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Thursday, 20 September 2012

About turn on Garn Turne


One of the most interesting things about the evening at Brynberian was the presentation by Colin Richards on the 2012 excavations at Garn Turne, some way away from Rhosyfelin and in the southern Preseli foothills.  The key feature is the massive 80 tonne capstone at the heart of a portal dolmen.  Previously, Colin has maintained the line that the capstone was moved from the rocky crag at the top of the hill by our sturdy ancestors, and indeed his team started to dig into a hollow near the summit which was assumed to be the place from which the stone was taken.  However, when they excavated there, they discovered that it was nothing more than a buried wartime lookout or some such thing, even including a concrete slab.  (I think that's what he said....)  So that was ruled out, and after this year's dig the conclusion is that the huge recumbent stone has simply been used in the place where it was found.  That's a major turnaround in interpretation, and great respect is due to Colin Richards for that......

Two really interesting things have come out of the dig. 

First, that there are TWO dolmens here, in the same place.  The first (a small one) used as a capstone the boulder we can see in the photo immediately to the right of the tree shadow, slap in the middle of the portal to the second -- later -- dolmen which used the 80-tonne capstone.  So there is multiple use here, with at least two generations using the same site.

Second, the huge second capstone has been raised bit by bit, through the use of long levers (wooden poles) and packing stones to hold it up as it was raised laboriously, inch inch, from its original bed.  The grooves can still be seen, in which the ends of the levers were placed.  They were no fools, these fellows, since they used exactly the same technique as I use in my garden when I am trying to shift a 2-tonne erratic boulder which is projecting inconveniently through the ground surface...........

So there we are then.  This time we have a glacial erratic used at the place where it was found, not all that far from its source.  Colin also confirmed what Steve Burrow has said -- that the tradition in Wales was not to move large capstones, but to use them in the places where they have been dumped by ice or else where they occur at natural rock outcrops.  Now what was I saying about that all those months ago.....??



66 comments:

Geocur said...

Did Colin provide any evidence for this lifting , or provenance for the source of the ( 80 tonne ?,it seems to be getting heavier, 60 tonne used to be the max with 50 the most often quoted ) ) capstone .

BRIAN JOHN said...

I don't think he was bothered about the provenance. He says it was found where it was used -- end of story. I agree the weight seems to be going up all the time -- don't ask me where he gets the figure from!!

Geocur said...

I wouldn't be so quick to accept the word of archaeos or geologists without some evidence , especially when it suits an agenda . A war time look out on the top of the outcrop doesn't exclude the outcrop being the source .
Some believe the capstone was never raised in the first place ,see (Barker, C. 1992. The chambered tombs of south-west Wales: a reassessment of the Neolithic burial
monuments of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.) .
I had mentioned here a while ago , probably twice , that the capstones of Carreg Samson , and Pentre Ifan are considered by some , particularly Colin Richards (see Richards, C. 2004 Labouring with monuments:
Constructing the dolmen at Carreg
Samson, south-west Wales. In V. Cummings
and C. Fowler (eds.), The Neolithic of the Irish
Sea, 72–80. ) & Whittle, A. 2004. Stones that float to the sky:
Portal dolmens and their landscape of memory
and myth. ) to be raised directly from the where they stood . This belief has nothing to do with scavenging opportunism, what could possibly be opportunistic about raising a 50 tonne rock , but is based on a putative cosmography possibly derived from viewing the capstone and pit it was taken from as a vertical expression of the massive split tree trunks often found in funerary contexts .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Now come along, Geo! Let it go! I know you want to have stones hauled around all over the place, and you are welcome to say so -- but hopefully not too often please. Colin is presumably basing his assessment on the fact that this big stone was solidly embedded into the ground, and that he can see how the attempts were made to lift it to a higher level where it could be used in the monument as a sort of capstone.

chris johnson said...

From what I think I heard Colin say they did find the place where the Garne Turne capstone is thought to have been resting, very close by.

Colin said that most dolmens in Britain were erected where the capstone was. I asked him if there was any logic to the choice of a particular stone or location - after all there are many stones to choose from. He did not have an answer, unsurprisingly.

He showed some pictures to illustrate how he thought the capstone would have been raised - basically with levers inserted underneath. He speculated about children cutting tunnels under the stone - although this might be tongue in cheek. Alternatively they might have been using trained badgers :) In any case it would have been a colossal effort.

Geocur said...

"Colin said that most dolmens in Britain were erected where the capstone was."
I can't think of any claims by archaeos for moving portal dolmen capstones very far.All that I ahve ever read ahve said that capstones were always local .The erection of the capstone on the same spot as it was encountered is something that was first mooted by Colin Richards and taken up by others but only related to a few all in Wales . Most were assumed to ahve been removed from nearby outcrops or simply lying around . Pentre Ifan was the first to have been considered to have been raised to the sky from the it's pit immediately below , it shouldn't be too difficult to test this idea . If true it would provide an insight into the thinking of the builders as moving it wouldn't have been difficult ,the real effort and what is important was in raising them .

Anonymous said...

Cueva de Menga, in Antequera, Spain. Dolmen made of megaliths, weighing up to 180 tons.Built in 2500 BC.

Colossal statue of Tlaloc, in Coatlinchan. Made of basalt, weighing 168 tons.

The Kerloas menhir, Brittany, France. Largest, 150 tons.

Dol-de-Bretagne, France. Menhir, almost 150 tons.

Pyramid of Khendjer at Saqqara, Egypt. 150-ton, one-piece quartzite burial chamber.

Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Several ashlars, 100 to 130 tons, were transported 6 miles (9.7 km).

Sacsayhuamán, wall near Cusco, Peru. Largest stones over 125 tons.

Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae, Greece. Largest lintel stone, 120 tons.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet III, at Hawara, Egypt. 110-ton, one piece quartzite burial chamber.

Luxor, Egypt. Obelisk, 227 tons. The largest colossal statue of Ramses, well over 100 tons.

Ollantaytambo, Peru. Perhaps 6 stones well over 100 tons.

Brownshill Dolmen, weighing an estimated 100 metric tons.

Baths of Caracalla, Rome, Italy. Granite columns close to 100 tons.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Columns close to, if not more than, 100 tons.

Fortress of Mycenae, Greece. Largest stones close to 100 tons.

Pyramid of Nyuserre Ini. 12 megalithic limestone beams 10 meters long weighing 90 tons each, forming the roof of burial chamber and antechamber.

Moai at Easter Island. Largest Moai 70 to 86 tons. The tallest one, Paro, was moved 3.75 miles (6.04 km).

Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. Largest slabs on burial chamber, 80 tons. The granite was transported 580 miles (930 km) from Aswan by barge on the Nile river.

Karnak, Egypt. Obelisk, 328 tons. Largest architraves, 70 tons. Sandstone transported from Gebel Silsila 100 miles (160 km).

Trajan's Column, Rome, Italy. Pedestal blocks: 77 tons.

Ishibutai Kofun in Asuka, Nara, Japan. Largest stone, 75 tons.

Quirigua, Guatemala. Largest stele, 65 tons.

Osireion Abydos, Egypt. Columns and lintels, about 60 tons.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy. Granite columns, 39 feet (11.8 m) tall, five feet (1.5 m) in diameter, and 60 tons in weight were transported from Egypt by barge.

Olmec heads, Mexico, gulf coast. Largest Olmec head, almost 50 tons. Transported 37 to 62 miles (100 km).

Hundreds of eratics here on the South Downs - the only thing missing is the ice age sheets that supposedly moved them!!

Bob the builder

Anonymous said...

Trained badgers, eh?! Tell that to the diverse farmers of the United Kingdom of Stonehenge! Have we made any progress in 5,000 years?

Alan Titchmarsh/ Joanna Lumley

Tony H said...

'About turn on Garn Turne':...And a time for every season under heaven.

Geocur said...

“Now come along, Geo! Let it go! “ Not sure what that means . Ignore the problems and don't ask awkward questions ?
I am not bothered one way or the other whether stones were "hauled all over the place " or not , why do you say that ? I don't have an agenda .We do know they were , in many cases , that is not a problem . I was asking for evidence as I do and would in all cases . Colin does have an agenda in the case of Welsh portal tombs but no evidence that has been presented plus the idea itself is fancfiul which doesn't help . This differs from his Orkney idea where the quarry at Vestra Fiold did provide evidence for quarrying slabs similar to those found in local monuments . The direction of ice sheet flow was SW -NE while the direction of quarry to monuments was NW-SE .

Geocur said...

"Colin said that most dolmens in Britain were erected where the capstone was." The more ususal and slightly different attitude of every Archaeo who I can think of who ahs commented on it is that capstones are local . The suggestion of erection of capstone directly above source , is something new and confined to Wales and a only a few archaeos .

Tony H said...

The archaeos led by MPP who recently dug near Manton Barrow at Clatford, Wilts, took a good look at the DEVIL'S DEN, not very far away. MPP describes this as "one of the lesser - known megalithic monuments in Britain" in his new book (though it's pretty well known to us Wiltshire yokels).This is what MPP goes on to say about it.

"It consists of a pair of squat uprights supporting a partially slumped lintel or capstone; other, smaller sarsens lie within the monument and at least 3 more have been hauled away and dumped in the nearby hedge...."

"The Devil's Den has been thought to be the chamber of a Neolithic long barrow, though Atkinson & Piggot carried out a small excavation here in 1960 and found nothing. [Antiquarian William] Stukeley drew a particularly fine illustration of it, showing the unworked stones of the trilithon -shaped stone structure and 3 other unworked slabs lying next to it. What grabs my attention in his drawing is that the monument sits on top of a mound & not within one. This was surely never a chambered tomb beneath a mound."

"It is more likely to be the remains of an Early Neolithic portal dolmen sat upon a mound. Our geophysical survey revealed remains of a 2nd mound immediately north of it."

Devil's Den sits on the Down to the east of Avebury, where sarsen stones were readily available for the building of at least Avebury and, it is believed, Stonehenge.

Tony H said...

So, as I understand it, Colin at least acknowledged in conversation with you, Brian, that "the tradition in Wales was to use large capstones in places where they have been dumped by ice or else where they occur at natural rock outcrops"?

At least some kind of a dialogue has occurred, then!

BRIAN JOHN said...

No he wasn't acknowledging any conversation with me. I won't put words into his mouth -- that's my interpretation of what he was saying.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tony and Geo -- of course we can assume that there were many different monumental types. Why, after all, should we assume that all of the portal dolmens or any other type of megalithic feature had to conform to some preexisting plan or pattern? With respect to whether large stones were moved or not, I'm simply saying that if you don't need an hypothesis to explain something (ie that people moved heaven and earth to shift large stones about the place), why bother?

Tony H said...

I think my comments have been misunderstood.I was merely trying to observe that Colin had, it appears, acknowledged that GLACIERS had, in Wales, on occasion, played a part in locating large megaliths, which prehistoric man had subsequently utilised for his dolmens, etc.

Thus my use of the word "dialogue".

I meant dialogue in the broadest sense, i.e. that you and he at least have some common ground sometimes, namely, glaciated ground - and regardless of whether or not you were in conversation directly with him (I gather he took you round the dig a day or so after the talk).

Tony H said...

My contribution about Devil's Den in Wiltshire (about 3 - 4 miles east of Silbury Hill) was made simply for information purposes, and not to take any particular personal stance on the issue of the various monumental types. Personally, I rejoice in the variety of types and periods of megalithic constructions.

Geocur said...

There is no need to consider that the components of British portal tombs were brought to their sites from any great distance as most are close to outcrops and despite a lack of provenancing this parsimonious understanding has been the norm for most archaeos . That is not the same as the cosmological based theory that suggests some capstones (3 ,and all welsh ) were actually lifted directly above their find spot .There is little supporting evidence for this , if there is good evidence for the use of levers to lift the capstone ( not an unlikely means of erection ) at Garn Turne that does not mean that the capstone was lifted from where it was found . The theory is not the most parsimonious , (which to be fair is not necessarily the most important consideration when dealing with a culture who lift heavy capstones onto a group of supports often limited to three pointed stones simply to mark the spot where below there might be a few bits of bone or pottery or even non local bits of rock or possibly nothing at all ) and doesn't seem to have any precedents ,the world over , including Wales monuments were built from local materials that were moved short distances or in some cases great distances , erecting something that could have been easily moved but choosing not to and doing on the spot seems incredibly unlikely , uncommon and difficult to prove , but it just might be true .Common sense and parsimony are not the best tools when it comes to attempting to understand the cosmology and resulting architecture of a culture from 5000 +years ago .

chris johnson said...

Geo, my recollection of Colin's story is that the capstone was erected in-situ. I said "very close by" because it may well have ended up a few feet away, but they found a spot in the ground to match the stone approximately under the dolmen.

I may be guilty of "artificial significance" in that I may not recollect exactly - this was not one of the facts I was listening out for. Perhaps you should mail him - he seems very approachable and eager to convey his information.

Tony H said...

Brian,regarding my previous comment: at least it seems you do have some (admittedly very general)common ground with Colin as well as Steve Burrow. The common ground being that prehistoric man on occasion utilised boulders deposited by glaciation. That's a start.......!

Geocur said...

Tony , "prehistoric man on occasion utilised boulders deposited by glaciation." .I can't think of any archaeo who doesn't subscribe to that.

Geocur said...

Tony , " prehistoric man on occasion utilised boulders deposited by glaciation. " .I cant't think of any British archaeo who doesnt'/didn't subscribe to that .

Anonymous said...

Brian,
If you could be so kind with a curiosity I have about Garn Turne. If you know the answer.

Looking at your photo in your post, the entire area is strewed with stones partly buried in the ground. Is the 80 ton capstone the same type as all these other stones? Or are these from an earlier glaciation episode?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- I have not checked these stones -- but I wouldn't mind betting that they are 90% local and 10% foreign, as in many other rather exposed parts of the N Pembrokeshire landscape. In other words, a litter of frost-shattered and broken bits of bedrock moved downslope under periglacial conditions, and some erratics -- some far-travelled, and others local.

Geocur said...

Tony , " prehistoric man on occasion utilised boulders deposited by glaciation."In relation to Britain I cant' think of any archaeologist who doesn't subbcribe to that .

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brian. Is there anything that distinguishes the 80 ton capstone from all these stones on the ground? Except for size and position, of course. Also, are the upright stones supporting the capstone purposefully positioned in some more regular fashion from those distributions of groups of stones on the ground? Pictures of other such portal dolmen do not show any particular placement of the upright stones. Sometimes no more than three such stones supporting the capstone in often a very delicate and precarious fashion.

Kostas

Geocur said...

Tony "prehistoric man on occasion utilised boulders deposited by glaciation. " I can't think of any archaeo who would disgree with that .

Tony H said...

I dare say you are right, Geo, but I did suggest that this was at least the start of some COMMON (i.e. glaciated!) GROUND between learned Geomorphologists/ Glaciologists and Archaeologists. So the common ground, in the instance of the debate about the provenance of orthostats with some degree of association with Stonehenge, can start in North Pembrokeshire. It's a start........

TonyH said...

Geo, in reply to your riposte to me: hopefully not!

My point is that, in terms of this Blog's topic of the Stones of Stonehenge, be they of Wessex or Pembrokeshire/ West Wales provenance, if Colin Gibson or any of his colleagues are acknowledging that SOME boulders used by man have been deposited by glaciation, that, at least, is a (geographical) start! Meanwhile, perhaps the evidence for glaciation south of the Bristol Channel will continue to accumulate. Nothing stands still in Science.

Geocur said...

Tony , Colin Richards ? He I'm sure would agree that nothing stands still in science and will also be hoping that some evidence will accumulate to confirm his theories . Are you suggesting that he believes that some stones at Stonehenge were deposited by glaciation ?

Geocur said...

Chris ,I have mentioned on this and other threads the Richards , and a few others , idea that some Welsh capstones were raised directly above where they were found .( see 21 / Sept for the ref ).It looks like Garn Turne is a new addition to what was previously just Pentre Ifan and Carreg Samson . Some evidence would be nice .I don't think there would be much to gain frm an e-mail , i's merely an idea with little to support (groan )it.
It looks like some old comments have appeared , please excuse the repeats I thought they had disappeared into the aether hence repeating them .

BRIAN JOHN said...

We are going round and round in circles, as in many earlier debates. However, I was struck in MPP's new book (more of which anon) by his section on the Bulford Stone -- around p 152. He says that the stone was raised from its natural or recumbent position to its standing position in more or less the same place -- ie without being carried or dragged anywhere else. That's rather interesting, given the rest of his hypothesis about sarsens and bluestones being dragged all over the place. Even more interesting, in the case of the Bulford Stone, is the presence of that limestone erratic next to it........

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian

Do you know what type of limestone it is?

Cheers
Alex

BRIAN JOHN said...

Rob might know -- MPP says it is a small carved limestone block c 15 cms high, probably from the Cotswolds or Mendips. How much carving is on it? It might be entirely natural, for all I know. After all, MPP believes in little stone piggies......

Geocur said...

Where does MPP imply “the stone was raised from its natural or recumbent position to its standing position in more or less the same place -- ie without being carried or dragged anywhere else. “ ?
If the Bulford stone was erected from where it was originally found then it is interesting and intriguing , as it is clear that the movement of much larger stones were involved in the building of megalithic monuments and erecting a average sized stone where it was found does need an explanation .
The problem with the suggestion is that we have the stone hole (hopefully) and a recumbent stone that was close by that may fit the hollow but we don't know where the stone came from prior to erection . What we have is the site of a recumbent standing stone and the possible site where it stood not where it it was found pre erection .

Deposition of non local material like the small limestone carved limestone block in barrows and monuments ,whether funerary or otherwise is not uncommon . Stones are rarely if ever provenanced and are assumed to be local unless obviously imported ,although non local soils have been reported from barrows since the 1840's .Axes tend to be provenanced and they have been found in depositions hundreds of miles from source within Britain and Ireland whilst the Mt Veso jadeitite axes have travelled much further . Gold , bronze , jet , amber etc are more obvious when non local .

BRIAN JOHN said...

P 152. Or do you think the stone was carted off somewhere, and at the end of a long perambulation it was returned to where it started off, and then placed into a pit? The stone was use where it was found -- that is entirely clear from MPP's description.

Geocur said...

It was returned to where the 20th C farmer had removed it , which may be where it was erected ,that doesn't mean , and MPP doesn't suggest it ,that it had been erected where it was found pre -erection .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- isn't this getting a little bit silly?

Geocur said...

It's not silly , if it clarifies a misunderstanding and misrepresentation . MPP does not say or imply , as you suggested in this comment " He says that the stone was raised from its natural or recumbent position to its standing position in more or less the same place -- ie without being carried or dragged anywhere else."
It's quite clear and simple .We know where the farmer originally found a recumbent stone , he moved it from that spot .Returning to the original location the team found a socket where the stone may have been erected .There is no evidence or suggestion that the stone was erected at the same spot where it was found by the erectors .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Time to move on.....

rob said...

Sorry I know nothing about the lmst.
It should be simple to distinguish Carb Lmst (Mendips) from Mesozoic Lmst (Cotswolds)if fossiliferous.
Rob

TonyH said...

Geo, if Brian will allow this extra response on this Post, this time to your query of me dated 21.59 on 28 Sept:-

I think it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY Colin Richards has thought much about the issue of whether glaciation occurred on Salisbury Plain, or, indeed, anywhere South of the Bristol Channel (such as Dartmoor, where we now have strong evidence for it). More's the pity! We need some decent Landscape Archaeologists helping to educate the mainline boys.It is not beyond the ken of Landscape Archaeologists to contribute to the dialogue - please!!!

Geocur said...

Brian ,I assume "time to move on " means you have re-read the relevant pages and realised that MPP never implied that the Bulford stone was erected where it was found .
Tony , I don't know, but imagine that Colin Richards is aware that glaciation did not extend on to Salisbury Plain and possibly that Dartmoor was glaciated too .Not sure what the "- please !!! " means though .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Let it go, Geo. My reading of the text is that they found the "bed" in which the stone was resting next to the place where it was erected. So they used it where they found it. Your reading might be different -- that's your privilege.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- your latest comment is spammed. Bed? Hollow the correct shape? I'm fed up with this now. Other more important things to talk about.

TonyH said...

Colin Richards seems to concentrate his efforts geographically much further North than Dartmoor, Geo. We have no evidence that Colin thinks much about glaciation in Southern England, nor that he wonders at all about the alternative scenarios that may have occurred during Somerset, Devon & Wiltshire's glacial phases.

Landscape Archaeologists are separate specialists from folk such as Colin or Mike PP. I was suggesting that such landscape specialists could usefully contribute to the entire glaciation/ human impact on the land debate. Possibly they may need to do greater in-depth studying of geomorphology in glacial landscapes to make this much more meaningful contribution.

Mike Parker Pearson recently said to me, when I told him I'd studied Geography, that he almost studied Geography with Archaeology at Uni.

Geocur said...

Tony , it appears we are both are unaware of Colin Richard's knowledge of glaciation .However MPP is clearly aware that glaciation may have extended to the edge of Salisbury Plain and I can't imagine that Richards would be unaware of this . As that is the limit that anything glaciated may have got to , as far as Stonehenge , the bluestones and glaciation are concerned is there anything else they should know that might be relevant ?
Landscape archaeos are forever telling us stuff about Stonehenge and it's landscape e.g last Novembers nonsense about the cursus pits and their “alignments “ that were shown to be inaccurate along with the even more ludicrous procession along the cursus then towards the monument at mid-day that was also shown to be inaccurate .

TonyH said...

I'd just like the specialist students of Landscape Archaeology to be required to study land formation processes in recent Geological time, i.e. the period since the Devonian glaciation and beyond, up to the present.

MPP refutes in his new Stonehenge book the possibility that glaciation extended even close to Salisbury Plain, citing as his evidence his colleague at MPP.'s former Uni, Sheffield, see page 271 et seq.

TonyH said...

Brian has already countered what MPP apparently heard from Chris Clarke at Sheffield Uni Geography Dept in a Post of a few month's back.

MPP and his group need to acknowledge that the issue of the extent of glaciation in Wessex is still a work in progress and is not static or "dead in the water", so to speak.

Archaeology Departments often include in their departmental Titles ' Department ofArchaeology AND Anthropology', e.g. Bristol, which is of course in many other ways a leading UK University.

But such a Title seems to give the likes of Dr [now Professor] Alice Roberts [often on the 'Beeb'], and, previously, Joshua Pollard [now at Southampton and still attached to MPP's 'wild goose' work], full rein to follow their impulsive world-wide searches for men moving megaliths in many locations from the South Pacific to Central America etc etc........yet without due respect for [recent Geology] Quaternary Studies in Southern Britain, which Brian and others, notably at Aberystwyth, know so much about, particularly in respect to glacation.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, I will be coming to MPP's bluestones chapter very shortly. Not looking forward to it -- a quick glance at it makes me feel a deep gloom coming on. But somebody has to do it.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thinking of Alice Roberts, did anybody see her recent article in the Observer on glaciations and interglacials? Oh dear oh dear. Why do these people get delusions of grandeur and start pontificating on things they know nothing about? She was trotting out the sort of stuff I was trotting out in 1970 -- and has apparently failed to notice that there is man-made climate change going on. Highly irresponsible, as well as being rather pathetic.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah yes, Chris Clark. I am sure he is a very nice fellow, but he does not know everything about the glaciation of the British Isles, and as I have pointed out before, some of his ideas are highly erratic..........

TonyH said...

Gloucestershire's own Prof. Alice Roberts appears to be primarily a Physical Anthropologist rather than being properly trained in either Geomorphology or Glaciology...or even, dare I say it, archaeology.

I am sure she is a very competent physical anthropologist and knows loads about our bones and their relationship to early Humans etc, and she (or some one who knows more than I) is welcome to correct me about the extent of her in-depth expertise if what I'm saying is incorrect.

I seem to keep talking about a GAP in our understanding, this gap being the current explanation of geomorphology in relation to Stonehenge, bluestones and glaciation.

By the way, anyone considered what the meaning of UNIVERSITY is? Call me naive, but I always considered it to imply a place where EVERYTHING is studied - and, hopefully, necessary CONNECTIONS are made!

Geocur said...

Tony , it was ever thus ,geomorphologists pontificate on matters archaeological or even anthropological and misunderstand basic texts .
Students generally don't go to university for an all round education they go to get trained in one discipline and often with the sole intention of the resulting qualification helping in finding better paid employment .I was under the impression that at best the bluestones from west Wales could have got no closer to SH than approx 15 miles , even if they were entrained .Is there something we don't know about geomorphology /glaciology in relation to the bluestones at Stonehenge that has been missing from this impression ?

TonyH said...

Brian, it's over to you, as Lloyd Grossman used to say to David Frost, to answer Geo's question about Salisbury Plain's geomorphology etc far better than I am able to. But I know that entrainment of erratics is only one scenario under consideration, is it not?

On the issue of Universities, my basic point relates far more to the major reason for their Existence, which is pure Research. Education of its undergraduates is surely its secondary, albeit again essential, function. Again, no doubt Brian, and other Dons, such as the mysterious Myris of.... Alexandria [which is itself a very ancient seat of learning], also Kostas of Macedonia, are literally better qualified and experienced to give an informed reply to you, Geo.

I say again, we'd have far more robust analyses of issues that the Bluestone Debate throws up if the academics sat down and conversed with one another, ACROSS disciplines, not just within them. Yes, MPP and his Stonehenge Riverside Project has called upon specialists in other fields such as soil science and geology, but there is a GAPING hole in its considerations. I'm quite surprised that its Sponsors, notably the National Geographic, haven't called the SRP to account over this.

Meanwhile, we've been left with MPP describing the likes of Charly French and Mike Allen as geomorphologists, which they are decidedly not.

Geocur said...

Tony , my understanding is that Charly French is a geoarchaeologist specialising in soils and Mike Allen is a malacologist . Where does MPP describe them as geomorphologists ?
I would have thought that the trivium and quadrivium shows that education rather than research was primary and original" reason " for their existence , this has changed over the centuries with the primary reason from a student perspective these days being a qualification with research a long way behind and making some dosh the primary reason from the school's perspective .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, maybe we are all making a mistake in assuming that Charly is a geomorphologist. And maybe that would explain why nothing authoritative has appeared on these wretched periglacial stripes that figure so largely in the latest MPP story.......

BRIAN JOHN said...

Just checked -- Charly is at the Cambridge Univ Archaeology / Anthropology dept, and he is not a geomorphologist at all. So it looks as if this gigantic edifice of the periglacial stripes has never been properly looked at by somebody who knows anything about periglacial processes and landscapes? Maybe MPP has got something against geomorphologists -- although he does quote Chris Clark where it suits him). There is lots of deference where appropriate to geologists, but geomorphology is clearly out in the cold. Maybe we geomorphologists think too much?

TonyH said...

Geo,Parker Pearson has definitely described French as a geomorphologist IN MY HEARING, at a lecture at Salisbury and also at an Open Day at Stonehenge for the great unwashed during the SRP ecavations, just after we'd seen him being interviewed by Japanese television before our very eyes. Then he wandered over from dem primordial, sorry, periglacial [ but wasn't he a Harry Enfield character on telly and film?...] stripes and was very pleasant and forthcoming when trying to explain what Charly thought they were.

Charly French seems to get most of the CREDIT for recognising/ obtaining his Stripes, but Mike Allen is also mentioned in despatches. Both of them are referred to on this subject of stripes discovery/ interpretation in the National Geographic book aimed at rather bright youngsters that came out around 2010 (we've mentioned this book earlier). Allen appears to be a very ardent member of MPP's inner sanctum, whatever his precise actual qualification may be - I know his big speciality is snails. He lives surprisingly close to the Stonehenge landscape.

Incidentally, it will be EXCEEDINGLY interesting to see how the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre interprets "them Stripes" when it opens in its new position in at leat 12 months time. I hear they're planning to have Neolithic houses for us to scrutinise outside, and we ARE an increasingly discerning and sceptical public, so perhaps they need to be spot-on with what they say stripe-wise. I blame Mick Aston, God bless him.


So at least Mike PP has come across the expression 'geomorphologist', and used it. Mike is basically such a nice, enthusiastic, friendly bloke it is up to us to encourage him to use a real one in the future, they don't bite! (well, not all of them).

TonyH said...

A while ago I managed to get a comment on this blog from Myris of Alexandria about the possibility of a Report coming out on the subject of the periglacial Stonehenge landscape and I'm sure he said one may be forthcoming. He's probably thinking Allen and French will produce this on behalf of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Am I right, Myris?

TonyH said...

Are there no enthusiastic geomorphologists at Bristol/ Southampton/Bournemouth Univerities? - they seem to be the popular nearby sources for the old SRP. I think it is incumbent upon MPP (UCL), Josh Pollard (Southampton) & Mike Allen (Bournemouth) to cultivate their interest and enthusiasm. He could also try Reading and Cardiff. Then we could truly say that a MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM worth its salt has been assembled. Better late than never!

Myris of Alexandria said...

I am pretty certain that I have never mentioned glacial stripes formally, informally, standing on my head, whilst using the bidet or whatever. I doubt that I have ever given them a thought or wish to. I certainly am NOT a spokeman for anyone but Dr Ixer and Dr Ixer and Bevins ex-cathedra.
When I stood at the feet of learned profs Pleistocene Geology was known to be the province of physical geographers and not for decent people. In the years since I see no reason to doubt them.
Here in Alexandria what could we know of periglacial stripes.
For info on them and all things geographical (I hear a Gilbert and Sullivan song in the wings) try the Imperial Courts or the Magi.

TonyH said...

No, you didn't mention 'periglacial stripes' [or even Perry Como, who was of course famously laid back also], but I think you were responding to my query by suggesting there could be forthcoming a SRP report on the periglacial landscape surrounding Stonehenge, as one in a series of such specialist studies we may expect from the Cartel.

TonyH said...

Myris, I am delighted to learn that you have no reason to doubt physical geographers, be they decent people or nay.Please have a word in the ears of those who hold the purse strings of the SRP that a geomorphologist or two might prove fruitful to their future harvests. No one wishes to witness the alternative....

TonyH said...

That book I alluded to above (at 23.16 hrs on 5th Oct ) by Parker Pearson & Co for National Geographic is called: If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge....

Incidentally, MPP now has an entry in the University College London's staff list, INCLUDING his phone number & email address. Geomorphologists may wish to enquire if he has any vacancies.

Myris of Alexandria said...

No I am afraid I have no recollection unless I was speaking of the series of monographs that are coming out from MPP and the boys- -that may be it.
I only took notice of the bits Dr Ixer+ Dr Bevins were to write and their deadlines.
Would not be before the middle of next year at the earliest.
That must be it.
I am sure Dr Ixer a has made his rabid/rancid views known to everyone and often about the need for good and balanced geo-science (by people who are qualified and have long lost their milk teeth.
I am not certain that to be 'prof of science for the plebs'(pace Dawkins)is a real job with any believable academic standing rather than unis trying to increase their public profiles. (in truth I do know but the libel laws are so ugly).
mmmmmmmmm. M