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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Where is Rhosyfelin?


I notice that some contributors to this blog are still uncertain where Craig Rhosyfelin (Pont Saeson) is located.  (That's the site identified by Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins as the source for much of the Stonehenge foliated rhyolite debitage.)

My thanks to Jonathan Lee of Aberystwyth University for this splendid computer-generated topographic image -- it shows the coastline and the main relief features of NE Pembrokeshire very well.  I have put onto the image the locations of Craig Rhosyfelin and Carn Meini.  As you can see, Craig Rhosyfelin is well to the north of the Preseli Hills -- a nasty place for Neolithic stone-collecting expeditions, but quite a handy place for entrainment by a glacier flowing across the landscape from NW towards SE.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rhosyfelin again?

Zzzzz.......

chris johnson said...

Interesting perspective, it makes Carningli looks like an island.

Brian, I wonder whether Banc Du neolithic enclosure will ever make it onto one of your maps? The learned professors thought this was part of the puzzle, I recall. Have there been any updates you are aware of?

Tony H said...

Speaking as a Geographer, it seems to me to be very helpful of Brian to show us this Aberystwyth University computer-generated topographic image of Rhosyfelin's location. to give us a better sense of the main relief in that part of NE Pembrokeshire.

I've had many family visits to Pembrokeshire, but haven't as yet explored this area much. There must be quite a few other visitors to this Blogsite who'd say the same, yet, because of the enigma connecting Preseli to Stonehenge, they, like me, probably appreciate the extra knowledge we're given about the physical features.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sleep on, Anon. Is there no appreciation of beauty left in this world? Actually I put up this post simply because the map is such a splendid one, using computer graphics to show relief very effectively. For a geographer like me, a map like this is a thing of beauty.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris, I have mentioned Banc Du a few times on the blog. Yes, if it is a Neolithic enclosure, that is interesting. The Neolithic people who lived in Pembrokeshire had to live somewhere, so it's good to see that in Wales we are now getting to see some of their settlement sites. But what this has to do with Stonehenge, goodness only knows.....

chris johnson said...

Brian, I think understanding Prescelly is important to understanding what was going on at stonehenge.

According to your statements over the past few years what was happening in Prescelly was childishly simple, so perhaps understanding childish simplicity might help us understand more easily what might have been happening at a similar time around Stonehenge.

The two areas would have been a few days apart when walking without stones, so it is likely that the two cultures knew of each other and discussed issues like which stones to select and how to set them up for best effect.

I know you are rather focussed on the transportation issue but this is to some extent resolved, I believe, by your glaciation theory. Nevertheless there are additional questions that might be clarified by a better understanding of the situation in Dyfed at a similar time.

Now, when you don't understand anything more about Banc Du than I can read on the web - not much - then feel free to say so. Then we are on the same level of ignorance. However, when you imply that it has nothing to do with Stonehenge then I beg to differ.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- for info I have to depend on what Darvill and Wainwright tell us. They say that there was a Neolithic causewayed camp there -- dating from the same period as Pentre Ifan and Carreg Samson etc. Yes, people from this area might have wandered to Salisbury Plain, just as they might have wandered to any other part of the UK. I still don't see what the site has to do with Stonehenge -- even if the Royal Commission and Toby Driver were clearly swept along by the DT/GW speculations on the matter!

chris johnson said...

Ok, about this wandering idea.

I recently interviewed a guy still living who walked 60 miles in one day about his business. He thought nothing of it. My grandfather regularly walked 30 miles round trip to attend night school after a shift in the mines. A trip from Prescelly to Wiltshire and back would have been no big deal for our neolithic ancestors who had even stronger legs.

My firm belief is that a walk from Prescelly to Stonehenge for a pig-fest and a party at winter solstice would have been a walk in the park. And, Robert, it would have been a lot safer and quicker to walk than wait for a boat.

So I believe the cultures were connected. The sacred landscape and partying in Wiltshire was too big to ignore.

When people mix they exchange ideas, especially at a party. Stone age people would have recognized the mix of dolerite and rhyolites - similar combinations are found in circles at stonehenge and in Prescelly. Whether the cross fertilization of ideas ran west to east or east to west we do not know, yet.

My point is simple Brian. When we understand more about Prescelly then we understand more about Stonehenge. It does nobody justice to assume an aimless "wandering about".

BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh dear -- we are entering fantasy land again......

chris johnson said...

Nothing fantastical about what I suggested.

Still, when you don't accept that understanding Prescelly in the neolithic may help our understanding of Stonehenge then I will desist. This is a shame as you have a unique understanding of the Prescelly area.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- I have no problem with seeking to understand Neolithic Preseli. But I'm afraid I see no rhyme or reason to he things which you seem to believe -- why on earth should people from this area walk all the way to Stonehenge in the middle of winter for a "pig-fest"? Or for any other reason, for that matter? And walking all that way through pretty well impenetrable coastal woodlands was easy? Oh yes?

Apart from the fact that "Preselite"
axes were used here and there (and probably traded) tells us that there was "commercial" activity going on, but it tells us nothing about cultural similarities between Preseli and Stonehenge. From what I understand, this area had much stronger links with NW Wales and E Ireland than it did with any part of England. This is seen in the design of tombs etc.

chris johnson said...

Let me try again.

My assumption is that Avebury/Stonehenge was a cultural magnet in, say, 2300 BC. There would have been good partying, but also opportunity to learn, to trade, and to develop new relationships both personal and tribal.

Next question is how easy was it to get there? Fairly simple, as long as you are not lugging tons of bluestone along. People would not have taken the coast path "jungle" but likely followed paths on higher ground - perhaps the current A40 route. I don't need to tell you of megalithic remains along the Brecon route. There was no severn bridge and so the crossing point would have been well inland. Which ever way they walked it would have been a journey of a week, no more.

I am surprised you see the strong links with Ireland. I tend to believe (I think you do too) that ocean travel was difficult and dangerous at this time and I see no strong connections between the Boyne Valley and Presceli although there is clearly an undertone of a common megalithic heritage. It seems to me that there is a very different flavor to the Irish tombs. And, it would have been easier and safer to walk to Wiltshire, and likely more rewarding.

As Geo pointed out a few days ago, there are similarities between circles like Gors Fawr and circles in SW England. Also in my estimation with the Peak District - so likely this inland "wandering" was not confined to Presceli-Wiltshire. But now I am speculating ....

NW Wales I don't know about so I gladly defer to your impression of linkage.

Tony H said...

Changing the geographical emphasis (just because I've read Burl's book), Aubrey Burl emphasises the similarities between Brittany & Avebury/ Stonehenge in his "Stonehenge: a New History of the World's Greatest Stone Circle" (2006)[incidentally, Brian, this appears to be an update of the Stonehenge book you possess -I thoroughly recommend it to everyone].

Aubrey B also makes probing remarks on the similarities between Wiltshire & Exmoor prehistoric megalithic features. He believes there were links between Brittany and South West England, megalithically speaking. No doubt GeoCur will either concur (no pun intended!) or disagree with A.B. Either way, his views will be worth knowing.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tony -- yes, that tallies with other things I have read -- that the Severn - Cotswold cultural features map incorporates East Wales and I suppose spreads into Exmoor etc. On the other hand Cornwall, SW Wales, NW Wales and E Ireland share other features in common.

Tony H said...

Hope we do get a comment from GeoCur on this topic which I've just introduced here, as he does semm to have a good grasp of regional similarities throughut the U.K. [and Brittany] founded on his archaeological know-how, similar to A.Burl's gazetteer-like wisdom.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Maybe Geo has gone on holiday to Gran Canaria -- and who would blame him?

chris johnson said...

Thanks for the tip Tony. I'll see if I can download Burl's book.

I am very curious about the links with Brittany where I have spent several weeks. Ok there are a lot of stones, but my feeling is that there are huge differences with UK - just like visiting Japan, we are all people, but ... Carnac is something extraordinary, as is St Michaels. Looking forward to the read if I can get hold of it.