We have done two previous posts on the contents of the big paper by Field et al on the Stonehenge stones:
David Field, Hugo Anderson-Whymark, Neil Linford, Martyn Barber, Mark Bowden, Paul Linford, Peter Topping, , Marcus Abbott, Paul Bryan, Deborah Cunliffe, Caroline Hardie, Louise Martin, Andy Payne, Trevor Pearson, Fiona Small, Nicky Smith, Sharon Soutar and Helen Winton (2015). Analytical Surveys of Stonehenge and its Environs, 2009–2013:
Part 2 – the Stones.
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 81, pp 125-148
Non-invasive survey in the Stonehenge ‘Triangle’, Amesbury, Wiltshire, has highlighted a number of features that have a significant bearing on the interpretation of the site. Geophysical anomalies may signal the position of buried stones adding to the possibility of former stone arrangements, while laser scanning has provided detail on the manner in which the stones have been dressed; some subsequently carved with axe and dagger symbols. The probability that a lintelled bluestone trilithon formed an entrance in the north-east is signposted. This work has added detail that allows discussion on the question of whether the sarsen circle was a completed structure, although it is by no means conclusive in this respect. Instead, it is suggested that it was built as a façade, with other parts of the circuit added and with an entrance in the south.
Like Petrie (1880), E. H. Stone (1924, 5, 73) commented that an ‘examination of the stones at Stonehenge would appear to show that the builders were unable to obtain sufficient material of suitable quality and of large enough size to properly fulfil their requirements’, while Atkinson could only conclude that the builders ‘were hard put to find sufficient blocks of the requisite size to complete the circle’ (Atkinson 1979, 38). ........... Implicit in this is that the north-east sector was constructed first and the south-west built almost as an afterthought, or at least added subsequently.
Taken together, there is little evidence to support the notion of a circle completed to a ‘planned norm’. Instead, like many chambered tombs, there appears to have been a conspicuous façade which was given a considerable degree of structural prominence (Tilley 2007, 200–1). Elsewhere there is irregularity and variability, but it is this very uncertainty that may provide insight into the processes involved at the site.
They also say: It may even be that the newly discovered mound within the stone settings (Field et al. 2014) provided a focus for the earliest activity here. Whether natural or artificial, situated in the south-east quadrant of the stone settings it provides a new research focus and invites investigation into origins, site development, and the search for earlier arrangements – perhaps even single monoliths such as the menhir-like Stone 16 or alignments incorporating the Altar, Slaughter, and Heelstone, as much as the nature of use of the major stone settings.
Ever so gently, they conclude: .........it is acknowledged that some perceptions of the monument have become fixed in the public imagination largely as a result of Atkinson’s extensive media work during the 1950s and 1960s and the countless magazine articles that it spawned.