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Friday, 27 February 2015

New work at Stanton Drew



Thanks to John Oswin for sending info about new work at Stanton Drew.  The "Big Ground Mound" at Quoit Farm has been excavated (in 2014) and subjected to close scrutiny using various high-tech devices -- and the conclusion is that the mound is not a relic of a long barrow or anything else man-made, but is an entirely natural feature.

That may be disappointing for archaeologists, but speaking as a geomorphologist, I find that rather refreshing and honest -- and a sign of good science.

The 2015 report is entitled "Probing the Big Ground Mound" and is by Vince Simmonds, John Oswin and John Richards.  It's published by the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society.
Two different versions of the report are available on the website: www.bacas.org.uk

The report also contains a report of an experimental laser survey of the stones that make up "The Cove" -- although I have to admit to being somewhat at a loss as to what the purpose of the survey actually was........

35 comments:

TonyH said...

The BACAS Archaeology Society people have, I note, also done recent (post - 2010) reports on geophysics surveys of Bathampton Down and Little Solsbury Hill.

These sites virtually face one another, just east of Bath, and may be well worth studying geomorphologically, since the British Geological Survey has identified glaciation remains thereabouts and included it on their current maps. This location is 25 miles or so, as the fitter Crow flies, or Neolithic man walks, to the future site of the stone circle at Stonehenge.

John Oswin is very well respected for his geophysics work over many years with the BACAS Society.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree, Tony. Very detailed and impressive work. But I am still rather in the dark about the geology of the stones at Stanton Drew -- this seems to be a rather fundamental question, but apart from occasional references to the "quarrying" of the stones (without, as far as I can see, any justification for that assumption) the work seems to have been mostly geophysical rather than geological......

Geo Cur said...



Interesting geofizz , but apart from the team I can't think of any archaeologist who would have thought it was anything other than natural .

Geo Cur said...

"reports on geophysics surveys of Bathampton Down "
where they did a good job of clarifying that a dowsed circle was only in the mind of the dowser .

TonyH said...

Yes, I agree. What surprises me is that Bristol, with its famed long established University, containing reputable Archaeology and Geography Departments (surely a Geology Department too?, haven't checked) doesn't seem to have done any decent academic work on the geology of the Stanton Drew stones. Most peculiar, when you consider Stanton Drew and its neighbouring Mendip villages must be sought - after locations for Bristol's academic hierarchy to live. It is even on the "rat run" to Bristol airport!

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

"the conclusion is that the mound is not a relic of a long barrow or anything else man-made, but is an entirely natural feature."

If the mount is not man-built, couldn't the standing stones also not be?

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Burl describes the stones at SD as "mostly pustular Breccia but some are oolitic limestone perhaps from Dundry Hill four miles to the north west "
tHE BACAS report from 2010 said "Within the Great Circle the vast majority of visible stones comprise a silicified Dolomitic
Conglomerate, with the remaining other rock types comprising Oolitic Limestone," and "The majority of the stones in the SSW Circle comprise
silicified Dolomitic Conglomerate, although at least one stone is of the local sandstone, possibly
from the sandstone bands that are found within the Mercia Mudstones of this area "

Geo Cur said...



"If the mount is not man-built, couldn't the standing stones also not be? "

Ahh bless .


I assume ,dangerously , you mean the three stone circles and not the perfectly natural stone that they are made of .
What type of logic is that ?
Any man made structure can be surrounded by natural features , they have no bearing on the anthropogenic nature of the structure ,just as the anthropogenic nature of the monuments does not make natural features any less natural .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- comments refused. More total misunderstandings and wild speculations. A complete waste of everybody's time.

TonyH said...

I have looked back at the previous Post "How Important is Stanton Drew?" of 26 October 2009, where it is noted that, in a 2002 survey, Geoff Kellaway had written about a Stanton Drew moraine.

On a separate issue, was this the Survey by Kellaway in which he remarked upon a "bluestone" which you, Brian, were interested in identifying more precisely? I seem to remember that perhaps there was a photograph of the orthostat within that publication. It possibly had a rather exotic/unusual geology suggested for it, and may have been removed from the Stonehenge landscape 50 to 100 years ago.

TonyH said...

So the authors of the report on the Big Ground Mound conclude that it is natural but that it in that regard bears comparison with similar mounds beyond the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney.

I am always impressed with the amphitheatre - like nature of the wider landscape around Stanton Drew when I visit, and I'm sure this must have influenced prehistoric man (and woman) in selecting Stanton Drew for development of its circles etc.

Alex Gee said...

Just a thought, but the only line of enquiry that appears to never have been considered is that of paleontology!

Whilst there should be no fossil remains within the volcanics! surely there must be micro/macrofossils extant in the other rock types?

alex gee said...

isn't it time geocur paid us the courtesy of revealing his identity?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Microfossils,an intelligent thought,
We await results,daily, for some of the debitage.
M
My identity is as a servant of the servants of Sublime Apollo.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris the Mysterious,

So microfossils are sought for the Stonehenge "debitage"! Are these also sought for the Rhosyfelin "quarry"? Or the Stonehenge Layer and Avenue?

Look for fresh water fossils! Sublime Apollo tells me so!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

GeoCur you wrote,

"I assume ,dangerously , you mean the three stone circles and not the perfectly natural stone that they are made of .
What type of logic is that ?"


The logic of my argument has to do with human perceptions and beliefs. Not natural stones and features.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Acritarchs, Kostas, acritarchs.
For freshwater fossils you need Grooved Ware sherds. IF you believe that.
M
Sorry.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

In general, any small, non-acid soluble (i.e. non-carbonate, non-siliceous) organic structure that can not otherwise be accounted for is classified as an acritarch. [Wikipedia]

Sounds like more tea leaf reading!

And what Grooved Ware sherds have to do with Nature? Or is this an archeological field work truth. In which case, I say very interesting.

Care to clarify? Apollo would be pleased.

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Acritarchs as used to date "unfossiliferous" rocks in this case sandstones.
Some Durrington Walls Grooved Ware
Pots are believed to be tempered by freshwater mussel shell.
I am still not totally persuaded.
May Sublime Apollo bring peace, wisdom, but above all TRUTH, to all sincere seekers.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Acritarchs as used to date "unfossiliferous" rocks in this case sandstones.
Some Durrington Walls Grooved Ware
Pots are believed to be tempered by freshwater mussel shell.
I am still not totally persuaded.
May Sublime Apollo bring peace, wisdom, but above all TRUTH, to all sincere seekers.
M

Geo Cur said...



"If the mount is not man-built, couldn't the standing stones also not be? "
was an expression of wishful thinking .
"The logic of my argument has to do with human perceptions and beliefs."
The former quote being an ideal example how beliefs and lack of perception can led lead to illogicality .
The mound was never considered by most observers to have been man made , the stone circles and Cove certainly were .

BRIAN JOHN said...

We have a sad situation here in which Kostas has mis-read the word "mound" (an insignificant thing, hardly noticeable in the landscape) and has turned it into a "mount" of presumably gigantic proportions......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

It is not the first (nor last ) time I may have misspelled English words. But "presumably gigantic proportions"?

Look for archeologists made-up stories for that!

Kostas

TonyH said...

To be fair to Kostas, it IS called the BIG Ground Mound. This may have raised his expectations slightly. The nearby Hautville's Quoit, on the other hand, WAS a monstrous orthostat. Most if not all commentators considered it was placed there by Man.

TonyH said...

Vince Simmonds, one of the authors of the 2015 report which is the subject of this Post, says "similar striations [to those seen on various orthostats in the Avebury region] have been noted on Hautville's Quoit.

He has photographs.

See:-

sourcing the stone at:-

http://www.sourcingthe stones.mendipgeoarch.net/#home

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well done, Tony! looks like an interesting line of research ...... by the way, that link doesn't work for me.

T said...

No, it doesn't, does it!

Suggest you enter HAUTVILLE'S QUOIT VINCE SIMMONDS into your trusty Search Engine. That's how I originally obtained it.

The item you require will be headed "sourcing the stone".

By the way, Vince is saying he, a Geologist, thinks what remains of said Quoit is Carboniferous Limestone, like in Avebury region.

N.B.'Mendips Phil' may be very interested in commenting, since this was published in "mendipgeoarch.net". Do you know Vince, Phil?

TonyH said...

My previous Post may have not reached you.

Get to "sourcing the stone" by entering into your trusty Search Engine:-

VINCE SIMMONDS HAUTVILLE'S QUOIT

Geologist Vince (his qualifications are listed there or somewhere on a neighbouring website) reckons the remnants of what was the enormous Quoit is of similar Geology to the Avebury stones he illustrates also. He is surmising implicitly long - distance transportation.

TonyH said...

'Nothing is new, under the Sun'.

We discussed Hautville's Quoit back around 9 November 2012.
Quite a few erudite(ish) comments made back then, including ruminations about erratics there and elsewhere at Stanton Drew.

Dave Weston said...

I seem to remember Brian saying that the Irish Sea Ice entered present-day England between Burnham-on-Sea to the south and Kenn to the north, with Kenn being of glaciological importance.

If we join Kenn to Stanton Drew (19kms, 12 miles), and then join Stanton Drew to Stonehenge,(56kms 35miles), the resulting line runs east-south-east and is practically straight.

Brian proposes that the Irish Sea glacier deposited the bluestones in a trail between Kenn and an unknown location, with that location being close enough to Stonehenge for opportunist builders to scavenge the stones and employ them in the Stonehenge monument.

It is fair to say that the bluestones were of some significance to the Neolithic people. So if the bluestones were so important, why didn’t the builders of the Stanton Drew circles lay claim to the bluestone trail for use in their monument, a trail that would have been on their doorstep?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for the reminder, Tony. Yes, here is the link to the old post:

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/hautvilles-quoit.html

I'm not all that convinced about those "striations" -- other photos of the stone seem to show a thin-bedded or foliated structure, and that may be what we are looking ay, with weathering having picked out some of the softer layers. Clearly, more work needed on that particular stone.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks, Tony, for the nudge towards Vince Simmonds's site. I found the link at last:

http://www.sourcingthestones.mendipgeoarch.net/#home

Full of very interesting info. Will try to put up a post about it.

TonyH said...

That is very interesting what Dave Weston says about the Irish Sea Glacier, in particular as regards the ORIENTATION, east - south - east, from Kenn near the North East Somerset coast through Stanton Drew towards Stonehenge, with distances provided.

Do you have any comments, Brian?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Dave -- yes, I have proposed in that article written with Lionel Jackson in EARTH magazine that there was a long "contact zone? between two ice masses, and that there was a natural transport route for erratics along that line. Whether there was a train or trail of erratics, we do not know -- if there was one, mpst of the evidence might lie on the bed of the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. As I have often tried to explain, you do NOT get nice convenient trails of erratics along a line 200km or more in length -- erratic entrainment and emplacement depend on a host of factors, some of them glaciological.

So we cannot simply assume that there "ought to have been" bluestone erratics in the vicinity of Stanton Drew.

And I'm not at all convinced that the bluestones had "special significance" for Neolithic people. There is no sign of the preferential use of either spotted dolerite or unspotted dolerite of foliated rhyolite even in the areas where such rocks are abundant. True, the bluestones were separated from the sarsens in the final stone settings, but I think that might have been a matter of tinkering with available resources very late in the day.

TonyH said...

That seems a decent riposte to what Parker Pearson asserted in his 2012 "Stonehenge" book around page 270 of his chapter titled "Origins of the Bluestones". Erratic trains are complicated things to explain, predict, or unravel, it seems!