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....
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Monday, 12 October 2015

The burning of the books?


After the frustration of watching Wales trying to score a try against the Aussies at Twickenham, we travelled yesterday from Sevenoaks to Nunney, and the nice lady who lives inside our Tom Tom decided that we should travel past Stonehenge.  We didn't have much time, but popped into the new Visitor Centre and took a look at the gift shop and some of the new exhibition items.  We didn't bump into Chris, but maybe that's not surprising since there were thousands of others there at the time......

Anyway, we checked on the availabilty of "The Bluestone Enigma" and were not really surprised to find that it was nowhere to be seen.  We asked the staff about it, and were told that the decision had been made some time ago by EH to discontinue stocking it, in spite of the fact that it had been selling well.  They hadn't informed me of that fact.

I'm not sure whether this signals a burning of the books, or a disinclination to stock anything perceived to be uncomfortable or subversive, or even a decision to cut down on titles more than 5 years old, or even an attempt to take out lots of books so as to make more room for "popular" merchandise.  I'll be generous and assume that the latter is the most likely scenario.  The book section seems to me to have been dramatically reduced in size.  There are lots of other titles I expected to see there -- but could not see a trace of.

Anyway, I'll try and find out what the politics of this might be, and will report back!


47 comments:

TonyH said...

Having had an online look at the English Heritage website on the Old Ruin Visitor Centre, I am of the opinion that English Heritage/ Historic England has a Monopoly on books stocked. Possibly with the exception of a book called "If the Stones Could Speak", aimed at enthusing children with what the Stonehenge Riverside Project Folk uncovered and interpreted with the aid of Madagascan tribal intuition and MPP marketing spin.

The rest of the books advertised on the web and available for on - line sale appear to be blatantly E.H. titles: including one on the historic landscape of the Mendips which Myris, or a Very Good Friend of his, is reviewing currently. according to a recent cryptic quip.

chris johnson said...

I looked for you too but on saturday they had 6000 visitors and sunday when I left around 11.30 it had become a complete zoo. They told me your book had been deleted by head office in august, and as it had been selling well in conjunction with the jewellry they assumed it was out of print.
I got the impression that decisions are made in London.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Bizarre, irrespective of its merits,if it were selling well,why stop stocking it. Unless to stock something that makes yet more profit.
I would be very miffed and quite vocal about it were I the author.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

I too get a sense that they are concentrating on selling things they have published themselves, and are cutting down on books published by other publishing houses. More commercial maybe, but also rather dangerous in that all the public gets is the "official" or "authorized" version of everything related to Stonehenge; if the Visitor Centre seeks to educate, that is not the way to do it......

Myris of Alexandria said...

Yes less ivory tower, more cream plastic tower and even that is tarted up and called 'resin'. That is an inevitable consequence of there being fewer cheques and more plastic.
Although I was once charged (to within a few feet) by a young bull elephant in Vic Falls on the ring road (and totally my fault!)I am not promoting ivory poaching before our Celt-loving apologist jumps in with his Jumbo feet (do not approve of those sorts of umbrella stands either).
Best comment we ever saw, was in the game drive book at Larsens, " seen one elephant seen them all" One of our all time favourites, it still makes laugh out loud.
M

Helen said...

Meanwhile, I see from today's Daily Telegraph that the good Professor has provided another unique glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants of Durrington Walls.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11928884/Cheese-was-food-of-the-gods-in-Stone-Age-Britain.html

"Cheese was food of the gods in Stone Age Britain" shouts the headline, adding helpfully that "Archaeologists studying Durrington Walls - where the builders of Stonehenge lived - found cheese was offered up in ceremonies".

It seems that this lush food of the gods, along with milk and yoghurt, was offered to their deities during ancient ceremonies, while 'impure' meat was kept for feasting amongst themselves. How they know this with such absolute certainty is a bit of a mystery to me, but hark! Tis the good professor himself:

"The special placing of milk pots at the larger ceremonial buildings reveals that certain products had a ritual significance beyond that of nutrition alone"

So now we know - the deities were evidently on some form of lacto-vegetarian diet while the vulgar builders scoffed the meaty treats. Hurrah for soundbite journalism, eh? Now, who's got the cream crackers...?

Tom Flowers said...

Brian, isn't it against the law for anyone to selfishly capture markets for their sole benefit in this way?

Whilst I maintain an open mind with regard to human transport against glacial action, I have, nonetheless, purchased your book 'The Bluestone Enigma' out of shear principle.

In your fight for archaeological honesty, I would encourage all your readers to do the same.

Tom

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tom -- it's a free market out there. Nobody can force anybody else to sell their books, no matter how wonderful they may be! In the publishing business, you publish what you think you'll sell, and then try to find as many outlets as possible so that you can shift your stock. It's a hard grind......

BRIAN JOHN said...

Helen -- thanks for the link to this new paper. I am increasingly intrigued by the language used in these researches -- we have had the great hypothesis of POLITICAL unification of tribes across Wales and Southern England, as an explanation for the transport of the bluestones. Now we have something brand new -- CULINARY unification. I kid you not -- just look at the abstract.........!!

Hugh Thomas said...

I think it is unhealthy science NOT to be stocking Brians book, no matter which theory individuals believe in. During my latest ( and possibly my last visit to Stonehenge because it is now such an awful manufactered rat race where the selfie rules over finding peace to reflect) I was taken aback by the obvious case of dumbing down information and all facts available there being focused onto one theory only. For the sake of parity even if they made it clear "they only believed in one theory BUT here is an alternative for your interest" it would allow people to make thier own minds up. I fear the juggernaut of 21 century manufactered mythology has bulldozed over common sense , lets hope that the inquisitive hare trapped in the headlights of English Heritage will turn around and see Brians candle in the dark....

Helen said...

Brian - Culinary unification? The mind boggles!

One people, one cheese? Or one people, one fork?! Either way there could be a whole new social justice movement about to spring into life - Justice for the Stilton Swineherds! Power to the Pork People!

Pass the fingerbowl, please... Gah, you've eaten them all! [(c)Spike Milligan, I think]

Helen said...

Maybe they're making room in the shop for a new range of Stonehenge artisan cheeses and Neolithic Cuisine cookbooks? "Kiss the Druid" aprons?... I suddenly feel a bit queasy!

chris johnson said...

The SH experience is so amateuristic that we should not imagine a conspiracy. It starts when you arrive a bit early to be told that the gate to the car park opens as soon as the queue extends back to the roundabout.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Better that than his candle in the wind!
The Durrington Walls paper is multiauthored by responsible authorities and is of course little like the Daily Mail version.
I thought it well considered my only concern was with the use of Grooved Ware rather than the more sonorous Rinyo-Clactonian Ware.
M

T onyH said...

Well said, Hugh, beautifully expressed dissent, which most of us on here will applaud along with me.

It probably speaks volumes to say I haven't felt any "magnetic pull" attracting me to the new over - hyped S.V.C.

My feelings are somewhat dumbed down, probably because I am simultaneously attempting to dumb down chronic pain which afflicts me when I would most prefer it not to! Anyway, for what it's worth.....the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to me is just a sad mirror image of what goes on around the globe.....as that Group from Hull who with irony (much like Sheffield's Arctic Monkeys) called themselves "The Beautiful South" sang this could be Anywhere, Anywhere but Home, Anywhere Alone, as they reeled off various European cities in their song entitled "Rotterdam" [look the lyrics up, Brian, you, too, are a Geographer so this song should resonate!].

I hope you fight your way through the beige corridors of power, Brian, and manage to get your book re - stocked at the SVC, and that the intelligent scientific thought at the heart of "Enigma" is presented to the visitors to the Centre as it once was before the new SVC was opened and it was available at the "small is beautiful" (who remembers that book?) Book & Gift Shop located much nearer to the Monument. Then, when you've sold off your remaining copies of the 2008 edition, you will be able to frighten the 'Establishment complacent horses' with your alarming update, Rhosyfelin and All!!

Similarly, don't those of us who are unlucky enough to live in towns of say 40,000 folk upwards will surely know, bookshops are becoming rarities in our urban areas, Supermarkets are fairly pathetic at stocking books which might be, or become, Classics, you're very lucky to find an independent bookshop. I recently expected, on my 10 - mile trip into the Georgian City of Bath, to find still in existence a Classical Music shop selling profusely CD's of Mozart and Haydn, but it had gone, so all that "cultured" city has to offer is a HMV store with a very limited selection of Classical CD's.

T onyH said...

The sad truth about the Visitor Centre and the books it offers is that it we have here a case of the Bland leading the Bland..... Conventional or Received Wisdom is all the masses deserve.

.....no imagination, no breadth of vision, hemmed in by half - truths, selection using blinkers, no wonder they still trot around with the old Chestnut Mare* that antiquarians (bless them) considered The Greater Cursus was a Race Course.


* one for Byrds/ Roger McGuinn fans out there!
"Been chasing her for weeks!"

chris johnson said...

myris, I wonder whether the grooved ware story is so simple in the telling as presented at svc. They show a map of all the major sites in uk and ireland using the same style of pottery in 2500 bc, having seemingly migrated down from an origin in orkney.

Can you shed any light?

Geo Cur said...



Myris ,
a bit off topic ,but in case you didn't know . Ruttie appears as a Dane next Thursday beeb 2 .

Geo Cur said...



Chris , excuse me butting in but "Grooved Ware in Britain and Ireland " edited by Ros Cleal and Ann MacSween is the one to get . It's 16 yrs old but only the gazetteer is outdated .

Myris of Alexandria said...

Noooooooooooo did not know. That has quite made my day, not read my next week's Radio Times yet.
Yes Dr Cleal, recently also on't tele is Dr Grooved Ware.
I have a piece and section of the type Rinyo-Clacton Ware from Cotswolds and am hoping to look at some more of the type material.
There are vast amounts of GW at Durrington Walls,most locally sourced probably.
M
Oh Ruttie!

Myris of Alexandria said...

I am afraid that one of my more popular lectures is....
"Stonehenge the Clacton connection".
Title more fun than lecture I suspect.
Probably does not stray too far from what is shown at the svc, I do suggest that the Altar Stone is an 'homage to the Orkney Homeland. I find the general, even interested, public has a limited stomach for detailed fabric analysis of GW.
Just wait until I do the bracers.That lecture is of course called "Belts and bracers: Bronze age Bling"
M

TonyH said...

Brian, you might well find David Dawson, Director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum based in Long Street, Devizes (also home to WANHS), considerably more accommodating towards providing book space for your "Enigma" epic from 2008!!

They used to sell it for you, so if you have stock to shift, email him at:-

david.dawson@wiltshireheritage.org.uk

You should also get in contact with Salisbury Museum, which carries a wide range of books related to Wiltshire archaeology. Check out their website for Director's details. That Museum is situated close to Salisbury Cathedral so well on the tourist trail.

Another good opportunity for sales could well be the National Trust shop, located close to the museums and the Henge in Avebury, and walked passed by hundreds of thousands of people each year (very close to a very popular cafe, too).

You can shift them, Brian!

TonyH said...

Myris

Your expertise on Rinyo - Clacton ware leads me to put forward to you the proposition that, had Eric Clapton, guitarist par excellence, and creme de la Cream, been born Eric Clacton, then maybe the title Grooved Ware may never have caught on? It's a funny old world, mate! But Grooved Ware was to become groovy, baby.

Tony

TonyH said...

Brian

You haven't told us much at all about your SVC "experience" post - Twickenham Rugby on Sunday, BriaN. And did you take a walk in the Greater Stonehenge Landscape?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for the Email contacts, Tony. Will follow up. As far as the Devizes Museum is concerned, I think I sold them 5 copies in 2011, since when there have been no further orders. Not a route for getting rich quickly........

Will try Salisbury again -- they failed to respond last time I contacted them.....

There have been 4 printings so far, and next time there will be a major re-write and maybe even a different title. How about "The Bluestone Quarrymen", with a pic on the cover showing Prof MPP and his colleagues in their hard hats?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Never did get to look around on the greater Stonehenge landscape -- we were aiming for Nunney in time for lunch. A pity, since the weather was perfect for exploring. another time maybe......

Geo Cur said...

Tony ,
worth checking the story surrounding slowhand's surname(s), it could have been a lot worse .

chris johnson said...

If you want to sell lots of copies for the rewrite then you should link to bluestone jewellry and tell about miraculous healing powers. If you prefer historical accuracy and true to the facts then you will sell much less:))

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sage advice, Chris. But on balance I think I'll stick with the science and forget the jewelry and the fairy tales. I'll get a rosy glow out of all this suffering in the pursuit of the truth......

Myris of Alexandria said...

Now don't get ahead of yourself, only one krypto-contributor knows the TRUTH and sadly he we don't hear from him. Ironic really all these truth-seekers being banned but perhaps poeticelly just.
I think I saw the first ever Cream gig in Wood Green north London.I had no idea who they were but a friend knew they would be huge.
Truth seekers, the Bene G. ladies. "Don't eat the figs".
No front cover should be the Cryf quarry and how I finally saw the light.
M

TonyH said...

To capture the wider book market a la Bernard Cornwell, you could lure in the sporting masses with Myris's suggestion: the Cryf quarry yes, but with an image of majestic European Footballer of the Year, Johann Cruyf, superimposed. Now he WAS a giant, eat your heart out, MPP and gang. Brian you have to think of Barry John as a comparable Rugby great.

Myris, my first sighting of Cream in Concert was in the North Devon home for the elderly my parents set up. No, they didn't pop in to entertain gently, they were in that Horizon Special soon after they started recording. I watched them on my own whilst sipping cocoa with no geriatric present.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah no cocoa for me in Wood Green but I am pretty certain there was 'tea' to be had.
I've looked him up and the words say their first gig was the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.
I was a folkie in Manchester at the same time, my first ever words to my wife were How much do you charge?
A tenner for two 45mins spots was the reply.
Value for money my Rose.
M

Geo Cur said...



Not far from Wood Green for me ,Klooks Kleek in Hampstead ,although had seen slowhand with Mayall much earlier ,not far from Wood Green , a Finsbury Park gig above a pub ,can't remember the name .

Phil Morgan said...

In a band back in the early 60's and we were the support act for Cream at the Municipal Hall, Pontypridd. A good night and much jamming along in the dressing room. Mr Clapton still hasn't returned the plectrum I lines him. Never mind, I'm over it now.

Phil Morgan said...

Should have read 'loaned him', ------ bloody predictive text thing.

TonyH said...

Geo, a puzzling family, and surname, history, for Erik Slowhand, indeed!!

Would any of us dare to use the more popular "illigitimate" adjective to him, to his face, particularly when he is playing his electrifying guitar solos? After all, this is the man who proudly admits "I shot the sheriff".

Myris of Alexandria said...

The Blair email pales into the shades compared with the Brian advertising as noticed on eBay.
We can reveal the sinister, money-grabbing plot behind the "search for the truth" read the blurb given the advertisement for the green man carved from bluestone on eBay. Blatant. Why is the evidence being removed/destroyed for trinkets?
Whisper are the Angel series ghosted,is Dr John a man of straw soon to be brought down by the consumer rights pigs? (Mind you the true writer is rather good).
We need to know.
I read the DM on line, hence style, I know I shouldn't but there is no local DM Anonymous in the better northern suburbs of Brum.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- I don't understand any of this..... Ebay? Green man? Kindly explain......

Myris of Alexandria said...

Go to eBay type in preselite dolerite rare green man and read the advertising bumf.
Somebody is destroying your foundations.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- looked that up. They have been around for many years, threatening my foundations! On balance they are harmless enough, and operate in a nice little niche market. May their gods go with them.

TonyH said...

Is there a connection between the Green Man carved from bluestone - whom I've viewed on Ebay - and your own advertisement formats for your Angel Mountain book series, then, Brian? The above dialogue betwixt thee and Myris was just a TAD too cryptic for me this time!

I hope we're all going to settle down and watch the Viking/ Saxon saga originally written by Bernard Cornwell on Thursday nights on BBC. The book series is terrific, and the Westbury White Horse escarpment may well feature (possible location of the Battle of Ethandun 878 A.D. as well as a good candidate for the ?Anglian ice sheet having crossed onto the edge of Salisbury Plain on its journey from the Bristol Channel and South Wales). So all you silent non - contributing geomorphologists have a good reason to watch!

BRIAN JOHN said...

No connection whatsoever, Tony. I have not the slightest idea why Myris threw this particular pebble into the pond.....

I have never sold any books on Ebay, or anything else, for that matter... what goes on over there is a mystery to me.

Myris of Alexandria said...

No the punctuation was poor. We're this in German it would have been clearer as commas would be scattered everywhere.
The BJ references were all ironic and counterpoint.
I was obliquely puffing Brian
The green man trinkets advertising talks about preselite erratics. So some people believe in them
C'est tout, c'est fini.
German enough.
M

T onyH said...

"We're this in German" sounds like a conversation between rejoicing Afghani and Syrian refugees on reaching the Motherland where lebensraum is plentiful!

Eeh, by gum, never trodden in the waters of Ebay either, Brian.

Myris, did you, or your good lady wife Rose know that "On Ilkley Moor B'aht 'At" was set to the melody of a Kentish folk tune?

Amazing how we may wander off the garden path at times unless our Blogmeister pulls us back onto it with a stern reprimand.

BRIAN JOHN said...

My brother-in-law is a professor and a musicologist who has soent most of his life studying the musical origins of ancient Swedish hymn tunes and a lot else besides -- so nothing surprises me any more.....

Sang that old song more times than I care to remember, back in student days......

T onyH said...

So he will no doubt have traced the origins of many of Bjorn & Benni's masterpieces to their humble origins in Swedish Gospel e.g. "Thankyou For the Musak", nowadays heard in so many Swedish - built lifts in Europe and elevators in the USA; and "Fernando", originally "Fiord - deep, Mountain - High".

myris said...

Nothing wrong with Ebay sold some (genuine) El Salvadorean Maya heads (pottery!)for a good price years ago. Mistake really and no doubt illegal, but self-collected in 1967,poor El Salvador has had more pressing matters to deal with that minor archaeotheft. Beautiful country-ette, many good people, but a victim of 'foreign policy, drugs and the 'fourteen'.
Looked up my old hosts (business people)on the internet recently to find them mentioned/praised in redacted CIA files. Good hosts, played wicked cribbage, later I heard they were advised/told to leave the country 'the next day' by the insurgents(and they did!) They (ex-pats) all had significant money abroad and houses waiting for them up north and it was expected (perhaps deserved).(No not Barnsley).
M