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

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Reddish erratic in Savernake Forest?



Out of the blue, I have received a letter from a gentlemen who once did some work in Savernake Forest, which lies SE of Marlborough.  He was asked by a well-known geomorphologist to investigate and take photos of an apparent erratic boulder with dimensions c 18" x 18' x 12" which lay in the depths of the wood.  He recalls that it was sub-rounded in shape, and it had a reddish colour -- in other words, it was very distinct from the chalk bedrock in that area.    A reddish bluestone?

The grid ref is approx 423166.  The location is more than 25 km to the NE of Stonehenge.  The gentleman concerned is trying to find his photos taken at the time.  I will also try to discover more details......

Has anybody else got any knowledge of possible glacial erratics in that area?  Or has anybody else come across any records that might be of interest?

39 comments:

Myris of Alexandria said...

Too far for a sarsen? A better first guess I would have thought, but an echte erratic would be more fun.
Is the grass tinted.
M

Timothy Daw said...

In nearby West Woods there are a lot of Sarsen, some of which are very iron stained in colour, probably the answer, by worth looking at

BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree that iron staining can be a problem -- but usually it is a foxy red rather than a cherry red or blood red......! Anyway, speculation apart, might be worth following up.....

PeteG said...

it's a sarsen, I saw it many years ago. I know of a lot of local sarsens that are blood/cherry red coloured.
PeteG

chris johnson said...

Many? Might the stonehenge sarsens have been selected for their colour?

BRIAN JOHN said...

A lot, Pete? How many? I'm not any sort of expert on the sarsens, but from those I have seen there does seem to be pinkish or reddish staining on some, particularly on those parts of the stones that might previously have been beneath ground level. Probably in those "buried" parts oxidation and other pedogenic processes operated and left stains.

But WHOLE boulders stained with red?

PeteG said...

yes, most of them are in hedgerows and have been cleared from fields. I have some pics on print film somewhere. Next time I am near one I take some snaps for you.
PeteG

TonyH said...

I see reddish smoothed rocks in the village of Rode, near Atkinson's river Frome and his Stonehenge river transport route. One is built into the Rode bridge on the pedestrian footway. I've just seen a much smaller piece below Farleigh Hungerford castle in the valley which I may be able to carry home.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Are they sarsens? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that there could be lumps of ORS on Salisbury Plain.

Timothy Daw said...

http://www.sarsen.org/2012/04/if-you-go-down-to-woods-today.html has a picture of the sarsens in the nearby West Woods.

Myris of Alexandria said...

I fear the only piece of ORS on Salisbury Plain is the Altar Stone manhandled from South Wales, Monmouthshire even.
Other than very rare bits of Altar Stone amongst the debitage the little non Lower Palaeozoic sandstone sandstone present is mainly Mesozoic, Tertiary.
ORS, more red herring than red sandstone.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Now you are being provocative again, Myris, and making wild assertions. Manhandled? Monmouthshire? Now that's a new one --- plenty of nice red sandstone there, but the Altar Stone is not red.

And how do you presume to know what is and what is not present on Salisbury Plain? There are all the old records, of course, but let's assume that there are still things we do not know....

Myris of Alexandria said...

True the Altar Stone is not red if I have mishandled manhandled why then girliehandled.
The reddened facies of the ORS is pretty distinctive and is unlikely to be missed.
Amongst "the things we still do not know", perhaps the presence of unicorns or virgins hidden amongst the druidical plains?
Do unicorns have a scientific binomial name?
Anyway ORS erratics, unicorns, enticing middens only one is real in this context.
M

TonyH said...

Brian, please enlighten me regarding the chances that any "bluestone" erratics from Preseli might be reddish - brown.

As already stated, I have seen reddish - brown smoothed rocks used in the 'street furniture' of the village of Rode; and have noticed one much smaller piece close to the River Frome downstream from Rode at Farleigh Hungerford on the border of Somerset/ Wiltshire. You have also mentioned in your "Bluestone Enigma" the likelihood that glacial moraines may occur in the Frome valley near Bradford on Avon. Farleigh Hungerford is no great distance from Bradford and the Frome valley from there down to its confluence with the Avon does look like a likely candidate for glaciation.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Occasionally one sees rust stains on dolerite standing stones etc, but the colouring is not prominent.

yes, I have speculated that the chalk scarp might have been an adequate barrier to forward ice movement. So there might have been an ice margin there -- but that does not necessarily mean a moraine. Not all ice margins are associated with terminal moraines.

TonyH said...

Have you got any opinions on possible signs of glaciation around Bradford on Avon and the Frome valley? e.g. based upon up - to - date Quaternary Studies around my "patch"?

AG said...

AlexG said...

A recent paper by A.Farrant of the BGS, demonstrates that the Cretaceous rocks overlapped the Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic rocks of the Mendip Hills. Given that the location of the Mendip Hills is to the west of Salisbury Plain! Surely consideration of a glacial origin must be strongly considered for any natural deposit of Pre-Cretaceous rocks found overlying the Cretaceous strata of Salisbury Plain?

Cheers All

Myris of Alexandria and Banwell said...

By the great Gods they accuse poor Myris of being cryptic. Palaeoreconstructions of southern Britain have shown the Cretaceous seas above the Mendips for decades, a quick look at the geological map shows that to be very likely and the term thallasocratic is not used for fun but to signify conditions in much of the Mesozoic. The Mendips have been west of Salisbury Plain for even longer.
There is little wrong with the last sentence other than restating the obvious, but there again did glaciers deposit the meteorite (sitting above the chalk)now at Lake House?? Sting's place. Evan Brian was blanch at that..... oh I suppose it could have fallen on ice and been transported. Many meteorites are collected from the top of the ice in Antarctica.
On a far more useful cider quaffing note I am reviewing 'The historic landscape of the Mendip Hills'. Elaine Jamieson. Historic England. Lots about Banwell and I am hoping to find a reference to The Bell. Rush out and buy.
Just lovely!!!!

Myris said...

Not certain who Evan Brian, sounds very Celtic (the archie world is becoming very agitated about that term), is, but I suspect he be a noble chap, unlike Blanche.
M

Hypatia said...

Palaeoreconstructions are all very well, and indeed a quick look at the geological map does show that to be very likely. The importance of the paper is that it details actual evidence (real rocks)overlying real pre-cretaceous strata, not paper projections of outcrops of Cretaceous rocks elsewhere onto the Mendips!

Disparagement of actual real evidence?

Surely such silly thinking underlies the whole argument about human/glacial transport and where Brian came in?

The Bluestones must have been transported to Stonehenge by Human Agency because I read it in a book and saw it on a map!

No conkers for you tonight!

Hypatia





Alex Gee said...

AlexG writes...

The term Celt has always seemed rather dubious to me. Most commonly used in the UK by small minded nationalists to justify their bigoted views about the other "races" in these fair isles of ours!

Genetic research has been most helpful in refuting their hatred. When encountering people with such narrow minded views its such a delight to inform them that a certain well known Austrian house painter was most probably of Celtic descent!

Perhaps he knew? and this explains his nonsense about a thousand year reich?

Cheers
AG

Myris of Alexandria said...

Hypatia I see you in the market place meddling in affairs about which you know little and understand less. There will come a reckoning, the Gods will not be mocked.
Confirmation of post-Triassic rocks on the Mendips is nice I am guessing these are found in karstic infills but what has that to do with anything in the Stonehenge bluestone transport mechanism debate.
Do you have any first hand experience of scientific research as your 'reasoning' is most woolly.
It matter not an iota what covered the Mendips during the Mesozoic or Tertiary but only what outcrops were present during the Pleistocene. I am not aware that anyone has suggested mendip rocks on the druidical plains since the late Victorian devines.
Hypatia trust me you will be safer back in the kitchen, the academic market is a dangerous place and it not just dreams that can be torn apart.
M

Geo Cur said...

“The term Celt has always seemed rather dubious to me. “

Maybe better take that up with Caesar who described Gaul as being divided into three parts ,inhabited by the Belgae the Aquitani ,and “a people who call themselves Celts ,though we call them Gauls “. Earlier the Greeks had described tribes as Keltoi .
What defines Celtic ,and has been a common usage of the term , is not nonsense about race or even genetics but those speaking a Celtic language . If you do want introduce genetics into the mix ( I suspect your input, if any , has been limited to outdated Sykes or Oppenheimer ,and noteworthy you don’t provide any data ) then we have the compelling evidence of R1b1a2a1a2c(L21 ) found in the extreme west of Europe ,those areas where Celtic languages have survived longest , yet also found in the Low Countries and France (Gaul ) and Brittany . R1b1a2a1a2(P312) is the most common sub clade in western Europe , it is found in Bell Beaker graves in Germany and today is most commonly found ,as above , where Celtic languages have survived i.e. Wales and Ireland .

The use Celtic has been a problem in archaeology ,introducing a lazy homogenisation effect but that’s another story and you didn’t get anywhere near that .

“Perhaps he knew? and this explains his nonsense about a thousand year reich?”
You obviously have never encountered Godwin’s Law .

Geo Cur said...



" your 'reasoning' is most woolly."
It seems related to .
"The term Celt has always seemed rather dubious to me." + "a certain well known Austrian house painter was most probably of Celtic descent!"
= Shaun x Shrek

BRIAN JOHN said...

Whatever might have gone on before, I'm a Celt and proud of it. Courtesy of my very kind brother-in-law, I shall be at Twickenham this afternoon to cheer on the boys from Wales v Australia..... and wearing my Welsh rugby shirt, of course.....

TonyH said...

It's a great pity that there are very few clear, concise comments or Posts on this Blog about the likelihood of glacial activity moving across the Bristol Channel, and at what Geological stages, with clear, straightforward discussions about what evidence there exists which MAY point towards deposition of glacial material in specific parts of Somerset (and what we these days refer to politically as Bath & North East Somerset) and perhaps on the borders of Wiltshire which are, broadly, closest to the Bristol Channel.

There ARE people who use this Blog who could assist those of us who are less learned to begin to grasp what, in my opinion, is a pivotal point: just HOW CLOSE towards Salisbury Plain might glaciation have occurred in the various glacial periods? And, if they themselves are unable to provide that informed opinion, they probably know a man or woman who DO know!!

It is also a great shame we seem to have very few contributors

BRIAN JOHN said...

There's not much doubt about the glaciation of parts of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and some of the articles mentioned in this blog are helping us to unravel which traces are down to local glaciation and which are related to the comings and goings of the Irish Sea Glacier. But Wiltshire has received much less attention -- not surprising really, since traces of glaciation there are likely to be very old and very subtle. Geomorphologists who concentrate on glacial matters prefer to work in areas where features are easier to interpret! But yes, it is a pity we cannot get more involvement in the discussions on this blog from experienced geomorphologists........ we know that a lot of them read this blog now and then, so come on, you guys, let's hear from you!!

TonyH said...

For example, surely there must be some folk of the geomorphological or glaciological Persuasion who have had a trundle along the River Frome from its confluence with the River Avon towards Frome, and maybe taken a look at the features along said River Frome close to Limpley Stoke, Iford, Farleigh Hungerford, Tellisford and Rode, then on towards Frome. My geomorphology knowledge is that of an Undergraduate, so come on, you specialists, get off your backsides and enjoy a pleasant walk or three or four. At least prove me wrong: I think some of the features along the riverbanks may be glacial in origin, and there do seem to be exotic stones around too.

Some of this route is along the MacMillan Way, so you could contribute towards Cancer research and nursing in the process. Nice cafes available too, en route, e.g. the Post Office in Rode; and Bradford - on - Avon.

Alex Gee said...

Alex Gee "I'm guessing these are found in karstic infills?" So Myris has been to visit the Library and thus the tropes are propagated. These are Cretacous rocks Greensand and Chalk overlying the ORS and Carb Limestone.

As for the Academic market place, it is indeed a dangerous place, especially for those who are forced to pay for the ivory towers and the great seeing eye machines to be built, yet are forbidden from entering to see what can be seen.

Yes us plebs wallow in our ignorance! What's the view like from up there on the shoulders of the giant? being of limited means,the $30 per step to true enlightenment is beyond one!
One is reduced to grubbing for knowledge in the public libraries; those that remain!

Oh the shame of being mocked as a prole and member of the great unwashed by an elite with the only access to the soap!



TonyH said...

Myris

The "plebs" desire less of the camera obscura and more of the view from the top witnessed by means of their own eyesight. The elite need to spread their own particular gospel clearly, concisely, and comprehensively, leaving no stone unturned. Clarity is all.

Prestine Myris of Alexandria said...


Why do the informed need to explain to the Gaberdine swine, it maybe better were they to play lemmings.

My data, collected and paid for by me, are mine to distribute as whimsically as I wish, (as I do as most of us know). Parsimonious whingers are very low in the pecking order.
Can we crowd source $30 to help our porcine brethren I have an old cent somewhere to start the fund. There is no virtue in remaining unwashed however fashionable it be.

May the Gods save us.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not sure where all this is going, but let's put in a word on behalf of "the great unwashed" (who used that term first? It sure wasn't me....) Anyway, as far as I am concerned, those who do not occupy the ivory towers, and who happen to be just interested members of the public, deserve nothing less than accurate science, well reported by those who are lucky enough to have academic backgrounds or to occupy chairs or desks in some university or other. The idea that you tell one simple story to the common man (on the basis that he won't understand a complex one) and another to the experts, is anathema to me. And should be to all of us.

TonyH said...

I wonder where Myris thinks Richard Bevins' talk at the end of November at Wiltshire Museum Devizes fits into Myris' apparent view that "the great unwashed" should not be permitted access or explanation of esoteric information of a geological nature?

And now, it's back for me to have half an ear on the Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal Cup tie!

And as far as I'm concerned, the Great Spike Milligan's use of the word "swine" purely in a comedic fashion, preceded by "dirty, rotten", is the best use of the term.

TonyH said...

I was reprimanded long, long ago by a shocked Primary School Form lady teacher for using the expression " you dirty rotten swine". Don't think she ever tuned into the Home Service for The Goon Show.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Amazing how uncultured some people are......

Geo Cur said...



" Dirty rotten swine " emitted from Bluebottle /Sellars , not Spike .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite right. Accuracy is everything. Yelled out shortly after falling in the water, as I recall.......

TonyH said...

Ah, but Spike was the one what writ the words, most of the time. Eric Sykes did write for him "at times of trouble"...

TonyH said...

"When I find myself in times of trouble
Brother Eric comes to me
Whispers word of wisdom
I'll write next week's show's script, old mate"