Some of the stones are stumps i.e. 32 e which Rob believes may be from Pont Saeson , maybe there are others . The combination of unprovenanced stones , particularly stumps ,with the possibility that they may be from the same source as the rhyolitic debitage isn’t compelling but certainly worth considering . The fact that they are stumps and the evidence from other sites of deliberate damage to orthosats and monuments from prehistory i.e. (those previously mentioned examples like Aosta , Petit Chausseur and nearby Mount Pleasant ), until the historic period seems a reasonable explanation complete with evidence . How the stones got to the monument is another problem .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

I welcome an in depth discussion on this and other matter on Stonehenge. But I think Brian may consider this an intrusion into his space. May I suggest you email me at KostaDinos@aol.com ?

Kostas

Tony H said...

Kostas

I am extremely grateful for your kind, accurate and articulate remarks at 13.35 hours today (U.K. time!) about issues surrounding the provenance of the famous Stone 68, whose photo Brian had placed as an illustration for this topic on "Stray Stones of South West England".

What time is it where you are, Kostas?

Tony H said...

Incidentally, I am not a Geologist nor a specialist Geomorphologist, like, in the first case, Rob Ixer, and in the 2nd, Brian, I am just a "jack-of -all-trades" generalist Geographer (with an Honours Degree) who's been an information librarian, lives in Wiltshire and has always, since knee-high, lived prehistory. SO, when I use the word "provenance" about Stone 68, I'm talking, in the context of my last comment, about its ALLEGEDLY PRECEDING context, not about its original, Geological, Preseli context. Alright?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony H,

I come to Brian's blog daily from the east coast of USA (Philadelphia). Some 5 hours behind (I think).

Tony, only ideas and facts are relevant. Degrees and personalities are totally irrelevant! They often get in the way! Just consider where 'experts and specialists' have gotten us. Whether in archeology or governments!

I mistrust experts! They only know what they know, but never know what they don't know. Yet always self-assured. They are ignorantly hubristic, in my humble opinion.

Kostas

Tony H said...

Right on, Kostas!! (And that's just MY humble opinion)

BRIAN JOHN said...

Didn't Donald Rumsfeld say something very wise (or was it very stupid?) once about about known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns -- or something along those lines.......?

Anonymous said...

"They are ignorantly hubristic, in my humble opinion."
well yes mmm.
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad or just humbly hubristic?
Do you mean naively hubristic or intentionally unlearned hubristic which ever a lovely but not a very nice use of that adjective.
Hubris cannot be unintentional?? unless you upset the Gods whilst They are in a bad move, I think.

You cannot make it up-what is the saying about foot and shooting oneself??.

This blog is so much better than Mrs Dales Diary but with fewer doctors perhaps.

Jean-Robert Sabot.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas --

you are a fine one to talk about "experts" being "ignorantly hubristic"! The problem which you seem to be addressing arises not because experts know a lot about their special fields (and thank God they do, or we would all still be living in caves) but because they occasionally stray outside their special fields.

You are presumably an expert in mathematics and quantum physics? The problem which the rest of us on this blog have to deal with -- on an ongoing basis -- is that you have chosen to develop an extraordinary theory in a field about which you know nothing. You appear not even to have done some basic reading about how ice is formed and how glaciers work -- even though ice is central to your theory. You then choose to disregard all the field evidence which is inconvenient to you, and to ignore everything we know about glacial and geomorphological processes, while protesting that all you want is the truth.

Ignorantly hubristic? Your words, not mine.....

Barrie Foster said...

Well, isn't this all fun? But I liked the Cavafy/Lawrence Durrell reference (I'm beginning to feel like the old man of the city myself, but that's another story.)

Constantinos Ragazas said...

My 'unintentionally hubristic' comment perhaps was unintentionally hubristic! It may have offended certain sensibilities. For that I apologize.

What did I mean by it? The reference was to 'idologs' that put 'symbols' ahead of 'sense' and 'idols' ahead of people.

Jean-Robert Sabot: Hubris may be intentional. Hubristic often isn't. We can all 'offend' without knowing or intending! The reason why we need others to keep us on our path.

Off topic, Brian? Yes! As is always the case when we make this 'about ourselves' rather than 'about Stonehenge'.

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Mr Foster you have sooo (un)made my day I thought the ‘great and sublime’ poet to slip in and out of my posts unmolested but now he is unmasked. TUNC!
Perhaps there is an, as yet, undiscovered Stonehenge poem by Cavafy -that would be beyond all that can be hoped for.
In the mean time we should all read and follow his ironic advice in his second best poem ‘The Ides of March’ just to keep us straight.

“and the higher you go
the more searching and careful you need to be”.

Myris of Alexandria

GREEK URN/ ERN said...

The person who would be delighted to hear of any suggestion that poet Cavafy wrote however indirectly about Stonehenge is Dennis Price at his 'Eternal Idol'blogsite, who is a well-read Classics man.

Rich said...

Brian, with reference to the Porthleven erratic (c.50 tonnes of what I think is a garnetiferous gneiss possibly of Icelandic origin) how on earth does the ice rafting theory work when sea level was presumably so low. I have heard commentary that the peripheral ice sheet bulge within the earths mantle is involved but fail to see how this helps the mechanics of iceberg transportation. If it doesn't work then Occums razor suggests an ice sheet existed that dumped this and a number of other Channel erratics. Did this ice sheet advance east to west down the Channel, or have sufficient depth to flow from west to east up the channel or was it sufficiently thick to flow over the whole of Devon, Cornwall and southern England? Surely some till would have been deposited and sealed within a hollow somewhere to reveal its presence. Regards, Rich.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Rich -- thanks for your contribution. this is precisely the point I have made often on this blog. The geomorphologists (and there are many of them) who have simply trotted out the "ice rafting" theory have totally failed to address this issue. Suggest you do a little searching around on this blog for some of the other posts -- try putting in Porthleven, giant erratics, ice rafting etc!!

TonyH said...

Brian

Have arrived here via your March 2014 Post on the Shebbear Erratic.

Are you able to recall where you found Terrence Meaden's photo of the Bathampton Down erratic? I should like to go and take a look at it as I live fairly locally. Also, I have met Terrence a few times and know of his publications and some of his theories.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Can't remember where I found it, Tony. Suggest you contact Terrence directly -- if there is a grid ref, let us know!