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Saturday, 29 October 2016

The myth machine in good working order -- and who needs facts anyway?



 Photo: English Heritage
 
Here is the latest weird and wacky story relating to Stonehenge -- courtesy the Telegraph and Katy Whitaker, who is currently a research student at Reading University.  At one level it's all good fun, since research students who are worth their salt are required to push boundaries, test exciting ideas and (preferably) say something new.  So it's almost acceptable, I suppose, for her to suggest that the sarsens used in the Stonehenge stone settings might have come from very far away, and not from Salisbury Plain at all.  She will have a jolly time presenting this idea to her peer group, and it will all be debated at the research student's conference with gusto. 

But at another level this illustrates the obsession with archaeological myth-making, and the manner in which the scientific method has been subverted or even abandoned.  There is, as far as I know, no evidence whatsoever (to do with petrology, surface characteristics or morphology) that the big sarsens have come from far distant territories,  and what Katy is doing here is throwing out an hypothesis which will presumably, at some stage, be tested by a search for evidence.  Create the story first, shunt it off to the media -- and no matter how wacky it is, is then becomes invested with a degree of respectability.  Look at the Telegraph headline, and look how "supporting information" is pulled in to suggest that the thesis has some credibility.......... and from now on Katy will no doubt be looking at field evidence through her rose-tinted spectacles and citing it in support of a wildly premature hypothesis.

I venture to suggest that a geology or a geomorphology research student would NEVER operate in this way -- and indeed would not be allowed to by his / her supervisor.  It all tells us a lot about archaeology, and helps to explain why MPP,  Josh Pollard and the rest of them thought it would be OK to tell the world that there had to be Neolithic bluestone quarries in Pembrokeshire, to announce within a few days of starting their first dig that they had found one at Rhosyfelin, and then to spend six digging seasons looking for and describing "evidence" which does not actually exist.

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Massive 25 ton stones of Stonehenge may have come from further afield

by StonehengeNews
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/10/28/massive-25-ton-stones-of-stonehenge-may-have-come-from-further-a/

The builders of Stonehenge are known to have sourced the smaller bluestones used in the 5000-year-old monument from Wales.

But a new theory suggests that the entire monument might have come from elsewhere, even the huge 25 ton Sarsen stones which make up the large circle of the Wiltshire megalith.

The huge sarsens at Stonehenge could have come from elsewhere

Katy Whitaker, of the University of Reading, will present a new paper at symposium at University College London next month suggesting that the sarsens could have come from sites as far away as Ken. (Kent?)

“Most people are aware that some of Stonehenge’s stones came all the way from south-west Wales,” she said.

“The really huge sarsen stones at Stonehenge are assumed to have come from sources on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, about 30km to the north of Stonehenge. Sarsen stone, however, is found in other locations across southern England.

“There are sarsens in Dorset, spread about dry chalk valleys similar to the locations on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, and as well as locations in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Sussex, there are even sarsens in Kent.

“The distribution is quite broad, there are sarsens in Buckinghamshire and even across to Norfolk.”

People in the Neolithic are known for trading stone across large areas, including from the Lake District to the East of England.

Huge Sarsen boulders from outside of Wiltshire are known to have been used in other prehistoric monuments including Kits Coty House in Kent, and Wayland’s Smithy, a burial mound, in Oxfordshire.

“People were clearly aware of, and using, these stones in prehistory.” said Miss Whitaker. “Why not think about the possibility that sarsens came from further-afield too?”

The idea could also challenge that Stonehenge represents a peak of monument construction which could only have been achieved through organisation by a hierarchical leadership.

Instead, it may show that smaller groups had banded together to bring meaningful stones to a central area.

“Maybe it wasn’t a large group of people under the control of a tribal leader ‘cracking the whip’ to move all the rocks from one location down to Stonehenge as has been suggested before,” added Miss Whitaker.

“What about groups of people related in different ways, working collaboratively to move a special stone from one area to another? “

The source of the Stonehenge stones was first determined in the early 1920s by H.H. Thomas, an officer with the Geological Survey of England and Wales.

He determined that the so-called ‘spotted dolerites’ matched a small number of outcrops in the Mynydd Preseli district in south-west Wales

Latest theories about Stonehenge also suggest it was once an impressive Welsh tomb which was dismantled and shipped to Wiltshire.

An experiment this summer by University College London found that mounting huge stones on a sycamore sleigh and dragging it along timbers required far less effort than was expected.

They discovered that a  one tonne stone could be pulled on a raft by just 10 people at around one mile per hour, far faster than experts believed.

MS Whitaker is presenting her work at the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium at University College London from 18th to 19th of November.
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Katy Whitaker (k.a.whitaker@pgr.reading.ac.uk)
What is the impact of the historical exploitation of sarsen stone on the understanding and interpretation of the prehistoric archaeology of southern England?
Supervised by: Dr Jim Leary ,  Josh Pollard (Southampton University) 


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ANARCHY IN THE UK?


We are happy to announce that the 2016 Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Research Student Symposium (NEBARSS) will take place at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th November 2016.

NEBARSS is an annual symposium organised entirely by postgraduate students, to showcase innovative research by postgraduate and early career researchers.

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11:20 Katy Whitaker, University of Reading
What if…none of the building stones at Stonehenge came from Wiltshire?

Over the past 20 years archaeologists have been exploring the idea that Neolithic monument construction provided conditions in which social differentiation could develop. This is in contrast to earlier interpretations of cursus, barrow, enclosure, mound, henge, and stone circle building in which perceived growing complexity of construction through time, and thus of inferred complexity of resource-management, were seen to indicate an increasing centralisation of prehistoric political authority. The henge earthworks, stone settings, and avenue at Stonehenge (Wiltshire, UK) play a prominent role in these contrasting interpretations.

This paper presents a discussion, by means of a thought experiment, of the role of Stonehenge’s stones in some 60 years of debate about Neolithic and early Bronze Age social structure. The paper starts with the revolutionary proposition that not only the Welsh bluestones, but all of Stonehenge’s building stones are ‘foreign’ to the monument’s locality. It goes on to explore the implications of this proposition by examining those of Stonehenge’s rocks that have in general been taken for granted, geologically-speaking, in the archaeological literature – sarsen stones: and others that have been almost completely ignored – packing stones to the sarsen settings.
Drawing in particular on work by Colin Richards, and Mark Gillings and Josh Pollard, to interpret these unsung components of the internationally-important monument, the paper suggests that an alternative to the dominant twentieth-century discourse in which Stonehenge represents the culmination of Neolithic social evolution, is possible.

39 comments:

Myris etc said...

Nikolai Tolstoy's massive tome- The Mysteries of Stonehenge-it must be in the bloody genes-claims that the sarsens were left by the retreating glaciers. Now he is using secondary sources but who first said this. I hope it s not Cleal et al Shall have to check. This is the fourth book review (third this year) where this error has to be corrected
This nonsense needs to be destroyed along with all the heretics that spout such nonsense.
The foolishness of post-grads is of course expected and legendary and is of no real account or moment.
Where does this glacial nonsense come from. It is becoming another Milford Haven.
Disgusted M of Sevenoaks

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- I am lost as to the relevance of your comment to this particular post......

Neil Wiseman said...

Myris clearly seeks biscuits to stave off hypoglycemia ...
______________________________

There's another occasional contributor here who likes Dorset as a Sarsen source, and we've had some lively conversations about this possibility. The Avon has been suggested as a highway for transportation.

In my view this would prove neither systematic nor particularly efficient. One might offer water transport for Blues, but the sheer size and mass of a rough-cut Sarsen — not to mention the southward flow of the River — would put the boot to such an idea.

The Stonehenge stone setting is younger than Avebury. Avebury and many other sites in its orbit were constructed of Sarsen almost certainly obtained from within its own circumference in addition to the Downs 4 miles east. The same culture built both monuments. They knew there was little stone south of the Vale. The Stonehenge site's location was premiere and pre-situated; therefore the Builders had to import.

There's just no evidence of large deposits of this stone in the Fargo, Durrington or Normanton vicinity. While I'm the first to admit that the grain and density from stone to stone at Stonehenge is not consistent, it's also been shown that this peculiarity occurs within a very short range of deposits at Marlborough and Fyfield — in some cases only a few yards.

The recent 'Landscapes' project has demonstrated — at least in the area surveyed — that the lack of solutional pits confirms that there was no large quantity of stone nearby. The Heelstone and (I think) Slaughter stone were most likely local, yes, but other than a few boulders such as the Cuckoo Stone and maybe a couple of the Station Stones, that's it. The only Fairy Tale here is that they picked up the balance of stone from local scatter.

It's the topography that has determined this. Above the Vale we see great drifts, rivers and piles of stone; below we see none on such scale. I believe Marden Henge was originally quite modest and served as a way-station between the two locations.

Say what you will about the Blues, but the great number of Sarsens at Stonehenge came from long-known and well-culled quarries 20-odd miles north.

Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris -- is this what you are on about?
http://www.sarsen.org/2011/09/mike-pitts-on-sarsen-quarries.html

BRIAN JOHN said...

Neil -- when is a sarsen quarry not a quarry?

Neil Wiseman said...

Brian,

Have we come this far only to arrive at semantics?

Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, Neil, we live in a world full of semantics! If you look at the scores of definitions of a quarry, the consensus seems to be "An artificial pit or hole in the ground from which stone or other materials have been excavated." This definition is really rather important when we seek to determine whether there are Neolithic bluestone quarries at Rhosyfelin, Carn Meini and Carn Goedog. It's also important if we look at Fyfield Down. If large sarsen stones were collected from there in the Neolithic (which is still a matter of dispute) were they actually excavated, or collected from the ground surface? So when is a quarry not a quarry? Shall we refer to the whole landscape of Preseli as a quarry because here and there people heaved up a few odd stones and used them as standing stones or in cromlechs?

Myris of Alexandria said...

Oh dear it seems that it is senior moments all round (By others of course).
This blog is ostensibly about stomping hard on/stamping out errors in the discussion of the transport of stones to Stonehenge. All errors or only those that involve homo sapiens sapiens?
Three recent books have all stated, oh actually four (the dreadful recent archaeogeology book goes even further) that the sarsens on the northern Salisbury Plain were left there by glaciers ie are erratics.
I invite Brian to join me in condemning this stupid heresy before it becomes standard archy dogma.
Or is any suggestion of icy involvement OK?
Sarsens coming from the east of course would answer Brian’s oft-asked question why no stones from the east?
Post-grad nonsense is just that.
There is a piece of puddingstone amongst the debitage (on my desk somewhere think) could this be from northern France together with the Mayern lava?? Sadly no mention of this in the excellent very recent Later Prehistory of NW Europe by Bradley et al.
Now were any sarsens moved by glaciers? Weasel words are not allowed.
YES or NO
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

Which are these three recent books? News to me......

You appear, Myris, to be taking the line that glacier movement onto Salisbury Plain was impossible. Well, in the big glacier modelling paper by Alun Hubbard et al they accept that it was possible for glacier ice to have approached Stonehenge from the west. It clearly moved Pembrokeshire erratics. If glaciological conditions were right, close to the eastern extremity of the glacier, the ice could well have moved sarsen stones that happened to lie in its path. Some sarsens, not all of them. So YES. happy now?

Myris of Alexandria said...

But from northern Salisbury Plain southwards.
I did say no weasel words
"that it was possible for glacier ice to have approached Stonehenge from the west. It clearly moved Pembrokeshire erratics (BUT HOW FAR were we to ignore the orthostats as """erratics""". If glaciological conditions were right, close to the eastern extremity of the glacier, the ice could well have moved sarsen stones that happened to lie in its path".

Where is the most eastern Preseli erratic that everyone can agree on, somewhere west of Steepholme I fear.

Boles Barrow cannot account as that is probably post media-evil theft from Stonehenge.

You are supping with the devil.

M

TonyH said...

I see Katy is presenting her ideas to a Symposium at UCL. How surprising. Home of the Maestro Pied Piper on High, MPP himself.

I note Kent is mentioned as a possible source of origin. That is where Conventional Wisdom would have us believe that one of the first incomers from Europe arrived, with their megalithic construction ideas.. Another bunch of incomers are alleged to have arrived in SW Wales. All fits in impeccably with Max Bygraves', sorry, MPP's Story, Boys & Girls......

BRIAN JOHN said...

Now you are changing the context, Myris. Who talked about movement of ice from north to south on Salisbury Plain? Not me, that's for sure. What others suggest is up to them.......

Here we go with Boles Barrow again. As far as I am concerned, it is a perfectly fine glacial erratic from Pembs.

We all sup with our devils -- and some are more dangerous than others.

TonyH said...

Then of course, University College London, to whom Katy is speaking as part of a Symposium, is home, not just to MPP, but also to a rather well - known Geologist, who happens to have a pseudonym whereby he makes his contributions to this Blog.

TonyH said...

Mark Gillings (University of Leicester) and Southampton's Josh Pollard have worked together for two or three decades, within the Greater Avebury Landscape. They are mentioned in Katy's piece on her research project.

Mark and Josh presumably know a lot more than the rest of us put together about the intricacies of prehistoric sarsen useage from the Downs neighbouring Avebury. They have both been involved in that aspect of the Between The Monuments Project i.e. between Avebury & Stonehenge. Nick Snashall, archaeologist of the National Trust is another involved.

TonyH said...

There are other sarsens in or close to the Greater Stonehenge Landscape, Neil. e.g. the Bulford Stone; and others near it. Also, there is a decent source of sarsen stone next to Robin Hood's Ball.

Since the Army has controlled access to the vast percentage of Salisbury Plain ever since Victorian times, I do not think we should be too quick to state that there have been no large sources of sarsen up there. The jury is still out. David Field, until his recent retirement an expert on behalf of English Heritage, thinks there may well have been a decent source there. We have discussed this mant times on this blog.

TonyH said...

Sounds like there is a "thought experiment" to give greater credibility to Devolution in Neolithic times.

Incidentally, I have no problem, none whatsoever, with the suggestion that not all the Stonehenge sarsen stones back then came from Wiltshire.

Wiltshire didn't exist, folks. Q.E.D.

TonyH said...

An enormous proportion of the sarsens stones taken away from Marlborough and Avebury Downs were removed, NOT in prehistoric times, but in the last couple of hundred years or so.

So I think some of the suggestions that ancient prehistoric sites of extraction of sarsen may be fanciful. You have to always remember that historic features may not all be of the same age, or necessarily ancient. Compare extraction of rock from Preseli in Medieval and much more recent periods of time!

SOURCE: Ken Watts' excellent local history books, notably:-

THE MARLBOROUGH DOWNS Ex Libris Press Revised 2003

EXPLORING HISTORIC WILTSHIRE Vol 1: North Ex Libris Press Revised 2001

Neil Wiseman said...

Brian,

My goodness you do become somewhat pedantic when convenient! lol
(I say this as a friend.)

But it turns out I have answers for the two major questions.

1.) When is a quarry a 'Quarry'?

I don't believe they scratched too deep into the chalk at Fyfield, et al. so they're not mines. The stuff is just sitting there. Is this a traditional quarry? It's naturally deposited and human-worked, so I s'pose you could call them that, though I don't have the mental picture of pickaxes or hardhats ...
The same might be said for Pembrokeshire, as the various outcrop's columns rather invite toppling. Easy pickings.

2.) Ice reaching north of Pewsey.

I never thought so, originally, but now I'm not so sure ...
I looked into this a few years ago and sponsored/commissioned several score photographs of these deposits as they are — both from the ground and as many more from the air.

There appear to be large clusters and rivers of stone dashed against north-facing hillocks or moraines, and it seems to me they were pushed there with the last gasp of a major glaciation. This particular example is seen near the vicinity of Devil's Den.

[I would be willing to supply any number of these pictures, but I don't know how ...]

By the same token, there are also great random fields of the stuff. So does this suggest separate ice-events? I believe it does.
Lifting a stone in the scatter-fields reveals chalk — much as you'd expect. But there's several locations amid those 'rivers' where lifting a stone reveals ... more stone. As we know, Sarsen formed on top of the chalk, so it seems odd that we would find stone-on-stone. This infers that the material was moved by enormous forces. Glacial ice in motion is pretty inexorable. Here on the sand-spit where I live, the hills are littered with huge granite boulders which originated in central Canada — a thousand miles away!

I said: "Last Gasp" because we don't see similar features south of the Vale, nor any substantial scatters, so the ice never reached that far.
(Tony — Collecting Sarsen had been going on for several hundred years before there was a military base, but there's no reports of deposits in that vicinity, though many from above the Vale.)

The topography is quite different between the two sides of the Vale. North of it, the sand and silica was able to settle in abundance. In the south we find rolling hills which would prevent the sand from accumulating in large amounts.

Truth be told, there's also Sarsen in the Vale itself, though this is a very old outwash and the stone is covered up to 20 feet deep in some places.

So then, in my view it's likely that ice played a role in creating the so-called 'Quarries' of Sarsen. But the Blues from Wales are an entirely different matter. Whatever their specific provenance in that wild and wooly landscape, they were almost certainly transported to the Plain by human agency — virtually to the exclusion of other theories.

(And yes, the Buford Stone was most likely robbed from Stonehenge, so the West Wales origin makes sense.)

Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Many thanks Neil -- a little pedantry always helps to stir things up, as most experienced bloggers would attest.......

Anyway, out of the blue you come up with all this info about rather interesting landforms north of Pewsey. All new to me -- and maybe this is the sort of info that gets Myris all worked up. Beware his wrath! The curses of the ancient Egyptian gods will be down upon your head at any moment now!

I need to do some more work on this stuff about clusters and rivers of stone and moraines, since ice from the north is not supposed to have got south of the M4 between Bristol and Reading. Do you have some pics we might use? Send them to me as Email attachments if you like, and I'll paste them in.

Tom Flowers said...

Brian. The sarsens needed to build Wayland’s Smithy almost certainly came from Ashdown Park - no more than 4km’s to the south. Lots of them can be seen alongside the B4000, even today. Tell Katy.

Phil Morgan said...

When is a quarry a Quarry?
Long ago and miles between, I was the manager at a coal mine in South Wales, when a gentleman arrived for an underground visit to look at some very old and abandoned mining equipment. The gentleman's name was Dave Pollard, a quarry owner and historian from over Wiltshire way.
Dave invited me to visit his quarry; an invite that I readily accepted, for his quarry was used to extract Bath Stone and was completely below ground.

(Google 'Dave Pollard and underground quarries' for photos and more information if you're interest is aroused.)

Did our prehistoric ancestors practice similar quarrying activities and have we/they perhaps been inadvertently searching the surface for 'blues' and sarsen?
No,perhaps not.

BRIAN JOHN said...

When is a quarry a mine? The old chaps, long ago, did a bit of mining too -- cf Grimes Graves and the Great Orme.......

Phil Morgan said...

p.s. Should have said ------ Pickwick Quarry, Corsham, Wiltshire.
Pressed the wrong button.

Neil Wiseman said...

Brian,

I have prepared a couple of pictures for you to review, but I have no idea what yer email addy is. Can't find it anywhere.

Neil

PeteG said...

Neil, the Bulford Stone had a solution hollow next to it.

I am finding more and more sarcens on Salisbury plain but they are very difficult to find as they are well hidden. A field that looks empty can reveal large stones that are mostly buried like the large sarsens in the photo.

The problem is that professional archaeologists aren't interested in the findings of amateurs. I've given up going to their lectures and no longer bother to let them know what I have found.
http://www.peteglastonbury.plus.com/SalisburyPlainSarcen.jpg

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks chaps -- my Email is brianjohn4"at"mac.com

Are we saying that there are more and more unrecorded sarsens on Salisbury Plain, and that there is a deliberate policy of ignoring them? If sarsens, why not bluestones too? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence......

Myris of Alexandria said...

Why not buried pieces of The ark, fire ships from the Shoulder of Orion, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence..... often a justification for crass foolishness.

Once my bllod pressure is under 350/100 I shall think about the sarsens riding Valkerie-like on the swooping Anglian ice. We are getting close to 'Agios Kostas here lads, is there something in Mainland USA water that does this?

Re quarries do they need vertical faces? or is their essence, their function. The latter I think. (I leave specious rhetorical questions to others?)The city of Tiwanaku was largely built by quarrying horizontally bedded lithics from the fairly local surface.

Read "Building Taypikala: Telluric transformations in the lithic production of Tiwanaku". J. Janusek et al. Chapter 4 in Mining and Quarrying in the Ancient Andes. 2013.
This is all about the nature of quarries (unintentionally!!)

Incidentally once should also remember that time is of the essence here.

The mining at the Great Orme is post-Chalcolithic BA not Neolithic obviously so as they were mining copper ore. Hence has no more value in this argument than Mons Claudianus or the ducky flint mines of Blick Mead.

Lads, pretty lads, some rationality just for November please.
M


Neil Wiseman said...

Pete,

I stand corrected about the Buford Stone. Perhaps I was thinking of Berwick St James?

Brian,

The only conspiracy here is that there's no conspiracy.
Yes, there Are Sarsens south of the Vale, as I have stated, but their number is few and certainly not in the numbers or size required.
Thanks for the address.

Perhaps my next purchase of Mainland USA Water will contain a magic Myris Decoder Ring ...

Neil

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris, your complete confidence that you are in possession of the truth, and that everybody with different ideas must be batty, is quite touching! Let's have some academic rigour here, please, and a willingness to look at evidence. I fully agree that the consensus is that glacier ice from the north has never extended as far south as Pewsey -- but not so long ago there was a consensus that Buchan in Scotland had never been glaciated, and that Jameson Land in Greenland had never been glaciated. And look what happened to those theories -- somebody came along, in both cases, and did some serious and systematic searching for evidence, and found glacial deposits........ so let's just take a look at Neil's evidence without prejudice, shall we, without the cheap jibes?

TonyH said...

I see Jim Leary is supervising Katy Whitaker's project.

Jim is also, like Katy, at Reading University. He previously worked for English Heritage (like MPP and Julian Richards).

Didn't his findings from his Silbury Hill excavations include the idea that soils from DIFFERENT AREAS/ REGIONS were imported into this part of the Kennet Valley, and incorporated as incremental layers into the artificial hill?? So, the notion that huge lumps of sarsen were brought to the site of Stonehenge from distant parts of our island, from all parts of the yet - to - be - invented compass, fits into this logic!

I suppose National Geographic, with its penchant for maps of large areas with arrows of travel on them, will be all in favour, from a marketing and money = spinning point of view.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I have heard (from our old friend MPP) of tribute stones being carted about, to commemorate the spirits of the ancestors -- but tribute soils is a new one as far as I am concerned. Whatever next?

Neil Wiseman said...

Hi Tony,

re: Silbury.
The previous thinking was that the material to build it was from elsewhere. Recently however it's been determined that the cubic volume of the basin it sits in is precisely the same as the Hill itself.

Neil

MoA said...

Is that from the Sil Hill monograph?
I still thought that the idea was that the soil came from separate locations.
How recent is recently?
I would like to use a caparison between the ideas to ride a pet hobby-horse.
M

TonyH said...

Do you have your own verse regarding Silbury Hill and a Hobby - Horse? Are Morris Men involved?

Peter Dunn said...

Whatever Next
On my trip inside Silbury in 2007 standing in front of the early central mound it was described as containing material from different areas.
The sequence of the pre chalk mound from the 2010 book is
mound 1. small less than a 1m high of gravel from the kennet or picked from the clay.
2. stakes forming perimeter of 16m area around the gravel, topsoil, subsoil and turf probably from the immediate area, placed over the gravel to waste height.
3. a 35m diameter area 5-6m high of topsoil from a wider area plus more gravel, clay, chalk and turf, with naturally rounded sarsen boulders “seeded through the mound like raisins in a cake” (Magnus Magnusson).
“this was no random spoil heap, but pieces of other places carefully piled high”. Sounds reasonable and highly evocative.

Get on that horse and ride MoA.

Jim Leary, Mike PP and Julian Richards all worked at EH, so what? different times, places and ideas, one as likely to say completely the opposite as agree with the other.

TonyH said...

Peter:equally, MPP, JR, most recently Jim Leary all shared the same English Heritage business culture, viz. always to remember the wider perspective i.e "England" as opposed to whichever local area or region they were emplyed within at the time, and hence the tendency to incline towards "Grand Designs" in all things.unavoidable, given they were all working for E.H.

The point still applies in our discussion, even if, in this particular Post's case, Postgrad student Katy Whitaker is trying to claim that sarsen stones were brought to the Central Place, Stonehenge, from here, there, and everywhere (a great song, incidentally, from the "post - Quarrymen" culture of Liverpool).

Peter Dunn said...

Hi Tony,
How have you come to your opinion of EH “business” culture.
I only worked at EH for 21 years but the most pervasive culture business or otherwise I was aware of was people trying to cope with the idiotic pronouncements of whatever senior management, CEO or Chairman were around at the time. (they weren’t all idiotic at the same time there were sane ones but they usually got stitched up)
Isn’t your example of seeing the wider perspective a good thing, not something that causes the tendency towards seeing Grand Designs in all things. But hold on aren’t these monuments and landscapes not just Stonehenge or Avebury, but collections and connecting schemes of monuments everywhere exactly that, “Grand Designs”.
Oh sod it I did spend all those years at EH though didn’t I so perhaps you are right!

TonyH said...

I just had a feeling that there may be a natural tendency amongst some English Heritage employees to wish to "market" the English Heritage 'properties' (or in this case, its monuments that it guards) both on the regional and national levels.

I was curious to point out my notion set out previously, but that is all it is, a notion1 I am very familiar with English Heritage's publications, having worked as a Librarian, admittedly not for a very long period, but for just around the same amount of time Brian was employed as a University Lecturer.So I think I have a library/ information worker's mindset when considering organisations and their information dissemination.

I have also worked in Local Government, including environmental planning, and have visited the English Heritage relatively new HQ at Swindon as part of my hobby of being linked up with research being conducted by museum and archaeological societies.

TonyH said...

Katy's theory represents the exact opposite of what Brian maintains is the likely usual thought process of prehistoric man (and woman). namely, that those Good Ol' Boys took advantage of the rocks that were closest to hand, thus minimising effort.

So perhaps our noble ancestors had a rather perverse approach to everyday life, and were inclined to go for the MAXIMUM of effort, rather than the minimum. A bunch of sado - masochists, Katy?