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Tuesday 15 February 2022

More Waun Mawn sceptics

It's interesting to discover that in spite of the vast publicity for the "Lost Circle" hypothesis over the last 12 months or so, there is also considerable scepticism in archaeological circles about some of the wilder claims coming from the MPP research team.  Below I repeat some comments from a post from about a year ago:

It's interesting that there is some feedback from Prof Tim Darvill on the new work: “They’ve got a ragbag of stones and I’m rather sceptical of it being a stone circle,” says Tim Darvill at Bournemouth University, UK, who has carried out many studies of Stonehenge.

Read more:

On another site:

"There’s reason to be skeptical about the new study",  says archaeologist Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University in Poole, England. “Whether the discoveries at Waun Mawn are really the remains of a stone circle needs further work, including more extensive excavations to sample a wider area,” he says.

There are several problems with the new report, says Darvill. Known stone circles typically consist of evenly spaced stones, whereas the four stones discovered at Waun Mawn are irregularly spaced. Most large stone circles in western England and Wales have clearly defined entrances, but it’s not clear that the proposed entryway at Waun Mawn served that purpose. And some earthen sockets at the Welsh site might have been created by farmers clearing fields.

I don't often agree with Tim but on this we are as one........  well, not quite, because I am not sure there ever were "fields" at this particular site.  There was a deer park at one time -- that is well known.  And yes, there is reason to think -- from other parts of the moorland -- that stones were positioned here and there, and then taken away and destroyed or re-positioned.  The re-use or refashioning of stone settings must have been a very widespread practice.

Then we have Mike Pitts's intervention, also about a year ago, on the matter of the so-called sockets.

Essentially, what he was arguing (on Twitter, of all places) was that the "stone pits" at Waun Mawn were far too shallow and insubstantial to have ever held standing bluestones big enough or desirable enough to have been shipped off to Stonehenge.  What he is suggesting is that if there ever were standing stones here, they were small and located in very shallow pits, which must have made them very unstable and liable to falling over -- and of course removal and destruction.

I can see the merits in that line of thinking, but having examined most of the "sockets" at Waun Mawn, I think most of them, if not all, are simply natural depressions in the undulating till surface, exaggerated or enlarged, consciously or unconsciously, by the diggers with their trowels.

From archaeology enthusiasts Kate and Corwen: ".....looking at the dig plan, it is clear MPP’s team only dug where they wanted to find things, no control digs, all based on a very dubious ‘arc’ (described by Tim Darvill as a ragtag bunch of stones unlikely to be a circle). MPP discarded those dates that didn’t fit the hypothesis, the dates at Carn Goedog range from 7000BC to 1940 AD, and yet only the dates that support his hypothesis were emphasised. Choosing four out of 25 strontium isotope results from Stonehenge to back up some theory of migration or connection, when those strontium results could apply to many areas across the UK. Its a mountain of speculation, selected evidence, fantasy and assumption. He might be right, but this is not the scientific method!"

As we have noted already on this blog, nothing that came out of the 2021 excavation at Waun Mawn has done anything to enhance the "lost circle" hypothesis, which remains as fanciful and fantastical as ever.

Rumour has it that there is at least one publication on the way from at least one archaeologist which will demonstrate extreme scepticism about all this lost circle business.

1 comment:

Tony Hinchliffe said...

Mike Pitts' sceptical views were not only stated on Twitter. He made them also within British Archaeology magazine, which he also edits.