I have a number of posts in mind on the subject of the 2013 Rhosyfelin dig, but in this one I'll just give a brief report on what MPP (full of cold, poor fellow) actually said in his presentation last night in Moylgrove Village Hall. Great occasion, first event in the newly refurbished building, tea and biscuits afterwards, gullible audience. Perfect!
It was quite a brief talk, lacking in detail. He gave a quick introduction to the main prehistoric phases, and said there was now an increasing acceptance of the "Copper Age" around 2,500-2,200 BC. His concern, however, was with the Neolithic (2,500 - 4,000 BC) insofar as it affected West Wales and the Stonehenge area. He then homed in on Rhosyfelin and talked about the Bevins / Ixer geological work which had revealed the presence of four types of foliated rhyolite along the exposed rock face. He mentioned the precise matches with the rhyolitic debitage from Stonehenge in a somewhat oversimplified way, but that's fair enough, since the subtleties of interpretation are a bit too complex for a popular presentation.
I had hoped that at this stage he would have presented the evidence from the last three seasons of digging and asked the question: "How do we best explain the features we see? Could it be that we have a quarry here?" But that isn't MPP's style. Right from the outset this was "the quarry." All the evidence shown on the screen and in what he said was designed / selected to reinforce the thesis. So there was reference to to the big "orthostat" or monolith being "propped up on a pile of stones" or "jacked up" by the quarrymen -- and no consideration at all of the idea that the jumbled stones under the big one were there naturally, because that was the way they had fallen. To me, from the pictures, there was not the slightest hint of any organization or arrangement in the stones.
Then he referred to the scratches or striations on a smaller transverse stone just beyond the downslope tip of the big monolith, jokingly dismissed the thought that they might have had anything to do with ice action, and said that the scratches must have been made by one or more big orthostats being dragged across it from the inner depths of the quarry, further upslope. (He may be right, he may be wrong -- one needs to look at the striae properly, and that's something I haven't done.) Interestingly enough, there was no mention in this talk of the "railway tracks" that he referred to last year. Those long stones aren't there any more -- the diggers have removed them.
There was then a reference to the "abundant hammer stones" at the site, lying around on what he calls the "Neolithic quarry floor." We can see some of them in Chris's photos which I published in a recent post and here: http://chrisjohnsonnl.smugmug.com/Rhosyfelin-2013-dig
He showed photos of some of these being held up for display. One did seem to have percussion marks on it, but the others seemed to be just conveniently sized rounded stones which might have come from the glacial or fluvio-glacial deposits anywhere in North Pembs. I'm pretty convinced that we are looking at glacial debris here -- we do not just see a few rounded cobbles, but a large number of rounded, elongated and sub-rounded stones of a number of different lithologies, scattered about all over the place. I pressed MPP afterwards about this -- and he said "No no -- the till is much deeper down -- this is a Neolithic floor." It is of course perfectly possible to have a Neolithic floor on a till surface, or even at some depth beneath the top of a till layer, but we'll let that pass........ I just hope he has somebody in his team who knows a glacial deposit when he or she sees it.)
MPP also failed to mention that a large number of the local rhyolite stones that have presumably come from the crag have rounded edges on them. I pointed this out last year, and in the document called "A Long History of Rhosyfelin" which I published on Scribd. You would NOT find those rounded edges on broken stones in a quarry. Very inconvenient -- so completely ignored.
Mike then made a rather complicated point which I didn't fully grasp about a "carbon copy" of one of the Rhosyfelin stones being seen in the cliff face above the digging area, and another "carbon copy" fitted into a cross section of one of the bluestone sockets at Stonehenge. He seemed to be suggesting that they had dug out a socket at Stonehenge with precisely the dimensions of a stone which they then went off to Rhosyfelin in order to find. Made to measure, as it were........ I may have got it wrong on this -- maybe Chris or somebody else who was there will correct me.
Then Mike moved on to talk about the latest discoveries associated with C14 dating. He gave no actual dates, did not tell us where they had come from, and gave us no idea how many dates there are from the past and present excavations. Secrecy prevails. So we were forced to take everything on trust. Anyway, he claimed to have a sequence of dates ranging from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, some of which were associated with a series of hearths near the position of the Iron Age hearth discovered last year. I assume that they have found charcoal or other organic materials that have been dated. It looked as if the hearths were in more or less the same place, in a nice sheltered position beneath the crag, just above the grassy floor of the valley. Perfect camping places for hunting groups, or for quarrymen, or for jolly family barbeques on a summers evening, depending on your preferences........ That was all quite interesting. There was no mention of the big pit or stone hole which got so much attention last year. Wonder why?
Then I got lost again when MPP showed a slide of a small vertical stone embedded in the ground. It looked perfectly natural to me, given that when rocks fall off cliffs some of them end up vertically embedded anyway -- but no -- this stone and others were deliberately placed there as pivots so that bigger stones could be moved across them by the use of levers. Sounds like a perfectly daft idea to me -- but MPP was quite unabashed, and he said that the movement of big stones with the use of pivots and levers had been shown to be feasible -- and he went on the suggest that rollers and sledges were out, and that all of the stones from here and other places in West Wales had been taken to Stonehenge along the A40 road by splendid fellows armed with nothing more than pivots and levers. So there we are then. They were clever fellows in those days.
The final part of the talk was about other sites in North Pembs, including Ty Canol Wood, which now appears to be in the frame as another possible quarry site. (I have been suggesting for years that the crags in the woods there, or maybe the tors of Carnedd Meibion Owen, would be perfect places for the entrainment of erratics by an over-riding ice sheet...........) There was also mention that Carn Meini has now been dismissed by Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins as a source for Stonehenge spotted dolerite, and that the two leading candidates for spotted dolerite quarries are Carn Goedog and Cerrig Marchogion. We knew that already.
MPP rounded off by straying into prehistoric politics, as is his wont -- and said that there were strong stylistic links between the Pembrokeshire cromlechs and the dolmens of Brittany, suggesting that the Preseli area might have been a power centre capable of exporting its influence (and its stones) to the Salisbury Plain area. He now seems to be convinced that a complete stone circle of about 80 stones was erected somewhere not far from Rhosyfelin -- maybe at Castell Mawr, where excavations have also gone on this summer. The idea that Castell Mawr was a great population centre now seems to have been ditched, and it is simply thought of as a henge monument, maybe with something older (a settlement site) inside it and beneath it. Some interesting traces of palisades have been found this summer near the centre of the site.
Final point -- the North Pembrokeshire stone monument was exported intact -- or rather in 80 pieces -- all the way to Stonehenge, along the A40 route, in an act which MPP refers to as the first invasion of England by the Welsh. That idea is not new -- HH Thomas was quite attracted by it almost a century ago, although he thought that the "local stone circle" was probably at Cilymaenllwyd, on the SOUTH side of Preseli.
And that's it, folks. As much as I was able to jot down.