Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Friday, 27 May 2016

Y-frame haulage mechanics

This latest stunt, designed specifically to grab media attention,  tells us nothing about long-distance stone transport that we didn't know already.  It also gave MPP and Barney Harris a chance to flag up, once again, their unshakeable conviction that they have Neolithic Quarries at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog, whatever the evidence may show.   Clearly the view is that the juggernaut will not be diverted by some pipsqueak geomorphologists and geologists who fail to see the noble works of man when they look at them -- so the best tactic is completely ignore whatever inconvenient material may have appeared in print.

Anyway, there are a couple of interesting features of the new experiment.  First, the "rollers" are not rollers at all, but 2m lengths of timber cut lengthways in half with the aid of a circular saw.  So they have a flat face which rests on the ground, and a semi-circular upper surface which stays put when a heavy sledge is pulled across it.  Fair enough.  That means the point of contact is very small, and friction is reduced.  But could somebody please explain to me how vast supplies of logs 2m long would have been neatly sliced in half in the Neolithic?  And what sort of effort might have been necessary in order to strip off bark and remove all of the stumps of smaller branches, using just stone tools?

The Y-shaped sledge is also something very peculiar.  How many trees are there in this world that have symmetrical  forks with two equally weighted or developed trunks gently spreading away from an initial single trunk? 

And then there is the interesting method of placing the stone with its long axis not in the direction of travel but perpendicular to it.   This may be OK for a stumpy stone up to 2 m long, but some of the Stonehenge bluestone pillars are longer than that, and to transport those in this fashion would have led to huge unstability, and everything would have deteriorated into chaos on rough or sloping terrain. Even more of a problem on a side slope.   You could overcome this problem to some degree by having TWO Y-frame sledges side by side, with a long pillar strapped across both of them -- but then you would also need split logs twice as long to rest on the bumpy ground beneath.

Now here's a nice idea.  Let's get all those jolly students and their logs and Y-frame away from their leafy London park and down to Pembrokeshire to re-do the whole experiment on the boggy moorland near Brynberian........ and I and some other hostile natives could turn up and throw stones at them, just for fun! (Is that allowed by the health and safety people?)


TonyH said...

Pity UCL, MPP and his "Jolly Wheezers" didn't put their jaunt to Simon Cowell, Amanda, Alisha and that camp "Little Britain" One who swam the Channel and down the Thames, you know,...., David Walliams......they'd have all LOVED Mike's Big Idea, great one for the Bank Holiday, and The Queen would love it, and so would Price Harry (as he's into muscular demonstrations and feats).

I was on a Guided Walk in the Stonehenge Landscape with the Stonehenge Julian Richards in the 1980's, and overheard him talking to a Bloke who shall remain Nameless who'd come up with the Jolly Wheeze of building ANOTHER Stonehenge, this time near Longleat House. Never got off the ground, Shame....Could have been worth a fortune, with no giraffes or lions involved.

sciencebod said...

Yes, my own thoughts are starting to crystallize on this (pity, being myself a UCL Master's graduate). Mike P-P is a pillar, dare one say megalith, of the Stonehenge tourist-bait industry.

sciencebod said...
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Dave Maynard said...

Brian may need some help here.

This blog is provided out of the goodness of Brian's heart, it is his house and we play by his rules. The readers of Brian's blog are a broad church as we can see from those who put comments forward.

Moderation is necessary to prevent profanities, illegalities and straight-forward idiocies that could make this an unpleasant place. Brian does not tell us what rules he follows to guide his moderation, but I'd support his judgement.

There is bound to be a time delay in comments appearing, Brian has a life beyond this blog, as we all do. I'd be surprised if he could look through the list of comments sooner than once a day. A little patience would go a long way in keeping this a happy place to chuck ideas back and forth.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Dave. Spot on. A blog has to be moderated, if we are not to have complete anarchy, prafanities and personal insults flying back and forth. I try to apply a light touch, but where blog comments stray into trolling or infinite repetition of ideas that just cause trouble, my patience runs out. I am prepared to ban contributors who might cause the blog to be despised rather than enjoyed by the large numbers of people who actually look at it regularly. There are plenty of other places where they can express their views. And yes, I do have a life beyond the blog, and some days I do not manage to look at comments at all. So cheerio, Sciencebod -- keep happy!

Myris of Alexandred said...

As piano playing Ms Mills (not our Winnie) but Annette might sing.
We want Kostas, Kostas the muse, We want Kostas etc.
Kostas brought light and joy into our little upright/uptight circle. Bring him back.
You are not forgotten but remain in our prayers.
We want Kostas, Kostas the muse.
When is the ferret club news out?
Why should sciencebod be happy?

TonyH said...

NO IDEA when the 2016 Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society Magazine, a.k.a. the ferret club news, will be published this year, Myris.

Incidentally, isn't it good that the WANHS Magazine IS called the Wiltshire Archaeological & NATURAL HISTORY Magazine!!!

Perhaps a few University Archaeology Departments should be re - named, e.g. UCL:- The University College London Archaeology & Natural History Department. More Geomorphologist representation, even if they have got a - tame? - Geologist on their books.

TonyH said...

I am sure David Walliams and Prince Harry understand my own light comical touch when applied to muscular feats such as heaving hypothetical or realistically rather heavy bluestones from the Science Fiction Rhosyfelin UCL "quarry". Both of these gentlemen do great things and are infamous for LIFTING OUR SPIRITS, as well achieving heroic acts of physical endeavour.

chris johnson said...

On a subject that sometimes reoccurs in our community "All publicly funded scientific papers published in Europe could be made free to access by 2020, under a “life-changing” reform ordered by the European Union’s science chief, Carlos Moedas"

Apparently there is consensus with all 28 governments in EU to destroy the paywalls and welcome it should be in my opinion. Open access to information should help competitiveness and we taxpayers will get to see what we paid for.

Alex Gee said...

The growing culture in academic circles to award the greatest prizes/power to those who publish by the tonne rather than quality. Surely means that in the future the academics with all the power/funding will be the most pushy grasping types who publish PR shite?

Is that what's known as a scientific bias?

Although it would appear that this has already occurred

Alex Gee said...

Tony H As someone said with regard to the Little Britain one after his Thames swim!

"He's just one of dozens of turds who've floated down the Thames from Oxford to Westminster!"

TonyH said...

The stones you mention possibly being thrown at the Y -frame experimenters by your good self on the Brynberian boggy moorland: is this an example of you endeavouring "to apply a light touch" to your Blog's content?

Many of us do our best to make remarks which are essentially tongue in cheek.

As Dave says, it would be nice to keep this Blog "a happy place to chuck ideas back and forth". Is this to include, along with the chucking of ideas, boulders also?

If so, surely there ought to be a maximum permitted size?

BRIAN JOHN said...
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BRIAN JOHN said...

Spelling mistake. Trying again:
As you suggest Tony, I would never in reality dream of chucking stones at anybody. I am far too gentle a soul for that. I was making a metaphorical point -- namely that if archaeologists really do want to do some experimental archaeology stunts, they should do it in the right places and should also factor in (in the case of bluestone experiments) the probable hostility of the natives........

Dave Maynard said...

Yesterday was Azerbaijan’s national day, so we had an early finish and a liquid lunch. One of the guys let me listen to his music and up came ‘Girl’ by the Beatles.

I remember hearing this back in the 60’s, I’d also come across the concept of Moaism as something strange and disturbing; at the time Girl sounded strange and disturbing, so I associated the two together. Funny how it all came back to me…and then up came mention of Kostas!

Oh where is he?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I have no idea. Probably having a whale of a time on some other blog somewhere, while leaving me in peace. So we are all happy.

TonyH said...

Agree with your reply regarding factoring in the probable hostility of natives regarding an experimental haulage of bluestones.

If MPP & Co Ltd insist on their Ruling Hypothesis, then, factored into this, should also be that there may well have been some opposition from the Ruling Natives in some areas through whose territory the Good Ol' Boys passed with their trophy megaliths.

TonyH said...

John Lennon of the Beatles sang Girl. John was certainly one of the original "Quarrymen" long before anyone gave even a second look to Rhosyfelin, quarry - wise at least.....

John could be 'strange and disturbing', too, Dave. Maybe he regressed and then dreamt of the Atkinson version of the Bluestone Hampshire River Avon Route when he penned "I'm Only Sleeping" with a little help from magic mushrooms and his friend Paul:-

When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed float upstream

Upstream to the site of Christchurch to Stonehenge? A new Ruling Hypothesis?

And he hadn't even met Yoko from the East, then! Archaeologically as well as musically, perhaps John was ahead of his time.

TonyH said...

That should be... "Upstream from the site of Christchurch to Stonehenge"