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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

New paper now posted on Researchgate




The new paper is now posted onto Researchgate, from which it can also be downloaded.   Here is the link:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283643851_QUATERNARY_EVENTS_AT_CRAIG_RHOSYFELIN_PEMBROKESHIRE

41 comments:

Jon Morris said...

If the "Quarry Theory" turns out to be a real Quarry Theory, it will have little or no interest to the public unless the proponents of the Quarry Theory can suggest a reasonable motive for a quarry to have existed at that location.

From an outside perspective, it seems a tad premature to go to all the trouble of releasing a paper following the lines of "New research undermines Bluestone Quarry theory" when the "Quarry Theory" (if it exists) is only an unpublished rumour?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Oh, they have a motive all right, Jon. Why otherwise would they have spent 5 seasons digging there? To find a nice little camp site? And it's not just an unpublished rumour. As Myris keeps on telling us, read the primary literature......

Dave Maynard said...

Interesting article.

It looks as if the paper was prepared using the background of MPP's lecture in 2014, whereas your reports of the 2015 lecture suggest that some of the elements of the site have been dropped from the overall interpretation. Are you aiming at a moving target?

The article also put more light on the stratigraphic position of the 'proto-orthostat'. This apparently has a Bronze Age C14 date from underneath it. Your article points out that the stone is relatively shallowly buried, certainly above the rockfall debris of layer 2A. Perhaps the underside of the stone is near the lower portion of layer 5 (stratified slope deposits). I assume that layers 1-4 are relatively rapidly deposited from a glacial related period, while 5 and 6 relate to a slower process through the Holocene.

BRIAN JOHN said...

It's very difficult to work in an environment where 5 seasons of fieldwork have not been reported formally anywhere in print. So we had to work off the small amount of published material (eg in Mike's book and in small mentions in other articles) and on hearsay based on various MPP lectures. So yes, to some degree a moving target. We have been very careful on the references to lectures, and have had feedback from others who have heard them to ensure we are not mis-reporting or mis-representing. So we think we have everything as right as possible. If we are thought to be reporting incorrectly, no doubt we will hear about it.

And yes, some things appear to have been dropped, although spoken of with great conviction at the time. The "stone hole" seems to have disappeared, as has the great stone circle at Waun Mawn, and the Neolithic connection with Cwm Mawr. Then there is the big stone itself, which I suppose is now deemed to have nothing to do with Stonehenge monolith quarrying, but with a search for suitable Bronze Age standing stones. All will no doubt be revealed.

BRIAN JOHN said...

With respect to the stratigraphic setting of the big stone, a precise dating of when it was emplaced will be difficult, unless of course the Bronze Age radiocarbon date comes from charcoal immediately beneath it. I look forward to reading what exactly the context of the sample was. The geomorphologists who have looked at the site have all homed in on the fact that the sediments around the stone might or might not have been disturbed. Clast orientation work could have sorted that out, but I suspect that there was so much excitement when it was found that the enclosing sediments were cleared very rapidly, thereby destroying evidence that might have been quite crucial. Another reason why a geomorphologist should have been there......

TonyH said...

We seem to have, not ducks all in a row (with no place to hide, no place to go), but moving targets, described by Timothy Leary - like shape - shifting gurus (sorry for that last "guru" mention, but I've just spent 2 hours listening to the glorious ITV programme on The Beatles).

TonyH said...

Perhaps in Mike PP's world view, or within his Ruling Hypothesis, geomorphologists, glacial or otherwise, just do not exist, or, at any rate, have melted away long ago, with the ice?

There is none so blind
As those who will not see.....

Geo Cur said...

“If the "Quarry Theory" turns out to be a real Quarry Theory, it will have little or no interest to the public unless the proponents of the Quarry Theory can suggest a reasonable motive for a quarry to have existed at that location .”

Whether the public are interested or not has no bearing on the personal interests of geomorphologists or archaeologists or anyone else who is curious about a subject .
“From an outside perspective, it seems a tad premature to go to all the trouble of releasing a paper following the lines of "New research undermines Bluestone Quarry theory" when the "Quarry Theory" (if it exists) is only an unpublished rumour? “

From that same perspective “Get yer retaliation in first “ seems the order of the day . If there was quarry then the fact that three geomorphologists couldn’t find the evidence for it is hardly “undermining “ a theory that might that rocks were removed intentionally from that site pre BA .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Well, it's not an unpublished rumour. Read the primary literature, as Myris pleads! It's in MPP's big Stonehenge book, in good old fashioned plain English. "The Pompeii of prehistoric stone quarries" and all that sort of stuff. If you are happy that the MPP team have dug for five seasons, with nothing to show for it but assorted popular lectures and a few brief mentions in print, so be it. And since we have been hassled for years to get something in print ourselves, we have now done that, to find that you now need to gripe about it as being "premature"..........

Our site observations are now out there, for people to examine and criticise if they want to. That's more than can be said of the archaeologists.

Geo Cur said...


I certainly never hassled for anything in print, and have no gripe with a geomorpholgists view on geomorphology ,as long as they know their limits when it it comes to other disciplines and credentials for recognising anthropic removal of rocks from a source .

BRIAN JOHN said...

All will be revealed, Geo. Let's see how clever those boys and girls actually are at recognizing the "anthropic" removal of rocks from Rhosyfelin. The colour of their evidence is what matters -- not just pronouncements on assorted "engineering" features that may be nothing but fantasies.

Jon Morris said...

Whether the public are interested or not has no bearing on the personal interests of geomorphologists or archaeologists or anyone else who is curious about a subject .

Was that intended to be a serious comment George?

A belief that the public might be interested is perhaps the only reason that any public or private body would fund these investigations: There is no identified commercial or social value.

Geo Cur said...

Jon ,are you serious ?
What the public are intersted in has nothing to do with what geomorphologists ,archaeologists or anyone who is interested in a particular subject do with their investigative time , whether self , privately or publicly funded or not funded at all . Fortunately, the above are not necessarily interested in commercial or social value .

Myris of Alexandria said...

Dr Ixer did the hassling although he would I think prefer the word cajoling.
Who is a better judge of anthropomorphic work, archaeologists or geomorphologists.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

If it is genuinely anthropomorphic, then maybe archaeologists. If it is genuinely natural, then undoubtedly geomorphologists.

Geo Cur said...



As has been noted on previous threads , there are ethnological accounts of anthropic removal of rocks from the Preseli area in the historic period , it is extremely unlikely that archaeologists have found anything like the number of removal sites ,if any , despite their possible superior credentials .
Why should we even expect archaeos to come up with the goods in the first place ?.The petographers might lead them to the water but there should be no expectation that they will drink .
As for the geomorphologists who might deny the anthropic removal of rock , what exactly are their credentials for recognition of anthropic removal of the type of volume of rock that they have also failed to recognise welsewhere in the area ?
It is also very difficult for anyone to provide evidence for or argue that there had been no anthropic renoval rock from a rocky area /outcrop like CrF.

BRIAN JOHN said...

"........ethnological accounts of anthropic removal of rocks from the Preseli area in the historic period." My goodness, that's a rather grand way of saying that the local farmers collected gateposts from various accessible outcrops on Preseli!

All any of us can do is describe what we see at a site. We have done that with our short paper. We have also stated that all of the "engineering features" described with such enthusiasm and utter conviction by Prof MPP and others appear to us to be entirely natural. If we had seen any indications of block removal or transport across the site, we would have said so.

Geo Cur said...


That's a pretty poor attempt at a precis .
"the local farmers collected gateposts from various accessible outcrops on Preseli!"
Using nearly the same amount of words you managed to differ markedly from what I had said . You missed the all important ,ethnography ,and the period ,historical in this case .You also included something I didn't mention , gateposts ,these would have been only one of the uses for the removed rock . Accessible ? I doubt that there is anywhere in the Preselis that requires the removal of hands from pockets ,to access .
What anyone sees at the site could be reported ,and could provide an insight albeit a minor one i.e. we could get a palynologists report which would be great for palynology but whether the palynologists credentials would be sufficient to convince of us what they saw re. geomophology or archaeology is merely incidental . Whether there was anthropic removal of rocks at the site in the period prior to the erection of the bluestones at Stonehenge is what matters and there was nothing in the paper that suggests the geomorphologists would supply an answer or more importantly have the credentials or ability to do so .

BRIAN JOHN said...

We are not going to get anywhere if we assume that almost anything might have happened at Rhosyfelin unless somebody proves it it didn't. That's not how you do science.

You are very dismissive of palynology! I happen to think that pollen analyses of the various strata at Rhosyfelin would be very useful indeed for the reconstruction of past environments and the fixing of a time scale -- and I bet the archaeologists agree with me on that.

I'm not sure what you are trying to say about gateposts etc. The Preseli tors were certainly used for gateposts and occasionally for sills and lintels etc -- but gateposts were not needed until heavy gates needed to be hung, which brings us into the era of wheeled carriages etc. And remember that flagstones, building stones and erratics litter the countryside -- cost/benefit analyses (which our ancestors knew all about) would have dictated that for almost everything, resources were available very locally, without hauling off up into the mountains.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Still pondering. Geo. What is an "ethnological account" of rock removal in the historic period? Kindly tell us exactly what you mean, so as to save us the trouble of speculating.

TonyH said...

I recently found amateur archaeologist Bill Wyman (1936 -) of the Rolling Stones propped up against a gatepost near Rhosyfelin rehearsing his mantra that he could often see for miles and miles and miles across to Southern Ireland and a load of copper(s). Is this ethnography, or wild speculation? And all I'd drunk that day was decaffeinated tea, honest, guv.

I also recommend the TV Comedy, The Detectorists, to wind down to after a long day's speculating.

Geo Cur said...

There is no science involved when those without the credentials or abilities to asses a situation pontificate on matters outwith their discipline ,it is exacerbated when it is little different from “I see no ships “ .

You are misreading again . I said “a palynologists report which would be great for palynology “ which is obviously not dismissive of palynology , quite the opposite . I was dismissive about how seriously we might take the views of a hypothetical palynologist when giving their opinions on archaeology or geomorphology .
You introduced gateposts , in the poor precis , I never mentioned them for the simple reason that there are many other reasons for the removal of rocks ,some of which you have now mentioned .
Ethnographic = of or relating to ethnography .
Account = A narrative or record of events.
Rock removal = I’ll get back to you on that one .
Historic period i.e. not the prehistoric period ,therefore the accounts , which may well be lies , errors ,fantasies ,based on nothing but “common sense “ etc are not related to the prehistoric period .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Not for the first time, Geo, we have communication problems. Fed up with this.

It would appear that the only person allowed to point out that the Emperor has no clothes is the Emperor himself, on the basis that nobody else knows what clothes look like.

Geo Cur said...



What didn't you understand ? the fact that you thought I was being dismissive of palynology when I clearly wasn't .Explained , complete with quotes which were absent from your initial commnet about it .

You didn't understand "ethnograpic account of rock removal in the historic period " .
explained with simplified phrases ,admittedly "rock removal" was left blank .

The fact that it was you who introduced gateposts , I didn't for a good reason .Explained .

Jon Morris said...

It's difficult to understand follow your writing George. At University, we had one absolutely brilliant professor who was acknowledged as a world expert. However, nobody could understand what he was saying because he assumed that everyone would automatically be acquainted with what he thought were basic ideas: The other lecturer has to resort to giving hints on how to understand what his part of the course was about.

Geo Cur said...


What don't you understand ?
If you don't understand then ask .

chris johnson said...

Perhaps a better way for Brian and colleagues to put it would be something like "we see nothing inconsistent with a site formed entirely by natural processes".

The onus is still on the archaeologists to present some evidence to support their opinions that Crf was a neolithic stone quarry. Did anyone get any feedback from the Cardi lecture which was supposed to be the focus for announcing results? I heard nothing ...

Myris of Alexandria said...

Geo Cur is correct too many of us wander onto the clothes optional beach for a long stroll. However we have, or soon will have two interpretations of the Cryf data. Both heavily experience based, both needing (much?) supplementary details.
John et al with local knowledge and experience give a qualitative description of the sequence with no absolute dating and qualitative sedimentological evidence for their interpretations.
MPP et al have absolute dates,different interpretations of the various strata but also much interpretation.
We must wait to see what other, non-involved, informed perhaps even sky-clad pundits will say.
But Brian can no longer be totally dismissed as the raving nutter shouting abuse from the sidelines. Whilst not being invited into the tent to Piss outwards, the tent flaps are loosening.
Science should be a team sport played by individualists.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Pretty fair comments, chaps. Two sets of researchers, two sets of interpretations. truth will out in the end. Chris, your representation is pretty accurate: "we see nothing inconsistent with a site formed entirely by natural processes". We do, however, accept that there are bits of charcoal in the sediments, and that (unless they are from wildfires started by lightning strikes) this indicates human occupation of the site. We also think that the evidence of the hearth looks quite convincing, although it has been difficult to examine carefully because of the plastic sheets laid over it for much of the time. So no problem with human occupation. My suggestion about this being a camp site / picnic site may have sounded frivolous, but it was made in all seriousness......... and is of course mentioned in the paper.

BRIAN JOHN said...

As a matter of interest, Myris, who has been referring to me as "raving nutter shouting abuse from the sidelines" ?? Whoever it is, he (and it has to be "he" because ladies do not use that sort of language) will shortly be in receipt of a letter from my solicitors, on the basis that I am one of the few people in this debate who has a degree of respect for science.

Geo Cur said...




Here is a simplification .
The geomorphologists readily accept that rocks have been removed from the Preseli area in the historic period , with no ability to say from where in the vast majority of cases , if any . If they can’t recognise the activity in the recent past how could you expect to do so with a similar smaller activity (as at CrF) in prehistory ? . That problem is then exacerbated when something they don’t have the ability to recognise is then suggested not to exist . That is not science .

A further reduction .

The geomorphologists are aware of the presence of multiple x’s in the recent past but are incapable of recognising their presence .
In order to suggest the absence of x you first have to be capable of recognising the presence of x .

BRIAN JOHN said...

It's not that simple, Geo. One of the reasons for accepting that stones were taken over the past 200 years or so from Preseli outcrops is that there is written evidence for it. The deacons of two chapels, for example, recorded that stones were taken from the mountain for facing the chapels at Mynachlogddu and Felindre Farchog. My colleague Dyfed Elis-Griffydd has done a study on this. There is also some written mention of farmers collecting stones for gateposts, and of course slate slabs from a number of locations for use as sills, doorsteps, lintels etc. There is also physical evidence of these materials being incorporated into buildings. The slate quarries we can see, and they are also recorded in written history. In the case of Rhosyfelin not only do we have no evidence of the stone being valued in any way (there are no recorded occurrences of Rhosyfelin rhyolite in standing stone or cromlech settings) but there are no physical traces of prehistoric quarrying at the site either. Therefore the precautionary assumption has to be that there was no need for any monoliths, and that no attempt was made to quarry them or take them away. Occam's Razor again.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Brian before you waste money on vamp-lawyers, my lips are sealed (in truth nobody has used those exact words to me as I do not participate in, nor endorse, gossip as is well known)only to be revealed to Sublime Apollo Himself.

There has been some surprise and much commendation on how measured the article is. Let us hope AiW will also be restrained not to undo the work.

I thought there were metal drill holes away from site 8 at Cryf suggesting some historical removal?

This is small beer. Whilst discussing the review of "Mining and Quarrying in the Ancient Andes" ((chapter 4 has much to recommend it to really dedicated researchers on SH quarrying and transport of "tired stones")) a noted Andeanist asked the question was there any real quarrying???- there goes half a book.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Don't worry -- only joking. Between you and me, I quite like being called a raving nutter. I'm sure far worse labels were stuck onto Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, Einstein and co.........

As you say, it's all very small beer in the great scheme of things.

I have seen small drill holes on a number of outcrops. There is at least one at Carngoedog. Have always assumed they were put there by geophysicists doing magnetometry or seismology work etc.

Myris said...

Not Einstein, but the 7th duc de Broglie perhaps before Einstein saw the work.

Yes lots of circular holes are drilled by 'palaeomagicians', they have had some censure for ruining the aesthetics of some outcrops.
M

Geo Cur said...


Brian,
Of course it's not that simple ,I have just reduced the content to a minimum and just said "Here is a simplification ."

I had previously covered the ethnographic accounts then had to simplify them too before a furhter sinmplification and reduction .
Those accounts and the "common sense " view of their presence in buildings are what made you aware in "The geomorphologists are aware of the presence of multiple x’s " .
Being aware is not the same recognising the sites where the rocks were removed ,the problem is that you conflate the two .You are not capable of recognising the vast majority of these sites where the rocks were removed .And therefore can't recognise them when they are absent . This is exacerbated if you attempt to apply the same thinking to prehistory.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Once again, Geo, you begin your elaborate gavotte. Who knows what was there if it isn't there any longer? It might have been there, or it might not, but we don't really know if it was or it wasn't, because there is no evidence to go on..... and you might see that it isn't there any longer, and I might think it wasn't there to start with. Shall we just move in and talk about the weather?

Myris of Alexandria said...

As an aside it is noteworthy that apart from a piece from (modern) Durrington Village no Rhyolite A-C has been recognised away from the immediate SH Circle and Landscape.
In a similar way no spotted dolerite (Axe-heads side)has been proved apart from some poorly contexted bits on Silbury Hill.

If there were a special nature to CRyf rhyolite it did not last, or was a non-transferable ticket.

Ah Brian ......were CRyf good for polished stone axes why are there none (apart from the fact no informed eye has looked through the collections to check recently). The major collections are at Taunton Museum and ought to be readily accessible!
I cannot see any reason why they would not be released to such an eye.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

I've never thought that this foliated rhyolite was ever any good for polished stone axes -- and I think I speak for my fellow authors too. As far as we can see, there is no tendency to conchoidal fracture, and broken edges are straight and quite sharp where the rock is fresh. I doubt you could make an axe from it. So best for disposable and cheap cutting / slicing tools for butchering animals, cleaning skins etc. Does that make sense?

Geo Cur said...



"Who knows what was there if it isn't there any longer? "
Exactly ,by conflating your awareness of the historic rock removals with recognisisng them , you believed that the absence of evidence was evidence of absence when you had no ability to recognise the absence in the first place .
You then extended this belief into an "undermining " in a scientific paper .


e.g.
“there appears to be no landform, rock mechanics or sedimentary evidence that this was a Neolithic quarry site “

Apply that level of understanding to the historic period sites of rock removal and it will be apparent that you are incapable of recognising the majority of them , whilst having to accept that they did exist .The comment above does not undermine the likelihood that rocks were removed from the area around CrF in the prehistory ,but it does undermine the credibility of geomorpholgists when involved in research outwith their credentials .

Pretty average mid November weather , snow on the hills , garden and road clear seeming colder but probably due to the earlier very mild temperatures .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Geo -- this is going nowhere. I do not "have to accept" that Neolithic quarries existed anywhere, unless somebody shows me some evidence to prove it. When we say ".. there appears to be no landform, rock mechanics or sedimentary evidence that this was a Neolithic quarry site" we mean what we say and say what we mean. We are perfectly competent to make that statement, even if you happen to think that such things can only be said by archaeologists.

Of course our paper undermines the Neolithic quarry theory, since there appears to be no evidence for something that has been widely promoted and publicised by certain archaeologists. You seem to think that there is evidence, and that only archaeologists are capable of seeing it since it is so subtle and mysterious. Come off it! That sort of arrogance is also ludicrous and unscientific.

This thread is now ended -- so don't bother to try and keep it going.