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Monday, 23 July 2012

Latest Bluestone Research



Many thanks to Tim Darvill for this summary of Stonehenge work over the past few years.  reproduced below is the section relating to the stones -- and in particular, to the bluestone research undertaken in connection with various research projects.  I'm interested to see that TD's definition of "bluestone" is pretty close to mine: "non-local stone used in the construction and workings of Stonehenge and found at the site itself and in the wider landscape."  No mention of orthostats in that definition, which allows for fragments in the debitage / soil horizons to be included as bluestones -- but I would part company over the assumption that all bluestone fragments must have been used in the construction and working of the monument.

There is a long and comprehensive list of references -- recommended reading.

It's interesting that TD is admitting here to the wide variety of rock types (including some which have not been provenanced) turning up in the bluestone cellection -- and yet the obsession of the archaeology establishment with finding "quarries" appears to be undiminished.....

 --------------------------

Research activity in the Stonehenge Landscape 2005–2012

Timothy Darvill
Stonehenge and Avebury Revised Research Framework
6 July 2012

EXTRACT: 
 
Stone sourcing projects

Much new research has been carried out into the geological origins and source
outcrops of the various lithologies subsumed within the term ‘Bluestone’ as applied to
the non-local stone used in the construction and workings of Stonehenge and found
at the site itself and in the wider landscape. Stones  SH34 and SH35a have been
shown to be spotted dolerites (also known as Preselite) very similar to samples from
Carn Menyn while stones SH38 and SH40 are two different dacitic crystal-vitric-lithic
ash-flow tuffs and SH46 and SH48 are two different rhyolitic crystal-vitric-lithic ash-
flow tuffs (Ixer & Bevins 2011a). The stone type represented by SH48 was later
defined as rhyolite Group E (Rhyolite with visible feldspar phenocrysts) which is also
represented by two pieces of debitage from the 2008 excavations (Ixer & Bevins
2011a: 22). Group D rhyolites (rhyolitic tuffs with late albite-titanite-chlorite
intergrowths) are mainly confined to samples from the Stonehenge Cursus (see
below) and are of unknown source (Ixer & Bevins 2010: 7; 2011a: 21–22). Three
defined types of rhyolite (A-C) which are not represented amongst standing
Bluestones at Stonehenge but have been recognized as debitage from the 2008
excavations within Stonehenge, the Heel Stone area, several Aubrey Holes, the
Stonehenge Avenue, and the Stonehenge Cursus  all derive from a series of
outcrops at Craig Rhos-y-Felin near Pont Saeson on the north side of the Preseli
ridge in Pembrokeshire (Ixer & Bevins 2011b; Bevins et al. 2011; Anon. 2011d;
2012a; 2012b). This source area was the focus of archaeological attention in
Summer 2011 when evaluation trenches against the outcrop located a detached
columular bock and associated hammerstones (Parker Pearson et al. 2012).

A review of samples from the Altar Stone confirmed that it was a fine-to-medium
grained calcareous sandstone of the kind found in the Senni Beds of south Wales.
Four other pieces of sandstone from the Stonehenge Cursus, Stonehenge, Aubrey
Hole 1 and Aubrey Hole 5 share a common lithology as low-grade metasediments
and derive from a different source area, possibly from Lower Palaeozoic sandstone
beds (Ixer & Turner 2006).  

An examination of finds from the Cursus Field collected in 1947 and from
excavations by the SRP in 2006 and 2008 confirmed that much of the material could
be matched with samples from Stonehenge (identified as Groups A–D: Ixer &  Bevins
2011a; 2011b) but that some rhyolites could not be matched amongst existing
samples (Ixer & Bevins 2010; Ixer et al. forthcoming).

Paul Robinson (2007) reported the results of petrological studies of 21 stone items
from the Devizes Museum collections that were thin-sectioned by the Implement
Petrology Committee of the South Western Federation of Mueums and Art Galleries
in the late 1950s. This includes material from barrows in Wilsford, Shrewton, and
Winterbourne Stoke. An examination of spotted dolerite axeheads from southern
England suggests that some may have been made from pieces of Stonehenge rather
than introduced from more distant sources (Williams-Thorpe et al. 2006).  

A new study of jadeite axe-heads from Wiltshire has shown that the example said to
have derived from a barrow near Stonehenge and now in the Sailsbury and South
Wiltshire Museum (Accession number SSWM 28/59 (02919)) is of Alpine rock and is
used to define the ‘Durrington type’ with an almond or teardrop shaped outline and a
sharply pointed butt. The original findspot of the piece remains a matter of debate,
but a good case is made for derivation from the Knighton (Figheldean 27) long
barrow (Sheridan et al. 2010: 26 and fig. 7.2). [Contributions to SRF1 Research
Objectives 1, 5, 22]

81 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brian,

Thanks for that summary of bluestone research. It seems to me everything is moving in your direction. Is Tim Darvil GW's collaborator? That's what I recall from the past, but I may be wrong. If so, it is very interesting to me that he should now be 'coming clean' with this research! In advance of an onslaught of rotten eggs coming their (archeologists) way!

Kostas

Tony Hinchliffe said...

I certainly get the impression, as a former Librarian/ Information Worker, that Tim Darvill of the University of Bournemouth has a professional Cataloguer or Classifier's approach to his broader subject. He has constructed many bibliographies on various archaeological subjects. So there may be a possibility that he will adopt a much more catholic, generous, all-embracing approach to the subject of the provenance, etc, etc, of the West Wales stones which eventually arrived, by hook or by crook, at Stonehenge. As Kostas would tell us, the Truth is out there, Jim!

Myris of Alexandria said...

Paul Robinson (2007)(who he???) reported the results of petrological studies of 21 stone items
from the Devizes Museum collections that were thin-sectioned by the Implement
Petrology Committee of the South Western Federation of Mueums and Art Galleries.
I would love a copy of this does anyone have access t'ferret club mag??
Kostas mon brave, TD is not coming clean but trying to be de-eclipsed-would you be stuck, washed in the rain looking at dolerite 'quarries'with GW when everybody else is down in the lowlands getting on with it.??
M.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I like the image of the two professors pottering about in the pouring rain on the high slopes of Mynydd Preseli, looking for dolerite quarries, while the rest of the world gets on with the real work down in the lowlands (and in their labs, maybe?)............

That has a sort of jolly good Britishness about it -- thoroughly intrepid chaps braving the weather and the wilderness in pursuit of their dream....

chris johnson said...

Super link Brian. The Professor gets my thanks for making this overview available on the web in draft form. I look forward to many hours of reading.

He is definite about orthostats having been quarried at Pont Saeson - detached column and hammerstones.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris

This is what he says: "evaluation trenches against the outcrop located a detached columular bock and associated hammerstones..." The fact that he is "definite" does not mean that he is correct. MPP has an opinion, and TD is citing it here -- but as I have said many times on this blog, there are detached blocks all over the place, beneath every little cliff and crag in Pembrokeshire, and you do not need human beings to do the detaching. Having examined the site, I find the "evidence" of quarrying to be not at all convincing.

As for the hammerstones, there are rounded stones all over the place in the Rhosyfelin area, and the MPP team were very coy with their "evidence" on that too. Let's have a look at these "hammerstones" and then maybe we can come to a view as to where the truth might lie....

chris johnson said...

I recall your skepticism. On the other hand there are several standing stones near the outcrops and it is not beyond belief that some of them were quarried. Monuments were built with local stone; Brittany springs to mind. Neither would it, to my mind, disprove glacial transport. The professors still need to explain how the stones were transported such a long distance.

As far as I understand it, the act of separating a column from the outcrop might be relatively simple - wooden props expanding when soaked with water. The word "quarry" conjures up a scale of industrial type activity which is inappropriate perhaps? No doubt there were more orthostats just lying around than are visible today, the result of ice age forces, as you say.

There is also a lack of evidence, I think, about when this quarrying might have taken place. I suppose we need a few antlers in the right context or some neolithic houses to be more sure.

Tony H said...

"As I have said many times before on this blog, there are detached blocks all over the place..."

Let us all calm down, and listen to some soothing music....

The late-lamented Ian Dury [& the Blockheads],anyone? Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, two wet arch- ae-ologists, click click click....

"....thoroughly intrepid chaps braving the weather and the wilderness in pursuit of their dream..."

No one sang it BETTER than diddy U.S. Andy Williams as Don Quixote with:-

To Dream.... the Impossible Dream....
To fight....the unbeatable foe....
To run....where the brave dare not go....
To right.... the unrightable wrong....
To reach....the unreachable [dolerite] star(s?)

Tony H said...

Myris

Paul Robinson is the now-retired Curator of Devizes Museum aka Wiltshire Heritage Museum.I think your source reveals his address as Potterne, Wilts,where he currently potters, so you could write direct to him. I'll check my own copy of t'County ferret club mag later but doubt it'll be in there, me old fruit. Maybe David Dawson, the current Director of aforesaid, could advise you, Myris, he's a helpful soul.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- standing stones in the neighbourhood prove nothing. There are detached blocks of stone and erratics all over the place in N Pembs, and the evidence suggests that those who put up standing stones were opportunists who simply used whatever was at hand. I think that stone availability was a prime factor in determining the locations of standing stones. (Others of course think that the locations were determined first, with ley lines, or astronomical observations in mind, with the stones then being fetched and put in these "significant" or auspicious places.....)

Of course, quarrying would not have been on an industrial scale -- if it happened, it might have been opportunist, using the fire and water technique or expanding wooden wedges. (I recall taking part in a jolly experiment years ago for Japanese TV, involving a very large bonfire and a block of spotted dolerite, out on the moorland near Mynachlogddu......)

Neolithic houses? If there are Neolithic houses on the moorland beneath Carn Goedog, does that prove that there was a quarry there? I think not.....

Anonymous said...

Chris

SCEPTICISM is spelt thus, at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Samuel Johnson

chris johnson said...

There are a couple of famous monuments close by from the neolithic so I think it is likely that there was activity in the general area, even when you discount the standing stones.

I also think MPP has seen enough neolithic sites and hammerstones NOT to make a basic mistake in such an important location. Still, I agree 100% that it would be nice to see the evidence.

There are indeed many standing stones in N. Prescelli. Many coincidences ...

Tony H said...

Mike and his Merry Men may have seen many sarsen stone hammerstones in the Salisbury and Devizes Museums, but Brian's point is that HE has seen many Preseli rounded stones which have been shaped by water and nature and he can recognise those for what they arebecause he has the expertise to do so.

There appears, on the surface, to be an impasse.

Perhaps we need to find out HOW MANY of these hammerstone-like stones can be identified by conducting a comprehensive selective field survey of a large part of rocky Pembrokeshire. I suspect there would be far more than would be strictly required to tackle the intended useage ( i.e.of hammering into shape orthostats)! Mike, Colin and Josh, in my opinion, have entered Never-Never Land rather than sufficiently beautiful Preseli. I think in their enthusiasm they have got rather carried away with extending pre-existing world-wide anthropological comparisons to "fit" the Stonehenge - Preseli situation.

Geocur said...

It is clear that many monuments were not sited simply because of availability of local stones . Arch sceptic of anthro stone movement , OWT accepts that the Kerloas menhir weighing 100 -150 tonnes , was moved 2.5 km .The weight and distance are not that important in relation to human transport in general , although they may have been to the movers , but it is obvious that the siting of the stone was , otherwise it would have been erected close to where it was quarried . Ley lines ,whatever you might believe them to be , are an unlikely reason and astronomy not much better .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- we have been over all of this before. Sure -- some stones might have been moved by human agency, but that does not mean that all, or even most, were moved deliberately. I would still argue that the weight of evidence is for most stones to have been erected where they were found. Having said that, a lot of stones were simply left lying where they were -- so there must have been some motivation to erect some stones and not others.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Now I may have this wrong and mis-remembered.
The Cuckoo Stone within the "Stonehenge Landscape" is a sarsen (I have not seen it but only some of the assoc. pottery)that was lying naturally and was then erected vertically and this comes from the MPP boys.
The MPP boys and others have no problem with local stones being locally erected.
May I stress again that the Standing Stones book of Olaf Swarbrick is in the shops and full of data that have not been interpreted by anyone nad he has a section of stones dragged up-hill.


""In September 1996 Olaf Swarbrick, a very well-respected, large-animal vet, determined to visit and record all the British, (mainly single) standing stones between the Scilly Isles and Unst in the Shetlands (but not the Channel Isles).
So between 1997 and 2009 he visited 1068 sites (sometimes more than once) measured and recorded just over 1500 stones; this Gazetteer is the result of those monumental observations.""

I shall post my book review when it is finished and accepted.
I think this book to be important on many many levels.
I even think that some amateurs have merit-there said it. BUT he did not read the primary literature.
But the man was a hero.
M

chris johnson said...

I wonder how many of the standing stones in N Presceli can be provenanced to Rhos y felin?

Geocur said...

We are all opportunists when it comes to building material for utilitarian projects and nobody , archaeologists included , suggests all monuments including standing stones and hut circles were not locally sourced . It is the exceptions , like Stonehenge , that are interesting . Extreme glacial transport proponents suggest that the nearest to the monumnet site that a glacier could have dumped the bluestones is something like 12 miles .Transporting the stones even that distance is not best described as being opportunistic but it is pales into insignificance when compared with other projects or even the other works at Stonehenge .

Tony H said...

Geo, Myris & Brian

The CUCKOO STONE is a fascinating example of a local piece of natural sarsen that has remained in the same spot since Neolithic times, as has just been demonstrated by Colin Richards' excavations in 2007. It is aligned with the Great Cursus & the Amesbury 42 long barrow at the end of that cursus. Colin showed that its original stonehole (it is now recumbent) is right next to it. Moreover, the stonehole is cut into a larger depression, a geomorphological feature called a solution hollow, that formed beneath the stone before it was erected.

MPP acknowledges (probably on the back of the researches made recently by English Heritage's David Field) that, originally, sarsens occurred across Salisbury Plain, "so it is highly likely that, during the Neolithic, natural sarsens were found as far south as - and possibly beyond - Stonehenge".

The other notable example of a natural sarsen stone still more or less where it first occurred and yet utilised as part of prehistoric man's landscape architecture is Stonehenge's own Heel Stone, following excavations near it in the late 1970's by Mike Pitt, which found similar landscape evidence to that described above for the Cuckoo Stone.

BRIAN JOHN said...

None, as far as I know. But you can bet your bottom dollar that MPP and his colleagues will be desperate to find some matches this summer as a proof of hypothesis. First on the sampling list -- the Waun Mawn stones.... They look to me like local dolerite - nothing remarkable about them at all.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- i don't have a problem with the Stonehenge bluestones being collected up from a wide area and brought to the site. But "extreme glacial transport proponents" -- I can think of a couple -- think that the bluestones could have been transported all the way to Stonehenge. Not sure where you got that 12 miles thing from.....

Tony H said...

Well done Olaf (any relation, however distant? - distant ancestors are currently in vogue) to fiddler electric, Dave S?). If he is indeed a "well-respected, large-animal vet" he may have had no difficulty in restoring to upright a few recumbent stones during his recording travels. A broadly - built Scandinavian springs to mind: an adventurous soul, like Leslie Valentine Grinsell, barrow recorder extraordinaire, who started off as an enthusiastic amateur. Phil Harding is a similar enthusiast turned Doctor & professional.

chris johnson said...

This is the same chap who thought the white horse is actually a hunting dog. As a vet I respect his opinion. Splendid name too.

It sounds like a great hobby to make such a gazetteer.

Myris of Alexandria said...

No relation to Swarb (I know SO many stories about Swarb and Fairport on tour)we lived next door to Dave Pegg for decades and would drink Spanish Gin when he returned from tour and then Rosie knew Swarb from the Macarthy days 60s/70s when they all did the folk clubs together.

But he was a relation of Mike Pitts.
Yes he is the hunting dog man.

Sadly he died- at a good age-before the book was published.
M

Geocur said...

The 12 miles comes from “Meanwhile, about twelve miles west of Stonehenge in the vicinity of the Boles earthen long barrow near Warminster, there was a litter of glacially shifted stones from the Preselis. “ Burl or “or even on the western parts of Salisbury Plain. “ yourself , only mentioned as a guide of some beliefs of extreme glacial distances from Preseli . Even at that distance accepting the movement of bluestones 12 miles (20 Km ) is a bit further than “We are not aware of any megalithic monument that requires stone transport from a rock outcrop or a local glacial deposit from a distance exceeding c.5 Km. “ OWT .(1991 ) .
You wouldn’t build a utilitarian structure like small family house immediately where stone was available , you choose the site according to factors like prevailing wind , access to water ,light , heat , avoidance of damp etc . then move the material to suit , hopefully not too far . Communal non utilitarian monuments do not have these constraints and it is obvious that the site itself is important , whether that meant felling and quarrying wood and stones then moving them long distances or digging ditches into rock or chalk it is what happened time and again . Opportunism was not a consideration and the site was .

chris johnson said...

Interesting question whether people used stones which happened to be nearby, or chose to be close to interesting stones. There was plenty of choice where to hang out in the neolithic.

Tony H said...

Dave Swarbrick and Fairport came up with their own word, "Unhalfbricking", for one of their best Albums - curious expression, had they been reading about how the hauler-boys felt as they cajoled their sarsens from wherever for however many megalithic yards/miles to Stonehenge? Hope Dave is now harmonising with Sandy, Myris. My wife's favourite singer by far.

geocur said...

Tony , Dave is still with us (although not the first time his demise has been reported ), it's Olaf who has gone .

Tony H said...

Glad to hear that, Geo. Reports of his demise have been exaggerated thankfully. We've just had the 1st Westbury [Wilts] Folk Festival beneath that White Horse in balmy/barmy sunny hot conditions, a good time was had by all apparently....Saw Dave in Aberystwyth many moons/suns ago with Fairport Convention.

Myris of Alexandria said...

My favourite was Bromyard Festival and Cleethorpes at t'end of ' pier but it has been decades since I have been to one (both festival and/or pier).
Rosie did Stornoway Festival once and they said do you want to go to Callanish as a treat and she said ....... (meaning no!).
I did take her to Avebury and West Kennet on our honeymoon- they were still building them!!- 'Welsh speakers they were, lot of pig-roasts'
Earlier I meant to say the great Martin Carthy not Macarthy.
Miss Denny (Dave told/tells? naughty -not rude- stories about her)returns us to earlier posts concerning Lord Franklin and the Beaufort Sea.
M

Anonymous said...

HAPPY OLYMPICS EVERYONE! MAY THE OLYMPIC SPIRIT FILL YOUR HEARTS AND LIVES ...

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Brian,

The Opening Ceremonies were most entertaining. I especially enjoyed the Queen and Mr Bond. Mr. Bean wasn't bad either. He is always very funny. One thing surprised me though. There was absolutely no reference to Stonehenge! Could this be a sign the archeologists influence is waning? Or people are already ahead of that curve.

Kostas

Tony H said...

Thank you, Kostas, I concur with your wishes and extend them to you too............what did you make of the Opening Ceremony over on the other side of The Pond??! are you aware of Rowan Atkinson and hIs tireless work for Humanity in the guise of Mr Bean? Did you know this actor has an Oxbridge Physics Degree? (yes, for once I am being serious)

Myris, I last weekend took a butcher's (no pun intended?) at Robin Hood's Ball, the Neolithic Causewayed Camp circa 3600 B.C., 2 miles or so NW of Stonehenge. Didn't manage to find any of the sarsen stones located close by it. Stands on high ground beyond Larkhill Camp. We also saw the beginnings of the works at Airman's Corner where the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre will be placed. MPP et al talk of a possible stone circle (minus stones) to its NW.

Tony H said...

Myris
Rock on!! Talking of Welsh Speakers at Avebury, we know, via the New Age Branch of my wife's 'Stone' family, a Germanic tree-hugger who runs a Bed & Breakfast at Avebury Trusloe. Suppose she must be to Avebury what the Continental Amesbury Archer is/was to Stonehenge? Not sure how she feels about barbequed Welsh pork, probably a committed veggie.

Tony H said...

Apologies, all Rowan Atkinson fans, his Degree was in Electrical Engineering not Physics.

chris johnson said...

The olympic opening was marvelous and brilliant and got an excellent press here in Holland.

There are many things that might have been included but Stonehenge? Seeing that we are not sure whether it is a triumphant symbol of harmony, a folly, or a precursor of empire - well perhaps it was best to leave it out. Healthcare was well covered by the NHS, and our ancient past by Glastonbury Tor.

As for Macca, he is becoming an Icon and allowed to sing out-of-tune on state occasions. I liked the Tube video of the returning passengers singing Hey Jude while queuing to get onto the platform.

It was all uniquely British and reminded us all that the British are unique.

My favorite moment was the Pink Pig flying over the City of London. I suppose it was sold to Lord Coe as a tribute to the archaeology at Durrington Walls.

Tony H said...

The Olympic Ceremony link with the West Country in the shape of the Great Western Railway's Isambard Kingdom Brunel ( aka actor Kenneth Cranham) meant there was sadly/ thankfully no room for Stonehenge or the Preselis. The man in the top hat replaced Stonehenge's big chief. Isambard must, incidentally, have been responsible for quite a few 19th Century quarries in the process of the buildings associated with him, such as Box Tunnel and Bristol Temple Meads station. Perhaps Tim and Geoffrey should switch their quarry searches to IKB's contribution, they may well have more success.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kenneth Cranham? Who he?

Tony H said...

Try Kenneth Brannagh, then; aka Kurt Wallander, a character in a Swedish detective story.Which version of 'Wallander' does the John household prefer to view?

You can't expect me to always produce every name and fact like a Rabbit out of a Hat (like MPP produced Ramilisonina out of Madagascar, his own Pterodactyl from his own Lost World).

Incidentally, Kenneth Cranham seems to be another actor.

Myris of Alexandria said...

A thorn (there must be an AS pun here somewhere) to the side perhaps.
M

I have always wanted to provenance the stone sink that Joseph of Arimathea floated to Britain in.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- the Swedish version, any day. Much more gritty and realistic....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Didn't know about that old fellow Joseph. But legend has it that our local saint, one st Brynach, travelled all the way from Rome to Milford Haven on a miraculous slab of rock. Having arrived, he had to work very hard to resist the seductive intentions of a lusty local princess, who fell in love with him. Eventually he landed up in Nevern, but that's another rather long story.......

chris johnson said...

I agree with Brian on Wallander - the Swedish version is much better and why the Beeb chose to make their own series instead of sub-titling the original? Well I do know why, the English don't do subtitles or dubbing.

In any case the books are better than either, even in translation.

Tony H said...

Myris of Alexandria (incidentally, weren't you in 'Carry On Cleo' with yet ANOTHER Kenneth, the REALLY serious actOr?), I recommend you check out the Eternal Idol website of Dennis Price, for many things of interest to do with Joseph of Arimathaea (do not scoff) INCLUDING geological [e.g. he hewed out his own tomb because he apparently had the skills].Dennis, you see, has, like yourself, a good grasp of The Greek, language that is, oh dear, I seem to be lasping, nay, lisping, into Mr Howerd. Go to:-

http://www.eternalidol.com?p=4909
then look for his book on Jesus as a sub-heading. I'm not his Agent.

Tony H said...

Lusty local princess played, preferably, by Catherine Zeta Jones. Not sure about St Brynach, how about Rob Brydon to keep it fairly local and therefore authentic. But, first, when's the screenplay coming out, Brian?

Tony H said...

Another worthy mention of Dennis Price's Eternal Idol website (see my earlier comment above):-

Dennis has produced an excellent summary account, titled 2012 OLYMPIC CEREMONY EXPLAINED, dated 31 July 2012. Well worth a read, as Chris has acknowledged there.Even old romantics like Brian may enjoy.

BRIAN JOHN said...

When Catherine finishes playing Martha Morgan in the Angel Mountain film, she might be free for a role as the lusty princess. Must check with her agent.....

Myris of Alexandria said...

oooooooerrr ducky. I am no actOr but a right bona thes'pian. Check out my roles.
I read his edited diaries and wished I had not. I am afraid his feet were most clearly argillaceous (if I have not muddied the metaphors too much)and him so bitter.
Still the pleasure he gave especially within the sublime Round the Horne.
They have virtually all gone, just Miss Babbs left? now somewhere there must be Twin Peaks named for her.
Infamy, infamy ...
I think that voted the funniest line ever?
M

Anonymous said...

Yes, I had Kenny W on the brain due to the 3 tribute progs last Friday on the Beeb.

Subsequently it occurred to me it did that the Kinks' "L'L'LOLA" quite probably was inspired by Hugh Paddick's Lotus Blossom character in Round The Horne (set against Tu En Ginsberg. So Marty Feldman should have been on the record's credits.

Our generation were t't'truly blessed with humour and music even if people tried to put us down.Our rugs are still ruffling with the memories. It's what keeps us young. y'know.

SELWYN FROGGATT

Anonymous said...

Hope I die before I get old

The Who.

Anonymous said...

The correspondant calling himself "The Who"

Some of them did, some didn't, and Pete Townsend & Roger Daltry are probably glad they didn't.

They were, after all, singing about a far less tolerant older generation they grew up with.

Now British O.A.P.'s still play their Who albums; and even record their own version of "My Generation".

SELWYN

BRIAN JOHN said...

I fear that we are a little off topic here, folks........

Tony H said...

Going off-topic seems to have started when Olaf Swarbrick brought back memories of his musical namesake, Dave. At least we have established that Dave is still very much alive.

We also wandered from the Olympics Opening Ceremony (featuring Glastonbury) to Swedish Wallander by way of Kenneth Branagh........then somehow to Kenneth Williams and beyond.....

You can see how these ancient folk myths get started.Folk sitting round fires chatting, pre-Twitter.

chris johnson said...

Talking of the Who, I am curious about different attitudes to death at different times. There have been times when an early death was considered a blessing (the good die young), others when a death in battle in the prime of life was honoured.

An anthropologist subscriber to this blog draws attention to the close relation between the living and the dead in early societies. When I look at the long barrows I don't see graves, I see a place where different dimensions unite. They are equally a sanctum for the living as they are for the dead.

Today we have a miserable attitude to death, keeping people alive in care homes and hospitals for too long. When I hear the iconic words of the Who this is mostly what I think about; the dreadful perspective of being alone and confused in an institution having my ass wiped by someone on minimum wage who might or might not care.

We call ourselves civilised, but I suspect the neolithic was much more civilised in their attitudes to life and death. Death and the after-life being a natural part of life itself.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- you say: "I suspect the Neolithic was much more civilised in their attitudes to life and death..."
Don't agree with you on that. You have no basis for that statement other than a some cromlechs and a few traces of burials here and there -- some people in the Neolithic might have had a reasonably sophisticated attitude, but how do you know how widespread that belief was? You might just as well say that Methodist Central Hall represents a belief system to which 100% of the population subscribed, which clearly they didn't.......

Tony H said...

With regard to Chris' comments about different attitudes to death at different times, I would just point out that in the Outer Hebrides & The Orkneys excavations have found older relatives/ancestors buried in very close proximity to the living, WITHIN their own houses, as far as I remember sometimes within the main living-spaces, so to that extent Chris is correct in discerning a close relationship between living and dead.

But we might find some hope for modern society when quite a few folk like to keep the ashes of their beloved ones close to them (rather than necessarily scattering them to the winds). Also, I have witnessed as a visitor to a decent [BUPA] Nursing Home over many years, good respectful treatment of the residents by nurses and care assistants alike.

And it was a tremendously pleasant shock/surprise to see the Who perform at the Closing Ceremony of The Olympics last weekend - a band the younger generation love!!...... because of their association with a U.S. Crime Series, C.S.I. (We Won't Get Fooled Again).

Anonymous said...

Hello all! I've recently read and re-read Brian's excellent book and thought I might add some comments that might be of interest. I very much agree with the 'Glacial Transport' theory as expounded by Mr. John.

My name's Jon, I'm an aerospace engineer by trade, but ever since I found a Neolithic nephrite axe in the deep desert of Arabia in 2000, I've been fascinated with ground and polished axes of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (EBA). I've been back in the UK since 2003 and my interest has continued with studies of the British and European tools of this type.

In very many cases, the pristine axes/adzes that were deposited into lakes, ponds, rivers and other such liminal spaces (as part of Neolithic/EBA ritual) were made of green coloured materials. British axes largely conform to this observation.I certainly believe that the peculiarly British fascination for Bluestones in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ritual is all part of a wider Neolithic phenomena – the key to which is colour.

The fact that the 'Big 3' stone types (there are many more) used for the production of British 'greenstone' axes in the Neolithic are in fact Bluestones.....will not be lost on those interested in the wider Bluestone narrative.

The Big 3 stone types for British Neolithic ground and polished axes are....

1. Epidotized tuff from the Langdale valley, Cumbria. Langdale axes are found widely distributed throughout Britain and Ireland. They are probably also present on the Continent, but more finds and much more research is required. The beautiful axes produced from this material in the Neolithic are usually green in colour, but that is only acquired during the polishing stage of the axe.

After (up to) six thousand years in the environment, their colour can vary…..but they are usually a distinctive shade of green when found. At the quarrying stage however, they are undoubtedly a Bluestone. Currently listed as Group VI, with several sub-Groups. Quarried at height from perilous sites. If I were a British Neolithic tribesman – I’d almost certainly describe it as a Sacred Stone.

2. Cornish 'greenstones', amphiboles etc from the Mount's Bay area of Cornwall. Quarried at height, samples can still be scavenged from seashore. Produces very fine, green axes....some almost black in colour when the polishing process is complete. Widely distributed, Group I and numerous sub-Groups. Most are clearly Bluestones at the quarrying stage. More research required – some quarries have almost certainly been lost to sea-level rise. Sacred Stone Status (see above).

3. Porphyritic Microdiorite (N. Wales). Principal site at Craig Llywd, Penmaenmawr. Produces green axes that have been widely distributed. Various groups – mainly VII. Without doubt a sacred stone. Mountainous site.

Just three of Britain’s most beautiful Bluestones! Hope this is of some interest - best wishes.

Tony H said...

Anonymous (Jon)

That is fascinating. The first dig I ever went on, as a teenager, was to the aptly-named Green Low Chambered Tomb in the Derbyshire Peak District. Is its name a folk memory? Perhaps not, but, nevertheless, a fragment of a polished greenstone axe had already been found on this dig, just before I got there.

The archaeologist, T.G.Manby, clearly an enlightened man who wanted to encourage youthful enthusiasm, told me where to very gently trowel, as there might be a 2nd portion of the axe. He was right! the moment I revealed it, he DID intervene....but I had found it! And it was beautiful. I was from that moment hooked.

I see in the report of this dig (1965) that, after examination by a petrologist, the larger fragment was assigned to the axe petrology group VI.

The Peak District, whilst being well north of Watford, is nevertheless a LONG way from the Lake District source of Great Langdale. I gather from Francis Pryor [Britain B.C.,2003] that the precise source is "located high on a mountainous fell on the Pike O'Sickle, beside a steep drop and overlooking a dramatic valley of outstanding beauty".

Pryor goes on (page 151, Early Neolithic Chapter):-

"the special fine-grained stone used to make the Langdale axes doesn't only outcrop at that remote spot, but, nontheless, that was the place selected. In simple, practical terms, it doesn't make sense - any more than it makes sense to transport huge bluestone rocks from the Preseli Hills..to Stonehenge; but that's what happened."

Whether we agree with Francis Pryor's last statement or not, he goes on: "By looking at places like Langdale & Preseli as mere quarries or factories, we are commodifying them: the axes become mere products, with no further significance, and we lose sight of what Richard Bradley has termed the 'archaeology of natural places'. As the cover blurb to his book succinctly puts it: 'natural places have an archaeology because they acquire a significance in the MINDS of people in the past.

There is more very readable stuff following this in Francis' book, which I strongly recommend.

BRIAN JOHN said...

That's all very romantic and lovely. Show me some evidence that the stone was actually quarried there and I might take some of this seriously. Otherwise, I think I might prefer to go with Stephen Briggs and Olwen Williams-Thorpe and think that axes were made from glacial erratics in the places where those erratice were found -- ie anywhere in the landscape, down-glacier of the source area........

Tony H said...

Perhaps you should obtain Pryor's book quoted above, Brian, since he has much more to say, and much of it is not "romantic and lovely", but is based upon his archaeological knowledge, e.g. of the distribution map of Langdale axes. And I am not a touch typist! You could then debate his points one by one.

Tony H said...

"East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet..."?

Lines from:-
GENE PITNEY 'MECCA'

Isn't there room for intelligent debate? Even your novels contain an element of what could be described as 'romanticism'.

Do you deny our forebears any tendencies towards deeper thoughts?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Boys boys boys.
As an ex-Chairman (no stupid 'chair'for me) of the Mad Axe Group (Implement Petrology Group) may I add an informed comment or two.
The Mad Axe group uses the term greenstone in its Victorian gelogical sense namely a highly amphibolitised mafic rock- the Cornish ones are altered gabbros and dolerites mainly. The Group(s)I to III (Cornish Greenstones) are a petrographical mess but there is recent work certainly post SASII. I agree that some 'Group I-III found in the south of England are adventitious/although glacial erratic south of the Thames is difficult.
Quarry sites are now fairly well established for Craig Llywd and for the Pike of Sickle. I would not call Group VIII (Craig LLywd) axes green.
I suggest that you read SASIII (for all its faults -there is a slightly bizarre paper on SH by Darvill, dated with many errrors) although the paper on Group VI has many typos and I certainly do not claim native cobalt (I did not see the paper until I reviewed the volume or would have corrected thatand many more of the errors/typos) from the epidotised rocks for a more recent 'take' in this group.
It also contains recent work on Group VIII origins.
I am certain that many axe head were produced from erratics (as was some pot temper) but many were quarried.
The huge and most wonderful Projet Jade has just been published mainly in French I think Everything you ever wanted to know about jadeite axes.
The recent Bracer volume has MUCH on the significance of colour in Beaker lithics and some very very very silly stuff too.
You know boys what I am going to say-READ the b.....y primary RECENT literature 30 years is too long ago.
In this case SASIII and the Baker bracer volume and for francophones Projet Jade (although very good summaries in SASIII.)
M.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I expect it does and I'm aware of Projet Jade - and its architect - the very great Pierre Petrequin. My partner and I saw him in action at Cardiff Uni - receiving the Europa Prize. There were some exquisite axes/adzes on show - the majority of them stone (and of course, green), but also some flint axes, which had an equally important role in the development of Neolithic Britain. Looking forward to reading the volume - I'm a pal of Graham Hill and have produced a series of axes - some for archaeological projects.

I mean no harm and come in peace....sometimes you have to explain that to archaeologists. ;)

Jon.

Anonymous said...

Mr. John's analysis is spot-on to my mind. Given that the builders of Stonehenge might have been willing to transport Sarsens from as far away as 20-30 miles, it's also probably the case that the same applied to bluestones (of numerous type/source) that were transported via a massive (and advancing) glacier?!

The point is surely being missed. What set these rocks apart from the Sarsens.....was their colour. It is what the vast majority of the inner circle/horseshoe stones are constructed from - Blue Stones. And whether or not the monument was ever really 'finished' before the fall in grace of the religious order at the end of the Bronze Age - Does it really matter? Axes/adzes, Bluestones and Megalithic Monuments are one and the same in Neolithic Britain. Stonehenge was a marvel of its time - it continues to draw allsorts of people to it - for allsorts of reasons. What could be more humane?! Jon

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your post very much Tony H :)

Tony H said...

M

first, how's the kitten on your lap? will we ever get to see your face? Perhaps in the next Bond movie??

As regards "read the b****y Primary Literature, I was QUOTING the Primary Literature viz;-

The Excavation Of Green Low Chambered Tomb by T.G. Manby, 1965.

Second, please, Myris, for the uninitiated and/or slightly dim, what are SASII & also SASIII??

There is a very fine jade axe - head in Avebury Museum's backrooms what I have seen.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Sorry too swift
Ah!! Group VII is Craig LLywd
Now Group VIII is REALLY interesting and is SH-related It is a non-Craig Rhos-y-felin, Welsh probably, rhyolite with very distinctive semi-opaques. It is the bluestone fragment found at West Kennet -not a bit of dolerite as reported in SASIII.
Soon I hope to get around to writing it (the group) up.
VII is quite a nice group but the axes are often impossible to correctly recognise in hand specimen (true for me but others may have greater experience and be correct more often).
The real fun of axe heads would be to see all the 30% -forget the exact figure- that are unclassified and do not belong to a named group.
Many are the erratics I guess but others may have something to tell us.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Leaving aside the technicalities of how many axe groups they are, and which rock types may be represented within them, I simply tried to point out in my last comment that we should not assume that just because stones for the making of beautiful green (or blue, or whatever) axes might have been hewn from the ground in certain places, those places were then invested with some sort of sacred significance.

The axes might have been highly valued as works of exquisite craftsmanship, or because they were uniquely coloured or rare)and they might have had high value or status -- sufficient maybe to have been placed inside funerary settings in religious ceremonials. But how much value do we place on coal mines or stone quarries today? Even gold mines are not revered or highly valued -- except by the owners who make an honest or dishonest living from them. I suggest that the stone quarries of the Neolithic or the Bronze Age were equally insignificant -- they were simple places where you went to to fetch some stone. Do we actually have any evidence at all that any of these "quarries" were really revered by their users? Or is that all just a rosy romantic notion?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Anon -- about the colour of bluestones. The idea that they were "special" because they were blue has been around for as long as Stonehenge myths have been in circulation-- but it doesn't hold water. Some months ago we did a little experiment with the help of Pete G and Timothy D -- and it turns out that the sarsens are more blue than the bluestones, which are in turn rather grey or brown in colour. Just put "bluestone colour" in the search box and you'll probably come to the discussion.

Tony H said...

God bless you all,Gentlemen, nice to have a civilised discussion on all matters blue and green, and their relevance [or not] to those Good Ol' Boys, some of whose descendants can STILL be seen at places like Silbury Hill visitors' picnic site,virilely astride their motorcycles.
Going back to colours, Steven Fry had an interesting discussion on Colours on his Radio 4 Series, Fry's English Delight [probably still downloadable].

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah NO no no
Read the correct bl.....y primary literature!
SAS is Stone Axe Studies.
The bluestones have only been called bluestone for 120-150 years they are not called that in the earliest SH serious Victorian Lit.
Read the mid-late Victorian magazines (can buy on-line may the Gods bless Ebay) they do not use the term bluestone.
Interesting point Brian!! lots of free trippettes for someone doing ethnographical work!! Starting with the Esiquimeaux meteorite rocks and then onto Mons Claudianus and the andesite quarries south of Peru (the latter we are already doing).
Sadly there are papers, and I have even read a couple, that do just this namely compare drift mines of early, albeit, metal mine sites and wombic feelings and emerging from caves and the Mysteries of Eleusis (may our Great Mother be blessed and bless us).
OH how I loathe TAG and all its works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I shall now spend some time wondering about my next book 'In search of the sacred quarry:
Ethnographic masonary musings'.
You are a publisher Brian- split the monies 70:30 (by the way I also have your lottery winings of 1,000,000 pounds english (sic) just need some personal details.
M

Anonymous said...

Oddly the only arch object I have ever wanted to steal is a blue-coloured bracer found from the Thomas Hardy school in the 1990/2000s-it is in the bracer volume.
I handled it a couple of times months/years apart and the first time the colour struck me as wonderful and but the second time it seemed rather drab. Same room same lighting conditions perhaps different mind-set.
I am not a great lover of bluestones/spotted/unspotted 'starry starry night'dolerites being mystical.
Job-lot fell of the back of an ox-cart.
Jude the obscene. Myris has gone off to search for an ear of corn!

Tony H said...

Myris

In your comment of 20 August at 08.13, you refer to "a blue-coloured bracer found from the Thomas Hardy school" and its colour striking you as beautiful.

When you say "Thomas Hardy school", are you implying it has some connection with Dorchester and/or his house there, "Max Gate" which adjoins/ shared the site with "Flagstones"? Flagstones later (1987) proved to have part of a henge underneath it.It has similar ditch dimensions to Stonehenge.

Myris of Alexandria said...

No it is modern school I think
I only know the location.
Nothing to do with the Victorian/Edwardian author directly any more than the miriad Nelson Mendala schools are to the mahatma.
Loved that song!!
Freeeeeee Nelson Mend'ala.
M

Flinty said...

To Brian's comment regarding the sacred nature of axe-factory sites, I would just say this - I've been to several and I've made tools from many others. You get very involved with the material if you can claim both?! I have some interesting pics of my own.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Hi Flinty -- I don't doubt that you get very involved and that you can get caught up with "the spirit of the place"....... I feel a very strong empathy with certain places myself. Probably we all do. It just seems to me that reverence arises out of the use or associations that a place might have, after a little while or maybe after a long time. I am just looking for evidence of old quarry sites being revered in the same way that a church or a wayside shrine might be revered. still waiting...

Flinty said...

I'm certain that tools of expedience were manufactured from whatever material came to hand. Equally, I'm certain that artefacts manufactured from stone materials gathered from mountainous sites were sacred - they are often the only places that yield the important minerals required.

Look at the jet-black floorstone of Grimes Graves - another sacred stone - but instead of being harvested from the sky, it is harvested from the underworld. Bluestones and black flint. When the subterranean galleries were closed, the ceremonies often included Green Axe sacrifices.

In the words of the obnoxious poster....."Read the recent research"! lol

BRIAN JOHN said...

Flinty -- " When the subterranean galleries were closed, the ceremonies often included Green Axe sacrifices". Evidence please?

Flinty said...

Well there's one particularly interesting example I can think of. One of the galleries at Grimes Graves was closed with the arrangement of 2 antler picks, the skull of a rare bird (Phalorope) and a greenstone axe. Not you'll notice a beautiful flint axe - but a green one.

BRIAN JOHN said...

As far as I can see, this is the ONLY example of any ceremonial -- not very wise to assume that this was always done?!

Flinty said...

No absolutely - I wasn't claiming always......

But it is unusual enough to be noteworthy. Anyway, the subject doesn't need defending by amateurs like me - the truth will out! :)