Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Tuesday 17 December 2013

Miniature bluestone trilithons?

Thanks to Mike Pitts for a fascinating preview of some of the displays to be revealed to the world when the new Stonehenge Visitor centre opens tomorrow.  More photos on Mike's blog:

One thing that caught my eye -- a recreation of one of the early bluestone settings, with a miniature bluestone trilithon in the middle of the picture.  I have often wondered whether some bluestones might have been used as lintels, either supported by other bluestones or as lintels perched on top of the sarsens.  It's good to see that some variations in traditional thinking are beginning to appear.......  the old order breaking down?


ND Wiseman said...

Hi Brian,
It has long been thought that at the time of the Q&R arrangement there may have been two lintelled Bluestones at the Aperture - not unlike what's shown in video at the new Visitor's Center.

Solid evidence for this exists in BS-150 and BS-36, both of which are double-mortised. Two or three other upright Bluestones have worn tenons.

As a footnote, slender -150 is laying mostly above ground with one end under BS-32. It is beaten up pretty badly, but we know it had squared ends. BS-36 is tucked in out back between the South Trilithon and now-recumbent S-12. Among the most beautifully shaped Stones of any kind at the site, it is mostly buried, preserving its finished appearance.
Excavated and documented in 1953 it was then returned to its original position for posterity. William Flinders-Petrie numbered all the Stones in c.1880 and gave -150 its high random number because it was so seemingly odd. He didn't know -36 was mortised so it has a normal sequential designation.

Clearly the two had been 're-purposed' at some point into the outer Bluestone Circle.

Whether these stones were specifically shaped and mated at the site or came from an earlier configuration elsewhere remains open for debate.


Anonymous said...

and yet people who arrived today as the first punters where told they cannot take photos of the exhibits.

BRIAN JOHN said...

What a load of old cobblers. I hope there's a public revolution and that the punters take lots of photos anyway. What are they going to do? Confiscate and smash their cameras? Take them to court? I see the heavy hand of EH in all of this -- they are equally protective of all the Atkinson photos, which you are not supposed to use because of draconian copyright enforcement. But everybody uses them anyway........

Tim Daw said...

There is a photography ban in the special exhibition area because it is displaying a wonderful collection of ancient books and plans, which the owners of (not EH) don't want faded by light or copied. As far as I know the rest of the exhibits can be photographed now (there was an pre-launch embargo).

On a seperate note you might be interested in a discovery of bluestone debitage at Stonehenge -

Anonymous said...

Just to correct that impression, there is no photography allowed in the temporary exhibition space (due to prior agreement with those lending items, protection from flash to vulnerable ms/printed/art materials & for security purposes) but you can photograph everything else in the exhibition area albeit it seems you would need a low light facility on the camera to be at all successful.

peter dunn said...

The evidence of the 2 bluestone lintels and the uprights with remains of tenons has long been known, but I am not aware of the linteled arrangement at the inner opening of the Q and R entrance being proposed it would be interesting to know where this was made.
Apologies for beating on about reconstruction paintings (as opposed to Artist’s Impressions) again but this is what I was referring to in the criticism of the “Stonehenge Simulations”, what is their purpose if not to so new information and ask questions about interpretation and ingrained perceptions.
There are only 2 bluestone settings in Stages 2 and 3 in the new Stonehenge Riverside Stages which match the measurements of the mortises on the Bluestone lintels, the inner most pair of the Q and R entrance and the stones in the proposed inner bluestone circle predating the horseshoe setting, possibly where the West Amesbury (Bluestone henge) stones were re-erected. It seemed reasonable to put these as settings in the 2011 reconstructions, along with a bluestone lintel setting near the present position of Bluestone lintel 36 speculating an explanation for the small sarsen circle stone 11.
There is one other setting of bluestones which match the bluestone lintel mortises it is from stage 1 the early stone and timber settings, that of WA 2428 and WA 2430 flanking the proposed early site of an erect Slaughter Stone WA 3639. I included this setting in the stage 1 reconstruction.
Unfortunately the reconstructions in Mike Parker Pearson’s book were too small to show details like this, they were more visible though in the 2012 British Archaeology piece on the reconstructions where this arrangement was shown.
As you are not able to photograph the displays in the visitor centre you may like to have a closer look at these reconstructions they may make an interesting comparison to the simulations and displays.
Brian perhaps you could display them? contact me at

BRIAN JOHN said...

Peter, I am not alone in being very unhappy with any assertions that there were ever bluestones at "Bluestonehenge" -- three or four pits of more or less the "right" size does not constitute evidence in my book, and there is no trace of bluestone fragments or any other physical traces near the river. Sheer fantasy, as far as I am concerned.