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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Scheduled Ancient Monument status for Rhosyfelin? Somebody must be joking....


 
 The scheduling of Ancient Monuments in Wales.  In the case of Harlech Castle, nice and easy........

... and in the case of Rhosyfelin, fascinating geology and geomorphology, and not a lot else.


A few weeks ago I learned that somebody (still not sure who) has submitted a request to Cadw for Craig Rhosyfelin to be given Scheduled Ancient Monument status.  I almost fell off my chair when I heard that, since the request must be based on the fact that this is a "Neolithic Quarry" and since not a scrap of evidence has ever been seen by anybody which supports that designation.

So behind the scenes I have pleaded with the National Park, Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Cadw and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) to reject that application out of hand, so as to avoid the possibility that a lot of people will end up looking very stupid indeed.  At last I have received an assurance from a senior staff member at Cadw that nothing precipitate will be done, and that "we only recommend sites for protection when we are satisfied that they meet the criteria for scheduling as a monument of national importance."

She continued:  "In carrying  out a scheduling evaluation we take account of all available information including excavation and other reports, undertake our own site inspection to confirm that the remains meet with our expectations and consult with relevant specialists including the Welsh Archaeological Trusts and Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales, as appropriate. In addition, we have internal processes to ensure that all recommendations are seen by a Senior Inspector of Archaeology."

So there is some reassurance there, and while the application for scheduling has not been thrown out there seems to be an awareness that extreme care needs to be taken in this case.  We shall see how things evolve.  What I am still unsure about is the height of the bar when it comes to evidence.  How strong and how well verified does that evidence need to be, and what is required in the way of peer-reviewed or independently assessed reporting?  And are the experts involved in the assessment process capable of separating out assertions and speculations from incontrovertible data collected in the field?  Of course, we have to assume that they are.......

Here are the key points which I brought to the attention of Cadw:

1.  There is not a single article in the peer-reviewed literature which presents objectively the "evidence" upon which the quarry hypothesis is based.

2.  The only references I have been able to find are in Parker Pearson's Stonehenge book (2012) which was of course not peer reviewed, and assorted talks and popular articles designed for public consumption.  They are full of assertions and speculations, and are significantly lacking in hard evidence.

3.  There have been no internal progress reports or summaries of the dig findings for each excavation season circulated to project partners or to other interested parties.  That may or may not be acceptable to funding organizations -- but it does mean that there is currently no way of assessing how reliable the project's "ruling hypothesis" may be.

4.  In spite of many samples being taken away for analysis, and many being submitted for radiocarbon dating, no C14 dates have been published, and no sample results have been placed in the public domain.  Even the project partners are in the dark as to what is going on.

5.  I think I am right in saying that not a single professional geomorphologist has been invited by Prof Parker Pearson and his team to look at the site, analyse the sediments or comment on the nature of the materials exposed during the digging process.  That is a great pity, since I assume that there has not been a single "restraining" voice in the discussions between archaeologists at the dig -- who do of course have a tendency to see entirely natural phenomena as being man-made.

6.  I have made many visits to the site, and I have not yet seen ANYTHING which convinces me of human intervention at Rhosyfelin, apart, maybe, from a small hearth which might have been used over a long period of time by camping / hunting parties.

39 comments:

TonyH said...

Michael Parker Pearson is to Rhosyfelin and its glacial and general geomorphology rather as "Buffalo Bill" William Cody was to the unromantic reality of life at the Western Frontier of the U.S.A. for European immigrants and Native Americans, also long after the event.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Were the Rhosyfelin site be given ”Scheduled Ancient Monument” status, would that then prevent you (and others) from snooping around there for evidence to the contrary?

If so, this then may be the real reason for seeking this. And likely get it!

In some ways, Brian, I think you may be a little too naive and trusting of ”professionals” being committed to Objective Truth and Sensible Reason as you (and I) are.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ancient Monument status provides statutory protection for a site -- in case anybody wants to smash it up, bulldoze it down, or build a Tesco supermarket on it. It doesn't prevent public access -- and here that would be impossible anyway because of the public footpath designation.

But scheduling, in the unlikely event of it happening, would show Cadw to be very silly indeed.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

If Rhosyfelin was given Ancient Monument status, would that then require first obtaining approval before accessing the site and digging for evidence? Like is the case for Stonehenge? And so likely make objective research at Rhosyfelin as controlled and unlikely as Stonehenge?

I have my reasons for thinking so! Call me cynical!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

You have a good point there, Kostas. You may well be right.

Jon Morris said...

Interesting that they have done it.

If an application is made for a place to be scheduled, does anyone know if that application puts any legal duty on the owners of the land to stop modification of the relevant land while a determination is made?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

In the eventuality Rhosyfelin be designated an Ancient Monument (and so be restricted to independent object research), I suggest you take you own samples that could provide some C14 dates MPP keeps hidden from the world.

But make sure you document the samples by having a group of unassailable witnesses and video recordings.

Kostas

Alex G said...

Do those who've made the application have to provide the evidence for its scheduling, with their application?

Are the public allowed to see the evidence as part of the scheduling process? Like they do with planning applications?

perhaps they'll let you see it?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Alex,

I'll go on record and say the application contains the published papers of Ixer et al and not much more! And that would make Dr Ixer complicit in this fabrication of Prehistory!

Certainly no C14 dates which I am convinced will prove MPP's "quarry theory " is wrong!

In other words, what we already know coming from MPP and nothing else new!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Hang on a bit, Kostas -- we don't know who submitted the application -- and they can cite anything they like in support of it. You can't blame the researchers whose works are cited for the sins / foolishness of the applicant.......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Can we at least find out who made the application? Or is this privileged information to protect the perpetrators. And not disrupt the process until it's too late for sensible reason to prevail.

Know of any designated Ancient Monuments which latter became declassified as such?

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas the papers of Dr Ixer et al are important and carry the TRUTH.
By definition they are therefore pure and free of all wrong doing.
Like the lotus leaf all stupidity all vileness (thank the Gods the adverb is not validity) is sloughed off.
Kostas you are sometimes very silly,often bizarre but always an early morning diversion.
Dr Ixer is also very concerned about the down grading of Kew Gardens by the present government,
Does that make him implicit in the decay of the fabric of the Manaus opera house?
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Too early, they are abstract nouns not adverbs ......again bct.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

For the record, I have asked who submitted the application. I have also asked for a sight of it, since if it is not in the public domain, it jolly well should be......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

You write, ” the papers of Dr Ixer et al are important and carry the TRUTH”. TRUTH requires we be truthful witnesses to it! Silence does not qualify us.

I accept this is being naive! But silly?. No!

Brian thinks “silly” is qualifying Rhosyfelin as an Ancient Monument based in large measure on the research of Ixer et al; showing some stones at Rhosyfelin match some gravel at Stonehenge.

I think this is sinister! As it seeks to restrict independent seeking of truth by controlling access to that truth.

Sorry for disturbing your morning, afternoon or evening.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas, the whole point is that the application (which I think might have come from the National Park Dept) was NOT based on the geology papers published, but on the cockeyed and unsupported assertions of certain academics from within university establishments relating to proto-orthostats, railway tracks, props, pivots, hammer stones, abrasion grooves, sockets and so forth -- none of which stand up to close scrutiny. My gripe is that fantasy seems to have entirely taken the place of hard evidence, and that certain people who should know better are so gullible as to make everything rather embarrassing......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

If the research of Ixer et al was not used as 'scientific proof' for MPP's “quarry theory” in the Application for Status submitted, it certainly was used in all other arguments by MPP and others in support of his ”quarry theory”.

My apologies to Myris in advance, if the Application for Status was not made by MPP and did not rely on the Ixer et al research.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas you do not disturb me at all but strangely enrich my life. We both search for the TRUTH.
If you have read Drs Ixer and Bevins'
last paragraph in the Brit Arch article you would know their position
On proto orthostats quarries (and everything) etc.
Once again it is the mantra Read the primary literature.
M

TonyH said...

I say again, Michael Parker Pearson is to Rhosyfelin and its glacial and general geomorphology rather as "Buffalo Bill" William Cody [who made highly profitable appearances in Britain and the Eastern Seaboard of the USA with his Wild West shows featuring various actors standing in for Cowboys and Indians etc] was to the unromantic reality of life at the Western frontier of the U.S.A. for European Immigrants and Native Americans .............. also long after the event.

Thus, the Legend of the Wild West and its Cowboys and Indians was reinforced!

At Rhosyfelin we are similarly witnessing an attempt to establish, in the rocks if not in reinforced concrete, a Hollywood, sorry, perhaps that should be National Geographic style version of Early Life in MPP's highly imaginative/imaginary Western - Britain - Linked - To - Stonehenge - and - Northern Britain - And - All - Places - In Between.

Like Dr Ixer's mouthpiece I urge you all to GO BACK AND READ THE PRIMARY LITERATURE on Buffalo Bill/ William Cody and his highly embellished life, and then the scales may fall from your eyes when you consider again Michael Parker Pearson and his treatise on what occurred at Rhosyfelin, long, long, ago.

Myris of Alexandria said...

What is wounded knee in Welsh.
There is a rather nice biography of the two just called Buffalo Bill Sitting Bull. Straight forward account.
BB earned and lost I think a fortune,
Building a town nobody wanted.
M
PS I an nobody's mouthpiece but a fully formed twice born librarian sprung from the thigh of mighty Zeus. I just channel Dr Ixer's innermost whimsy.

BRIAN JOHN said...

One does take one serious point from this whimsical discussion -- namely that certain parties (including the National Park) are rather more interested in the creation of a marketable myth than they are in real science. IF EH can do it with Stonehenge, why can't the Pembs Coast National Park do it with Castell Henllys and Rhosyfelin? Sadly, in these straightened times with reduced budgets all round, the NPA has to use whatever tricks there may be to pull in the punters and extract a few quid off them.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tell us more, Myris. What was the mighty Zeus doing in the library? Presumably that of Alexandria? Was your lovely mother a qualified librarian? Are were you born on, or under, a desk in the geology reading room? And TWICE?

Myris dimetor said...

Ah I have said too much already for who can know or dare question the actions of mighty Zeus.
On more anthropo-level
I suspect that it is some arm of the Welsh tourist board that is behind the proposed scheduling.
I was involved in the successful SSSI proposal at Parys Mountain many years ago and that was very rigorous and was (quite largely??) based on papers of my students and me.
It took some time, many meetings and lots of quite polite shouting in the field; the mining company wanted as little as possible I wanted most of the pit. I think about one third was scheduled eventually. Oh there were some odd lichens as well I think.
I would guess that EH/WH or whatever the statutory body is this week will be equally exacting.
M

Constntinos Rgazas said...

Brian,

”sprung from the thigh of mighty Zeus” reads to me ”sprung from the lap of MPP”.

Come to think of it, (and from some portraits of MPP), he does look like Zeus breathing Life into a dead end Prehistory.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not having known Zeus's thighs personally (Myris might be able to advise) I couldn't possibly comment. But a certain Indiana Jones does come to mind......

TonyH said...

STRAITENED times, not straightened ones, I say, not for the first time! I am being pedantic after my earlier whimsical offerings re BB [ who, by the way, did A Lot Of GOOD Things AND Queen Vick was greatly entertained by him back in Her Day]....... All the straightening is going on of limbs on Strictly Come Dancing as I type.

Meanwhile, Myris does seem to be in at least two minds these days.

Miss Tyring O'Dyssey said...

Tony,
I seem to remember, from some time ago, a person posting under the title 'GCU in two minds', perhaps Myris still suffers from this affliction, although I fear he's not alone.

By the way the Welsh for wounded knee is Pen-glin glwyfo.



BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tony -- I am duly straitened!

Myris of Alexandria said...

Miss Tyring
I guess the Welsh for touchee is touchee just spelled oddly.
It has been long since we heard your siren call, all well?
Yes the allure of the proto-orthostat
Waxes and wanes. Ebbing at present.
Sum up the Mesozoic,- the tide goes in and out a lot.
M

Costantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

… speaking of ”wounded knee”, is everything OK?

Best wishes,

Kostas

Miss Tyring O'Dyssey said...


19 October 2014 08:31

Myris,
My greetings to you in Alexandria,and I hope that your Rose is blooming.
Things change like the shoreline to the sea, but I feel the orthostat will rise again shortly, for overwork has left me needing an extra stone.
There is a slight confusion over the Stonehenge Cursus that is occupying some time, but the mist is clearing slowly. Swords were crossed with a fellow female residing in the Castell of the Keeper of All Monuments, but I shall prevail.

I believe the Welsh equivalent of Touche would be Allweddol, the Big Book of Words should be the reference section of your great library.

Talk soon,
Miss T.

TonyH said...

Dear Miss Tyring O'Dessey,

our minds may indeed get into quite a tizzy if we are not each completely fireproofed from the damaging effects from cyberspace.

Your mention of the Welsh for wounded knee has hit rather a sore spot in our house this week, where an NHS knee operation has had to be postponed.

Best wishes to you and all the little O'Desseys, how many is it now?

AG said...

Did like joke on HIGNFY Friday night!

"As the archies had so much fun trying to find Richard the 3rd, instead of a state funeral, why dont they hide him again?"

Myris of Alexandria said...

Many thanks Kostas yes I am fine.
Indeed I did not related my wounded knee to the famous Sitting Bull quotation. Life imitating art, who said my life is my art.
However again thank you for your kindness.
The Stonehenge Greater Cursus has been and remains a puzzle. Do explain more of your interest.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

Many of my explanations do not make it past the gatekeepers. But if you wish, I can offer these directly to you via email.

Kostas

Miss O'Dyssey said...

Dear AG,
In my country Richard the III is pronounced Richard da Turd, he is therefore known as Dick the Shit.

Dear Myris,
The Stonehenge Greater Cursus is not conforming to any recognised Neolithic surveying practice, but I fear it is too great to explain via this forum, perhaps a papyrus to your library would be a better alternative?

Miss T.O'D.

Myris said...

As is well known the Library at Alexandria makes copies of everything (written) that comes into the harbour.
Long may this continue.
M

TonyH said...

Never mind the Stonehenge Greater Cursus, we should all be more concerned about Zeus's Greater Curses, especially as our Modernistic Meteorological Maestros would have us batten down our hatches lest flying beavers and/or afanc dislodge our chim - chim - chimeneys overnight as the Beast Of Bermuda launches Himself upon us from the Atlantic.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris of two minds, twice-born and seeker of TRUTH! Why don't you ask MPP for the Rhosyfelin C14 dates?

Kostas