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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Stumps 32c and 32d -- a plea to English Heritage


Time for a re-focus onto stumps 32c and 32d.  These are the two stumps shown in the Atkinson excavation photos above (from the EH site) -- and which are now very much in the frame following the most recent geological work on the Stonehenge rhyolitic debitage.  (Note:  there have been various mistaken identifications of stump 32e as being made of rhyolite -- that's the stone closest to Atkinson's head in the lower photo.  It doesn't look at all like a rhyolite, and it is almost certainly a dolerite -- either spotted or unspotted.......)

The lower photo shows that the stump (32d) at bottom left has a distinctly laminated, foliated and flaky appearance, and many of us have commented on the fact that it has a distinct visual resemblance to the stones revealed during the MPP excavations at Rhosyfelin.  That appears to be a good candidate for having come from Rhosyfelin or somewhere in that neighbourhood. 

In the top photo we can see that stump 32c looks very similar to stump 32d, but the definition in the photo isn't as clear as it might be.........

I have dealt with this topic in oprevious posts:
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/stump-32e-again.html
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/more-on-bluestone-stumps.html
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/fragments-stumps-and-layers.html

So this is the interesting question:  HAS THE BULK OF THE RHYOLITIC DEBITAGE FOUND IN THE STONEHENGE ENVIRONS (AND IDENTIFIED BY BEVINS AND IXER AS HAVING A PROBABLE SOURCE AROUND RHOSYFELIN) COME FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF STONE 32C, 32D OR MAYBE BOTH OF THEM?

There is a reasonable chance that the answer to that question is "yes" -- but at the moment there are apparently no physical samples in existence which will allow a match to be made.  So here is a plea to English heritage:  in the interests of science, will you please allow the geologists to undertake a spot of "keyhole surgery" into the turf (the stumps are only just beneath the surface) and to take small samples of stumps 32c and 32d for analysis?  That should be a very simple task, since the precise locations of the stumps are known -- and the research benefits would be out of all proportion to the amount of "damage" that might be done.

6 comments:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Now that you have posted a couple of Atkinson's photos, can you look more closely at the cross-sections of the Stonehenge Layer shown in the photos?

Questions: How different are these from 'alluvial deposits' along river banks? Do these look to you like debitage layers of knock-offs from stone dressing? Wont such dressing layers be more concentrated around the orthostat and closer to the surface? And not uniformly mixed with the soil going down to the chalk bedrock. And if the many little white specks in the soil are chalk, why are they present, mixed in the soil? If not for the Layer having been the bottom of a meltwater retaining basin?

The plot thickens to form the Layer!

Kostas

TonyH said...

I am doing what I can, from my Wiltshire base, to extract a response from someone associated with English Heritage, past or present, on the pertinent issue Brian raises of sampling the surviving 2 stumps.

TonyH said...

If we are to believe part of Darvill & Wainwright's thesis in the Timewatch prog reprised (without any amendments or changes since its 2008 version) is that unwell folk have been chipping away at the "healing" bluestones since time immemorial. I think Darvill, at least, is about to reveal that the Romans took quite a few 'souvenirs' away with them, as well as perhaps re-arranging some stones.If that is the case, perhaps there should now be search parties set up back in Roman Italy for bits of bluestone buried with legionaries?

TonyH said...

The question, indeed the moot point is:-

Are these bluestone stumps such an essential, integral part of our English heritage, part of our rich tapestry of English life to paraphrase the Immortal Bard, that none of us could suffer to see them even SLIGHTLY shaved??! Even by their Champions, English Heritage? Time for a Referendum, Mr Cameron?

TonyH said...

I've managed to make contact with the recently retired English Heritage Salisbury Plain archaeologist, David Field, and he gave me a useful constructive reply which has been passed on to Brian this evening.

TonyH said...

What those Italian archaeologists should be looking for, on the Ancient Roman legionaries' headstones*, is something in Latin, roughly equivalent to Milligan's "I told you I was Ill: I went to Stonehenge for the Healing (what good it did).

*see above