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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Stonehenge Lecture -- 31st January



News of a new lecture at the end of the month.  Happy to give it some publicity,  and happy to publish any reports from anybody who manages to go along........

It looks as if this is largely to do with more accurate surveying and recording and with the "visualisation" of the landscape -- so I'm not sure what this will throw up in the way of important new information which will increase our understanding of what went on, and why.    Anyway, let's wait and see......

LECTURE: The Stonehenge Landscape – 31st January

by stonehengenews

There will be a lecture by Sharon Soutar of English Heritage at Devizes Town Hall, Wiltshire, England from 2:30 pm on Saturday, 31 January 2015. 

With the construction of the new Visitor Centre at Airman’s Corner it was vital that Stonehenge and its surrounding landscape were re-presented with the fullest and most up-to-date information available. Fantastic as it may seem very few of the monuments, not even Stonehenge itself, had been surveyed to modern standards. To rectify this English Heritage set up a project to significantly enhance the record and understanding of all upstanding archaeological monuments within the World Heritage Site. The fieldwork was conducted between 2009 and 2012 and the book is nearing publication, while a number of research reports on the different areas are available through the website (see below).

The fieldwork covered just over 15% of the World Heritage Site in detail. It included Stonehenge, the Greater Cursus and all of the principal barrow cemeteries and incorporated sites later in date, such as the medieval settlement earthworks at Lake. English Heritage surveyed almost half of the known or suspected round barrows within the WHS; nearly all of those surviving as earthworks. At the same time colleagues looked at the historic buildings, added high resolution Ground Penetrating Radar [GPR] to complement earlier geophysical surveys and took new photography of the landscape and artefacts found within it. ~English Heritage also commissioned a laser scan of the stones and surrounding henge.

Sharon will describe some of the important discoveries resulting from the project and take a look at the more surprising aspects of the field archaeology in the Stonehenge landscape.

Sharon is a landscape archaeologist specialising in the survey and visualisation of heritage landscapes and data; from maps and site plans right through to infographics. After a number of years interpreting and mapping archaeology visible in aerial photographs and lidar data for different parts of England she was lucky enough to join the team investigating the Stonehenge WHS landscape.

The project webpage is: www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/landscapes-and-areas/archaeological-field-survey-and-investigation/stonehenge-landscape/

The project monograph is due for publication in the spring of 2015:
Bowden, M.C.B., Soutar, S., Field, D.J. and Barber, M.J. forthcoming. The Stonehenge Landscape. Swindon: EH.

The 1:10,000 scale map - Stonehenge and Avebury: Exploring the World Heritage Site is available in our shop www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/stonehenge-avebury-map

The various Research Department Reports are available through: research.english-heritage.org.uk

Booking:
Essential. To contact us, either:
* Tel: 01380 727369 to book and pay using credit/debit card (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm preferred)
* Send an e-mail
Visit the Wiltshire Museum website: http://www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/events/index.php?Action=2&thID=972&prev=1

80 comments:

T said...

Decent enough venue, used when lectures are likely to attract large audiences e.g. MPP, Aubrey Burl.

chris johnson said...

Very irritating that these people still live in the Victorian era it seems. Why on earth let an unknown give a hick lecture in a hick town - no disrespect to Devizes which I am confident is a lovely place - when there is a worldwide net-enabled audience eager to listen.

This is as absurd as the missive from Alexandria about the reasonableness of taking 12 months to publish tales in peer-reviewed and paywall protected publications.

Jon made the point recently about economic value. I recall a UN report from a few years ago that valued Stonehenge and related matters in the tens of BILLIONS for UK Inc. It really is overdue that UK Inc starts dealing seriously with its history instead of leaving it to boozy academics and those with a fondness for amateurish bumblings, like the old British landrover.

Hopefully one of us will turn up in Devizes and be able to report on the drips of wisdom from the leaky faucet that is English Heritage.

TonyH said...

There is a book, a research report, coming out very soon, as you will see if you read the original Post, Chris. And, for example, David Field, one of its authors, is a well - respected, recently retired landscape and field archaeologist whose investigations views are worth reading and/or listening to. He keeps his own counsel on matters Bluestone & Sarsen Stone Transport - do a search on this Blog, plenty of Posts.

Incidentally, I think quite a lot of what this talk will cover has already been "leaked" as you call it, as you will find for yourself by doing a keyword search on the Blogsite.

I seem to recall that you were happy enough to go along to hear Pied Piper Mike PP at one or two of his North Pembrokeshire - based village hall talks on what he claimed he had found at Rhosyfelin and elsewhere. That wasn't promoted via the Internet!

TonyH said...

I hope more than "one of us will turn up in Devizes" to hear this talk. The Heritage Museum is very close by, well worth a visit, with many 21st Century improvements to its interpretation panels, etc. It also boasts one of those new - fangled websites which enables those who delve into it to study many or most of its artefact collection.

Back to the talk at the Town Hall - the more the merrier! - at least, I trust those who come will be merry! - not boozey, you understand. For those who are INTENT on seeing Wiltshire as Country Bumpkin land, they can always reinforce their prejudice by listening to the burrs of (Doctor) Phil Harding, formerly of Time Team, on the "Welcome" Video.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

You write, "It really is overdue that UK Inc starts dealing seriously with its history instead of leaving it to boozy academics and those with a fondness for amateurish bumblings, like the old British landrover."

So what is the answer, Chris? Censorship? Or politics of personal destruction. How can such issues of Truth and History be handled, other than through a free and open debate?

Kostas

Wiltshire Heritage Museum said...

Thank you for the comment about Devizes being a 'hick town'. It is half-way between Stonehenge and Avebury, which means that there may some relevance.

Thank you also for the comment about Sharon Soutar being an 'unknown'. She has taken over Dave Field's role at English Heritage. Both are respected academics, rather than aiming to be TV personalities. You will be hearing a lot more from Sharon over the next few years.

Thank you also for the comment about the 'leaky faucet' - as Tony comments, there is a full acadeic publication on its way, and interim publications have been made through the wodnerful EH Research Reports series.

We have now pretty well sold all 140 tickets.

No doubt this will be featured in a TV programme in due course - though I hope it will be one that is accurate and quality assured for a change.

Thanks to Tony H for this kinds words about the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. We are one of the top 5 rated visitor attractions in Wiltshire, alongside Salisbury Cathedral and above Stourhead.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for the response -- I thought there might be one! I hasten to add that comments on this blog do not represent the opinions or attitudes of the management...!

chris johnson said...

Dear Tony,
I would hope this report is coming out soon as it covers work completed in 2012. The speed of progress makes MPP look rapid.

The book can be preordered for 60USD - a stiff ask for a 127 page paperback which also covers some narcissistic garbage like SH in the 20th century, in mediaeval times, etc. Everything about this venture breathes amateurism. They completely underestimate the level of interest.

Looking forward to your report. If I lived closer I would go too - but then it is sold out.

chris johnson said...

Dear Wiltshire Heritage Museum,

On what possible journey is Devizes half-way between Stonehenge and Avebury? For most people it is 40 minutes in the wrong direction from almost anywhere.

Now I have a lot of sympathy for people assigned to set up a museum in Devizes and probably it is very good once you get there. Still there is no need to twist the facts to suit the agenda, even though par for the Stonehenge course.

Myris of Alexandria said...

In addition without the care that the museums take in keeping their accessions available this blog would be far less interesting.
Dr ixer will repeat until the Grim Reaper takes him that it was the loan of the shoe box material by Salisbury Museum that directly led to the re-evaluation of the non-dolerite bluestones and to the discovery of CRyf with its proto-orthostat andto hours of joy in this blog and MORE to come.
Chris you are churlish and the money whinging tiresome.
Would you go mountain climbing without BUYING equipment.
The truth is academic journals and how they are run are not aimed at non-academics.The data and finding are often common knowledge One reason for conferences, (main reason to getaway and gossip) before publication but we all know not to steal or to pre-publish others work. It has worked well for a century at least and as Winney said about democracy ....
Less whinging and more reading boys. Go and buy Cleal or the fabulous Silbury Hill book and read them.
Otr get Chippendale or Darvill's book
They can be bought on ebay for pennies (plus postage). Less than a pint of beer. Actually I have no idea what a pint of beer costs
must be at least 30/-.
Devizes is a pain to be driven through, nice buildings through.
Lovely museum and better gold!!!!
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Actually I have great respect for the things by David Field that I have read, and if Sharon is a good field worker and academic, best of luck to her. In every field, as some retire, others need to take over -- and hopefully put right some of the mistakes of the past!

BRIAN JOHN said...

Excuse me, Myris! You say without thinking: "...the discovery of CRyf with its proto-orthostat...." What proto-orthostat? You have become contaminated through too much contact with archaeologists. That's a highly loaded term which implies that the big stone at Rhosyfelin was "intended" to be a pillar set in the ground by some Neolithic quarryman or megalith builder. A little more objectivity, if you please. From where I stand it's a large stone located in an area of rockfall rubble adjacent to a rocky crag. It's not a proto-orthostat until it is proved to be one -- and I have not seen a shred of evidence thus far to support that particular designation.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I recall that you said this in 2012 in a mining journal: "In September 2011, Professor Mike Parker-Pearson of Sheffield University and his team cleared the vegetation from the northern end of Craig Rhos-y-felin and excavated. They found, just a few metres from site 9, a large proto-orthostat, a large joint block set for its journey to Salisbury Plain. So the contents of a 60-year-old box led to the discovery of the first secure Stonehenge-related quarry site, confirming that man moved the bluestones." I thought that statement was highly speculative and unreliable in 2012, and I still think that, having had another three seasons of looking at the evidence on the ground.

An old friend of Myris said...

There's an old Welsh saying that goes:

"If it sounds like a fart, and it smells like a fart, then it is reasonable to conclude that it was a fart".

Proto-orthostat it is now isn't it see.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, dear friend, whatever you are, you are obviously not an earth scientist. To an earth scientist that big rockfall slab looks like a big rockfall slab, feels like one, smells like one, and sounds like one. It is therefore reasonable to assume that it is one, and that a lot of vivid imagination is being employed by certain interested parties to pretend that it is something else.

M's friend said...

At the end of the day our aunt Edna, who is as crazy as a one legged hat-stand, could look at that rock and pronounce, with great authority, that it arrived at its current location through the action of termites, and no one could argue with her, for none of us were there when the deed was done.

What is required to settle the human v glacial transport debate is:

a).a suitable rock formation, in a recognised quarry, that matches a stone, or stones, from Stonehenge, and

b). an accepted Neolithic site, containing a suitable large stone, that has travelled for a reasonable distance, and in a direction being which is directly opposed to the acknowledged bearing of flow of glacier ice in that area.

Would locating such items satisfy you that long distance transport of large stones, by humans, occurred in Neolithic times?

Myris of Alexandria said...

I think that we should all wait and see what the great and the good make of quasi-proto-orthostat. See what I do for you.
For me at present it is a potential proto-orthostat.
But the more informed voices the better. Yours is an informed opinion as are the views of the pet rock boys
But so would be quarry and mining engineers, rock mechanics.
Too few geologists have seen the site and publically expressed an opinion.
We shall see.
M
I am sorry I was cruel I did use those words to heighten your blood pressure.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't worry, Myris. Winding each other up is what keeps us amused.....

Too few geologists? Maybe. But too few geomorphologists, that's for sure. Am working on it......

BRIAN JOHN said...

M's friend -- let's forget about Aunt Edna, or I shall bring my Aunt Ethel into the debate. You would not want that.

(a) suitable rock formation? Hmm -- maybe, maybe not. Recognized quarry? Not in my book, it isn't. A matching stone or stones from Stonehenge? There aren't any, so far as we know. Maybe a stump or two, but that;'s speculation.

(b) an accepted Neolithic site? That would be nice. A suitable large stone? For what? There are masses of suitable large stones all over the place. What's a reasonable distance? And what does glacier ice have to do with it?

TonyH said...

Those persons of a somewhat sensitive disposition may well have been dismayed by, first, Myris' friend's mention, at 17.58 hrs, of the sound and odour of a fart, then a riposte by Brian, this followed quite quickly on none other than on our beloved BBC Radio 2, at approx. 19.19 hours, by an anecdote on farts involving non other than the great Edi Reader and the late John Dankworth. Really, what IS broadcasting and Blogging coming to?

Edna's Nephew said...

Brian, Aunt Edna has been laid to rest but her memory lingers.

I must apologise for not making myself clear when listing items in my previous post.
I was not referring to the large rock/proto-orthostat at Craig Rhos-y-Felin. I was showing the things that I consider would be required to provide proof that Neolithic people were capable of quarrying, and transporting, large stones over long distances.
I shall expand:
ai). A suitable rock formation ---- The beds and joints in the strata must be of sufficient magnitude to have produced a stone of the required size. This rules out flakes, debitage and so forth. Myris has preached this gospel frequently;
aii). A recognized quarry ---- there must be clear evidence of quarrying activities such as discarded hammer stones, deer antlers etc;
aiii). Matching stones from Stonehenge ----- the rock in (ai) must have a petrographical? match to a stone extant at Stonehenge.
bi). An accepted Neolithic site ---- this would be required to show that the final resting place of the large stone was Neolithic and not modern, for instance this could apply to a long barrow, for I was not referring to Stonehenge;
bii). A suitable large stone ----- again it has to be of sufficient size to rule out easily transported items;
biii). A reasonable distance ----- a distance measured in miles would show that the stone had travelled and not been simply collected and raised on site;
biv). Glaciers --- If the accepted flow of the glacier was say from north to south, and a comparison of the bedrock of the stone’s present location with the bedrock of the stones original location, showed that the large stone had travelled from south to north, ie against the flow of the glacier, then that would rule out glacial interference.
bv).I should add that a further requirement would be for the bedrock of the source to be different from the bedrock of the large stone’s final resting place.

Would you accept the quarrying and transport of large stones in Neolithic times if the above parameters were met?

Edna's Nephew said...

Tony,
I'm told that in Neolithic times a fart was an expression of endearment, but I have wondered if the sound of a big ripper, echoing around the mud hut, caused laughter or dismay.

BRIAN JOHN said...

OK -- so we are talking about principles here. I have no problem in principle with people moving large stones over modest distances in order to use them in megalithic structures. Clearly big stones have been moved and used at Stonehenge....
the question is "How far have they been moved, and across what sort of terrain?"

I have no problem either with the principle of people "quarrying" stones if they wanted to use them -- by levering them out from a rock face or levering them up from a recumbent position or taking them from a pile of rocky debris (as has apparently happened at Pentre Ifan.)

Hammer stones and antler picks found at a site might or might not have anything to do with the extraction of large stones which you might choose to refer to as "proto-orthostats." They might just be related to tool-making activity. A stone at Stonehenge and a provenance somewhere else tells us nothing about the mode of transport. I'm not sure what you mean by a "final resting place" being demonstrably Neolithic and not modern. Rockfalls and other natural processes were at work in the Neolithic as they are today, so this argument gets us nowhere. I don't understand the point about a stone of suitably large size. Glaciers -- and presumably people -- move big stones and little ones. What are you trying to say? The point about glaciers is dependent upon us knowing everything there is to know about ice movement directions -- we know the broad directions of ice movement in the UK, but we keep on getting surprises. For example, we have thought in the past that ice always flows from NW to SE across Pembs, but now I'm convinced that at one time the ice was flowing NE towards SW. See my posts about striations and erratic transport. The recent work on the Dartmoor ice cap has further confused the picture. OT Jones was always confused by the number of spotted dolerite erratics in the North Pembs - Cardigan coastal zone -- if ice carried them, they must have been transported northwards. Now we have more and more consensus on the idea of a Preseli ice cap -- so maybe there is a perfectly good explanation for northwards transport of spotted dolerites and maybe rhyolites at some stage. What is indisputable is that many erratics have zig-zagged all over the place between initial entrainment and final resting place.

As long as we adhere to the principle of Occam's Razor, we are really not much further forward. There are so many assumptions and personal preferences / interpretations built into your enumerated points that "proof of Neolithic capability" is still a very great distance away.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Speaking for myself, I am now old enough to quite enjoy being referred to as "an old fart".......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Why can't it be argued that if Neolithic people had the knowledge and technology and social organization to transport a megalith a distance of 20 miles, by scaling up ten fold the time, effort and manpower they could have carried the same megalith 200 miles? I really do not see the logic of your argument here!

As for principles of transport the one that seems to be exclusively determinant is if stone bits can be found in a place that do not match any megaliths also found at the place, than Nature brought such stone debris there!.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Nothing more complex than the cost / benefit ratio, Kostas. To have taken large stones from between 20 and 30 different locations, all the way to Stonehenge, would have been an enormous undertaking -- for which, let me remind you, there is no evidence and no equivalent in UK Mesolithic / Neolithic / Bronze Age history. I have covered this in various posts on cultural diffusion, technological advances etc....

chris johnson said...

Sometime hyperbole obscures the tale. For the transportation discussion we are not talking 20-30 sources, or even 10-15. The locations are a few hundred metres apart; the furthest extent would be around 3 kilometres (Carn Menyn to Rhosyfelin).

For a non-geomorphologist like myself the puzzle is more why there are so few sources and so few erratics on salisbury plain. Is it not a curious and unusual twist of fate that deposited these bluestones in Wiltshire?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Altar Stone, Chris? And those strange Lower Palaeozoic sandstones? And some bits and pieces from goodness knows where?

TonyH said...

Edna's nephew:

Vis a vis the fart echoing round the Hut, what about concern, soon to be followed by dismay, as its sheer windspeed reduces the hut to a pile of haphazardly formed geomorphological - type rubble, similar on first viewing to the Rhosyfelin "quarry"? Oh dear, I think I may have stumbled on one possible scenario our pp archaeologists have yet to fully consider.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

A "cost/benefit" ratio is a "value judgment".

Archeologists would love to reduce the whole transport issue to just this! To what they claim special expertise! Any argument based on "cost/benefit ratio" cannot be scientific. You are opening up a can of earth-works worms here!

What we need are irrefutable facts on the ground and objective reason to sort it out. Such evidence exists, Brian. Stick to it if you want to make your argument stick!

Kostas

Edna's tired nephew said...

It seems that I still haven’t made myself clear, so let’s try one last time.
Forget about Stonehenge, and forget about the Preseli, area for a little while, and perhaps I can demonstrate my thoughts by using an imaginary location and a hypothetical set of events.

1). You say "I'm not sure what you mean by a "final resting place" being demonstrably Neolithic and not modern."

Reply = Let us say we have a documented Neolithic burial chamber at site ‘A’, and this burial chamber has a reasonably large capstone weighing say 10 tonnes. This burial chamber rests on, and is surrounded for many miles by,a mudstone bedrock. So the final resting place of the capstone, i.e. the burial chamber, is demonstrably of Neolithic age and definitely not modern.

2). You say "I don't understand the point about a stone of suitably large size. Glaciers -- and presumably people -- move big stones and little ones. What are you trying to say?"

Reply = The capstone, being 10 tonnes in weight, would require considerable effort to transport it to the burial chamber if by human hand, or to within reasonable human dragging distance if transported by a glacier, so it definitely isn’t flakes off some stone, and it isn’t a souvenir brought to site ‘A’ by some visitor.

3). You say "How far have they been moved, and across what sort of terrain?"

Reply = For these hypothetical set of events, let us say that the 10 tonne capstone is made of limestone, as opposed to the surrounding mudstone bedrock. Let the closest limestone bedrock be 10 miles away at site ‘B’, with the intervening terrain consisting of reasonably smooth ground, cut by several streams.
I accept that it would be difficult to say whether it was humans or glaciers that had moved the capstone from site ‘B’ to, or close to, site ‘A’.
However, if the accepted direction of glacial flow is from site ‘A’ (via the 10 miles) to site ‘B’ then how could glaciers have transported the capstone from ‘B’ to ‘A’?

All hypothetical I agree but I believe the question is valid.

Edna's nephew said...

Tony, What if a large sail was attached to the bluestones and fart-power was the motive force?

Edna's old and tired nephew said...

My apologies, at the end of the closing sentence of my last post to Brian I should have added “if there is no suitable limestone bedrock to the up-stream ice flow side of site A”.
Sorry.

BRIAN JOHN said...

This all seems to be making terribly heavy weather of something I have never disputed. If stone A has come from location B and is now at location C, and there is no decent physical explanation for it being there (within what we currently understand about the processes that might have been involved), then clearly human agency has to come into the frame. Occam's Razor, as I have always argued.....

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian you write,

" If stone A has come from location B and is now at location C, and there is no decent physical explanation for it being there (within what we currently understand about the processes that might have been involved), then clearly human agency has to come into the frame."

We can also say as much for natural agency! For example, the Rhosyfelin rhyolite flakes (stone A) found at Stonehenge (location C) have been shown to have come from Wales (location B) and there is no decent human explanation for them being there, then clearly natural agency has to come into the frame.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Very true, Kostas -- but since I come from a geography / geomorphology tradition, my instinct is always to look for a natural explanation first -- which is the SIMPLEST thing to do -- before getting tangled up in speculation about human capabilities and intentions. The latter route leads straight into a fantasy world.

TonyH said...

Edna and Ethel, and all relatives extant or deceased:

I throw into the ring ISOBEL, viz:- Isobel Geddes, author of HIDDEN DEPTHS, Wiltshire's Geology & Landscapes, 2000.

Isobel would have us know that she holds degrees in Geology from Oxford & London Universities. Her career has included working as a geologist for Shell and for the Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme, overseas and in Cambridge. She currently lives in central Wiltshire. On this basis, she may even live and shop and visit the Museum in Devizes (op. cit.).

Her book's Chapter 2 concerns the broad Geological Rock Sequence in Wiltshire. I quote here the relevant section for our Blog and discussion:-

"QUATERNARY SUPERFICIAL DEPOSITS & THE EFFECTS OF THE ICE AGE

It is easy to assume that the landscape of the present day is the result of processes still continuing; indeed this is part true, but the consequences of the Ice Age are still to be found all around the countryside.

THE EFFECTS OF THE ICE AGE

There was a series of successive glaciations during the period known as the "Ice Age", which actually lasted for almost 2.5 million years. The 1st glaciation was in lateTertiary time, ice possibly reaching the North Sea. This was followed by a 2nd ice advance which deposited erratic boulders, originally from the Midlands, in the Thames valley. A 3rd glaciation carried Welsh erratic rocks, dumping them in the Thames basin again when the ice melted. A 4th ice advance extended as far as the Scilly Isles, Cornwall, North Devon and the Thames. This takes us to the interglacial period 250,000 years ago when the first Human bones and artifacts were left in the Thames valley. (CONTINUED)


TonyH said...

20,000 years ago ice covered Wales & England as far south as the Severn Estuary and The Wash. The last ice sheet retreated 10,000 years ago, only just before Mesolithic times when pine pillars were erected at Stonehenge. These have been dated at 9,000 - 10,000 years; the fact that the pillars were of hardy pine suggests that it was too cold for broad - leaved trees. Vegetation and animal remains indicate that some interglacial periods were substantially warmer than today, and that sea levels were up to 20 metres higher. The problem lies in distinguishing the effects of older glaciations, because the evidence has been destroyed during subsequent ones.(CONTINUED)

TonyH said...

There is a school of thought that the 'bluestones' of Stonehenge & Heytesbury could have been brought by the earliest (Late Tertiary0 ice sheet; they have a variety of Welsh sources, not just Pembrokeshire, as is commonly believed. A few have been striated (i.e. scratched) by ice movement(although this could have happened in Wales).(CONTINUED)

TonyH said...

In Wiltshire, there is no evidence of glaciation; no Jurassic rocks have been found dumped by the ice in unlikely places; neither are there any boulders of the older Triassic, Carboniferous or Devonian rocks. There may have been a continuous Cretaceous cover during the Ice Ages, and indeed the current depths of erosion, with removal of so much Chalk as to reveal the older rocks seen today, are probably attributable to Ice Age conditions. Large volumes of melt -water must have had a massive effect on the landscape, carving out valleys, even in permeable rocks like the Chalk, as a combination of permafrost and water saturation would have allowed surface waters to flow over them. The result is a large number of dry valleys or combes. Permafrost would have caused the break - up of surface rocks to deep levels as the freeze - thaw action of water in cracks forced them open even further.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Is that last bit a quote, Tony? if so, I'm not sure I would agree with Isobel about a Cretaceous cover being stripped off parts of Wiltshire during the Quaternary. My understanding is that a lot of chalk was stripped off much earlier than that -- although we do not of course know how thick the chalk might have been originally. The sarsens are of course now looked on as duricrust residuals which were scattered about all over the Salisbury plain chalk surface...

Costantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

”my instinct is always to look for a natural explanation first -- which is the SIMPLEST thing to do -- before getting tangled up in speculation about human capabilities and intentions. The latter route leads straight into a fantasy world.”

I totally agree! This is my instinct too.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Brian, is not "Lower Palaeozoics" a drowning man grasping at straws? I confess to not knowing these stones at all but perhaps you could tell more....

Surely the main lines are clear, Altar Stone, The stones from a couple of square miles in Prescelly that nearly everybody refers to as the Bluestones, and the Sarsens.

The scarcity of other stone types in the main features of the monument is actually remarkable.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

What about the Rhosyfelin rhyolite flakes found at Stonehenge? And many other such erratic debris with no sensible human-agency explanation why these should be found at Stonehenge from Wales?

Kostas

chris johnson said...

You are being ridiculous Kostas. Far and away the most logical explanation for the chips of Prescelli rhyolite is that they result from breaking up larger stones.

It is such attempts to introduce obvious red herrings into the discussion that deter the open minded from engaging with the arguments.

A similar red herring was introduced by Ixer/Bevins, in 2010 I think, when they speculated that some of the missing stones in the Bluestone settings might come from somewhere completely different - based on absolutely zero evidence as far as I can see.

The Bluestones come from Prescelli - live with it.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Zero evidence, Chris? I'm not sure Myris would agree with that. The "other sandstones" appear to have textural characteristics that make them quite different from more recent Upper Palaeozoic sandstones from the ORS and Carboniferous. Why are you so keen that everything at Stonehenge should have come from an area of just a few square miles, even if the evidence suggests otherwise?

TonyH said...

Yes, Brian, a direct quote from Isobel Geddes' Wiltshire book. Perhaps she may have revised her opinion since publishing that. I bought my copy recently, but it is still the 2000 edition. I do know she is still active on the Wiltshire scene, with various local groups.

TonyH said...

Isobel Geddes is on Facebook, so easy enough to contact.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris you write,

"You are being ridiculous Kostas. Far and away the most logical explanation for the chips of Prescelli rhyolite is that they result from breaking up larger stones."

You are being purposely misleading Chris! Of course the Rhosyfelin rhyolite flakes resulted from the break up of larger such stones. The question is how and who did such breaking up!

We know nature breaks up stones when stones are carried by glaciers and water. And we know people also do when they carve stones.

But these Rhosyfelin rhyolite flakes do not match any of the Stonehenge stones sampled. So how did they get to be at Stonehenge?

You can argue Neolithic people carried such megaliths from Wales to Stonehenge and latter pulverized these into bits. Or you can argue Neolithic people carried such flakes in bucketfuls from Wales to Stonehenge. Or you can argue these flakes trace to missing stones with no evidence for there ever being such stones.

You may find these "most logical explanations". I don't! "live with it"

Kostas

chris johnson said...

The paper talks about stones found in the cursus field as I recall. It is entirely speculative to suggest they may have come from orthostats missing from the monument.

I am most interested in the stones that form an integral part of the monument and then we have three main sources only - Prescelli blues, sarsen, and the mysterious altar stone.

Muddying the waters with bits and pieces that may have been dropped by a Roman Drover for all we know is not helping to establish the most likely scenario.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- "Preseli Blues...." There was a famous spoof video once, with some chaps prancing around among the Preseli tors and purporting to be Elvis Preseli and his group. Of course they sang something called the Preseli Blues..... hilarious, it was.

More seriously, to lump all the Preseli rocks together into one category is a bit drastic, don't you think? OK -- so you are winding us up here.

More seriously still, it is the mud in the waters that tell us where the waters have come from.

TonyH said...

I remember hearing Mike PP saying to an assembled and paying audience that he would like there to be a new excavation of the Boles Barrow in Heytesbury Parish above Warminster and on Salisbury Plain. His stated objective was to DNA the skeletons within and thus attempt to connect their geographical place of origin with one of the Geological areas that have also been identified as the possible place of birth of the recently exumed Boscombe Bowmen,closely related to one another and whose burial was close to Amesbury and similarly fairly near Stonehenge.

I think some of us on this Blog would dearly love to see such a dig take place, but for other reasons too! Notably, its potential revelation of any more "exotic geology", in the form of "bluestones" potentially from W Wales. Neolithic Boles Barrow, meanwhile, at least in its outward appearance, seems to be in a better state of preservation nowadays than a few years back when badgers, rather than Antiquarians, had burrowed into it without respect for persons or age.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

"it is the mud in the waters that tell us where the waters have come from"

Wise words, Brian! May I quote you?

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

"bits and pieces that may have been dropped by a Roman Drover "

So now you are admitting the Romans were at Stonehenge!? But why would the Romans carry thousands of bits and pieces of Rhosyfelin rhyolite debris to Stonehenge all the way from Wales?

If it doesn't make sense Neolithic people would do such a stupid thing, why would the Romans?

But you got one thing right. Not everything we see at Stonehenge was the work of Neolithic people with limited capabilities, organized societies, or reasons to make such efforts. Romans, Medieval people and everyone else that came after had both the capabilities, resources and reasons.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Oh dear we have completely lost the plot boys.
The pet rock boys have never suggested, not in 2010 or since that any bluestone other than the Altar Stone has come other than from the Presellis.
All are Preselli or close and this probably includes the Lower Palaeozoic sandstone.
The shoe box stones aka those from the Stonehenge greater Cursus include a flake from orthostat 48.
That is stated in at least three publications and in fact is figured in the mining mag article.
Bloody hell it is amateur night.
Kostas flakes mean flaking ie hard struck.
Most of the Stonehenge debitage is flaked ANTHROPOGENICALLY flaked.
The debitage was produced on Salisbury Plain
I disparity.
Whinge about non access to the primary literature and when it is provided mis read it or ignore it.
Eternal torment is not punishment enough.

BRIAN JOHN said...

No Myris, the plot is not lost, but confused. Partly this is because you refer to orthostats as bluestones, and I refer to anything foreign to the Stonehenge area (lumps,fragments, cobbles, pebbles and whatever) as bluestones. You pays your money and you takes your choice. I am sure I have seen a ref in one of the geol papers to a possible source for those Lower Palaeozoic Sandstone fragments (one of them weighing over 8 kg) in NW Pembrokeshire -- note that Preseli is in the NE. How close is close? And please don't cite that Mining Mag article, since it was, I assume, just a bit of frivolous fun.......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

"a flake from orthostat 48" should read "a flake of same type of stone as orthostat 48".

"flakes mean flaking ie hard struck" whether by Nature or Man.

"Most of the Stonehenge debitage is flaked ANTHROPOGENICALLY flaked." What exactly is the evidence for that? This is only an opinion and not a proven fact.

"The debitage was produced on Salisbury Plain". The debitage is a word you choose to use for stone fragments found at Stonehenge etc. But the word does not prove the function.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- you may quote my wise words whenever you like. They are on the public record!

Myris of Alexandria said...

True the mining mag article was that, an article, however it figures the stone that is from orthostat SH48 from the Stonehenge Greater Cursus.
That collection of stones has 48, CRyf rhyolite perhaps 38 but no dolerite. It is intimately associated with Stonehenge.
Ah you may be correct Dr Ixer has a problem with west and east and once placed the Inka empire in the Pacific by confusing the two. The editors caught that.
Nobody yet knows where the LP sst is from. Ixer and Turner may say something.
The debitage is flaked, some is retouched,and there are axehead rough outs, few, Read Pitts' appendix to I and B heelstone paper.
Brian your use of bluestone is not acceptable or accepted. New Age rock crystal pendants are not bluestone. Your wanting a cast of thousands weakens your case.
It is not confusion it is not even gaberdine swine and pearls but not reading what is written.
This is not Mills and Boon,but as our Hilda would say 'science Stanley science'.
Kostas why care you so about the debitage?
It is straightforward, the bluestones were brought to Stonehenge, probably by man, jostled around a lot, hacked about a bit and left.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

If the sandstones are Cambrian, they are probably from NW Pembrokeshire. If they are Ordovician, they could be from NE Pembrokeshire.

I have never argued that recently introduced rubbish on the site should be counted as bluestone debris. You are being a bit unfair to imply that. If something is clearly adventitious and modern, or introduced as roadstone or whatever, away with it! Adventitious modern stuff is usually pretty easy to spot. I have been doing it all my life in looking at Quaternary sites. No -- I am talking about medium-sized stuff in proper archaeological contexts. And I fail to see the logic of including just the largest chunks of rock (orthostats) and the smallest fragments (debitage) and referring to them as bluesrones while omitting to attach any importance to whatever is between those two extremes.

Who says that my definition of "bluestone" is not acceptable? Have the thought police pronounced upon it, in their wisdom?

Sure, the bluestones -- of all shapes and sizes -- were brought to Stonehenge by man. that much is obvious. The question is this: how far were they carried?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Frontage can be any size. The 8kg LP sst is debitage.
Restrict bluestone to any non sarsen lithology used in making an orthostat. Saves time and is clear and concise.
Yes were the LP sst Cambrian it would widen the geography. We do not know BUT we might soon get an age from the large block.
M

TonyH said...

PERSONAL COMMENT
I am delighted that this Post, ostensibly about the English Heritage Lecture on Stonehenge, this coming Saturday at Devizes Town Hall, near the superb Wiltshire Heritage Museum, has reached at least 60 comments. Pity it is not a larger venue! Perhaps it will be repeated around the country, say London, Cardiff, Bristol and Southampton - and beyond!!

Myris said...

Bloody auto-correct.
"Frontage" oooh aaaaa misses!
The word that I typed was Debitage
M
The hieroglyphs for debitage and frontage are very different.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tony -- I thought all the comments on this blog were personal comments? Or are some of them submitted by higher beings that are not of this earth? Greek and Egyptian gods, Aunt Ednas sending messages from Heaven, or the CIA just checking on what we are all up to? Anyway, hope the lecture hall is packed!!

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

"Kostas why care you so about the debitage?"

Because I care about sensible truth and objective reason. The question that has not been sensibly explained is:

How have all the various erratic stone flakes/fragments found in the Stonehenge area got to be at Stonehenge, if these do not trace to any of the orthostats at Stonehenge?

Labeling such stones "debitage" and defining "debitage" as stone wastage from stone dressing is intellectually dishonest and closer to cloak and mirrors reasoning! What is the irrefutable evidence such stone flakes are anthropogenic? This is only an assumption!

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Kostas, perhaps you never did any work on the neolithic so please accept the benefit of the doubt, and give some respect to people who have seen thousands and thousands of stones. It is early on people learn to identify the signs of human working.

Similarly one learns to tell the difference between frost damage, plough damage, intentional tool production, and retouching after use (or whatever the English phrase is). Perhaps more listening and learning is in order? And less talking.

TonyH said...

Brian: re PERSONAL COMMENT

I take your point. With my heading, I was really seeking to remind everyone what the Origin for this, now 65+ commented Post was!! viz, a Lecture on Stonehenge in a One - Horse Town**

We do hear quite a lot from Apollo, various Folk Singers, Richard III and sundry others here. Ah, the Rich Tapestry of Life!!

** Devizes does, in fact, possess MANY Shire horses, used to pull the Wadworth's Brewery carts around, alas, still - Victorian Wiltshire.

Myris of Alexandria said...

What has Richard, third of that name, said.
He was more familiar with quarrels than quarries.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

I have no doubt chips from orthostat dressing can be found in the "debitage". But to claim ALL of the stones found in the "debitage" were the result of stone dressing is a chip too far.

The Rhosyfelin rhyolite chips (and others) in the "debitage" CAN NOT be traced to ANY of the Stonehenge stones sampled! Therefore, these chips MAY NOT have resulted from stone dressing!

Simple logic, Chris! No experts needed to do your thinking!

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Kostas,
Your points remind of a troll, arguing for the sake of argument. Not what I want to do today, sorry.

TonyH said...

Richard III, like another contributor, spent many years in Leicester, mostly in a car park admittedly.....

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Chris,

It may help you to know I never argue for the sake of arguing!

Please don't take this statement as an argument.

Kostas

chris johnson said...

So what happened Tony?

Aunt Edna said...

In the not to distant future we may all be presented with a 'twist in the tail' regarding quarries and bluestones.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Now then, Aunt Edna, you are teasing us again. Come on -- spill the beans. You know it makes sense, and we count ourselves as very discreet on this blog..

Aunt Edna said...

The last time I teased anyone was a long time ago when they use to horse-shoe pigs. I'm afraid it's way past my bed time and my Horlicks is going cold.
More on this subject when the time is right, no jokey.

TonyH said...

I was prevented from attending the Devizes Town Hall talk by a long - term health condition that decided to interfere with my best - laid plans, Chris. This cold weather doesn't help.

TonyH said...

Dame Edna, "Twist in the tail"/ "long ago when they used to horse - shoe pigs",?!?! What porcine presentations should we expect? Is their provenance proved to be Preselli, and their destination definitely Durrington Walls? After beef on the hoof, may we expect peripatetic porkies?! Am I on the right track, or has my arrow fallen well short?

Aunt Edna said...

Tony, your charm just may beguile me, for your arrow has fallen short and pierced my heart.

Patience is the watch-word.

TonyH said...

S'truth, Bruce, or should I say Dame Edna, how could I treat a poor maiden so? Well,it's all in the best possible cause, the Search for Truth!