Internet Archaeology, Issue 26 (2009). Implement Petrology theme
URL: http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue26/6/4.html May 27 2009
Beyond the Stonehenge Landscape there are pieces of bluestone scattered across central southern England and these are often assumed to have come direct from the Preseli Hills as part of the 'axe-trade'. In fact most can be more economically explained as souvenirs from the break-up of Stonehenge. The large fragment found by William Cunnington inside the long barrow known as Boles Barrow some 19km to the north-west of Stonehenge is often cited as evidence for the early arrival of spotted dolerite in Wiltshire. As I have argued elsewhere, however, this piece most likely lay within a deliberate blocking deposit within the chamber, a practice common across Britain in the late third millennium cal BC and wholly consistent with the early destruction of Stonehenge (Darvill 2006, 126). The same might apply to the fragment of Group XIII stone in the upper fill of Middle Ditch segment IB at Windmill Hill, which was described by Isobel Smith as 'difficult to interpret as part of an axe' (1979, 19; see also Smith 1965, 114 and Whittle et al. 1999, 340). A piece of rhyolite similar to that in the Bluestone Circle at Stonehenge was found on the top of Silbury Hill during excavations in 1969 (Atkinson 1970, 314; Whittle 1997, 21), and a piece of spotted dolerite found near the West Kennet long barrow (Williams-Thorpe et al. 2004, 373) was perhaps lost en route to the ceremonies that must have accompanied the filling of the chamber at this well-known barrow.