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Monday, 22 December 2014

The Blick Mead "slate" microlith


This is the minute Mesolithic microlith found at Blick Mead  -- not much bigger than a penny piece but now apparently invested with mighty significance for reasons that are not too difficult to discern......

Here is the article:

http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/vespasians-camp-cradle-of-stonehenge.htm

According to the article, Barry Bishop (described as a "lithics expert") "...........also highlighted the fact that we have some tool types which are usually found outside Wiltshire, such as Horsham points, typically associated with the 8th millennium BC. Most intriguingly, we also recovered a small worked slate point shaped like a microlith: the only prehistoric slate tool we know of ever discovered in the UK. By itself this would be interesting, but the fact it was found in a Mesolithic context just over a mile from Stonehenge makes it very significant. Tim Darvill says the slate is a kind of metamudstone, which would make the tool more durable. We are still trying to determine the provenance of the stone. There is no slate in the Stonehenge area – indeed, the nearest source we know of is in north Wales. It could have been fashioned from glacial erratic, though we are not aware of any such slate erratics in the vicinity. The alternative is that this points to a significant movement of people and ideas, pre-dating what went on at Stonehenge by thousands of years. All signs point to this site being regarded as a special place to gather."

I find this rather intriguing -- if it has not come from a glacial erratic, "this points to a significant movement of people and ideas, pre-dating what went on at Stonehenge by thousands of years."

Somebody must be joking -- or do they really feel that this sort of grandiose conclusion can be drawn from a minute fragment of something as yet unidentified, without any other clue as to where it came from or how it travelled from source to resting place?  No wonder so many of us feel that archaeology has moved from science into the realm of bedside stories and fairy tales......

See also Tim Daw's posts about other Mesolithic sites in the area:
http://www.sarsen.org/2013/01/mesolithic-finds-at-countess-farm.html

Maybe the Blick Mead site is less unique than the authors would like us to believe?






55 comments:

Myris of Alexandria said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
M

TonyH said...

At least the Blick Mead Men (and, no doubt, Women), acknowledge that the small worked slate point "COULD have been fashioned from glacial erratic, though we are not aware of any slate erratics in the vicinity".

At least this is a minor, albeit possibly grudging concession to the Glacial Movement hypothesis!


But they only give us the TWO options, just two alternatives, the other one involving a Marco Polo type Mesolithic trek, or a Ho Chi Min trail from We - Know - Where, i.e. misted Mount Olympus near
where Brian John and Geoffrey W live in N Pembrokeshire.

The parable of needing faith no
bigger than a mustard seed comes to mind.

Tim Darvill gave plenty of emphasis on his alleged Mesolithic metamudstone quarrying activity
uncovered by him and Geoff around Carn Meini, and provided some references to other metamudstone human workings in Wales too. TD is very keen on providing lengthy bibliographies at the end of his articles; and has indeed constructed a comprehensive Stonehenge Landscape Bibliography which we can look at online.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

What is the probability such a microlith could have formed naturally?

Mmmmmmmm....... I thought so! And from N Wales too!

What was it about Wales that all the stones at Stonehenge came from? Why no stones from London, for example? Surely there were plenty of good stones in closer vicinity to Stonehenge to be had!

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas, we have missed you and your unique slant on the Stonehenge story.
Welcome back
M

TonyH said...

There is a very comprehensive article in the very latest edition of Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, Volume 107, 2014:-

Mesolithic settlement near Stonehenge: excavations at Blick Mead, Vespasian's Camp, Amesbury, by DAVID JACQUES & TOM PHILLIPS, PP 7 -27

The article has contributions from Peter Hoare, Barry Bishop*, Tony Legge and Simon Parfitt.

* Lithic Studies Society

Myris of Alexandria said...

Is that the edition with the latest Offering from the pet rock boys and
Guest stars.Andy Gize or last year's.
I thought the ferret club news came out in Feb
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Barry Bishop is a flint specialist.
We don't hear so much about the two flint votive ducks.
M

TonyH said...

Correction to my previous comment: Tim Darvill produced a Research Activity in the Stonehenge Landscape, 2005 - 12, raher than a book/ articles bibliography. No doubt he has continued to maintain this from his base amongst the dunes at Bournemouth University.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- this is not new stuff -- material published over the last couple of years.

TonyH said...

Brian - re your "new stuff" comment to Myris. My last referece is very current and post - dates your main Post. I am still trying to digest it, aurochs and all!

Myris of Alexandria said...

So is the new ferret club news out??
M

TonyH said...

The newest "ferret club" WANHS Mag, Myris, is Volume 107. 2014.It reached its astounded punters around September 2014. Its editor, Andrew Reynolds of UCL, is bowing out and it is Mooted(pun, Myris!) that Assistant Editor Stuart Brookes is taking over the reins of any remaining subdued yet still feral aurochs as well as the editorial post.
What's this about votive ducks? Are they from Derbyshire?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Puns we have Hundreds! Of them.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Do you not remember the nonsense about a child finding two naturally shaped flints that looked a little like plastic bath ducks.
Said to be votive offering to the local duck goddess. We Egyptians like our Gods but baulk at worshipping bits of old stone.
Almost as bad as the recent Polish meteorite shaman story- the meteorite is a bit of marcasite from the local chalk. There is someone with much (duck) egg on their face.
At duckie jokes kosher anymore is that even RP?
A brave New world and so many deltas within it.
M

TonyH said...

What, broadly speaking, may we expect in ferret club news 2015 from Any Gize? Is this the same guy/Gize who has analysed soft tissue remains of a U.S. dinosaur (and I don't mean a former President)?

Miss Mavis Davies, Treorchy said...

A quote from the article ------

"We are still trying to determine the provenance of the stone. There is no slate in the Stonehenge area – indeed, the nearest source we know of is in north Wales."

What about the Rosebush Slate Quarry that operated from 1842 until the end of the century.
You know the village of Rosebush, at the foot of the Preseli Hills.

Myris of Alexandria said...

We do not know if it is slate. The macroscopical description has not been verified by a competent authority.
The closest 'slates' may be Devonian or even the killas.
The latte are both Cornish and Devonian/Carboniferous.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

I am not certain he is a well known/ respected organic geochemist/petrologist.
M

TonyH said...

For the avoidance of doubt, my last comment should have said ANDY Gize, not Any Gize.

Neither is he Any Giza, as Myris has assured us he is well respected.

Myris of Alexandria said...

He produced photos of and explained some very strange organic matter recognised in orthostat 38.
We shall have to await publication in the ferret news.
The he is, of course, Andy Gize (there is a diacritical Mark above the z). Any Gize, of whom I know little, does not have this additional distinction.
M

TonyH said...

So did English Heritage permit sampling of the Orthostat 38? I have lost track of The Story So Far....

Myris of Alexandria said...

No the samples are from the OU samples drilled in the late 1980s.
Only 35 and 34a have been sampled this century.
M

TonyH said...

So suddenly, the Open University, who were responsible for the start of the Blick Mead, Vespasian's Camp springhead excavations, is taking a central stage in Matters Greater Stonehenge. The Man in the Street will be delighted! The everyday archaeology enthusiast, perhaps best represented by jobbing actor turned Knight, Tony Robinson (he first got interested in archaeology through Extra - Mural classes in Bristol), will be chuffed if a further secret of Stonehenge area comes to light in this way!

TonyH said...

The two most recent Posts of December 23rd, 2013 and November 20th, 2013 which mention standing orthostat 38, seem to be slightly at odds with one another as regards there being any identified debitage of this orthostat. Please could we have some clarification about whether or not debitage similar to orthostat 38 has been identified by Messrs Ixer & Bevins.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Await with admixed fear and joy the 2015 pet rockboys ferret club offering starring any old giza.
Or you could read the Brutish Archaeology article.
Or I could refrain from my favourite mantra, rtpl!, and tell you.
But I shall not.
Read Brutish Archaeology, words spoken in 2013 're superseded.
M
Yes rare but 6 - 10 small bits it is in 2015 paper.

TonyH said...

Please could Myris of Mesopotamia or elsewhere give us the issue number of the British Archaeology 2013 or is it a 2014 article he alluded to? My Brutish Arch's are scattered to the Four Winds in true Grecian style, so knowing which issue (also, is it written by his close acquaintance R. Ixer and/ or Bevins??) would be a great leap forward in this Election Year.... UKIP if you want to, this blogger's not for voting thataway, always preferred Mr Chattaway, RIP, but, alas, never resided in his Constituency which MAY have fallen into the Noth Sea.

Myris of Alexandria said...

To those of us who live in the minds of the Gods 2013 2014 is a bagatelle.
It is the 2014 Brutish Archaeology, it is online on Dr Ixer's academia website, so potentially saving yokels their scrumpy money.
The problem with the pet rock boys publishing so much so quickly is keeping track. Sometimes I fear bemused admiration is the only correct and apt response.
So BA September 2014 is correct.
M
Mesopotamia I have yet to visit and sadly the time for visiting Magi has passed.

maurice of Mesopotamia said...

Ah now I see your confusion
The 2013 superseded words were from the debitage dilemma paper. Comments in that paper about SH 38 debitage although true/believed at that time have turned to be incorrect.
Have you read the spoof Bored of the Rings? Think of the magic pool and its prophecy about The Titanic.
M

TonyH said...

Looks like Myris (who will no doubt be watching the 4-parter on the Nile tonight) is saying, in his last comment, that the 2013 British Arch article's words are now superseded. Myris, please confirm.... we will therefore have to await the WANHS mag volume for 2015, which probably will reach its excited readership when the next Christmas lights go on...?*!*!

Myris of Alexandria said...

There is no 2013 Brutish Archaeology, it is 2014 and by and very large that is still true.
It is the comment in the debitage dilemma paper saying no debitage has been recognised from SH 38 that is no longer correct and the correction will appear giza-like in the ferret club news I had hoped this or next month.
I shall write to the new editor and find out, deadlines where as normal.
I shall indeed watch the four parter.
I fully expect fiery fireworks long before next winter. And such a lightening of the skies there will be. But like Cassandra beloved of Sublime Apollo,will this warning be heeded.
M

TonyH said...

Cassandra? Ah, I well remember Mamma Cass Elliott, what a chanteuse, she gave new meaning to the expression "dominated the stage", but, while Cass truly captured the ear, 'twas Michelle who caught most eyes in the days of "If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears..."
Not sure whether either has hippily hitch - hiked to Stonehenge.
What we need is MUCH
more ferreting for debitage all over the Greater Stonehenge landscape, surely!! I am, of course, speaking erratically, in the geomorpholological sense. What say you, Brian?

Kosta Dean said...

Dear Myris,

There is no dilemma with the debitage in the Stonehenge Layer that match any of the Stonehenge stones. The dilemma is with the debitage in the Stonehenge Layer that do not match any of the Stonehenge stones!

What does Sublime Apollo have to say about that?

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

I agree with as wide a selection of material as possible and to that end the pet rock boys have been plundering the Stonehenge Environs material plus trying to uncover other museum collections.
The great tragedy is that the bluestone debitage excavated from the half of Stonehenge that has been done were lumped together uncontexted and reburied just outside the circle.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Dear Kostas
Essentially there is not any. It all matches (probably) the lost/buried orthostats.
Apart from axe-heads from mad axe groups I and VII there is not a lot of bluestones. Most of the exotic stones found close or at the surface are post 1900AD in origin.
Midlands road stone,Leicestershire dolerite (railway ballast) and healing crystals from demented New age loopies.
The pet rock boys have sectioned them all.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Loved Mama Cass more than Ms Joplin.
Those were the days my friend.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

"Probably" matching lost/buried orthostats does not a dilemma resolve! "Sampling" the stones might! Any luck with that yet? Or EH is still too protective of what may be the "inconvenient" Truth here!

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

The latest word from those who best know or know best? Is that EH are exercised over VC,namely this thread and that the tunnel is also distracting them.
However EH is being constantly made aware of the need for such sampling.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

As a child from the 60s you know VC is Viet Cong. Are you saying Brian's blog is equally subversive of state interests?

If EH was interested in resolving this "debitage dilemma" (your words) all they need to do is let you sample! What are they afraid of? The truth?

Kostas

TonyH said...

"McGuinn and Maguire
Couldn't get no higher
But that's what they were aiming at,
And nobody is getting fat
'cept Mama Cass"

Saw Roger McGuinn (72) in concert recently.....
Still getting higher. Excellent. Recommended.

Lives in Florida, his wife told me. Seen him around, Kostas? He's, of course, the man who made Dylan's songs sound in tune.

Myris of Alexandria said...

I am afraid I chanted hey hey LBJ
How many kids you killed today.

In this case VC stands for Vespasian's Camp.

I agree with you I know the pet rock boys would sample everything. EH are slow to react.

Sadly I have not seen master Dylan live. Rosie met him and was unimpressed, she also genuinely was at the Freetrade Hall in Manchester
When Dylan did a non-acoustic second set and all hell let loose.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony,

Roger McGuinn stopped coming around decades ago! Ever since I started listening to Bela Bartok. Maybe Myris still concerts with him.

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

At one time Dylan spoke for me. Now I speak for myself. Not so much music but musings of many variety. Though I occasionally still have (real) dreams where music fills my sleep.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Personally, never did understand why Bob Dylan was so popular..... give me a thunderous Shostakovich symphony any day.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Bella Bartok "lazlo feyer" Bert Lloyd
I saw him in Dublin do a gig, him, his tape recorder and unique voice.
Kostas Master Dylan spoke for us all and Joan Baez was the voice. Hear her "silver dagger".
Time for Ruttie to give his impro speech at the end and release the dove. I fear.
The next pet rock boys paper is expected April/ May.
M

chris johnson said...

Dylan? Its the poetry. Got reacquainted with "Blood on the tracks" over Christmas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Happy Christmass Kostas.
I hope there will be much for you to comment upon this year
M
Blood on the tracks YES.
Rosie has an album entitled Stopped in my Tracks so the pun is well-used.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris, Myris

"Desire", the follow up album to "Blood on the Tracks", was my favorite. And of it, "Sara" humanized the rebel outcast to make him ordinary, and therefore great! I haven't listened to Dylan since.

Kostas

TonyH said...

Agree Joan Baez a wonderful Dylan interpreter. But no one has yet mentioned W Wales' Dylan. Brian?!

Kostas, perhaps you don't like Folk Music?, but anyway, Roger McGuinn, still touring all over USA and Europe, is these days also well respected for his work with "Olde Tyme" folk artists who he records as part of his "Folk Den Treasures" stuff. Roger could, I'm sure, write us an Ode to Stonehenge and All its Rascals. Myris and Rosie, whilst in London one w/e, I accidentally stumbled upon the great Joan Baez taking part in a big impromptu Anti - War gathering in Trafalgar Square in the late '60's. These days, my favourite female folk singer is Ireland's Cara Dillon (no
relation, sorry Bob, different spelling, you see?).

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not sure what any of this has got to do with slate microliths -- unless it was really a slate thingymajig for plucking guitar strings with.....?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony,

I do like folk music! I just don't listen to it much anymore.

Kostas

TonyH said...

Connection with slate? As Myris has already mentioned, Bob was heavily SLATED for forsaking the ACOUSTIC sounds (a la Stonehenge and its acoustic devotees from t'University of t'Huddersfield and so on) and going electric at the Freetrade Hall, Manchester. [And that word you were looking for, Brian, is plectrum.] It was no doubt Roger McGuinn who turned Dylan on to electric guitars in the first place,as it was his band, the Byrds, who "Beatleised" ' Mr Tambourine Man', 'Chimes of Freedom', 'My Back Pages' and many more. Thus began Dylan's psychedelic phase, and experimentations with hallucinogenic drugs - another obvious parallel with our Neolithic and early Bronze Age ancestors who built Stonehenge primarily because it was "far out, man, and they'll never dig why we built it!" The Truth, Kostas,was those Good Ol' Boys were heavily spaced out, so went for a heavily spaced out monument.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony,

The sensible Truth is "far out" seen from outer space. But makes perfect sense for those few with their feet on the ground.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

I am told the Presceli is noted for mind expanding herbal remedies, dreaming stones, and visions.

Tony may be close to the truth..

TonyH said...

Agreed, Kostas! And those with their feet on the ground who are able to see the Truth from afar? You are clearly referring to most of us Bloggers as well as most Yorkshire men (and women). Also Nanci Griffith: "From a Distance" songwriter.

Meanwhile, hot off the Wiltshire BBC n
Newspress:- Stonehenge's new Airman's Cross car park is about to be enlarged due to traffic hold - ups affecting the local road network. Archaes are excavating the intended area in case of prehistoric (or Richard III?) remains. Trowel carefully, boys and girls.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

So Chris, is that the latest best explanation for Stonehenge? Preseli psychedelics?

Tony, with feet well planted on the ground, you can see the truth from anywhere.

Kostas