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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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The sanctification of Craig Rhosyfelin

There is a lot of discussion just now about false news and "alternative facts" .......  and here we go again.

I have been quite involved recently in the local promotion of the "Year of Legends" in Wales.   With the support of the Welsh Government, Visit Wales and the local authorities,  a massive amount of marketing money has been thrown at this -- and some very fine material has appeared, with the object of attracting more visitors to Wales.  Just type in "Wales Year of Legends" into Google, and see what appears........

Obviously, when it comes to fairy tales, myths and legends, one does not want to get too heavily involved in investigating what is truth and what may be fiction -- but we do start to get into trouble when myth is presented as fact by people who should know better.

Here is the latest example, in a very lavish web site which has just gone live, under the auspices of Literature Wales -- with considerable public funding from Visit Wales.  As we have stated on this blog many times before, Craig Rhosyfelin is now hot property, busily promoted by the National Park and Pembrokeshire CC on the basis that "our heritage is better than the heritage of other parts of Wales".  I have pointed out to the powers that be, on many occasions, that they need to be very careful about the presentation of myths and wild hypotheses as "facts" -- but they are not inclined to listen to me.  Who cares about science and evidence, when all that matters is a good story?  More to the point, who cares about the truth, when we need to pull more tourists into the county to help the local economy?  So marketing is all that matters.  Anyway, as I was saying, here is the latest example:

Craig Rhos-y-felin, Crosswell

    • Region : South West Wales
    • Grid Ref : SN 11650 36140
    • Google Map
    • Add to your list
Some of the bluestones of Stonehenge were quarried here. First used for a local monument in about 3400 BC, they were moved to Salisbury Plain 500 years later where they stood in various settings before the giant inverted ‘U-shaped’ stones joined them in 2500 BC. This makes Stonehenge a truly Welsh site - something supported by the Boscombe Bowmen: seven individuals re-buried in a mass grave near Stonehenge around 2300 BC. All were  seemingly born and raised in south-west Wales, travelling to Wessex during their lifetime. This connection and journeys from the west are recalled in folk legend - Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1100-1155) retells the ancient belief that Merlin brought Stonehenge from Ireland. The rock face retains the natural pillar formations which the stone-cutters exploited. You can enjoy a picnic where they camped 5400 years ago.

Now this purports to be an accurate statement of what Craig Rhosyfelin is all about.  The trouble is that almost every sentence is full of "alternative facts." In other words, nonsense.  There is no evidence that any of the Stonehenge bluestones were quarried at Rhosyfelin -- all we know is that some of the rock fragments at Stonehenge came from the Rhosyfelin area.  We do not know that any of the stones were used in a local monument before being shifted to Salisbury Plain.  Giant inverted U-shaped stones?!!    The seven Boscombe Bowmen came from SW Wales?  I know of no evidence in support of that contention.  Geoffrey of Monmouth?  Here we go again.......  Natural pillar formations which the stone cutters exploited?  Zero evidence of that happening.  Lots of people have camped there over the millennia -- that's about the only bit of the paragraph that seems more or less reliable.

For years we have had the HH Thomas / Atkinson myth promoted for commercial reasons in spite of the fact that there is no evidence in support of it;  and now the MPP version has entered the mythology lexicon.   Should one laugh, or weep?


Dave Maynard said...

I've been working with some Americans and noticed the differnce in language when describing the same things.

The specific example to day is their use of 'rocks' for what I would call 'stones'. I'd use stone for a portable hard mineral that has some rounded shape, rock would be a larger mineral that could not be easily carried and has a high degree of angularity.

The 'giant inverted ‘U-shaped’ stones' made me think of this, while the photograpgh of Craig Rhos-y-felin shows what I'd think of as rocks, the the action there should have been carried out by 'rock cutters'.

Is there a proper geological definition of the distinction?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I suspect the two terms are more or less interchangeable -- not sure it's worth worrying about.....

You hear about "stone quarries" rather than "rock quarries" -- and I generally think of stones as rather small, and rocks as rather large....

BRIAN JOHN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BRIAN JOHN said...

It looks to me as if the text used by Literature Wales (on Rhosyfelin) was probably provided by Cadw -- if so, they should be ashamed of themselves.

13 April 2017 at 11:55

Alex Gee said...

Brian don't forget that this information is government information and provided by Archaeologists /scientists? who are funded by the government or directly employed by them.

Government scientists or those employed by corporations with a large financial interest don't have a great track record!

A few examples:

Starting from the "radiation is good for you" told to soldiers and their two headed relatives before and after nuclear bomb tests.

From the recently re-released "Protect and Survive" leaflet; the effects of a nuclear bomb/Radiation will not harm the general populace if they paint themselves white and hide under the kitchen table. Whereas their leaders being for some reason extremely sensitive to radiation need to be protected by 300ft of solid rock and 3ft thick steel blast doors?

Pesticides sprayed on the food you eat are completely harmless; an utter lie told By government scientist to the general public from WW2 to the present day! As personally evidenced by my wife Marianne:Veggies bought from Tesco's cause her to suffer anaphylactic shock, the organic vegetables I grown on my allotment do not.

GM crops cannot cross pollinate with other plants! etc etc etc etc.

To precis: There are far too many corrupt qualified scientists whose interpretations are for hire!



Garry Denke said...

You've seen this, Right?

Happy Easter

Myris of Alexandria said...

In geology all things are rocks including sand which is just an unconsolidated rock.
We do not use the term stone, it is a layman's term, it is like people who say the limestone outcrops in xxxx- a sure sign of an outsider. (The verb is crop out, outcrop is only used as a noun).
Other disciplines other words.
Incidentally by definition rock cannot "be a larger 'mineral'" that is why we have barite and barytes and fluorite and fluorspar.
Rocks have no intrinsic size, shape or fabric they just are (like us, stardust and golden).

I realised recently that the saddest words in any song are in the verse Of Ms Mitchell where she dreams that the B52s turn into butterflies 'above our nation'. Hear her sing the song and not cry and your heart is made of ROCK.

So long ago.

The parody
"I came across a child of Cork
He was vomiting in the road
He was throwing up his load
And this he told me

I'm going down to Kilburn Park
Going to join McAlpines' band
Going to desecrate some land....
etc etc.
is wonderful and equally dated.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Another word that might be used in this context is "mythologisation" -- a somewhat cumbersome word, but it does describe rather accurately the process which has involved, over the years, HH Thomas, Richard Atkinson, Mike Parker Pearson and a great many others who should know better. Only the latter, of course, has applied this process to Rhosyfelin, building in a specific location to the more general bluestone myth promoted by the others. Wainwright and Darvill have done the same thing at Carn Meini.

Myris of Alexandria said...

In geology everything is rock including sands and gravels –they are just unconsolidated rocks.
There are no ‘stones’ that is a layman’s term. Classically on field trips ask the leader what is this stone (usually waterworn brick) and the standard reply is this is a piece of impertinence.
It is like reading “the granite outcrops (intransitive verb) at Carn Brica and is underlain by” is a clear sign of an amateur –the verb is to crop out.
The “granite outcrops at Carn Brica are purple and taste divine” is geologically correct if probably an alternative fact.
By definition minerals cannot be rock (pace, monominerallic rocks, but then the suffix ite is added to show that a rock is being discussed so an epidotite is a rock made solely of the mineral (group) epidote, peridotite and rock made solely of olivine, quartzite etc etc . It is why we have fluorite and fluorspar and barite and barites/barytes.
So stones can be whatever you like just don’t think you are being geological about it. You can even grow a pair.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Dear Dr Denke
How are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Good to know you are still active amongst the toilers of the Druidical Palins (sic) Plains. Exile is an awful punishment.

("Palins" an example of 'typographical found art' accidental Freudian typos).

Thank you for the link. I read it with great pleasure.
What a magnificent, uplifting piece of writing; it surely deserves as wide an audience as is possible. Are there anymore?


Sorry for repeated posts folks (Either Brain or I are entering stage 5 Alzheimer's or both of us, or I thought I had not posted the first successfully. Stage 6 is when I believe in the great Eastward flowing ice-sheet

More seriously is erratic chasing too Victorian for Modern tastes I am thinking Leinster granite tracking? Is the Dev sst in Pembroke erratics Welsh or Irish?

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, Myris, I see that you have achieved a state of enlightenment in that you are now referring to me as "Brain" instead of Brian.......

Such wisdom is thankfully not given to everybody.

Peter Dunn said...

No Myris No! we can get back to the garden, in 1969-70 we were stardust we were golden and when I listen to JM or CSNY I still feel we can be.
But my heart is not of rock Birds on After the Gold Rush or Springsteen’s The River always get me.
Never mind all that rocky stony mineraly stuff as the BDDDB once sang “I’m bored”.....with talk of Stonehenge, l drove passed it the other day it was small, grey and unimpressive, I did think that my painting was better than the original (big headed and controversial). Let’ talk of Shostakovich as mentioned here occasionally or Mahler or Bruckner, symphonies huge, expansive, monumental, ba humbug to a few old stones.
And that video boring or what, and which pesky Welshman moved St Davids from one sticky out bit of West Wales to another or was it Merlin or the giants. But there were giants I saw them, they played rugby for Llangwm and Merlin used to laugh at me from behind the bushes as I cycled home from Scolton at night when the moon was full and now I think I live in that loony triangle/box thing in the video.
Spooky init or as with those posts just Deja Vu.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Brian you seek enlightenment Little Grasshopper.
This is the character for The Lord Buddha.
The term "Fo" or "Fu" may be transliterations to the words 佛 (pinyin: fó) or 福 (pinyin: fú), which means "Buddha" or "prosperity" in Chinese, respectively.

My love for puns is well known, if not universally loved. I even like to nose-out palindromic ones full of zen-nez.

So here is my latest sino-anglo-french effort.
Were The Lord Buddha to have fathered illgitimate children would that have created an historical Fo Pa.?

In ‘omage to the well-known koan. "Do dogs have the Buddha-nature"?
Pekingese Dogs are known as the Dogs of Fo. My two are certainly far from enlightened, they are greedy, noisy and just wonderful.
Myris of Xanadu

Garry Denke said...

Dr. Garry Whilhelm Denke died in 1699.

MoA said... "the list is incomplete"

What digs are missing? Thank you.
24 January 2017 at 20:35

Are there anymore?

Steve Potter said...

Oh dear. Clearly they've been putting something in the tea at the Alexandria Home for the Hard of Thinking, again.

Phil Morgan said...

All this talk of rock stuff brought to mind a little known fact -----

In days of stone, of flint, of bone,
Before electric kettles.
They wiped their arse,
In leaves and grass,
While cursing at the nettles.

(What majestic poetry.)

BRIAN JOHN said...

Very moving poetry. What a cultural lot we are on this blog.......

Peter Dunn said...

Did Benjamin Britten set this for piano and Peter Pears.

Peter Dunn said...

I am still bored, but the statement quoted above on Craig RyF is not good, there should be qualifying of details, there is no proto Stonehenge monument (yet) and therefore no date of 3400 BC. Inverted u-shaped for the Sarsens is a new one for me, however the evidence from tooth enamel shows that the Boscombe bowmen may have come from Pembrokeshire or I think the Lake District, but leave Geoffrey and Merlin out of it.
I forgot yesterday from the vid that Pembrokeshire can be counted as part of Ireland, it can no doubt be moved about by magical powers.

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah pianos and Percy Grainger no wonder they put dust sheets to cover up the legs.

An interesting point, culturally for centuries Pembroke was Ireland outremer.
The Pembrokeshire volume 1 is a splendid read. Almost no eastern English influence until the Normans, rare AS raids (Pont Saison no less) and a bit of Roman road building and throwing their money about.
If you want to know what masters Darvill and Wainwright have been doing on the blessed hills the Prehistoric chapter is a good summary. Less useful if you wish to know what the MPP gang have achieved.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Quite so. Virtually no trace of cultural connections between Pembrokeshire and central and eastern England until long after the Bronze Age. All the connections were between Pembrokeshire and the Atlantic fringe. That will be one of the main points in my review of the book -- or at least the prehistoric part of it. It was very noticeable from the text. Interesting that you picked up on this point too, Myris....... another kick in the teeth for the human transport thesis.