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Friday, 18 September 2015

Carn Goedog -- have the quarry hunters gone completely bonkers?


 Joint-controlled blocks, slabs and columns at Carn Goedog -- similar to the features found on many of the spotted dolerite tors of Preseli.  Some of the blocks have been loosened by overriding ice, and others are subject to frost-action and collapse under the force of gravity.

So now the quarry hunters have given up on Craig Rhosyfelin (having decided that there is nothing much more of interest to discover) and have determined that Carn Goedog is the site of the Holy Grail.  The logic seems to be:

1.  The geologists have said that Carn Goedog is probably the major source of spotted dolerite orthostats at Stonehenge.
2.  Glacial transport or erratics from here to there was impossible.
3.  Therefore there must have been a major Neolithic quarry at Carn Goedog.

All perfectly simple.  Last year two (or was it three?) pits were opened on the upslope flank of the tor, and there was much talk of finding "proto-orthostats", but nothing of any great interest was discovered. There was also much talk of the settlement site on the downslope (northern) side of the tor being a "quarryman's village" in spite of hints from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust that the stone walls there appeared to come from many different occupational phases.  But what the hell?  A good story is what we need, and that is what we will get...... so there is really no alternative to the view that Carn Goedog was a major Neolithic quarry.

At this point, dear reader, please pause a while and take a look at previous posts on Carn Goedog by putting "Carn Goedog" into the search box.  I know the site very well indeed, having been there probably scores of times over many years.  One of my favourite places, examined in detail during my investigations of glacial processes in the Preseli hills.


Carn Goedog seen from the east.  The settlement site is at the foot of the crags, near the right edge of the photo.  The archaeological dig has taken place in the col between the crags and the mountain side, left of centre.  This pic is from 2014.  The toilet tent can be seen in the col, on the skyline.  This is also on the old drover's route. Click to enlarge.

So, back to Prof MPP's lecture of the other evening at Castell Henllys.  He started his section on Carn Goedog with unrestrained excitement, announcing that this was the place where there had been orthostat extraction "on an industrial scale."  He showed slides of some of the crags on the extensive tor, with a variety of elongated slabs and columns, attributable of course to the jointing or fracture patterns which are in some cases almost like the columnar jointing sometimes seen in basalts.  Carn Goedog is not unique in this respect.  We see the same thing in Carn Meini and in many other Preseli tors.  (They are very special craggy outcrops, made of dolerite rather than granite, and they give Preseli its rather special character.)  I have crawled all over these crags for many years, and have never seen anything which can be interpreted as unnatural or man-made, apart from one drill hole in the rock probably made by a geophysicist.  We know that stones have been taken from here by local farmers (and maybe by the chapel-builders of Felindre Farchog) but their "quarrying" has been very opportunistic, and I reckon that pillar-shaped rocks have been taken from here and there on the accessible part of the crag adjacent to the col or old drover's route, and then taken away by horse and cart (or maybe using horse-drawn sledges, which were popular in Preseli in the nineteenth century because wheels were a nuisance in boggy terrain).  Most of those pillars were intended to be used as gate-posts.

Prof MPP likes his "Eureka!" moments, and we got one in this talk too, when he explained that he suddenly realised that from one particular spot (I know it well) there had been a group of pillars from which several had been removed, leaving three behind in a sort of "pillar depot", and ready to go.........  (I love the way in which "the ones that got away" theme returns to all these Neloithic quarry narratives.  We have seen it at Carn Meini with Profs GW and TD, and at Rhosyfelin with the Neolithic "proto-orthostat" which turned out not to be Neolithic at all.....)  The whole idea is of course pure fantasy.  This is a heavily glaciated ancient tor made of densely jointed spotted dolerite,  from which many blocks and pillars have been removed by ice entrainment, and in which there have been massive alterations of crag morphologies by freeze-thaw processes and block settlement under the influence of gravity, over a very long period of time.

Next, we heard about a soil that had been developed in a place from which a pillar had supposedly been removed, and in which a piece of charcoal from c 4,000 BP had been found.  That is probably based on one of the Carn Goedog radiocarbon dates.  That's very interesting, but it tells us precisely nothing about how the supposedly missing pillar had been removed, or when.  MPP tells us it was  taken away in the Neolithic -- and presumably carried off to Stonehenge -- but that is complete speculation.

Next, we heard about the results of the 2015 excavation on the site, extending out from the crags and into the boggy "col" which was used as the old drover's route in the 1700's and early 1800's.  MPP announced that the diggers had discovered a "pavement" of slabs laid flat on the ground, a band of smaller stones that had "clearly" been laid in a ditch of some sort, a "ramp" used for moving stones away from the quarry, and then finally some elongated stones that had been laid on edge, suggesting that they had been used as trestles for some reason as yet unknown.

From where I sat, this was no more convincing than any of the stuff about props, revetments, pivots and railway lines at Rhosyfelin.  The "pavement" seemed to consist of one or two flattish rocks lying flat, which is what flattish rocks generally do. The line of stones in a ditch simply looked like smaller stones deemed to be in a line -- maybe because all the stones on either side had been removed.  The ramp seemed to be an artifice, just like the "quarry face" at Rhosyfelin.  And the extraordinary idea that stones lying on edge had maybe been used as trestles left even the most gullible members of the audience looking a bit gobsmacked......  As ever, the impression comes over that Prof MPP and his colleagues have arrived at a site determined to describe what they expected to see, and not what is actually there.  Anything that might possibly have had some "engineering" function is given a function, no matter how far-fetched that might be.    The engineering glossary gets larger and larger. Amazing -- and very worrying.

The Prof claimed that he could see where the later quarrying of the Carn Goedog crag had been undertaken by local 18th C and 19th C farmers towards the western end, and that the Neolithic quarry could be clearly seen at the eastern end, around the area of the 2015 dig.

He mentioned that various other radiocarbon dates had been obtained on bits of charcoal, one giving a date of 5,200 yrs BP and dating from the Mid-Neolithic.  I got a bit confused by his arguments about dating, but the message seemed to be that the main quarry here was in operation several centuries BEFORE the stones were taken to Stonehenge to be used in the bluestone horseshoe, indicating that the stones were used initially in some Mid-Neolithic (before 5,000 yrs BP) structures in the neighbourhood -- and that probably means in large tombs or long barrows.  So the hunt is now on -- those tombs have to exist somewhere in the area, and they have to be found.  Tally Ho!  Several more years of hunting for the archaeologists.  In their view the quarry problem is sorted, and now the tomb hunt is on.  Indiana Jones to the rescue, as ever.......... and one day the tomb of doom will assuredly be found.

But don't the radiocarbon dates confirm the presence of a Neolithic Quarry?  No, they don't.  We have not thus far been given any stratigraphic or locational contexts for the dates that have been mentioned, and as with all research projects of this type we don't know how many age determinations have been reported and how many have been withheld.  We have to reserve judgment until we see the full published results, but until then the default position has to be this. Some dated bits of charcoal in the soil in a location like this tell us that there were fires at various times, and that bits of wood were burnt, suggesting human presence -- but they do not tell us anything at all about why people were here, whether they had a permanent or ephemeral presence, or whether they were hunters, travellers, traders or quarrymen.

I'm not surprised that an audience of people who do not know the site will tend to accept almost everything at face value, and indeed to get rather excited because a learned professor has chosen to share with them some brand new discoveries that have not yet been divulged even to the scientific community.  But what I am surprised by is the apparent acceptance of MPP's narrative by all the people he is working with.  There are lots of them, all with their special skills.  No doubt most of them are rather intelligent.  Some are even professors. But have they all become infected by a sort of mass hysteria?  Are there no restraining voices?  And don't any of them know anything about Occam's Razor or the scientific method?

PS.  Apologies, dear readers!  It's been pointed out to me that the wording of the final paragraph above was not very clever.  Point accepted.  I referred to "relatively ill-informed" members of the audience without qualifying that to mean "relatively ill-informed about the site in question".  That's what I actually meant.  Of course I also accept that those who take the trouble to attend lectures on local archaeological matters are on the whole wonderfully intelligent, with at least some background knowledge of the Neolithic and the Ice Age!  Anyway, I have now changed the wording appropriately.

48 comments:

Jon Morris said...

It's interesting to see where informed opinion seems to be going.

Nevertheless, without a convincing explanation of why the stones would need to be transported (from Preseli to the location of Stonehenge) the findings as described appear to add little to humanity's body of knowledge.

If you acknowledge the human transport idea, the investigations also risk destroying evidence of the reason for such a quarry to exist. Perhaps a good reason to call a moratorium on any further archaeological investigations at this location?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I think I know where informed opinion is heading -- but the problem is uninformed opinion, and the joy of the gullible masses who think that the "quarryman's saga" is exciting and altogether wonderful. Partly that's because of the deference accorded to gentlemen who happen to be professors -- what they say is bound to be right, OK?

Actually there is very little chance of harm at Carn Goedog -- there are lots of rocks and a thin boggy soil. Rhosyfelin is far more sensitive because of its complex stratigraphy.

TonyH said...

I was thinking just the same as Brian even before I got to his last paragraph of this Post.

Perhaps all MPP's adherents, or should that be colleagues, have sworn an undying oath of allegiance to Michael Parker Pearson? I think we have, some while ago, discussed here the possibility that National Geographic and The Smithsonian Institute, both over in the US of A, have obtained an embargo or ban on on ALL news from MPP and Colleagues' work on All Matters Stonehenge & Bluestone being broadcast i.e. until National Geographic and All have first broadcast the eagerly - anticipated new revelations from their own mouthpieces.

MPP's last two popular books, in contrast, have been given multiple authorship. The 2012 Stonehenge book is authored by "MPP & the Stonehenge Riverside Project".

A very recently released follow - up, "Stonehenge: Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery", published by the Council for British Archaeology, is authored by MPP, Joshua Pollard, Colin Richards, Julian Thomas and Kate Welham. It was published 31.08.2015. ISBN 9781909990029, Paperback, 120 pages, 70 illustrations. So in one sense the Band of Brothers (and Sister) do appear to stand together, with no Jeremy Corbyn Dissenter visible above the parapets. Curious, I'd say.

TonyH said...

I would add that the very recent (published the end of August) MPP & Colleagues' Stonehenge book just referred to by me is the latest book in the C.B.A.'s "Archaeology For All" series. So it looks as if its intended audience is the average Man - In - The - Street who may well be understandably and naturally enthused by alleged new discoveries; and the book won't be revealing the details Brian is asking for in this Post and subsequent comments attached. The more academic peer - reviewed papers seem to be an awful long time coming, Mike and Co....You are generating a lot of heat, but very little light, don't you think?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Somebody told me that the embargo on release of information ends in December, after which things can appear in print and be said on the record...... I have never, ever, encountered such an absurd and unscientific situation. You could understand it, maybe, if this was all about a brand new pharmaceutical product costing billions to develop, where commercial confidentiality may be deemed crucial until the launch date or the start of clinical trials, but for something as fuzzy as this -- completely idiotic. We assume that such an embargo has been in place ever since 2011. If we are wrong in that assumption, and if Prof MPP and the others could have published if they had wanted to, a curse on them and their houses for not doing so, and for leaving the good Prof to spin an ever more elaborate story to those gullible enough to listen and believe.

TonyH said...

Isn't it a pity the assembled September 2015 archaeological "intelligencia" at Carn Goedog and Rhosyfelin didn't have a gentle, bright, witty and objective Master of Ceremonies - type soul present amongst them when they made their public pronouncements at places like Castell Hendre?

Someone like Tony Robinson, whose role in the late lamented or disparaged "Time Team" alongside the avuncular, sadly - departed Mick Aston, was so important in clearly interpreting what a puzzled Joe Public was viewing. Repeats on Channels like "Yesterday" still so well worth another watch.

BRIAN JOHN said...

The problem here -- and it is a very big one -- is that we have two groups of people turning up at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog and asking very different questions. We geomorphologists have turned up and asked "What are the essential features of this site, and how old are they?" while the archaeologists have turned up and asked -- ever since 2011 -- "What are the essential features of this quarry, and how old are they?" That is because in their opinion it had been predetermined -- on the basis of misconceptions about the 100% certainty of the geological work -- that the sites are quarries. It would not be a bad idea for Richard Bevins and Rob Ixer to remind the world that they have NOT stated that Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog are quarries and that there is still a degree of uncertainty about the precise provenances of both the foliated rhyolites and the spotted dolerites. How about it, chaps?

Evergreen said...

In another post, Myris wrote :

"The present correct? thinking is A-C CRyf, no doubt, Rhyolite D may be a red herring -it is one of Stones' stones and E which is SH48 knock off.
Simply put it is all from CRyf bar the very rare exceptions it s in their paper but need to be read in sequence."

In terms of rhyolite provenance, is there more you are looking for Brian?

BRIAN JOHN said...

If you read the posts on this blog carefully you will see that I am not as convinced by the presented (published) data as Myris is about the precise source of the fragments found at Stonehenge. I have not seen a published thin section from the Stonehenge debitage that matches exactly any thin section published for Site 8 at Rhosyfelin, or any other Rhosyfelin site for that matter. Maybe such a match will be published in the future, at which time I might well be convinced.

But I must defend the geologists here. This is a provenancing debate, and at no time have they said this is a quarry. We must not mix up the two debates!! (That is exactly what the archaeologists have done, and that is why they are now in a deep hole which they would be advised to get out of. Instead, they just keep on digging.......)

BRIAN JOHN said...

OOps -- sorry folks. I must correct myself. I have just remembered that infamous article written by Rob Ixer in 2012:

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/more-quarry-fantasies.html

It does contain some very definitive statements! The speculation was certainly not justified by the geology. He has explained at various times that it was just a "popular" article, and that he (sort of) didn't quite mean any of it -- but it has probably done rather a lot of damage in that it has cemented the myth of the bluestone quarry in the minds of certain impressionable readers.

Would he like to retract it?

Evergreen said...

Brian, I sometimes marvel at your discrimination. The unpublished, anecdotal 'evidence' of various cronies who happen to have strolled up to a tor for a gander on a Sunday afternoon seem to be accepted without hesitation. *So and so had a look and they reckon this and that* often seems to be the basis upon which you construct opinion. To accept and promote ideas on such a basis would appear, to me, to be much closer to a definition of impressionable.

Dave Maynard said...

Jon,

Is there any particular reason why there should be a moratorium on excavation? The south side of the tor is either a natural rock outcrop (Brian), or a quarry (MPP), or perhaps they are both. Further work might illuminate the real explanation. Are you suggesting that a fully publicly available research design should be prepared? I would certainly like to see more non-destructive examination of the area, before excavation takes place. Excavation is a destructive process and there maybe a degree of non-publication (or very late publication) taking place.

An initial area that should be fully documented is the west of the tor and the 18/19C quarrying. This allows the formulation of techniques and terminology before moving on to something more controversial.

I would not be happy with large numbers of excavation trenches in the settlement area to the north. This is well preserved and certainly needs thorough survey and open discussion of the sequence of site development before testing by digging.

The other problem is that much of this work will be in the form of small trenches, when large scale open area excavation might be more informative, but probably difficult to achieve in the area and in terms of cost.

Dave

BRIAN JOHN said...

Just be patient, Evergreen. Things will be in print, in two peer-reviewed journals. And pleaswe bear in mind that EVERYTHING said by MPP in his frequent lectures to gullible listeners is anecdotal. Not a scrap of hard evidence ever published.

chris johnson said...

There is a slight chance than Goedog had a high value for people in Neolithic. I'm with Jon that we should not go blundering around with mechanical diggers until we have a much better idea what we are looking for, and indeed until analytical science has progressed further so we can, say, evaluate nanoparticle traces. As Brian observes it is a fragile environment up there and once the surface is scraped off it will be gone for good.

It is beginning to look like MPP wants to make television and not make history. If so I am very disappointed in the man and the blundering authorities that are allowing the destruction to go unchecked. They have found nothing convincing by the sound of it and someone should call a halt - national park authority, pembrokeshire council, surely someone must have accountability.

The evidence is actually pointing to glacial transport some of the way. Maybe it was in the direction of Whitland where a circle was built and later moved. At least Whitland has better credentials as an important centre of government than Brynberian, for a Welshman like myself. Maybe at the end of the day everybody will be a bit right - wouldn't that be nice.

Meanwhile Mike should give back the keys to the bulldozer.

TonyH said...

Evergreen

Your remark that "the unpublished, anecdotal 'evidence' of various [of Brian's] cronies who just happen to have strolled up to a tor for a gander" is itself full of discriminatory and derogatory opinion. All of these "cronies" presumably possess PhDs in geomorphology, probably with a glacial speciality, as I am sure Brian will confirm, and it is highly unlikely that their viewing of Rhosyfelin "on a Sunday afternoon" was made in a casual fashion. They are scientists.

TonyH said...

MPP is, according to the Council for British Archaeology, set to give the De Cardi Lecture on 9th November at the British Academy in London. His lecture is on new interpretations of.. [Stonehenge]...and the landscape in which it sits.


SEE new.archaeologyuk.org/events/beatrice-de-cardi-lecture

There may be the possibility of obtaining a seat if any attendees are unable to come.

TonyH said...

Chris

Please tell us more about the "circle [that] was built and later moved". Is much known?

All I know of Whitland is its position on the rail route to Tenby from Swansea and Cardiff.

Evergreen said...

TonyH, without wishing to labour the point, what do you think MPPs team consists of? Plumbers?

I was responding to Brian's initial comments about 'impressionable readers'.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Evergreen, what have you got against plumbers? I have to admit to not knowing very many of them, but those of my acquaintance are all very intelligent and scientific people who know a tap from a toilet. So their capacity for good judgment should not be underestimated. In any case, I thought that digs like that at Rhosyfelin were kept going largely by volunteers? I would not be at all surprised to find a few plumbers in their number, enjoying a week or two in the countryside........

And as for that point about my cronies, just a gentle reminder that the majority of those who have turned up to look at these sites were people I had never met before -- so I would hesitate to call them my cronies. They came to have a look in response to the invitation sent out by the QRA to its members, with the approval of Prof MPP and his learned colleagues. Some of these experts have been there in my company, and others in the company of the archaeologists. And yes, they are for the most part glacial geomorphologists with doctorates and professorial chairs. They will no doubt express their views on these sites in due course.

And I have not used "anecdotal evidence" at all in my assessments of Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog. I have been around a long time now, and I trust my own opinions on what I am looking at. Read my books and papers if you doubt my credentials.

Evergreen with a broken loo said...

Brian, I have nothing against plumbers. You are using the rather tired tactic of deliberately missing the point to set me up in suggesting I have. Although it did make me laugh. As you are fully aware I was pointing out to Tony that the people working alongside MPP are also “pretty handy” in their own specialised fields. I would not call an archaeologist to fix a leaking tap.

It’s all very well informing us that you’ve “been around a long time” and “trust my own opinions” (starting to get into very dodgy ground there, dodgier than a welsh bog, and not the kind that a plumber could sort out) and I do not doubt your credentials for one moment, but my post was a reaction to the consistently disrespectful tone that is encountered on here, particularly in regard to MPP, and which now, it seems, is being extended to “gullible” listeners and “impressionable” readers of the literature.

We are all, largely, stumbling around in the dark.

Perhaps it is an electrician that is needed.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Evergreen -- I have no doubt that archaeologists are pretty handy people, and would never dare to suggest otherwise. Does that mean that they are not occasionally gullible and impressionable? No. Indeed, we might have an interesting discussion on whether they are more gullible that people working in other fields, on the basis that they are used to creating and hearing rather complex stories based upon minimal evidence.......

On the matter of respect, of course this blog is completely disrespectful. Blogs are ALWAYS disrespectful. That's what distinguishes them from more respectable things that go on in the media and elsewhere -- and that's why people read them and contribute to them. This one happens to have great respect for scientific scrutiny and evidence, and for those experts who show things properly -- as against those who just tell, and expect listeners and readers to believe what they are told. As for a certain good professor and his pronouncements on bluestone quarries, would you care to elaborate the basis on which respect is due?

In Wales, by the way, we are an awkward lot, and only accord people respect when they have earned it. This does tend to make some people rather upset....

chris johnson said...

Tony H,
I don't recall which antiquarian first postulated an early welsh circle to explain the diverse selection of bluestones. To anybody with some training in geology and geomorphology it looks like a collection of glacial erratics and so a logical hypothesis. Was it AH Thomas, somewhere around Cilymaen Llwyd, he thought. Brian knows this stuff and most likely it is in his book but I am too rushed to look it up. We also talked here about Lampeter Velfrey which is very close to Whitland and has bluestones, reportedly, and tales of a stone circle. Whitland too has a churchyard supposedly aligned to the winter solstice in some way.

I have a feeling about Whitland. This nondescript village was mentioned in the Mabinogion and is famous in Welsh circles for being the place Hywel Dda organised the codification of Welsh Law - before anybody had heard of Normans. Welsh welshmen and women respect the place as a preserver of our culture and funny ways. It is very conveniently located for transport links and has been a "node" since before the Roman Road. Now it is on the A40 and used to be on the railway line to Crymych - presumably thanks to prospicious geography. It is also on the Taff, the river of pearls and one of the rivers birthing among the holy springs. Follow the Taff to the sea on Carmarthen Bay and you have a much safer and shorter sea journey than via the Nyfer or the Cleddau.

Mike also has a vision of a stone circle built close to Crymych but he is looking on the wrong side of the mountain because he very very convinced that glaciers do not fit the picture, I think he is looking in the wrong place. Hugh's platform below Goedog is interesting, as is the area south-east towards, you guessed it, Whitland. But what do I know, simple crony that I am.

By the way Evergreen, I have lots of respect for MPP. On the occasions we met he impressed me as a warm human being, taking the time to share his knowledge and open to all questioning. Still, even I think it is overdue that he shows the evidence before bulldozing more of my beloved mountains.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Following on Chris's point, let me make one thing clear. I would never for a moment think of offering any personal criticism of anybody -- either a researcher or a contributor to this blog. I have only met Prof MPP very briefly, and he seemed to be a perfectly pleasant and affable chap, as others would agree. If I appear to criticise him, what I am going after is not his personality but his method of doing research, which I do not like at all.

Jon Morris said...

Hi Dave

Is there any particular reason why there should be a moratorium on excavation?

Good question. My view is very similar to Chris's. I don't get to this site very often these days so difficult to go into detail.

BRIAN JOHN said...

With respect to future work, the good news is that several senior geomorphologists have suggested that Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog are prime candidates for cosmogenic dating work -- in order to sort out the rather fundamental disagreements that have now come to the surface about the features to be seen on the crags, and their ages. Funding would have to be found, and Prof MPP is apparently agreeable to work being done -- but of course it would have to be very carefully coordinated with respect to both sampling procedures and the techniques used.

TonyH said...

Thank you for expanding on your previous comments regarding Whitland and Lampeter Velfrey and surrounding area, and your related points. More generally, as far as Mike Parker Pearson's Teams are concerned, his Stonehenge Riverside Project folk with the linked Stones of Stonehenge Project are restricted in their thinking by their basis: their Ruling Hypothesis that the glacial transportation hypothesis is not worthy of consideration in their researches.

Some of us follow Brian here on this Blog in finding their choice of COMPLETELY ignoring the possibility of glaciation being a component in what occurred Way Back When, as itself very disrespectful. Whilst we can see that their choice of their Ruling Hypothesis is easy to understand as it probably goes a long way to enable the "MPP People" to obtain plentiful funding, I think it is highly disrespectful, not to us Bloggers on this site, but to all the Joes and Josephines in the General Public who deserve them to at least acknowledge that we too, have our point of view which is worthy of consideration, even if the "MPP People" aren't considering it IN DETAIL. That is why I have said before that I mourned the passing of "Time Team", its late archaeologist - in - chief, Mick Aston, and most of all, its attempts at WORKING DIALOGUE between the participants including Sir Tony Robinson as the benign Presenter. There, at least, we had rather more of a balance between "Showing" and "Telling"!!

TonyH said...

I dearly hope and trust that Mike Pitts, Editor of the influential "British Archaeology" will notice that there are still two sides in the Bluestone: Stonehenge discussions. Mike Pitts seems to be a very careful and analytical archaeologist - turned - journalist. He has also dug near the Heelstone at Stonehenge. Let's hope he follows carefully what some of us are promoting, and that this "Minority Report" gains some credence as at least a hypothesis worthy of mote serious condideration, after the Rhosyfelin excavations of the archaeologists have ended, and glacologists and geomorphologists are putting forward their alternative explanations which may be followed up soon with scientific investigations. We have an increasingly well - educated general public who deserve to be treated with a lot more respect.

TonyH said...

What really gets my goat is that academic Glacial Geomorphologists and Archaeologists all work, by and large, for publicly - funded Universities. Excuse me for being naïve, but I thought the clue was in the UNI part of UNIversities. Is there not an opportunity for both sides of the argument to get together leading to all their specialities working as part of a MULTI - DISCIPLINARY TEAM?!?!

After all, if we may have books and debates between Scientists, Atheists and Theologians about the God Factor, why may we not have something similarly erudite and respectful going on about the so - called Bluestone Enigma??!

The Human Transport hypothesis, if allowed to sustain itself without reference to other aspects of scientific knowledge, is like a juddering juggernaut thundering down the road without a care for pedestrians or smaller vehicles.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah as we approach the festive season our eyes turn eastwards, how apposite to invoke a juggernaut and so the Lord Krishna, who of course is always depicted by the Hindoo as
Blue (or black) in colour. The juggernaut was the family run around.
Which is the greater waste of money, treating a smoker for cancer although she will not quit or academics taking money and intending their results for their peer group rather than 40 fags a day Gill.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not sure that's a very sensible comparison, Myris. ".....academics taking money and intending their results for their peer group..." That's not the issue, Myris. The issue is to do with research design and the scientific method. Somebody should have sorted that out back in 2011, instead of which we are now in 2015, and the fantasy that existed then has grown like Topsy. Where was the scrutiny?

Myris of Alexandria said...

This is a bit of Kostamongering (not listening and changing in the playing fields).
We are in a time of flux when it is thought that open access is good (of course it is not it leads to urban myths, the closing down of public baths and the ill-informed thinking their opinions have value).
The contract is between the funding body and the academics, not the huddled watching masses. Now as I say that is changing, see the rise of pseudo-chairs in the Russell Group. Prof of the Public understanding etc - Dr, woops Prof, Bellemey was the first and that Scottish Coastal guy the most recent.
We both remember trying to get funding from NERC and how stringent that was, I suspect it is even worse now.
The research design would, I am sure, have been vetted well and harshly, it is not to your liking but the research was not intended for your liking, it was archaeological.
On a related more positive note the cosmogenic idea is a very smart and ?expensive idea.
Some work on CRyf has been costed at £3000 a pop/sample.
M

chris johnson said...

Some bright spark should offer to do it for free, or for out-of-pocket expenses and a commitment to mention their name in every press release, book and other publication. It would be great advertising

Jon Morris said...

Until some sort of research is published to show that it serves some sort of purpose, there is only marginal justification for a second dig site (at Carn Geodog).

Despite claims to the contrary, the public does have an interest (the land is in a national park). Perhaps it would be a good time for Ms Hawkesworth to review what is being done?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Jon -- sadly, the Lady Marcher (our feudal mistress in these parts) died a few years ago, and the barony land now falls to her grandson to look after. He is quite a young man still. There is a Steward of the Barony who looks after day to day matters, probably including digs and temporary toilet tents.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- there are several playing fields being played on here. And who's not listening? I'm listening very carefully, while not necessarily agreeing!

How can the research designs for Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog have been well vetted if the team simply turns up and starts searching for evidence of Neolithic engineering methods without even asking themselves whether there really are quarries at these two places? No research design should ever be accepted if it has at its core a ruling hypothesis which has NEVER been shown to be remotely reliable.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Returning to my original point about a whole team of maybe 30 people all singing from the same hymn sheet and maybe all being affected by "quarry mania", I am rather intrigued that all these people (and many others) presumably subscribe to the narrative presented by prof MPP to the public just the other day: Josh Pollard, Kate Welham, Colin Richards, Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Charly French, Mike Allen, Adam Stanford and Andrew Chamberlain. There are probably others as well, who will be down as joint authors when the big "Antiquity" paper comes out in December. I'll hazard a guess and assume that the geologists will be in there in a slightly semi-detached fashion as the contributors of an Annex. But of all the plumbers and academics who make up the core of the research team who have worked on the digs, surely there must be some who have asked a few questions, raised a few doubts, and pointed out that a lot of stones and a few radiocarbon dates do not constitute a quarry?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Have you really forgotten how science works even archyscience.
You have a theory, you sell that theory or rather the testing of it to a funding body and you go ahead.
Why is I think x and y are quarries worse than I think the higgs boson exists.
You have lost objectivity.
Years ago a sage said the method of transport cannot be determined but if a quarry or quarries are found the game is over.
Archies have been testing that proposal.
You disagree with their answer which for most of them has been yes.
M
You might find a couple of papers in Mining and Quarrying in the ancient Andes very instructive. Especially the Lake Titicaca papers.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Objectivity, Myris? I recall that you announced in 2012 Rhosyfelin was a quarry, indicating that from that point on your objectivity was somewhat compromised. At least I have tried to stick to the evidence on the ground, and to separate it out from wider assumptions relating to long-distance transport. This blog is packed with evidence, and I have invited scrutiny and debate -- that seems to me be be a reasonable demonstration of objectivity. On the other hand, consider the behaviour of the archaeologists. Have they been testing a working hypothesis? Not in my book -- they have simply been working very hard at confirming a ruling hypothsesis.

Not to worry -- all will be revealed. If their evidence is convincing and incontrovertible, so be it. If it is lousy, those involved in peer reviewing it will no doubt say so.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Been thinking about Evergreen's points and my references to gullible and ill-informed listeners and readers. Apologies if anybody feels insulted by those words! Let me explain. I should have qualified my comments and been more careful. By "ill-informed" listeners at lectures, I meant "ill-informed about the site being discussed". I did NOT mean that the listeners at MPP's lectures -- or mine for that matter -- are generally ignorant about science and the state of the world. I did use the word "gullible" advisedly because I think that we are all rather gullible when we attend lectures on topics that are unfamiliar -- I would be certainly be as gullible as the next man if I was sat in an audience listening to a talk on astrophysics or microbiology........

Anyway, I have changed the wording of the final para of the blog entry above, and added a word of apology at the end. Can't be fairer than that.

Hugh Thomas said...

I am intrigued by this story of an "intact circle being moved lock stock from west Wales to Salisbury" . I had never heard of this story before I began exploring the Preselau hills. Time again people I had walked with seemed to touch on various versions of it , and one , who I do not know if they were pulling my leg even went as far as mentioning character names involved, hope you are ready for this "King Afr and his shamen Myrddin " who lived thousands of years before Arthur and Merlin of pop culture King Afr having a stronghold at Foel Drygarn and Carn Alw was Myrddin's center of alchemy and magic... ( Dont shoot the messenger please it is not my fault:)... Now this fine story teller mentioned Whitland also mentioned Nantgaredig and most logically of all mentioned a site across Cors Tewgyll valley from Carn Menyn on the northern extreme of Craig Talfynnydd, I was intrigued by this last site and set out to hunt it down and duly found a ring bank around 30 meters across with a single toppled stone there,it is visible on Google Earth.
If nothing else it could make a fine basis for a story . Also talking of northern Preselau slope platforms the circle north of Carn Goeddog was to have been dug this visit by MPP' s team but it did not happen. The dwellings at the base of Carn Goeddog are not Neolithic but medieval . I spent a day in the company of MPP and although I kept my views to myself,I asked a lot of questions and listened , he really is a decent gent, friendly, helpful and hard working it is clear he is enthused by what he does. Oh and by the way I have recently found another circular site to the northeast of the Carn Goeddog ring and two large ring marks in fields bear Mirianog Ganol and Crwg Y Hwch... It is going to keep me very busy.... ;)

Evergreen said...

Hi Brian, I hope I didn't cause any consternation at all, certainly not my intention to do so.

It find it almost comforting that two groups of experts presented with the same evidence can have totally opposing views. Especially when that evidence concerns something like a possible quarry, the ID of which many (or me, at least!) might expect to be a reasonably straightforward matter for the highly qualified people involved.
So I'd definitely admit to a level of 'gullible'.

And let's not forget, at the most basic level, one group of these highly qualified individuals are completely and utterly wrong!

Similarly, the glacier question. To my mind the evidence must be either there or not?





BRIAN JOHN said...

Talfynydd is seriously interesting. Masses of features up there-- every time I walk around on this long spur, I seem to stumble across old walls and boundaries, and other strange and unrecorded features. Bronze Age? Iron Age?

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Brian the ring at Talfynydd is at 51'57.252 N 4'43.111 W , it is on a fairly steep slope with a curious ditch around its northern perimeter . If this is a ceremonial site its aspect seems to be towards the north and east as in other directions the hill seems to fill the sky there is a fallen standing stone near its middle.
Talfynydd is crammed ,a burial chamber with uprights and capstone not on maps, a subtly positioned standing stone once spotted from below becomes the dominant hi point of the craggs . A curious site with a propped sound stone that makes a wonderful tone when struck , also right next to this is what looks like an altar stone that unmistakeably faces the Gors Vawr stone circle .
A huge boulder that someone has been very brave and built a shelter underneath and right down at the edge of Cors Tewgyll bog a settlement with a burial chamber, roundhouses, platforms etc. I did hear this was mainly bronze age but given the longevity of the outcrops could well have been in constant use . There is also a huge boulder balancing precariously on the steep hillside, must have come from somewhere above or is a glacial erratic dumped there....

TonyH said...

There are five (5) chief members of the Stonehenge Riverside Project "Inner Sanctum" who have their names on the latest Stonehenge book, this one released by the Council For British Archaeology: MPP, Pollard, Richards, Thomas and Welham. An alternative name for this horse - shoe cluster might be the Blue Flames (sincere apologies to Georgie Fame).

Perhaps in the future they will be known as the Infamous Five (who kept a VERY tight ship, could see no OTHER ships approaching them across the ice when they put their telescopes to their blind eyes, but held very firm, steadfast, and stubborn as Emperors with No Clothes to their Infamous Ruling Hypothesis).

Dave Maynard said...

Hi Hugh,

I've been looking at that from a distance for a while, but never had time to actually reach it, despite being up there a fortnight ago. I must make sure to get there soon. Is it as distinct as it looks on Google Earth? There is another circular earthwork with similar topography (sloping ground facing east) at 51'56.498N 4'39.155W, but not really visible on Google Earth.

I've been contemplating a bit of survey on Talfynnydd when I have the time as it is easy for me to get to. Perhaps we should exchange contact details?

Dave

chris johnson said...

Hugh, thanks for the link. Next time I am on the hills I'll explore in this direction. Let's keep each other posted.

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Dave and Chris if you would like to get in touch here is a link to my FB page.. https://m.facebook.com/hugh.thomas.773?ref=bookmarks
Failing this my email addy is hughhug " AT" aol " DOT"com (all lower case remove "AT " and "DOT " and replace with @ and .)
If anyone wishes to send me a friend request on FB please feel free there is a sizeable Preseli gallery on there with many atmospheric photos to enjoy....
All the best

Hugh

Michael said...

Don't miss Proff GW's lecture on the 7th November at Pembs College entitled 'Magic Mountain' !