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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Rhosyfelin -- report on MPP's 17th September talk

 The end of the rhyolite spur and the clutter of fallen blocks, till and fluvio-glacial materials around it.  This is presumably what is now referred to, in all seriousness, as "the forecourt"...........

Since I was unable to attend the talk last evening at Castell Henllys, we have (not for the first time) had to depend on our freelance roving reporter network.  I'm grateful to Davey for the following report.  I'll put other comments in another post.

Davey said...

I attended the talk tonight and it followed the the expected line of a look at the stones at Stonehenge, the Bluestones, the spotted dolerites, the evidence linking them to west Wales etc. A slide appeared a few time which showed the alternate routes the stones may have traveled overland and via the coast to get to their current positions.

There was not one word about a glacial context to this, it was accepted that human transportation was the way in which they moved.

He was excited by what had turned up in the last few days of digging, firstly there was the forecourt at Rhosyfelin, there were slides indicating a shallow bowl containing rock clutter and in and around this he said that there were at least three standing stones, all packed at their respective bases by other smaller stones. The purpose of these standing stone was to act as fulcrum to stones being prised off the cliff face. The evidence being crush marks on the top of these stones.

I assume this is the so-called "fulcrum" of little standing stones supposed to have been used as levers for getting larger stones off the cliff face.  There are no crush marks, and there is nothing to suggest to me that these are anything but chunks of rhyolite in their natural positions.  When you take away other stones and debris from around stones like these, you create an artifice, as the archaeologists should know full well.....  This is not the first time they have done this at this site.  Think railway lines, pillars and props.....

He said that they had made a very important discovery, underneath that large slab in the foreground, they had found that it was resting on a man made terrace and in this terrace was upturned basket shaped lumps of earth and stone. He was particularly excited by these and the way he talked suggested that they were created in a similar fashion to making sandcastles on the beach. 

Is this the "man made terrace" or slide, made with piles of earth and stone?  The strings seem to have been used to show some sort of route leading from the "abandoned orthostat" down onto the valley floor.  The flights of fancy become more and more exotic by the day.....

He said that they had found the course of the river in the area of your picture and he said that there is a semi circular line of stones which was obviously man made, he described it as a revetment and went on say that it could once have been a jetty, not for putting these 2 ton stones on rafts to float down the river, it was obviously far too shallow, but to load on to sledges to carried further north.

View from the spur end down into the current dig area.  Is this the "shallow bowl" containing standing stones?  Or is this where there is supposed to be a man-made semi circle of stones referred to as a "revetment" or jetty?  Can't see any of these things?  No, neither can I.........

He dated the stones coming off the cliff to 3300 years (I think BC!).

His big reveal update was the possibility of finding the new welsh henge at Bayvil, not far from Castell Mawr (which he ruled out as iron age). He described it as a segmented ? (cant recall exactly what, but there is a nice photo of a segmented ditch in a photo he showed taken by Dr Toby Driver). There had been some preliminary digging there in the last few days and they had found some pot shards (plain ware) and what he described as the best flint scraper he had ever seen and that this flint had been mined from elsewhere ad was likely to be neolithic in age. He did say that it was very early days but he was hopeful of undertaking further digs at Bayfil in the coming seasons.

He said that the importance of Bayfil is that could be the place where the Bluestones were placed for up to 400 years before they were moved lock, stock and barrel to Wessex.

That was the essence of the talk. He talked briefly about Carn Goedog and that he had discovered the sockets where 5 stones had been taken from, he showed some (rather unconvincing) slides around this.

He and some of his team that were there at the talk were still in their muddy dig clothes because of the excitement of the finds being made these last few days and delays in getting off site.

There were no difficult questions posed by the audience to his talk that last approximately 50 minutes.

He did refer to a talk in Haverfordwest on 15 November (archaeological day?) in which he will update on his progress further.

There was scant information on evidence to back up his claims and you were correct in that there was indeed a large amount of speculation.

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