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

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Pete's Puzzle

My thanks to Pete Glastonbury for allowing the use of these photos. Both photos are close-ups of stones outside the Stonehenge Visitors Centre.  Pete has been having some fun asking his friends which of them is bluestone and which is sarsen.  Pete tells me that not one of those who sent him Email messages got it right..........

This is more than just a fun thing, because we have often had discussions on this blog about the "absence" of bluestones in the Stonehenge landscape and indeed further afield on Salisbury Plain.  Many writers (including geomorphologists, who should be ashamed of themselves) have stated in quite dogmatic terms that THERE ARE NO OTHER BLUESTONES ON SALISBURY PLAIN OTHER THAN THOSE AT STONEHENGE.  I would never use language like that, because if nothing else it tempts fate!  What we need to ask is this:  Would people, either today or in centuries past, be able to distinguish between a bluestone and a sarsen if they just saw a boulder (or a pillar, or a pebble in a river terrace) lying about, possibly half covered in soil, moss and lichen??   The short answer is "No."

OK -- here is the answer to the puzzle.  Pete's other picture is below.  In the photos above, the bluestone is the one on the left, and the sarsen is the one on the right.  In the photo below the sarsen is on the left and the bluestone is on the right.


More by luck than judgment (probably because I went by texture rather than colour) I guessed right -- but most of those who took part in Pete's little experiment went by colour, and since in the pictures at the top of the page the one on the right has a more bluish tinge, they were misled by that.  The left-hand image clearly has a more brownish tint -- and that is the bluestone.

So let's get this right -- if you are wandering around in the landscape, looking for bluestones, remember that they are the BROWN ones.  If you are looking for sarsens, look for stones that have a smooth finish and a bluish-grey colour.  Confused?  You are not alone......

Simple rule-of-thumb:  bluestones are brown, and sarsens are blue.  Forget everything that you have read since 1923.








6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet no Blue stone is part of the stone circle or its lintels or the inner horseshoe trilithons and the two inner blue stone circles are of different types.

So where they (the builders) more intelligent than present day geologists or are you trying to prove a point under the impression we are simple enough to believe that no-one can tell the difference?

Annie O.

BRIAN JOHN said...

You misunderstand me, Annie. Once you have assembled a large and mottley collection of rocks, and maybe started to smash some of them up or shape them in some way, you would pretty quickly learn to sort out rocks according to their texture and other characteristics. You might even put spotted dolerites into one setting, and rhyolites and ashes into another setting, and sarsens into a third.

What I'm saying is that out in the wild, where only a part of a stone might be exposed (and a weathered part, at that) it would be very difficult indeed to tell a sarsen from a bluestone.

Anonymous said...

I had a visit from a Prof from Oxford Uni today and I showed him the photos and he also got it wrong!
I am going to have to have a closer look at the odd stones I know of around the Stonehenge landscape now...
I wonder if anyone has had a good close look at the Milestones around Stonehenge?
PeteG

BRIAN JOHN said...

Now I'm feeling quite chuffed. Am I the only one who got it right?

Anonymous said...

so far Brian!

Pete

Tony H said...

Veering off-topic somewhat, has anyone out there considered how the settlement of Rollestone, which forms part of Shrewton parish (a few miles west of Stonehenge), got its name? It was so named in the Domesday Book of 1086. Are we in the realms of Folk Memory?!?