THE BOOK
Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click
HERE

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Four cheers for William Smith


Good for William Smith!  This was William Smith's map that started it all -- with a recognition that rocks were arranged regularly and according to certain rules, that they could be identified by their textures, colours and fossil contents, and that all rocks exposed today represent the conditions that prevailed when they were originally emplaced.  This followed Hutton's revolutionary Principle of Uniformitarianism of 1785.

This map, showing the spatial arrangements of rocks in the UK, underpinned the vast interest in the tracing of glacial erratics in the 1800's -- a process that involved many academic geologists and amateurs as well.  So this is where it all began -- the provenancing work of Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins today is a recent manifestation of this instinct for geological detective work.

This looks like a really interesting exhibition in the National Museum of Wales.....

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/cardiff/whatson/8508/Reading-the-Rocks-the-Remarkable-Maps-of-William-Smith/

12 comments:

Myris of Alexandria said...

His biography is well worth a read.
'The Map that changed the World' I think it is called. Sadly another non-profit maker in his own land.
The nascent geological establishment do not come out of it well.
Brilliant man, right places, right time. Winning combination.
Ends up in Scarborough I think??
M

Geo Cur said...



Yes , nice wee book , it was released at that time when pop science books were selling well .

Matt said...

There's a podcast of the author Simon Winchester talking, very entertainingly,about the book here: https://libwww.freelibrary.org/podcast/index.cfm?podcastID=807

TonyH said...

William Smith did much of his early work in the Bath - Midford - Bradford on Avon areas.

TonyH said...

Scarborough is an excellent place to end up, Myris! Beloved by my dear old dad with his memories of Yorkshire cricket team victories and cricket watching holidays.

Perhaps we need something similar, but this time for fieldwork erratic - combing holidays of the land on Salisbury Plain between the river Wylye, Heytesbury, Siegfreed Sassoon's house, Boles Barrow, Robin Hood's Ball, the Lesser Cursus, the Greater Cursus, the old Stonehenge car park, and the Old Ruin herself. But beware, this could be explosive in every sense - any volunteers? Perhaps one or two U.S. enthusiasts for the Truth?!

chris johnson said...

I imagine the wiltshire antiquarians would be quite enthused by the prospect of finding more bluestones on the surface so to speak. A one-page on Bluestone spotting would be helpful to this effort.

Whoever creates such a beginners guide would have to rise above the 13 different bluestones paradigm, or is it 30? The types I have seen look sufficiently similar at a casual glance to identify suspects - or prospects as we marketeers like to call a likely looking opportunity.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Bluestones are not easy to spot in the wilds of Salisbury Plain, Chris. Remember that little trial we did a few years ago? How time flies...... We asked people to spot the bluestone when one spotted dolerite boulder was standing next to a sarsen of similar size. EVERYBODY thought that the sarsen was bluer in colour than the bluestone, and EVERYBODY got it wrong. I wouldn't mind betting that there are lots lying around, all being mistaken for weathered sarsens.........

TonyH said...

We remember Wiltshire's PeteG's recent comment that he intends to do just such a bluestone trawl between The Old Ruin and Boles Barrow. Let's hope he gains the necessary permissions from the Army, and treads very lightly and gingerly across the SPTA Training Area....

TonyH said...

Brian

You are so right! So far NO - ONE, to our knowledge ,has identified a single piece of bluestone on the Salisbury Plain. It's a great pity we are unable to get the soldiers on - side, as it were, and actively involved inour very own wild blue goose chase

chris johnson said...

The discovery of stones at Durrington has enthused everybody to the possibility of more monuments in Wiltshire and this is the line that has most chance of success when searching for other bluestones. I don't suppose too many people share the same enthusiasm for finding a glacial erratic, although this is what a new discovery may turn out to be.

TonyH said...

There are a number of impressive long barrows broadly W or NW of Stonehenge, e.g. around the Tilshead area, protected from vandalism, ironically enough, because of their location within the Salisbury Plain [Army] Training Area! A similar age to Boles Barrow - where a bluestone may well have resided, and others STILL may - they were constructed earlier than the bluestones arrived at Stonehenge.

MPP and his cohorts may have their eyes on excavating at least one of these, if they persist with their quest for the origins of bluestone provenances within Wiltshire: that is to say, to attempt to establish HOW LONG bluestones have resided WITHIN my County, regardless of their mode of transportation in getting to Wiltshire.

TonyH said...

Chris, if/when any fairly large - scale excavation of the putative stones underneath the earth at Durrington Walls occurs (several of which are already estimated to be very large), any discovery of large sarsen stones is more than likely to cause a re - think of WHERE most of the sarsen stones at Stonehenge came from. As Brian and others such as David Field, formerly of English Heritage have said, there is a likelihood that some of the Stonehenge sarsen stones were found by our prehistoric ancestors much closer to Stonehenge than the vicinity of Avebury, Marlborough Downs etc. The Cuckoo Stone is, incidentally, not alone near Durrington Walls. There is also the Bulford Stone; also the Heel Stone and its now missing partner next to The Old Ruin itself.