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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

MPP to report on latest Pembs digs


MPP and the boys are back in town -- and may be digging at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog as we speak.  I hope they have some geomorphologists with them this time.  I'm available -- at a very reasonable rate.......

Might well roll along on 18th to see what's occurrin'......
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 Stonehenge's Preseli link

Tuesday 11th September 2012

http://www.tivysideadvertiser.co.uk/news/9922213.Stonehenge_s_Preseli_link/

Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries surrounding Stonehenge is the origins of the stones themselves. How did bluestones from the Welsh Preseli Mountains become the construction material for the site of Stonehenge built some 5000 years ago?

Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London is leading a collaborative project involving universities from across the UK in looking at this enigma. Their work has brought them back to Preseli in search of the quarries and sites that may be the start of the longest journey for megaliths anywhere in prehistoric Europe.

Following initial investigations in 2011 the team have returned to excavate a quarry site at Brynberian, North Pembrokeshire.  On Tuesday 18th of September at 7pm, at Brynberian Old School, Professor Mike Parker Pearson will be presenting a talk on the results of the project so far.  Everyone is welcome to attend and there will be a small charge to cover refreshments.
    

22 comments:

Tony H said...

Good luck, Brian, on the Eighteenth.Let's hope EVERYONE has a civilised discussion and that " (Academic) RESPECT flows like a Mountain Stream", to mis-quote The Bellamy Brothers' 'Let Your Love Flow'..............].

Mike PP does, at least, give the Glacial Theory a reasonable amount of respect and coverage in his new book (which he recently signed for me, and no doubt will for those at Brynberian!). And - does he realise that his book is also full of glacial metaphors, probably entirely sub-conscious in origin.....!!!

As the Late Max Bygraves might have said, there's TWO sides to every Story.

chris johnson said...

Many interesting posts in the last few days.

I do hope Brian that you are able to listen in at Brynberian and give us a report from the 18th.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sure, I will go along and listen respectfully -- and maybe say a few words if moved to do so.

By the way, I have let it be known to the diggers that I will be only too happy to turn up one day and give a geomorphologist's view of things and maybe discuss the latest findings -- but no invite thus far......

Anonymous said...

The discovery of a nearby Mesolithic camp may shed light on the origins of the ancient monument
The place where Stonehenge stands has been important to people since the end of the Ice Age. The deep sockets for massive wooden posts found when the car park was laid out in 1966 have been dated to between 8800 and 6600BC. But these early people have hitherto been remarkably elusive.
Their activities have now been detected in a striking new discovery: excavations at the Blick Mead springs, east of Stonehenge, have yielded thousands of flints and hundreds of animal bones, the debris left by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, beginning more than 8,000 years ago. The site, on the edge of Amesbury, seems to have been a “homebase” living site, not just a hunters’ camp, David Jacques and his colleagues report in Current Archaeology.
Their project began in 2005 as an investigation of “Vespasian’s Camp”, an Iron Age earthwork mistakenly attributed to the Roman conquest of southern Britain in AD43-45, which lies on a bluff above the Avon near where the Stonehenge Avenue comes down to the river. What had been thought to be an 18th-century pond, part of the Marquess of Queensberry’s ornamental landscape around Amesbury Abbey, was identified as a far older spring and perhaps once a seasonal lake.
The spring proved to have been a base for Mesolithic man. Three small trenches have yielded several kilograms of burnt flint and more than 10,000 pieces of struck flint. These include “an impressive range of implements, from microliths, backed blades used for making knives, arrows and other tool, and burins for working bone and antler, to notched tools, perhaps for cutting sinews or stripping bark to make baskets”, Dr Jacques’s team report. The deposit of discarded tools could extend “for hundreds of metres more”, they say.
The most intriguing find is a small projectile point chipped from slate, not flint. “This is the only prehistoric slate tool we know of ever discovered in the UK,” the team say. There is no natural source of slate anywhere in the Stonehenge region. The nearest outcrops are in Wales. This suggests “a significant movement of people and ideas, predating Stonehenge by thousands of years”, and the spring as having been “a special place where people gathered from across a very wide area”.
Western Wales is known to have been the source of the “bluestones” used in an early version of Stonehenge, and the exact quarry from which some of them came has recently been identified and excavated (reports, December 11, 2011 and January 6, 2012).
Con't
PeteG

Anonymous said...

Some scholars believe that glaciers in the Ice Age brought some of the stones naturally eastwards, however, and the slate fragment could have come from such an “erratic” block, although Dr Jacques’s team are unaware of any other slate pieces from the area.
More exciting than the flints, they say, is the evidence of prehistoric feasting around the spring. The burnt flints indicate that fires were lit, and much of the animal bone found was from the aurochs, large prehistoric cattle weighing around 1.5 tonnes. They were widespread across ancient Europe, the last specimen having been killed in Poland only in 1627, and attempts are being made to re-create them by back-crossing surviving rare-breed animals. Sixty per cent of the bones were from at least five aurochs, Professor Tony Legge has found, and radiocarbon dates on them show activity around the spring from 6250 to 4700BC.
This homebase, and the enigmatic postholes under the Stonehenge car park 1½ miles to the west, may document the beginning of this locality as a special place in the mind of prehistoric man, the team suggest, perhaps with the Blick Mead springs as the original focus of veneration. With the huge Neolithic enclosure of Durrington Walls just to the north, the complex of Neolithic and early Bronze Age monuments around Stonehenge to the west, and the Iron Age ramparts of Vespasian’s Camp looming immediately above the springs from 500BC onwards — as well as scattered Roman, Saxon and medieval finds — “this was a special place for the longue durĂ©e, potentially one of the pivotal places in the history of the Stonehenge landscape”, perhaps “the cradle of Stonehenge — the reason why it is where it is”, they surmise.
Current Archaeology No 271: 28-33
PeteG

TonyH said...

So now, it appears, we have slate and a meteorite in the close vicinity of Stonehenge, either or both of which may owe their appearance/ survival to local glaciation occurences. Time for all true Scientists to reflect upon this possibility, and to suitably adjust their public statements.
See also the separate Post on Mesolithic influences on Salisbury Plain.

chris johnson said...

Very interesting, Pete. Thanks.

The evidence opens several new interpretations especially as you are pointing to 6000 BC and before the great flood. I know of no Welsh finds that relate to this time, but perhaps Brian does.

I wonder a bit about the dating. Here we have many mesolithic finds that I would date, contextually, to the bronze age. I wonder if we are not looking at different societies that co-existed for a long period?

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew about the slate before as I have thrown away several tool like pieces of slate in the Stonehenge area. Monarch barrow West Cursus area.I assumed they had been bought to the area in slurry that is mixed in the farm yard before being spread on fields.
PeteG

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for drawing out attention to this, Pete. Forget about the bit about the "exact quarry" relating to the source of some of the bluestone debris at Stonehenge -- another bit of careless archaeological regurgitation. But the slate is interesting. Sure, it could have come from an erratic somewhere on Salisbury Plain -- but there is slate and slate, and I want to know what colour it is, what degree of metamorphism is involved, and whether it really is slate. This whole area of metasediments and grades of alteration is a huge one, as Rob will confirm..... and if we are talking about a projective point, that is probably too small to do a proper analysis on it.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry -- I should have typed "projectile" ....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Pete, why would bits of slate be brought into the area in farmyard slurry? Do you think that crushed slate might have been used in the laying of farm tracks etc? Wouldn't there have been other aggregates and hard-core materials from much closer at hand, for recent tracklaying and roadbuilding projects?

TonyH said...

A coloured photograph of the slate point appears in the Current Archaeology article Pete G refers to (page 31), which quotes Tim Darvill as saying "this is a kind of metamudstone, which would make it more durable." The article continues 'we are still trying to determine the provenance of the stone'.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Does anybody have a copy of the photo? I'll stick it onto the blog in the interests of scientific investigation.....

Anonymous said...

when manure is mixed in the farm yard all sort of things are included in the mix by accident. Bit of broken house brick and broken slate from roof tiles etc
I have found loads of slate around Avebury.
How to tell if its New or Old slate is going to be hard.
PeteG

BRIAN JOHN said...

Fair enough Pete. Quite appreciate that. rob keeps on warning about extraneous and adventitious bits and pieces found in the soil and which are derived from all over the place. since I suppose Welsh slate was popular all over the UK for roofing purposes -- and for sills and doorsteps -- it's quite reasonable to think that bits could have got caught up in farmyard rubble and thence found their way into slurry...

Anonymous said...

I will certainly look more closely in the future. There are some fields which are extensively farmed so will contain a lot of rubble but a lot of areas that have been in pasture for a long time should provide more interesting finds.
Mole hills are always worth a few minutes of examination!
I think archaeologists should spend a year working on a farm as part of their training as I have encountered several archaeo's that miss the totally bleedin' obvious because of their lack of farming knowledge.
PeteG

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agreed -- and when they've done that, they might spend another year learning a bit of geomorphology, just for the insights it might give them.

Myris of Alexandria said...

The slate is interesting so is Tim's use of meta-mudstone (I suspect that Ixer introduced him to the term when Ixer looked at the meta-mudstones in small 'quarries' around Carn Menyn. I know that Tim was most anxious to find some archy artefact from the same meta-sediment (I could not find any). (See Darvill et al Arch of Wales with Ixer and Davies in the authorship 2008?)I wonder if he will try to use this as his match.
Oddly although Ixer has a dozen+ sections of the meta-mudstonesfrom Carn Menyn and has not been asked to comment on the 'slate/meta-mudstone'. I would love to see a picture but better see the real thing.
When Ixer looked at the thousands of SH lithics he only found 2/3 bits of slate and that from the 20th cent disturbed contexts.
Is it slate? -slate and meta-mudstone are different!! and Ixer and Bevins Rhyolite B also looks like slate although probably from the quarry at Rhos (sorry Brian last comment a wind-up!!)should read- from the outcrops at Rhos.
It is St Thomas-time folks. It would be a dis-service if the lithological identification were not done by someone with the maximum experience.

BRIAN JOHN said...

.... and it might not be a bad idea if some geomorphologist with maximum experience was to take a look at that Rhosyfelin dig. What are they scared of? The truth?

TonyH said...

Well, I,ve logged in up here in Deepest LOndon, Myris, Brian & friends, and am rather disappointed to find not a TRACE of a report of the goin's-on last night at MPP & The Quarry Gang's soiree. Most tantalisin'and disappointin'. Have we had another notorious communication break-down from BJ's Blog to the World? Hope all is well.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Never fear, chaps and lasses. I am on the case -- was at the lecture last night, and visited the site yesterday, where I discovered that my camera battery was flat. Frantic at the moment -- hope to stick something up tonight...

chris johnson said...

In our area there are lots of pieces of slate, brick, clay pipes and all-sorts mixed into the top soils. It used to be common practice to cart the middens from the towns into the country to use as fertiliser.

Interesting about this piece of slate is it is reported to have been shaped into a tool, but I have not seen a picture.