Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my new book called "The Stonehenge Bluestones" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Out with the fairies on the Great Stone Road

More press coverage of the latest twist in the bluestone transport narrative.  No matter how deeply
you dig, you will find no new evidence here.  It simply appears that the geologists Ixer and Bevins were determined to say something new, for reasons that are unclear.......... could a new book on the bluestones have had anything to do with it?

In the wonderful map showing the “great stone road” and the other “bluestone route” options, there is not a scrap of evidence in support of any of them, as I have pointed out in my book.  The thesis seems
to be this:  glacial transport was impossible, therefore the stones were manhandled across country or across the sea, therefore there must have been a route, and our route might just be a better one than anybody else’s.........

The route speculators have been playing games ever since HH Thomas started the craze in 1921 — playing on the gullibility of the public and the naivety of the media.  Nothing, apparently, changes....... and those who play the route game are as cynical as ever.

The only thing that is “new” is the map of the Senni Beds reproduced in the Antiquity article.  But there is nothing in that map or in any associated research to point to Hay on Wye as the source area for the Altar Stone or for any other bits of debitage at Stonehenge. Until the geologists have more evidence to give us about the sandstone monoliths and debitage, and about the precise characteristics of the Senni Beds, why don’t they just keep quiet?


TonyH said...

Hay - on - Wye is suggested here as a possible location for the provenance of the Altar Stone. Wasn't that where Michael Parker Pearson unveiled one of his New Ideas to a gasping yet passive middle class audience of book - lovers a few years back?

Perhaps Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins are trying to line up a Radio 4 interview with Mariella Frostrup??

Or are Richard B and Rob I merely looking to Follow the Yellow Brick Road?

TonyH said...

At least one of these two geologists, Rob Ixer, acts as a Reviewer of some fairly outlandish books for the magazine Fortean Times. You just need to put into your Search Engine Rob Ixer and Fortean Times.

Someone's enjoying playing games with (without) respect to Bluestones, their provenance, and their movement.

TonyH said...

Rumour reliably has it that Messrs Ixer, Bevins, Parker Pearson, old Uncle Tom Cobley & All are trying to get Rhosyfelin Quarry put forward to become a Designated World Heritage Site. Jodrell Bank Observatory, plus Penny Lane & The Cavern, Liverpool, are also seeking designations, although it is understood that the late Sir Kenneth Dodd has submitted a posthumous bid for Knotty Ash on behalf of "all those Diddy people I left behind when I left this mortal coil missus".

BRIAN JOHN said...

I would not be surprised if the quarrymen are seeking to get Rhosyfelin designated as a vastly significant archaeological site. That would sit very easily with their obsessive promotion of the site and their own work and their denial that there are any alternative explanations. They were furious when John Downes took the lead in getting a RIGS designation for the site:

At the time (2014-2015) there was a very determined attempt to obtain Ancient Monument listing from Cadw — and were not best pleased when Cadw had to accept that the weight of evidence they needed was just not there.

TonyH said...

The basic problem with the quarrymen is that they ACTUALLY believe their own hype 100%, and don't countenance ANY room for civilised debate. Just because they have climbed aboard their own Juggernaut, promoted at great expense by various, mostly North American, outfits, they have failed to convert a great many objective thinkers who prefer to be able to weigh up BOTH proponents' arguments.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I don’t think there is the slightest chance of Rhosyfelin being designated as a WH site — the designation is extremely rare. There are only 3 such sites in Wales. After all, Rhosyfelin is not even a designated ancient monument, and it is unlikely ever to become one. That having been said, somebody put a new entry onto Wikipedia on 28 May for Rhosyfelin — stating in very definitive terms that it is a Neolithic bluestone quarry and (naturally enough) giving rather carefully selected citations! So I have jumped in (as is the way with Wikipedia) with a few corrections and additional citations. We shall see what happens next........

Alex Gee said...

There's a lot of cash involved in World Heritage Site designation! Surely we should forgive senior academics a little self aggrandisement? Especially those looking to supplement their meagre pensions? The winter fuel allowance isn't what it was!

Were these roads cobbled with stone mauls from Rhosyfelin?

Who were these road builders?

"As down the Glyn came McAlpine's men
The Bluestones slung behind them.
Twas in y dafarn that they drank the sub,
and up the spike you'll find them!"

(apologies to welsh speakers everywhere)

TonyH said...

Brian, me (and the late Great Sir Kenneth Dodd) both had our tongues firmly in our cheeks and out tickling sticks displayed when we suggested World Heritage Site status for Knotty Ash and Rhosyfelin.

However, Sir Ken definitely is/was a National Treasure (just like Rob Ixer).

It has not gone unnoticed that there is ALSO a prehistoric road, linking, this time, Hay - on - Wye and Mariella Fostrup with Sutton Coldfield and Robert Xavier etc Ixer.

TonyH said...

This "route game", as Brian describes it, is based on the National Geographic principle: if you insert a coloured map into your article, this lends, to the whole piece, an air of authority which the punter laps up.

Sir Kenneth Dodd did the same thing with his famous article ( complete with crayoned Underground Maps) of the Jam Butty Mines. That publication had them gasping with astonishment in Bootle, and even on The Wirral.

BRIAN JOHN said...

I agree with you, Tony, about the decreasing value of maps. We look at maps as geographers — in the belief that a map should be a presentation of the facts, showing the distribution of the things we are interested in. In other words, maps should assist us in drawing conclusions and understanding the World. I had a recent message from Brian Roberts (whom Tony will remember from Durham days) in which he mentioned his sadness that maps nowadays are used for the presentation of theories, not facts — with the objective of making those theories look convincing or even true.

It’s not completely black and white, however — maps are useful in the presentation of theories, where spatial distributions are being considered or proposed following field research or “ground truthing”. That assumes that they are underpinned by a good deal of hard evidence. The problem arises when (as in the case of the “bluestone route maps”) there is no evidence whatsoever to show that they are worth taking seriously.

TonyH said...

It is good to know that Brian Roberts is still actively part of the Geography Department at the University of Durham. I enjoyed his lectures for 2 years whilst there, one year being his Historical Geography Option. I wanted to do a 2nd year of that option, but regrettably there were insufficient students interested.

TonyH said...

Brian, would you mind explaining to us briefly why you think some samples taken at Mill Bay may throw light on the provenace of the Altar Stone? Rob Ixer seems to have said he is keen to examine yyythe samples you sent him. Thanks.