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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Those eminent people......





Here is another choice extract from the Darvill / Wainwright chapter in the new Pembrokeshire County History, Vol 1:

Re the bluestones transport mechanism:  "In 1971, Kellaway revived an earlier suggestion that they were carried on glaciers which spread south before they melted and neatly deposited their bluestone burden on Salisbury Plain (Kellaway 1971)."  Kellaway did not say the stones were carried "on" glaciers -- he said they were probably carried in the body of the Irish Sea Glacier which was already known to have crossed Preseli and to have flowed up the Bristol Channel at least as far as the Somerset coast and probably some way inland from there.  The addition of the word "neatly" is a nice cynical touch, but we'll let that pass........ but Kellaway was not just dreaming up some mad idea, as is implied, but was making a statement well supported by a great deal of hard evidence on the ground.

To continue:  "Superficially attractive, the glacial theory flounders because of the lack of any evidence for glacial activity on Salisbury Plain, and no suitable blocks of bluestone have yet been found along the route they would have taken across south-east Wales."   Agreed that there is no unequivocal evidence of glaciation on Salisbury Plain, unless we count the presence of a great deal of debitage from a great range of sources, and a large assortment of bluestone boulders that are clearly not pillars and clearly not quarried.  But why would we expect to find suitable blocks of bluestone scattered  along some unknown route across south-east Wales?  Even if there really was a route (which there wasn't), and even if we know it (which we don't), why would we expect to find suitable lumps of bluestone along it?  Suitable for what?  I really don't know what the authors are talking about. I should have thought that a lack of dropped blocks along some hypothetical route would militate against a human transport hypothesis, and be completely irrelevant as far as the glacial transport hypothesis is concerned.

To continue:  "Although it still has vocal supporters, eminent geologists and glaciologists have dismissed the glacial theory (Bowen 2005; Green 1997; Scourse 1997) and concur with Thomas's original suggestion that the stones "were transported by human agency, in all probability by an overland route (Thomas, 1923, 259)."  So who are these eminent geologists and glaciologists?  David Bowen, Chris Green and James Scourse are not geologists and they are not glaciologists; they are geomorphologists, no more brilliant or eminent than those of us who believe that the glacial transport hypothesis is eminently reasonable.  I don't actually care very much about Messrs Bowen, Green and Scourse concurring with HH Thomas -- and I have argued many times on this blog that their arguments are deeply flawed.  I place much greater value on other papers (written by assorted specialists including real glaciologists) who have argued that the glacial transport hypothesis is a perfectly reasonable one.

It would have been helpful if Darvill and Wainwright had done some more careful research on this issue before going into print here and repeating the same points they have made many times before.......

If "lack of evidence" is the sticking point with respect to the glacial transport thesis, would somebody please present to me the evidence thus far accumulated which shows that human transport of the bluestones might have happened?  I wait breathlessly for a flood of responses.


8 comments:

Timothy Daw said...

Brian

You and I may find fault with Darvill and Wainwright for different reasons but de mortuis nil nisi bonum for a day or two maybe? https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/15/geoff-wainwright-obituary

TonyH said...

The Curator of Salisbury Museum (from memory, I think his name may be Adrian Green) told me last year that the Boles Barrow bluestone in his Museum had "clearly been dressed". And he seemed to take it as Gospel that it had been dressed prior to leaving Pembrokeshire!! He was sold, hook, line and sinker, on the MPP line that human transportation was the means whereby this orthostat had arrived on Salisbury Plain. He also said MPP's people had been given permission to photograph the stone on all its sides as part of the research photographic examination all the stones at Stonehenge were subjected to. I think from memory he was talking about the laser analysis of recent years. It would certainly be worth challenging this Curator on how he arrived at his conclusions.....!*!?!!........ he could have fallen under the spell of MPP's persuasive powers?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Fair enough, Tim. I'm trying not to say anything too personal here, given the sad circumstances. Just trying to address a small piece of the text and the issues arising -- and I have no intention of doing anything more detailed until a fair amount of time has elapsed.......

TonyH said...

CORRECTION: Adrian Green is, in fact, the DIRECTOR of Salisbury Museum.

Brian and others: the Director can be emailed via: museum@salisburymuseum.org.uk

and he can be telephoned on: 01722-332151

Salisbury Museum has an "Adopt an Object" marketing facility. Contact Sara Willis, Development Officer.

For a minimum donation of £100, our Blogsite could adopt the Boles Barrow Bluestone - how's about it, everyone? I'll chip in (no pun intended) the first £10.

P.S. A rather Welsh - sounding OWAIN HUGHES is the Museum's Learning and Outreach Officer.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks for the link to the obituary -- Rob had already kindly drawn this to my attention.

TonyH said...

I don't think this Post says anything personal about Geoff Wainwright. Brian has been very careful in his composition of this Post, and concentrated on certain sections of this contributory Chapter to Volume 1 of the new Pembrokeshire County History.

TonyH said...

At the time of writing, this Blog has had a total of 1,156,000 page views.

That's another 56,000 since Brian informed us it was up to 1,100.000 - and that, just 4 months on from the One Million mark.

Clearly, not everyone is sold on the Human Transportation claim.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, there are still plenty of page views. I suspect that a lot of the visitors to the site are not at all interested in Stonehenge and bluestones! I did a check on the number of page views for some of the pages that have nothing to do with Stonehenge -- for example, things to do with glaciers, or glacial deposits in Pembs -- and they are looked at by large numbers of people. Maybe a lot of students are finding the site because they use Google a lot...... in which case I'm very happy.