Another push today from EH on the bluestone haulage story, coinciding with another piece of wonderful "experimental archaeology" showing that if lots of people do the pulling, a large lump of stone can be gauled across a nice flat lawn. One does get a bit weary of all this repetition, but I suppose that every now and the EH needs a Stonehenge headline in the media. This time the pretext is the little experiment, and also the line (not at all new) that the pulling of the stones was more important than the building of the monument. This is a standard MPP line.........
"English Heritage also thinks people may have gone on a kind of celebration pilgrimage to help construct the monument. " So now we have the "bluestone pilgrimage"story, involving either people from SalisburyPlain going off the Pembrokeshire to fetch their stones, or Pembrokeshire pilgrims, stone-laden, going on their own pilgrimage and heading east. Stone bearing pilgrims -- nice idea, and east to market! It's all about marketing.......
But why does Susan Greaney -- and EH -- find it impossible to even mention that there is a debate going on? And why does she not admit that there is still no evidence for the human transport of the stones, a hundred years after the idea was first mooted? This peddling of "certainty" where there is none is bad science, and EH should not be involved in it.
It's also quite intriguing that the long-distance transport of sarsens is also accepted as fact by "most archaeologists) -- in spite of the fact that in the paper reviewed recently David Field and many others clearly have serious doubts about whether they really did come from the Marlborough Downs. Crossed lines somewhere?
Ironically, this latest press release comes on the same day as I have received an order for another 100 copies of "The Bluestone Enigma"for the Stonehenge Visitor Centre -- so Mr and Mrs Public are obviously reading it in good numbers, and asking questions about the reliability or otherwise of the EH take on things. It's to the eternal credit of EH that it does at least have my subversive tome on sale!
Building Stonehenge 'may have been ceremonial celebration'Celebrating the building of Stonehenge may have been as important to Neolithic people as worshipping there
The circle in Wiltshire was built more than 4,000 years ago using bluestones from south Wales - a decision which has long baffled experts.
Susan Greaney, from English Heritage, said they now believed that Neolithic people did not want to make "things as easy and quick as possible".
Building the monument was as important as "its final intended use," she added.
Experts have tried to discover why the people who built Stonehenge chose to use some stones from the Preseli Hills, about 155 miles (250km) away.
The stones were probably transported via water networks and hauled over land, using a huge amount of labour over the long and difficult journey.
Experts now believe the construction of the monument was just as important to Neolithic people as worshipping in it.
"In contemporary Western culture, we are always striving to make things as easy and quick as possible, but we believe that for the builders of Stonehenge this may not have been the case," said Ms Greaney.
English Heritage also thinks people may have gone on a kind of celebration pilgrimage to help construct the monument. The new theory follows the discovery of a feasting site at nearby Durrington Walls settlement, which attracted people from all over the country to help build Stonehenge.
Historians think holding ceremonial feasts close to the Stonehenge site to celebrate the build "was potentially a powerful tool in demonstrating the strength of the community to outsiders".
English Heritage believe this theory is backed up by a photograph taken during a stone-pulling ceremony on the island of Nias, Indonesia, in 1915.
It shows people in ceremonial dress "revelling in the seemingly arduous task of moving enormous monoliths by hand, taking part in feasts and associated dances".
Ms Greaney added: "As soon as you abandon modern preconceptions which assume Neolithic people would have sought the most efficient way of building Stonehenge, questions like why the bluestones were brought from so far away - the Preseli Hills of south Wales - don't seem quite so perplexing."
In order to test the celebration theory, English Heritage will begin moving a replica stone on Friday using teams of volunteers in an "experiential archaeology" project.
In a statement it said the aim was to see how Neolithic people may have cooperated to build the monument and suggests "visitors abandon 21st-century thinking to understand how the monument was built".
The first monument at Stonehenge was a circular earthwork enclosure with a ring of 56 timber or stone posts, built in about 3000BC.
This was replaced in about 2500BC with sarsen stones and smaller bluestones.
Most archaeologists believe the sarsen stones were brought from the Marlborough Downs, 20 miles (32km) away. The sarsens weigh on average 25 tonnes, with the largest stone, the Heel Stone, weighing about 30 tonnes.
The smaller bluestone came from the Preseli Hills, 155 miles (250km) away in south-west Wales. The stones, which weigh between two and five tonnes each, were probably carried via water networks and hauled over land.
Source: English Heritage