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Saturday, 16 May 2015

New video from Prof MPP -- nothing changes.......



From the Stonehenge News site -- info about a new AHRC short video in which Prof MPP talks about his assorted projects at -- and relating to -- Stonehenge.  A celebration of "remarkable discoveries" and media obsessions.  If AHRC can point to a certain acreage of press coverage for projects that it funds, all is presumably well with the world......... Nothing much changes.

"Bluehenge" doesn't feature much in the video, apart from being referred to as a "new stone circle", although it is clear from the press notice that MPP still thinks it held a circle of bluestones, in spite of zero evidence to support the idea.  No changes there then.

And why is Stonehenge where it is?  Well, it's all to do with the brilliant discovery of those periglacial stripes, which made Stonehenge a very special place in the natural world.  Same old pictures, same old argument.  No changes there then.

And the purpose of Stonehenge?  Well, again there has been a brilliant discovery, and it's all sorted.  It was built as a political statement and unifying feature, attracting people from all over the UK as a place where the ancestors could be revered.  No changes there then.

And the link with West Wales?  Ah yes, all those bluestones were brought from a very small area of West Wales,  as a confirmation and statement of political unity.  One thing is interesting -- namely that MPP still thinks the stones were used as well for a local stone circle, for which he and his team are still presumably searching........  No changes there then.

There is also mention of the fact that the "Feeding Stonehenge" project is now finished.  I was under the impression that the Rhosyfelin dig is a part of that particular project.  Does that mean there will be no more digging at the site in 2015?  If so, I hope somebody is going to come back and clear up all that mess.

Although the film is just 5 mins long, it suggests that MPP's core beliefs about Stonehenge and West Wales, as expressed in his book (following the 2011 dig at Rhosyfelin) are completely unwavering.  What was I saying about ruling hypotheses?

----------------------------------
Stonehenge Riverside Project. A film from the AHRC
by stonehengenews
This film from the AHRC is the latest in our specially commissioned series which celebrates the AHRC’s 10th anniversary. This film looks back to the year 2007 and the Stonehenge Riverside Project.


Led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, the Stonehenge Riverside Project brought together academics from around the globe in one of the largest field archaeology research studies of the 21st Century.

The project set out to further understanding of Stonehenge and neighbouring complex, Durrington Walls. The project looked at the sites in the context of the surrounding landscape, and in doing so several remarkable discoveries were made including a new stone circle dubbed, ‘Bluehenge.’ The discovery catapulted the project to the forefront of the world‘s media and made front page of newspapers all over the world.


Link: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/Watch-and-Listen/Pages/Stonehenge-Riverside-Project.aspx

The Stonehenge News Blog

96 comments:

Jon Morris said...

There several hypotheses in the link. For example

1) It was specifically for the dead and/or about the ancestors
2) The reason for Stonehenge's location is related to the Avenue & periglacial stripes
3) The purpose was associated with unifying Britain
4) That Stonehenge is the amalgamation of two ceremonial sites

Interesting that the video says that assumptions, previously taken as fact, have been overturned. The video then goes on to give out assumptions as if they were fact (especially 1,3).

But these assumptions are the same ideas that have fired the imagination of newspapers and grabbed the headlines. The publicity must be good for AHRC for MPP to have mentioned it.

For the team of people contributing to this project, a lot is starting to ride on these assumptions.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes -- assumptions dressed up as certainty. That's what I find more than a little disconcerting -- the idea that "the truth" is discovered and then shouted from the rooftops. Nothing very nuanced about the message; and no need to say that what you discover during project work is evidence, which is then interpreted in one way or another. And the idea that some "evidence" is so weak as to invite ridicule has no place at all in a little video promo like this one.

There are two things going on -- MPP promoting his theories as if they are certainties (other archaeologists may well have things to say about that) and AHRC needing to demonstrate that its monies have been well spent! So let's not beat about the bush here -- this is not a factual report. It is propaganda.

Hugh Thomas said...

Unless they pluck someone from the past ( who could let us know what it was actually called)ask them to explain the place we call Stonehenge, we will never know anything for certain , it will all be theory,never truly fact.
Problem is Joe public will listen to the spin, because they sit in an armchair and in this day and age expect the "facts" to be brought to them.Then pay the entrance fee,buy the books and English Heritage keep the coffers coming in .
If people , for reasons unknown brought stones from Preselau to Salisbury plain to build a monument to unify Britain, would they have known of other peoples at the far ends of the country?
If Preselau was so sacred would there not be a monument somewhere in the area made of the same stone to signify this great achievement that said "We did this"...
There is nothing but circumstantial evidence within the Preselau area that can be interpreted many ways .There are worked stones, propped stones to be found all over the place, could be the activity of ancients,medieval farmers or could be modern farmers or the army messing about for target practice . There IS NO road sign to be found that says "We went that way"
The closest anyone will find to the theory is the area north of Carn Goeddog, which can be interpreted in many ways , a simple farming community or the place where the quarry men were fed and lived. Despite the mysterious enclosure there having qualities around its horizons that ring true to a ceremonial site,it looks like it was later used for farming or settlement . I worry for this site is I am afraid it will be assimilated into the theory as well....

TonyH said...

Regarding the Rhosyfelin dig: as I understand it, this was not, at least in any large way, a part of the (NERC?) "Feeding Stonehenge" project. It WAS, and I think still is, part of the "Stones of Stonehenge" project, which is backed by MPP's UCL; and the Universities of Southampton and Leicester. This project has two geographical focii: for the bluestones, the Preselis; and for the Sarsens, the North Wessex Downs AONB around Avebury and Marlborough, which has included a search for a man - made causeway over the river Kennet at Clatford (check out this Blogsite's Search facility for past mentions of Clatford and also the Stones of Stonehenge project).

TonyH said...

'The [Bluehenge] discovery catapulted the project to the forefront of the world's media and made front page of newspapers all over the world.'

Ah, I SEE.....not only is Prof. Parker Pearson claiming that the stoneholes excavated at the bottom of the Avenue contained bluestones (despite NOT ONE tiny piece of bluestone geology having been found at his self - proclaimed bluehenge...............he is also seemingly claiming that the bluestone circle may have cunningly doubled as a Catapult Machine.

TonyH said...

There is a relatively new book, in its 2nd edition (2014) which, whilst giving an objective overview of the opposing bluestone transportation hypotheses (about 8 pages long), does NOT have much to say about the work and the theories of the Stonehenge Riverside Project led by MPP. It concentrates upon Stonehenge itself and doesn't say much about Durrington Walls or, for example, The Cursus or MPP's "Bluehenge"

It is "The Story of Stonehenge" by Patricia Southern, Amberley Publishing, 157 pages. Price £9.99. She is a Historian not an archaeologist, and I think she has done quite a good job in going through the various periods of its formation. It is good to read an objective view of the Glacial Hypothesis in a book aimed broadly at an intelligent, generalist readership.

Myris of Alexandria said...

The first edition is very similar to chippingdale's stonehenge complete I think that the better book. Dr Southern's book is very readable and enjoyable.
I am reading R.H.Huntington 1935 Stonehenge and its date with an increasing sense of anticipatory deja vu. A very interesting book written soonish after the Hawley excavations.
90pence plus postage ebay.
Darvill's Stonehenge book I liked the best, though Hengeworld by Pitts is also good. All from eBay and none expensive.
Am reviewing Ritual in EBA grave goods by Woodward and Hunter WOW.
Leverhulme money, quite a lot but well spent.Definitely not cheap book to buy.
M

chris johnson said...

Thanks for the link to the video. I rather rely on this blog for Stonehenge News.

MPP still seems very certain of his narrative and I suppose that somewhere he has the evidence to back it up. I was particularly struck by the confident way he discusses the original bluestone circle in Prescelly. Where could he have found this??

My bet would be to look at "Hugh's Henge more carefully. It looks like it is in the right place. Still, most of the evidence I have seen in recent days strengthens the case for glacial transport, and there is nothing in the Pembrokeshire landscape to compare with Wiltshire or the Boyne.

Geo Cur said...

"Despite the mysterious enclosure there having qualities around its horizons that ring true to a ceremonial site,"

It's no more mysterious than any other enclosure that hasn't been investigated/excavated .

What are the "qualities " found on the horizon of other ceremonial sites that link them to the enclosure that can't be found associated with modern non ceremonial sites like sheep pens , pylons , grit for road bins etc ?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree with that, Geo. I can see no reason for investing all prehistoric sites with "significance" -- sure, everything is built for a reason, but I suspect that most of the reasons are utilitarian and very boring.

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Brian , Both myself and others who have visited the enclosure and looked about us have found enough to encorage us to feel this enclosure most probably began life as something other than an animal enclosure or settlement.
On the southern flank of Preselau is the Gors Vawr stone circle , which uses features in ridge around its eastern, northern and southern flanks as part of its astro archaeological make up. We all feel it is therefore not unreasonable to find similar at the northern enclosure, and we feel we have found just that.
It is not seen as paying THIS site with unwarranted significance, there are too many significant features visible from only this point or only a few yards in any direction.
We also found an entrance on both the northern and southern flanks but they are very narrow with return stones tied in either side. It is almost due south of Castell Mawr another possible ex henge site.
From the center of the enclosure the only gap in the landscape showing hills beyond to the northeast points to the mid summer sunrise. A significant previously unexplained feature visible at Carn Alw points to the Equinox sunrise. A dip in the saddle of the hill near Carn Breseb points to the mid winter sunrise. The pinnancle of Carn Bica is visible in a " V " shape of the hills on the top of the ridge is due south. The summit of Cwm Cerwyn is barely visible in the south west to the left of Foel Feddau marks mid winter sunset. The stones up on Waun Maun mark the equinox sunset and finally the ONLY place the sea is visible marks the mid summer sunset...I feel there is enough here to warrant archaeologists having a closer look but not with a wink to Stonehenge...

Jon Morris said...

“other archaeologists may well have things to say about that”

I would have thought that the team is locked in now that it's up on AHRC's own website Brian ? It would be hard going to come out against these interpretations now that the team has been publicly identified as having proven them. I guess it's only a problem if they wanted to contribute to any project whose discoveries did not support one or more of the assumptions.

Geo Cur said...



Chris ,
Where or what is "Hugh's Henge ", and why does it look to be in the right place ?

Although there are examples of henges above 200m e.g. Arbor Low , Weston ,Normangill etc they do tend to be a low lying species .

Dave mentioned a possible henge a week or so ago , ,that sounds interesting , but possibly closer to a "hengiform enclosure " .?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Doubt that very much, Jon. we are talking here just of the MPP tribe -- there is the Darvill/Wainright tribe and assorted other tribes involving assorted others who have featured on this blog from time to time. If any of them have any self-respect, I dare say that they will point out nonsense when they see it....... spats are not unknown in the world of archaeology!

Myris of Alexandria said...

Or geologists or gardeners.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite so -- it even exists in geomorphology circles, as I have pointed out.... I reckon tribalism is built into the human DNA.....

Geo Cur said...

“Both myself and others who have visited the enclosure and looked about us have found enough to encorage us to feel this enclosure most probably began life as something other than an animal enclosure or settlement.”

The “feel “ highlights the extreme subjectivity of the conclusions . Some evidence might help . Others have also visited the site and came up with different conclusions .


“On the southern flank of Preselau is the Gors Vawr stone circle , which uses features in ridge around its eastern, northern and southern flanks as part of its astro archaeological make up.”

Look at the solstice and equinox alignments from Gors Fawr , they are not aligned on prominent features like peaks or V profiles .They are all on non descript part of the landscape . If there was any archaeoastronomy involved in the siting of the monument it certainly didn’t involve orientation towards anything significant in the landscape and if anything avoid the most prominent features .

Again , if you look closely at any site prehistoric or otherwise you can find “explanations “ for it’s siting but that doesn’t mean that was the reason for the siting and you are unlikely to convince archaeoastronomers about the various landscape features . This is the point of the earlier question about the “qualities “ found at other ceremonial sites . When you look at other ceremonial sites with astronomical alignments , the alignments are not on the type of qualities you mention . Further when you do look at ceremonial sites in a similar landscape setting to Preseli ,any possible astro events tend not to be centred on landscape features like gaps in hills or prominent peaks but the most insignificant parts of slopes as is the case with Gors Fawr .


“ We all feel it is therefore not unreasonable to find similar at the northern enclosure, and we feel we have found just that. “

Gors fawr is at least similar to the type of monuments that have possible astro alignments , IA enclosures are not another .


None of the points mentioned in relation to the various astro events are salient , yet again the same type of qualities not found at ceremonial sites but mentioned in relation to the probable IA enclosure can be found at other non prehisstoric sites like phone masts ,sheep pens etc .

“The stones up on Waun Maun mark the equinox sunset .”

You can’t see them from the enclosure so how can they “mark “ anything ?




TonyH said...

MPP insists on promoting his strongly - held belief that two completely separate prehistoric tribes, one from West Wales and one from, broadly speaking, Wessex, came together to erect Stonehenge.
MPP is like the modern equivalent of a prehistoric tribal Storyteller: and he's good at it, we have to admit, right down to the subtle changes in voice modulation and pitch. But, for me, he's the modern equivalent of the Pied Piper of Hamelin; or, more recently, that loveable Londoner of the 1950s, Max Bygraves. He tells us his Story, and in so doing, leads us up his very own Garden Path, quite possibly into a labyrinth ..... with no clear way out. But some of us, at least, are sufficiently enthralled to have followed him thence. He has spun his yarn, and we are enrapped in it.

Evergreen said...

I've just been reminded of this
http://youtu.be/hiovfNET2Hc

TonyH said...

I have it on good, sometimes pseudonymous, authority that we still have six months to wait until MPP publishes his long - awaited Paper. It's all part of the Storyteller's technique - build up the suspense, the expectation......and always tell them that something MORE will follow that!

Hugh Thomas said...

Geo Cur

The stones at Waun Mawn mark a site, they are the last visible vestiges of something that once stood here,today it is ruinous. The fact is the sunset alignment on the equinox passes less than 50 yards north of these stones,seen from the enclosure could well have been exactly on what ONCE stood here, how do any of us today know how this site was used? It does not need to be "in your face" to be significant, this is what I have been taught by experienced megalithic site colleagues who were kind enough to spend time in these hills with me .
I know full well the significant sunrise and sunset points at the Gors Vawr circle, if you do not there is a very good site on line that will give you a full 360 degree view . The same usage of the horizon applies to the enclosure on the northern slope . With respect you keep calling it a "IA" enclosure,that is what is visible now, the site appears to have been reused and its true beginnings could well be buried under what we are now seeing.
Again with further respect , a lot of what you reply to my posts also runs counter to what colleagues have explained to me while stood at the site itself , and other sites as a matter of fact.
Nothing beats actually getting out there and I am happy to accompany anyone to sites like these...

Jon Morris said...

tribes & nonsense

Difficult to know Brian. Are you sure that the tribes exist? It's difficult to get a grip on how the archaeological system works: It seems to be a particularly insular pursuit.

It seems to me that only a minority would bother to point out flaws in an idea even if those ideas have a large following: It's perhaps different if the subject area has an impact on people's lives, but there's only a certain amount of time each of us have on this world.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Evergreen -- brilliant! Love it!! Thanks for sharing.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Hugh -- your comments sound increasingly like a wonderful wind-up! You should make a video..... And who, by the way are these "experienced megalithic site colleagues" who keep on giving you assurances about the significance of one thing or another? We have a bit of a credibility problem here.

Geo Cur said...

Hugh ,
As the stones at Waun Mawn are not seen from the IA enclosure they cant’t be considered as a marker in relation to that site .
Here are the salient points as seen from Gors Fawr , if you know the orientations from the site then I defy you or your “experienced megalithic site colleagues “ to refute what follows .
The points on the horizon that mark the solstices and equinoxes as seen from Gors Fawr are not only non descript ,i.e. avoiding peaks and V profiles etc but the most obvious features in the landscape which compromise Mynydd Preseli for the most occupy a part of the horizon where the sun isn’t seen to rise or set i.e. the whole of the view north encompassing Foeldrygarn in the east to just west of Foel Feddau . The sun can be seen to rise over the highest point at Foel Cwmcerwyn but it is weeks away from any solstice .Another prominent hill taken up a good few degrees of the horizon is Foel Dyrch yet the sun never sets over it’s flanks at any solstice or equinox ,similarly Carn Wen . These hills add up to quite a percentage of the horizon and you might expect something an alignment to crop purely statistically ,but they don’t . It’s not just a case of the most obvious features being excluded it seems more like ,as in the case with many other sites , they weren’t even considered .


Brian , I doubt very much that it is a wind up .I have seen and heard the same type of thing too often .

Myris of Alexandria said...

I have been told from the same oracular source that the delay has more to do with the publication cycle of the journal than any teasing of Josiah public.
Trust me the longest wait is ever between having a paper accepted and seeing it in print.
Outside of Nature a year is about average, certainly nine months, six months is swift and means you have hit the cycle at the precise time.
So the delay in not of MPP' s making.
Even book reviews take months.
M

ND Wiseman said...

Myris -

Book reviews certainly do seem to take quite a while ...

Neil

Jon Morris said...

Outside of Nature a year is about average, certainly nine months, six months is swift and means you have hit the cycle at the precise time.

Is that archaeology or more widespread Myris? I've not had a paper or commentary take longer than four months from acceptance to publication so wonder if different rules apply in some fields.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I haven't sought to publish original research in geomorphology for years, but I gather from colleagues that delays of 6 months are commonplace, and if there are referees' comments to be dealt with, the process can take 9 months or more.

TonyH said...

MPP is ALWAYS leaving his captive audience with a tantalising tit - bit (and please do not understand that latter phrase, chaps!). He did it all the way through his Seasons on the Stonehenge Riverside Project. THAT is why I referred to the six - month wait for his much - anticipated Paper - from experience of his previous tactics with the media, TV as well as printed or Internet.

TonyH said...

Whoops!! for "understand", please read "misunderstand".

Then it all begins to make sense.

Myris of Alexandria said...

NEIL sei ruhig.
In both geology and archaeology six months would be swift.
Decent peer review takes time.
M

Evergreen said...

It's curious, Mike doesn't seem shy of putting himself in a position that would require him to produce a vast amount of very very good evidence.

Somebody correct me if i'm wrong, but I was under the impression his 'unifying' theory comes from three areas of investigation. The first being the isotype analysis from cattle at Stonehenge, which showed them having being brought to the site from as far away as where the Krankies come from.

Secondly, the idea of an already existing BS (I mean bluestone, but i'm sure others may have a different interpretation) monument in SW Wales being moved (by being carried, I might add) to the site of Stonehenge. He was going to be looking for this circle at Castell Mawr, I believe.

Thirdly, the finding of houses at Durrington and the lovely mid-winter pig shooting/eating get-togethers.

Yes, there were cattle at Stonehenge that came from over the hills and far away but could that not also have been the case for many other sites? Maybe people moved cattle all the time, and all over the place? It's hardly beyond the imagination. I can't see this, necessarily, as proof of a 'unifying' site in the sense that Mike is suggesting.

There is (to my knowledge) no evidence whatsoever of the welsh BS circle.

People camped at Durrington, no doubt, and perhaps 'celebrated' at mid-winter , but again, perhaps this was the case with many other sites?

What particularly caught my shell-like in the UCL lecture of Dec 2013 was that Rob Ixer (if only he were here eh?) and Mr Bevins had found the exact source of one of the SH Rhyolites and indeed a 'recess' was discovered where the stone was removed?

Is that still considered to be the case?

Myris of Alexandra said...

Ah my sources tell me Dr Ixer is far too precious to talk to the common man and so we must deal with his ever so 'umble accolytes.
However, it is my best belief that indeed the pet rock boys found an exact match to the Jovian rhyolites with fabric aka rhyolites C at the quarry face at CRyf. That is true now and for all time.
Please ask for no more.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Evergreen -- Yes, I have picked up on the same themes from listening to MPP in the flesh and on video. Cattle, teeth, BS and BBQs, with some "unification politics" thrown in. Take it or leave it -- I prefer the latter course, in the absence of anything which I would call evidence pointing to a direct Rhosyfelin link.

With respect to the "recess", there is indeed a fracture or crack which has opened up a bit, which seems to be approximately where Richard Bevins and Rob Ixer think they find the best match for the fragments found at Stonehenge. I have argued about that -- their sampling point density is inadequate for making that sort of assumption, and they could, rather more convincingly, have argued that the fragments at Stonehenge came from a bit of the crag which is no longer there. In any event the crack is just a few inches wide, and there is no way that it could have spawned an orthostat.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- I wish you would stop using the term "quarry face". You know it makes me very upset.

ND Wiseman said...

Evergreen,

I for one am not prone to quickly jump on MPP's bandwagon just because he's MPP. In many cases his work is incomparable, but I don't agree with all his interpretations.

I don't, for example, believe the Cursus was a division between life and death. I don't think the so-called 'periglacial stripes' were made by scraping ice. And I don't subscribe to the notion that Stonehenge was a 'Unifier' for the entire culture.

Among other things, the Cursus was a place that kept the dead Out. The Stripes were created by the meltwater of permafrost, and the culture had already long been unified by the time Stonehenge's Stones were installed.

On the other hand, I Do believe that Durrington was a big deal in terms of its relationship to Stonehenge.

But there's a couple of things going on at Rhosfellin that aren't solely MPP's interpretation - and this lends some extra credence to its probable importance.

Forgive me Brian, but it looks to me like there really Was something happening there in terms of Human interaction, and the chemistry is compelling.

I have been in private contact with a couple of the main players in this unfolding saga, and while they have been dutifully true to the locked-down 'Secret' nature of the paper's ultimate content, I've been given enough clues which indicate that what's about to be revealed will be a game-changer.

Ixer & Bevins' remarks about the 'recess' from which a certain Rhyolite is said to come was indeed intriguing - but there has been little follow up that I'm aware of.

The cultures of Wales, Ireland and north Scotland are much older than those found in south-central England, so it seems to me that in the 'migration' it would only be natural that they'd carry - at least figuratively - some of their beliefs to the interior lands.

I believe there was a direct link with Wales in this case, and at the moment Rhosfellin, et.al. appears to be a likely candidate for that link.

Neil

PS - Myris. I am well aware of the time it takes for reviews to be released - in addition to finding the appropriate venue to publish it!

ND Wiseman said...

Oops -

3rd paragraph, 1st line should say: "Among other things, the Cursus was a place that kept the dead IN."

N

BRIAN JOHN said...

Neil -- I wouldn't have any problem with human occupation of this site. In fact, given its location, I would be surprised if it wasn't used as a camp site for many hundreds or thousands of years. That does not make it unique, and it does not mean that orthostats were quarried from here. Hunters might well have made blades here -- the rock is well suited to cutting things. I'm intrigued by this "compelling chemistry" -- what chemistry? Are you talking about geochemistry and petrology? If so, yes, that is indeed very interesting, but it has nothing to do with quarries. That's a nice piece of geological research.

ND Wiseman said...

"Are you talking about geochemistry and petrology?"

Yes.
Poor choice of terms - my mistake.

N

Myris of Alexandria said...

Brian I am not certain that Dr Ixer has ever published the words quarry face, I am pretty certain neither of the pet rock boys has discussed the fissure in or out of the published literature. The importance/possible importance of features along the quarry face is an archaeological judgement not a geological one and best left to those qualified.
As but a poor shade of the blessed pet rock boys I find quarry a better term than large planar surface that appears not to be structural in nature (absence of slickensides) and is difficult to explain if totally natural. Not a fault plane nor master joint plane, see above.
M

chris johnson said...

Last time we discussed this Brian promised to look for slickensides - i.e. marks that might indicate a geological sheer such as might be caused during an earthquake. Did you find any Brian? Otherwise it does strike a layman like myself as being unusually sheer.

Evergreen makes some accurate observations, but when ND Wiseman has cracked the riddle of the cursus then I might be a Dutchman. The cursus looks to me like the constructions used in Canada by Indians to trap migrating game. Given the presence of warm pools at Avebury this would like have been a migration destination since paleolithic times. The cursus as a religious monument? I doubt it, although maybe it was woven sometime into whatever weirdness was going on. I suspect the origin was much more pragmatic.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris, this is interesting. Your dear friend Rob Ixer has used these words in print about Rhosyfelin: ".... the first secure Stonehenge-related quarry site, confirming that man moved the bluestones." Can't get much clearer than that. If this is a quarry, then it stands to reason that the rock face is deemed to be a quarry face.

Let's leave the little fissure or crack to MPP and his colleagues to explain how something so small can have given rise to one or more rather large rhyolite orthostats desirable enough to cart off to Stonehenge.

But I do find this statement quite extraordinary: "The importance/possible importance of features along the quarry face is an archaeological judgement not a geological one and best left to those qualified." No way. This has nothing whatsoever to do with archaeology, and everything to do with geology. Those of us who have looked at the rock face as experienced earth scientists see nothing whatsoever to make us think that there has been any human involvement in its creation -- apart, that is, from the careful cleaning of the face so as to make it look like a quarry face, by the digging team between 2011 and 2015.

So we have a "large planar surface that appears not to be structural in nature (absence of slickensides) and is difficult to explain if totally natural. Not a fault plane nor master joint plane...."

Now that is interesting,and we have some progress. One would not expect slickensides unless there has been movement on one side relative to the other. But this is a highly fractured crag, with fractures in three dimensions, all over the place. So it's not a master joint but a "foliation plane" which follows the tight foliations in the rhyolite, unrelated to bedding or cleavage. Of course it's a fracture (or actually, several fractures), but why do you say it is not structural?

I'll publish some more pictures of the rock face. We are not talking about a perfect plane at all, but about several planar features, some stepped back 30 cms or more behind those that are most prominent. My observation is that there are several of these planar features, which can be seen clearly "end on" at the outer tip of the crag.

I don't find the rock face at all difficult to explain as a natural feature, and neither do my colleagues Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes, and if Drs Ixer and Bevins say in the forthcoming famous paper that it cannot be natural, and must therefore be man-made, I suspect we might have some fun and games!

Roll on publication day......

BRIAN JOHN said...

The Cursus as an animal management / livestock herding feature? Not as crazy as one might think. You don't need to look to Canada for parallels. There are some extraordinary features in Pembrokeshire used until very recently during the annual sheep roundup -- used to drive the sheep in through a "funnel" towards one point where they could be trapped and then sorted out or slaughtered. There is a fantastic one, still visible at Garn Ffoi on the northern flank of Carningli.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Slickensides? No, I haven't seen any. Rob will probably confirm that.

Jon Morris said...

I'm with Neil on all of his comments Brian. The other things (as Neil's hinted that MPP doesn't actually know about) would predict a nearby place such as Rhos-y-Felin to be important and therefore do lend some possible extra credence (at least in my eyes) to its potential importance.

Hugh has been kind enough to volunteer to check the initial stuff out. If you're interested, ping me privately?

Geo Cur said...

Cursuses sometimes have contemporaneous or even earlier monuments at their termimals , i.e. the Stonehenge cursus with it’s long barrow is that likely top be part of a utilitarian feature ?
They are often found in association with other non utilitarian type monuments , is that where you are likely to site hunting /corralling /herding features ?
They are often straight with changes in orientation being rarely less than 20 degrees never shaped like a funnel and can be as short as 50 metres ,often on flat open ground ,hardly ideal for the hunting . herding /corralling . They are often found close to rivers but keep parallel to the river if they had been used for the hunting etc purposes we might expect them to have met the river at an angle but the don’t . As a type they were discontinued by the EBA , hunting /herding etc continued but with nothing like cursus monuments . They were also regional ,not all areas had them but we might expect that hunting and herding were carried out in these cursus free regions with more appropriate monuments . The biggest problem is that they would have been pretty ineffective at controlling any animal from aurochs - cattle - deer - mice they would have easily have walked over or around them . There would have been much simpler and more energy efficient methods of hunting , herding etc .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Good sense, Geo. They would only really be useful if there were bounding walls at least 1.5m high and in good repair. But it's a nice thought! And some of these features really are rather spectacular....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon, what on earth is there in this landscape that would predict a place like Rhosyfelin to be important? Evidence instead of fantasy, please..... feel free to share!

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah some days he is sanguine and some days there is blood on the sand "like a bright red ocean" abandoned.
Where did he write that not doubting you just curious.
In something serious or popular.
He can be a very naughty boy.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh, some mining magazine or other....... miners are probably gullible people who like nothing better than to be told a tale or two..... Maybe the truth is reserved for others?

Evergreen said...

The Dorset cursus is over 6 miles long. That seems to me an extraordinary and unnecessary effort for an animal trap. A number of long barrows are either on or near the cursus too, as at SH.

Regarding keeping the dead In/Out (not shook all about) I'd always imagined, somewhat hazily, that this could be the intended function of banks/ditches of henges, LBs, RBs, but I had not considered the cursus for that purpose.

Jon Morris said...

Jon, what on earth is there in this landscape that would predict a place like Rhosyfelin to be important? Evidence instead of fantasy, please..... feel free to share!

Hugh's taking a look at it Brian. No point in sharing publicly until it's been checked out to see whether or not it's worth sharing.

Evergreen said...

Although, where im from they can't have been very concerned about the dearly departed wombling free as many of the RBs were of 'scraped' construction, with no ditch at all..

Hugh Thomas said...

Geo Cur , I fully understand the message you are trying to get across to me, it is greatly appreciated, what I am trying to do is look beyond the desk top habbit of cutting and pasting what is known, assumed continually recycled regarding ancient sites so as ideas, like geological history can barely move forward in a single lifetime.
Sites cannot be solved by an hours visit in an afternoon on a walk in the modern day , the people who built these sites lived and breathed them and saw much more in the landscape than we do now with our modern eyes, and this is where most of us fail to understand them .
I will share with you a site I am confident is not yet known beyond my own circle , I found it through getting out there and spending time out there to learn the landscape around me, like the ancients possibly did. Go onto google earth
51. 57.159 N 4.45.673 W

You see nothing there ? The site is now barely perceptible is it not ? You will not see it from the Gors Vawr circle now will you ?
Now using the time slider move it backwards and look what appears... This site is on a very steep slope , it just happens to be in the position the sun would set at the summer solstice as viewed from Gors Vawr...Behind the ridge...
I have found more , there are more than half a dozen in positions on the Preselau ridge and they have intervisibility with Gors Vawr and and others do with this enclosure north of Carn Goeddog on the northern side at significant times of the year they seem to be where the sun rises or sets.
With respect I do not have to "defy " what someone else has printed, the task of learning and understanding goes on, by being out there. I am not a wind up merchant, I am attempting something that as far as I know no one else has done that is to find and add to over 500 points of interest in the Preselau hills.I am an unkown in the Stonehenge debate and with all respect trying to bring something new to it all, I have walked over 700 miles within the area, at all times of the day to learn and understand what is actually there in the landscape, not what is assumed .

Myris ben Alexandria said...

Ah there are truths and truths, mining magazines have their core audience. Just think had it been The Jewish Chronicle how difficult he would have found it to show that it was the lost tribe who moved the stones,or perhaps not. Is it mitzvah to carry stones? Mind you all that pork consumption at DW is going to be hard to reconcile.
Still a very strong statement, fun eh.
M

Geo Cur said...

Hugh ,
You had said “Gors Vawr stone circle , which uses features in ridge around its eastern, northern and southern flanks as part of its astro archaeological make up. “
I pointed out that in common with the vast majority of prehistoric sites the solstice and equinoxes occur on non descript parts of the horizon and all the prominent features on the horizon are actually avoided , which makes a nonsense of your comment .
“Being out there “ didn’t help you refute that data .

“Nothing beats actually getting out there “
In some respects but it depends on who is out there and what they might imagine they are seeing .,then how they interpret it . We have seen what the phenomenologists , ley hunters and alignment seekers have to say when they get a bit of fresh air , it’s ultra subjective and easily refuted .

Many of us do “get out there “ and probably much more than you do ,that in itself is not enough , although it is enough to be able to point out the problems with the wishful thinking that sees alignments in peaks and troughs and has failed to take into consideration what is actually found in relation to monuments and the horizon .
If you spend long enough looking for something auspicious you will find it . Punters are for ever “discovering “ stuff about the pyramids or Stonehenge or some local area ,unfortunately controls are never considered , if they were , in your case , you would find the same type of situations in relation to contemporary sheep pens , junctions of dykes etc .

Still waiting for an explanation for the "qualities " found on the horizon of other ceremonial sites that link them to the enclosure that can't be found associated with modern non ceremonial sites like sheep pens , pylons , grit for road bins etc ?





chris johnson said...

Geo,
The cursus-like "monuments" in northern us/canada were used and maintained by indians to channel migrating caribou. Thus they were built on the traditional migration trails. They would stretch over miles sometimes, and did not necessarily have to be massively high - caribou being inclined to walk along calmly unless threatened.

The archaeologists are getting themselves in a pickle by tying all these landscape features to the Neolithic and farming dates post 3900 BC. As we see from recent discoveries near Stonehenge there is a mesolithic history too.

Long barrows and cursus monuments can be close together because that is where people were at certain times of the year. In my understanding the cursus is often the earlier monument, assuming it is possible to date these monuments reliably.

Jon Morris said...

Hi Hugh:

51. 57.159 N 4.45.673 W

This is on a south facing slope immediately below, and south of, Foel Feddau. What have you found there?

ND Wiseman said...

Hi Evergreen,

I hadn't wanted to elaborate on the Cursus as it veers sharply from the thread, but since we seem to be ping-ponging fast & loose with topics, here goes ...

Indeed banks & ditches are the key to whatever Cursuses (Cursi?) meant. It certainly wasn't a pen for livestock, as, at least in the case of the Stonehenge Cursus, they could wander away without too much difficulty. Notice also that the Lesser Cursus is completely open to the East, so it seems like a huge amount of work just to make sure there's roast on Sunday.

That said, my reading is that an outer bank/inner ditch actually Is intended to keep something inside, while an inner bank/outer ditch (very rare) is intended to keep things out. We see this second configuration in the older monument at Windmill Hill, where the lower ring's bank is on the upper, or inside. And of course we famously see it at Stonehenge, which we presume to have been, in part, a kind of regional cemetery at its inception.

The Great Cursus is older than both of these by a good margin but tells us that interpretive symbolism was alive and well from an early date.
If the Cursus was meant to keep the shades of the dead, it indicates that there were a lot of them around, based on the size here as well as in the enormous feature in Dorset. This speaks to a culture that had been around for a long time and had an awareness that there were a great many more dead people than live ones.

There are no contemporary longbarrows on the interior of a Cursus, but there usually quite a few in near proximity, so the indications are that the rank-and-file dead were all jumbled together in one place, while the high-born had their own little niches - often clustered near, but separate from the others.
(The tools left on the floor of the ditch and the marginally inaccurate Equinox alignment also play roles, but Geo will pounce on me like a ravenous mountain lion ... lol)

While my ideas about the peculiarities of the Stonehenge ditch and bank are detailed elsewhere, sufficient here is that it seems likely that ditch systems in general were directly associated with death, and more specifically the separation of the 'shades' of the dead from the living.
The dead may not have been 'evil', in the sense that they would do harm. But they were unclean and their negative influence was unwanted.

At Stonehenge, elaborate measures were taken to both symbolize the outer region in which the dead were permitted to dwell, in addition to ensuring that none of them could sneak back into the sunlit living world - which is among the things Stonehenge represented by the time its stones were installed.

So then, while the Cursus acts as a containment, it doesn't divide the two realms with a real-world north/south border.

Enjoy your stay in Delft.

Neil

Evergreen said...

Chris, I've always been under the impression it's the LBs that were earlier than the cursus. (what's the plural?!) LBs around 3600, cursus maybe a couple of centuries later. Rough estimates but insure cursus were more towards the middle neolithic.

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
British cursus monuments would have been ineffective for channelling any of the local fauna of the period ,for the reasons given i.e. aurochs , sheep , deer , cattle (none of which were migratory ) could easily walk over or around them , the ditches are shallow , rarely maintained , sometimes back filled quite soon after build and the monuments low , they are hardly noticeable on the ground and many were only discovered by AP ‘s as crop marks . Some are long , but others are far too short for channelling . The most impressive areas were often the terminals ,not what we might expect if used for herding .
The dates are the best we can do from the available evidence ,but none of the dates are Mesolithic .
Later barrows are found clustered in the general area of cursuses but in the case of earlier long barrows they usually predate the cursus and in the case of Pentridge and Gussage Cow Down they are incorporated into the cursus, not just at the terminals ,similarly Aston cursus maintains a very straight course until it meets a ring ditch then curves around it then continues the straight course . Cursus do seem to target earlier monuments ,if the stop they become a terminal , if they continue they are incorporated . Stone rows on Dartmoor ,whilst very different types of monument do the same .

Evergreen said...

Some interesting thoughts Neil. I'm not convinced by many of them, I'm afraid. But I've always considered the ditches to be symbolically 'containing' the interior. Which could sound very obvious indeed I suppose.

Delft? I'm not going to Delft! Have I missed something?

Geo Cur said...

"51. 57.159 N 4.45.673 W "


Depending on what is at the spot it must be quite close to what Laws and Owens described as a possible chambered tomb in “Laws & Owen , 1908 , Pembrokeshire Archaeological Survey . “

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Jon

I had been into Craig Y Cwm quarry and happened to spot " circular ridge" of gorse bushes that seemed to stand proud of the others around on the southern slope below Foel Feddau. Was a bit of a challenge to get there are and found a barely petceptible low bank curving round on the edge of the grass going under the gorse bushes. It is on a fairly steep slope, and I would guess around 30 -40 yards across. The whole ridgeof hils forms a horse shoe shape around it and its only view point through to a clear horizon is to the south east beyond Gors Vawr as viewed from here. The sliding time line scale on google earth will bring it out for you if you go backwards to an earlier satellite view.

Hugh Thomas said...

Also forgot to mention, there are more enclosures like this one , all on fairly steep slopes, what on earth could they have used for is my question?

ND Wiseman said...

Sincere apologies Evergreen!

My entire response was directed at Chris Johnson, based upon his remark:

"Evergreen makes some accurate observations, but when ND Wiseman has cracked the riddle of the cursus then I might be a Dutchman."

Wow - three corrections in one thread! (I'm getting sloppy in my old age.)

Neil

Geo Cur said...


Probabaly related to transhumance , sheep pens , shelters etc .

chris johnson said...

Geo,
thanks for the information. Lots of food for thought,

Hugh Thomas said...

Oops sorry something seems to have happened to the first part of my reply to you Jon..... This is what happens when typing on a phone.... At the site is a sizeable very circular enclosure some 30 -40 yards across, it is largely hidden under the gorse. It is on a steep slope and the surrounding ridge creates a horsehoe effect , and the only clear view of an open horizon is to the south east beyond Gors Var...It becomes visible if you slide back the time slider on google earth...

TonyH said...

STONEHENGE CURSUSES

Julian Thomas "thinks it is most likely that the Stonehenge cursuses were monuments to former processional routes whose antiquity could have gone back to the Mesolithic. Their position, straddling the watershed between the Avon and its tributary the Till, occupies a natural routeway for people and animals crossing from one valley to another. We know that the upper waters of the till were an important place for Early Neolithic people; many of its coombes and valleys are overlooked by long barrows. Similarly, there is a significant group of Early Neolithic long barrows to the east, around what would become Durrington Walls and Woodhenge. Perhaps the ditches and banks of the cursuses demarcated routes that had once had been used by the ancestors, moving back and forth between the settlement areas in the two valleys."

PARKER PEARSON, STONEHENGE, 2012, Chapter 9, Mysterious Earthworks, pages 145 - 46.

Those interested in the Stonehenge Cursuses should look at page 146 which goes on to talk about how the cursuses were laid out, how work gangs probably dug the ditches in segments, probably each numbering tens of men rather than hundreds.

Julian Thomas has no doubt expanded on his ideas - based on his digs there, and elsewhere at Neolithic sites - in more specialist, expensive publications.

TonyH said...

Now that we know about the Mesolithic "home base" for Mesolithic hunters at Blick Mead, near the Iron Age so - called but inaccurately named Vespasian's Camp and 2 kilometres from Stonehenge on the edge of Amesbury, the reality of the great extent of hunting aurochs (wild cattle) around 6,000 to 9,500 years ago has been revealed.
BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY, Number 142, May/ June 2015 pp 28 - 35. Mike Pitts. £4.95

chris johnson said...

Interesting Tony.
I will have to see if I can get a copy of BA but meantime it is helpful when you can pass on any insights.

Geo said something like "at the time, the animals they were herding were not migratory". However, at earlier times deer, aurochs, elk, etc would have been migrating in the sense of moving in a customary way to fresh pasture. Deer will not move far if there is sufficient food, but move up to 50 miles or more in different circumstances. Aurochs almost certainly would have migrated when left to themselves - a herd of 30+ Aurochs consuming quite some food. As Caesar said, they were like elephants.
The animals would have established trails and a practical hunter would set traps accordingly.
In USA the buffalo trails were used by people moving west, for practical reasons too. Perhaps the use of the cursus evolved over time...

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
aurochs , deer , and sheep were not migratory and can’t be compared with caribou who are , i.e. they travel in a 1400-1600 round trip annually . Finding fresh pasture is not migration .
Cursus dates are quite tight and none are Mesolithic .

chris johnson said...

By the way, the Blick Mead team made several very critical remarks about the BA coverage. BA published their letter on the BA site:
http://www.britisharchaeology.org/bmpdupdate

Like it or not the facts point to persistent usage of this landscape for thousands of years before most archaeologists and historians begin their narratives.

Geo, some sheep DO migrate - eg Rocky Mountains. Think your definition of migration is too narrow. Following a customary route to take advantage of changing food resources is something many animals do in the wild.

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
We are talking about sheep in Neolithic Britain . The animals that do migrate that are associated with Britain are birds , some butterflies , fish and early homo sap . Animal migration is not the same as seeking fresh pasture . The bahaviour of big horn sheep ,where they move to higher pasture in the summer is not likely to be found in Wiltshire and not related to cursuses as they tend to be (with a few exceptions ) low lying monuments in both senses. Even if sheep did migrate a cursus is hardly likely to have channelled them for the various reasons mentioned earlier .

chris johnson said...

Geo, you brought sheep into this. I believe sheep in uk are part of the neolithic farming package introduced from Europe. Mesolithic people are most likely to have been trapping auroch and deer species.

Myris of Alexandria said...

I suspect that the Blick Mead vs BA coverage has more mileage with others piling in.
I can only report what I have heard and that was the blick "experience" with BA was totally unlike the pet rock boys who found that for their article BA and its editor were meticulous, careful of everyone's rights and concerns and refused to publish anything that was not agreed by all parties.
In addition nothing they said was taken without being questioned.
It as extremely valuable for them and a pretty reasonable article followed.
The Blick spat is genuinely incredible to those of us by old man Nile. Ah Barbarians for you, a touch of woad and there is spilled ink everywhere.
M

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
I mentioned sheep as they were one of the likely animals connected with the putative "channeling / herding /trapping.
As the cursus monuments were not being built in Mesolithic any possible connection with the animals would have to be at the time of build i.e. the Neolithic ,and as already noted cursuses would not be up to the job , sheep ,deer , cattle would simply wander over or around them and the shorter cursuses don't really work due to the length , even if they suitable for the job .
Further , it's a huge amount of work when something much simpler and efficient would have sufficed .
The association with barrows etc and care taken at terminals is an a clue but unlikley to be anything to do with animals processing from one to the other ,even for a non existent feast .

BRIAN JOHN said...

This is all off at a bit of a tangent, but interesting nonetheless. As a matter of interest, did they have Welsh border collies at the time?

chris johnson said...

Geo,
You are better read than me so I am always open to learn something.

As far as I know the dating of the cursus is based on one antler pick found at the western end. If this was part of an animal trap then the western end would have been open while in use - the western end is some 150 metres wide and is thought to have ditches some 2 metres deep, while the cursus narrows down to 100 metres wide going east.

A 2 metre ditch being a significant obstacle for one of your sheep or one of my deer even.

In this hypothesis the western end would have been closed when the purpose changed. The date is the date at which the cursus was closed, therefore. It may have been in use for a much longer time - of course all speculation as there is no evidence.

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
The dates from other cursus are relatively tight , that at Stonehenge fitting into the general time frame i.e. 3630 -3000 BC (the Stonehenge curusus date is 3630-3370 BC) .
Stone’s report from excavation of the ditch at the Stonehenge cursus (greater ) says “the ditch varied from 5-6 feet in width at the top and at the base was about 4 feet ; the depth in no place exceeded 2 feet six inches “ .
The eastern end is of a similar depth and the western is 2m deep .These measures do not suggest a trap , whilst one terminal could have been a problem the rest of the “trap “ is porous .It's like having a gate and no fence .
If depth of a ditch at prehistoric monuments is to be related to trapping animals then wouldn’t Avebury and Stonehenge be better examples . Further if animals were trapped we would have the evidence in high potassium levels .

There are far too many problems for the cursus as animal channelling / hunting/trapping suggestion , to work .

Evergreen said...

Hi Chris, no evidence indeed, but the evidence we do have suggests that cursus monuments were built between 3600-3300 in the south of England, with some scottish examples a few centuries earlier. I can't tell you in which contexts all of the finds were made, but nothing has been found to suggest a mesolithic date of construction.

Evergreen said...

George, there's an interesting comparison between monument size and ditch width in Lovedays book 'Inscribed across the landscape'. The comparison between henges and cursus shows that, unlike henges, the ditch size of cursus monuments remains nearly constant whatever the width or length of the site. He suggests the closest parallel to this would be fields, suggesting the role to be to demarcate.

BRIAN JOHN said...

But why the two parallel features? do you mean that each ditch / bank marked the outer edge of somebody's territory? Fred's land on this side, and Jack's land on that side, and a sort of no-man's land in between? So the Cursus does not contain anything important at all, but is a sort of nondescript linear territory in which nothing much happened?

Evergreen said...

I think hes suggesting that the ditch was not meant to be impressive or a 'feature' like the henge monuments, but simply to act as something to demarcate an area. He also mentions that it could have been to provide material for the bank upon which a hedge or some kind of barrier could have been erected, again with that idea of a field in mind, in that different size fields do not require bigger ditches or banks, they remain the same width/height for all field sizes.

Geo Cur said...

Evergreen ,
Yes the Loveday book has been the standard work since publication
He had his Phd available for a long time too ,even before book publication iirc .

Brian , what is interesting is that one ditch is straight , until a change in direction , whilst the opposing is a quite a bit rougher , this seems common to most cursus .
Nothing has been found of note in between the ditches , including the presence of animals , clean as a whistle . A ditched rectangular linear space with more attention to one ditch and the terminals , including the incorporation of other monuments or assuring their regularity which may have been worked out in advance . The depth and width of the ditch bore no relation to the length or width of the monument .

Geo Cur said...



Neil ,
Not a pounce more of a miaow .

It’s worth noting that unlike many monuments that seen to favour a particular direction , Cursus orientations are spread very evenly across the all compass points including those where the sun and moon will never seen to rise or set .
Not sure if you were suggesting an equinox orientation for the Stonehenge cursus ,but if so , only a few others follow suit and some are much closer closer e.g. Curristanes , Stratford St Mary . Fwiw I doubt if anything astro can be inferred from the huge variety of orientations ,even aligning on the sun on the first day of construction can’t apply ,but maybe more importantly not everything that has an orientation had to be aligned to something in the landscape or the heavens .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for learned comments, folks. Whatever the characteristics of the ditches / banks, and whatever their alignments might have been, I'm still intrigued by the thought that the Great Cursus at Stonehenge might have been important not for what it enclosed, but for what lay outside it......

chris johnson said...

Evergreen, in Brabant there are many Wallen - earth walls with ditches. Often coppice wood would be grown in association when timber was in short supply otherwise.

The origins of these walls is obscure but the generally accepted explanation is practical and related to agriculture, NOT religion, star gazing, or death rituals.

In particular, animals would be prevented from entering cultivated areas, wind erosion would be prevented and similarly sand kept away from crops. Such practical purpose speaks to my imagination too but presumably some trace could be found using modern methods had a cursus been a cultivated area of some kind.

AG said...

Giant Xylophone is still where its at!

The perfect memorial to Sir Patrick Moore

Evergreen said...

Hi Chris, if it is thought that one function of the wallen was to keep animals out, were the ditches wider and deeper than we see at the cursus?

Regarding the cursus as a cultivated area, I would imagine there would be clues in the soil, particularly if used over a long period of time.

chris johnson said...

HI Evergreen,
All I can say is that Geo triggered the association in my mind and the "Wallen" I am familiar with look similar. In 2012 Karel Leenders published an official paper on "Wallen in Noord Brabant" to which you can refer if seriously interested. He gives a good list of sources. There is a wide variety of dimensions but many are lower than a modern deer fence (8 feet or so). Apparently they still work to deter deer because they are quite broad in their totality, including the ditch. As I am sure you know, deer factor in both height and width into their jumping decisions AND they like to be able to see where they are going to land. Anyway, that is the theory.

Geo Cur said...



Chris , the wallen were mostly late medieval .The ditch and bank were about 3m high there was a berm with shrubs /trees (creating a total height of 8 m in some cases )and an another ditch on the other side. Clearly a physical barrier and nothing like what we find at cursuses .Curusues are straight and enclose a narrow rectangular area , the wallens enclose a variety of shapes but nothing like the cursus shape The closest similarities to wallen are the hunting and boundary dykes like Offa's Dyke , Bishopsdyke (New Forest , Buzzart dykes (Perthshire).
There isn't a great deal of cultivation enclosure /field systems known from the Neolithic but what we are aware of it is nothing like cursuses and similar to what we might expect from farmers in the period i.e. small dykes and fencing e.g. Ceide Fields in Mayo .

chris johnson said...

Geo, good points.
Just to be clear on the Wallen, there are many types. Some only 50 cm high, others 10 metres. Some with one ditch, some with two. In mediaeval times they were often regulated - so in Alphen the ditch should be 1.42 metre wide, while the same number was used in Zundert for the height. The one I know best in Knegsel was investigated and found to be 6 Rijnlandse voeten (1,86 metre) from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the "wall".

My point was more to do with finding a practical/economic functional explanation for the cursus. In Brabant this type of construction had a function and this resulted in improvements and maintenance over hundreds of years. In Britain, whatever the function was, it did not last too long and so, presumably, did not work.

Again, your points are well taken and I do not disagree with any.

Geo Cur said...

Chris ,
It's understandable to look for potential practical /utilitarian reasons for artefacts /monuments etc .but so many of the major Neolithic monuments don't seem to belong to that type of category , no reasonable practical function seems to fit .
The early stone circles ,stone rows , cursuses , are pretty obvious ones , but the big chambered cairns housing a handful of bodies or body parts or in some cases , nothing , are not practical ways of solving the cadaver problem .Similarly , big mounds , portal tombs /dolmens ,what possible practical use could they have had ?
The practical stuff is almost non existent i.e. the places where the neolithic punters actually lived ,or where the vast majority of the population were disposed of .
Admittedly things changed in the BA , monuments became much smaller and the housing and burials more apparent .