The other day I had a very long conversation with Laura Geggel from Live Science in the USA, as a result of which she has now published a piece on the web:
Well, it's more carefully written than the piece in the Daily Mail! As one might expect with science journalists, they get some things right and some things wrong, and then, having tried to present the views of the main protagonist (in this case, me) they have to balance it with the views of some outraged archaeologists. So she has spoken to Josh Pollard (who is of course a leading proponent of Neolithic quarrying) and Barney Harris from UCL, who was involved in that lovely little stone-hauling experiment in a London Park, and they have given her all the reasons why glacial transport was impossible.
It will be a waste of time to get too involved in analysing everything that Pollard and Harris are reported as having said, but here are a few thoughts:
1. Pollard says that there are no moraines with big chunks of bluestone in them on Salisbury Plain. I have never claimed that there are -- and indeed it would be vanishingly unlikely that depositional landforms with a strong surface expression could have survived half a million years of denudation. Neither he nor I know whether there are patches of denuded or degraded till on Salisbury Plain, from which larger erratics (and maybe smaller ones too) have been collected.
2. Pollard claims that there are artifacts including stone tools at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog which indicate that quarrying took place there. Which stone tools? Which artefacts? He knows perfectly well that all of their "evidence" has been examined and disputed.
3. Are the bluestones pillar-like blocks, as Pollard claims? Some of them are, but the great majority are not. He says that smaller rounded boulders would be more likely to come from moraine, while pretending to be ignorant of the fact that most of the 43 bluestones are indeed smaller, rounded, faceted and heavily abraded. In other words, they are typical glacial erratics.
4. Yes, dolerite is not very likely to preserve striations, but are rhyolites and sandstones more likely to hold striations if transported by ice? Maybe, but can somebody please show me a rhyolite or sandstone monolith at Stonehenge that does not carry striations?
5. "I would think [the rhyolite] would just disintegrate, to be honest, if it was in glacial deposits," said Josh. Well, since there are no rhyolite monoliths at Stonehenge, maybe that is exactly what happened to them.