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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Slapdash journalism from Earth Heritage

I came across this article in the magazine called "Earth Heritage" -- available online as a PDF, here:

It's a very attractive magazine, supported by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, GeoConservation UK and the GA -- so it has a good scientific pedigree, although it is intended for a general readership -- or a readership of people interested in geology and geomorphology.

There is a nice article by Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins in it, about Rhosyfelin.  But who on earth dreamed up the heading?  Not the authors, I hope.......... since it is a classic example of hype replacing scientific accuracy.

Let's put the record straight.  The "new science" has not pinpointed the source of "THE" bluestones -- just in case there is anybody out there who still thinks that all 43 of them came from the same place.  It has not even pinpointed the source of a single bluestone, let alone 43.  What it has done is locate the area from which SOME of the rhyolitic debitage in SOME PARTS of the superficial material in SOME PARTS of the Stonehenge landscape has apparently come.  A very different matter.

Is that all clear?  Well, that's all right then........


Dave Maynard said...

Interesting magazine though...


chris johnson said...

Slapdash headline maybe.

The article itself would be informative for people who have not been following the subject and, I think, well written

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Quoting from the "Earth Heritage" article,

”These holes, known as the Aubrey Holes, are important because they contain debris (or ‘debitage’ as some archaeologists call the material) whose lithology is not represented among the current standing stones.

Interesting admission in light of the lack of admission the SH debitage Rhosyfelin fargments are also 'not represented among the current standing stones'.

While the first clears the conscience, the second conceals the truth! Yet reveals the true intentions for the article: to put a scientific veil over the purported archeology claims.

What men would do for 'love'!


Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas and they call me cryptic.
Wait for Ixer and Bevins Dec 2013 and much will be revealed.
Remember the refrain of the European legend of Reynard the Fox.
Be brave, be brave, be very brave but...don't be too brave.

Constantinos Ragazas said...


Telling the truth is not 'brave' but it is honorable. Concealing the truth (like the Rhosyfelin carbon dates) is both cowardly and dishonorable. That is what I think, as I wait for December!


TonyH said...

And the very next article in the Earth Heritage magazine? Why, it's "Piltdown Man's Enduring Legacy".
Funny, that, for some reason Piltdown Man has kept popping into my mind whenever I think about all this kerfuffle about Rhosyfelin.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Good joined-up thin king, Tony..... and reminds me that I did a post on precisely this quite a while ago:

BRIAN JOHN said...

Trying to put this in as a URL / hyperlink:

It's a bit of a nuisance to have to convert to HTML....

TonyH said...

comes in the separate comment at the end of the Ixer & Bevins article, by Stewart Campbell of Natural Resources Wales.

"A more holistic approach to the study, conservation and presentation of these closely related geological and archaeological sites and landscapes would undoubtedly improve public understanding and appreciation of this outstanding [Mynydd Preseli] heritage."

Yet Parker Pearson insists on ignoring the application of the linked subjects of geology/ geomorphology/ glaciology to the question of the landscape history of this part of SW Wales as he peddles his own Closed Hypothesis. Hopefully, not everyone is sufficiently eager to be gullible to his techniques.

TonyH said...

Wasn't reading the Blog back in 2010, but it's good to know others can make these connections.

I do think it is time I did contact Stephen Fry and/or the BBC's QI programme and suggest they run a series of Quite Interesting Facts about what does, and what does not, connect Stonehenge and Bluestones. I can hear that hooter blowing sounding numerous times as gullible Alan Davies leaps for the wrong one-word answer and Fry swiftly reprimands him!!

BRIAN JOHN said...

I know Stewart from years ago -- have written to him and await a reply. The problem is that there is a political agenda here, which suits MPP down to the ground. The geological conservation people want key sites to be taken seriously, and they want money to be made available for preservation and management etc. So they need "iconic" sites in Wales which are of international importance. Hence Rhosyfelin is a valuable asset -- and it may well suit their purpose -- and that of MPP -- to pretend that it really is hugely significant. I assume that the Minister knows little about either archaeology or geology.... so we have a perfect "Yes, Minister" scenario......

TonyH said...

In response to your remarks about Stewart Campbell's written piece, do I not recall you reporting that MPP jokingly suggesting to the Moylgrove village multitudes that Rhosyfelin's rocks may have been part of the first invasion of England by the Welsh? Always a good ploy to appeal to patriotic pride and one - upmanship. Gets the audience on your side.

chris johnson said...

I suspect there is very little strategic market thinking behind what happens in Wales.

Should there be an intent to discover and develop sites of international importance you would not start looking in one of the most inaccessible parts of the country - Rhosyfelin.

I am still amazed at the investment going into developing Nevern Castle as a theme park under the guise of archaeology. On the big tourist sign near the church they point to Ceibr Bay as if it was a major tourist attraction too. Well both Nevern and Ceibr ARE very beautiful but neither have the infrastructure to support more than a handful of tourists.

No, if there is going to be a plan for archaeology based tourism in Wales then it better start elsewhere. Stonehenge has over 1 million visitors a year - can you imagine anything like that at Nevern, Ceibr Bay, or Rhosyfelin?

More likely is that the minister is worried MPP might discover something and would be urging him to cover it up as soon as possible.

Dave Maynard said...

Some questions after re-reading Earth Heritage:

Can rhyolite bluestone and spotted dolerite bluestone be found in the same rock outcrop? (that's a loaded question).

How much variability is there in a volcanic extrusion that generates a tor? Could material from an early part of an eruption be different to that from later (days or weeks), so rocks with slightly different composition be found around a specific present day tor?

Is there much variability between sampling points in such a rock outcrop, say if you looked every 2m around the periphery?

Asked as a complete non-geologist.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Not strategic market thinking, Chris -- opportunism! Remember that it's all very piecemeal -- Nevern Castle site is owned by the community council -- so don't be surprised if they seek to flag it up as a key local attraction!