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Friday, 7 August 2015

Water-worn quartz outcrop at Rhosyfelin Ford


This is interesting -- I had not spotted it before.  It's a 2m long outcrop of pure white quartz in the wood not far from the Rhosyfelin Ford, on the other side of the road from the archaeological dig site.  I suspect it is a bedrock outcrop rather than a detached mass, but without excavation it's difficult to be sure.  It may well be a part of the quartz vein which we see in the crag and near the big slab which has caused so much excitement.

What is interesting about it is the extraordinary degree of moulding and smoothing there has been on the surface.  Again, a clear indication that there has been very powerful meltwater flow on the floor of this valley in association with ice wastage at the end of the Devensian glaciation.

16 comments:

TonyH said...

Many examples of Prehistoric Preseli Man incorporating white quartz into his monuments, as in, say the Boyne Valley over the Irish Sea? Down here on the English chalklands, barrows would have shimmered in the sun when first built.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't agree with that, Tony. As far as I know, there is no example of white quartz being used preferentially or deliberately in Preseli prehistoroc sites. That's in spite of having masses of it about -- some of the beaches in the Newport area have so many quartz pebbles and boulders on them that they actually look white from end to end. Perfect, one would have thought, for the facing of a wondrous Neolithic burial monument as in Ireland -- but there appears to have been zero interest......

Myris of Alexandria said...

3.2% of all Welsh Standing Stones are white Qtz.
Read Swarbrick 2012 p10. List is there.
He suggest some have been moved to their current position.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I recall publishing your review of his book:
http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/swarbricks-gazetteer-of-standing-stones.html
Just over 3% does not encourage a belief that there was any sort of preference. Don't have the book, but I cannot think of a single white quartz standing stone in Pembs.

TonyH said...

I was asking you whether you knew there are many examples of quartz incorporated into prehistoric sites, Brian? I wasn't making an opinion for or against their usage.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sorry Tony -- understood your question in the wrong way! No problem.

chris johnson said...

A couple of years ago I pointed out on this blog that they are many example of white quartz stones at Glandy Cross, some appearing to have a pecked finish as if they had been used decoratively.

There also seems to be a local tradition to use quartz boulders to decorate gateposts. Brian pointed out the chapel near Gors Fawr a few months back, which has quartz decorations too.

Just saying ...

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Chris -- yes, I recall the Glandy Cross discussion. There has always been discussion about the use of white quartz there (and near Brynberian) for decoration (as at Newgrange) -- largely because there are lots of quartz stones lying around in the fields. As far as I know, it has never been established that these loose quartz fragments were actually gathered and used, rather than being the product of natural weathering and dispersal of fragments from local quartz outcrops. As far as I know, there are no actual standing stones made of white quartz, even at Glandy Cross.

chris johnson said...

What with the quartz and the already recognised natural beauty of the outcrops this must have been a special place shortly after the younger dryas. Today it is a shadow of its former self, overgrown and silted over and now ravaged by Londoners (University types that is).

Hugh Thomas said...

There is quite an interesting quartz vein in Preselau , find your way to Carn Breseb and running to the south east are three or four tors one called Carn Gwyr (The man rock ). In the area immediately to the east of these is a small flattish area before the ridge dips down towards Carn Alw which it overlooks nicely. This flat area is quite busy including the quartz vein looking like a series of boulders running across the land. Also a lot of evidence of dwelkings up here AND a barely perceptible enclosure, not round but more oval shaped, it is quite an interesting area to explore.... ;)

Hugh Thomas said...


Oops forgot to mention there is also another quite prominent quartz boulder on the slope to the east of Bedd Arthur , it seems to sit at the junction of a few of old footpaths ,one rarely used leading down to Carn Arthur, perhaps it was a marker of some sort....

TonyH said...

Missed this Current Arch. item from May 2015 earlier, Brian. The connection with this Post is its white appearance on one side.

At Blick Mead, 1.5 miles from Stonehenge, what could be "the earliest - known deliberately raised stone in the Stonehenge landscape" has been found at this nationally important Mesolithic occupation site.

David Jacques says the stone was clearly set in clay, which indicates it has been raised and placed, rather than a natural bedrock feature. It was sticking about 0.4 metre out of the prehistoric land surface.

"We hope our lithics expert Dr Barry Bishop will be able to shed light on whether this (i.e. the top of the stone having been worked or broken at the top) was also done on purpose".

C.A. May 2015 page 302.

TonyH said...

Myris and others interested in lithics may be keen to know more about the C.A. May 2015 article entitled "Earliest standing stone in the Stonehenge landscape?" [see above]

"...the top of the stone seems to have been worked or broken at the top, giving it a slanted shape" said David Jacques, project leader of the Blick Mead, near Amesbury, dig.

The stone was found in association with traces of a structure and set of features, which has produced radiocarbon dates (from aurochsen teeth) of 4336 - 4246 BC.

"The next question is why the stone was erected. It is wiser to be descriptive rather than analytical at this stage, but it is interesting to note that one side of the stone is almost completely flat, and is coated with a white patina. It is a piece of tabular flint, almost certainly got from close by, and the flat side is facing east across what would have been a much wider Avon valley river valley."

Myris of Alexandria said...

Perhaps it was a central gathering location for the votive flint ducks of yesteryear.
Or the blush-coloured flints.
Are but all my geese are swans.
M

TonyH said...

David Jacques seemed to be investing the "traces of a structure and set of features" associated with the alleged standing stone [see my last comment] with the status of a building and/or dwelling, in his contribution to the recently - televised Mesolithic Times "Horizon" programme, screened last week twice (?available as a download?)

I think I must make time and effort to visit the fairly recently opened Amesbury Museum to check out many of the myriad of worked flints and animal bones, etc, unearthed at Blick Mead: this seems to be a more interesting and worthwhile venture than paying way over the odds to gain entrance to the Old Ruin's Visitor Centre nearby at Airman's Cross.

TonyH said...

"When the red red robin goes bob bob bobbing along along,
There'll be no more sobbing......
When he sees all those votive plastic ducks going bob bob bobbing along Blick Mead pool.....
Wake up, wake up, you sleepy head
Get up get up get outa bed
Can you believe what you've just seen?
And when you've seen one aurochsen, you've seen 'em all
Mesolithics 1 Neolithics Nil."

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