On several occasions on this blog I have asked the question: "Why would anybody be stupid enough to quarry bluestones?"
Whether we are talking about the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age or historic times, the North Pembrokeshire landscape was and is so littered with large slabs and boulders, many of them elongated, that nobody with any sense would ever have considered that actually going to a rock face in a deep valley and quarrying stones there, from the living rock, would have been an option. If you wanted "orthostats" or monoliths in the past, you would just go and pick them up from wherever was most convenient, and if it were not for our wonderful planning rules, the same principle would apply today.
The only grounds on which that principle might be overturned might be for a bedrock outcrop site to be so revered that stones taken from it might be invested with great significance -- and indeed that is why Darvill and Wainwright have argued that Carn Meini was exploited as a source of "healing stones" which had to be taken from one place, and one place only. But as we know, that theory has fallen flat because the geologists now think that the spotted dolerites did not come from there at all. And as for Carn Goedog and Rhosyfelin, there is absolutely no evidence that the stones from those sites were revered in any way. Spotted dolerites are used in stone settings, but as I have pointed out, we do not know of a single instance in which Rhosyfelin foliated rhyolite was used in a megalithic setting, either in Pembrokeshire or anywhere else.
This all came into mind again recently as I have been wandering about looking at the Preseli landscape, and wondering at the sheer abundance of stones available at the surface. Then I took a look at ET Lewis's old book called "North of the Hills" and discovered these words on p 22, relating to the area of origin of the bluestones: "..... in the triangle formed by Foel Drygarn, Garn Alw and Cerrig y Marchogion. Those who took them could have chosen their stock from here, without undue quarrying, for the supply of stone is practically endless."
He also says: "It should be emphasised at this point that igneous boulders are strewn over an extensive area south of the ridge. Almost every field in many parishes was brought into cultivation after the partial removal of these boulders. The process of clearance continues to this day; in fact, it has accelerated immensely in recent years. Northwards of the ridge, hundreds of boulders can be observed, but invariably these have been selected for particular purposes, notably as gateposts, over a period of many centuries."
Thus spake the prophet.
ET Lewis was a pretty astute prehistorian, and he knew the territory intimately, and I think he was on the ball as far as stone collection was concerned.
So why all the fuss about bluestone quarries? It would help if some people just lifted their eyes unto the hills, and looked at the landscape......