Anyway, last autumn I wrote a letter to the Editor of "Geology Today" about the Ixer and Bevins paper, and said in rather forthright terms that the paper should not have been published, because it chose to maintain the pretence that the "bluestone quarrying" hypothesis was universally accepted. Anyway, the Editor and his colleagues got into quite a tizz and insisted on all sorts of deletes and minor edits, so that the letter ended up as a very mild rebuke. I had to accept the "revised version" in the end, or it would not have been published. The truth of the matter, of course, is that when a defective paper is refereed and accepted and published, and then heavily criticised, it reflects badly not just on the authors of the article but also on the shortcomings of the editorial process used by the journal itself. When a paper has to be retracted, it reflects as badly on the publishing journal as it does on the authors. So retraction is to be avoided at all costs.......
Edited version: Geology Today, 34 (2), March / April 2018
I ąm writing to make a complaint about the feature article by Ixer and Bevins entitled "The Bluestones of Stonehenge", in Geology Today (Vol 33, No 5, Sept - Oct 2017, pp 184-187). I am disappointed that it has found its way into print, since some of its claims are unsubstantiated.
The geology is mostly acceptable, and we can live with some claims that are not actually well supported by the evidence. This is not the place to argue about details. But much more serous is the question of the "bluestone quarrying" issue. This is not the first time that these two
authors have given the impression in the scientific literature that there is clear and undisputed evidence of ancient quarrying / Neolithic working at two Pembrokeshire sites, namely Carn Goedog and Rhosyfelin. In two previous papers published in 2016 they referred to “Neolithic quarry
sites” and to “the Preseli quarries” without making any mention of the fact that in in the previous year two peer-reviewed papers had presented detailed evidence interpreted as showing that such quarries do not exist.
This latest paper, in the pages of Geology Today, has been submitted in spite of the fact that, in my view, the authors have been fully aware, for two years or more, that the “quarrying” evidence presented by Prof Mike Parker Pearson and his team does not withstand detailed scrutiny.
I was one of the authors of the “inconvenient” papers concerned, drawing on extensive knowledge of the Quaternary in West Wales. Detailed sedimentological, stratigraphic and geomorphological evidence was presented to show that all of the so-called "quarrying features" cited by Ixer, Bevins and others are entirely natural, and are fully to be expected in any Quaternary sediment sequence in West Wales where rockfalls are common. None of the cited features are exceptional. Ixer and Bevins are quite aware of the contents of our papers, and have never challenged any of the field evidence which we have presented. It seems to me that they have therefore ignored material which should have been cited, and have presented something as established when it clearly is not.
I should make it clear that this dispute between one group of earth scientists and another relates to the interpretation of field evidence at two sites, collected over a period of five years. It has nothing to do with another ongoing (and vigorous!) argument about how, when and why an assortment of erratic boulders, slabs and pillars found their way from West Wales to Stonehenge.
Dr Brian John
Fig. 15. Carn Goedog, showing perched blocks, ice-moulded surfaces and broken bedrock. Natural, according to some, and a Neolithic quarry, according to others. (Image: Brian John)