THE BOOK
Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click
HERE

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Rhosyfelin Blitzkrieg


There are some rumbles doing the rounds about the smashed-up mess made by the diggers at Rhosyfelin this year, upslope of the main archaeological dig site.  It almost looks as if a JCB has gone on a mad spree, having lost its driver........

What is the purpose of this mayhem?  Is it simply an attempt to gain access to the upper part of the site so that some more geological samples can be taken?  Can't imagine that being the reason for all the damage -- after all, these crags were perfectly accessible as it was, to any geologist worth his/her salt.  Is it an attempt to open up a new part of the site for 2014 excavations?  Can't imagine that being the reason either, since following the depradations of the big machine nothing that we can see in this photo will be of any value whatsoever to an archaeologist trying to check out what is there.

Very mysterious.  Does anybody know what is going on?

72 comments:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Could it be a road?

Kostas

Dave Maynard said...

As it was a nice sunny day, I went for my first visit on foot to Rhosyfelin yesterday.

The excavation is now finished and somewhat backfilled - soil and grass seed scattered over geotextile and the proto-orthstat covered by a black plastic sheet (very 2001 Space Odyssey, afraid I didn't have a camera). The spoil heap beside the excavation has been smoothed over, almost with the impression of a viewing platform.

The machine action to the uphill, south west, takes it up to the col (does a col join the neck of a promontory?). This does look like preparatory work for next year, removing the bushes, gorse and dead material. Archaeological cleaning of some of the exposed rock faces has already taken place in a couple of areas (they left a hand brush behind).

I had a wander up the valley to look at the other side of the outcrop. I was surprised how narrow it is, but is hard to see as the south side is heavily covered by gorse. There are rock surfaces visible, and as they are the reverse of the formation we are used to seeing, their plane is in the vertical or leaning over, perhaps 10 degrees from vertical. Further upstream it is very over grown with trees, gorse and bracken. Plenty of fallen apples and blackberries.

A proper look around will have to wait until the vegetation has died down, perhaps early next year. The rain will have cleaned up the machined stones by then.

I like the road idea, Kostas, although there is a perfectly adequate one just over the hedge, although that seems to be frightening some of our Pembrokeshire visitors.

Dave

chris johnson said...

Looked to me like there might have been some experiments done at the top of the slope - signs of fire and rocks being extracted. No idea when this might have happened or by who - one of my photos shows one of the places.

MPP said that they had been along the full extent of the face to take more rock samples which had been sent to Dr Ixer. I should have asked him about experiments because it was on my mind.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I know they were planning to take further geological samples from these innermost (higher) rock exposures. But you don't need to drive a wide trackway and do all that damage just to do that -- all you need is a pair of welly boots and a geological hammer......

TonyH said...

given that high - profile Iron Age hillfort Castell Henllys with its reconstructed roundhouses open to the curious tourist passer - by (at a price) is similarly not far from Newport, perhaps MPP is preparing the way for a new archaeological visitor attraction to rank alongside Pentre Ifan dolmen too. And of course, Castell Mawr, the subject of MPP's other current investigations, lies adjacent to Castell Henllys.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

With the recent discussions in your blog regarding the funding of archeological research by private groups (including businesses), and with the recent release of EH from public funding to being an independent foundation funded by private contributions and answering only to its share holders, what we may be seeing at Rhosyfelin is the prep work for a tourist road access to this Neolithic Holly Crag.

I am concerned (as others are) we may be seeing the end of science here and the beginning of Archeological Theme Parks cloaked in scientific credibility lead by MPP's marketing campaign for public acceptance. To make the 'experience real', as it were!

Look for Rhosyfelin to morph into a tourist trap!

Kostas

TonyH said...

19th Century Antiquarians like Thomas Bateman in Derbyshire did untold damage with their afternoon barrow - digging jaunts. Now it appears we have learned members of the Society of Antiquaries London doing much the same in essence, when they should know much, much better, in the multidisciplinarily academic 21st Century. Apparently it is the case that it is indeed they that know best, and we should merely stand by and humbly applaud their "cutting - edge techniques"(to quote a recent communication from the Council for British Archaeology: West Wales) rather than any blitzkrieg vandalism.

Phil Morgan said...

Dave's mention of the rocks leaning at 10 degrees from the vertical, reminded me of something that Brian put up on the 26th of September, perhaps it's not too late to comment on Brian's post regarding the large proto-orthostat, which went as follows:

"And now for the "coup de grace". This is the 2013 dig site, looking at the famous "monolith" and a few of the large stones on the bank above it. Look at the cliff face to top right of the photo. Look at the crack half-way up the face. Look at the manner in which roots and other vegetation are insinuating themselves behind the slab. Click on the photo to view in more detail. A bit more root expansion, maybe some frost and maybe some nice wet conditions over the winter, and hey presto -- down comes the next proto-orthostat.......... and not a Neolithic quarryman in sight."

I fear Brian has the lens cap on the telescope when looking at the
rocks.

Dave suggested the rocks are tilted at about 10 degrees from the vertical, this figure, when measured with a clinometer averages 15 degrees.
Using photographs of the monolith and a British Standard Archaeologist for scale, the monolith measures approximately 3 metres long by 0.2 metres thick; the width of the stone is of no consequence for the following calculation.

The in-situ stone leans against the bedrock at 15 degrees to the vertical. Therefore,to rotate the stone from rest to vertical, would require the top of the stone to scribe an arc of a circle of radius 3m, at an angle of 15 degrees.

Circumference of the circle
= 2(Pi)r
= 2 x (3.142) x 3
= 18.85m

Now a 15 degree angle is one 24th of a complete circle,(360 degrees divided by 15 degrees.)

Therefore the distance travelled by the top of the stone to reach vertical is 18.85 divided by 24 = 0.78m

At vertical the stone would still be stable; it would require further rotation before becoming unsound and allowing gravity to take control.

So where Brian says "A bit more root expansion, maybe some frost and maybe some nice wet conditions", it seems that the roots would have to be close on a metre thick to push the top of the stone far enough for it to fall.

Even if the base of the stone was forced outwards, it would still have to be moved horizontally by 0.6m.

Is that asking too much of roots, for any water running into the cracks would tend to run out at the bottom.

However, ropes, levers and wedges, used by skilled people could easily achieved the winning of the rock.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Too much theory and not enough practicality, Phil. You seem to be suggesting that all monoliths / slabs / boulders coming off the cliff face have to have embedded or stable bases and top ends that have to be rotated outwards far enough to go beyond the vertical. You only have to look at the rock face to see that there is chaos going on there -- fragments are having their tops pushed out, their bases pushed out, some bits pushed sideways, and some "ledges" supporting big blocks are themselves crumbling away. So some blocks will simply slide down, and others will topple outwards. In addition to these bigger fragments, there are masses of smaller fragments or scree -- we can see this very clearly in many of the photos.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Phil,

I agree with Brian on this. Too much Math, so little Light! The reason why I mistrust 'calculations' and trust good old common sense more!

If we look at the orthostats lying at the base of the rock face and perpendicular to it, it is clear these slid down the face and not tumble down as you suggest. If the base gives, the orthostat slides. It's simpler than pi!

Kostas

Phil M. said...

I'm not convinced by your arguments.
Just as you have the theory and practicality of glaciation, I have the same of mining, acquired over a 30 year period, and through being qualified to manage mines and QUARRIES under the Mines and Quarries Act 1954.
One learns a little of the dynamics of falling rocks when lives depend on it, and such rocks move a lot faster than glaciers.

Why do you say " Phil. You seem to be suggesting that all monoliths / slabs / boulders coming off the cliff face have to have embedded or stable bases and top ends that have to be rotated outwards far enough to go beyond the vertical".

The discussion was about the large proto-orthostat and the "coup de grace", not all monoliths.

It's simply a different viewpoint, promulgated for others to think on.

Jon Morris said...

Hi Phil

One of the design criteria we have to guard against when stabilizing toed-in slopes is freeze-thaw-silt cycle. When silt builds up behind a wall or retaining feature, snow and water can get in and pool. If this happens at the time of a freeze-thaw cycle, the ice formed expands pushing the wall/rock out slightly (up to about 4% of the crack dimension). If it is toed-in, the wall/rock rotates. If not, the whole wall/rock is pushed out.

The silts then fill the gap as the ice melts and the wall/rock relaxes back to almost where it was before, but with the new silts now preventing it from properly settling back. With a rock that is keyed in at the base, and over many cycles, this results in rotation. As smaller rocks fall into the gap, the process becomes permanent because, when this happens, the silts can be washed away but the rock/wall will remain rotated.

This process happens to some types of retaining wall very quickly (decades). It is one of the reasons why an inwardly projecting toe can sometimes be selected for a retaining wall design.

Anonymous said...

Good point Phil M.

"You canny rewrite the rules of physics" Montgomery Scott

Brian - You need to find other factors like ice expansion acting on these calculations to justify your claims.

Kostas - You need to hide yourself in shame as a so called mathematician as empirical evidence is subjective and maths is absolute.

Carl

BRIAN JOHN said...

Carl -- the trouble with Phil's model is that it is incredibly over-simplified. The falling of rocks from cliffs (even quite little ones like this) requires multivariate analysis, especially where biological and physical processes are combined. As with all models, rubbish in, rubbish out........ I'm not saying Phil's model is rubbish, but it is far too simple.

Dave Maynard said...

Phil’s list
The other day Paul helped the discussion on by listing 4 options regarding Rhosyfelin
1. The stones were quarried from there and moved by human agency
2. The stones were scavenged from there and moved by human agency
3. Glacial action picked up the stones and moved them close to Stonehenge
4. I think something similar to 3.
Each of these should produce a certain set of features that can be observed, recorded and added to the understanding of the site and processes that have occurred here. The excavation could test these views by locating specific types of information:
1. Evidence of quarrying of the stones from the rock face could be obtained. What would this look like and how easy to identify this as opposed to natural weathering? Brian has pointed out the potential collapse of rocks as a consequence of vegetation growth and weather. Acting over 4,000 years, this might conceal and damage any evidence on the face. Neolithic quarrying may have removed all the easily detachable stone leaving a solid face behind, more resistant to later deterioration. Is there evidence of that?
2. Scavenging of collapsed stones would be easier. There are bound to have been a number of suitable blocks at the site at the start of operations, logically, these would be used first, even if later ones were won from the face. Could we see evidence of this in the form of pits dug to extract blocks from the encompassing deposits? There might be trenches searching for further collapsed blocks. On the other hand, once the supply of scavenged blocks is exhausted, quarrying of fresh blocks from the face might remove any evidence of digging operations. I doubt if the full set of 80 stones could be supplied by scavenging around Craig Rhosyfelin.
3. Is there evidence of glacial action removing rocks such as Roche moutonnée and plucked rocks? Brian can be the arbiter of that, but where has the material gone? How big was Craig Rhosyfelin before that action?
Both options 1 and 2 will produce blocks that require rough shaping to take surplus weight off a stone for the benefit of the hauling teams. There should be debris on site as a result of this shaping. This debris should be distinguishable from debris of glacial origin that will also lie around the site.
Dave

Anonymous said...

The simplest explanation is that The rocks are where they are,as a result of the same processes that form scree at the base of most other cliffs and outcrops.

Got another theory? Where's your proof?

A.G.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree with that, A.G. Occam's Razor. Keep is simple, and if you want a more complex explanation, come up with solid evidence to support it.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Carl,

I feel no shame because I have nothing to hide! My intellectual (mathematical) conscience is clear.

Math does not (cannot) tell us 'absolute truth'. Only conditional conclusions relative to our premises and definitions. And though 'figures don't lie, liars do figure'. We see it all the time with the deceptive abuse of Statistics; and of Math as used in Modern Physics to establish, for example, 'time travel', 'backward causality' and other senseless mathematical derivations. All mathematically valid; none physically real. How far we've strayed from our Senses!

Can you please explain how the lying “proto-orthostat” (see various photos of it in Brian's posts) can come tumbling down from some 3 or more meters high up the rock face (as argued by Phil) and not have impact markings on it along its pristine sides and surface? Speaking of 'the laws of physics'!!!!

Kostas

TonyH said...

Kostas

Regarding your comment on Archaeological Theme Parks of 30th September at 17.39 hours following my own just before it, remember veteran archaeologist Geoffrey Wainwright is a Director of the 500 acre Bluestone Holiday Park near Narberth, south of the Preselli mountains. Wainwright lives fairly near Brian and has for many years been the Prime Mover for the human transportation legend. He seems to have an axe to grind. Perhaps MPP isn't alone in the U.K. archaeological sphere in possessing Richard Branson - like marketing techniques and bravado.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Phil,

Do we agree Neolithic quarrying at the Rhosyfelin Crag had to occur from the top of the rock face? And in the manner you have suggested. With the top of quarried orthostat pried open beyond the vertical and the orthostat tumbling down the rock face. Not sliding down. As would be the case if the bottom collapsed. Can you answer the following for me?

1)Would a 4 ton flaky orthostat survive such end over end fall from some 6 meters high?

2)Would the surface of such fallen orthostat not show impact dents of the fall?

Now take a close look at the lying “proto-orthostat”. Look how whole and unmarked it looks. Could it have been “quarried” in the manner you have described? Rather than naturally sliding down the face rock as Brian argues?

MPP argues “grooves” from dragging. Shouldn't we also expect “dents” from falling?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas --- the "monolith" is not as pristine as you pretend. The ends are broken up, the appearance of the base is unknown, and even the top surface is heavily flaked and battered. This is an artificial argument, and a waste of time.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I asked two relevant questions of Phil.

1) Would a 4 ton flaky orthostat survive such end over end fall from some 6 meters high?

2) Would the surface of such fallen orthostat not show impact dents of the fall?

Your flat response does not answer either of these. My inquiring mind is not satisfied.

Though you may be right ”the "monolith" is not as pristine as you pretend”. The sides and surface may be 'broken up' from the 'monolith' breaking free from the crag. But not from the impact falling.

Surely you acknowledge there is a difference! And if I could photoshop such photo as you have, I can illustrate the difference I am pointing to.

Kostas

Phil Morgan said...

I don't know who to reply to first, but that's the sign of an interesting discussion. So not in any order of priority:

Jon,
I agree with all that you say regarding ice expansion and the forces generated by it; particularly the point regarding water pooling at the rear foot of a slab.

If we look back at Brian's previous topic, 26th September 2013, titled "The Rhosyfelin Fracture Pattern" we see that the spur is divided fairly evenly, and consistently, by vertical and horizontal lines of weakness.

However, what's not in view is the fracture lines that travel at right angles into the rock face. These fissures are generally horizontal, and I suppose being level would reduce the 'pooling effect' of any water percolating through the rock.

You may get some idea of these horizontal fractures from the second of two photo's Brian posted on Wednesday, 25th September 2013, titled "Deja vu all over again".

It's also fair to say that freeze-thaw would have acted on the total length of the outcrop and forced many other rocks from the rock face.
This raises the question, "why isn't there a long queue of ice ejected orthostats, lined up along the foot of the outcrop?"

Brian
You say "I'm not saying Phil's model is rubbish, but it is far too simple."

We have no idea of the intellectual capacity of each person who follows, but doesn't necessarily contribute to, your blog.
I suggest that simple theories can be followed by all your readers, not just the privileged few should we we prefer the complicated versions.

A.G.
Have you not seen the scree produced by human quarrying.
I fear Occam's Razor is quite capable of cutting Occam.

And finally Kostas,
Who says:
"Can you please explain how the lying “proto-orthostat” (see various photos of it in Brian's posts) can come tumbling down from some 3 or more meters high up the rock face (as argued by Phil) and not have impact markings on it along its pristine sides and surface? Speaking of 'the laws of physics'!!!!"

I despair, If you send a parcel through the mail, and you don't want the contents damaged, you protect it with what I know as 'Bubble-wrap', (double sided polythene containing trapped pockets of air).
If you want to drop a rock, you place a wedge shaped packing of branches and turf all the way from the ground surface to level with the rock, to soften the blow.

Additionally, once a gap has been formed between the top of the stone and the rock face, you attach ropes to the stone and fasten counter-weights to their ends, this assists in lowering the stone gently onto the shock absorbing wedge of soft material.

I suggest you start thinking the problem through before exposing yourself to examination.

You then go on to say ----
"1)Would a 4 ton flaky orthostat survive such end over end fall from some 6 meters high?

2)Would the surface of such fallen orthostat not show impact dents of the fall?

Now take a close look at the lying “proto-orthostat”. Look how whole and unmarked it looks. Could it have been “quarried” in the manner you have described? Rather than naturally sliding down the face rock as Brian argues?

Next digging season, catch a plane to the U.K., I'll meet you, take you to the site, and you can see everything for real.

End of the mini rant.






Constantinos Ragazas said...

Phil,

From your comments I conclude you agree. Though you don't say so directly. Were the “proto-orthostat” to tumble down the rock face it would not likely have survived intact. Or would have impact dents from the fall.

As for your explanation why this “proto-orthostat” does not show such signs. The question is not whether you can quarry an “orthostat” from the side of a cliff. Rather, whether Neolithic people could have quarried a 4 ton megalith high up the rock face.

So we now have Neolithic bubble-wrap to soften the blow! Is there anything prehistoric people were not capable of doing or thinking? I am truly amazed.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

This raises the question, "why isn't there a long queue of ice ejected orthostats, lined up along the foot of the outcrop?"

It does: A row of ready-made orthostats would be a very handy natural storage yard. But that is not proof that it was so: All we know is that they have found a place where orthostats occur naturally and with apparently the type and roughly the size of stone as exists at Stonehenge.

As far as I can tell, the quarry idea is based just on the opinion of the investigators: Without a smoking gun, this will be a very hard sell: What they probably need is the 'why' these stones would be transported: With a 'why', backed up by some sort of secondary evidential correlation, it would be an easy sell.

Dave Maynard said...

Phil and Kostas,

We can invoke 'bubble wrap' for both options.

Deliberate quarrying could well use dampening material, but also natural collapse could land on growing gorse to the same effect. Gorse and other small bushes are very common in the area around the outcrop in today's environment. In earlier times, it might be less so with heavier human activity, but for much of the post glacial period, this valley would be thickly covered by vegetation. This is perhaps in contrast to the upland areas eg Carn Meini, where vegetation would be certainly thinner.

The presence of bumps, dents and scratches needs to be looked at as part of the study of this material. Coming up with an appropriate interpretation that satisfies everybody - that's the hard part.

What is the 'ballistic resistance' (this that is the right term) of this rock to shattering from a fall of up to 4m?

Dave

chris johnson said...

Jon,
The party line is that the stones were moved twice. First they were used locally in a circle like hundreds of others. Then the whole circle was moved as part of the "Unification of Britain" project.

Actually, were this to be true, then Castell Mawr is not the logical place to be looking for the first circle. Somewhere between Carn Goedog and Rhosyfelin would surely make more sense.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Bedd yr Afanc? It's already there, and not a Rhosyfelin foliated rhyolite in sight.......

Anonymous said...

Phil M
Occam remains blemish free!

Without evidence, This quarry theory is little more than a fallacious "argument from authority"

This is the main problem with most of the theories about Stonehenge!
A.G.



Phil M. said...

First and foremost,------
I have received a communication from our Agent in Alexandria, asking me to refer to the vertical fractures as joint planes, and to point out that the main face of the outcrop, is is also a major joint plane.

Myris, admonishment received and still stinging, but thank you all the same. :-)

Kostas,
Please do not make assumptions regarding my agreement, or otherwise, with your thoughts.

I think it fairly obvious that ice, or roots, expanding behind an already fractured rock, would pay no heed whatsoever to damaging the rock.
However, people seeking to preserve the rock for export would pay particular attention to protecting it throughout all stages of its journey.

You write:

"The question is not whether you can quarry an “orthostat” from the side of a cliff. Rather, whether Neolithic people could have quarried a 4 ton megalith high up the rock face."

My mind is currently occupied with the capstone of a Cotswold-Severn Class Burial Chamber at Tinkinswood, Near St. Lythans, in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. Google it for information if you wish.
It is thought that this 40 ton stone came from a small quarry about 300 metres south-east of the site. It's early days, but that source is now in doubt, and a travelling distance of some 6 miles is being mooted.
However, regardless of where it came from, the fact remains that prehistoric people raised this 40 ton slab to a height of about 2 metres, by comparison manipulating a 4 ton block would be easy.

You also say ------

"So we now have Neolithic bubble-wrap to soften the blow! Is there anything prehistoric people were not capable of doing or thinking? I am truly amazed."

That remark doesn't even warrent a reply.

A.G. Good to hear that Occam is well.


I'm unsure, but didn't I read somewhere, that perhaps only two or three stones came from the Craig Rhosyfelin area, I'm probably mistaken, and I blame it on senility.

Kostas, the more I see of the prehistoric people, the more I am amazed.




Anonymous said...

A.G.

"argument from authority"

MMP holds that Rhosyfelin Quarry is true.

MPP is a legitimate expert on the subject matter.

The consensus of subject-matter experts agrees with MPP.

Therefore, there exists a presumption that 'Rhosyfelin Quarry' is true.

AC Grayling

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Dave you write,

”The presence of bumps, dents and scratches needs to be looked at as part of the study of this material.”

What I have been calling for here!

I took the third photo in Brian's “Dreamtime Pedestal” post and traced over some of the ends and edges of the lying “proto-orthostat”. Take a look here, http://www.thefacultypublishinggroup.com/Archeology/RhosyfelinOrthostatMarked.jpg , (you may need to enlarge the image to see the details better).

Or you can look at Brian's photo in that post (enlarged). There is nothing indicating to me this monolith was quarried by people high up the rock face! No impact dents, no rope marks, no wedge/level bruises or scratches. If this was intentionally quarried by prehistoric people (instead of naturally breaking off the cliff and sliding down the incline) surely there would be some marked evidence of that.

One may ask. Shouldn't there be some evidence of this “orthostat” sliding down the incline and rolling or pivoting to its present position? What “bubble-wrap” kept this rock so (relatively) pristine? Fair question.

My thoughts on this. If this monolith broke off the spur because of ice and freezing, it is likely this happened during winter. It is likely during winter the ground was covered with a thick blanket of snow. If further this orthostat broke off at a later time, the previously fallen orthostats already lying perpendicular to the rock face would have been covered with packed snow (possibly from drift-slides coming down the rock face) creating slippery ramp/sled tracks for the “proto-orthostat” to slide down till it reached horizontal position where it currently sits.

The underside of the “proto-orthostat” I argue was attached to the spur. While the top visible surface was part of the rock-face facade. Likely, weathering eroded its base over time and when the orthostat was no longer supported and stable is came sliding down. We cannot see the underside. But there may be evidence of this on it. Perhaps even matching it to where on the spur it broke off.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Authority derives from the strength of the argument and the quality of the evidence. It does not derive from the status of somebody who thinks of himself as an "expert" and tells the world that what he says is true. Einstein said: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” And while I'm about it, consensus is the enemy of truth too......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Phil,

I asked a direct question:Would a 4 ton megalith tumbling down the rock-face survive intact, or not have impact dents from it?.

You answered this with your Neolithic bubble-wrap theory; showing how such megalith could have been quarried from the cliff while keeping it safe from damage.

Since this was your answer to my question, I took this to imply the monolith tumbling down the rock face would have impact dent marks. Is that such an unwarranted conclusion? Or are you saying something different from this.

You write, ”the more I see of the prehistoric people, the more I am amazed”

Where do you see these prehistoric people other than in imagination?

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Well said, Brian! We truly think alike on this issue of “expert authority”, “consensus”, and Truth.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Then the whole circle was moved as part of the "Unification of Britain" project.

Thanks Chris, that's useful to know: It's an interesting theory, but if they don't have an idea of why the "Unification of Britain" would be necessary, or what that meant to the people in practice, then they may be struggle to know what they are searching for when away from the proposed quarry: It's very unlikely that a construction from elsewhere in the land would have been randomly selected for transportation as part of a "Unification".

So Castel Mawr seems as good a place to start as any? It's circular like Stonehenge and has the big plus of being nearby.

BRIAN JOHN said...

A friend sent me this interesting quote the other day:

"It is the appearance of authority and not actual authority to which the subject responds. Unless contradictory information or anomalous facts appear, the self-designation of the authority almost always suffices". -- Stanley Milgram

In other words, people are usually stupid enough and lazy enough to believe whatever nonsense self-designated authorities choose to give them.....

chris johnson said...

Jon,
The evidence seems to point toward two influx movements, one into the East from Northern Europe and one into the West from Brittany direction. There is some evidence of violent events which indicates that neolithic times were not all peace and love - the meeting of cultures seems to happen around the chalk ridge from Avebury s/w to the coast. In subsequent times we seem to see a unification around similar styles of e.g. pottery.

The narrative would offer an explanation for one puzzle I have, namely why Stonehenge and Avebury are so different in character and yet so close in time and space.

Such a peace process might explain why Stonehenge is unique and why an immense undertaking like moving a monument from Wales to Wiltshire might have been executed. They try to find an explanation to fit many different strands of fact.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tony -- Geoff Wainwright has gone very quite lately -- in fact I have no idea whether that big SPACES project is alive or dead. Yes, he does indeed live in the Gwaun valley, just a few miles away from Rhosyfelin. The last I heard was that he was "bored" with the bluestone transport debate and wanted nothing more to do with it....... but maybe he's just enjoying his retirement.

Anonymous said...

Anon

A.C. Grayling would never write anything so risible.

"MPP is a legitimate expert on the subject matter." He has little or no expertise in geology that I'm aware of?

"The consensus of subject-matter experts agrees with MPP"
Which geologists/geomorphologists are these then? Names please!

Archeologists are no more qualified to identify a quarry or quarrying activities than the nice chaps who empty my bins.

A.G.





Anonymous said...

"risible"?

I was just correcting your flawed logic. The only risible reference I can see is your reference to "geologists/geomorphologists".

The world is of the opinion that this is an archaeological site and not a geological site so lead by MPP and not Barney Rubble!

Anthony

Phil Morgan said...

Kostas,

I said:

”the more I see of the prehistoric people, the more I am amazed.”

You responded with:

"Where do you see these prehistoric people other than in imagination?"

Fortunately, one cannot travel far in the UK without being reminded of our prehistoric ancestors. Some imagination maybe necessary to picture the way they lived their daily lives, but their monuments and artefacts need no imagination, some defy logic, but all are amazing.


I regret I'm unable to post for the next few days; I shall be on a mountain top investigating a possible burial chamber, and I doubt my prehistoric ancestors left a router for me to use.

I wonder did they carefully deposit some bubble wrap, just to make my imagination run wild?

;-)


BRIAN JOHN said...

Watch out for the weather tomorrow, Phil. Does not look like a good idea to be on a mountain top.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Anon -- the world is of the opinion that this is an archaeological site?!! Which planet do you inhabit? Ixer and Bevins did a smart piece of GEOLOGY here, by matching up some stone fragments at Stonehenge to the rocks at Rhosyfelin. That had nothing to do with archaeology. It only became an archaeological site when some archaeologists decided in advance that there had to be a quarry at Rhosyfelin -- and when you want something badly enough, and invest so much prestige as this in the correctness of your ruling hypothesis, you are sure going to find it, whatever the evidence might say....

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Phil,

We can be reminded of anyone by anything we associate with them. But without written records everything is subject to interpretation!

Do bring back some good photos of the burial chamber you will be visiting. And of the surrounding countryside showing how it is oriented and situated in the landscape. I would be delighted to see!

Enjoy the mountain top!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Looks like MPP's marketing strategy selling his “quirry theory” has worked with Anon!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

"The narrative would offer an explanation for one puzzle I have, namely why Stonehenge and Avebury are so different in character and yet so close in time and space."

Could be Chris: That narrative is quite persuasive but it doesn't provide an explanation of why the structures at Stonehenge and Avebury have such specific layouts. One counter-argument that could be used by the narrative is that both monuments are wholly abstract and thus unexplainable. If the monuments are said to be abstract, the argument can bypass the requirement to explain their context and significance.

An alternative viewpoint is that Stonehenge and Avebury are part of a sequence of events; and wholly explainable in the context of that sequence. For example, Stonehenge (late stage) would be a development of the thinking behind Avebury; and Avebury would be a development of the thinking behind earlier monuments. In this type of viewpoint, a simple, logical, obvious and compelling motivation must exist to construct each monument: The development of that motivation must be wholly consistent with the sequence of monument construction and must also be logically consistent with what each monument would be shown to represent.

In this type of sequence, unification could be a result of the events, but not the primary cause: For example, stones coming from another area could be symbolic if the original area were ceding, or helping to establish, a belief system (which then results in unification).

Perhaps it might be worth their while stepping back, putting less emphasis on unification and more emphasis on explaining what those monuments represent and why this would lead to unification? If the meaning of some monuments becomes a known, it is then possible that this would help to establish the significance of other locations (and what to look for at those locations).

Phil M. said...

Hello Kostas and Brian.
Strensham Services on the M5 motorway has Wifi that works.

The location of the possible burial chamber is treacherous, on the side of the mountain with 100m vertical drop, believe me I'll be carefull. Two archaeologists from the National Museum of Wales will be attending for there's what look like old bones present, but I only have photos with no idea of scale for I can only just get a little camera over the top of the blocking stones.
If it is a small tomb then it maybe an indication of a burial practice unique to the area.

Anyway, time will tell, and its back to driving now.

Many photos have been, and will be , taken for Kostas.

Anonymous said...

Even more "risible" A.G.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon and Chris,

MPP's “Unification of Britain” aims to unify Britain behind his “quarry theory”! We see here one theory used as a marketing tool for another.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Jon,
I understand "abstract" to mean something we don't understand YET.

When and if the explanation emerges I am confident it will be simple. Without simplicity you would not persuade thousands of people to put the effort in over hundreds of years.

I think about your idea of SH being a sequentially logical evolution from Avebury but I don't see it yet. Avebury also has solar orientations and it is much bigger in scope, ambition, and material. The timeline is parallel too. So Silbury and the big sarsens at SH were being built at more-or-less the same time, it seems.

chris johnson said...

Brian,
Bedd yr Afanc is a better place to start looking for a missing monument. Likely the passage grave itself is much older than the time MPP adherents would be interested in, but the general location would be roughly right.

The land here in the the big valley would seem to fit better as a location for a henge and stone circle than Castell Mawr. Apart from the distance from Carn Goedog, Castell Mawr is on top of a hill and not the kind of location I associate with stone circles - although Geo could no doubt give many examples.

Beddyr Afanc is between the two tributary systems for River Brynberian with plenty of sight lines. Perhaps the only locality for miles that could fit the requirements.

Perhaps better to turn the argument about convenient stones and sight lines around, and look for monuments near convenient stone outcrops and sight lines. Similar to what Jon said earlier?

chris johnson said...

Kostas,
Please do not include me as part of your "We".

I said before that I see no evidence that MPP is a marketing man.

In my view the dig at Rhosyfelin is happening because facts presented by geologists point in the direction. MPP could not have invented this location in his wildest imaginings. It is the perfect place to reflect on the feasibility of transporting stones along river valleys - very tricky!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- the facts presented by the geologists point to an interesting piece of provenancing. They certainly do not point in the direction of human transport of the stones, from here or anywhere else. All being well, all of the 30 or so rock types represented at Stonehenge will be provenanced correctly at some stage in the future. Even when that us done, we will have no more evidence for quarrying or human transport that we have now -- unless something really interesting in the way of evidence turns up.

With respect to Bedd yr Afanc, let's not forget that that is in a very strange and boggy place -- not really very satisfactory for large monuments of any sort. The current digging team looked at Waun Mawn, not very far away, in the conviction that there might have been a giant stone circle there -- but they seem to have backed off on that one. The few stones that are there seem all to be made of dolerite -- from the point of view of the Rhosyfelin quarry theory, very disappointing.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

MPP did not imagine the geological evidence. But he did imagine its abuse!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Hi Chris

When and if the explanation emerges I am confident it will be simple. Without simplicity you would not persuade thousands of people to put the effort in over hundreds of years.

Agreed: If it is not a totalitarian 'statement structure', the 'why' has got to be simple. In my opinion, it's also got to make absolute sense to anyone living back then and will probably be so obvious that future generations will marvel that we couldn't spot what it was. If the motivation was neither gods nor 'ritual', then it also needs a very strong initial persuasive argument (such as survival).

I think about your idea of SH being a sequentially logical evolution from Avebury but I don't see it yet.. Avebury also has solar orientations and it is much bigger in scope, ambition, and material. The timeline is parallel too.

If I've understood the time-line correctly (eg Burl: Prehistoric Avebury: 114), Avebury may be parallel with the earlier stages of Stonehenge, but not the later stages. So Avebury could be a precursor to Stonehenge's stone phase. If there is a direct link between the two which shows what that early motivation was, it will be found (at Stonehenge) largely within only those elements that existed prior to the Stone monument.

chris johnson said...

Brian,
I don't see that MPP has any choice other than be up to his ankles in mud at Rhosyfelin as the Mr Stonehenge of this generation.

For a hundred years the received wisdom has been that the stones came from Prescelli and that glaciers did not reach Wiltshire. MPP did not invent human transport to Stonehenge as being the most likely possibility given these two "facts" - it is the only possibility unless you believe in alien spaceships or Merlin.

Now we have a third "fact" - provenance Rhosyfelin. Surely if he wants to know more about one of the most interesting "facts" in the European neolithic he MUST be at Rhosyfelin?

Imo it is overdue to challenge the "facts" that are driving these theories:
1) the geological/geomorphological establishment needs to confirm that glaciers really did NOT reach wiltshire with the capability to drop erratics.
2) MPP should check that the sampling of Ixer/Bevins is so complete and accurate and unchallenged that we are indeed looking in the right place. In business we would have a second or third opinion on this, plus a lot more sampling than has been done. Maybe this has been done and I am simply not aware.

However, given the expert opinions with which MPP is living he could hardly be anywhere else in September.

chris johnson said...

On Bedd yr Afanc, interesting remarks from Brian. Gors Fawr and Glandy Cross circles exceptionally boggy too. Never went to Waun Maun close up - is that boggy?

Very difficult for me to imagine what the area looked like 5000 years ago. Today there is a lot of bog, soggy peat. Hopefully they did a lot of soil sampling over a wide area as part of the project. Nothing much has been deep ploughed so it should be relatively easy to make a accurate profile and history.

Afanc in Welsh means beaver. Some months ago I pointed to research done on the landscape effects of beaver in the neolithic and their part in the ecosystem. It would affect how the whole area looked and behaved.

chris johnson said...

Jon,
My understanding from various sources is that SH and Silbury were being worked in a major way around 2500 BC. I am happy to be corrected on this - a lot of work is current and a lot of text books need updating and I am learning by osmosis.

The sites are so close together that there must have been contact. In fact, the entire SW of England seems to have been a gi-normous landscaping project. Maybe a reason we focus on stonehenge is that it is next to the modern road from London to the SW. Avebury, imo, is older and bigger than Stonehenge.

One reason I believe in the glaciation transport for Bluestones is the fact that these stones are at Stonehenge and not Avebury. Had they been collected, surely they would have gone to Avebury?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris you write,
Please do not include me as part of your "We". As you wish!

The “we” never meant “you”. Rhetorical only.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- of course somebody from the archaeological sphere needed to get to Rhosyfelin and have a look, given the nature of the geological discoveries. So if it had not been MPP, it would have been somebody else. What I object to is the announcement -- as soon as they started work -- that this was a -- if not THE -- Stonehenge monolith quarry. Ruling hypothesis written all over it, from Day One. That's not the way science should be done.

As for Bedd yr Afanc, the rather strange tomb -- or group of tombs -- has a splendid legend attached to it. The Afanc was a water monster that lived under Brynberian Bridge, and there is a strirring tale relating to is capture. If you all promise to be good, I might tell it to you one day, as a bedtime treat. Or have I told it before?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah yes, I did tell the tale on 12 Feb 2012:
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/other-bedd-yr-afanc-legend.html

Enjoy!!

Jon Morris said...

My understanding from various sources is that SH and Silbury were being worked in a major way around 2500 BC. I am happy to be corrected on this - a lot of work is current and a lot of text books need updating and I am learning by osmosis.

Ah.. I understand: Agreed: It's very likely that the Avebury area would have had major works going on at about the same time as Stonehenge's stone phase (c.2500BC). But it is also likely that the Avebury area had works going on at about the same time as the cursuses near Stonehenge were being built (c.3000BC): There seems to be a separation of some five hundred years between the two major building phases described in the area at and around Stonehenge.

I don't know much about Silbury but went to have a look: One author of books on Stonehenge wrote a scathing review of “Solving” by describing what really (apparently) happened at Silbury.

The sites are so close together that there must have been contact. In fact, the entire SW of England seems to have been a gi-normous landscaping project. Maybe a reason we focus on stonehenge is that it is next to the modern road from London to the SW. Avebury, imo, is older and bigger than Stonehenge.

Agreed again: Avebury may hold a key to understanding what the original (3000BC) structures at Stonehenge were about. If we can understand this, the reason for the subsequent building phases may become obvious? (Though I can not fathom what the reason for building Silbury might have been)

One reason I believe in the glaciation transport for Bluestones is the fact that these stones are at Stonehenge and not Avebury. Had they been collected, surely they would have gone to Avebury?

That makes a lot of sense. Unless the Stonehenge site (3000BC) was the popular representation of something: Something very particular that the philosophy of 2500BC would have needed to both incorporate and replace using some sort of major works; bigger and better than what went before. This could explain why the cursuses, which would have been the major structures up until that point, were allowed to go fallow.

Though Rhosyfelin is quite interesting, my belief is that archaeologists need to discover what motivation caused Stonehenge (2500BC) to be built (and what Stonehenge was for could be quite interesting too). If they can solve this one mystery, I believe it will massively open up public interest in the vast number of other monuments, such as Silbury, in this landscape.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

After our discussions about the ”pristine” lying “proto-orthostat”, it is clear to me now why MPP abandoned “dragging” to “pivoting” stones to Stonehenge.

He is forced to this queer position because there are not bumps, dents or rope marks on the “proto-orthostat”. So with squirms, levels and pivots he thinks he can get away with such move. And not need to explain anything to anyone.

But I have news for him. Since such stone had to be quarried from higher up the rock face, how did it come down from there? If pried freed from the cliff face, the stone tumbled down. Resulting in many marks on its surface. But none exist!

If, as Phil argues, the stone was “bubble-wrap” protected, gently lowered onto a positioned ramp, using ropes and counter weights to lessen the blow, (an engineering marvel at any time, but especially for prehistoric people before even the wheel was invented!) there would still be rope burns and other marked evidence on the stone. But none exist.

This latest dilemma may also explain why MPP has cleared the way further up along the spur, hoping to find an open space on the rock face close to the ground where the “proto-orthostat” may have been quarried more easily. And “pivoted” to its present position.

So next time you go to the excavation sites, take a look further up the spur. Do you see any spots? From your photos, I don't.

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris you write,

”Imo it is overdue to challenge the "facts" that are driving these theories:
1) the geological/geomorphological establishment needs to confirm that glaciers really did NOT reach wiltshire with the capability to drop erratics.
2) MPP should check that the sampling of Ixer/Bevins is so complete and accurate and unchallenged that we are indeed looking in the right place.”


In your two points, you are overlooking a third transport possibility. Namely, Salisbury Plain was at one time a frozen glacier lake and the SH stones got there on the surface of this solidly frozen glacier lake.

This “third way” transport will account for all the stones at SH and for the Rhosyfelin fragments (and all others) found in the SH debitage.

Mystery solved!

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Kostas, I think you are twisting my words to suit your agenda and making this blog look like a gathering place for cranks. Although, perhaps I do not express myself clearly enough so I will repeat myself with different words.

My point is simply this. The "Stones of Stonehenge" project, led by University College London, backed by other leading British Universities, and funded by several eminent bodies including the National Geographic Society, Royal Archaeological Institute, Society of Antiquaries, should make a clear statement about the part played by glaciers in quarrying and transporting stones to Stonehenge.

Based only on casual public statements by the Project Leader, the project appears to presume that glaciation played no role in either the quarrying or transportation of the stones. Such a presumption is highly unlikely to be true and should be challenged, in the first instance by the Project Team themselves. Even when substantial evidence of human activity in the neolithic is found at the supposed quarry sites, the proposition that glaciers played no part should be defended and placed in a modern scientific perspective.

It may even be that the hearsay remarks of the project leader have been misinterpreted and that "Stones of Stonehenge" is indeed reappraising some key issues, including whether glaciers played a part in creating the modern geography of Wiltshire contrary to previous opinions. The secrecy surrounding the project does not help to inform discussion and distorts our expectations.

So Kostas, hope this makes the position clearer.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris you write,

”Kostas, I think you are twisting my words to suit your agenda and making this blog look like a gathering place for cranks”

I have no agenda! Other than knowing the truth. And if you believe in the truth as I do, you too will also see I have no agenda.

What other cranks do you include with me? Or is this a thinly disguised plea to Brian to block my participation in these discussions. Something that you attempted to do many times in the past. What you fail to realize is some people (Brian included) stand on principle and not on expedience.

If you are to accuse me of being a crank you need to debunk some of my claims with well reasoned, evidence based, sound arguments. I challenge you to do that here in public!

I have no interest in twisting your words! They are twisted enough on their own by your marketing instincts. The reason why I took from what you said a full quote to preface my point. And my point (irrespective of all you say) is:

When considering 'transport' of stones to Stonehenge (or anywhere else in SW UK), besides 'human' and 'glacial' transport there is a 'third way': the 'transport' of stones and debris on the surface of a solidly frozen glacial lake.

There Chris! I give you a great opportunity to show I am a crank by debunking this assertion!

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Kostas,
You completely missed my message - again. I urged the "Stone for Stonehenge" project to present us with very solid foundations for their basic premises, including the "glaciers did not reach Wiltshire" thing which has been the status quo for a hundred years.

I am not aware that any of your theories are on a par with the work of eg Ixer/Bevins. Maybe I should read your words more carefully and you mine.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

Your problem is not I misunderstood your message. Your problem is I understood it all too well!

It's not the first time! It probably is not the last either, knowing you. But know I will be there each time to call you on such misbehavior.

You don't begin clarifying what you mean with ”your [my] agenda [is]... making this blog look like a gathering place for cranks”.

We should all be offended!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Time to stop this conversation, I think. It's gone way off topic. No more please. And Kostas, if you send in many more comments on your "third way" theory I'm going to block them without any further notice to you. You keep on saying it is the only theory which explains everything -- it is nothing of the sort. It is a crazy theory in search of some evidence, and I am not going to give it more space. Please promote it, if that is what you want to do, on some other forum.

No responsibility is placed on anybody to come up with evidence to disprove your assertions, which are not based upon any sound understanding of the way that natural processes work.

Phil M. said...

Brian,
Perhaps now would be an oppurtune moment to post the item on Silbury Hill and Foel Drygarn.

Phil Morgan

BRIAN JOHN said...

Will dig that out, Phil. I have it on file. Jon, re your new comment, please post under another topic as appropriate.. Stopping this one now.