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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Swanlake Neolithic Bluestone Quarry?

It has been announced today, following a reconnaissance expedition to Swanlake Bay on the south Pembrokeshire coast, that Professor Dafydd ap Gruffydd ap Ifan ("call me Dai") has discovered what may be the first Neolithic bluestone quarry in south Pembrokeshire.  The precise location must be a closely-kept secret until Dai has sold the film rights to the National Geographic TV Channel.  From what we know about quarrying techniques from the meticulous work of the archaeologists at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog, virtually all of the key engineering features are present in this case.

The centre of attention must be the massive proto-orthostat of Devonian sandstone which we see left centre in the photo;  this was clearly intended for Stonehenge but was somehow left behind. It weighs about six tonnes.  It appears that when the Neolithic argonauts went sailing past on their rafts, on their way to the Bristol Channel, the locals flagged them down and offered them the stone at what they thought was a very reasonable price.  However, the Head of Acquisitions was not interested, having already obtained his quota.  So the locals chucked a few stones at him and his mates and sent them on their way.

Anyway, enough of archaeological narratives, and back to the evidence.  If you look carefully at the photo (click to enlarge) you can see the man-made pedestal of supporting rocks beneath the proto-orthostat, the threshold stone, the "railway tracks" used to facilitate extraction of the target orthostat, the slabs fractured and scratched by the movement of earlier stones dragged over them, the revetment and loading bay at the base of the photo, the chipping floor, and traces of the quarrying face at the top of the photo.  There is a vast amount of quarrying waste all around the proto-orthostat, suggesting continuous quarrying activity over many centuries.  Just off the photo is a clearly marked  trackway used to transport the stones across the beach towards the beached loading vessels.  In the bottom right corner of the photo clearly visible is the picnic table where the quarry workers ate their lunch between shifts.

We know that the Altar Stone came from the Devonian sandstones of South Wales.  Might it have come from this quarry?  The proto-orthostat in this photo looks remarkably similar.

We now await the arrival of the geologists at this site, confident in the knowledge that they will be able to provenance certain sandstone fragments and orthostats at Stonehenge to within a few square metres of the centre of this photograph.

 Speaking to Botswana Radio early this morning, Prof Dai said:  "This find is the culmination of a life's work.  We really have found the Chipping Sodbury of Neolithic Quarries. This will do wonders for my bank balance."

1 comment:

TonyH said...

Wow, Jeeves, tally ho! Westward Ho! (and don't spare the horses)