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Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Saturday, 17 November 2012

The immaculate conception at Maryhill

Lately we have been having some fun swapping info about various aspects of the stone markings (natural or man-made) on the sarsens and bluestones at Stonehenge, and Lloyd has mentioned the impressive monument at Maryhill in the Washington, USA -- built as a memorial to the dead of World War 1.  There's also a museum there, and it's used a lot by educational groups and students.

One can only approve of all that, and Lloyd asks whether it might be an idea for students to follow this blog.  They will be very welcome to do so --  but they need to be prepared to confront the view that the "immaculate Stonehenge" as portrayed in the reconstruction -- and presumably taught as "fact" by those who are teachers as well as students -- probably never existed.  It seems to me that more and more people (including archaeologists working for English heritage) are coming to the view that Stonehenge was NEVER completed.  Too many gaps, too many stones missing, too much indecision.  Much of the evidence points this way.

My thoughts are in the lecture I gave to the "Do Lectures" a couple of years ago  -- a few things have changed since then, but nothing substantial.
http://beta.thedolectures.co.uk/lectures/dispelling-the-stonehenge-myth/

There is also my YouTube video, which new users of this blog might like to have a look at.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f4c3F9iEaY&feature=channel&list=UL

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

"more and more people (including archaeologists working for English heritage) are coming to the view that Stonehenge was NEVER completed"

Are you suggesting they didn't hold this view previously and if so you know that because?

BRIAN JOHN said...

The idea isn't new -- many have said it over the years, but my impression is that the idea was "fringe" and not "mainstream" and that in the archaeology establishment the idea was looked on as subversive or disloyal. Establishments NEVER like their boats to be rocked. But now I seem to be coming across an acceptance of the idea much more frequently, in print...... I have mentioned this before in many posts.

Jon Morris said...

Or, rather than never being completed, it might have been a 'work in progress' which didn't need to be completed?

(My offering along these lines is up free again on Kindle today: Stonehenge: Solving the Neolithic Universe)

Managed to get to the number #1 spot in one USA category last weekend; largely because it was featured in a science based magazine. This led to all round agreement in a US conspiracy forum that the magazine's description of this renewable energy project must be intentionally misleading (there was no reference to archaeology, only science).

You couldn't make it up.

Lloyd said...

Brian; I note that the EH Laser Scan Report debated the theory of “Non-completion” which I found very interesting as up to then I had never heard of it. I note that the conclusion to the reports discussion was, “There is certainly no convincing evidence that the circle remained incomplete........” and that it was a conclusion written by EH. Your ‘YouTube video’ was very interesting and informative. As yet I cannot access ‘The Do Lectures’ and will have to experiment with different browsers.

Cyriac of Ancona said...

In the lecture you mention that there is no evidence of Neolithic peoples moving the stones of Stonehenge.
What evidence would you expect to find to confirm the stones were moved by mankind?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, the remains of a Neolithic boat with a large orthostat in it or on it would be nice, maybe somewhere on the Gwent Levels...... Or maybe a depot of orthostats on a Neolithic shoreline somewhere, awaiting transportation. Or a single bluestone which is demonstrably tooled or shaped, sitting on the floor of the Bristol Channel?

Or maybe some evidence of a planned transportation of a group of desirable non-local stones from A to B, anywhere in the UK or Western Europe, either before or after the stone-using phase at Stonehenge. Cultures or building traditions develop by trial and error, bit by bit, small project first and large project later, or by duplication and development. Then building traditions decline as fashions change or due to cultural or socio-economic factors.

But I can see no evidence of a development phase (involving the use of far-travelled stones) anywhere in the UK pre-Stonehenge, and no evidence of a declining stone-moving culture afterwards. This makes Stonehenge (if human transport was at its core) such an aberration as to make it utterly unbelievable. Not only does it lack supporting evidence, but it also defies logic. And that's even without looking at technological limitations.

Anonymous said...

Brian,

I couldn't agree with you more! Especially since there are natural explanations that are simple, sensible and consistent. And can explain all the 'facts on the ground' with objective science. Not the fantasy narratives we get from archeologists.

Kostas

Anonymous said...

I wouldn’t expect staff to agree publicly such as that Stonehenge has lost considerable knowledge and expertise through the EH reorg; but questions such as whether Stonehenge was complete or not has always been an open one in EH’s time as far as I know. Years ago I asked a considerable number of academics and archaeological establishment professionals including EH staff what their gut feeling was about Marlborough Mound being prehistoric or not after an EH report found it likely to be Norman - every single one of them openly said prehistoric and loyalty didn’t enter into it. It is then very interesting when you say: “my impression is that the idea [Stonehenge incomplete] was "fringe" and not "mainstream" and that in the archaeology establishment the idea was looked on as subversive or disloyal.” What may lie behind this is that EH in particular are not very good at communicating, but on an individual basis the staff in my experience have mostly been pretty good when it comes to the public.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I agree that the "subversive" view that Stonehenge was always rather ruinous or incomplete has always had its proponents within EH -- there is a long history of people saying this on the record -- most recently David Field. So there may have been internal discussion within EH and a degree of tolerance for deviant views -- but what marks an organization is its public utterances. And when one looks at EH publications there still does not seem to be a shred of doubt about the correctness of the "immaculate Stonehenge" as preached by Atkinson and (more recently) Anthony Johnson. When the organization has the honesty and the courage to admit in its own educational and PR material that Stonehenge might not have been so wonderful as we have been led to believe, we might be getting somewhere........

Lloyd said...

I am not completely sure of his fact, but I seem to have read that the EH Visitors Centre at Stonehenge is going to be built. Should this be true, would this not influence the debate as the aim of EH must be to build on the ‘brand’ image, and information must be critical to this process.

BRIAN JOHN said...

The problem is, Lloyd, that the "brand image" is of the immaculate Stonehenge, and not the ruinous Stonehenge. There is, at the marketing end of EH, a natural desire to flag up just how extraordinary Stonehenge is -- and just how incredible were the skills of our ancestors. They probably think that to introduce negative concepts like "incompleteness" and "indecisiveness" or "technical limitations" would be bad for the marketing strategy. I can see where they are coming from. But if you look at this in terms of scientific evidence and reliability, the long-distance haulage of the bluestones is an entirely unnecessary part of the story, which looks more and more dodgy by the day. Stonehenge is in my view just as wonderful, and just as ambitious, is it is interpreted as a gallant attempt to create something extraordinary, in a particular place, using those building materials which happened to be close at hand -- including a mottley collection of glacial erratics. Man and nature in harmony. Nice story.

Anonymous said...

I guess most people here will have noted the last paragraph of this Guardian article.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/oct/09/stonehenge-digital-laser-3d-survey

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I'm aware of this. Susan Greaney says (according to the paper): "I think we can say now that the monument certainly was finished – but where the stone went is still a puzzle. At Avebury you can readily see stone reused in nearby buildings from medieval times on, but Stonehenge is some distance from the nearest village, so it's much less easy to see where the stone would have been taken – although we have looked far and wide, we have not succeeded in finding evidence of the re-use of the missing stones." I can't think what evidence she might have used in making her statement that Stonehenge was finished -- and of course that conclusion is directly contradicted by everything else she says in the quote.