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

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Bluestones of Stonehenge -- a glacial erratic assemblage

The Bluestones of Stonehenge -- a glacial erratic assemblage

 A well-placed spy, who is obviously a Times reader, informs me that this is in the paper today.  This is what was sent.  Not sure whether the published version was identical........... but fair play to the Editor for at least accepting that there is a bit of a debate going on here!

Letters to the Editor
The Times

10th January 2012

Re:  Back to the Bluestones of Stonehenge 7th January 2012


The geological points made by Dr Olwen Williams-Thorpe in Norman Hammond's latest article are supported by research in the fields of glaciology and geomorphology.  It has been known for many years that the ice of the Irish Sea Glacier flowed across Pembrokeshire, up the Bristol Channel and into Somerset.  When it crossed the English coast it was flowing broadly eastwards.  We do not know whether the ice reached Salisbury Plain, but glaciological modelling by the BRITICE project shows that this was quite possible.  It is entirely reasonable to assume that the 30 or so rock types represented in the "bluestone assemblage" at Stonehenge are glacial erratics, since they seem to have come almost exclusively from the west.

I concur with Dr Williams-Thorpe when she says that the recent work by Ixer and Bevins at Craig Rhosyfelin is an exciting development, showing that very accurate provenancing of some of the bluestones is now possible.  However, their research has no archaeological significance, and tells us nothing about the mode of transport by which certain stones (or broken rock fragments) found their way from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge.

Thank you for giving space to this timely debate.

Dr Brian John
Past Lecturer in Geography, Durham University
Author, "The Bluestone Enigma"

SA42 0QN
Tel 01239-820470


Alex Gee said...

Hi Brian

I read it this morning.
Whilst the majority of the edits preserved the thrust of your argument, editing of the last sentence,removed one of your main points.

"However, their research has no archaeological significance, and tells us nothing about the mode of transport by which certain stones (or broken rock fragments) found their way from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge".

was changed to:
"However, their research has no archaeological significance"

Still good to see it published.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Alex -- well, we can live with that. These newspapers always do prune things down, and I suppose one is lucky if the published version makes any sense at all.....

Tony H said...

Have you considered writing to the letters page of The Independent? Their recent coverage, as you have shown us, seems to have been objective. And they perhaps do not have a specific axe to grind (metaphorically speaking!).

chris johnson said...

From my medical friends I got the following link. The editor of the BMJ points out frequent manipulation of data to fit academic agendas.

Tony H said...

Or, as Tony Blair, when he was a member of a group, might have sung to us all in his version of Paul Simon's "the Boxer", having changed a few lyrics:

"A man spins what he wants to spin
And disregards the rest
(Lie de lie.......)

I used to read a great deal of 'What The Papers Say' as part of my job as information provider. So many commentators, journalists and spokes-persons have their own agenda.

Alex Gee said...

Chris thats interesting. This Blog by Dr Ben Goldacre, is devoted to exposing dodgy science;Well worth a look.

Returning to a previous thread, he also has some interesting things to say about public access to Academic Literature.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris and Tony -- research corruption is widespread. It should be a criminal offence, but it is quite legal. A bit off topic, but you might be interested in this:

For years I have been trying to get the Royal Society to take the issue of scientific ethics seriously. And will they? Like Hell they will.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ben Goldacre says a lot of good things, but he is also a rather arrogant fellow, and is just as capable of bad science as anybody else...

Alex Gee said...

Tony H

You could be on the right track here. This could be the first historically recorded use of spin.
Perhaps the guy GW and TD have found is a Neolithic Spin Doctor.

Stonehenge wasn't completed because other tribes murdered half the builders in a fit of jealousy?.

The spin being: that they thought the builders had Merlins magic wheel in their posession, and weren't afraid to use it?.