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

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Two Altar Stones at Stonehenge?

Now here's an interesting thing.  I was hunting about on the web (as one does) and I came across the web site for the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, where certain slides relating to the bluestones of Stonehenge are found.  These slides come from the Heddle Collection.

There are many thin sections which can be examined by geologists and the uninitiated as well.  Then there are five further slides flagged up as being of special historic interest.  They include two dolerite samples,  two sandstones (one from a sarsen stone and another from the Altar Stone) -- and then one labelled as follows:

volcanic breccia?; showing strong foliation, with albite and/or quartz?, chlorite, epidote, euhedral zircon, and large metabasalt clast

TS only
Dimensions: 75x25mm
Locality: Stonehenge, [Wiltshire], [England]
Context: "Altar Stone", [Neolithic]
Catalogue number: GLAHM 148302

Very strange indeed!  You can see a photo of this one on the web site.  A volcanic breccia labelled as "Altar Stone"?  Could this be a case of a sample being mislabelled?  That would be very strange, since the labelling of all the other samples seems to be fastidious.  Alternatively, is there really another Altar Stone hidden somewhere beneath those fallen sarsens?

Further info here:


Bob said...


Volcanic Rock at Stonehenge - Kostas will be so happy!

I'm sure you will correct me here if I say I don't believe this type of rock has been found at Stonehenge in sizeable lumps - (like an alter stone).

What would be more interesting is you view on the micaceous sandstones of the Alter and the Slaughter - clearly these are not from the Sarsen erratics near Avebury - so are they rouge or were they brought to the site?


BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, my instinct is that this is another igneous extrusive for the collection -- maybe related to the volcanic ashes. The geologists will no doubt tell us in due course whether it is part of the Fishguard Volcanic Series, or not. But my money is on a mis-labelling of a sample collected from one of the stumps or standing or fallen bluestones......

I agree that there is even more interest in the "other sandstones" at Stonehenge -- and I hope there will be news of those shortly, when Rob and Richard and their colleagues have done their work.

Jon Morris said...

Dennis Price seems to argue for the existence of 'King James' second "Altar" Stone:

First article

Second article

However, volcanic sounds like mis-labelling?