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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Incorrigible Quarry Hunters turn up at Carn Goedog



You have to admire them -- they don't give up, do they?  Quite determined, they are, to find a quarry somewhere or other, to satisfy their leader and prove their ruling hypothesis.....

Anyway, there I was, strolling along up on Preseli yesterday, communing with nature, when I spotted a strange object in the distance, near Carn Goedog.  It looked like a rock sticking up out of the ground.  A NEW rock, since I couldn't remember one being in that precise location before.  So I pottered off to investigate, and lo and behold, it was a toilet tent, complete with toilet.  First I thought it might have been intended for the stewards or the runners in Ras Beca (a tough cross-country race that was held a couple of weeks ago in this area), but then I saw that there was a large pile of soil nearby, and a substantial hole in the ground.  So the quarry hunters have been at it again, up here on the side of Carn Goedog  -- probably following up on MPP's speculation that a longish stone embedded in the turf here was another "proto-orthostat" left behind, like the one at Rhosyfelin, for some unknown reason....... (Is an abandoned orthostat a prerequisite for demonstrating a quarry, I wonder?)



In the col on the southern flank of the tor the diggers have dug in four places, as far as I can see.  The first three pits have been filled in and abandoned, presumably because there was nothing remotely interesting in them.  On the image points 1 and 2 mark the earliest excavations, very close together.  Point 3 marks a separate dig, a few metres to the east. 

The newest pit (marked 4) was still open yesterday.  It's about 9m x 4m in extent, running right up to the rock face of the tor.  The diggers have gone down to 20-30 cm in places and have thrown aside scores of smallish stones (ie small enough for one or two people to carry), exposing the larger ones to view.  The large "orthostat" Targetted by MPP proves to be about 3m long and it's a very strange shape indeed with one end broad and flattened -- quite unsuitable for use as a monolith.  There are no traces of surface "working" anywhere on the stone or anywhere else for that matter -- which is of course not surprising.  What we have here, as at Rhosyfelin, is a random assortment of broken and fallen stones, many of which might have been pushed over the crest of the tor by ice moving in from the N or NW.  Others have fallen naturally down the rock face -- the whole flank of the tor is a shambles of fallen and wedged blocks of all shapes and sizes.


A hollow dug by sheep in the hillside near Carn Goedog.  Note the thin dark surface layer of peaty soil, and beneath that the foxy red "ironpan" which is typical of this area, resting on the top of a rubbly regolith made of frost-shattered bedrock with glacial inclusions.

As far as the sediments are concerned, the diggers have gone through the surface layer of dark peaty soil down into the foxy red hardpan and gleyed layer which is typical right across this landscape.  Dig anywhere on Preseli and you will find it.  I hope to goodness that they don't refer to it as a "surface" or a "floor".........  if they do, the pedologists will get very upset.  They have dug deeper into it in one or two places, but there seems to be nothing of particular interest, apart from some streaky darker layers here and there. This again is typical of soils on Preseli.



The most interesting feature of the dig thus far is right up against the rock face, where a smallish vertical column of rock is almost detached from the rock face.  It's far too small (about 1.2 m long) ever to have been thought of as an orthostat.   It has at its lower end a horizontal crack, which was just about at ground level before the diggers took away the vegetation and soil.  Somebody, at some stage, has chipped away a chunk from the crack.  And maybe 20 cms below that piece of damage there is a horizontal round hole drilled straight into the bedrock.  Those features are not new -- they are slightly weathered.  My guess is that they were left by the OU team who took rock samples from here in 1989, or maybe by Richard Bevins or one of his colleagues?  From the weathering, they look as if they might be about 25 years old.  Or maybe, if the geologists all deny responsibility, the damage was done by the good people of the Velindre Farchog Chapel, who are on the record as having used outcrops in these parts as quarries when they wanted nice facing stone for the facade of their chapel........

Anyway, I won't show any photos of the dig, out of respect for the excavation team who will no doubt publish their own in due course, when they report on their futile quarry hunt up here in the wilds of Preseli.........

Postscript:  Today (10th September) the excavation was filled in again, leaving the site looking more or less as it did before.......

2 comments:

Alex G said...

Hi Brian
Rather a lot of posts to read lately, Can't work out from them, if any actual evidence of quarrying has been revealed?

BRIAN JOHN said...

The short answer, from me, is No. At least, not from what I could see in the hole that was open when I looked at it. The long answer, from the archaeologists, is eagerly awaited........