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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rhosyfelin -- the rockfalls continue.......

I have been trying to argue that there is a long history of rockfalls at Rhosyfelin -- but keep on coming up against the buffers -- at least in the minds of those who think that all the debris uncovered in the digs over the last 3 years has got there because of Neolithic quarrying.  Just take a look at these photos:

Look at the big "proto-orthostat" in the foreground of this photo, taken of the inner part of the crag, where a digger has been clearing the vegetation this year, and making a right old mess.  The location is close to the bend in the little channel, not far from the col between this and the main Brynberian river channel.  This big stone was very close to the ground surface.  No way is this a Neolithic feature -- I would hazard a guess and say that it may have fallen off the rock face withing the last few centuries.

This was taken a bit lower down the channel, not far from the highest point reached in last year's dig.  Note that this particular "proto-orthostat" has a good cover of lichen and moss on it -- it has been exposed at the ground surface.  Almost certainly, this one dates from a rockfall from the face within the last few decades..

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.


Dave Maynard said...

That a digger was loose at the top end of the site is interesting news. Was there any archaeological control over what was happening? It looks a complete mess. Some of Chris's photographs showed fresh damage that looked suspicious.

Has there been any reference to this at the various talks? That big stone lying parallel to the rock outcrop could be a partner to the 'orthostat' further down the slope. Or is this area the location of the previous excavations?

While we are at it, what is the layout of the outcrop on the north east point and along the south east flank? On Google Earth there is what might be a track terraced in the hillside running south west, and what is the 'splurge' of vegetation due west of the site close to the angle in the field boundary?

I may have to go out and have a look. Want to do some fieldwork Brian?


Constantinos Ragazas said...


To your points of argument against MPP's Rhosyfelin “quarry” I would like to add a few of my own.

1)The slope incline of the rock face suggests the broken “orthostats” slid down rather than falling end over end. Thus, the top face of the lying “orthostats” would match the rock face and can perhaps be traced to it. Those sliding down first would be found at the foot of the rock face and perpendicular to it. While those sliding at a latter time would have slid (perhaps over a snow or ice embankment) further away and oriented in the direction of the downslope parallel to the rock face. This is in fact what we see.

2)The upper half of the rock face where we see profuse vegetation growth are the likely places where the “orthostats” originated. It would be worthwhile clearing the growth and seeing these spots.

3)The bottom half of the rock face shows no such places where “orthostats” may have been “quarried by humans”. While the places where these likely originated are several meters high from the rock face floor. I can't imagine any prehistoric “quarrying” activity by humans at such height. Other than operating from the top of the spur using levels to pry free an “orthostat”. But such mechanism would have resulted in the “orthostat” falling end over end and crushing down the rock face. Question: would a flaky foliated orthostat survive such fall? Wont in the minimum such fall impact the sides and ends of an orthostat? What I find remarkable is how “fresh” are the ends and sides of the lying “orthostat”. No evidence here of a “quarried” stone from high up the Crag.

4)In this post you commented how close to the surface another similar “proto-orthostat” is and guesstimated this had fallen some decades ago. Last year I have raised similar arguments concerning MPP's lying “proto-orthostat”. From the photos it seems to be about a meter or so from the surface. With the meltwater channel you now agree existed there, soil formation and deposition (whether alluvial or slope deposits from a rather steep terrain) would have resulted in rapid soil cover of MPP's “proto-orthostat”. I stand by my argument of a year ago this “proto-orthostat” is more recent (possibly Iron Age) and likely postdates Stonehenge.

5)Concerning the “groovy stone” in front of the lying “orthostat”. It's location further downslope would indicate the “orthostat” was not dragged over it. And since the latest transport method by MPP is “level and pivot”, how could such “dragging grooves” form? MPP contradicts himself here! A sure sign of grasping for straw seeking to fit an unfit theory with the evidence.


Phil Morgan said...

You say ---

"1)The slope incline of the rock face suggests the broken “orthostats” slid down rather than falling end over end. Thus, the top face of the lying “orthostats” would match the rock face and can perhaps be traced to it."

On the 18th September 2012 I posted a rather long explanation of a method of differentiating between human quarrying, and natural fracturing of a rock face.

A portion of your response to that post was as follows:

"Phil's “cartoon reasoning” in your post is ludicrous. A little like using a painting of the resurrection of Christ as evidence for the resurrection of Christ!"

I don't mind you using my ideas, for that shows acceptance on your part, but it is sad that you cannot take the time to ensure that what you say is correct.

If a slab of rock slides down the rock face, it is the lower surface of the slab that mirrors the profile of the rock face.

I believe that some imaging may have been carried out at CRyF to verify large stones, but then again, I sometimes confuse myself.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Dave -- it is a complete mess. The digger has indeed done a lot of damage when it smashed through the jungle........

Yes, I am up for a spot of fieldwork. Get in touch, and we'll see what we can organize...

Constantinos Ragazas said...


Would “humorous” have been better? The “resurrection” metaphor was over the top. I agree.

We agree on rocks sliding down an inclined rock face. I think what I was reacting to was how an orthostat falling end over end would have landed. Too many variables to such a fall to say anything conclusive.

Have I got the rest of the points in my post right? I do value your views on this. Sorry if I was a bit too flippant.


Phil M said...

RE The large stone shown in Brian's second photo.
After studying my photos, it appears that the digging machine has removed this stone from it's vertical position in the rock face. The lichen and moss growth is identical to that on the rock either side of the removal scar.

There is also dead fern beneath the rock which indicates that it has recently arrived at it's current location.

Brian is correct when he says that it "dates from a rockfall from the face within the last few decades", but it should read 'from within the last few weeks'.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Disagree with you there, Phil. the only ones who will know the truth are the diggers, but I do not think they would be so stupid as to smash bog monoliths off the rock face and drag them away -- they are after all looking for Neolithic quarrying traces! I don't see any dead ferns beneath the rock -- I see a lot of debris around it. I don't see a removal scar either. And the lichen / moss cover is just as likely on a recumbent stone lying at the surface as on a slab exposed on the cliff face.

Phil said...

Sometimes I'm just plain grumpy, but I appreciate that it must be difficult when all you have to base your thoughts on are photos, obviously, site visits are far more illuminating.

It would be good if we could post photos in the same way as we post text, now that would make life easier, but I doubt my I.T. skills would stretch so far.
I've tried putting photos on SmugMug as Chris has done, but I can't get them to upload, 'bugger' is said.
Any advice would be welcome.

BRIAN JOHN said...

OOps -- "big monoliths"......

chris johnson said...

I use the standard Smugmug way. So:
1) Log-in to smugmug account as owner
2) Click the upload option on the top line
3) Choose a gallery or create a new one
4) Browse to the photos on my computer. As soon as I select one or more jpeg the uploading starts.

Many people have reported problems using plug-ins with the new smugmug so I went back to the standard and it works fine for me. Hope this helps and I look forward to seeing your photos