We all enjoy a bit of knockabout fun on this blog, and I like to think we are testing the glacial transport hypothesis to destruction. If it stands up, fine, and if in the end it falls, that's fine too, since the truth will out........
But I don't see much evidence from anywhere of the archaeologists testing the human transport hypothesis to destruction. Is that debate going on, somewhere behind the scenes? Or is there a sort of orthodoxy that prevails, and woe betide anybody who strays into the realms of blasphemy? One has heard rather sad tales of diggers at Rhosyfelin being hauled over the coals by the powers that be, for daring to question some of the tenets of belief of the high priesthood -- are those tales true or false?
Let's help the process along by asking the archaeologists to address these particular issues and to do a little testing to destruction on this blog, or maybe somewhere else........
Why the obsession with quarry hunting, in the light of all this:
1. There is no sound evidence from anywhere in the British Neolithic / Bronze Age record of large stones being hauled over long distances for incorporation in a megalithic monument.
2. The builders of Neolithic monuments across the UK, as a general rule, used whatever large stones were at hand.
3. If ancestor stones were being transported to Stonehenge, why have all of the known bluestone orthostats come from the west, and not from any other points of the compass?
4. There is no known evidence either from West Wales or from anywhere else of bluestones (for example, spotted dolerite or rhyolite) being used preferentially in megalithic monuments, or revered in any way.
5. If long-distance stone haulage was "the great thing" for the builders of Stonehenge, why is there no known evidence of the development of the appropriate haulage technology leading up to the late Neolithic, and a decline afterwards? It is a complete technological aberration.
6. The evidence for quarrying activity in key locations is questionable, to put it mildly. The Carn Meini "quarry" has now effectively been ruled out by the geologists. Rhosyfelin next?
7. The sheer variety of bluestone types (I still insist the figure is somewhere near 30) argues against selection and human transport. There cannot possibly have been more than ten "bluestone quarries" scattered about West Wales.
8. No physical evidence has ever been found of ropes, rollers, trackways, sledges, abandoned stones, quarrymen's camps, or anything else that might bolster the hypothesis.
9. Bits and pieces of experimental archaeology on stone haulage techniques (normally in "ideal" conditions) have done nothing to show that our ancestors could cope with the sheer physical difficulty of stone haulage across the heavily-wooded Neolithic terrain of West Wales (characterised by bogs, cataracts, steep slopes and very few clearings) or around the rocky coast. Aubrey Burl made this point forcefully many years ago, and it remains forceful today.
10. And if there was a "proto-Stonehenge" somewhere, built of assorted local stones and then dismantled and taken off to Stonehenge, where was it? Herbert Thomas thought it might have been near Cilymaenllwyd (south of Preseli) and now MPP thinks it might have been north of Preseli, either at Waun Mawn or Castell Mawr). Again, no known evidence.......
PS. I am trying to avoid the use of that horrible expression "There is no evidence......." That phrase is the curse of the scientific literature. It is used as a throwaway line by scientists of all descriptions just to make them sound authoritative and to bolster their arguments. No doubt I have done it myself, very often. How many people who have used the phrase have found it returning to haunt them or to bite them on the backside, when somebody comes along and shows that the evidence was there all the time, unnoticed?
What we should actually say is "There is no known evidence......" or "There is nothing in the literature to suggest this or that......." or even "There is no unequivocal evidence...." or "There is no sound evidence....." That would all be rather more honest, and would avoid future embarrassment!