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Saturday, 4 April 2015

New paper on Bluestone 38

 
 
Altar Stone (top), Stone 38 (middle) and Stone 48 (bottom) -  thanks to the Stones of Stonehenge site for the photos.  These stones are neither rhyolitic tuffs nor dolerites, spotted or otherwise.  Look at the extraordinary markings on the surface of the Altar Stone -- more on this later.....
The new paper refers to Stone 38 and related debitage.

More images:

Stone 80 (Altar Stone)
http://www.stonesofstonehenge.org.uk/search/label/Altar%20Stone

Stone 38
http://www.stonesofstonehenge.org.uk/search/label/Stone%20038

Stone 48
http://www.stonesofstonehenge.org.uk/search/label/Stone%20048

There's a new paper from Ixer, Bevins and Gize on the subject of Bluestone 38 and the related debitage at Stonehenge -- which might, or might not, have come from the stone itself. Once again, an interesting piece of work which increases our understanding of the widsespread provenances of the weird bluestone assemblage.

Hard ‘Volcanics with sub-planar texture’ in the Stonehenge Landscape by Rob A. Ixer, Richard E. Bevins and Andy P. Giże
Wilts Arch & Nat Hist Mag 108 (2015), pp 1-14

Volcanics with sub-planar texture -- twelve fragments have been examined. They are "small, often sub-rounded, rather than angular flaked, fragments throughout Stonehenge and its environs ....."  And there is quite a wide distribution of fragments across the landscape.  Stone 38 itself is a strange little one, quite unsuitable to be counted as a fallen orthostat -- it's more like a mis-shapen boulder, and like  Stone 48 it's best described as a glacial erratic, pretty worthless for incorporation into a megalithic monument, but simply used because it was there........

Quote: These volcanics comprise two groups namely Volcanic Group A, friable rocks with abundant white mica and a strong metamorphic fabric and Volcanic Group B, hard rocks that are partially characterised by an unusual mineralogy including two forms of graphitising carbon. Only twelve Volcanic Group B samples have been recognised from the Stonehenge debitage but they share the same petrography as Orthostat SH38. Spatially, as with the debitage from the Altar Stone and Orthostat SH48, they are widely, if thinly and randomly, distributed throughout the Stonehenge Landscape. Temporally, almost none of the debitage, from all three bluestone orthostats, has a secure Neolithic context. 

Quote:
 
-->
Conclusions 

Orthostat SH38 and twelve pieces of debitage that constitute the new Volcanic Group B class of debitage are sufficiently uniform in terms of their mineralogy, grain size and textures that it seems probable that they are all from the same rock rather than just from the same outcrop.

Although this debitage is numerically rare it has a wide spatial distribution in the Stonehenge Landscape notably within the Darvill and Wainwright April 2008 excavation and Heelstone Ditch but also including within Trench 45 in The Avenue and Aubrey Hole 7 in Stonehenge. Although a lithic with graphitising carbon was found from close to the Stonehenge Greater Cursus no SH38 debitage has been recognised from there with any certainty. The SH38 debitage distribution is similar to that found for orthostat SH48 but is more extensive than that for the Altar Stone.

The temporal distribution of the SH38 debitage is very similar to that for SH48 in that most pieces are found from post Neolithic contexts but are less ‘bunched’ than that from the Altar Stone.

The newly reported SH38 debitage has extended the range of petrographical features beyond those seen in orthostat SH38, notably to include the presence of large zircons, rare earth-bearing minerals, tube pumice and a significant fine-grained siliceous component. This in turn suggests that were the single geochemical analysis for SH38 (Thorpe et al. 1991) and taken from a very small sample , to be augmented by new analyses from the present samples, a geochemistry that was closer to the bulk geochemistry for SH38 could be achieved. An enhanced petrography plus a more representative geochemistry would help to narrow the possible geographical sources for the orthostat. On present knowledge this is still expected to be found within the Ordovician Volcanic sequences, in the north Pembrokeshire area but the net is tightening.






142 comments:

TonyH said...

Hard printed copies of this Paper, within the WANHS Magazine, are being distributed to WANHS Members around the third week of April.

ND Wiseman said...

Provenance notwithstanding, I find the scattering of chips from one particular stone to be extremely mystifying.

What was that all about?

Neil

Geo Cur said...

“Temporally, almost none of the debitage, from all three bluestone orthostats, has a secure Neolithic context. “
The megalithic monument almost certainly dates to the Bronze Age ,and at best the very end of the Neolithic (presence of bluestones in the Aubrey holes is conjecture and not dated ). Why a Neolithic assumption ?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

I find the following in your post especially intriguing and potentially revealing. The fragments associated with SH38 are

1) "small, often sub-rounded, rather than angular flaked"
2) "widely, if thinly and randomly, distributed throughout the Stonehenge Landscape."
3) "Temporally, almost none of the debitage, from all three bluestone orthostats [SH38, SH48, Altar Stone], has a secure Neolithic context. "


So why is Dr Ixer et al insist using the term "debitage" and continue to insinuate these stone fragments are from stone dressing, presumably by the Stonehenge builders? If so, why so sparse and thinly randomly and widely distributed throughout the Stonehenge landscape? All of the above listed points can best be explained through natural agency.

Aside from all this, we were promised we will know the Rhosyfelin RC dates soon! Have you seen any such dates, Brian? Or the "timing" is not yet "right"!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

I'll let Myris answer you, Geo, on the matter of the Neolithic.

On Kostas's point re the shape and distribution of the 12 fragments that look similar to SH38, I agree with him that this could be important. If they are not sharp-edged flakes knocked off an orthostat, but are instead small and sub-rounded, could they be derived from glacial or fluvio-glacial gravels or the remnants of some destroyed deposit? Any chance of seeing some pictures of the shapes? Happy to publish them on this blog....

BRIAN JOHN said...

re the radiocarbon dates from Rhosyfelin, no I have not seen any of them and I have no idea what they may be telling the MPP team. Maybe we'll have to wait some more months before anything is revealed. I wonder if the revelations will be in a scientific paper or in a TV spectacular?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo writes,

"the megalithic monument [Stonehenge] almost certainly dates to the Bronze Age"

At this rate of date destruction, pretty soon we'll get to the Roman Times! What I have been arguing all along! And so did Isaac Newton's generation!

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.(How I miss the Tridentine Mass).
Geo is correct and it should have been better to have said Neolithic and BA. The problem is almost nothing
in the assemblage is from a secure context. The Stonehenge Layer context is open.
In truth secure Neolithic contexts are lithic poor.
The shape of the volcanics A look rounded, these as the very small <10g debitage. Other better informed people looking at the same assemblages say they ARE flaked.
Volcanics A will be the next Ferret Club paper I shall ask for pics.
Bigger bits do not look rounded.
C14 dates are known are held in confidence within a widening Archie
Community. All will by published later this year. It has been refereed at the very very highest level.
More C14 dates are being gathered.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Myris -- good to know. Perhaps you can enlighten us -- has there been any input from geomorphologists at any stage, either in the assessment of the site or in the discussion /refereeing process for the papers that are in the pipeline? I sincerely hope so.....

Myris of Alexandria said...

I believe all the authors are on a strict embargo not to discuss content or authorship.
Once a final page proofed version is approved by all and by the journal more will be said I expect.
Certainly I would like to see, in the refereed literature, some description/discussion of the site by geomorphologists/Pleistocene\Holocene geologists. It deserves and needs that.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas I do not believe that Dr Ixer has ever suggested or thought that the debitage is from the initial dressing of the orthostats. He certainly does not, at the moment.
The data are not there. What few there are suggest much is post IA souvenir collecting?
M

ND Wiseman said...

Rob Ixer has kindly forwarded me a PDF of this paper, for which I am grateful.

“Temporally, almost none of the debitage, from all three bluestone orthostats, has a secure Neolithic context."

Most of these finds were discovered in clusters, and in one case a small pile. So to answer Kostas, it's unlikely that a natural process would deposit them in such a way.
Plus, though the Altar Stone has no firm provenance, it is thought to have been in place for a very long while, though probably not as long as the Blues. If carried by glacier, why only one stone? Then, being a good-sized chunk of rock, why a relative dusting of its chemistry in seemingly disparate locations?

That said, in the Big Picture is anyone else seeing what I'm seeing?

The inference here is that ─ for whatever reason ─ the Bluestones were a very big deal from the earliest days, probably through to at least the Bronze Age, if what the paper suggests is true.

This centuries-long significance infers ─ and I acknowledge the lack of evidence ─ that it's unlikely they randomly picked up ~90 of these things up from scatterings in the local landscape, but carried them to the site from their original locations in Pembrokeshire.

Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Neil -- "......though the Altar Stone has no firm provenance, it is thought to have been in place for a very long while, though probably not as long as the Blues. If carried by glacier, why only one stone? Then, being a good-sized chunk of rock, why a relative dusting of its chemistry in seemingly disparate locations?" What is the evidence in support of the idea that the Altar Stone was emplaced later than the other bluestones? Some suggest that the Altar Stone is the only one in its original position -- ie still lying where it was found -- and that the other stones were assembled here to keep it company. Who says there was only one stone of that type? The debitage may well be made up of stone debris from lots of smaller and relatively insignificant stones -- although some debris appears to have come from orthostat dressing.

I don't think the bluestones were a very big deal at all -- they certainly weren't a big deal in Pembs, and there is no reason to think they were at Stonehenge either.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- "Certainly I would like to see, in the refereed literature, some description/discussion of the site by geomorphologists /Pleistocene\Holocene geologists. It deserves and needs that."

I agree, and I am in the process of putting together a short note. However, the irony is that the geomorphology of this site is so simple and straightforward that a description and explanation could probably be done by any competent A level or first year university student. Geomorphology journals that use referees these days want "cutting-edge" research, preferably using new and exciting techniques. So I have serious doubts that any journal would even want to look at a description and explanation of the site, let alone publish it. We shall see......

Would it not be truly ironic if an all-singing and all-dancing archaeology paper was to appear in the autumn, complete with C14 dates, and full of such basic misapprehensions about Holocene stratigraphy that the average educated teenager could tear it to shreds?

ND Wiseman said...

Hi Brian,

The Altar Stone lies at 80-degrees to the solar axis; that is: it's not perpendicular to that line, but cocked 10-degrees to the northeast. This creates a sightline to Winter Solstice Sunrise, seen across Hole-H.

Additionally, the earlier Stone-97 axis splits this recumbent exactly in half, while the Solar alignment misses the center by a small, but certain amount. This tells us the Altar Stone was not repositioned after the original axis was re-calibrated; close enough being good enough.

This indicates that the Altar Stone was emplaced when the 'Old' axis prevailed, and was situated to accommodate the Winter Sun. The associated position of Hole-H and its bisection by S-97 bolster this argument.

Later erection of the Trilithons and Sarsen Circle impede this sightline, as the north corner of S-53 and then S-8 are right in the way. (It's thought by some that the Great Trilithon then took up this alignment role.)

So then, the Altar Stone's emplacement must have been at a very early moment, probably at, or near, the closing stages of the Wood Configuration. Also, if it were always there, why not make it the center of the complex?

Therefore, it cannot have been randomly deposited, as we have 2 points of solar, and at least 3 artificial references for its position.

Neil

Geo Cur said...



"At this rate of date destruction, pretty soon we'll get to the Roman Times! What I have been arguing all along! And so did Isaac Newton's generation! "

There is no rate of date destruction .Who , in the Hawking generation i.e. the second and third generation of radio carbon dating has suggested that the megalithic monument was erected in the Neolithic ?
The generation before Newton didn't follow scripture or use folk tales and realised that there were monuments in Britain that pre dated the Romans , see Aubrey and Stukeley .
Argue that Stonehenge was built in Roman times ? Is this an addendum to the " boys game where the stones were "hang" over the ice age " .Do tell .

Geo Cur said...

"The shape of the volcanics A look rounded, these as the very small <10g debitage. Other better informed people looking at the same assemblages say they ARE flaked."
Considering the variety of dressing involved on some of the stones , not all would produce homogenous angular flakes .That is of course if the debitage did include some of the dressing .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris you write,

"Kostas I do not believe that Dr Ixer has ever suggested or thought that the debitage is from the initial dressing of the orthostats. He certainly does not, at the moment.
The data are not there. What few there are suggest much is post IA souvenir collecting?"


If not from "the initial dressing", then from any other time after time dressing/undressing? Like what happens in stone/wood/iron factories? And if "much is post Iron Age" (forget "souvenir collecting" ! ), why not Roman Times? And even latter times? Curious, what is the evidence for post IA? Any rc dates?

Does it concern you that the impression created and left undisturbed (except by the likes of me and Brian) is the Stonehenge "debitage" of "chips off the old block" (your words!) somehow proves Neolithic (and now possibly Bronze Age, or even Iron Age and latter-- is there an end to this timely trend?) people erected Stonehenge?!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Neil you write,

"Most of these finds were discovered in clusters, and in one case a small pile. So to answer Kostas, it's unlikely that a natural process would deposit them in such a way."

What "such a way"? Seriously! We have 12 fragments. And some half a dozen places where these came from (if I recall Myris right). That would make optimally 2 fragments per "cluster"! Not much of a cluster or pile of stones, if you ask me!

Even so, what human (and not natural) agency would have these fragments from SH 38 "widely and thinly" distributed over such wide Stonehenge Landscape? I see a story coming! Star alignments! Or is it "ritual"?

But even such alignment arguments you are making are totally spurious. We cannot know the dates to know the alignments. As Myris now boldly steeped forth in cyberspace to report.

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris you write,

"The shape of the volcanics A look rounded, these as the very small <10g debitage. Other better informed people looking at the same assemblages say they ARE flaked."

Three questions.

Are these "better informed people" part of MPP's team?
How flakes become rounded, if not through flavio-glacial processes?
Can Nature make flakes?

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo you write,

"Argue that Stonehenge was built in Roman times ? Is this an addendum to the " boys game where the stones were "hang" over the ice age " .Do tell ."

You are confused as to what I said and argue! I have never said "Stonehenge was built in Roman times". I am arguing Stonehenge was mainly made by natural processes! Some of the stone joining and dressing may have been done in Roman times.

Out of respect of Brian, however, I won't elaborate! And you shouldn't provoke me!

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Oh Kostas please be provoked.
The Roman use of Stonehenge is yet to be fully explored.
Kostas what you really should do is read the new dating of the ?five phases of modelling remodelling of Stonehenge. Even if you know it is rubbish,you need to know your enemy.
Those poor blues hardly settled in their pits before being unturfed out
and moved.
What is the Grooved Ware package these days,when they were Rinyo-Clactonian they had the decency to be secondary Neolithic.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas, no,they include world authority flint kidnappers/archaeologists. I am unaware of any comments by the MPP boys on the shape of the debitage.
I am pretty certain they will have commented.
Yes to me out of a archie context I would have assumed fluvial processes.
But I am a petrographer, pure and complex, so my views are informed but may be wrong.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Finally Kostas surely you meant Flavian-glacial processes.
Just a little local camp comment.
M

Geo Cur said...

You said “soon we'll get to the Roman Times! What I have been arguing all along! And so did Isaac Newton's generation! “
The implication was the building of the monument , as some had believed at the time
,they weren’t suggesting “jointing and dressing” alone .

“I am arguing Stonehenge was mainly made by natural processes! Some of the stone joining and dressing may have been done in Roman times.”

Nobody would argue that the building blocks are not natural .
What remains is the building /erection , what is the evidence and argument for natural processes being involved in this ?
What evidence or argument is there for the “joining and dressing “ having been done in the Iron Age ?
To question such beliefs is not provocation .


ND Wiseman said...

Kostas,

I have no agenda, re: 'A story coming'
To my knowledge, (and you may take from that what you will), there are no 'star alignments' at Stonehenge. It's all about the Moon and the Sun.
But the Solar alignments I mention (and the Lunar ones I don't) are actually there, and must have been from the earliest days.

You don't have to know a specific date to figure out which event came first. I cite antlers in the stone holes as an example.

Earlier, GeoCur said something about the possibility of the 'small piles' perhaps being from 'souvenir hunters'. I hadn't thought of that, but it may be true.

I have no idea how flakes from BS-38 got away from the parent stone, but it was almost certainly after the original installation, if the context of the 'piles' is accurate.

If I read you right, you contend that the site was erected in at least the Iron Age and more probably Roman Times. I would very much like to see any work you've done in that area.

Best wishes,
Neil

Geo Cur said...



“the impression created and left undisturbed (except by the likes of me and Brian) is the Stonehenge "debitage" of "chips off the old block" (your words!) somehow proves Neolithic (and now possibly Bronze Age, or even Iron Age and latter-- is there an end to this timely trend?) people erected Stonehenge?! “

Best talk for yourself .
I doubt anyone else suffers from this misunderstanding .
The debitage has no bearing on the evidence for BA erection of the megalithic monument , either earlier or later . No-one has claimed , afaik ,and I doubt you know of anyone , that the debitage “proves “ an erection date in the Neolithic or any other period for that matter .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo you write,

"Nobody would argue that the building blocks are not natural . "

Ah! Geo, your slight response here is your strongest admission of the weakness of your argument. And of the strength of my sensible reasoning, based on Nature.

I cannot respond to the rest of your comment since I know for sure Brian will block my comments. He has often said so and done so! If you can make him change his mind and allow such debate with you here, I would jump at that opportunity!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

More redating and remodeling of Stonehenge? And more made-up stories to needle through these new dates? Do we need to hear all the alibis of a liar to know they are lying? In a manner of speaking, of course!

I'll wait for their "final story" before cross examining them with unassailable witnesses!

But you make a very key revelation I have not heard you confess in the past. You write, "Yes to me out of a archie context I would have assumed fluvial processes [for rounding the debitage fragments]"

As for the "world authority flint kidnappers/archaeologists", are they now the New Age geologists replacing Science with Opinion?

Kostas

Geo Cur said...



" Slight response "?
Followed by an admission of a failure to be able respond ,reasonably , to the bulk of the repsopnse , says enough .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Neil, you write

"If I read you right, you contend that the site was erected in at least the Iron Age and more probably Roman Times".

No! That's what Geo would like you to think my thinking is! The stone jointing and dressing may have occurred during Roman Times and latter. But Nature may be mainly responsible for the site.

Brian has barred me from discussing my Stonehenge Theory in his blog. And out of respect of him I refrain as much as possible from doing so directly. If you like to know my ideas on this, please feel free to email me at kostadinos@aol.com

Kostas

Geo Cur said...



" More redating and remodeling of Stonehenge? "
That is what science is about ,providing better models , i.e. remodelling , as opposed to a rigid "truth" that doesn't take new information into consideration .
If you are unaware or don't read the literature then you won't know the reasons for the remodelling .

Myris of Alexandria said...

No Kostas they are people who have seen and made thousands perhaps tens of thousands of debitage flakes.
Their experience is greater than mine and is therefore of greater value.
An old but totally true saying in geology is "the best geologist is the one who has seen the most rocks"
The natural sciences are unlike the queen of science.
Kostas I know of few people in this debate who are liars.Many axes are being ground, few are being buried but intentional lying is rare and in the Groves very quickly self-defeating.
The circles are small and almost everything is known or guessed. Serious academic deception is so spectacular because it is rare, it is keeping the lie serviced.
It is hard enough servicing the truth.
Enough of lies, Machiavellian powerful scientists,filthy lucre inspired research. It is not that important or serious.
Venal not mortal sins.
M

Geo Cur said...

"No! That's what Geo would like you to think my thinking is! "
I haven't the slighest interest in ifluencing Neil's understanding of any type of alternative, evidence free , and evidence ignoring belief ,that has already been heard , refuted and dismissed ,but with grateful thanks for the unconscious humour .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

You neglected to mention "in a manner of speaking" in my comment!

"These people" you speak of, any of them geologists or geomorphologists? To reverberate Brian's point, don't these disciplines have something important to say about these "rounded flakes"? Which you as a geologists have identified as fluvial? Why do you so easily defer to these "flint kidnappers/archaeologists" to tell you what your eyes and scientific knowledge tell you?

To a hammer everything is a nail! The same applies to "experts". Don't be in awe of them! They are often more adept in not knowing the truth!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

"To my knowledge, (and you may take from that what you will), there are no 'star alignments' at Stonehenge. It's all about the Moon and the Sun. "

I'm with Neil on this one Kostas. Though we haven't really got round to the moon and why that's important at Stonehenge (myself and Neil diverge a bit in the interpretation of the meaning of the moon association)

It sounds as if a lot of good work has been put in on the quarry idea. But it's hard to see how one could make an effective contribution from outside the team even if one believed that one could add something. So I'm very much looking forward to seeing how far the team goes on the current track. All in good time I guess.

Jon

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

Still sore? So sorry! From your unrelenting attacks, it is evident the pain persists.

Give it time! In time we'll know!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

Did I erroneously give the impression star alignments explain Stonehenge? As for the Sun and the Moon, they can speak for themselves! As Nature has much to say on this!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...



The sides ache after the initial reading , hence the encouragement for fresh laughs . But they do wear thin on repeat .

Jon Morris said...

"Did I erroneously give the impression star alignments explain Stonehenge? As for the Sun and the Moon, they can speak for themselves! As Nature has much to say on this! "

The '63 argument in Nature was somewhat extensive. (Nature). It assumes that the people who developed Stonehenge were astronomers using alignments to the horizon.

My argument (I can't speak for Neil) is that the 'alignments' are a by-product of what they were really doing: Under this scenario, the bluestones would have been important for what that material type represents rather than their origin. In this type of development pattern, a 'quarry' in Wales would probably be unnecessary: The location that spawned the ideas would be found elsewhere.

So it'll be interesting to see what the quarry guys come up with.

I haven't read Rob Ixer's paper, but it seems to me to describe something that does fit the 'geocentric' development pattern. However, it's very difficult to tell without having read it. Best to wait and see I guess.

Jon

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon,

To be clear, I meant Nature not Nature.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

Okeydokey Kostas.

Neil's been kind enough to fill me in on some of the detail in the paper. Interesting stuff. Maybe after it's been published it'll resolve a few of the issues. Though I suspect that there is one question that will become the new focus after people have had a chance to think about it. After it is published we'll have to come back to this.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon, you write

"Though I suspect that there is one question that will become the new focus after people have had a chance to think about it."

I likely know that "one question" and that answer! I am all for having such discussion! I know Brian rather not, in his blog.(blocked my past posts even remotely hinting at my Stonehenge Theory).

And I can't wait for my article to be published (if ever) in order to have such an open and honest discussion of these ideas. So if you like, email me (as Neil has) and we can do this now. And without Geo prying into every word spoken with his disruptive no cents.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Carry on, you guys, in another part of the blogosphere! Enough going on here as it is.....

Jon Morris said...

I used to quite like getting Geo's comments Kostas. He's very knowledgeable.

As Brian says, best left for the moment: It's not published yet. The question I have in mind is quite mundane.

Cheers


Jon

BRIAN JOHN said...

Which paper are you referring to, Jon? The all-singing and all-dancing one from the MPP tribe?

Jon Morris said...

The paper that this blog post is about Brian. You got sent it by Rob Ixer?

There's no link saying where to obtain it so assumed it must be due for publication later this year: Wilts Arch & Nat Hist Mag 108 (2015), pp 1-14

Geo Cur said...

“Prying “ , on a blog that is open access and you openly writing to it , is par for the conspiracy minded course .

What was once described by yourself as a “paper “ is now an article , why the change ?

Pointing out errors and highlighting nonsense is not being disruptive .

Jon Morris said...

Knew I'd forgotten something: Tony said at the start that it's not being distributed for a few weeks yet.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not sure they do things online -- as Tony explained, members will get their hard copies any day now......

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Jon, you write

"I used to quite like getting Geo's comments Kostas. He's very knowledgeable."

Yes but he uses his "knowledge" like it was the only soccer ball in town! If you don't play by his rules, he threatens to take his balls and go home!

No thanks! I won't play!

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

I expect it will go into the aether next month.
M

Myris of Alexandria said...

Brian MPP et al will be published later this year. There will be no leading of it before the launch.
The paper is not Ixer's but Ixer, Bevins and Gize, like the presenters of motor programmes or Gods they are a tri-umphant, indivisible assemblage.
M




.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Leaking not leading.
Bloody autocorrect.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

"Leaping" would have been good too.....

Geo Cur said...


" I won't play!"

Read , can't play .i.e. failure to provide evidence whilst ignoring evidence .Consistent use of fantasy to support "explanations " etc .

"take his balls and go home!"


BTW only one ball used at a time in soccer .
Is it possible that exclamation marks signify irony or humour ?
They seem to coincide with the funniest points .

Myris said...

Nice.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

... from another site, a "flint kidnapper" at work!
Is this the "expertise" that overruled your geology judgment how the "debitage" flakes got rounded?

Really?

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

"Yes but he uses his "knowledge" like it was the only soccer ball in town! If you don't play by his rules, he threatens to take his balls and go home!"

Not sure about that Kostas. To a certain degree, there's no point in developing hypotheses (whether true or not) if knowledgeable experts do not think there is any benefit to anyone in pursuing a given line of enquiry.

If for some reason you were to have the benefit of knowledge not available to expert opinion, one or two outcomes (hypotheses) resulting from that knowledge can test the water: In this circumstance, expert reaction (or otherwise) is not telling you something about your own hypotheses/knowledge but instead tells you how important the field of interest is seen to be. George is kind enough to freely give his time to testing hypotheses.

As an aside, the question resulting from the paper is quite ordinary: If the bluestones were not finished at Stonehenge ('finished' as in the meaning used in construction), then where were they finished.

Jon

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

I have and can play my game. But I won't and can't play your game.

My intellectual integrity and commitment to Truth won't let me. So you might as well take your "knowledge" and your balls and go home!

Kosta

BRIAN JOHN said...

Now then, chaps. This isn't cricket. Shall we call it stumps and move back into the pavilion for a nice cup of tea?

Geo Cur said...


Where does fantasy and avoidance of contraray evidence fit into the platitudinous "integrity and Commitment to truth ".

The areas where truth is most trumpeted are those where you are least likely to find it e.g. Sun headlines , conspiracy theorists , ufo spotters and abductees ,lying politicians , religious fantasists and fundamentalists etc .

Alex Gee said...

I would be most interested to see the Archeo's hypothesis on why so much physical effort was expended on shaping/rounding the Bluestones to such an extent, and why in comparison, so little effort was put into rounding the Sarsens or the Altar Stone?

A Change in neolithic architectural fashions perchance?

TonyH said...

Are Ixer, Bevins and Gize, Myris's Indivisible Trio, in essence infallible 'Ageing Hippies' a la "Round the Horne"? How many of them have their hair tied up in bows at the back, despite it receding at the front? These are important questions.

I am most impressed how this Post has generated so many comments in such a short time, many revolving around the Kostas/ GeoCur/ Jon Morris axis. But I am so far unconvinced that the MPP Grouping's eagerly anticipated, sworn - to - Secrecy Paper will be as Earth - shattering as some hope! More likely it will involve more smoke and mirrors: but then I am an Old Yorkshire Sceptic rather than a flowers - in - my - hair Ageing Hippy.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, I hope to goodness that the three geologists who have looked at the site and who know the rocks will also have known enough geomorphology to point out to the archaeos the till, fluvioglacial sediments, rockfall debris and Holocene slope deposits that others of us have remarked upon....... and if not, what were they doing there?

Geo Cur said...



"why so much physical effort was expended on shaping/rounding the Bluestones to such an extent, and why in comparison, so little effort was put into rounding the Sarsens "
Considering the greater size and hardness of the sarsens , the number dressed and the greater variety of dressing styles found on the sarsens , much more effort was expended on them than on the Bluestones .

Only 17 (iirc) bluestones were dressed and the dressing is more superficial than the what is found on the sarsens . If we also include shaping then there really is no competition .
Why so much more effort was expended on the sarsens , not the bluestones , may well be because of their greater stature and being the exterior face making them more of a focal point.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree with that, Geo. The majority of the existing bluestones are grubby little things which seem to have been used as they were found.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Although he must admit to begging on the streets at Haight-Ashbury in August 1967 and having no hair on top, I suspect that Dr Ixer is the only aging hippy
Drs Bevins and Gize are too young and both have fine heads of hair.
None of them have much Pleistocene knowledge,those that have have a duty to publish in the proper literature.
Surely finding the quarry is enough.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quarry? What quarry? What the geologists have done is to locate a provenance for some chips of rock found at Stonehenge. Different thing entirely.

Do I take it then that the geologists involved in this paper have not sought to say anything about the sediments, or to comment on the things said by others when the drafts of the paper were being discussed?

Myris of Alexandra said...

The site needs to be geologically described by those competent to do so.
A site as well known as this has become needs correct and detailed description.
Some minor journal would take such a description.
You could even try Archaeology in Wales!!!!!!!!!!
Good detailed descriptions are needed in order to judge other papers.
No good saying all is rubbish without documentation in the literature.
The site has been excavated for a number of years and has been open.
This blog is no vehicle it is a series of personal thoughts, mainly by WASPS with little lasting value, has some slight influence

but publish or be damned.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

"Do I take it then that the geologists involved in this paper have not sought to say anything about the sediments, or to comment on the things said by others when the drafts of the paper were being discussed?"

The answer is "No! They have not".

Archeologists are in charge of this narrative! Using what "experts" are willing to be used to prop up their stories. What we have been saying and were concerned all along!

Now what were we saying about the "flint kidnapper" at work! that have identified the "rounded flakes" as dressing? But not of stones! But of stories!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- we can't be definitive, since everybody involved has clearly signed an oath of secrecy on pain of losing their National Geographic starring roles -- but it certainly looks that way....

On the debitage fragments and shapes, we are all grovelling in the dark. Maybe our friend Myris can find some way of getting some photos of these flakes to us, so that we can actually see what they look like?

Myris of Alexandria said...

I think Dr Ixer has but one very very small example. Most samples are big.
All the Stonehenge material has been returned and is in Salisbury or with TIm Darvill.
But the next ferret paper will be this class of material and macroscopical pics of small fragments will be included from somewhere.
I had been looking for a hook for the paper.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

"Sworn to secrecy"? Then how come Neil got a PDF of the paper? And shared some of its content with Jon? While you and I have not?

Such special treatment betrays "conspiracy by the willing to go along with the conspiracy". There, Geo! I said it!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

There we are, Myris! Good hook -- why the fragments are the shapes they are.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- different papers. On the one hand, we have the stone 38 paper, about to be published in paper version -- and on the other hand we have the big Rhosyfelin peper, with many authors, awaited some time in the autumn, no doubt to coincide with a Nat Geog Mag super-spectacular TV docudrama.....

Geo Cur said...



A major conspiracy brought to light . Was the investigator a journalist for the Onion ?

Myris sends a copy of a paper to Neil , that is also available from the ferret club . Neil shares the info with Jon , horror .

It goes some to explaining why "read the literature " always falls on deaf ears .
Did it not occur to you to get your own copy , or even ask for one . Would you have read and understood it if it was sent ?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree, Geo. The paper is interesting and a nice addition to the geology literature, but there is no conspiracy. In my experience, authors are happy to send PDFs of their advance copies of papers soon to be published, if asked nicely.....

Constantinos Ragazas said...

"Kostas what you really should do is read the new dating of the ?five phases of modelling remodelling of Stonehenge. Even if you know it is rubbish,you need to know your enemy."

Why!

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

"but publish or be damned"

Out of interest Myris, why do you believe it is important to publish?

As far as I can tell, Brian is helping to lay the groundwork showing the type of expert criticism that could be expected if they do publish anything extraordinary. Knowledge of the type of criticism to be anticipated might be helpful to them. The blog is a good way to do that and might even be appreciated (albeit in a slightly annoyed sort of way).

I agree that a referenced publication might be even more helpful to the team, especially if Brian is privy to information that the team is not aware of. But there is no onus on Brian to do that work: The team have not revealed what social value the project has, so there is no identified moral duty to publish in a way that would be directly helpful to them.

Jon

Myris of Alexandria said...

Kostas because you might be missing the truth.
I believe Dr Ixer routinely sends preprints of his papers to Brian for his comments, indeed some have sentences written by him in them.
Paranoia seems endemic in American minds.
My

BRIAN JOHN said...

Always happy to help where I can! I wish more people would send out the EARLY drafts of papers -- not necessarily to me, but to others with various types of expertise -- for comments. We all have our blind spots, and can all benefit from independent scrutiny!

Geo Cur said...

Why! (complete with ironic signifier )

Exactly , why bother having an understanding of the subject (i.e. the ‘game’ as understood by the other players ) that you in all seriousness ,(despite the caps and exclamation marks signifiers ) make fantastical comments about , it would only get in the way of a good “explanation”.
If the literature was read, and understood , then hopefully , there would be far less misunderstandings and posts that are not actually about the subject .

Geo Cur said...


" I do not believe that Dr Ixer has ever suggested or thought that the debitage is from the initial dressing of the orthostats."
Could you clarify the thinking behind "initial " please ?

Personally , I imagine a scenario where the the stones (blue and sarsen ) were shaped somewhere in the landscape not too far from the henge and not necessarily in it .
The later dressing may have taken place in the same area(s)and possibly within the henge but would have been probably been contemporaneous with the erection .
I am unaware of subterranean dressing which may or may not provide a clue to the chronology of the dressing in relation to the erection .

Myris said...

Not certain that I can, I can but ask but wait a little while The stats on the debitage are being run, by context. Results may or may not be interesting.
M

Jon Morris said...

Personally , I imagine a scenario where the the stones (blue and sarsen ) were shaped somewhere in the landscape not too far from the henge and not necessarily in it .

Where transport is difficult, one would usually do the initial shaping of construction materials at or near the source of those materials: This reduces the transport weight and allows you to shape it for the transport process. Some types of final finishing (dressing and removal of transport projections) can be done close to the intended site.

It's possible that blocks were ordered (the same way that materials for statues are sometimes done), but it's more likely that the whole operation from source to product would have been coordinated.

BRIAN JOHN said...

A perfectly reasonable explanation of the widespread debitage of bits and pieces of bluestone (and sarsen) across the Stonehenge landscape is that the concentrations of flakes in certain places is directly related to the places where the stones were found. Shaped a bit on the spot, in some cases at least, and then shifted to the monument site. Back to the erratic scatter......

Geo Cur said...




Myris ,
Thanks .

Jon ,
The immediate landscape outwith the henge has not been well investigated for shaping /dressing evidence but when it was ,one well sited trench provided evidence foe a sarsen having been dressed and or shaped on the spot .
Whether this is where the original block was discovered by the dressers (Bert Finney's ?)or whether it was transported there for the operation is unknown.
But due to it's proximity to the eventual site I would guess the latter (just a bit too convenient , that the one we can be sure of was so close ) , unless there was a henge shaped hole among a natural scatter of sarsens , which seems unlikely .
Only further investigation of the wider landscape will confirm where the shaping /dressing was done . Fwiw ,I'd plump for close to the monument ,for final shaping and possibly dressing (if not post erection ) of the sarsens , not original source , due to the importance of the shaping of lintels and orthostats .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

I am not "missing the truth" of the Great Pyramids of Giza, or the Gobekli Tepe T-pillars, or the Easter Island megalith Heads. Or any other site where the evidence of human agency is indisputable.

Though I am certainly missing much detail about how and when all these were done. And if I needed to be an expert on any of these, I certainly would need to read extensively on these. But I really don't have that desire. Too many other exciting things to do with my time.

Why do I "need to know my enemy"? When all I want to know is truth! I have no enemies. I embrace all people with all their human frailties and needs. But I am not swayed by their made-up stories. Which is what I would be reading if I was to read their literature.

That said, I should say I would like to know the Rhosyfelin RC dates MPP has been keeping! "How long must I wait? "

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, you write

"A perfectly reasonable explanation of the widespread debitage of bits and pieces of bluestone (and sarsen) across the Stonehenge landscape is that the concentrations of flakes in certain places is directly related to the places where the stones were found"

I agree. Do you also agree such matching stone fragments could also be found naturally scattered and not next to "where the stones were found"?

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

"Only further investigation of the wider landscape will confirm where the shaping /dressing was done . Fwiw ,I'd plump for close to the monument ,for final shaping and possibly dressing (if not post erection ) of the sarsens , not original source , due to the importance of the shaping of lintels and orthostats ."

I think we agree on this George but I'm not sure if you are bringing up a point of contention:

If the source material were close to the monument, then initial shaping and final shaping would probably have been the same operation.

If the source material were located at some distance from the monument, the process would be made easier if the initial shaping were done at a distance: Let us say that a structural component were to be transported from Marlborough to Stonehenge: The source material would have been identified and would almost certainly consist of a number of significantly larger boulders. It is likely that the process of initial shaping would discover some rocks to be unsuitable: Some will split along fracture lines and yet others may contain inclusions.

A rational builder would roughly shape all the stones at or close to source so that he/she can identify which ones are unsuitable, reduce the transport weight of the stone and also make it into a shape more suitable for any encasement (that might have been required to protect it during the journey). One of the problems with finding evidence at Marlborough would be that the discarded material would make ideal building material for future generations: It is a location where stone is relatively valuable so discarded building material would probably be removed over time.

If initial (rough) shaping were done at source and only dressing done close to the site, you would only find smaller discarded fragments in the landscape close to Stonehenge: Remnants of the dressing process. If shaping were not done at source, much larger pieces would be found.

To my eye, the range of sarsen fragments discovered in the trench you mentioned are only indicative of final dressing. However, it's not something I've spent a great deal of time looking at.

BRIAN JOHN said...

If we are dealing with an assemblage of erratics scattered across a landscape, and heavily denuded glacial deposits including some glacial and some fluvio-glacial materials, it is not necessary for all of the debitage in "the Stonehenge landscape" to have come from the dressing or destruction of orthostats. I'm with Kostas on the possible significance of rounded or sub-rounded fragment shapes, because these could be diagnostic as to origins. Sharpe-edged flakes are much more likely to have come from percussion contacts -- people bashing large stones with smaller ones, in order to reduce their size or change their shape. Or even, after the Iron Age, people bashing stones with metal hammers.

Geo Cur said...

"I think we agree on this George but I'm not sure if you are bringing up a point of contention:"
It was only an opinion/suggestion /a fwiw and as such it’s contentious and there are valid reasons to disagree with it .
The dressing could have been done after erection .
Even if some of the components were relatively close to the monument they might not have been dressed and shaped in situ but could have been moved closer for shaping in context with other the components .
If it was just a case of providing orthostats to fit into holes around the circumference of a henge then it could be solved quite simply .But the trilithon settings are complicated by the presence of the lintels , mortice and tenon , and even getting the right flat side of the orthostats in the right place e.g. stones 1 and 30 ,the uprights of the trilthon where the solstice alignment is seen through from the centre , have very regular straight sides , the interior faces tend to be flatter than the exteriors etc .The all important accuracy of the grading may not have been helped by working with a groups of stones mirroring their eventual situations but the rest of the problems could have been eased . It was a one off and there were no rehearsals that we know of , they may have kept problems to a minimum .

Geo Cur said...


" Sharpe-edged flakes are much more likely to have come from percussion contacts -- people bashing large stones with smaller ones, in order to reduce their size or change their shape."
It depends on how the percussion is applied and the stone that is being bashed . Strike the edge with a maul and you will get a different result from rubbing /abrading .Indirect percussion e.g. using one stone as a chisel that is then struck by a second hammer stone prodcuces different results from direct pefcussion when the hammer stone only is doing the bashing .If the stone being bashed is recumbent the flakes from the initial percussion also get bashed again , and again ,the results can be a combination of angular flakes to dust .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Interesting point. Thanks Geo. I have real problems with mauls -- some of which are far too heavy to lift, let along to do anything else with -- maybe these guys were superhuman? What is the maximum weight of a stone that can effectively be used as a tool? 10 kg maybe?

Why would one want to rub a stone back and forth an infinite number of times just to abrade or smooth something? That would have been deemed a total waste of time, even by a Neolithic stone mason.

Geo Cur said...

It has been suggested and demonstrated that A frames and ropes could have been used for using the mauls , far more effective than man sized hamer sotnes for the grosser shaping .

The rubbing /abrading provides a smooth finish or in some cases deep grooves .
"Why would one want to rub a stone back and forth an infinite number of times just to abrade or smooth something? "
That's what was asked of the grannies who used to polish their stairs and doorsteps religiously .It's an unnecessary step (pun ) too far , but it was meaningful for them and their comminity .
Similarly , in the Neolithic many hours would have been spent polishing inefficient and never used polished "axes " .
You could ask the same question about all the other dressing techniques e.g. fine tooling transevers , fine tooling longitudal , pick dressing ,coarse dressing longitudal ridges . pick dressing fine etc . Or extend it to , why would anyone dig a circular ditch then later erect a bunch of varying sized stones within it ? Wouldn't that also have been deemed a waste of time from some perspectives ?

Geo Cur said...


Not peer reviewed afaik and contentious , but this could prove interesting .

http://www.theonion.com/articles/geologists-unearth-fully-intact-rock,38364/

Geo Cur said...

Ooops ,should have added , that the percussive stones used for dressing etc , despite being as hard or harder than the stone being dressed also provide plenty debitage /dust etc too .

Myris of Alexandria said...

Boys, boys, boys, is that not a lovely song from 'Hair'?
May I in my usual 'umble manner suggest that before wasting more time you read EH Project 6457
SH Laser Scan etc Abbott and Anderson-Whymark, all of it.
For any turnip-gruel drinkers it is FREE FREE on the web, pop into your local library and use their machine and better if you can use your wrinklies bus pass.

Also look up the reports of the excavations of the Cuckoo Stone. Debitage???
Then return to the problem.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris, we are not arguing. Just having a pleasant conversation! Trying to learn here, as ever. I looked at that laser survey article once -- will look again.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- thanks for the link to that fascinating article in The Onion. My favourite learned journal. This is a really exciting breakthrough. I wonder if the dig team working at Rhosyfelin know about it?

Geo Cur said...



Myris , where do think the mention of the various tooling techniques and shaping at Stonehenge came from , if not the Laser report ?

Geo Cur said...


"Also look up the reports of the excavations of the Cuckoo Stone. Debitage???"

Nobody has mentioned the Cuckoo Stone here ,lately .
It's simply a sarsen that was shifted from it's original find spot and left adjacent to the resulting pit , no shaping or dressing has been noted afaik , which might explain the lack of debitage and lack of recent mention here .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo writes,

"... the results [of stone dressing] can be a combination of angular flakes to dust ."

And also,

"... A frames and ropes could have been used for using the mauls , far more effective than man sized hamer sotnes for the grosser shaping"

So how did the flakes got rounded? And are we now to include "A-frame" demolition cranes with pendulum swinging wrecking mauls in the UK Neolithic panoply of technological know how? Is there no end what these Neolithic people we think could do?

Is anybody asking, where else in the Neolithic UK are such technological marvels to be found, besides Stonehenge? Shouldn't they if real?

Kostas

Geo Cur said...


"So how did the flakes got rounded?"

As noted ".If the stone being bashed is recumbent the flakes from the initial percussion also get bashed again , and again ,the results can be a combination of angular flakes to dust ."
Btw . Have you seen the rounded flakes ?

"And are we now to include "A-frame" demolition cranes with pendulum swinging wrecking mauls in the UK Neolithic panoply of technological know how? Is there no end what these Neolithic people we think could do? "

Hve you seen an A frame ?If you think they are some major technological ,marvel in the Neolithic ,it explains a lot ,however ,it was actually the BA ,as has all ready been pointed out very recently .

A frames in comparison with erection of the monument and many others are extremely small beer .
"Demolition cranes " you made up .

Jon Morris said...

“Whether this is where the original block was discovered by the dressers (Bert Finney's ?)or whether it was transported there for the operation is unknown.”

Possibly George, but as rather obtusely noted by Myris, 6457 showed that the methods used fracturing. It wouldn't take much guess work to be able to predict that this would be found. However, the tailings resulting from preparatory fracturing work appear to be missing from excavations at Stonehenge.

Tailings would be hard to miss.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah Geo I know you are on cue, as for the Cuckoo Stone you make my point. It is some others who draw random thoughts from the aether. Geo you are considered in your views.

Dr Ixer has put the SH 38 paper on line. He tells me to refrain from telling the cost but I am surprised at his potlach.
M

Geo Cur said...


Sorry , thought you meant my comments .

Ah , Sh38 ,what this thread is actually about ,even the title mentions it , and there have been various comments about the content of the paper including a synopsis at the head of the thread .Yet it was actually considered to be "secretly shared " thus " betraying a conspiracy " . This calls for an Onion investigation to unearth the truth .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo you write,

"Have you seen the rounded flakes ?"

No I haven't! But I would like to. And so would Brian and Alex and Tony and many others here. Can you get us some photos? Or does that require EH permission.

"... If you think they [A frames] are some major technological ,marvel in the Neolithic "

Neither is the "wheel", but nowhere found in the UK Neolithic. Can you point to where else such stone joining technology is found in the UK Neolithic? Surely such "small beer " technology would have been used extensively by the people that purportedly built Stonehenge! Don't you think?

"it was actually the BA ".

At this rate of "date destruction", we'll soon get to the Roman Times and latter.

Kostas

Geo Cur said...




The A frames ,hardly a great technological development for the people who managed to erect a monument like Stonehnege , would almopst certainly have been made of wood .
Why would A frames have been used extensively ? And if so what for .
I know points have to be repeated at least four times before they sink in only to be forgotten , but for the umpteenth time the megalithic monumnet was erected in the Bronze Age ,not the Neolithic .
If only you would read the literature you could go back to it until it sinks in .

Neil Wiseman said...

As shown by the laser scans, the upper inside face of Stone-21 has been violently sheared off. This event took the upper saddle and tenon with it.

This action could not have occurred if a passive method like a cribbing system had been employed to seat the lintel, and if the stone had been damaged prior to erection it wouldn't have been used.

This tells us that something swung into S-21 after it was seated and bashed the top. This object could only have been its lintel.

Having said that, the only way to lift and suspend a 9-ton stone 16 feet in the air would be 1 of 3 methods, which are: an A-frame, a tripod, or a crane -- all extremely simple engineering concepts.

Neil

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris you write,

"Paranoia seems endemic in American minds."

Because we've seen too much! When we see worlds and lives pulled perpetually in circles with no Light of Reason emminating from the center, Cosmology tells us there is Dark Matter in the middle.

Is it Paranoia? Or is it Science!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo,

... the question concerned "stone joining technology" as found at Stonehenge! Where else in the Neolithic UK such can be found? And why not?

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Neil -- why would you need to LIFT a 9-tonne stone? Ramps and rollers and lots of reconstructions of other methods that avoid lifting..... including levers.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myrius -- is the Altar Stone extremely thin-bedded? Looks almost foliated!

TonyH said...

116 comments on this Post so far as I write, of which, FORTY - FOUR (44) in the 3 Days, April 10th - 12th.

Post - Easter FEVER??! Or a lunar or solar alignment?

Or is it In Praise of Dr Rob Ixer, Friends and Associates, mythical or otherwise?

Whatever the cause is, I bet it's a record!

Jon Morris said...

Lot of discussion about A frames! If that technology had been developed, it is likely that they would know about the other forms.

As a matter of interest (re George's comment about debitage left by the impact material) there is a method that would leave little in the way of debitage from the 'hammer' material: The technology is relatively simple and it's clear from other archaeological research that it would have been available at that point in time. That type of method would have significantly reduce both the labour requirement and programme timescale (probably by 90% or so below current assumptions).

If it becomes an important point for any reason, it might be worth describing how that would be done: A rational builder would try to seek the method which provided the lowest labour and time requirements.

Jon Morris said...

Levers are a good way to go Brian: You can construct a lifting system using levers that only uses flexural and compressive strengths of materials: Because of the materials available at that point in time, one of the biggest risks would have been systems that require the use of tensile materials.

Geo Cur said...



There are no other monuments from the period , in Britain and Ireland that I am aware of that has anything like the lintels at Stonehenge

Geo Cur said...

Should have added , the period was the Bronze Age not the Neolithic ,only another half dozen mentions of that before it sinks in ?

Why not ?
I have no idea.

TonyH said...

Whoever figured out the 'Good Ol' Boys' were next going to be required to build trilithons, including lintels, out of gigantic sarsen stone, instead of their previous material, wood, must have had quite a task just to get it past the Mesolithic Trade Union.

TonyH said...

Mesolithic Trade Union? Think I meant to say "Megalithic"!!GeorgieC may come down on me like a tonne of sarsen if I don't make this correction!!!

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo you write,

"There are no other monuments [like Stonehenge] from the period , in Britain and Ireland"

Further, you write "I don't know" why there are no other monuments from the same period using such building technology.

Were "mortise and tenon" stone jointing used by the Romans? Why couldn't this explain the use of such technology at Stonehenge ( not found anywhere else at BA UK)?

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

The Altar Stone is thinly bedded, dare I say read Ixer and Turner 2006.
Foliated is the wrong word would indicate that the rock was metamorphic. The Devonian sandstone is not to an significant extent.
Now the Aberfeldy example is foliated.
I am gardeners are just as precious about their nomenclature and can be quite firn about our.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

I stand corrected! Yes, I should have checked in the learned paper.....
I liked the bit about you being quite firn -- firn is, of course, a sort of halfway stage between snow and ice, so when used metaphorically or poetically it suggests a well-balanced and conciliatory approach to life, neither too cold nor too hot or too wet or too dry....

Geo Cur said...



Mortice and tenon joints are usually found in woodworking and woodwork from the Bronze Age rarely survives in aerobic conditions .However securely dated mortice and tenon joints have been discovered from wells in Germany that predate the mortice and tenons at Stonehenge by well (pun) over 2 millenia i.e. that’s pre Neolithic in Britain . see http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0051374

The Romans were also capable of building all of the major Neolithic monuments in Britain and Ireland (and fwiw the generally lesser Bronze Age ones ) that does not mean that they did build them .
To suggest ,as you have done in the past , that the Romans were responsible for the lintels at Stonehenge is worthy of the Onion . A moments thought about what that entailed should have been sobering .

Neil Wiseman said...

Brian,

I have no issues with rollers and ramps. It's virtually certain that rollers were used to move the big blocks of Sarsen. Ramps have left physical evidence.

But neither of these methods would be useful in actually lifting the orthostats to an upright position. So there was rope, heavy timber, trestles and counter-weights. This infers an A- or H-framed system of some kind.

As you know, chalk is quite dense and very little compression occurs when it's acted on by mass, so there's no downtime while waiting for the stone to seat itself, as it would in regular soil. Therefore, they probably left the lifting timbers and trestles in position while the stone was righted, plumbed and backfilled. The lintel could then be saddled with no delay.

(These properties of the chalk are also instrumental in keeping the lintels perfectly level for 4,000 years)

So then, with the frame and trestle arrangement still in place, they'd simply configure a hoist of some kind and sling that puppy right up there.

Again, this would explain the damage to S-21. Some poor goof-ball lost his grip on a hawser and the lintel swung hard into the stone.

Neil

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ta Brian thought you might like that.
'Firn' c'est moi to a tee.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Neil,

There is no evidence for any of this! This is a totally made-up story!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo, you write

"Mortice and tenon joints are usually found in woodworking and woodwork from the Bronze Age rarely survives in aerobic conditions ."

If such woodwork from the Bronze Age did not survive in the UK, how do we know it ever existed?

"However securely dated mortice and tenon joints have been discovered from wells in Germany that predate the mortice and tenons at Stonehenge by well (pun) over 2 millenia i.e. that’s pre Neolithic in Britain . "

Ah, Germany to the rescue! But we've been through this before. Repeating my argument, "the date of the wood does not date the work on the wood." If such old wood could survive to the present, it could also have survived at any time in the past to be worked on under similar conditions.

"The Romans were also capable of building all of the major Neolithic monuments in Britain and Ireland (and fwiw the generally lesser Bronze Age ones ) that does not mean that they did build them . "

Nor does it mean they did not use Stonehenge and modify it to their purposes of using the pillar stones found there.

"To suggest ,as you have done in the past , that the Romans were responsible for the lintels at Stonehenge is worthy of the Onion . A moments thought about what that entailed should have been sobering ."

Onions will make you cry! Just as the truth of Stonehenge surely will.

Kostas

Jon Morris said...

"But neither of these methods would be useful in actually lifting the orthostats to an upright position. So there was rope, heavy timber, trestles and counter-weights. This infers an A- or H-framed system of some kind. "

Not necessarily Neil: If you didn't have rope of good enough quality you could use a stacked 'trestle system': This type of arrangement would not need quality rope as it uses levers instead (I did a post about how to do it on the blog somewhere, though I'm sure a better system could be put together if we spent a bit of time on it).

A lot safer than using an A frame because if the lift mechanism breaks, the stone would just re-seat itself on the stack. Just needs a team of at least 6 people to raise a stone like this using levers.

You could also raise a lintel using a similar method.

The chalk in that area is good for at least 4 kips / #', (in "old school" money) so you'll get some settlement if the base (especially the trilithons) was irregular or wasn't packed.

Geo Cur said...

“Ah, Germany to the rescue! “
Yes evidence ,something that you fail to provide and continually ignore .

“But we've been through this before. Repeating my argument, "the date of the wood does not date the work on the wood." If such old wood could survive to the present, it could also have survived at any time in the past to be worked on under similar conditions.”

Yes we have been here before and you still you don’t understand . The wood survived from 7000 years ago because it was in anaerobic conditions , is it likely that the original woodworker used the same wood that had been in anaerobic conditions ? Of course the date of the wood doesn’t date the work on the wood , all it does is provide a
TPQ but the converging evidence i.e. there was more than one well in different areas with the wood providing much the same dates is telling ,plus the pottery found in the wells also dates from the the same period .Wood workers are unlikely to consistently to use very old wood in different locations .

Again , you ignore the problems with the nonsense about Romans raising the lintels and provide no evidence to suggest that they did anything . Your attitude is no different from a childish suggestion that they had a hand in building the Parthenon and the pyramids i.e. "just prove that they didn't "

"The truth of Stonehenge" ,you still don't understand that our knowledge of the monument is constantly evolving ,getting closer to the truth but never quite getting there.
Failing to read the literature means you are unaware of what has been discovered in the past 60 years ,and to imagine that "truth" is applicable to what we already know means you are confused by the type of knowledge available and the type of propositions we can make about the monument .

"Onions will make you cry!"
True ,your comments and inablity to appreciate that the Onion was serious had led to much hilarity and resulting tears among the cognescenti .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo you write, (part I)

"The wood survived from 7000 years ago because it was in anaerobic conditions , is it likely that the original woodworker used the same wood that had been in anaerobic conditions ?"

The wood need not have been "reworked". Similar conditions that have preserved this worked wood could have similarly preserved it unworked till it was worked sometime much latter in the past. That this wood was used in a well helped preserve it in anaerobic conditions to the present. But to argue the worked wood and the well date to the same time as the date of the wood is total nonesense.

"... the converging evidence i.e. there was more than one well in different areas with the wood providing much the same dates is telling ,"

Why do you think only one unworked tree trunk was preserved in such anaerobic conditions? Why couldn't it have been an entire submerged forest surfacing over time? The evidence tells us the same conditions and circumstances of one well built using very old preserved wood existed throughout the area, and more such wells were built. As they should. Nature does not discriminate, is repeatable and applies broadly in an area.

"plus the pottery found in the wells also dates from the the same period ."

And how do we know that? By the "style" of the vessels? You ask any beginner to make you a clay pot and you will get the same primitive style and design. I know! I still have some of my early pots! They are "museum pieces" under the Prehistory section.

"Wood workers are unlikely to consistently to use very old wood in different locations ."

See comments above!

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

Nobody says that the date of felled found in a monument of any periods dates the building of the monument , it only provides ,as you have been told often enough a TPQ. However it could provide a guide , particularly when taken into consideration with other evidence .
You forget the converging evidence ,the various wells , the pottery dated from the same period , an adjacent settlement dating from the same period . Did you read the paper ?
Against this you provide no evidence at all , but desperate arguments about submerged forests .
Where is the evidence for this submerged forest ? , which would have to be submerged at the time of the woodworking for the wood not to be rotten ,which then entails retrieving the wood from the submerged forest . Why would anyone bother doing that when there was plentiful accessible supplies locally ? Confuse future archaeologists ? Ritual retrieval ? If the forest was no longer submerged then the wood be useless .
This unconsidered desperation is reminiscent of your suggestion of medieval knights breaking into sealed chambered tombs to create copies of rock art , Romans using a keeled stone at Stonehenge as battering ram , boys throwing orthostats off the edge of glaciers and many more Onion worthy “explanations “ .
What is is so problematic for you to have to accept that people 7,000 years ago used mortice and tenon joints in their woodworking ,when all the evidence points to that being the case ?

TonyH said...

This Post, ostensibly on Bluestone 38, has been commented upon to a phenomenal extent: 135 at the last count!!

I am in the process of sending the results of my analysis (both quantitative by contributor, and perhaps more importantly, also qualitative by contributor, to that well - known archaeological phenomenologist, Professor Chris Tilley.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Tony,

Send me an email at kostadinos@aol.com and I will send you my posts to this exchange with Geo Brian blocked. This will make this exchange "fair and balanced". While it remains here tilted and distorted towards Geo's view.

Kostas

Geo Cur said...


Phenomenology , or a distortion of it , has been a disaster for archaeology .
It has provided nothing but subjective waffle .

TonyH said...

Some people may like to take a look at Professor of Archaeology & Anthropology Chris Tilley's details under "Staff" at the UCL website. I am sitting firmly on the fence. Apart from anything else, I am a novice as regards Phenomenology.

Geo Cur said...


Phenomenology is not the problem it is how it has been applied in arcaheology that is .

Nice chap .
But ,among a few other authors and titles " A Phenomenology of landscape " has been a baleful influence .
Andrew Fleming wrote a great riposte .

Jon Morris said...

Out of interest Tony, why would someone like Chris Tilley be interested in this type of discussion?

TonyH said...

Perhaps I was being somewhat ironic in suggesting it (I had moved from pointing out the phenomenal number of Comments this Post was attracting in a very short period of time, to maybe pointing a little gentle fun at archaeologists who are keen on Phenomenology).

Anyhow, now up to 142 Comments with this one - a possible all - time record?