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Sunday, 8 September 2013

Breaking news -- Stonehenge and the summer solstice!

The latest exciting revelations about Stonehenge -- thanks to Pete G for drawing our attention to the article in the Guardian.  Really, one despairs for British journalism -- there is nothing remotely new or interesting here -- same old stuff, recycled and even regurgitated without any questioning or attempt to assess the info fed to them by the MPP team and/or EH.  So now the periglacial alignments have been cut by "Ice Age meltwater" --  well, fancy that!!  Evidence please, somebody?

EH says it has discovered the "missing piece of the jigsaw"  ---- er, excuse me, but would somebody like to tell me what this is, and where it fits in to everything else?


Stonehenge was built on solstice axis, dig confirms
http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/sep/08/stonehenge-ice-age-solstice-axis

English Heritage excavations show site has nothing to do with sun worshipping, and find evidence cir
Archeologists found ridges, formed by Ice Age meltwater, that align Stonehenge with the solstice axis.
English Heritage says it has discovered a "missing piece in the jigsaw" in our understanding of Stonehenge, England's greatest prehistoric site. Excavations along the ancient processional route to the monument have confirmed the theory that it was built along an ice age landform that happened to be on the solstice axis.
The Avenue was an earthwork route that extended 1.5 miles from the north-eastern entrance to Wiltshire's standing stones to the River Avon at West Amesbury. Following the closure of the A344 road, which cut across the route, archaeologists have been able to excavate there for the first time.
Just below the tarmac, they have found naturally occurring fissures that once lay between ridges against which prehistoric builders dug ditches to create the Avenue. The ridges were created by Ice Age meltwater that happen to point directly at the mid-winter sunset in one direction and the mid-summer sunrise in the other.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, a leading expert on Stonehenge, said: "It's hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they [prehistoric people] were so interested in the solstices. It's not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it's about how this place was special to prehistoric people.
"This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one. So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land."
The findings back theories that emerged in 2008 following exploration of a narrow trench across the Avenue. Parker Pearson said: "This is the confirmation. It's being able to see the big picture."
Dr Heather Sebire, English Heritage's Stonehenge curator, said: "The part of the Avenue that was cut through by the road has obviously been destroyed forever, but we were hopeful that archaeology below the road would survive. And here we have it: the missing piece in the jigsaw. It is very exciting to find a piece of physical evidence that officially makes the connection which we were hoping for."
The excavation was conducted by Wessex Archaeology for English Heritage.
The A344 will be grassed over next year as part of English Heritage's £27m transformation of the World Heritage Site, which receives more than 1m visitors annually. There will be a new visitor centre, 1.5 miles away out of sight, to allow Stonehenge to reconnect with the surrounding landscape.
Sebire, who likens the Avenue to The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace, said that the latest findings should prompt vigorous academic debate.
The excavations have also uncovered three holes where missing stones would have stood on the outer sarsen circle, evidence, it is believed, that the circle was indeed once complete. Surprisingly, even the most sophisticated surveys failed to spot them. Two members of staff noticed dry areas of grass, or parchmarks.
Susan Greaney, an English Heritage historian, said: "The discovery … has certainly strengthened the case for it being a full circle."
Asked why no one noticed them until now, Parker Pearson said: "The problem is we've not had a decent dry summer in many years. Stonehenge is always regularly watered, and the only reason these have shown up is because – for some reason this year – their hose was too short … So we're very lucky."

54 comments:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Thanks Pete for that link!

Quoting from the article, ”the [Avenue] ridges were created by Ice Age meltwater”

I have for several years been arguing here the Avenue was a meltwater channel originating from a retaining basin in the ice cover where Stonehenge now is. And draining down the hill into the Avon River.

Though MPP got that part right, he does not explain what restrained the meltwater within the confines of the Avenue and in a direction diagonal to the downslope? And where is the meltwater from Stonehenge originate? Hard to imagine such volume of meltwater coming from that hill alone.

Further from the article, ”The excavations have also uncovered three holes where missing stones would have stood on the outer sarsen circle, evidence, it is believed, that the circle was indeed once complete. Surprisingly, even the most sophisticated surveys failed to spot them. Two members of staff noticed dry areas of grass, or parchmarks “,

Brian has posted on this a while back. [http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2013/08/where-did-stonehenge-sarsens-come-from.html ]. Such dry “parchmarks” in the grass do not indicate “pits” below the surface. Rather, the opposite. Pits would leave “positive cropmarks” and not negative.

Someone should explain the difference to MPP. Where have you been Myris? Just when Truth and Justice needs you to set the record straight!

Kostas

Timothy Daw said...

Appallingly written article - but those interested here are the pictures of under the road - http://www.sarsen.org/2013/08/archaeology-under-road-at-stonehenge.html And my discovery of the missing holes in the outer circle had nothing to do with the excavations and was first reported here - http://www.sarsen.org/2013/07/partch-marks-at-stonehenge.html

Jon Morris said...

EH says it has discovered the "missing piece of the jigsaw"  ---- er, excuse me, but would somebody like to tell me what this is, and where it fits in to everything else?

Perhaps Mike is right?

He also says:

"It's hugely significant because it tells us a lot about why Stonehenge was located where it is and why they [prehistoric people] were so interested in the solstices. It's not to do with worshipping the sun, some kind of calendar or astronomical observatory; it's about how this place was special to prehistoric people.
"This natural landform happens to be on the solstice axis, which brings heaven and earth into one. So the reason that Stonehenge is all about the solstices, we think, is because they actually saw this in the land."

"This is the confirmation. It's being able to see the big picture."


So what is the big picture he has in mind? I'm with MPP on the early “solstice alignment” being important.

If such an explanation exists, (important enough for society in general to sit up and demand further investigation and then expansion of the archaeological realm), it will probably be lying in plain sight. Perhaps recent investigations have revealed all, but nobody other than MPP has noticed yet?

Whatever "Big Picture" he has in mind to explain this, hopefully this will be profound, simple, logical and obvious.

Dave Maynard said...

I agree with Timothy, the article seems to be a mishmash of press releases. Many issues there, that could run and run.

Just to start, Is that a yellow hose pipe snaking under the visitor walkway on the aerial-cam photograph on your blog Timothy?

Was there anything different about the management of the grass this year? Due to the number of visitors every year, keeping the grass green and resistant to damage is a major undertaking throughout the year.

Dave

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry Jon, but I just don't go with any of that. Every landscape in the world has alignments in it -- stretches of rivers, alignments of valleys, outcrops of rocks, rows of tors, aligned gaps in hills, etc etc etc. You can go on playing silly games for ever -- and indeed, as we all know, many authors do just that. I have done reviews of some of the key books on this blog. It would be a mistake to say that these alignments exist purely by chance -- clearly they don't, because there are always geological and other controls at work -- but their coincidence with certain astronomical alignments is pretty well random, and to bring in a cause and effect relationship, as MPP and EH appear to be doing here, seems to me to be frankly absurd.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I agree with Dave here -- it's really rather sad that instead of picking up on the real current controversies relating to Stonehenge, these journalists simply regurgitate old stuff and pretend that it's new. this must be just as frustrating to practising archaeologists as it is to me......

Jon Morris said...

but their coincidence with certain astronomical alignments is pretty well random, and to bring in a cause and effect relationship, as MPP and EH appear to be doing here, seems to me to be frankly absurd.

As far as I can see Brian, he's only claiming to have improved evidence that the 'solstice alignment' was important (at least as far as the early stages were concerned). This is not 'alignments' but a singular alignment. It may be that he has noticed something else special and that this justifies his use of 'the Big Picture'.

We have no choice but to wait and see if there is any substance to it?

Anonymous said...

'never let the truth get in the way of a good story'

Mike Pitts

BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon, my point is that there are thousands of "singular alignments" aligned with the rising of the sun on the summer solstice. And thousands of others that are not "singular." Why hasn't prehistoric man built interesting things on top of all the other "singular" ones, if he was as observant and knowledgeable as MPP would have us believe?

TonyH said...

I don't see why Prehistoric Man didn't notice this alignment effect, especially as Mesolithic Man was clearly there 9 the wooden posts) or thereabouts ( at a spring near Vespasian's Camp), but I'm more concerned that MPP cannot see the Bigger Picture [his phrase] at Preseli with regard to glaciation and its potential consequences for what was to become Wiltshire/ Somerset. He takes great pains to tell us about the U - shaped valleys in N Pembrokeshire in the chapter of his best - selling book on Stonehenge, and I know for a fact he considered studying Geography, perhaps with Archaeology, at University. Come on, Mike, let's have the "Bigger Picture" in relation to your mega - bucks, National Geographic - backed projects attempting to link Preseli & Stonehenge, then the majority of seriously academically- inclined folk interested in the topic might REALLY sit up and take notice! Mike Pitts editor of "Archaeology" magazine please note.

Jon Morris said...

Why hasn't prehistoric man built interesting things on top of all the other "singular" ones, if he was as observant and knowledgeable as MPP would have us believe? .

That would be for Mike to explain Brian. Whatever the reason for constructing in stone; something which significantly changes and perhaps even modifies the purpose of the original monument, the motivation to construct both would have to be heavily interconnected. Stonehenge late stage is obviously complex, but whatever preceded it (for example the 'alignment') may not have been: Perhaps they have developed a profound, simple, logical and obvious explanation for this; hopefully with correlated explanations relating to what else was there at that point in time.

A separate explanation for the stones might then become apparent, which would have to follow as a logical and obvious consequence of whatever purpose the original 'alignment' served.

A tall order but, if they haven't yet got a 'Big Picture' theory of this type, I think it's worth their time.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas how lovely of you to believe I have the sort of redeeming influence on MPP that could be effective.
Mike is his own man and works in a discipline that allows perhaps even encourages scattershot ideas to be later tested and kept or quietly dropped.
My firm belief is to go Ex Cathedra only in fields that I have expertise (unless directed by Sublime Apollo).
I do have the suspicion that little was found beneath the restoring road.
Finally think, tabloid Silly Season coincides with the excavation season a match made in Hades.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris, does anyone have ”redeeming influence on MPP that could be effective”? In this blog, you come closest to MPP.

Can we assume now the Rhosyfelin “quarry” idea and dates have been ” quietly dropped”? But that silence loundly reverberates in the minds of all intellectually honest people interested only in the truth.

Timothy Daw:

Here is a quote from the Cambridge Archaeology Field Group concerning positive/negative cropmarks.

”In principle, positive cropmarks form where a feature is dug into the original land surface and subsequently re-filled over time – for example: ditches, beam slot house foundations, post holes and pits – that hold water and nutrients. Negative cropmarks form where solid features were constructed – for example: brick and stone masonry, cobbled floors and roads – that shed water and hold few nutrients.” http://www.cafg.net/docs/articles/What_is_aerial_survey.pdf

Could you please clarify!

Kostas

ND Wiseman said...

Once again ― thanks to PeteG for providing this otherwise goofy article. All I'll say about that is if we investigate the Neolithic by means of breathless media newsflashes, we get what we pay for. Garbage in/Garbage out.

OK ― here's the thing about this so-called Revelation. There are stripes or gouges in the Avenue that align to the Summer/Winter Solstices. Are they Glacial Runoff? Actual Periglacial Stripes? The finger of God?
I have no idea. Not in my purview.
Are they man-made?
This is certainly a resounding: No.

But in context with the Monument they are significant and bear directly on its position in the 'Otherwise Mundane Location'. In my opinion, this is the most important thing ― so who cares where they come from?
Stonehenge aligns with the Solstices. Period. It's where it is because of those Stripes.

In reference to that early time-frame, a more important question might be: How does the pre-existing North Barrow fit into the equation and is it also associated with these stripes in some way?
None of this is a 'What-If' situation. It's a really big: 'Why'. Answering this ― or even just considering it ― goes a long way in defining the people who built it. And is this not the point of the entire exercise?

The same is true with regard to the Preseli/Stonehenge connection. The bluestones came from Wales. The chemical fingerprints are undeniable. Did the Glaciers drop them off in Wiltshire, or did people go up and fetch them? Brian has some valid arguments for the former while others have equally valid reasons why not. But the Bluestones are at Stonehenge and they came from a relatively long distance. Their makeup was somehow important, as was their number.

I love Myris' term: 'Scattershot Ideas' as applied to any initial out-loud thinking.

Now, I don't know MPP's apparently secret 'Big Picture' thesis, but I do know that if those stripes are any kind of rationale for Stonehenge's location, and considering the increasingly sophisticated building sequences, it implies that these folks were pretty observant and quite successful in portraying their world-view with an extremely clever mix of elegant symbolism and practical illustration.

Dan Johnson's new book ― whether you agree with the premise or not ― goes a long way in reinforcing that these people had a good handle on just about every aspect of how things work socially, culturally and Cosmologically, and that the only difference between us and them is steel and electricity.
All the embedded layers of meaning found at Stonehenge ― and its several potential uses ― merely underscore its necessity to a people who already understood how the Universe works.

The potential truths found in all other intricacies simply brighten the color of the threads of their knowledge-tapestry.

Neil

Anonymous said...

Here is a missing piece of this nonsense (sorry jigsaw).

If these singular or multiple alignments are so important, why did they forget to build the monument on them?

Or is there more archaeological mumbo jumbo to explain why you build a 'monument to the stripes' some 50m metres after they finished?

To date no excavation in the centre of the monument (including the 2008) has ever found stripes in the middle of the structure.

Timothy Daw said...

A couple of replies to questions.
Yes that is a yellow hose pipe. There is only limited supplies of water and this year the watering was concentrated in the middle of the circle to encourage grass regrowth after the Summer Solstice bashing it gets and on the paths outside the ditch where the visitors walk. As such the area of the outer sarsen ring and the Z & Y holes wasn't watered at all.
To repeat, yet again, the parchmarks clearly show where holes have been dug and refilled with chalk.
We know this because known holes such as Gowland's showed up in exactly the same manner and secondly the mechanism is well understood.
If a hole fills with a clayey/loamy soil it will hold moisture better than the surrounding rock and will produce a positive crop mark. If, as in this case, it fills with mainly chalk rubble it holds moisture less well than the solid chalk surrounding it and produces a negative parchmark. There is no mystery about them.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Timothy Daw you write,

”If a hole fills with a clayey/loamy soil it will hold moisture better than the surrounding rock and will produce a positive crop mark. If, as in this case, it fills with mainly chalk rubble it holds moisture less well than the solid chalk surrounding it and produces a negative parchmark.”

Phil Morgan thinks otherwise: ( 11 August 2013 08:58 comment on http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2013/08/stonehenge-complete-or-incomplete.html )

”A natural fill [pit] would tend to be chalk based, resulting in a greener patch of grass as Kostas suggests.

However, if the hole was back-filled by human hand, using a more impermeable material such as clay perhaps, then the moisture retention would be less than the surrounding chalk, and a parch-mark would result.”


You write, ”the [cropmarks]mechanism is well understood” . It appears not.

Furthermore, from the Atkinson photos of the Stonehenge Layer the soil that tops the bedrock at Stonehenge is uniformly the same throughout. There are no distinct 'broken chalk' or ' clayey/loamy soil' filling any pits. Just homogeneous soil mixed with chalk bits and stone fragments same as all elsewhere. At least that is what I see in the Atkinson photos. And that being the case, wont the quote in my post from the Cambridge Archaeology Field Group describing the causes for positive/negative cropmarks apply here as well?

Isn't it thus possible the dry ' parchmarks' mark varying heights of bedrock undulations? Without excavations that is a plausible explanation for these marks. The fact that these align with the outer circle may provide further clues to the Stonehenge enigma. Of course, this is verifiable by excavating just one such dry 'parchmark'.

Any complete aerial photography done of these dry parchmarks? It may provide useful evidence for later consideration.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Hi Neil

None of this is a 'What-If' situation. It's a really big: 'Why'. Answering this ― or even just considering it ― goes a long way in defining the people who built it. And is this not the point of the entire exercise?

Would you accept the 'meeting of earth and sky' type hypothesis Neil? Mumbo jumbo is mentioned above and a reason based on superstition certainly sounds like mumbo jumbo. The 'Why' surely needs to be generated by some real need of the community?


Hi Anonymous

Or is there more archaeological mumbo jumbo to explain why you build a 'monument to the stripes' some 50m metres after they finished?

Perhaps MPP's team have developed a reason for this; hopefully with correlated explanations relating to what else was there at that early point in time. If everything can be shown to fit; and the explanation is profound, simple, logical and obvious; and the explanation shows its signature in a large number of other monuments; perhaps then it would no longer be considered mumbo jumbo?


Hi Tim

If a hole fills with a clayey/loamy soil it will hold moisture better than the surrounding rock and will produce a positive crop mark. If, as in this case, it fills with mainly chalk rubble it holds moisture less well than the solid chalk surrounding it and produces a negative parchmark. There is no mystery about them.

These holes have been compared to the YZ because they display similar, but less obvious characteristics: Grass roots are not very deep so what you have found is a surface effect. The YZ holes contain wind-blown deposits. So it is not possible to be certain that these holes are filled with chalk rubble: It remains a hypothesis until it is tested?

Geocur said...


In most circumstances crop marks will follow the the obvious positive = pit , negative = wall/stone scenarios mentioned in wiki's and superficail explanations , but as they are well understood from experience in extreme conditions elsewhere and in the UK, it is known that parch marks will be produced from pits ,particularly in chalk .What were though to be walls in 1976 turned out to be ditches .

Jon Morris said...

English Heritage have hit back:

English Heritage is firmly of the view that Stonehenge was built as a prehistoric temple aligned with the movements of the sun, contrary to what was implied in the article.

They precede this, without realising the irony given their use of the word "temple", to state: "The article, including the headline, failed to distinguish between fact and interpretation."

Anonymous said...

"If everything can be shown to fit; and the explanation is profound, simple, logical and obvious"

You are right Jon and its called a road and was used for carts thousands of years before the A344 was built as shown on Stukeley original map.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qLVFLsomAXg/Tt6ZTS2lGDI/AAAAAAAAALo/_D2WJo2L4zQ/s640/Stukeley.jpg

Constantinos Ragazas said...

GeoCur,

I run into you no matter where I go! Are you stalking me?

You should enlighten the Cambridge Archaeology Field Group with your insights about cropmarks. And while at it, please correct the Wikipedia article with references. What are these ” extreme conditions” that would produce negative parch marks for pits? Do we have such ” extreme conditions” at Stonehenge?

But even granted, are you saying the newly found dry parchmarks at Stonehenge mark missing sarsen pits? The Atkinson photos showing the consistency of the top soil would argue differently.

Or you are saying, we don't know without digging. Shouldn't the article by Mike Pitts be retracted as being misleading?

Kostas

geocur said...



The CAJ comments are not wrong but as always "a little learning ..."
The extreme conditions are relative ,for the UK this summer and the summer of 1976 are good examples , yes it would apply to this year at Stonehenge .If you read what I said ,you won't see any mention of sarsen pits ,Atkinson at least has the excuse of not having been around to read it .Excavation will obviously be helpful . Some examples that might help .
A pic of a ring ditch as parch mark .
http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/blogs/news/2013/08/14/barrow-clump-2013-phil%E2%80%99s-round-week-3
p53 “seeing beneath the soil “ Clark & Clark http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seeing-Beneath-Soil-Prospecting-Archaeology/dp/0415214408 p53 , which specifically mentions the ditches of at Woodhenge being seen as parch marks in 1976 . Field archaeology : Peter Drewett http://www.amazon.co.uk/Field-Archaeology-Introduction-Peter-Drewett/dp/0415551196/ref=pd_sim_b_3 p 43

BRIAN JOHN said...

Neil you say: "Stonehenge aligns with the Solstices. Period. It's where it is because of those Stripes."
Your confidence is touching!! As indeed is that of MPP. Now if we had a full map of the sub-soil microfeatures (which MPP calls the periglacial stripes), and if the alignment along the line of the summer solstice sunrise was unique, you might have a point.

However, it looks to me as if these solutional rills (I am increasingly convinced that this is what they are) occur on all slopes and on all flattish surfaces throughout the Stonehenge area, I will bet my bottom dollar that there are lots more of them aligned exactly as the Stonhenge Avenue ones are. In other words, there is absolutely no solid evidence that these stripes which MPP gets so excited about are unique in any way. It's a totally cockeyed theory, invented by somebody who is desperate to find a "cause and effect" relationship, in the absence of anything more substantial.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Please explain how unrestrained solutional rills can form diagonally to the downslope?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

structural control -- as explained earlier.

Jon Morris said...

Here's a good description of how the formation happens in limestone:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limestone_pavement

Chalk's probably similar, though dissolution pipes and sinkholes are the main cause for concern (and thus the research): These are also associated with glacial and periglacial activity.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

you write, ”structural control” made the rills rilling diagonaly? Any evidence for that? Or is this an ET (Enigmatic Theory) explanation!

If the “structural control” in the bedrock runs diagonally downslope but water runs directly downslope, wont the soft chalk bedrock beding reflect such solutional erosion? Especially with the volume of meltwater needed to make the solutional rills in the first place?

But here is the kicker, examining the photos of the Avenue bedrock under the road asphalt recently dug up. There are no clearly marked parallel stripes on that section of the Avenue! What happened to the “structural control” here?

Kostas

Timothy Daw said...

http://www.sarsen.org/2013/09/a-note-on-gowlands-pits-re-revealed-by.html provides full details of the parchmarks and what is under the ones that have been excavated.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Timothy,

I checked your linked post and looked long and hard at the photos. And tried to follow your descriptions for these 'excavated holes' and 'missing sarsen pits' argument. I confess I just don't see it. Perhaps if you mark your photos and diagrams of the parch marks with identifiable legents these would be more apparent.

But here is a larger issue I have with all of this. There are many many such parch marks appearing this summer at the turf of Stonehenge. And clearly the same 'extreme conditions' apply to the entire Stonehenge Layer. If as you say three of these dry patches locate missing sarsen pits, why wont the same reasoning apply to all other dry patches in the area? Why in the same area and under the same conditions some pits would show 'positive' while other pits 'negative' marks? The GPR images indicate there are no sarsen pits where you argue there are.

I am not convinced. Only a dig can tell us with certainty. And for such a decisive and important matter as the 'completion of Stonehenge', don't you think such a dig should be sought?

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Especially with the volume of meltwater needed to make the solutional rills in the first place?

At low temperatures, water can dissolve more CO2 than at higher ones, so cold water can be acidic. Acidity could be behind the creation of these features rather than volume of water. This is one of the root causes of similar common features (in non-permafrost chalkland) that are of more concern from an engineering point of view. Would give link but it's behind a pay-wall. Probably somewhere on google.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon is right -- there is no need for large volumes of meltwater to explain the creation of substantial networks of rills on a surface of chalk or limestone.

ND Wiseman said...

Hi Brian.
[i]" ... it looks to me as if these solutional rills (I am increasingly convinced that this is what they are) occur on all slopes and on all flattish surfaces throughout the Stonehenge area, I will bet my bottom dollar that there are lots more of them aligned exactly as the Stonhenge Avenue ones are ..."[/i]

I like the term 'Solutional Rills'. I'm stealing it.

OK - firstly, although you haven't said it, let me clarify: I'm not parroting MPP about these stripes. I came up with this probably 18 months before the big 'NewsFlash' occurred. (Jon was around when I proposed it and bore witness to the ridicule I underwent.)

As stated in the above remarks, I don't really know what they are and I don't really care. They are there, and I'll bet they were at least vaguely visible in this landscape around the close of the Mesolithic.

You could certainly be 100% correct about them being all over the place out there, running up and down and curving thither and yon. But the ones we're talking about seem to be fairly straight and they run directly toward the site.
Not only do they offer a rationale for situating Stonehenge, but tell us how sophisticated their celestial observations must have been well before the structure was even conceived.

On the other inner thread: Anyone should know that cautious statements made by EH are a good jumping-off point for an initial interest in whatever site.
All of us are also aware that most of the articles concerning these things - SH in particular - are written by people who haven't studied the Monument in detail and are skim-reading previous sensational News pieces.
This one is particularly reprehensible - to the point where even EH has back-pedaled on it.

Tim's observation of Gowland's dig-hole are very conscientious and go far in explaining the jumble of parchmarks we have seen in the vicinity of S-19 & -20.
Fair enough.

But there's nothing in the historical record on the West side of S-16 but these 2 lonesome marks, and since we already know -19 & -20 were installed, they are relegated to the merely 'interesting'. Attention should be concentrated on these 2 new marks as they affect any number of theories about the age-old 'Completion of the Circle' arguments.

Best,
Neil

PS: Why are we still talking about how Parchmarks are formed?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

Assuming to be true, greater cold water acidity may result in greater chalk erosion. But it would not determine the pattern of that erosion we see at the Avenue. Only water flow will do that.

Do you have any evidence from elsewhere for such straight solutional stripes eroded by low volumes of cold water on chalk?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- please pay attention! I keep on trying to explain that structural influences and even lithological variations in the chalk can easily explain deviations from the tendency of water to flow straight down a slope. In some cases, where there is a barrier to water flow, I have seen water flowing at about 89 degrees away from the direction of maximum gradient. That is, at about the angle of a roof rainwater gutter....... It is not a problem.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Do we know of any such structural influences being at work here? Or this is a hypothetical needing evidence.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

As Brian says: The key word was permafrost Kostas. This forms a barrier allowing surface water flow.

BRIAN JOHN said...

A permafrost table might have some influence in helping to make a chalk mass effectively impermeable -- but it is not strictly necessary. There are many wonderful limestone pavements in areas where there has never been permafrost. And often the climate is quite dry under severe periglacial conditions. Normal rainfall and normal infiltration into the chalk is perfectly fine for creating solutional rills.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- plenty of evidence from all over the place. Just look at some of the earlier posts on this blog -- search for "solutional rills."

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I have seen several photos of “solutional rills” and “limestone pavements” in your blog and in the web. But none that remotely look anything like the Avenue stripes. Imho, these look different and more of what I recall seeing in streams flowing over limestone bedrock.

Those “solutional rills” were more like the Avenue stripes and were clearly formed by the volume and velocity of the water flow over the limestone bedrock. That is the reason why I keep bringing this up. Any photos of “solutional stripes” to show me? Formed by surface water runoff and not by streams?

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

A permafrost table might have some influence in helping to make a chalk mass effectively impermeable -- but it is not strictly necessary.

Thanks Brian, didn't know that: The 'problem', if it is one, with the type of carbonaceous (chalk) found along the North Downs is that the permeability test flow rates often exceed 50 l/s.sqm, which doesn't give a lot of time for surface dissolution by pooling: Though the interface zone with the soil (the mushy part) is probably a lot lower: I've never had that tested so don't know.

Jon Morris said...

Sorry: That should have read 50 l/m.sqm: I think I wrote 50 l/s.sqm (mixing up test rates with design rates)

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- we have been over all this before. See here:
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-chalk-surface-grooves-everywhere.html

Kindly do not use statements like this: ".....clearly formed by the volume and velocity of the water flow over the limestone bedrock." The evidence from the literature is that these rills (or stripes, if we have to use that term) are irregular and probably discontinuous, and are created over a long period of time -- probably thousands of years -- by a slow process of solution by groundwater movement in and beneath the regolith.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian you write,

”Kindly do not use statements like this: ".....clearly formed by the volume and velocity of the water flow over the limestone bedrock." ”

Just to clarify, I was refering to such similar solutional stripes I saw in limestone river beds at places where there was a higher flow of water. Sorry if that was misunderstood.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Kostas -- yes, of course you can get interesting flumes and channels on the limestone bed of a river, even if it is wet and used only intermittently. The difference is that where this happens, it is fairly obvious from the topography that there is a RIVER involved.....

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian you write,

” The difference is that where this [solutional rills] happens, it is fairly obvious from the topography that there is a RIVER involved”

Of course! That's what makes this so interesting!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Rivers tend to flow in valleys, Kostas -- or hadn't you noticed?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Things are not always as they seem, Brian!

Rob Hartley said...

Hi all.

I am new to Stonehenge and am not a geologist.
However recently I discovered that the pyramids of Giza are aligned such that the Nile could have passed right past and over many many years the Nile has "moved" to its current location. (Apologies I don't know the technical term.)

So it got me thinking...what if the same is true of Stonehenge? What if the henge was actually a moat around the stones? Then as the water receded the population dug new trenches linking what is now the river to Stonehenge. Would the water moving through these channels then cause the erosion patterns that Parker Pearson is attributing to melt water run off?

I'm sure that this theory would mean having to move the construction date of stonehenge back in time to when there would have been water around Stonehenge, but from what I understand, the current dating of Stonehenge only relates to various objects found around the stones and not to anything that actually relates to the stones. So I don't feel that this would be too much of a stretch of the imagination.

Also it would explain why the channels are aligned with the solstices. If I was to have to dig a channel anyway, why not align it with the whole focus of the site?

I hope this theory doesn't sound too amateurish and far fetched - but I am genuinely interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Thanks

Rob

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Rob,

All inquisitive spirits have equal claim to wanting the truth. You are no exception. Welcome from me!

Here is what I see as potential problems with your ideas re:Stonehenge. By “river flowing through Stonehenge” at some time long ago I take it you mean the River Avon currently flowing at the bottom of that hill. If so, than the direction of the river flow and the direction of the stripes would be at odds. The 'natural moat' (if it was even possible under these conditions) resulting from such river flow will be at odds with the circular ditch.

So I don't think the landscape features we see at Stonehenge could have been naturally formed by a bigger higher River Avon flowing through Stonehenge.

However, I do agree with your basic intuition! These landscape features were likely formed by natural processes. And they would be so formed if Stonehenge was at one time a meltwater retaining basin in the ice covering the area; and the Avenue was an egress meltwater channel draining this basin.

You can read more about this theory in my article,
”The un-Henging of Stonehenge”. (google the title for the link is it)

This was written some four years ago and needs major additions and revisions as I now know better and more. But it will give you a first introduction to the idea. Much more can be found scattered about in this blog. Use the Search feature and read my comments.

Kostas

Rob Hartley said...

Hi Kostas. Many thanks for your greeting. It is interesting to see that other people question the current thinking of how Stonehenge was made.

I have read yourhttp://robertjohnlangdon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/irrefutable-proof-of-my-hypothesis.html?m=1#!article but alas I find your theory hard to comprehend. Assuming there was ice this far into England, why would it choose to melt at Stonehenge when as you say the real hot springs are at Bath? Surely Stonehenge would have been constructed there instead? Also, how could people have been so selective over the stones they dropped into place? It would have had to have been a bizarre coincidence that all the stones happened to be in the ice and in the right alignment.

Anyway, this is someone else's blog - do you have one of your own where I could suggest my other concerns with your theory?

Going back to my thoughts - I didn't mean that the water flowed over Stonehenge; but rather that the river Avon was swelled so that it flowed next to the site, and that the ditch was dug around Stonehenge to serve as a moat, with water feeding into this moat from the channel that we call the avenue, which was where the river Avon had swelled to.

I actually found another site that would support this theory. Robert langdon has evidence that the river has indeed swelled in the past, which you can read in his article from Jan 2012 with the title "irrefutable proof ".

I am actually quite excited by this as it fits what I first thought. However, does anyone else think that this could have been possible? Could the people who made and maintained Stonehenge have continued to dig out the avenue to supply water to a moat, eventually abandoning the idea, probably when the water level dropped too low?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Rob and Kostas -- I'm allowing this post, but won't publish any following up comments on moats etc. Have done that to death long since. If you guys want to follow up this watery theme, please do it on RL's site or somewhere else.

Unknown said...

Please ponder the ancient, proto-historical, Roman (western) & Greek (eastern) European calendars. Collectively, taken together, they imply that proto-historical European farmers kept calendars, with the following features:

solar
12 months x 30 days/mo. (+ solstice & equinox festival days)
12 months = 6 male Gods + 6 female Goddesses
4-year leap-year cycle (e.g. Julian calendar, Greek Olympiads)

Over-simplistically, regarding the ruins of today, and estimating a reconstruction for the past, the SH consists of an inner circuit of 12 Trilathons, ringed by an outer circuit of 30 sarcens. Further, the Trilathons vary in height around their circuit, similar to the variation in day length, through the course of a 12-solar-month year.

Over-simplistically, i perceive SH to be the stone-built "frame", for a solar-calendar "super-deluxe sundial clock". Inferring the existence, of "markers", an entire Greco-Roman Olympiad calendar cycle could be visually "marked", as a combination of:

year of leap-year cycle (= 4 Station Stones)
month of year (= 12 Trilathons)
day of month (= 30 sarcens)

If so, then western Europeans have been keeping current kinds of calendars, composed of (basically) 12 months, each of 30-ish days per month, for 4000 years. Anciently, the sexual gender associated to the months, e.g. "Janus" (M) vs. "Februa" (F), was much more emphasized.

--------------------

i do understand, there are only 10 Trilathons...

and (about) 65 Blue-Stones +1 Altar-Stone.

if anybody does want to clarify finer points, then i specifically perceive at SH, a Roman, "Romulan" kind of calendar, composed of 10 months x 30 days per month...

plus 65 un-monthed days, beginning on Winter Solstices...

with +1 extra day every fourth year.

Mike Parker-Pearson perceives a prominent importance, of prolonged WS celebrations, at SH + Durrington Walls. That is completely consistent, w/ what i perceive, in the set of stones at SH; possibly, there were 65(+1) days of such celebrations, beginning on the WS, during which the "month" marker was moved through the BS circuits winding their ways amongst the sizier stones...

until ultimately the marker was moved back, onto the "main month Trilathon track", after 65(+1) days. (On leap-years, the Altar-Stone would have been included in the BS circuit(s), as a special "leap-year stone".)

Indeed, the two "missing months" would have been represented, by another, short squat Trilathon, to the NE. One of which would have been "masculine" (and carved with axes & daggers?), the other "feminine". So, two months are missing; and the substituted Blue-Stones (BS) comprise two semi-separate circuits, i.e. the BS horseshoe + BS circle.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Unknown -- I don't like anonymous posts on this site, which have caused a lot of trouble in the past. Please use your name on any future submissions. Thanks.....