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Saturday 5 May 2018

Waun Mawn and the invisible dolerites

Location map (acknowledgement RFF Grants Program) showing Waun Mawn in relation to proposed spotted dolerite, dolerite and rhyolite quarries.  The "quarries" at Rhosyfelin and Carn Goedog are assumed to have supplied the orthostats for the putative stone circle at Waun Mawn.

Thanks to Tony for discovering this publication, from the Rust Family Foundation (Archaeology Grants Program) Ref RFF-2017-23:

A grant for the 2018 fieldwork programme has been awarded (RFF-2018-65) following the 2017 grant.

The 2017 report by Prof MPP gives, for the first time, some details about what has been discovered thus far at Pensarn and Waun Mawn -- presumably as required by the funders in exchange for grants already made.  There's quite a bit here to report and comment on, but the thing that strikes one most forcibly is the apparent complete lack of knowledge of the local geology, on the part of the archaeologists involved in the work at Waun Mawn. 

Here is a quote from the Report, concerning the one standing stone and three recumbent stones at Waun Mawn, on the suggested circumference of the stone circle:

The four stones still present are likely to be of dolerite, indicating that their source lies to the east. The dolerite lithology (spotted/unspotted still being investigated), the proximity of four of Stonehenge’s bluestone sources eastwards along the ridge and within the Nevern river catchment below make Waun Mawn a very promising candidate for the former location of Stonehenge’s bluestones prior to their transport to Salisbury Plain to form Stonehenge’s first stage in 3020-2880 BC.

This is quite extraordinary.  Mike appears to be suggesting here that rhyolite orthostats came from Rhosyfelin, that spotted dolerite orthostats came from Carn Goedog, that unspotted dolerite orthostats came from Cerrig Marchogion, and that sandstone orthoststs came from near Penygroes. (That's a new one!   Presumably one has to find an explanation for those Lower Palaeozoic sandstone fragments at Stonehenge.........)

But what strikes me most of all is the apparent lack of any basic appreciation of the local geological map.  Have the archaeologists had any discussions with the geologists on any of this?   Why on earth does MPP pretend that the dolerite source for any Waun Mawn orthostats has to lie to the east?  A simple look at the Geology map would have shown that there are dolerite outcrops in all compass directions from Waun Mawn.  Here is an annotated extract from the map:

As I have pointed out in other posts, there is a dolerite "blockfield" on Waun Mawn, just a stone's throw from the proposed stone circle location, with bedrock outcrops all over the place........

The local dolerites appear to be unspotted, just like those in the four "orthostats" which one can examine on the circle circumference.  I'm pretty certain that they are all local,  used more or less where found.

If the local dolerite outcrops went unnoticed by the archaeologists last September, it is even more extraordinary that they should have missed the thousands of dolerite blocks  littering the landscape within a kilometre or so of the "stone circle" site.  They are abundant, resting on the ground surface and sticking out of the turf, at Tafarn y Bwlch,  west of Cnwc yr Hydd, and at Gernos-fawr.  I cannot believe that the archaeologists have failed to spot any of these boulders, pillars and slabs lying about very conveniently, ready to be picked up............. or perhaps they are invisible to all but geomorphologists?

Are the archaeologists really so obsessed with quarrying that they believe the builders of a stone circle at Waun Mawn would have ignored all the materials littered around them, and would have gone to Carn Goedog, 5 km away, just to gather up the stones that they needed?   How much further do we have to stretch the bounds of credibility? 

Dolerites galore -- all within 1 km of the "stone circle" site.  They are mostly recumbent.   Many of them are perfectly fine for use as standing stones.  Are they all invisible to archaeologists?  More to the point, were they also invisible to our Bronze Age ancestors?



TonyH said...

I'm sure Rob Ixer or Richard Bevins would have put the archaeologists on the right track as to the more immediate, very local sources of dolerite, had they been invited to participate in the fieldwork and/or map research! The archaeologists have scored a clear 'own goal'. Oh dear.

AG said...

Brian! what is your view as to why the builders of "Waun Maun" used Dolerite from the East, rather than the Dolerite Waun Maun appears to be sat on? Is this ceremonial? or did they just derive simple pleasure from hauling heavy weights long distances? Perhaps they were after the same endorphin rush that modern weightlifters get today? Was "Waun Maun" a Neolithic Gym?

I think we should be told!

BRIAN JOHN said...

I dare say the chaps are working on the narrative as we speak. All will no doubt be revealed......

Seriously though. somebody from the team must have looked at the geological map in order to discover that there are outcrops of Upper Ordovican sandstone (Ashgill -- Upper Nantmel Mudstone Formation -- sandstone beds) outcropping near Penygroes, Eglwyswrw and towards Crymych, in order to explain why there may be Lower Palaeozoic sandstone fragments at Stonehenge. Since they obviously scrutinised the map in some detail, what a strange thing it is that they failed to notice all those dolerite intrusions on Waun Mawn!! Perhaps the persons responsible for this research were all colour-blind? Lesson: colour blind people should not try to interpret colourful geological maps.........

BRIAN JOHN said...

Here are the details about the Nantmel Mudstone Formation:

TonyH said...

Whilst not in any way wishing to draw parallels between,say, Libya's Colonel Gadafi and avuncular, jokey Professor Michael Parker Pearson of UCL and the UK, I just fret lest he allows his all - prevailing Ruling Hypothesis to become a Tyrant in Preseli's own back yard. Beware, Mike, don't use a hardwood ruler, far better to use a flexible, plastic one capable of accommodating a few new - to - you alternative factors for your hypothesis.

Jon Morris said...

“I dare say the chaps are working on the narrative as we speak. All will no doubt be revealed..”

As noted, there seem to be lots of suitable similar stone in that area, so this release appears at first sight to be an “own goal”. However, there already is an obvious narrative spelt out in one of the very recent publicity releases from the team: That two monuments existed.

If that's the narrative they end up going with, then the more important monument of the narrative could be the one that special stone was needed for: So if nothing is found to link Waun Maun with the “quarries”, the narrative could provide the explanation that there would be no need for any sort of quarried stone at the secondary monument (if Waun Maun is that secondary monument).

However, that would leave a real quandry: No proof of a “proto stonehenge” (or anything else much) without the companion site of the narrative: That could leave the team quite vulnerable to charges of making stuff up.