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Friday, 10 February 2012

The Druid Meteorite

This story is doing the rounds -- having originated, as far as I can see, in LiveScience in the USA.   It's a strange tale (the LiveScience site is a very strange one too -- with "pop" science obviously designed for public consumption).  I don't think this is a spoof -- but you never know........

I particularly like the stuff about this wonderful Druid burial site near Stonehenge -- but then Colin Pillinger is no archaeologist.  But one would have thought he would be intelligent enough to ask somebody who knows about these things, before giving info to a pop science site.....


Mystery of Britain’s Largest Meteorite Solved. 
Found at Druids burial site near Stonehenge

With a weight that rivals a baby elephant, a meteorite that fell from space some 30,000 years ago is likely Britain's largest space rock. And after much sleuthing, researchers think they know where it came from and how it survived so long without weathering away.
The giant rock, spanning about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) across and weighing 205 pounds (93 kilograms), was likely discovered by an archaeologist about 200 years ago at a burial site created by the Druids (an ancient Celtic priesthood) near Stonehenge, according to said Colin Pillinger, a professor of planetary sciences at the Open University.
Pillinger curated the exhibition "Objects in Space," which opens today (Feb. 9th) and is the first time the public will get a chance to see the meteorite. The exhibition will explore not only the mystery that surrounds the origins of the giant meteorite, but also the history and our fascination with space rocks.
As for how the meteorite survived its long stint on Earth, researchers point to the ice age.
"The only meteorites that we know about that have survived these long ages are the ones that were collected in Antarctica," said Pillinger, adding that more recently, some ancient meteorites have been collected in the Sahara Desert. This rock came from neither the Sahara Desert nor Antarctica, but rather the Lake House in Wiltshire.
"Britain was under an ice age for 20,000 years," Pillinger told LiveScience, explaining the climate would have protected the rock from weathering.
At some point, the Druids likely picked up the meteorite when scouting for rocks to build burial chambers. "They were keen on building burial sites for [the dead] in much the same way the Egyptians built the pyramids," Pillinger said.
Then, years later, an archaeologist with ties to other, famous archaeologists, likely found the rock while excavating the Druids' burial sites, he said. The archaeologist then brought the rock back to his house in Wiltshire, where its more recent residents took notice and alerted researchers.
"The men whose house this was found at spent a lot of time opening these burial sites 200 years ago for purposes of excavating them," Pillinger said. "Our hypothesis is that the stone probably came out of one of those burial chambers."
The meteorite is called a chondrite, a group that includes primitive meteorites that scientists think were remnants shed from the original building blocks of planets. Most meteorites found on Earth fit into this group.
Other objects on display include a much smaller meteorite, weighing about an ounce (32 grams), and excavated from a grain pit where ancient peoples of the Iron Age stored their crops. It was discovered in the 1970s at Danebury Hill Fort in Hampshire, though it wasn't until the 1980s when scientists analyzed metal in the walnut-size object did they realize its extraterrestrial origin.
The exhibition will also include a Damien Hirst "spot painting," which features the famous Beagle 2 spacecraft as its center spot. In addition, part of Newton's apple tree will be on display.
The story of how researchers are uncovering the origins of these impressive specimens will astonish and delight visitors to this remarkable exhibition, which also contains letters and books charting the history of scientific interest in meteorites. 
The Royal Society's London headquarters will house the exhibit through March 30.


Tony H said...

The New Age / U.F.O. Brigade may now leap on this opportunity to point to extra- terrestrial links with Stonehenge/ Wiltshire/ crop circles ete etc.

chris johnson said...

Were Kostas still here he might argue that all the stones had dropped out of the sky directly into their current locations.

The impact would have lowered the Stonehenge mound, caused a subsidence resulting in low ground around the cursus, and stimulated several new books around the thesis that stonehenge was really a mesolithic harbor.

Why not? Indeed.

Anonymous said...


Pushing stones on an ice surface over a circular ice rim is not dropping stones from the sky! You are misrepresenting my views. Does not help an 'honest' debate to do so. But does reveal your 'sensitivity' that keeps you from 'seeing it' !!

The debate becomes incestuous when dissenting views are distorted and excluded!


BRIAN JOHN said...

I thought you had migrated to pastures new and greener, Kostas? But of course I have to allow you to defend yourself!

Tony H said...

Returning from Kostas to Prof. Colin Pillinger, I would like to make the following, non-controversial comparison, based entirely upon the evidence of West Country/ Bristol accent:-

Colin Pillinger is to Astronomy what Ian Holloway (Blackpool F.C.) is to Association Football: and both are GREAT characters, and great lads, who work their respective socks off.

Anonymous said...

Pleased to hear you allow Kostas to defend himself, Bri. I had to pay a damned good lawyer to defend me, but now everything seems to be falling into place, even Lord Sugar is 'appy, and I might yet get the Italian's Job! Cockney rhyming slang,apples and pears, I tell you, it's a wonderful world.....

'Appy 'arry Rednapp, Tottenham.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I heard said Prof on the radio the other day, talking about the trials and tribulations of involvement in space research. Sounds like a very interesting and intelligent fellow.... but he doesn't seem to know much about either the druids or the Neolithic.....

Anonymous said...

I just WONDER, Brian, whether Prof Colin's getting his Druids muddled in this Meteorite malarkey because old Sting had an IRON AGE burial on his land at Lake House, and, say what you like about the Druids (and I'm saying nothing, or I may get accused of racist comments again), they WERE Iron Age, ask any Roman on these shores at the time, alright Brian?

Ron 'Mr Bojangles' Atkinson

BRIAN JOHN said...

Fair comment -- yes indeed, if the said meteorite really did come from an Iron Age site, our dearly beloved Druids might have had something to do with the collection and use of the stone.

Anonymous said...

Someone ought to ask Dennis Price on his Eternal Idol blogsite (haven't looked today, perhaps he's already posted something about the Meteorite).

Dennis is something of a mystic in his quiet sort of a way, and he's a good lad and he knows so much about Stonehenge in myth, mystery and magic, etc etc.

And he does know his Druids, blimey! Strike a light!

Lord Sugar of Tottenham