So what was discovered? Not very much, by all accounts.
I have some reports on Prof MPP's annual lecture at the Bluestone Brewery -- which is traditionally the occasion on which great announcements are made. The talk was on 14th September, just before the end of the dig -- so the main findings were certainly clear by then. Some of the locals who have attended the Brewery talks in the past did not attend this year, partly because of Covid-related fears about social distancing etc and partly because they have heard it all before, several times. I think a sort of bluestone fatigue has set in, and that appalling Alice Roberts TV documentary has also convinced many people that there is far too much speculation going on, backed up by too few facts.
Reports from those who did attend the talk suggest that the whole thing was very low-key, with no major announcements of exciting finds. So the presence of the "lost circle" was not confirmed by the "discovery" of new sockets or stone holes, in spite of a very extensive search. In fact the "lost circle" promotion was much more muted this time round, with a change in the language used. The certainty of past lectures was replaced with phrases like "my best guess is...." and "we think it's possible that...." One listener was quite surprised that there seemed to be an acceptance that the "lost circle" was an OPINION rather than an established fact. Interesting........ and about time too....... And the suggestion now seems to be that the mooted stone circle was never actually completed, let alone dismantled and carted off to Stonehenge.
The slight "embankment" with recumbent stones, to the north of the putative stone circle circumference, has by the look of it turned out to be entirely natural.
The embanked circle near Gernos-fach seems to be difficult to interpret, but it looks as if it is BronzeAge, as many of us have suggested -- and so it probably has nothing to do with either the Neolithic or Stonehenge.
My contacts don't recall anything interesting being said about the attempts to find standing stone sockets showing some sort of alignment with the rising sun on the summer solstice. So it looks as if the diggers have drawn a blank there too.
The only thing that seems to have sparked a murmur of interest appears to have been the "discovery" of ye olde oak tree somewhere near the centre of the putative lost giant circle. That's where there was an excavation c 8m x 8m. Apparently a pit was found that seems to have been related to the rootstock of a large oak tree. No stone socket and no post hole that might have been used with a rope for marking out the circumference. So the latest theory seems to be that the builders of the circle (if there ever was one, or part of one) were tree worshippers who used a great oak tree as a focal point of their religious ceremonies or rituals and who wanted to place standing stones around it as a sort of homage. Ah -- the predecessors of the druids! The story gets ever more wacky.
Of course, as I have said on more than one occasion, the so-called stone sockets (ten of them, according to MPP) are so shallow and so irregular that they are best interpreted as natural hollows in a rough till surface -- or possibly as the locations of tree roots in the past. Mike Pitts and Tim Darvill seem to agree with me. That interpretation would not be at all surprising, since this area was recorded in the Middle Ages as a deer park -- and that means it was densely wooded. MPP wants us to believe that Waun Mawn was a past peat bog, covered with blanket peat -- but I don't believe that the evidence supports that, and it is much more likely that it was covered by woodland during much of the Holocene, with a later reversion to the dry acid heath vegetation that we see today.
There is a reasonable chance that the great oak tree (or maybe little oak tree?) that was rooted in this auspicious position has nothing at all to do with the Neolithic, but was growing there 4,000 years later, providing shelter for jolly huntsmen at the pleasure of one of the local Welsh princes or Norman barons. All will be revealed when the radiocarbon dates and pollen analyses are available for scrutiny.
We assume that all the geological sampling, taking of peat cores for pollen analyses etc all went according to plan -- and will bring forth results that are of interest. But there is something pathetic about the pretence by the MPP team that they are still hunting for more bluestone quarries, and one can only hope that in future they will use their time and cash resources more constructively.
All in all, much ado about nothing.
PS. Sorry if any of the above proves to be inaccurate -- but my correspondents were not as attentive as they might have been in the past...... If anybody reading this wants to correct me, please send in your comments and I will publish them.