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....
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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Another reprint



Apologies if anybody has tried to get "The Bluestone Enigma" lately and has failed -- it's currently being reprinted and there was a glitsch at the printers, which has caused a delay.  But it should be available again next week.  This is the fifth printing -- earlier printings were in 2008, 2010, 2013 and early 2014.  I really need to revise it, since a lot has happened since 2008, when it was first published.  I'm working on it...... but the current priority is to keep it in print, to counter certain fantasies that refuse to go away.......


21 comments:

Jon Morris said...

the current priority is to keep it in print, to counter certain fantasies that refuse to go away

I like the descriptions you've started to do recently Brain I guess these background notes help to explain some of the variables that people would need to know if trying to come to a conclusion about what I guess is your site's “mission statement”: “This blog is mostly devoted to the problems of where the Stonehenge bluestones came from, and how they got from their source areas to the monument”

But a question for you if you have time: Whether from glacial debris or not, what purpose would be served by knowing anything further about Stonehenge, its purpose and/or the reason that would have caused the people of the past to decide that they must build such a thing?

TonyH said...

I recall sitting up and taking notice when you mentioned your Postgraduate Doctorate research into Glaciology in North Pembrokeshire and its possible implications for the provenance of bluestones for Stonehenge, way back in 1967 - 68, whilst listening to your Geomorphology lectures in the Appleton Theatre, Geography Department, University of Durham.

Good luck with progress with an updated edition of " Bluestone Enigma", and your continued worthy and feisty campaign to separate facts from archaeologist - spun woolly fantasy.

Myris of Alexandria said...

What with you hitting the best seller list how about bestowing some of the filthy lucre on an endowment. Say thin sections for petrography. I could find a suitable recipient.
Good for you.
M

TonyH said...

With tongue firmly in cheek, disappointed not to see you featuring in the Series, "Pembrokeshire: Coastal Lives", which has just received a BBC2 screening in 4 parts this past week, having originally been shown on BBC Wales. Featured, amongst other things, a longboat race from Fishguard/Goodwick to Newport. Perhaps you'll be in the next Series, Brian? May help your sales.

TonyH said...

How many copies of your reprint will be sent to English Heritage at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre; Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes; and Salisbury Museum? How are sales doing generally?

TonyH said...

Jon

"I am growing rich, and mean to build towers..."

Came across this quote, about the Museums of Bath, relating to the so - called folly, Beckford's Tower & Museum. It is described as the elegant, golden - topped neo - classical tower, built in 1827 by Henry Goodridge as a retreat for the brilliant writer and eccentric William Beckford. Beckford was born to great wealth and was endowed with precocious talent. He created magnificent buildings in which to store his extraordinary art, furniture and book collections.

Would some Neolithic Top Man/Men, presented with an agricultural surplus and a desire to indulge in conspicuous expenditure [as occurred in the Bronze/Iron Ages with great feasts, the remnants of which are middens] have said:

"I am growing rich, and mean to build trilithons"??



BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon -- "what purpose would be served by knowing anything further about Stonehenge..?" What a strange question! Are you seriously suggesting that the enquiring mind, with which we humans are blessed, should now be declared redundant or superfluous to requirements, on the basis that we already know enough about everything to be going on with?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- filthy lucre? I would dearly love to be filthier than I am, but the lucre never quite seems to match my expectations. These days you have to give wholesalers 45% or 50% discounts, and Amazon takes 60% whether you like it or not -- so the margins are very tight indeed. You need to sell 10,000 copies to start making some reasonable money from a book like this -- and my sales are nowhere near that. Probably around 6,000 so far. The book does seem to be selling quite well at Stonehenge -- 100 copies ordered within the last 2 months from Gardners, the wholesalers -- I imagine they are destined for EH and the new Visitor Centre.

It would indeed be a good idea to get more thin sections done, but on what? All those bluestone orthostats waiting to be sampled -- I wonder if a kind druid will smuggle in a geological hammer beneath his robe on the next auspicious event, and do a bit of secretive stone bashing on behalf of science while waiting for the sun to rise?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tony -- nice reference to the eccentric and his tower. That all has a distinct resonance. I like it!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for the info about that series, Tony. Missed it while we were away. Must see if it is on iPlayer. They don't often return to feature folks who have been on BBC Wales documentaries before. My wife and I were featured in "The Man from Angel Mountain" a few years ago, in the series called "Land of Dreams." That was all about my novels -- not about the Stonehenge story.

Jon Morris said...

Are you seriously suggesting that the enquiring mind, with which we humans are blessed, should now be declared redundant or superfluous to requirements, on the basis that we already know enough about everything to be going on with?

Not at all Brian, but there are many things of which one could enquire and some of these things produce economic or social benefits.

For example, an inquiry into a new drug could yield a tangible economic benefit to society. If the potential economic benefit is large enough, funders may be willing to put up assets based on the possibility that an answer could be found.

Social benefit, though not producing a direct yield for the investors, can be quantified in terms of economic benefit. For example the Stern Review (especially the appendix to chapter 2) quantified the rationale behind the costs of risks from climate change, allowing Government a reasonable basis with which to put forward legislative changes.

Some other enquiries have a low probability of benefit. For example, if a computer game is set up for the curious mind, playing it can be a rewarding experience. But activities that have no potential for benefit, other than the interest of players already interested, are often classified as non-productive: They serve little or no purpose because there is little benefit resulting from the activity.


The question is more about potential benefits of this specific type of research rather than any other: This is a question I've asked many people and I suppose it applies to archaeology in general. But I haven't as yet come across a coherent argument for benefit.

Is it just a non-productive activity?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon, how do you measure the societal benefit of art? Paintings, poetry, music? On a more pragmatic level, research grants used to be awarded for things deemed to be "frivolous" on the basis that you never knew what might come out them. This was brought home to me when I was given a NATO research grant in Iceland for a project that seemed pretty esoteric -- all to do with old ice edge oscillations, strandlines and landslides -- in 1973. I was surprised -- but they know, even then, that the climate was changing and that the research might throw up something useful -- and so it transpired.

Jon Morris said...

This was brought home to me when I was given a NATO research grant in Iceland for a project that seemed pretty esoteric -- all to do with old ice edge oscillations, strandlines and landslides -- in 1973. I was surprised -- but they know, even then, that the climate was changing and that the research might throw up something useful -- and so it transpired.

Aye, but even with that rather esoteric investigation, you knew there might be a societal benefit and, perhaps in a very rough and ready manner, what that benefit might be.

We can't really say the same about Stonehenge, or can we?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Of course we can, Jon. New scientific methods, for a start. and -- who knows? -- society may just benefit if some archaeologists learn how to think and work scientifically.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

For me the issue is simple and consequential. What kind of people would we be if we did not value and respect the Truth?

Our commitment to Truth and sensible Reason defines who we are. Just as our need to believe in fantasies defines who we are and can only be. I side with Truth. And Truth has no sides or qualifications.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Truth isn't quite that simple, Kostas. Remember the famous Fox News case, where the judge ruled that truth can be whatever you want it to be (or rather, whatever Fox News wants it to be).

Jon Morris said...

Of course we can, Jon. New scientific methods, for a start. and -- who knows? -- society may just benefit if some archaeologists learn how to think and work scientifically.

Most of the 'new' methods used in archaeology seem to be seconded from other industries. For example, laser scanning might be new to archaeology, but it isn't new elsewhere. Even the most famous discovery; radio carbon dating, was a result of earlier research into nuclear detection. Are there any new scientific methods, giving spin-offs for other industries, that have directly resulted from archaeological projects?

The potential for unexpected spin-offs is always good, but you can say this about almost anything, so those projects which have a potential known benefit are more likely to get funding.

So I'm not sure you can blame archaeologists for not being at the forefront of science. Even if they wanted to be, the funding isn't there: As far as I can tell, nobody has established a coherent primary benefit to society in doing this type of research.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Though truth may not be so simple, Truth is!

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Forensic archaeology. A direct and quite lucrative spin off, not that I would enjoy a day excavating a recent death pit.
Raise high the roofbeams carpenters....
M

Jon Morris said...

Forensic archaeology.

I guess that could count as a new scientific method Myris. It's a little like 'forensic engineering'; using Engineering knowledge combined with Forensic techniques. Though a cynic would say that this isn't really new at all, just a re-branding of things that already exist.

TonyH said...

Perhaps you should publish "Bluestone Enigma" in various languages, to reflect what English Heritage does for its Stonehenge handbook. Swedish might be a straightforward start; also German. Spanish and French would also attract an audience amongst the Stonehenge Visitor Centre coach parties. And how about Chinese? Loads seem to be descending upon Bath, for example, this year.