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Sunday, 5 June 2016

The Bedd yr Afanc hypothesis


It's now clear from assorted pronouncements and press releases that the latest hypothesis from the MPP team is that the passage grave of Bedd yr Afanc was at the centre of a bluestone circle which had a diameter of 22m -- ie the same as the diameter of the bluestone circle at Stonehenge.  On the above satellite image of Bedd yr Afanc I have superimposed a light-coloured circle with approx this diameter.   So the digging this summer will be concentrated on or just outside the circumference of this circle.

The hypothesis is that a bluestone circle was erected around this important burial site (it has to be this one since there is no other site handily located) and was therefore associated with funerary rites and with the spirits of the ancestors.  According to the story, the stones of this proto-Stonehenge were so revered that they were taken lock, stock and barrel off to Stonehenge and set up again there, mimicking the site in Preseli.  The MPP fantasy is that the travellers literally carried the spirits of their ancestors (and their cremated remains in little leather bags) with them on this epic journey as Stonehenge was developing as the most important cemetery for cremated remains in the UK............

That's my prediction for the 2016 fairy tale.  Let's see how correct it all turns out to be.

26 comments:

TonyH said...

First it was MPP's Trojan horse, and next in these Blog Posts it's Bedd yr Afanc. I'm not Welsh, no, really, see,I,n not, but isn't the Afanc a legendary Welsh monster that emerges from (probably glaciated) lakes? And doesn't He still appear, right into the last few years of this Twenty - First Century, every September, before disappearing in a cloud of controversy and publicity, eastward, towards the Metropolis of Anglia?

BRIAN JOHN said...

If you type in Bedd yr Afanc in the search box you will find the legend of the afanc -- the monster that lived under the bridge near Brynberian until it was tempted out of the water by a fair maid and was slain by the locals. It is reputed to be buried at Bedd yr Afanc -- presumably it was easier to explain the elongated nature of the passage grave site by explaining that an elongated monster was buried there.....
Who knows whether there are still other afancs in the vicinity, causing alarm in the neighbourhood and waiting to be slain?

chris johnson said...

So sensible this time to look for a monument close to a main road and the new visitor centre, with ample off-road parking a short walk away.

TonyH said...

I reckon the Afanc and the Monstrous Pied Piper of Academia could be one and the same.....the latter's tactics tend to be to lure unsuspecting "punters", when off guard (whether in or out of water), to his point of view.

He frequently uses jaw - dropping, cliff - hanging, tantalising claims, after the fashion of Charles Dickens' use of magazines for chapters of his books; and opportunities at public meetings especially in S. W. Wales, but is curiously NEVER SEEN in the same room as any geomorphologist expert on Pembrokeshire.

The Pied Piper may prove, in decades to come, to have been a shape - shifter, and classified as merely a legend in his own lunchtime, famous for 15 minutes...... at least when it comes to his protestations about what he claims are prehistoric quarries. Time will tell.

TonyH said...

MPP talks of an as yet undiscovered passage grave tomb, though. See my comment on another recent Post, citing MPP's 2015 Council For British Archaeology book, "Stonehenge....".

Hugh Thomas said...

If Bedd Y Afanc is the prime target then MPP has missed a much larger site between Rhostwarch and Carn Alw. I personally have made a dramatic discovery at Carn Alw this year concerning the large seemingly out of place boulder in the enclosure. It has lead me to believe that although Carn Alw was once a defensive site it could well originally have been something else entirely.

BRIAN JOHN said...

As yet undiscovered, but he knows it is there?! Such fantasising would be par for the course, I suppose ..... he also knows that Neolithic quarries are in places where only he and his mates can see them. This is the sort of thing that Fox News in the USA takes pride in -- "the truth is whatever we deem it to be".

BRIAN JOHN said...

Sure, the whole of the boggy area on Brynberian Moor is full of features that might or might not be significant. As for Carn Alw, we should not be surprised if Iron Age defensive features are superimposed on older ones. On Foel Drygarn the Iron Age fort is built around those rather splendid Bronze Age (?) burial mounds -- and other fortified hilltop enclosures in Wales are now being reclassified as Bronze Age and as not having had purely defensive functions. Getting interesting......

Hugh Thomas said...

You are correct that whatever lies beneath these sites are largely unknown because they have not been investigated properly . That said , there are other ways of gaining over time a snippet and impression of what may have been there ,or what the ancients were seeing. This is done by observing over time natural alignments and sunrise and sunset bearings from a number significant points and gaining an overall picture, the tip of these answers are not always in pits dug a long time ago and redug today. I have come to feel in the case of Preseli , everyone is concentrating too much on what is in the ground when they should be looking around them more regularly at different times of the day at significant times of the year. After eight years of doing this and especially during the last twelve months,to me Preseli is no longer only about the stones , call it several moments of clarity presenting themselves ,MPP needs to understand the landscape he is actually dealing with before he embarrisingly misses the point that is actually there for all to see, if you look long enough.....

TonyH said...

Hugh, do you think the SPACES team of Profs Darvill & Wainwright discovered any landscape connections in their work over quite a few years in the Noughties? [Strumble - Preseli Ancient Communities and Environment Study].

chris johnson said...

Perhaps we should run a little sweepstake? OS coordinates please, and the closest one to receive a prize postcard of a Dutch Windmill with space for your own Don Quixote.

AG said...

MPP must be quite excited! The research literature on the history and Archaeology of the British Isles covering the time in question does nowhere mention a population migration from west to east? It instead proposes migration from east to west roughly shadowing the retreat of glacial Ice?

Could MPP's research be evidence for a hitherto unknown glacial episode?




Or is it horseshit? as Brian has suggested?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I haven't kept up with all the research, but this is not MPP's idea. I recall an hypothesis from my student days that the Celts (and possibly some of the earlier immigrants) came in by sea from the SW, via Brittany and Cornwall, and not by land from the east. They talked of the Atlantic Fringe as being a cultural entity. This is from the days of Emrys Bowen, Cyril Fox and other luminaries. Some of the recent work on blood groups, DNA analyses etc seem to suggest many different racial groups in Wales which don't seem to owe much to a westward migration. As late as the Dark Ages (called the Age of the Saints in Wales) while the English looked on West Wales as the edge of the world, the locals looked on it as the centre of the universe, from which enlightenment was spread eastwards. For the Neolithic, the various tomb cultures show various groups with their own styles, rather than an "English" tradition imported from the east. Signs, maybe, of an Aunt Sally being erected in order to conveniently knock it down?

BRIAN JOHN said...

See this post from 2012:

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/on-cultural-links.html

TonyH said...

MPP's latest 2015 book, Stonehenge, Making Sense of a Prehistoric Mystery, 2015, pages 76 - 77,says:-

'West Wales was also rather different from S Britain in the Early Neolithic, having more in common with Ireland where we find similar tomb styles and material culture. Archaeologists have for a long time known that the Neolithic of western Britain was distinct from that of the south and east. The reason for this cultural difference in the Early Neolithic is uncertain but it may be due to the directions from which the farming way of life arrived in Britain, probably arriving separately in these two regions. This theory suggests that early farmimg in Wales and Ireland arrived via Brittany whereas farming was introduced into south - east England from northern France. Thus Neolithic people in Wales might have considered themselves to have had very different ancestries to those in southern England.'

Alex Gee said...

Brian: Following the publication of your papers on the Geomorphology of Rhos-y felin! I really do think its time for you to claim the title of heavyweight champion of the Stonehenge debate!

The only response to your papers that Mendip Mary/Myris has been able to come up with lately is a typo! Triassic instead of Tertiary! MPP hasn't responded at all!

With respect to MPP/ Myris, the time is well over due for you to say

"That all you got George?"

BRIAN JOHN said...

They won't engage. Glen Peters tried to set up a debate at Rhosygilwen on the quarrying hypothesis. I said I was willing, but in spite of trying for several weeks he could not get a single archaeologist involved in the Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog research to take part. MPP was apparently completely incommunicado. Not a single point from our two papers has been questioned or challenged -- the technique apparently is to completely ignore our evidence and our conclusions. Read into that what you will -- but I am less than impressed.

TonyH said...

Brian, remind me/us: who is Glen Peters?

Alex Gee: completely agree with you. These extremely "precious" archaeologists, and others, associated with someone we might name the 'Mighty Pied Piper' are insisting on living within their sterilised, protected, parallel universe! They live in their own bubble, and their own academic and moral integrity suffers as a result.

As I've said quite often, I am unable to understand how archaeologists whose employment is based in British Universities fail to cooperate and interact with their academic colleagues within Geography Departments whose expertise is glacial geomorphology.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Glen is the owner of Rhosygilwen Mansion and concert hall, where he puts on musical and other events. We have our annual PENfro Book Festival there every September. He tried to set up a quarrying debate, but had to give up because of the refusal of the archaeologists to engage......

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi TonyH ,Sorry about the slow reply , life goes sideways sometimes ;) . As regards Messrs D&W SPACES project I can understand where they are coming from on some things,but the problem is they are trying to also make it fit into thier theory of sacred springs etc . I remember stumbling across them quite by accident carrying out a dig at the Carn Menyn cairn at the top of Rhestr Cerrig the stone river. They had uncovered two small uprights of similar size hardly more than a couple of feet high ( if that) and were convinced it was a sure fire link to the Sarsens at stonehenge.
I got the impression they did not like my questions and anything I pointed out in the landscape they said they already knew about ( some with sideways glances),I did not believe them .
As regards Bedd Y Afanc I paid it a long visit today armed with my tablet software Was rather surprised to find it is no where near aligned to the solstice sunrise ,more like Beltain really ,nor does it point to the winter solstice sunset . I intend to go back and look at it again as practically all I have read about it does not seem to match up on site.
I also went to Carn Goeddog and saw the left overs from the dig ,there are two pillar like pieces set on thier sides in the ground at the end of what looks like a loading ramp... I do not remember seeing these prostate pillars before and do not seem to be able to find them like this in my photos of the dig,they look too regular sitting parallel to the outcrop,.If they were sitting deeper under the soil when I visited the site ,why have they been set back in at surface level ? It looks artificial to my eyes....

BRIAN JOHN said...

Hugh -- yes, that's the famous Neolithic tomb visited by Alice Roberts when the two profs were digging in the rain! Dealt with earlier on this blog...... as I recall it, the story was that this innocuous and insignificant little site was the burial place of the head honcho responsible for the quarry at Carn Meini and the transport of the stones to Stonehenge. Since then, the geologists have jumped on that idea from a great height, and they now say that Carn Meini was probably NOT a source of any of the Stonehenge bluestones.

Bedd yr Afanc -- yes, others have also agreed that it does not align with anything in particular......

Carn Goedog, yes again, if you want to see patterns in the arrangement of the slabs, blocks and pillars, that's fine -- but there is a strong suspicion that the "Neolithic engineering features" have been manufactured by the archaeo diggers themselves. Consciously or unconsciously? I couldn't possibly comment......

Hugh Thomas said...

Oops Sorry I did not mean "I saw neolithic enginering patterns " ,I feel what is visible now at these outcrops will endure Joe Blogs to the myth. I truly cannot find these two pieces of stone set in the ground in the same position in the photos I took when visiting the dig. It also feels like it is now much easier to gain access to the top of the outcrop,something has changed here,it LOOKS like it has been landscaped with 21 century eyes .

I have also noticed the entrance to Mirianog Ganol has been closed off, I think they ate a bit miffed with the amount of vehicles being parked in the lane in the wake of all this increased interest in Carn Goeddog .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Interesting, Hugh........ I haven't checked myself in detail, but what you are suggesting sounds very much like evidence manipulation. that is rather a serious matter.

Yes, the people at Mirianog Ganol always were a bit sensitive about cars using their road. I am not sure what the legal position is. It is probably a public road, privately built!

SirRobinofCamelot said...

Brian-regarding your scepticism on the new possible passage tomb (e.g. how does MPP know it is there when it is undiscovered) I would direct you to that wonderful archaeological tool known as geophysical survey. Evidently the results of that survey suggest that sort of structure, though naturally we wait and see.

BRIAN JOHN said...

We await developments. A little bird tells me that Bedd yr Afanc may not be the place where the dig will be this summer. The location of the dig site will no doubt be revealed soon....

TonyH said...

Sounds as if my comment [7 June at 17.48] that the Afanc/Monstrous Pied Piper may be a shape - shifter was considerably more prescient than I envisaged when I commented 3 weeks ago, based on Hugh Thomas's comments about pillars he recently saw at Carn Goeddog!