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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Is the bluestone myth based on scientific fraud?

HH Thomas -- hero or dastardly villain?  He was the man who "established" the links between Stonehenge and Carn Meini and Carn Alw in the Preseli Hills.  It now looks as if he might have been guilty of a calculated and successful scientific fraud........

When the Sublime Apollo sent this message (on the record)  this morning I was more than a little intrigued:

 This has just been accepted:  "Carn Alw as a source of the rhyolitic component of the Stonehenge bluestones: a critical reappraisal of the petrographical account of H.H. Thomas". Bevins and Ixer. (Apparently it will be in the Journal of Archaeological Science).  When this is out, read and weep.  It looks like he was a bit economical with the evidence - naughty man.

Spotted dolerite from eastern Preseli.  Rocks that look like this are found in a number of the tors and crags around and to the east of Cerrig Marchogion.

Banded rhyolite in an outcrop on the flank of Carn Alw.  Within these rhyolite outcrops there is considerable variation -- sometimes the rhyolite is smooth and almost glassy, and elsewhere it is very coarse and grainy to the touch.

I keep my ear to the ground, and I have no intention of weeping.  Of course I was aware that Rob and Richard were working on the rhyolites at Stonehenge and on Preseli, and also on the spotted dolerites which are at the core of the "bluestone myth."  On the spotted dolerites, we await developments -- but of course there have been earlier suggestions that Carn Goedog (and not Carn Meini) was  the real source of the spotted dolerite orthostats found at Stonehenge.  If that is proved by new research to be correct, that would be the end of the 'bluestone quarry" idea at Carn Meini, so beloved of Profs Darvill and Wainwright.

Back to the rhyolites.  HH Thomas was very keen on the idea that Carn Alw was the source of the main rhyolites at Stonehenge, because it is geographically quite close to Carn Meini.  But in the analysis of his thin sections, his selection of samples, and his reporting of research results, how selective was he with the truth?   It looks as if Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins are now going to suggest that he was indeed a "naughty man" who does not quite deserve the reverence which he is given by those who do not know much about geology.

This brings to mind two posts I pasted onto this blog in 2010:

Did HH Thomas cook the books?

Two great hoaxes: Piltdown Skull and Bluestone Quarry?

I paste these below, for convenience.  As things stand, it looks increasingly likely that the bluestone myth is based upon faulty or even fraudulent science.  Is this the REAL Stonehenge story of the century?


Sunday, 14 February 2010 

Did HH Thomas cook the books? 

I have come across a lot of fraudulent science lately, in other contexts, and this got me thinking about whether HH Thomas deliberately "cooked the books" when it came to his original stunning revelations about the link between Stonehenge and Preseli. Increasingly, I think that he did distort and select his evidence in order to prove his point. For example, we still do not know how many samples he took, and we do not know how many "inconvenient" stones he chose simply not to report on..........

This is an extract from THE BLUESTONE ENIGMA:

It was Herbert Thomas who speculated on a Preseli origin for the Stonehenge bluestones in 1908 and then went on to propose, in his famous 1921 lecture, that the bluestones were identical to rocks cropping out within one small area around Carn Meini. These bluestones, located within the bluestone circle and the bluestone horseshoe, comprise 43 stones, give or take a few. The best estimate is that there are 27 spotted dolerites (including at least two that are broken in half), three unspotted dolerites, five altered volcanic ashes, five rhyolites (of which two are ignimbrites and two are lavas), two micaceous sandstones and a greenish sandstone called the Altar Stone. The spotted dolerites are more variable than one might think; some of them have obvious and large spots of whitish or pinkish feldspar, and others have spots that are almost too small to see with the naked eye. The two micaceous sandstones and five volcanic ashes are just left as stumps, buried beneath the turf.

Most people believe that Herbert Thomas actually sampled the bluestones in the stone settings at Stonehenge. He did not do that. Instead, his work was based upon a visual examination of 34 in situ stones and an analysis of fragments and samples from assorted collections made by William Cunnington, Nevil Maskelyne and William Judd. His analytical method was called “standard transmitted light petrography” which involved a detailed examination of thin sections made from his samples. He also looked at thin sections made from samples taken from the tors in the Preseli Hills, although it is unclear whether any of the samples were his own. Again he seems to have depended largely upon samples collected by other geologists. Some of the samples came from bluestone fragments found in the soil during excavations.

His paper was remarkably vague and unsatisfactory in many respects; we have no idea, to this day, how many samples he looked at and whether he reported on ALL of his analyses. He was driven by the belief that all of the stones must have come from one small source area, as suggested initially by Sir Jethro Teall. So although some of his rock identifications were anomalous, he seemed unprepared to consider the possibility that they had come from other far distant sources. For example, he rejected the possibility of some dolerite samples having come from the Cader Idris district on the grounds that “this locality may be disregarded as a possible source.” There was no explanation for this curt dismissal. He was far too hasty in assigning a Preseli origin to some of the rhyolite samples to which he had access. He also avoided a proper discussion of the source of the Altar Stone, and he made no mention at all of the “inconvenient” micaceous sandstone bluestones (numbered 40g and 42c) or the equally inconvenient fragments of sandstones, grits, quartzites, greywackes, argillaceous flagstones and slates, and of the glauconitic sandstone listed by Judd in 1902. He was familiar with Judd’s work, but treated it with disdain, largely because Judd was convinced that the Stonehenge bluestones were erratics of glacial origin! Thomas’s results were not tabulated or itemised anywhere, and it is impossible to tell which of his assumptions and conclusions are based on which samples. In the grand tradition of Stonehenge studies, confidence and bluster were sufficient to overcome any shortcomings on the data front. The five pairs of thin sections which illustrated his article were obviously selected to give the best “matches” possible; but that is fair enough, since he, as an author, was seeking to make a case! And let’s not be too critical here. Thomas was writing in 1923 when the science of geology was anything but mature, and there is no doubt at all that his work was of great importance.

Thomas knew that his sampled stones could not all have come from one “quarry” because of the petrographic differences which his work revealed. There were at least seven different rock types. So the heterogeneity of the bluestones had to be explained. He did this by proposing that the stones were erratics gathered together in one small area (possibly around Cilymaenllwyd) and utilised there in an early and simpler version of Stonehenge.


 27 March 2012

Two great hoaxes: Piltdown Skull and Bluestone Quarry?

Some see a bluestone quarry -- others don't.
Some see a Missing Link -- others see a hoax.

There was a piece on the telly the other day about the Piltdown Man hoax of 1912. One thing struck me in the commentary -- namely the "fertile ground" which existed in Britain at the time, providing perfect conditions for the hoax to take root, to flourish and eventually (in spite of the reservations of some experts) to become part of mainstream thinking. This is what one web site says about the hoax:

"Perhaps the most famous hoax was Piltdown man. In 1912, at a time when Darwin's evolutionary theory was new, and people were looking for missing links between humans and apes, someone planted two fake skulls which came to be known as Piltdown Man.
The part medieval man, part Orang-utang fossil was found, in the very English village of Piltdown in Sussex. Piltdown man's scientific name, Eoanthropus dawsoni, reflected its finder's name Dawson. To get a flavour of those times, the British Empire was still riding high, and Germany had their Heidelberg man fossil, Britain was desperate for a more important ' missing link' between man and monkey."

The key to this is national pride, and a desire in Britain to demonstrate that whatever important discoveries there were in Germany, Britain had even better ones, showing the world what wonderful ancient civilizations we had here, and what brilliant archaeologists we had to uncover them and to expound new theories of evolution to the world...... OK, petty, nationalistic, xenophobic and even absurd, but that was the world around the time of the First World War. Germany had Neanderthal Man, and now Britain had the "Missing Link" -- even more important.

So what about HH Thomas and the bluestones? Well, I have suspected for some time that Thomas might have been guilty of simplification and selective citation of his samples and his rock identifications, in order to flag up the Carn Meini area as the source of the bluestones. I have also expressed my amazement in earlier posts that he "got away with murder" in that NOBODY seems to have seriously examined his evidence or questioned his wacky idea that the stones had been hauled by tribesmen all the way from Presely to Stonehenge in a totally unique feat of Stone Age long-distance transport. And why did people not scrutinize his theory more closely? Why, because there had been great discoveries about megalithic structures in Germany, and because British archaeologists were desperate to show that in these islands we had even more advanced prehistoric civilisations and even cleverer engineers and technicians.

Sounds absurd? I don't think so -- and a number of other authors have suggested that Thomas's idea was carefully put together around the time of the First World War as part of a national "feel good" strategy, and that the whole nation (and not just the archaeologists) just loved the idea when he announced it, and were disinclined to examine it carefully.

So Thomas became famous, then the bluestones became famous, and the "bluestone transport story" entered the mythology of Britain. It is still trotted out ad infinitum, even though there is even less evidence for it now than there was in 1920. And anybody who dares to question it, or to undermine our cosy assumptions about the extraordinary skills of our Neolithic ancestors, is likely to get short shrift from the archaeology establishment. Look at what happened to poor Geoffrey Kellaway.......

So was the Carn Meini / bluestone quarry / human transport story all a hoax? I think it's a distinct possibility. How much longer will it be before the whole mad idea about human transport is finally consigned to the scrapheap? Not long, I suspect, since the new geology being done by Rob Ixer and colleagues in the Stonehenge area is revealing so many new sources for the stones and fragments at Stonehenge that we are going to have to talk about 20 quarries all over western Britain, rather than one. And that would be to stretch things to a rather extraordinary degree......

All hoaxes have their day, and eventually bite the dust, leaving senior academics looking very foolish.


Lloyd Matthews said...

Currently there appears to be great interest in Stonehenge as a ‘cemetery’ but does the evidence as a whole support this theory.

Coincidence has been given as an explanation as to why so many of the stones at Stonehenge align themselves to astronomical sightings, yet it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the positioning was intentional.

The narrator of ‘Secrets of Stonehenge Skeletons’ March 2013, says, “The Avenue has since grown over and can now only really be seen from the air, but it has long been accepted that it was once a wide processional route to the monument cut into the slope. What makes this avenue particularly special is that it was here before Stonehenge was built, and it wasn’t man made. Mike believes that naturally occurring straight ridges formed by water melting at the end of the last ice age has created distinct parallel line in the chalky soil. In an ancient landscape these straight lines would seem astonishing to Stone Age people, particularly when they realised what they seemed to be pointing at.”

The reply by the archaeologist is, “By an extraordinary cosmological coincidence, this alignment and that direction is towards the mid winter solstice sunset, so this must have seemed like an extraordinary message from the gods. It may well have possibly been the centre of their universe.”

So many coincidences in one place!

Brian, as an expert on ice movements, could this have happened?

Lloyd Matthews

BRIAN JOHN said...

Lloyd -- enough of coincidences! That Channel 4 programme has been examined in some discussion on this humble blog site. On the matter of the periglacial stripes or ridges, just type in "periglacial stripes" into the search box, and all will be revealed. I am pretty convinced that these stripes have NOTHING to do with glacial action.

Anonymous said...


If the stripes were 'natural' why would you not build the monument in the middle of them?

If you was going to build the monument at one end of the stripes and MPP is correct about the midwinter solstice relationship, isn't it at the wrong end?


Anonymous said...

Carn Alw and Carn Menyn are approx 1 kilometer apart so HH Thomas was not far off, and presuming Dr Ixer did not analyse all the dolerites he might even be correct still.

The discovery is very exciting and I look forward to reading the article. I think you can just about see Carn Alw from Rhos-y-felin - right?

Chris Johnson

BRIAN JOHN said...

Mustn't confuse the spotted dolerites and the rhyolites. Carn Meini has the former, and Carn Alw the latter. HH Thomas wanted the rocks to have come from quite a tight area, since that obviously fits the human transport hypothesis better. We must wait to see what these new papers will reveal, but it is already apparent that Carn Meini and Carn Alw are red herrings, and that the Stonehenge bluestone orthostats and debitage have come from many sources, some of which are undetermined. (Rhosyfelin is but one of these sources.)

Lloyd Matthews said...

Brian, thank you for directing me to ‘periglacial stripes’, and it is reassuring to see how you are challenging MPP - Lloyd

geocur said...

Lloyd ,
In the phase between the earliest monument and the megalithjic one there were more burials of individuals within a demarcated area as can be found anywhere else in Britain in the period . It has been described as an enclosed cremation cemetery but it differs from others of that type .Does that make it cemetery ?
Due to the huge number of components ,stones ,Aubrey Holes etc the potential for discovery of possible “alignments” is vast , with little hope of arguing for intentionality on behalf of the builders , the most obvious axis of the monument Avenue alignment is the only one having any credibility .

Myris of Alexandria. said...

The paper has little if anything to do with dolerites.
It is about testing the presumed origins of non-dolerite, non-sandstone bluestone lithics using the original sections/samples of Thomas.
Best to wait to read the paper. It is carefully measured.
A error of 1km is huge in this context.
Everyone agrees that most of the bluestones come from the Preseli Hills area and that Thomas was the first to seriously suggest this (and all praise for that) but the Devil is in the details.
Without good and accurate provenancing of the bluestones archaeologist could be digging blindly in them there hills for centuries to come.
Ask the simple question, without I and B/B and I's sampling and petrography and later geochem etc etc who would have ever thought of excavating at Craig Rhosyfelin. It would be an unregarded outcrop emblazonned in purple during the summer months.
We are dangerously getting close to trees falling silently in the forest and should close.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- I keep trying to emphasise that there are several research strands here -- (1) sourcing the rhyolites, (2) sourcing the spotted and unspotted dolerites, (3) sourcing the sedimentaries. Maybe another exercise on the volcanic ashes too. The paper we now await is about Carn Alw and the rhyolites which don't seem to have come from there or from Rhosyfelin. We await further publications on the spotted dolerite orthostats -- but of course it has been suggested quite often (eg by the OU team around 1990) that Carn Goedog is a more likely source than Carn Meini. It will be interesting to see whether further research confirms that.

BRIAN JOHN said...

..... and hooray for systematic geological sampling across the landscape. I too am mystified by the manner in which Rhosyfelin has suddenly become an archaeological holy grail -- from where I stand, what we have is a clever piece of geological detective work with no archaeological significance. Hopefully -- time and resources permitting, Ixer and Bevins will find ten or twenty other sources for the Stonehenge debris among the scores of rhyolite and dolerite outcrops across the landscape of NE Pembs.

Lloyd Matthews said...

Geocur; are you saying that at Stonehenge, between its earliest origins to its final finished state, there were bodies of many individuals found in the area around Stonehenge? If this is the case, am I not correct in thinking that the population at that time was thought to be quite small, yet the labour force required to build Stonehenge would have been relatively large, when compared against the population as a whole. Could this not account for the high number of burials within the area around Stonehenge?

With regards the “alignments” at Stonehenge, what makes the Avenue as having the most credibility? Is it because it aligns with the Summer Solstice, and the Sun sets between the Great Trilithon etc. Why should we accept this as not being a coincidence; if there were another specific alignment on another Trilithon with specific irregularities, would this be classed as just coincidental, or could it also be classed as intentional?

I am not seeking to be argumentative, but I am trying to understand some of the logic behind the current thinking concerning Stonehenge - Lloyd

Constantinos Ragazas said...


To a 'true believer' nothing about Stonehenge needs to make sense. Even 'incomplete' becomes 'intentionally complete'. While 'evidence anywhere' becomes 'evidence everywhere'. And 'interpretation' becomes 'hard evidence' not to be questioned. No need to have a sizable population and organized culture to do great tasks. Just the right DNA of prehistoric people who, except for dress style, are just like us.


Constantinos Ragazas said...


In a prior post you wrote, “thinking about whether HH Thomas deliberately "cooked the books"”.

In light of this latest Bevins-Ixer paper, it looks like you may be a prophet. But this raises my concerns even higher. With HH Thomas selectively using evidence and Atkinson never publishing his complete research papers on Stonehenge, what confidence do we have MPP is not doing the same now? We are still waiting for the carbon-dates on Rhosyfelin “quarry”, for example.


Jon Morris said...

Could this not account for the high number of burials within the area around Stonehenge?

The individuals were largely buried long before the stones were erected.

With regards the “alignments” at Stonehenge, what makes the Avenue as having the most credibility? Is it because it aligns with the Summer Solstice, and the Sun sets between the Great Trilithon etc.

It is credible because the axis of the monument points in approximately the right direction. There is no other evidence.

geocur said...

Lloyd , no problem with arguing /debating particularly if data is involved .The earliest monument only had animal deposits in the ditch . The human depositions came later , in Aubrey holes , on top of the bank and in the ditch etc .This was before the sarsen monument . Whilst there is no reason for the deposits not be that of builders they were deposited after the initial work on the ditch and before the erection of the sarsens . I maybe should clarify that the burials were within the monument rather than in the general area .
The avenue alignment is the most credible because it involves the axis of the monument on the solstices , which was set prior to the avenue ,this alone might might be salient but it is supported by the alignment of the avenue which for 500 m is also aligned on the solstices which in turn would be considered salient if the sole component of an alignment . Then there is the visual aspect i.e. from the centre of the monument on the bearing of the avenue the sun would be seen to rise between bluestones 31 and 49 between lintelled sarsens 1 and 30 over the Slaughter stone and between the heel Stone and the stone that stood in stone hole E . The only competition is the station stone rectangle but as that only involves the relationship between pairs of stones albeit the alignments are on the solstices and standstills there it is not nearly so compelling .

Lloyd Matthews said...

Kostas; in commenting upon Stonehenge being used as an astronomical observatory, Gerald Hawkins wrote, “A time machine would be required to prove that.” (Hawkins 1965, p-176). Regardless of what the theories are, I believe that this comment is probably the most accurate!

You mention, “Just the right DNA of prehistoric people who, except for dress style, are just like us.” Barry Cunliffe (Oxford University) also says, “The period of Stonehenge was a period of modern mindsets, which are very, very, similar to ours. These were really our direct ancestors” (Parthenon 2003, 00:40 minutes).

I cannot understand why there is such a predominantly negative view regarding the intellect of the prehistoric people. Perhaps if they were looking forwards in time, they would consider that this civilisation was equally ignorant! - Lloyd

geocur said...

Lloyd , Hawkins was one of the those who did see the Stonehenge as an observatory . Because there are alignments to astronomical events at some monuments does not make them observatories . In those examples that are passage graves e.g. Newgrange, it makes it highly unlikely. You don't need avenues and big stones or an "observatory " or much skill to observe and record a solstice .

Lloyd Matthews said...

Geocur; thank you for explaining the point about the human deposits. MPP seemed to place great emphasis on the bones found in the Aubrey Hole. Am I correct in understanding that only one Aubrey Hole was examined, or was it proven that the bones were in all of the Aubrey Holes? I was under the impression that not all of them had been excavated. As the bones were found in the Aubrey Holes, on top of the bank and in the ditch, would it not make it more difficult to determine the importance of this, other than making a general assumption?

Thank for your explaining why the solstice alignment is recognised; surely this would indicate an understanding of astronomical cycles that could be seen by the naked eye. Would this not set a precedent that the other alignments are in all likelihood intentional? I understand what you are saying about the Station Stones, and that the alignments only relate to pairs of stones. If there were further evidence in support of one of the pairings, would this also be put down to just coincidence? - Lloyd

TonyH said...

A certain well - known Stonehenge archaeologist, who shall remain nameless, was not so long ago heard to publicly describe, semi - jokingly, two other archaeologists who work in tandem, as Dastardly and Muttley (the cartoon characters).

Jon Morris said...

In those examples that are passage graves e.g. Newgrange, it makes it highly unlikely. You don't need avenues and big stones or an "observatory " or much skill to observe and record a solstice .

Absolutely right. However, Newgrange and the like are sometimes used to generate an a priori argument for Stonehenge being aligned to solstices.

I'm still not convinced that both the Avenue and the Monument each generate two separate pieces of evidence for alignment. The same argument can be applied to generate two pieces of evidence for Buckingham Palace and The Mall being purposefully aligned to the moon's minor standstill (an absurd extremis, not a serious argument for a Royal Moon conspiracy)

It's perhaps a little too easy to generate apparent arguments of evidence which actually only stem from only one potential coincidence, so it'll be interesting to see what comes from the re-evaluation of Thomas's work.

geocur said...

Lloyd , 34 of the 56 Aubrey Holes have been excavated ,these are AH 1-32 and 55-56 ,of those , 8 didn't have evidence of cremations .. AH 7 had the hessian bags containing the collected cremations from the other AH 's . Hawley had trenched a stripped a large area of the monument between the AH's and the centre and didn't find any other cremations .

Due to the huge potential for finding alignments at monuments with multiple components it is very difficult to argue for intentionality . If there is a particular example I would be more than happy to debates it's likelihood ,

geocur said...

Jon ,Considering the number of major buildings and long staright sections of roads /avenues in London it's likely quite a few align with the the sun rise and sun set on your birthday .The minor standstill is considered by a number of archaeoastronomers to be an unlikely event for monuments to be intentionally aligned upon whereas solstice alignments are well attested around the globe ethnographically and within prehistoric monuments .
The Newgrange alignment is compelling enough in it's own right it's simply another example of the type .

Constantinos Ragazas said...


I am not arguing prehistoric people 5,000 years ago were biologically any different from us now. And if intelligence was to be considered as a biological attribute of people, I would accept that prehistoric people were just as intelligent (in that sense) as us. Intelligence is not an issue for me. But capabilities are! And I am arguing capabilities (whether by an individual or a group) come about living and growing and learning in a cultured environment. A Civilization! And in a Civilization capabilities and knowledge are passed on from generation to generation through symbols, belief systems, inventions, organized societies, economic affluence, leisure etc.

All these turning points of progress find a great variety of expressions in a Civilization and over a long time period. It just is inconceivable to me such unmistakable marks of culture and civilization do not need to coexist in a variety of ways. Or not leave behind ample and irrefutable historical records. And I simply do not see such irrefutable evidence and historical record in the case of Stonehenge. Only ever-elaborate and contradictory narratives and interpretations of scant raw evidence. I argue the evidence we have can support a very different view of what happened 5000 years ago. And I feel we owe it to the people who courageously and tenaciously endured unthinkable physical hardships fighting for survival, to honor their memory by a true accounting of their lives. And not through our need for fantasies of a long lost past.


Constantinos Ragazas said...


Are these small bone fragments or the skeletal remains of distinct individuals?


Jon Morris said...

whereas solstice alignments are well attested around the globe ethnographically and within prehistoric monuments. The Newgrange alignment is compelling enough

I agree that Newgrange is compelling Geo: The design is clearly intentional and references the Solstice.

But I would question whether or not Newgrange, (or any other monument) provides a priori evidence for Stonehenge's alignment. For reasons that are way to long to explain, I would love this to be true, but I can't justify it from a logical perspective.

Do you think there is a reason to justify the solstice link with more than a 50/50 chance?

geocur said...

Jon , it would be wrong/illogical to consider the Newgrange , or any other alignment , provides a priori evidence for the Stonehenge alignment . Both provide independent a posteriori knowledge that is similar i.e. monumental solstice alignment , from the same period ,(although the practice covers a much greater time span) found elsewhere (globally ) and thus providing a typological link .

Anonymous said...

Alex Gee:

Given the conflicts between the various theories. Its obviously time for me to announce the "unified bullshit" theory.

What if Stonehenge was a healing centre; but not a very good one?.
A sort of neolithic Mid-Staffs Hospital? This would account for the large amount of burials, and satisfy both parties.

The new age crowd could be catered for by stating that Bluestonehenge was an intergalactic space port, built to facilitate visits to the healing centre by consultant proctologists from other star systems? You don't need evidence for that, as the Newies will believe anything.

e.g. the three requirements to be a druid?
1. your own bedsheet
2. a beard
3. forget to take your medication for a week.

Lloyd Matthews said...

Geocur; thank you once again for helping me understand. Is this why there is such scepticism with MPP when he says that the 56 Aubrey Holes with Bluestones celebrated the remains of notable citizens?

Thank you also for your offer of debate; I was trying to understand what sort of evidence would change ‘coincidence’ into ‘intentional’ - Lloyd

Lloyd Matthews said...

Kostas; thank you for your thoughtful reply, and I appreciate your comments regarding the honouring of memories, which seems to get forgotten in so many debates; it would appear that there are times when the enhancing of reputations takes precedence over truth.

As you are aware, I am not an expert in this field, but a simple model maker with a curiosity for seeking answers to questions.

I have read, “Like Gimbutas and Yoshinori, I believe that civilisations existed before the historical era and that our current view of what is and is not civilization needs to be radically revised. “The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age” – Richard Rudgley, p.34.

You say, “It just is inconceivable to me such unmistakable marks of culture and civilization do not need to coexist in a variety of ways.” Would you be agreeing to what Rudgley is saying in that the meaning of civilization needs revising?

You also say, “And in a Civilization capabilities and knowledge are passed on from generation to generation through symbols, belief systems, inventions, organized societies, economic affluence, leisure etc.”

Would you not agree that symbols do exist, but perhaps not properly understood; I would have thought that there must have been some sort of belief system to motivate a workforce to embark on a venture like building Stonehenge; inventions did exist at that time, as fire and the wheel must be classed as such; society must have been organised to have handled the logistics of such a building venture/s etc.

You also wrote, “I argue the evidence we have can support a very different view of what happened 5000 years ago.” What do you mean?

Your comments sparked many thoughts in my mind, and I am just trying to understand what you are saying from a different angle - Lloyd

Jon Morris said...

Both provide independent a posteriori knowledge that is similar i.e. monumental solstice alignment , from the same period ,(although the practice covers a much greater time span) found elsewhere (globally ) and thus providing a typological link .

Agreed. But unlike Newgrange, there is no obvious design intent in the monument itself. It's not difficult to argue that the construction and/or location of Stonehenge is contrary to the proposed intent (of alignment with solstice).

Unless the Avenue and the Monument can be argued to be separate evidence, all that is left is perhaps a 50/50 chance that the intention was to align the monument with solstice.

Can you see any argument that the Avenue and the Monument are independent of each other?

geocur said...

Jon , I disagree about evidence for intention within the architecture of the monument , excluding the avenue . The megalithic and earlier monument provided six elements of the alignment before the avenue was built “ from the centre of the monument the sun would be seen to rise between bluestones 31 and 49 between lintelled sarsens 1 and 30 over the Slaughter stone across the NE entrance causeway and between the heel Stone and the stone that stood in stone hole E “ that excludes the axis of the Sarsen horseshoe and bluestones which are also arguably components of the alignment .
The avenue was just a further element albeit the most obvious and important.. The avenue is part of the monument but I fail to see whether it's presence or otherwise detracts from the intentionality .

Constantinos Ragazas said...


In discussions about prehistory and Stonehenge in particular, not being an 'expert' may be an advantage. Since 'experts', as we repeatedly discover, are too taken by their theories and advancement to think and reason objectively. All they can offer are made-up stories they weave in and out of the evidence. And evidence that are only interpretations and reflections of the narrative they seek to advance.

You write, “what is and is not civilization needs to be radically revised”. When I speak of Civilization I am not making a 'value judgment'. As I think the quote does. Rather, I consider the capabilities of an organized society and its power to assert the collective will on both Nature and other people. Such Civilization cannot have existed without irrefutable evidence of it having existed. At Gobekli Tepe, for example, we have ample and irrefutable evidence of 'human agency'. If such evidence existed at Stonehenge (presumably some 6000 years later), there would not be any question in my mind of a Civilization building it.

You write, “Would you not agree that symbols [at Stonehenge?] do exist, but perhaps not properly understood”. What symbols? I know of no symbols at Stonehenge. Furthermore, we do not understand many ancient symbols and writings. But we still recognize these were made by people. So 'understanding' and 'symbol' are mutually exclusive ideas. But one essential attribute for symbol is that people create it. And this must be irrefutable.

You ask for my explanation for Stonehenge. Simply, I argue Nature had played a much greater role than currently believed. All the raw 'facts on the ground' can be simply, sensibly and consistently be explained by this hypothesis.


Jon Morris said...

The megalithic and earlier monument provided six elements of the alignment before the avenue was built “ from the centre of the monument the sun would be seen to rise between bluestones 31 and 49 between lintelled sarsens 1 and 30
over the Slaughter stone

True, but I can generate any random symmetrical monument about one solstice alignment and it will give exactly the same alignments: Each of the cited alignments is a consequence of symmetry about one axis. A random monument might even do better.

I an see it in Newgrange: A randomly generated symmetrical monument would be very unlikely to do what Newgrange does.

What does Stonehenge's architecture do that is different from any randomly generated symmetrical monument?

geocur said...

Jon , The gap between three different sets of stone pairs need not be a consequence of the axis ,any one of the pairs could just as easily blocked the alignment view and still maintained the integrity of the monument . Each single element of the monument when viewed from the centre of the monument the sarsen horseshoe , bluestone horseshoe bluestone circle , Sarsen circle , the heel stone pair , the entrance and avenue all contribute to the alignment when it would be very easy for any one of these to impede it and still maintain the integrity of the monument .. There is nothing else of a similar nature with anything like the same number of elements at the monument ,the best is the connection between two stones . The avenue alone is enough to suggest a solstice alignment .
Why bother with randomly generated models when there are plenty of genuine examples to compare? I don't believe a randomly generated monument including an avenue and entrance causeway would come up with an alignment involving so many elements , never mind one that was accurately aligned towards a solstice . However it doesn't really matter as we can see the real thing .

Jon Morris said...

Hi Geo, Brian

I'm aware that we're diverting off the point of this thread, so put up a post below (if anyone wants to continue the conversation about alignment)

Stonehenge's alignment to Solstice

Helen said...

Possibly a little off-topic - and apologies for thread resurrection - but thought this might raise a smile: English Heritage have just tweeted the following:

"Where is it thought that the Stonehenge bluestones originated from? If you know, you could win a holiday cottage stay" (Via