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Sunday, 30 September 2012

The mystery of Stone 32e

Thanks to Rob for annotating the top photo.  These are all from the old Atkinson collection --  and 32e is the one which is assumed to provide a possible match for some of the Stonehenge debitage and maybe some of the samples from Rhosyfelin.  That's the one closest to Atkinson's head in the lower photo.  Now that worries me a bit, since it doesn't look anything like as flaky and foliated as 32d, next to it, and 32c, closest to the camera in the top photo.  And it doesn't look anything like the famous "proto-othostat" at Rhosyfelin either.

Note that these three stumps are packed very closely together -- with gaps of less than a foot in each case.  The honeycomb of intersecting sockets is very complex indeed.  So if these three stones ever were "complete" and standing as part of the bluestone circle, they must have created an impression of being almost a "wall" of stone -- unlike the other stones of the bluestone circle (what's left of it, if it ever was complete) which are more widely spaced.....

The standing pillar which we can see in the photos is bluestone 33.

Another Stonehenge puzzle...

11 comments:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I know I raised this point before a couple of years ago. But I continue to be very puzzled by the texture and composition of the soil layer at Stonehenge. Look at the third photo you posted. Just behind Atkinson where a shadow is cast. More clearly showing this soil layer.

I ask you, as a geomorphologist. What distinguishes such layer as being different from alluvial layers found along river banks and the bottoms of meltwater retaining basins?

Kostas

Arthwna said...

L32d is the one..there is another photo of the three stumps from Atkinson's collection, which shows it being a laminated broken stump very much like the more freshly broken material at CRYF. However, even if English Heritage would give permission for a small excavation to take a sample, and it was a petrographical match, would it prove the case either way ? I think not..

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree -- 32d is the one we should be looking at. And I also agree that even if there is a close petrographic match with RYF that tells us nothing about how the piece of stone got from there to here. But we would at least move forward in the knowledge that biggish pieces of Rhosyfelin rock were once at Stonehenge -- as distinct from bucketfulls of debitage.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- I hesitate to judge on soil and stony layers without seeing them for myself. Broken fragments or chips might give some indication of human agency -- more rounded gravels and pebbles might indicate stream action, and soil layers with organic material might appear to be natural features slowly evolved at the ground surface -- but in reality it's all much more complex than that.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Arthwna where is your soul? Not an avatar of Arjuna are you?

Brian is correct one great problems is matching the debitage spoecies to the orthostats.
Were they not to at all then BJ could argue they are the lost glacial material. Were they from the orthostats then their distribution in the SH Landscape becomes more interesting
Say this quietly but how the stones moved from Wales to SH may not be top of everybodies list of hot-bedded questions. (Except as a source of mischief of course.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, thanks for your response.

Certainly a close-up look at the stone bits in this soil layer will be more conclusive. But if some of the stone bits shown are from the chalk bedrock there, these would not have been carried by streams and so you would expect these at least to be less rounded. Especially if these were broken off from seasonal frost/thaw action.

What strikes me about this layer is how uniformly stone bits and gravel is mixed-in with soil. And how evenly and thoroughly the same soil texture can be found all over the area shown in this photo (and other photos as well!). This suggests to me the soil layer formed as the deposition bottom of a meltwater retaining basin.

I know you have problems with that view, and I respect that. But this soil layer texture does not have the markings of 'human agency'. Which will form layers of debitage from stone dressing mostly concentrated around orthostats. And in more distinct identifiable chips layers in the soil. Not at all so uniform and pervasive throughout the area.

This soil layer has the potential of providing us many of the answers to the Stonehenge enigma. It would save much effort tracking down human quarries! So why is it not investigated? Some soil cores at various places is all that is needed!

Kostas

Anonymous said...

Sadly Kostas
This layer does yield, albeit uncommon, pottery sherds,many flaked lithics.
The original remit for the Darvill excavation of SH 2008 was just this to look in detail at the "SH Layer" (aka your soil).
The detailed distribution of lithics within the SH Layer is known in great detail but is yet to be published, maybe even partly through the tardiness of Alexandrian academics.
Thomas Rhymer.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Thomas Rhymer in Alexandria!

If the SH Layer is know in great detail why isn't it known?

Since this Layer certainly holds the answers to many SH mysteries? Sound like closely guarded state secrets! But the palace guards could not destroy the Atckinson photos! And from these photos is it very clear (to me at least) the very uniform and widely homogeneous texture of the SH Layer is clear evidence of 'natural agency' responsible for the Layer. Not chippings from stone dressings or smashing of stones to bits. And how did the “uncommon, pottery sherds, many flaked lithics” get there? If these were 'human deposits' from say wild feasts on site, why only the “sherds and flakes”? Why not the whole broken pots and stones?

This just does not make sense! Only my working hypothesis that the SH Layer was the deposition bottom of a meltwater retaining basin once at Stonehenge (age uncertain, but possibly not too long ago if “pottery sherds” are also found in the Layer) can explain all this!

Kostas of Macedonia

TonyH said...

Myris, I'm sure we'd ALL be intrigued to know more details of the "uncommon pottery sherds". Are you saying the sherds are of uncommon provenance, or uncommon by virtue of being very few?

Myris of Alexandria said...

'Tis in the literature! You know what I am going to say READ......
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Everything is in the literature, Myris. The thing is -- where? perhaps you can help in this regard?