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Friday, 30 December 2011

Those "periglacial stripes"



A discussion on these famous "periglacial stripes" seems to be bubbling up again -- and purely by chance I came across these two pics -- from 1956 and 1958, I think -- from the excavations in the Avenue.  The top photo shows the supposed periglacial features in cutting C48, and the lower photo shows what seems to be a cross-section of one of the stripes, as exposed in the side of cutting C40.

I don't recall ever seeing a plan or map of these features -- does anybody know of one?

The photos are from the Atkinson collection, on the EH web site.

For earlier discussions of these features, and some analogies from the Arctic, just type in "periglacial stripes" into the search box on this blog.

26 comments:

Tony H said...

No, haven't seen a plan or a map.......but when my wife & I arrived as casual visitors a few years ago, we found to our surprise that MPP was there, educating the washed masses (as distinct from the unwashed archaeology volunteers) on the subject of said Periglacial Stripes, as well as other things to do with the SRP.

He wandered over to our little group who were patiently waiting, and told us he'd just done an interview for Japanese Television. If anyone knows the Japanese for Periglacial Stripes, we may be lucky enough to retrieve a video from the Internet!

Anonymous said...

Brian,

Do these stripes run along the Avenue or perpendicular to it? And if along, how far along do they run? From the bottom picture, the stripes look to be rather big and wide (a meter wide?) If so, are these periglacial stripes for certain, or assumed to be periglacial? Is it fair to say the explanation for these stripes is still a mystery?

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Lets just call them either natural or cerimonial and keep the academics and the great unwashed happy

Ann

BRIAN JOHN said...

I'm not sure anybody would be happy about that, Ann. When you have an either/or scenario people will inevitably start arguing!!

Mind you, mankind does occasionally use natural features for his own advantage -- I can think of a number of marginal meltwater channels on hillsides that have also been used as trackways..... and when you examine the landscape in detail it's difficult to separate out the natural from the man-made.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- look at the previous posts on this -- I recall that there was quite a lot of info there, given by Tony and others.

Tony H said...

There has been mention of the so-called Periglacial Stripes on one of the Timeteam TV Specials, featuring Tony Robinson chatting with Mike Parker Pearson & Phil "the Flints" Harding (So the discussion, however seemingly erudite it appeared, did not feature anyone who could be truly described as a Geo-Anything). No sign of Charly French the GeoArchaeology man, for instance. Neither were we presented with much
visual evidence.

I am interested in another feature beyond the line the Avenue takes (and more northerly of that line) before it changes direction at the "Stonehenge Elbow". This is boggy lower ground at approx 1270 4300. Just beyond that point is The Cursus. any comments, GeoCur & Brian?

Geo Cur said...

Tony , I do seem to remember MPP commenting on the stripes and iirc he went from an initial view of them being possibly man made to accepting they were natural and therefore every bit as important in relation to the alignment . Pure entertainment and surely going along with the producer " can you pretend Mike you have just learnt this fact ?" or alternatively , instant essential post processualism " lets try another story " .
Not sure if you meant a particular feature around that area . There is a circular feature viewable on GE about 80 metres from the southern ditch of the Cursus and in between the pipelines .I’m not aware of anything prehistoric recorded there .
You might imagine this was the ideal place to be called “Stonehenge bottom “ for more reasons than one .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I do remember a series of posts you made just on these “periglacial stripes” of the Avenue a year ago! Some quotes from you taken from these:

“They are not glacial stripes, Robert. They MAY be periglacial, but I'm increasingly coming to the view that they are solutional in origin”

“I wouldn't mind betting that much of Salisbury Plain is underlain by these chalk surface irregularities. There is no reason whatsoever to assume that they are restricted to the Avenue, Stonehenge and Bluehenge -- that's just where a lot of digging happens to have been done by archaeologists.”

[ http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2010/12/photos-of-striations-in-avenue.html ]

With this as background, I ask:

1) If it turns out these “Avenue stripes” are not generally found at other areas of Salsibury Plain but only at some other very similar and select sites, what would be your explanation then for these “Avenue stripes”?

2) For the record: My working hypothesis is Stonehenge at one time was a meltwater retaining basin in a local ice cover and the Avenue was a meltwater stream channel originating from Stonehenge and draining at Avon River. Putting aside your well-known rejection of my hypothesis, do you agree the seasonal flow of meltwater downhill from Stonehenge over a chalk bedrock and through a narrow Avenue channel could explain these “Avenue stripes”? As also the natural gullies along the sides of the Avenue?

Kostas

Tony H said...

No, GeoCur, I didn't mean any particular manmade feature thereabouts. Merely that the ground is boggy (rushes there in part); what significance, if any, did this have for our prehistoric pals way back when? Also, how did they feel about "their" cursus having to cross this slightly lower, trickier ground? After all, MPP and his mates have now convinced(?) us all that The RIVER was a pivotal feature in the Greater Stonehenge Landscape (i.e. including the Land Of The Living at Durrington Walls & Woodhenge). And Francis Pryor et al are always telling us that water was a very special, liminal place, at least by the Bronze Age, so maybe the Stonehenge Bottom held them in some level of awe way back when... Compare, for example, the streams and springs close to Silbury Hill just up the (non-existent) road.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Jack White will reform his U.S. band "The White Stripes" and pay homage to "our peri-glacial friends" on a C.D. in due course?

TONY BLACKBURN

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony H,

How close is the “boggy lower ground at approx 1270 4300” from the “great pits” now found at both ends of the Cursus? If we were to draw a straight line extending the Avenue beyond the “elbow” where on the Cursus would we be? And how far from the “elbow” is the Cursus?

If I am correct that the Avenue was at one time a meltwater stream originating from an ice sheet retaining basin at Stonehenge, then it may be that before the formation of the “elbow bent” the Avenue drained into an area near the Cursus, possibly creating this “boggy lower ground”!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

There's no doubt about the connection between water , low lying ground and sometimes sand /gravel and Neolithic monuments like Henges (the northern mini henges are often moated ) and Cursuses .Some get a bit carried by the stream Brophy ? but that's part of their job ,I spose .
Come to think of it two of the Rudston curses associated with the Gypsey race (water course ) are at right angles to each other .

Tony H said...

Having just had a look at Aubrey Burl's "Stonehenge: a new history..." (2006), he remarks that Stonehenge Cursus falls 39feet (21 metres) to its centre in the muddy valley of Stonehenge Bottom, and then rises 56ft (17metres) eastwards.

Presumably this feature has its origins in a peri-glacial period.

Burl says many cursuses have an association with water. And he quotes Francis Pryor: "If cursuses are indeed involved with the movement of people through a ritual landscape, then in these instances their journey was towards wet places" [Britain B.C., Francis Pryor, 2003, p.217}

As I said earlier on in a comment for this Post, the last section of The Avenue, with it's so-called peri-glacial stripes allegedly pre-dating it, is no great distance away from this muddy valley at Stonehenge Bottom. What was this landscape like BEFORE the arrival of even Paleolithic/ Old Stone Man?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- as I have said before, I think the gullies are probably solutional in origin, but I want to know how extensive they are and how they run with respect to the contours.

Anonymous said...

It's a road with cart tracks - move on.

The depresion feature after the end of the elbow is the remains of the neolithic riverbed and post holes at the end of the avenue by the elbow are the mooring stations for boats, that brought the sarsen stones.

The cursus did have a mesolithic river running through the middle, to the east is sunrise and re-birth to the west death and the afterlife.

If you seek proof, then i'm in egypt researching my third book and the pyramids and temples have hieroglyphics of the exact same concept with the nile being the river dividing the two lands.

Where did the egyptians get these ideas from? National geographic will soon release a film showing the pharaohs had haplogroup R1a1 dna type - where did R1a1 originate? Northern Europe and stonehenge!

Happy new year

RJL

Chris Johnson said...

Cart tracks!? That solves the problem of moving the stones methinks.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I'll take your last response on 1 January 2012 09:48 to be a “yes” to question 2) in my post to you on 31 December 2011 16:39 . The so-called “periglacial stripes” found at The Avenue are 'probably solutional in origin' and could have formed by meltwater streams flowing over a chalk bedrock.

This supports my working hypothesis of a meltwater retaining basin in the ice at Stonehenge with The Avenue being a meltwater stream originating from Stonehenge and draining in what eventually became the Avon River.

Tony's observations above of “boggy low lands” just beyond the Avenue Elbow is likewise consistent with my hypothesis. As is also Geo Cur's larger point [31 December 2011 19:46 ] of a connection observed in the 'facts on the ground' between henges, cursuses, and water.

Recently I have been looking at some amazing photos of natural landforms created purely by geological processes (as compared to biological, organic and man-made). [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterned_ground]. It would be most interesting if you did a post on this. Suggested title: “Art by Nature”. Makes stone alignments and circles a child's play in comparison!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- please don't assume a "yes" where there was none. Meltwater from snowmelt? Possible, but it all depends on the lie of the land.

None of this supports your hypothesis, Kostas -- I am not going over all that ground again.

The patternd ground info is thoroughly well known. I have seen most of these features myself in high latitudes.

Tony H said...

Presumably the Japanese Stonehenge enthusiasts now have all the periglacial answers, thanks to Mike PP's interview with Japanese TV from very adjacent to the Avenue's "junction" with the Heel Stone [see my earlier post dated 30 December 2011 -LAST YEAR FOLKS!! at 17.25 hrs]

Tony H said...

GeoCur

Was that a literary allusion in your comment, "Some get a bit carried away by the stream Brophy?" [31.12.11 at 19.46hrs]

Anyway, could you please explain? Thank you.

Also, why do you think the 2 Rudston cursuses [East Yorkshire] are at right angles to one another?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Editing out references to Stonehenge, the question was:

“Do you agree the seasonal flow of meltwater downhill over a chalk bedrock and through a narrow channel could explain these stripes?”


Your unequivocal answer in your last response is “No”. Right?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Stop asking leading questions, Kostas. As I said, I need to know the details of the terrain.

Geo Cur said...

Tony , sorry that was probably bit obscure . Kenneth Brophy is an archie who has commented " Maybe Neolithic people saw the cursus as a type of river under their control, not under nature's; as a place in which they could cleanse themselves of their existential worries through rituals, and allow themselves to return to their everyday lives with more confidence in the future. "

Rudston has four cursus , C & D cross at right angles scroll down
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=rudston+cursus+a+chapman+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a .

Geo Cur said...

Tony , sorry that was probably bit obscure . Kenneth Brophy is an archie who has commented " Maybe Neolithic people saw the cursus as a type of river under their control, not under nature's; as a place in which they could cleanse themselves of their existential worries through rituals, and allow themselves to return to their everyday lives with more confidence in the future. "

Rudston has four cursus , C & D cross at right angles scroll down
http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=rudston+cursus+a+chapman+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a .

Anonymous said...

Geo Cur,

Since you know so much about cursuses perhaps you can tell me if cursuses always occur in locally low lying areas or some can be found on higher ground. Interesting curiosity.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Kenneth, at least as reported by you, is well off. Rivers don't run in straight lines, especially in olden days. Maybe he should stick to the experimental side of his science rather than creating yet more theories. Otherwise top marks for enthusiasm.