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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Stonehenge Neolithic mace head

Many thanks to Anon for sending me this photo of the REAL Stonehenge Neolithic mace head -- made of gneiss.  This must be the one found by Hawley in association with a cremation burial.  The pit was NOT one of the Aubrey Holes, so it was not associated with any ritual burial which involved placing a bluestone on top of the cremation debris.  This one is in the museum in Salisbury, and is shown on its web site:

It's really rather a splendid mace head -- so why didn't MPP choose to examine this one in front of the camera?  It would at least then have been of the right age, and from approximately the right context...... and that would have made that section of the film a great deal more trustworthy.


Myris of Alexandria. said...

I am not worried about being the Anon source.
This SH mace head really is perhaps the most exotic lithic from SH.
Either it is an erratic or has been man-carried far.
The nearest British rocks of this type are Central/NW Scotland.
I think it will be on disply at the new visitors centre.

50 years ago when I did second year NW European Prehistory (nothing but upteen metal axe-heads I remember) Rhyno-Clacton was a type/style of pottery I think the term has gone But that is the Orkney-Southern England link. But I stray from my knowledge field so am happy to be corrected.

TonyH said...

I tracked this down in relation to the subject of mace heads at Stonehenge.
Dennis Price, on his Eternal Idol site, says that in 1620 the Duke of Buckingham dug a large pit in the centre of Stonehenge, in which were found...."Batter - dashers, heads of arrows....". Dennis says (2009)"I'm assuming the "batter - dashers" were clubs or maces, judging from the sketch reproduced in Christopher Chippindale's 'Stonehenge Complete'". But I do not have this book.
Professor Alison Sheridan is a specialist in mace heads and the like and is based in Scotland. No doubt she has an opinion on the gneiss mace head we are discussing here. She is one of Mike Parker Pearson's regular contacts.

geocur said...

Yes Myris , Rinyo -Clacton folk are now Grooved ware people . The source , Rinyo in Orkney , may have had too much of an influence on the "animals from Orkney " suggestion .Just because an important style of pottery and monuments may have originated there doesn't mean the Durrington cattle did too. I still believe the reason for the film being done in Orkney was due to a preference for the Ness over more appropriate geology .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, if Channel Four paid for a nice trip to Orkney -- even on the flimsiest of pretexts -- wouldn't you or I leap at the chance too?

TonyH said...

I think the reason Mike never chose to hold the Stonehenge Neolithic gneiss mace head on the programme was because it does not have a reconstructed wooden handle going through its shaft hole. Therefore, it is not a complete visual aid in terms of how it was used in ceremonies. Nothing more sinister than that. Mike probably filmed the example housed in the Wiltshire Heritage Museum last August, when he was supervising a dig near Marlborough quite nearby.

BRIAN JOHN said...

If they had asked me nicely, I could have knocked up a nice handle for that mace in 30 mins flat -- and for free....... Sorry Tony -- I don't buy that one!!

Wiltshire Heritage Museum said...

As I said before MPP was precise in what he said to camera. He filmed several things in Salisbury Museum and assume it was the editing that cut out the Stonehenge macehead.

It won't be on display in the new Visitor Centre. Salisbury Museum and ourselves will be showing our most important items ourselves. we are independent charities and need income from visitors to survive.

Myris of Alexandria. said...

Sorry. I was asked to comment on the 'nice' mace-head (apologies for the very old lithic pun but it so rarely that it can be used) and because of the questioner I thought it was to be part of the new Stonehenge exhibition.
I recommend both museums as highly as I can and their finds are truly wonderful with or without all that unseemly golden bling.
I guess’ The Only Way is Beaker/Rinyo-Clacton’ would have a small audience. (May I say I have never watched any of these Chav and Chav-inspired shows nor could I) and it would have to have been Rinyo-Southend package, builders of very long piers perhaps pace Flag Fen.
I did think it very enlightened of both museums to lend some of their very best exhibits to a new locality.
I guess all three and Keiler museum could be done in one day making it the ultimate Wessex II tour for a rainy day?

Anonymous said...

Myris of Alexandria
I suggest a special bullet - proof glass case at the new Stonehenge Visitors Centre, featuring various combinations of Mace, Tarzan, and Former Tory Blond Bombshell Michael Heseltine [next to a more archeaologically - themed "Our Aristocratic Ancestors" display].

P Larkin'