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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Tim Darvill on glaciation


Just been watching part of the latest BBC programme about Stonehenge, introduced by Alice Roberts.  (Stonehenge: a Timewatch Guide.  BBC4, 27 Jan 2016.) It's actually quite well balanced, with some classic footage from 1972 of an exchange between Richard Atkinson and Geoffrey Kellaway, in which they both talk rubbish.

But then we have Tim Darvill telling us about the glaciation of the Bristol Channel region.  It was asking for trouble, was it not, to have an archaeologist explaining about glaciers ?  Was there no glacial geomorphologist near at hand who could have talked authoritatively on the issue?  Hmmm.........

Anyway, this is what Tim had to say, as a senior academic explaining things to the ignorant masses:  "There was glaciation in West Wales -- but nobody has yet come up with a satisfactory arrangement of glaciers which could have transported the stones eastwards from the Preseli Hills across to Salisbury Plain.  The furthest that glaciers could reasonably carry them would be to South Wales ..........  we have now come to understand that there is no material on Salisbury Plain that's been carried from west to east by glacial action."

As readers of this blog, and as every past and present student of glacial geomorphology will know, that is complete nonsense.  The "arrangement" of glaciers during two glacial phases in the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary area is  pretty well known, with ice from the South Wales valleys and Irish Sea ice coming into contact in the south Wales coastal zone.  And it has been known for more than 35 years that there are glacial deposits in Somerset that can only have been carried there by the ice of the Irish Sea Glacier, travelling broadly west to east.

True, there is a debate about whether  the Boles Barrow bluestone boulder and other materials (for example 43 Stonehenge bluestones) on Salisbury Plain are remnants of old glacial deposits -- but why do senior archaeologists consistently seek to misrepresent the situation relating to the events of the Ice Age, when they must be aware that what they say is completely at odds with what is in the literature?



21 comments:

TonyH said...

Tim says "The furthest that glaciers could reasonably carry [bluestones] would be to South Wales.We have now come to understand that there is no material on Salisbury Plain that's been carried from west to east by glacial action".

Tim of Bournemouth, is that the Royal "We" then?

Everyone wants to their 15 minutes of fame....in the Geological or Glacial time scale.

Whatever!....... readers of this Blog will know that what Tim is claiming as truth is based upon out - of - date understanding, going back to the 1990's or before. Glaciation may have occurred long, long ago, but that does not mean our scientific understanding of glacial movement across the Severn Estuary and in Somerset and surrounding areas has stayed still and not advanced over the last 20 - 30 years.

Study of Glaciation, like, say, pollen analysis, may be more prosaic and a good deal less eye - catching than is the dreamy poetic speculating upon the notion that prehistoric man brought the stones the entire 170 miles from Preseli to Salisbury Plain, but it is based upon constantly emerging scientific evidence.

A Gee said...

Alex G said...

Darvill really should keep to his specialism of "ancient giant xylophones"!

Dave Maynard said...

The Ringing, Singing Tree?

Tom Flowers said...

I spoke to Timothy Darvill a few years ago, and during the Riverside Project Era. I questioned him while his team were excavating for evidence of the Prototype Stonehenge. Having dug up chips of bluestone that were well remote from, but within sight of Stonehenge, Timothy claimed he had found it.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Tell us more, Tom. Were was the site of this wonderful proto-Stonehenge? If bluestone chips and fragments in the soil were the criteria for deciding such things, then may the Lord help us all........ but I suppose there was rather more to it then that?

AG said...

Alex Gee ....wrote Dave; I was referring to Darvill's hypothesis that Stonehenge was an "Ancient giant xylophone". It was on the TV news at the time. I believe Brian has a clip of it on here somewhere?

Its Hilarious!

AG said...

Brian

Why does Darvill state that Kellaway's discovery "is not so clear cut now as
back then" What newer research is he referring to? As far as I'm aware the deposits at Failand and Kenn are still considered to be glacial? The BGS still have them mapped as such?



Tom Flowers said...

I make Tim’s excavation a little to the south of the Great Cursus and in the open alongside the wooded area some 1.1 km’s from Stonehenge, at approximately SU 1132 4275.
Unfortunately, there are, or were, several round barrows nearby, and I would place Tim’s plot close to barrow 52.
Barrow 51, SU11434373 is already known to have held Rhyolite chips, but this round barrow was restored to its pre-1960 appearance, and Tim’s excavation was on flat ground.
I do not know what Tim was looking for, or why he chose to dig where he did. All I know is that he did find chips of bluestone, but you would have to ask the man himself what type of bluestone that was.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Darvill is doing what many senior academics do -- in the process of pontificating he implies that he is in possession of other information which is denied to normal folks. There is no new information. The deposits are still glacial.....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tom. Perhaps Myris can enlighten us about these mysterious rhyolite fragments? He and Richard have been keeping tags on what has popped up where...... and what can properly be classified as bluestone.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- so who moved the stones? A happy band of percussionists, or some serious heavy rock musicians?

TonyH said...

Tim Darvill has got his very own, on - line bibliography of research documents, books, etc, etc, on Stonehenge. May be under the auspices of Bournemouth University as well as his own name. It is very extensive....?comprehensive?

Alex Gee said...

I presume that the answer to all of the Stonehenge enigmas are related to the view expressed by the archeos in the program that the builders of Stonehenge were far more technologically advanced than we suppose!

According to the hypotheses of the Archeos; They must have used sophisticated machines to strew bluestone fragments around Salisbury Plain as far as Avebury. Then used the Time machine they'd developed to place their quarried Bluestone orthostats in "Boles Barrow" and other pre Stonehenge long barrows?

I suppose their difficulty is that in the scientific world, if you find some data;or bluestone chips. That contradict your hypothesis you accept it and move on, whereas in the Archaeological world you engage in all sorts of intellectual contortions and dishonesty; rather than admit the truth.

A good analogy is the arguments presented by theologians when trying to refute the theories of science.

All you can do is feel embarrassed for them.

Alex Gee said...

Brian: you say that Darvill is just doing what senior academics do? Doesn't this just apply to the non scientific disciplines such as Archaeology?

If he tried such a stunt if he was a physicist surely he'd be condemned and exposed as a fraud by his peers?

BRIAN JOHN said...

No, I wouldn't say all this is limited to senior academics in the field of archaeology. It happens in the sciences too -- senior people don't get where they are today without learning how to trot out the bullshit as and when required. If you'll excuse the expression on this family show.......

TonyH said...

Mrs Trellis from North Wales here.

Offended, me?.......never! Up here, on Snowdonia, we get all sorts of sheepshit hitting us if we stand ill - advisedly in ALIGNMENT (that word again) downstream of the prevailing westerly winds off the Irish Sea. Mind you, does wonders for the complexion, love.

Bronwyn Trellis
Upper Slopes,
Snowdonia

TonyH said...

Poor old Tim Darvill....... in that photo - still caption Brian has put onto this Post from the BBC4 Timewatch Alice Roberts - Springs Extravaganza (by the way, did she, as she drifted around so beguilingly for the camera, have PERMISSION to go rifling round all those drawers in Salisbury Museum's back passages?)........ it DOES look distinctly as if the Cat has got poor old Tim's tongue. Or perhaps he's just eaten his own words?

AG said...

Alex Gee said...

Whilst she was rummaging around in Salisbury Museaum perhaps she came across the

evidence that has justified some modern archeos, rubbishing Cunnington's reputation

accusing him of lying about finding "Bluestones at Bowles Barrow?

I presume the reason is that the reputation of a dead man is an easy target for

cowards! The deceased having no recourse to the law!

AG said...

Further to my previous post.

I presume that's the reason that Geoffrey Kellaway has become such an easy target?

Cowardice reigns supreme?

AG said...

Tony H: your not THE Mrs Trellis, Upper Sheeps Bottom, North Wales, of UK caving fame are you?

TonyH said...

No, a different Mrs Trellis (but also of North Wales). Previously a regular letter writer/ co - respondent to Humphrey Littleton on "ISIHAC" on the steam radio.