Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- due for publication on June 1st 2018. After that, it will be available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Stones of Stonehenge Project

 Stones, and more stones.  
One of Pete Glastonbury's fine photos -- the bluestone with a groove.......

Here are a few interesting titbits.  They inform us that the Stones of Stonehenge project (which will be conducting digs this year at Clatford Bottom, Rhosyfelin and Castell Mawr) is funded by the National Geographic Soc, Royal Archaeological Institute and the Society of Antiquaries -- although there is no indication of the scale of the funding.  I hadn't realised that Austen and Schlee are involved as the "local experts"............ I wonder if they know anything about geomorphology?


Royal Archaeological Institute

Recent Grants

Research grants for 2014 have been awarded to the following:

    • Murray Cook and Fraser Hunter: Strathdon Material Culture Review
    • Elizabeth Foulds: New light on old sites: Investigations into the settlement at Swallowcliffe Down, Wiltshire
    • Dr Peter Halkon and Rodney Mackey: Trial excavation on a major new multi-period site near Melton, East Yorkshire
    • Derek Hurst: New light on the archive of the 1935–7 excavation of Kemerton Camp, Bredon Hill, Worcestershire
    • Professor Mike Parker Pearson: Preseli Stones of Stonehenge
    • Dr David Petts and Dr Chris Whitmore: Binchester Research Project: Vicus Bath-house
One of the conditions attached to the awarding of a grant is that the recipient must produce a report of the work undertaken. A shortened version of the report is published in the RAI Newsletter.


The Stones of Stonehenge

The Stonehenge Riverside Project, which undertook major excavations at the henge monument of Durrington Walls and elsewhere in the Stonehenge World Heritage site between 2004 and 2009, has led to further research to explore the origin of the stones used to build Stonehenge itself.

Survey and excavation is taking place in north Wiltshire, to trace the source of the sarsens, and in west Wales, the point of origin of the smaller bluestones. The project brings together many of the Stonehenge Riverside Project team members and associates (Pollard, Richards, Welham, Pike) and draws on the expertise of other researchers working on the archaeology of the Marlborough downs (Gittings, Allen, French) and in west Wales (Austen, Schlee).

Geological analysis by project partners Bevins and Ixer has pinpointed the precise source of one of the Stonehenge bluestones.  Research on the Stones of Stonehenge project continued in 2013 in both Wiltshire and Wales.

    • Read more about the geological analysis here»
Related outputs

    • Parker Pearson, M.2012. Stonehenge: exploring the greatest Stone Age mystery. London: Simon & Schuster.

    • French, C., Scaife, R. and Allen, M.J. with Parker Pearson, M., Pollard, J., Richards, C., Thomas, J., Welham, K. 2012. Durrington Walls to West Amesbury by way of Stonehenge: a major transformation of the Holocene landscape. Antiquaries Journal 92: 1-36.

    • Parker Pearson, M.2012. Stonehenge and the beginning of the British Neolithic. In A.M. Jones, C.J. Pollard, M.J. Allen and J. Gardiner (eds) Image, Memory and Monumentality: archaeological engagements with the material world. Prehistoric Society Research Paper No. 5. Oxford: Oxbow. 18-28.

    • Parker Pearson, M., Pollard, J., Richards, C., Thomas, J., Welham, K., Bevins, R., Ixer, R., Marshall, P and Chamberlain, A. 2011. Stonehenge: controversies of the bluestones. In L. García Sanjuán, C. Scarre and D.W. Wheatley (eds) Exploring Time and Matter in Prehistoric Monuments. Menga: Journal of Andalusian Prehistory, Monograph no. 1. Seville: Junta de Andalucía. 219-50.

    • National Geographic Society
    • Royal Archaeological Institute
    • Society of Antiquaries


Stonehenge bluestone mystery revealed

28 November 2013

The exact origin of the Stonehenge bluestones appears to have been revealed according to newly-published research by Rob Ixer (Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Institute) and colleagues.

Two recent papers by Drs Rob Ixer (UCL Institute of Archaeology), Richard Bevins (Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum Wales) and Prof Nick Pearce (University of Aberystwyth) continue their investigations into the geographical provenance for the bluestones of Stonehenge and the meaning, if any, of the debris/debitage that is found throughout the Stonehenge Landscape.

The article entitled 'Carn Goedog is the likely major source of Stonehenge doleritic bluestones: evidence based on compatible element geochemistry and Principal Component Analysis' which has recently been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science suggests that although there are at least two geographical sources in the Preseli Hills and perhaps more, Carn Goedog is the source of the numerically largest group of dolerite orthostats. Carn Menyn, for a long time the favourite site for the spotted dolerite bluestone quarry, was found not to be a match for any of the Stonehenge bluestones.

According to Dr Rob Ixer:

    • “This initial step in the quest to determine the origins of the doleritic bluestone shows that the commonly held beliefs about their source(s) are incorrect and suggests that new, dedicated collecting of the Preseli Hills outcrops especially on their northern slopes together with a reanalysis of the Stonehenge orthostats could well ‘solve’ the mystery of who/what moved the stones and from where”.

The second paper entitled 'Chips off the old block: the Stonehenge debitage dilemma' published in Archaeology in Wales, discusses the relative position of the standing stones and their debris within Stonehenge and its immediate environs. It is the first paper to discuss in any detail the loose lithic bluestone material and to try to relate the distribution of this abundant material to the standing/lying and buried orthostats.

Debris from the Altar Stone and orthostats Stonehenge 48 and 38 (all above ground) have been recognised and found to be numerically very rare but widely distributed throughout the Stonehenge Landscape and not just close to their parent stone. However as most of the occurrences are in late and disturbed archaeological contexts it is not possible to say when they were separated, but they are very rare in prehistoric contexts.

As Rob indicates:

    • “The scattered debris/debitage within the Stonehenge Landscape has everything to tell us about the history of the stones once they reached Stonehenge. Careful plotting their distribution in time and space begins to narrate this story.”


    • Bevins, RE, Ixer, RA and NJG Pearce. 2013. Carn Goedog is the likely major source of Stonehenge doleritic bluestones: evidence based on compatible element geochemistry and Principal Component Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science [available online 19 November 2013]

    • Ixer, RA and Bevins, RE. 2013. Chips off the old block: the Stonehenge debitage dilemma. Archaeology in Wales 52 11-22.

1 comment:

TonyH said...

Quite a few of the folk listed as contributors to the recent publications Brian has cited here are mentioned in MPP's Magnum Opus, Stonehenge (2012), and have been associated with the Stonehenge Riverside Project.
Their provenance is largely the Universities of Southampton, Leicester, Bournemouth, Manchester and Sheffield;the lack of any properly qualiffied geomorphologist (sorry, Messrs French & Allen) is the blatant mistake.

History will prove us right on this mistake. Academic ignorance in this case is certainly NOT bliss. What it is, however, is an INEXCUSABLE TRAVESTY masquerading as "cutting - edge Science" (nice phrase, but meaningless).

Glaciers have a cutting - edge, just like flints. Trouble is, they are less marketable!!