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Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Welsh Stonehenge? Hmmm -- or maybe not.......


I went to a talk not long ago by geologist Paul Sanday on the subject of the Welsh Stonehenge.  Paul (he of the aurochs and sledge theory) chatted amiably about Stonehenge, the bluestones, the alignments, the "quarries" and assorted other things -- demonstrating, sadly, that people should not stand up and give talks on things that they do not fully understand.  Paul's lack of awareness of the basic literature was more than a little embarrassing -- or maybe he knew it but just chose to ignore it for the sake of telling a good story?  It's a good job I didn't take any notes, or we would be here for a very long time........

Anyway, the basis thesis seemed to be that the accepted geology of the bluestones (as described by Ixer and Bevins, and many others) is all wrong, that the bluestone and stonehenge time sequence is all wrong, and that there was once a bluestone circle (later dismantled and shifted to Stonehenge) at a wondrous new location called Castell Mawr.  This is Paul's "Welsh Stonehenge".  Trouble is, Castell Mawr is very well known, and has been for many years.  It is well described in all of the databases and archaeological publications, including Coflein and Archwilio (and on this blog) and all the evidence points to it being a perfectly normal  Iron Age defended feature which is far too late to have anything to do with Stonehenge or the bluestones.  Mike Parker Pearson and his team have dug there rather recently, looking for stone sockets and other traces of Neolithic or Bronze Age occupation, and came away having found nothing interesting.  Was Paul really blissfully unaware of this recent work?  The best that we can say is that there might have been an earlier henge structure beneath and within the Iron Age ramparts.

Anyway, he provided no evidence of any kind in support of his thesis, apart from something very dodgy about the amount of earth excavated from the Neolithic Stonehenge ditch being exactly the same as the amount of earth excavated from the Iron Age ditch at Castell Mawr.  Oh dear......

Moving rapidly on........

6 comments:

chris johnson said...

The disease is spreading.

Yesterday attended the annual Stone Age day at Leiden University in the Netherlands where a young chap rounded off the otherwise excellent lectures by telling us we could learn a thing or two from the Brits to sex up the subject - pictures of Stonehenge, Orkney, reference to BBC. Stories do not have to be true to be interesting, what counts is stimulating public curiosity - you know the sort of thing.

He encouraged us to submit our thought to him on email. I wonder if I take a deep breath whether I can summon up the will power.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Perhaps that young chap should have a quiet word in his ear about science and the scientific method.....

Dave Maynard said...

'Populism' and 'Alternative Facts' mean anything?

Dave

BRIAN JOHN said...

Interesting point, Dave. Yes, I agree -- it appears that in all walks of life these days, those who should know better say what they think the people want them to say, and present things as "facts" that are unverifiable and sometimes downright false. Seeing what you want to see, in a dig such as the Rhosyfelin dig, is an interesting thing psychologically, and deserves a paper in itself.......

TonyH said...

Such a Paper might be headed: "Recognising the Rhosyfelin ruse".

TonyH said...

Chris, did you "summon up the willpower" to email the young chap back about his proposition that Netherlands archies might take some lessons from the Brits in stimulating public curiosity, regardless of factual correctness?