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Saturday, 25 April 2015

On pingos and circular enclosures


 The slightly raised embankment of the mysterious feature on the Preseli north slope.  Outside the circular feature there is dry heath, and inside, as we can see, is a soggy area with rushes.

Thanks to Hugh and Geo, we have homed in on a rather interesting circular embanked feature not far from Carn Goedog.  According to Dyfed Archaeological trust, its origins are mysterious, because there does not seem to be a ditch and bank arrangement (either outside in or inside out) and because the central enclosure is sunken and soggy.  When I read the site description I immediately thought "Pingo?" -- and this possibility is worth considering.

Here's the description of the Nant Cledlyn SSSI in Ceredigion:  "Nant Cledlyn Pingos SSSI is of national importance because it provides some of the best- preserved pingos in Wales. Each individual pingo comprises an elevated rampart that surrounds an internal basin that in some cases contains a significant thickness of peat. It is thought that the pingos were formed during very cold climate (permafrost) conditions that prevailed approximately 10,000 years ago, and that sediment deposition commenced at approximately the same time."

There are quite a few fossil or relict pingos in Wales, and they were properly described for the first time by Edward and Sybil Watson from Aberystwyth Univ. Geography Department -- a somewhat eccentric and wonderful couple who were inveterate field geomorphologists.  Here is their map from a 1974 paper in Geografiska Annaler:


The Ceredigion examples are highly degraded, and sometimes all we can see today are slightly curved sections of embankments or ramparts.  Here is another example from Thompson Common in Norfolk:


These are very subtle features in the landscape, dating for the most part from the Younger Dryas around 10,000 years ago, and it's very easy to confuse them with ring cairns or other man-made features.  But geomorphologists have now found them all over the British Isles, and they are indicative of very severe permafrost conditions where peculiar hydrological conditions apply.  When I was in East Greenland in 1962 some of my colleagues were studying a group of pingos in Pingodal which were in various stages of disrepair.  They are ephemeral, and may last for a few decades or centuries.  They have a core of ice -- an ice lens -- which tends to grow each year as more water arrives by subsurface flow (beneath the permafrost layer) and then freezes onto the lens.  They can grow to 30m in height, and in Siberia and Alaska they are very spectacular features of the tundra landscape,  as shown in the photos below:



They are also called "hydrolaccoliths" and "pseudo-volcanoes" -- the latter name is quite descriptive, because when the ice lens expands to the point where the surface sediment is too thin to provide effective insulation, it all starts to melt.  The surface subsides, bits of the lens are exposed, and a "crater" begins to develop. This fills with meltwater, and that accelerated the melting of the lens until it is entirely wasted away, leaving a circular depression with an irregular rampart around its edge.

We should use the term "pingo" for something which is active, as in the Arctic examples above, and the term "fossil pingo" or "relict pingo" for the sort of thing we see in Wales.

There are two types of pingo -- open system and closed system -- but we won't go into the technicalities here.  The most spectacular examples tend to be located on wide open plains or gravelly river valley floors, but they are also found in undulating or sloping terrain.

So could the Preseli example be a pingo?  Quite possibly --  there are some small relict pingos on Trerhos Common, to the west of Wolfscastle, and others on the south side of Preseli.  More to the point, the SSSI citation for Mynydd Preseli mentions relict pingos on Brynberian Moor, Gors Fawr and Waun Isaf -- and this is the type of territory we are talking about here.

Watch this space....... I suspect that the more one looks for ancient pingos, the more one will find.

64 comments:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

... and "pingo!", we have the natural explanation for some landscape features some thought people did. I have been arguing for years here other features can similarly be explained.

Thanks for the post, Brian!

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't get too ecstatic, Kostas. Every feature needs obervation and interpretation -- it would be ridiculous to suggest that every circular feature in the landscape is a pingo unless proved otherwise! You need a very specific set of circumstances for pingo formation.

Hugh Thomas said...

The ring north of Caarn Goeddog is on the last part of raised dryer land before the ground dips down to the north onto the boggy areas. It is around 30 meters plus in diameter and the north western quadrant is almost over grown with reed type grass. The south eastern quadrant has a smattering of stone work that may indicate an old structure stood here maybe. Immediately to the east is a flat area dotted with cairns and , low standing stones , old field boundaries , some 200 meters to the east the ground also dips down, the next higher ground being that which leads up to Carn Alw. To the west is a very boggy area which occupies all the way over to Hafod Tydfyll . To the south the ground slopes uphill to the craggs of Carn Goeddog itself, the ground littered with boulders and possibly worked stones, fallen standing stones , cairns corn dryers and hut platforms and bell stones, this site seems to occupy a promontory almost of raised ground, I have walked the entire lower northern slope of Preselau and always get the feeling I am looking at an old shoreline of a long lost lake from Banc Llwydloss iron age settlement to Carn Alw, at Banc Llwydlos I found a large core of black flint , which I am told looks like it came from the south of England, but has spent at least some of its life in a fast running river or beach.
A curious dyke runs obliquely across the landscape from the south west to the north east along the edge of the promontory, purpose unknown , although to the north west evidence of farming can be found. Also in dry weather it is possible to find your way across to Hafod Tydfyll and if lucky you will stumble across another curious site of stone arrangements , position known to very few people .
This whole area needs to be looked at, it is like no other in Preselau, it is unspoiled, atmospheric and the vistas of the hills around are quite stunning, just watch the weather and stick to the green grass unless we have had a drought...Bear in mind if you park to the south at Dan Y Garn and walk from there, you drop quite a way down to this site, there is quite an incline to get back up on the way back....

Geo Cur said...



v Rampart width of the Welsh pingos (from the Watson’s paper ) are approx 20m (the enclosure bank is 4m ) and median diameter for round pingo forms are 75 m (the enclosure is 35m ) . It surely wouldn’t be difficult to prove if it actually is a pingo , investigation of the bank and interior .etc .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

Never meant to suggest "pingos" explain all landscape features! Rather, "pingos" are a natural explanation to some.

But if we keep Nature in mind, we will be able to find other natural explanations for other landscape features. Like the presence of Rhosyfelin rhyolite gravel in the Stonehenge Landscape!

Kostas

chris johnson said...

Well put Hugh.

I find the way the horizons work as you move north from Carn Goedog might have struck a chord with the early inhabitants.

It is difficult terrain these days unless you are lucky with the weather and I agree totally that there is likely much to discover.

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Brian

Forgot I began a thread on this site on the Megalithic portal some time ago....A couple of good photos here, have many more...

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=Forum&file=viewtopic&topic=6320&forum=1&start=0

All the best

Hugh

Geo Cur said...


Hugh ,
what are bell stones ?
Stones that ring a bit when struck ?

Can you confirm that the site of the ring you mentioned is indeed that noted by archwilio ?

Myris of Alexandria said...

THERE IS NO CRAIG RHOS Y FELIN GRAVEL AT STONEHENGE.
There is no fluvial gravel of any sort at Stonehenge.
M

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Myris,

Not wanting to upset you, I'll call the Rhosyfelin rhyolite gravel "stone bits" from here on!

It's all one and the same to me. But it's not "debitage".

Kostas

Myris of Alexandria said...

Thank you.
'Debitage' is used as the small rhyolite lithics are struck flakes.
There are even rare axe head rough outs from the assemblage.
The volcanics with sub planar etc do not show this,the fissility controls their shape. They are more rounded, ill chosen adjective, meaning unlike the rhyolite lithics they are not sharp to the touch.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

On the scale of angularity/roundness they would therefore be best described as sub-angular?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Take a look at this from 2010 -- rather crude, but easily applied to visual classifications...
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/more-on-stone-shapes.html

Hugh Thomas said...

I went to this site today and spent around two hours exploring the immediate area ,stunning sunshine but bitterly cold in the wind.
Firstly I walked the entire ring and can only say even with my own non expert eyes his can only be man made, and as Geo cur asked this CAN ONLY be the site described by Archwillio . Bellstones are those which make a ringing noise when struck,I have found many, propped up they do not seem to work if it contact with the earth .
Chris Johnson is very correct there are aspects in the surrounding horizon that made them place this ring here, for what I recorded simply would not work at another site and made an unexpected discovery. Firstly the Summer solstice sunrise would appear in a rare dip in the horizon where the hills in mid Wales are visible,I have yet to identify which hill/mountain it is, possibly Plynlymon, the sunset on this day ALSO would see the sun setting in a dip to the north west, where on a clear day the sea may be visible behind Newport bay, imagine seeing that glistening from here? Mid winter Sunrise sees the Sun rising from behind a dip on the ridge to the right of Carn Breseb, and if my eyes are not deceiving me , sets behind the peak of Cwmcerwyn the very highest point. It is the Equinox that brought the big surprise, the sun will rise from behind the highest point of Carn Alw, no doubt creating a dramatic shadow , then sets believe it or not immediately BEHIND the stone setting at Waun Mawn, perhaps this is why it is there..I have a theory, this site is using the southern aspect of the Preseli ridge in the same way the Gors Vawr circle uses the northern aspect of the ridge. Carn Goeddog dominates the landscape here and the very tip of Carn Bica is visible to the south high up. There may be no upright stones here today, but perhaps there once was.. There is also much to be seen in the landscape surrounding. I had an unexpected surprise when I stumbled across a piece of WW2 aircraft wreckage to the south east,it was quite heavy to carry, but is now at home waiting to be cleaned up.
This landscape is strewn with cairns, walls, field boundaries, fallen stones and intriguing low standing stones,it is a VERY busy place, unspoiled as of yet...

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for all the info, Hugh. We are into the territory investigated by MPP and colleagues last September -- they were looking for a quarry at Carn Goedog, but there are other hut (?) traces down beneath the rocky outcrops with rectangular hut outlines -- and I think the archaeologists speculated that they may therefore be Neolithic, as distinct from the round houses favoured in the Bronze Age and Iron Age. You can see the outlines if you zoom in on Google Earth. Between there and Hafod Tydfil (which is one of the most beautiful illustrations of a "hafod" settlement in West Wales) there are all sorts of things, some ancient and some modern. By the way, the WW2 plane crash site was higher up the slope that the Carn Goedog rocky crags, approx to the SW. I have a fine photo of rather a lot of the plane, taken a good few years ago before people started vandalising it and taking souvenirs.....

The circular feature "can only be man made" -- why do you think that?


BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- I wouldn't place too much store on the dimensions of the pingos recorded by Ed and Sybil Watson. They are of many different sizes, and sometimes the ridges or ramparts and steep and sometimes very degraded. In some cases an early pingo melts out, and then another one is formed, slightly offset from the first, so then you get intersecting ramparts -- or more likely, a considerable mess.....

The interesting thing is that the growing ice lens pushes up whatever is there -- river gravels, solifluxion material, moraine with erratic boulders and so forth. Some of this material may slide down the flanks of the lens when it begins to melt, so you could easily get ramparts including many boulders -- looking rather like the rampart segment seen in the photo of the "mysterious circular feature" mentioned by Hugh.

Geo Cur said...



Brain , I would have thought it would have been possible to differentiate between the rampart of a pingo and man made bank ,partiualry if the latter ws late as the IA ,which seems liely .
Failing that " Auguries of Pingoence "

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree, Geo. To much speculation and not enough evidence -- must go and take a look.....

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Brian

The piece of wreckage is aluminium, bolted approx 18 inches in length with grooves, with two double sided parts attached bolted on at an angle with engineered holes tapering, it has been violently broken and ripped from something else, the edges are still quite sharp. Maybe someone started carrying it down and dumped it en route but never went back.
The banked enclosure to my eyes looks like a built up bank done by the work of men but now very much eroded but prominent, it is very similar to what I have seen elsewhere in Preselau, that said if proved to be a Pingo I will happily change my view. There are a lot of obviously Human built low walls etc all around here and low standing stones within easy distance. Inside are two points where there are a scattering of stones ,the ground within is grass covered and firm except the north western quadrant where moisture looks like it has built up and wet land grass grows. The whole thing looks like it is part of whatever settlement was based here that built the other low walls etc close by.
Im very much hoping MPP leaves this place alone, I can see after wandering around here today what is going to be said, there are worked stones , toppled stones etc all over the place. Three in particular stopped me in my tracks because they were so obviously shaped etc .
The dwellings at the bottom of Carn Goeddog are so obvious that anyone will spot them, I have been all over this tor and there are small enclosures, remains of shelters etc all over the place, once you get your eyes honed in it is relatively easy to spot them...I even found the site of a cover image for very interesting book amongst these craggs.... :)
MPP has now worked either side of this site and this place is just about my favourite part of Preselau, it is peaceful, serene and dramatic and all things in between , I am worried it will be cannibalised to fit a theory ,because Rhos Y Felin "now" looks like a quarry, will this site be made to look like the "Bluestone" workshop or "This was where the crops were grown to feed the workers and a proto Stonehenge built ?" I hope common sense prevails ..
There is another oddity here which I feel supports the view this ring is man made, near it is a boulder, most people will just walk past it. I have though seen a number like it in Preselau, someone has worked a lot of hours on it to make it emulate the shape of the landscape beyond from which ever direction you view it. I now know of four with one more possible, all in the eastern flank of Preselau, the first one I knew of was pointed out to me by a colleague known as Sem "You need to look into that boulder , there is something odd about it" he said ,since finding more I have called them "Sem stones". The first lies only a couple of hundred yards from a road by Dan Y Garn,they seems to act as some form of ancient route signs and are all accompanied by a very eroded horse shoe shaped bank with the boulder at the curved end, someone was putting a lot of thought into this area, there is one of these close to the enclosure.

Hugh Thomas said...

P.S .. My nephew is thinking of calling his new kitten "Pingo" now... It's your fault Brian... :)

Geo Cur said...

Hugh ,
accepting that the site is as archwilio decribes i.e. an IA enclosure why would it be sited in relation to various points of the solar cycle ?
The points themselves are not particularly salient . Plynlymon just appears on the horizon and is not striking . Considering the site is only six miles from the coast and an upland area view of the sea from the area is not striking either . Carn Alw takes up six degrees of the horizon from the site again it’s underwhelming .You can’t see the stones of Waun Mawn from the site ,but it also looks like the sun actually sets about 200 m south of the Waum Mawn stones on the equinox as seen from the site so I can’t see how that point is salient either , for two reasons .
In cases like this a control would useful ,pick a point in the area that has nothing recorded then look at the all the solstice and equinox rise and set points from that point ,given the number of outcrops , distant hill tops , gaps in the hills ,sea views , points creating shadows ,as you had noted from the IA site then the chances are you will find some of the same .

Hugh Thomas said...

Geo Cur, Why would the site NOT be aligned to the solar cycle ? Plynlymon is also the point on the horizon that Bedd Arthur high up by Carn Bica is also aligned to. They could have moved it to another site if they wished but the sunset on the same day would not see the sun setting with the sea as a backdrop, this is the only point on the horizon where the sea is visible, the rest of the horizon is high ground.
As regards Carn Alw etc being underwhelming that is your view , the others with me all shared the same excitement at the prospect of seeing this , also offering a possible solution to the siting of Waun Mawn , gives credance to intervisibility of sites which these two share.
When I walk the landscape I appreciate what I see and accept the slight innacuracies of our fore bears when they built their sites, I like to offer posibilities.
Either this is a man made structure , purpose unkown in a busy landscape that brings differences of opinion OR it is a Pingo in a busy landscape that brings differences of opinion, either way it was there when the ancient locals were living on this land , so they knew about it, and if bluestone transport and Pingo theories hold true , Stonehenge could be a man made model of a Pingo... ;)

BRIAN JOHN said...

I like it, Hugh! The West Wales Pingo culture -- no doubt carried into the area by migrating people from Siberia, who liked pingos so much that they decided to build them all over the place, in homage to the northern gods......

Geo Cur said...


How many IA enclosures have ever been accepted as having been intentionally aligned on any of the solstice /equinox rise and set points ?
When a monument is accepted as having been aligned on a particular astro event there is a need for some form of indication to suggest intentionality i.e. in the case of Stonehenge the various gaps between the stones and the Avenue , Newgrange the alignment of the passage etc , simply because the sun sets or rises behind a hill as seen from a site impressing the visitor ,is not enough . Look at the horizon spots where the sun rises at Stonehenge and Newgrange they are they are hardly noticeable , and don’t matter they just happen to be the spot where the sun rises or sets as seen from the monument .
Carn Alw is underwhelming because it takes up 6 degrees of the horizon hardly an accurate marker . It may make a nice pic but it is not enough to suggest any intentionality . The equinox sun doesn’t set behind the Waun Mawn stones , because of any inaccuracy , it just doesn’t’ and even if it did it is not indicated by anything at the enclosure .
Again , I would suggest trying out some controls in the same area , you will find that the same type of features that you mentioned as being salient will crop up .There are no shortage of rocky outcrops /Carns , Plynlymon is hardly noticeable from the site , ,the equinox set spot is just moorland and there are plenty of opportunities for a glimpse of the sea .
The enclosure needn’t be an either or , it could be both , the Inuit used pingos .

chris johnson said...

Geo,
I don't disagree with the methodology but it is very much with modern eyes. The ancients were not, I believe, calculating the best place for a monument with mathematical exactitudes. A pingo in a suitable location, approximately speaking, might be the perfect place.

The views over the sea remind me of somethings I read recently about the positioning of stone rows. For now I prefer to note this fact with interest before making judgements.

My own view is that mathematical precision became more important later in time when it was becoming clear that the theory was not working properly. Maybe stonehenge was an attempt to fix a failing hypothesis....

BRIAN JOHN said...

What with all this discussion about the "meaning" and "choice" of locations for stone circles and ring cairns (and pingos!) and their relations with the landscape, may I recommend a reading of this post from a month or so ago? Time for a dose of scepticism, I feel......

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/pembrokeshires-neolithic-tombs.html

chris johnson said...

Thanks for reminding us of this post on the dolmens. Actually you raise many interesting points which ought to have provoked lots of discussion.

One thing we should bear in mind is the large amount of elapsed time. So Gors Fawr stone circle is supposed to be 1500 BC - 1000 years AFTER the major stonehenge build. The dolmens in Pembrokeshire are, I believe, between 4000 and 5000 BC, so perhaps 3000 years before Gors Fawr.

For MPP's theory of stone removal in 3000 BC ? we would need some evidence of a Prescelly culture in 3000 BC, probably. I know of nothing reliably dated to this period in Prescelly - anybody?

My own interpretation of facts I know is that PERHAPS the dolmen builders came from Brittany, moving ahead of the neolithic farmer wave. They settled in Pembrokeshire and evolved. Some of their brethren landed on the east coast of Ireland and evolved differently but based on similar megalithic traditions. There was little or no contact between Boyne Valley, say, and Prescelli.

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Brian , I think your Siberian invader theory nailed it... They came over here to Preselau, saw a familiar Pingo pushing magical stones to the surface, then not far away found a glacier full of these magical stones. Using magic ,brute strength and Siberian know how they pushed the glacier to Salisbury plain and let it melt and proceeded to build their own scale Pingo.... As my nephew told me " only a pingo knows where a pingo goes"... :)

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- agree that there is now a problem over dating, not for me but for the archaeologists. If bluestones were present in the Stonehenge area at the time of the Aubrey Holes, and if we take into account the "revised chronology", we have to have the stones in the neighbourhood around 5,500 years ago. That would be at about the time the cromlechs or dolmens were being erected in Pembrokeshire. But the evidence from that time (tomb style affinities etc) is of a relatively simple and even crude cultural context -- not as sophisticated as in Ireland and NW Wales. So here is a simple question -- could that relatively isolated and simple tribal group have had the technical wherewithal to cart off 80 or so bluestones all the way to Stonehenge? I suspect not.

TonyH said...

Brian - do you know of any relict pingos in Southern England? You have mentioned an example from Thompson Common in Norfolk. And what about Wiltshire/ Dartmoor/ Exmoor?

MPP likes to talk about his contentious periglacial gullies allegedly associated with the Stonehenge Avenue; and there are other periglacial features such as a small raised feature called Newall's Mound (east of the Avenue within sight of Stonehenge), named after 1920's Stonehenge excavator Hawley's assistant, and recognised as periglacial by the late John Evans, the environmental archaeologist from Cardiff University. Newall's Mound is on pages 242 and 247 of MPP's 2012 "Stonehenge".

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
I believe it is the belief in finding alignments associated with sites like IA enclosures that is the modern problem , probably due to Ley Lines , Alexander Thom and the trickle down effect to the punters from the landscape phenomenologists .
Stone circles unlike IA enclosures , are one of the monuments associated with “alignments “ and it is worth looking at genuine examples of the type and how they relate to landscape features . An obvious example is Castlerigg , a fine setting among Cumbrian hills with the various pointy bits and cols oft imagined to have alignments ,the problem is that all the points where the sun does set and rise at solstices and equinoxes as seen from the monument do not coincide with the peaks and troughs ,they are all in the middle of non descript slopes . Stonehenge and Newgrange are no different , the alignments point to non descript parts of the horizon .It where the event takes place not the point on the horizon that matters . The sites weren’t chosen because of their relationship to the features , it is the indication towards the events on the horizon that make the monuments “align” .
Gors Fawr doesn’t have quite the same setting ,but similarly all the solar events occur on the horizon at pretty non descript points of the landscape . The most striking points are avoided . If a local monument of the type associated with alignments avoids these points why expect a later monument that has no association with alignments to have a connection with landscape features , not that the few features mentioned were very striking .
It has nothing to do with accuracy ,fwiw I don’t believe we should look for or expect extreme accuracy .
However the construction of the passage and light box at Newgrange pre dated the earliest IA by two and half millennia , if they could get that right , an open air monument shouldn’t be much of a problem all that time later .

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian, you write

"... agree that there is now a problem over dating, not for me but for the archaeologists. If bluestones were present in the Stonehenge area at the time of the Aubrey Holes, and if we take into account the "revised chronology", we have to have the stones in the neighbourhood around 5,500 years ago."

Sounds like "date destruction". GeoCur has something to say about that! He says it all happened (the megalith erections) during the UK BA. Now according to the latest Stonehenge dates dated to around 3500 BC. But something happened on the way to History, until the Romans arrived 3500 years later to leave some records behind.

Kostas

Geo Cur said...

What I said was "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 )."
Refute if you can .

Where do you get 3500 BC from ?

The henge and bank were 500 years later at least .

Not that you should believe everything you read about in records ,but the absence of any mention of Stonehenge by these great record keepers is telling .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tony, I have done a series of posts on periglacial features in Southern England. Check with the search box. Here is one:
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/where-are-chalkland-patterns-on.html

Hugh French, in his excellent book "The Periglacial Environment", speculates that permafrost conditions may have been more severe in Norfolk than they were on Salisbury Plain -- warmer in the west and colder in the east. But that does not explain the presence of pingos in Wales, since pingos are generally associated with continuous permafrost zones.

I'm not aware of any records of pingos on Salisbury Plain -- but there are certainly other periglacial features, as described by RGB Williams and others.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Geo, you write

"the absence of any mention of Stonehenge by these great [Roman] record keepers is telling .".

Yea! It tells Stonehenge was not all that significant to the Romans! Just a convenient place to get good cheap stones. A stone factory!

Kostas

Dave Maynard said...

Hi,

I always thought the earthwork below Carn Goedog was an artificial construction, but am willing to be convinced that it is a pingo. The rushes in the centre could well be due to ponded drainage by the earthwork, rather than the depression found in a pingo. Certainly the site does not fit into any easily defined categories. The closest parallel I know of is the site several km to the west at Gernos Fach, see Brian's earlier post 'An undiscovered ring cairn near Gernos Fach?' in May 2014. This is also not a ring cairn, as it is too large, has an apparent entrance and very shallow earthwork.

The closest similarities seem to be with the Cornish 'Rounds' which are Iron Age/Romano-British settlements.

As for pingos, I know of rampart pingos in the Blaenporth area which are more like Maiden Castle in their scale. Trying to identify shallow pingo-derived features in the landscape might be quite difficult when there are a number of other natural and non-natural variations about. I'd be interested to see any evidence for such a series of pingos maybe on the north slope of the Preselis. There is certainly what is described as a potential henge, but seems in an odd position on a slope with a large embankment downslope. This might fit as a pingo, but again, doesn't seem to fit very well as such.

Dave

BRIAN JOHN said...

Dave -- there are other strange "ring cairns" on Carningli Common, near Carn Edward, and on Dinas Mountain as well. Age and origins rather mysterious...... but some do have what seem to be entrances, so that would suggest that they are man made. Animal enclosures?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas -- another comment dumped. Stop asking stupid questions -- please think a bit more and read a bit more, and stop wasting our time.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- re the first use of bluestones at Stonehenge, MPP said this: “If all 56 pits had held stones, this would have been one of the first and largest stone circles in the country, made of Welsh bluestones in 3000BC. A recent claim that these stones arrived at Stonehenge in 2300BC would then relate to the time when the bluestones were moved into the centre of the site 700 years later. Stonehenge’s history as envisaged since the 1950s is overturned.” So if that thesis is followed, the stones must have been there before 5,000 yrs BP. Of course, he may have changed his mind since then.......

The Boles Barrow evidence, which many choose to ignore because it is very inconvenient, suggests bluestones in the area during the long barrow building period -- ie around 5,500 yrs BP.

http://wiltshireweb.co.uk/barrows/barrows-wiltshire

Geo Cur said...

Brian ,

as I said "(presence of bluestones in the Aubrey holes is conjecture and not dated )."

That is still the case , there is no evidence of for the Bluestones having been in the Aubreys ,it used to be consisded there were wooden posts , either are possible or you could dismiss both ,it is conjecture . If they were in the Aubreys the only date is post Aubreys .
Boles Barrow is not ignored the presence of the bluestone is is not assured .It is a long barrow and not Stonehenge

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I know all of that, Geo. It's all conjecture......

Geo Cur said...

"Yes, I know all of that, Geo. It's all conjecture...... "

So what was the point of the post addressed to me ?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Just responding to a comment made by you. That's what one does in conversations.

Geo Cur said...

But you didn't highlight the comment .

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah let us see what is said in the future 're Holes Barrow and Aubrey Holes.
Certainly I and B discuss bluestones including CRyf rhyolites and I think knock offs from the Aubrey Holes, you have to read the sample numbers carefully. The OU team beloved by Brian also recorded echte bluestones from Aubrey Holes, but see above caveat.
The evidence is lost buried in the lithic death pits just outside the circle.
M
But from I think disturbed Aubrey Contexts.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Various comments from various people dumped -- it was all getting rather petty, undignified and personal. Too much winding up and over-reaction. Calm down everybody, think beautiful thoughts, and go and have a nice cup of tea.

Hugh Thomas said...

I sent my observations at the enclosure to some colleagues who study archeoastronomy . Although they felt the Winter rising and setting points of the Sun would for the most part be hidden behind the Preselau ridge ,there was more than enough in the equinox and summer alignments to warrant further investigation. I sent them the 360 degree horizon images taken standing at the center of the ring also the zoomed in images of the horizon on these various solar days. They are excited the only point of the Cambrian hills visible is at the point of the mid summer sunrise where this ring shares the same horizon focus point as Bedd Arthur.
Also THE ONLY point the sea is visible is through a narrow dip in the land out through Newport bay,it happens to be the sun sets here in mid summer which would create quite a spectacle.
They checked my findings using the Photographers Ephemeris and are satisfied there is enough here for them to arrange a visit of their own .
They are open to the idea of this being a Pingo in a fortuitous position taken advantage of by man OR deliberately built here for special reasons,they are only interested in the truth of what was occurring here in this community in the time frame that has everyone's focus.

chris johnson said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Hugh. Much appreciated

Geo Cur said...

At a height of 752 m and 53 miles away Plynlymon is not at all prominent as seen from the Preseli area ,if that is considered auspicious then there are countless other points in the area that can also be considered to be equally auspicious .Bedd Arthur and the IA enclosure are less than a mile apart it is not surprising they share similar views in certain directions . Because one sites aligns with another does not an intentional alignment make ,we have to provide a case that the alignment was intentional .
As an example Bedd Arthur , has an axis , the eye is drawn from one end to the other ,it gives it some credence as at least providing an indication . If an observer is standing at the eastern extreme at the summer solstice the sun will be seen rise within the monument , this is a fair start to arguing for a possible intentional alignment . If there was a similar indication at the enclosure then that might be start too.
Btw , Archaeoastronomers are unlikely to use a photographers ephemeris as a calculating tool .

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Geo Cur , I can only report what we have seen and thought it may be of some interest to a few who read here what may come of this from my colleagues. That said , I do know from personal experience it does not matter how far away an alignment appears to be focused on at an ancient monument in Preselau , if it is there it simply exists. From stones at Bedd Arthur that emulate the shape of mountains in Snowdonia to the Carn Arthur boulder only 1 km away from Bedd Arthur on the winter solstice siteline, this is not being made up by me , it exists and that is the truth.
I appreciate you questioning these ideas I have put forward but feel it is best to tell you what I have posted has been agreed upon by several colleagues and what we actually know and theorise over goes a lot further .
I find your description of the summer solstice at Bedd Arthur rather odd as in order to see the sun rise within the monument you need to stand at the opposite end in the west to see this while facing northeast and I can tell you the Cambrian mountains were certainly in the mindset of those who placed the monument there.
The photographers ephemeris IS used by many of my colleagues as a convenient tool for seeing sight lines quickly along with other applications like Maverick, we are all using them out in the field, once again that is the truth .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry Hugh, but this really is going too far: ".......stones at Bedd Arthur that emulate the shape of mountains in Snowdonia...." I know Bedd Arthur pretty well, and the stones are really a rather insignificant collection of little stones gathered up from the neighbourhood. If a stone is broader at ground level than it is at its highest point, I suppose you could say it "emulates" a mountain because it has a vaguely triangular shape -- but to link any of the stones at Bedd Arthur with the shape of Snowdon really does seem to me to be far away in the flights of fantasy...... seeking stone shapes is a jolly sport rather like seeing faces in the clouds.

TonyH said...

Brian's comment 28th April: "Calm down everyone and go and have a nice cup of tea". Hear, hear! And I would recommend Yorkshire Decaffeinated from Harrogate, the heart of God's Own Country, this will be calming and flavoursome. I have just had a superb return trip from a Bath outpatient's appointment at its main hospital; the car journey home was superb, not a pingo to be seen, alas, but there were the GLACIATED slopes of Old Solsbury Hill (made famous by former Genesis singer, Peter Gabriel) and some incredible, virtually airborne views of the hillsides near the Bath and Bradford - on - Avon Avon.

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Brian , thoroughly understand and appreciate what you are saying , the stones indeed are small , and easily passed over,but we do not need to be giants to tell a story and to point to what is there in the landscape , no matter how far away.
Stand at the most westerly stone , then turn your back to the monument and walk up to the bank keeping yourself on the central axis, then as you rise up the bank a bit, turn around and adjust your position to put yourself on the central axis. Look at the stone closest to you, follow the line down through the monument , keep going out the other side to approx 1 mile away to a cone shaped outcrop , near Carn Gwyr, THIS is the true central axis of Bedd Arthur. The sun rises in line with this ONE calendar month BEFORE the solstice. The outcrop to the LEFT of this is the summer solstice marker,NOT in line with the monuments axis,the solstice marker is the outcrop to the right of Carn Breseb , a visit to this tor you show you what looks like a large toppled standing stone on top that would have marked the site.
Back at Bedd Arthur go to the westerly stone or "anchor" stone as we call it and stand there immediately on its western side.
The first stone you see on your right points to the Gower, there is then a gap where the winter solstice marker may have been, follow this line and see Carn Arthur just above the hill line below .Then a small stone with a slope on its right with a flat top, this is the Equinox marker, follow this sight line across to Carn Menyn, look at its shape on the right, a slope on the right with a flat top, this is not the first stone to "emulate " a hill, this is not all, a dome shaped outcrop over there marks the sunrise point and the sight line creates a "bowl shape" where the sun rises beyond. A colleague has a theory Carn Menyn has been modified to create this obvious shape ,I am not certain. Before this down in the stone river is a large standing stone, this is also on the Equinox alignment.
This is just a taster, but standing at the "anchor" stone it is possible to find what each stone in Bedd Arthur is pointing at, they are all deliberate , including a stone on the northern side pointing to Cader Idris and it just happens to have a similar shape to the mountain on its top.
Over three years we have observed sunrises at Bedd Arthur getting up at all sorts of wonderful hours to get there in time. This is why I believe there is an awful lot more to this area than practically everyone realises when they walk by. This monument even if moved ten yards in any direction would not work.

Geo Cur said...


Hugh ,
Lots of points align with other points in association with astro events , they too “simply exist “ but it does not mean that they if one of the points was man made the alignment was intentional . In the case of IA enclosures , not a monument type associated with archaeoastronomy , it’s presence is not enough ,as I have said , you need some form of indication to make it salient and there are plenty of points in the landscape , whether IA or not , with the same type of outlook at the main events in the solar calendar .
Yes ,I said east and should have said west end of Bedd Arthur to see the sun rise within the monument .
I didn’t say that the photographers ephemeris wasn’t used , I said it wasn’t likely to be used by archaeoastronomers as a tool for calculation ,the same would be the case for Maverick too . Whilst we needn’t expect accuracy from the builders of the monument ,although in the most obvious cases the accuracy is good , our calculations should be accurate and these tools are not good enough .


Hugh Thomas said...

This link may help demonstrate the axis of Bedd Arthur, I began this thread on the Megalithic Portal in good faith but faced a lot of micro surgery from one individual, please see past this and have a look at the images, you will find them interesting...
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=Forum&file=viewtopic&topic=6258&forum=1&start=60

Geo Cur said...

" THIS is the true central axis of Bedd Arthur. "

We know the true axis of the monument ,Robin Heath did a theodolite survey ,there is also plan by John Hoyle. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Robin Heath's interpretations ,he can survey .

"NOT in line with the monuments axis,"

But that's the one that counts .

If you want to see summer solstice sun rises it means getting up earlyish ,some people do it everyday but in winter too .

TonyH said...

As I mentioned earlier on this evening, Little Solsbury Hill near Bath was most likely affected by glaciation (as were the hills either side of the river Avon thereabouts, see previous recent Posts on Bathampton Down).

I now see that, within the PDF "Little Solsbury Hill Camp Geophysical Survey, 2012", by John Oswin and R Buettner, Bath & Camerton Archaeological Society [BACAS], there is a section on Geology by Vince Simmonds, whom we have talked about in relation to his own website and his work at Stanton Drew Henge, N Somerset, with BACAS.

Vince says:
"On the plateau above the quarry......the slab of rock located at NGR ST 76714/68016 has a number of interesting striations". He backs this up with a decent photograph of that rock.

Geo Cur said...

Hugh ,
Note that Cerrig mentions the Robin Haeth survey and Hoyle plan, which confirm that the sun sets into the monument as seen from the eastern extreme looking towards the western extreme down the axis of the monument . Heath actually says "Now made up of 16 stones (there were 18), there size may be diminutive, but the monument's axis packs an interesting punch, locating the position of midsummer sunrise during the Neolithic period - at about 47 east of north, depending on the horizon elevation" .In effect as mentioned in the meg portal early on "viewing the sunrise from the centre of the monument at the eastern end , the sun will be seen to rise on the horizon on the solstice between the two extremes of the monument at the west " This is the case .

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Geo Cur
With respect to Brian's thread on the Carn Goeddog possible pingo site I feel it best to leave a discussion on micro managing Bedd Arthur for elsewhere . Myself and my colleagues will continue to decode the site and others working towards our guide and application for exploring these hills ,there is an open invitation for you to come along on a walk.

Geo Cur said...


Hugh ,
What does micro managing mean ?

“Plynlymon is also the point on the horizon that Bedd Arthur high up by Carn Bica is also aligned to. “
Compare that “alignment “ with the alignment to the solstice sunrise from the monument , it hardly differs ,if you believe one then it entails the other although solstice rise and sets are more the stuff of archaeoastronomy than barely visible hill tops .
Thanks for the invite , similarly if you want a tour of Scottish hills/ munros/corbetts or just stravaiging give us a shout .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Plynlymon on the horizon from Bedd Arthur? If you can see Plynlymon from there I would be greatly surprised -- and that particular mountain is so difficult to spot from anywhere that I should be very surprised indeed if anybody was to invest it with any significance. Seen from the SW it hardly deserves the status of being called a mountain.....

Geo Cur said...

Just did a quick check on the altitudes and the highest point of Plynlymon is 752 m , Bedd Arthur is approx 374 m give or take a couple of metres ((even 10 metres won't have much of an impact on the final figure) ,the distance is 53.2 miles ,which provides an apparent altitude of an almost perfect zero but when refraction is taken into account it's minus 0.6 . It's not even visible .
But it is on the line of the summer solstice sun rise , fwiw .

Hugh Thomas said...

Plynlymon is visible from Bedd Arthur under favourable conditions along with , Pen Y fan, Cader Idris and most of Snowdonia and Llyn peninsular. The most amazing sight last year the day after summer solsice at Bedd Arthur was the sun rising from behind the Cambrian mountains all silhoueted darkly against the golden glow. Then rays of light poured down between the hills along with a moving wave of low cloud spreading westward .. The outlying outcrops approx one mile away stood out in a spectacular fashion and soon the sun was literally hanging low over the monument itself... Was something I will never forget seeing this ....
Hi Geo Cur I meant by micro managing Bedd Arthur not bogging things down with too much detail when this thread was started about another subject. .That is all... ;)

Geo Cur said...

Hugh ,
even if Plynlymon was visible ,as noted earlier , it would have been an insignificant sight and being within a degree of the same orientation as the solstice sun it means that believing that Bedd Arthur is aligned with Plynlymon then it must also be accepted that it is aligned with the solstice sun with the latter making more sense if there was any intention i.e. monuments are known to be aligned to solstitial phenomena not rarely viewed ,at best , insignificant points on the distant horizon .
It was you who brought up Bedd Arthur . If micro managing means looking closer at the detail , then what is wrong with that ? If nothing else it shows that the monument is aligned to the solstice sunset , (although with no suggestion of intention ), which you had failed to accept , and must be seen as being primary with views of distant hazy landscapes are unlikely to be even secondary but coincidental , as the solstice alignment may also be , but at least there is some grounds to for considering the intention .