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....
To order, click

Tuesday 25 July 2023

The Newall Boulder -- a very erratic development

May God save us from erratic experts and erratic opinions......

Things are getting dirty out there. The forces of darkness are so determined that the words " glacial erratic" and "Stonehenge" should never be mentioned in the same sentence that they have produced a very strange paper on the Newall Boulder, designed to refute any suggestion that glacier ice may at some stage have approached Salisbury Plain. The paper is written by an interesting collection of bedfellows -- Bevins, Ixer, Pearce, Scourse and Daw -- and it is so filled with dodgy assumptions and speculations that I shall take great pleasure in scrutinising it in more detail in another post. I do not for a moment accept that the paper is authoritative, scientifically sound or correct in its conclusions.

The paper is accompanied by two quite bizarre posts by Tim Daw on his blog site, designed to rubbish a couple of my posts on this blog about the Newall Boulder. No point in complaining -- in one of my posts I had a go at the very strange article published by Ixer, Bevins, Pearce and Dawson in 2022 in "Current Archaeology" and concluded that it was essentially worthless. So I have to accept incoming fire and deal with it as appropriate. Maybe Tim sees himself as the feisty defender of the establishment.......but at least he acknowledges my existence, which is something to be grateful for.

Rob Ixer, Richard Bevins, Nick Pearce, and David Dawson.
Victorian gifts: new insights into the Stonehenge bluestones

The new paper:
Lithological description and provenancing of a collection of bluestones from excavations at Stonehenge by William Hawley in 1924 with implications for the human versus ice transport debate of the monument's bluestone megaliths. Geoarchaeology 2023: 1-15

Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Nick Pearce, James Scourse, Tim Daw

(You may find that it is behind a paywall.)

In his blog Tim says: "It might be thought unkind to remind people of the erroneous opinions that have been published on Newall's Boulder now the full scientific analysis is available and any suggestion it is a glacial erratic dismissed. But I think a sample of them should be archived. We should see them as the grit in the oyster, worthless irritants except when they help pearls to be produced.". Stirring stuff indeed -- "erroneous opinions", "worthless irritants" and so forth.

I'm sure Tim is trying to be helpful by "archiving" some of my work, but he need not have bothered.  The National Library of Wales archives the full blog already, on the grounds that it has immense value as a repository for hard information about Stonehenge and the events and processes of the Ice Age.

 And the suggestion that the new paper contains a full scientific analysis and that it is therefore correct is of course bizarre.  If every published scientific paper is "correct" then there is no need for science.  The mentioned study is a useful scientific analysis, and it will no doubt by followed by others which will question its observations and conclusions.

In a second post Tim goes on at some length about the shape of the Newall boulder, and I do not have a clue what he is tallking about. Then he says that I have interpreted slickenside traces as glacial striations, demonstrating again that he does not understand -- or has not even bothered to read -- the points I have made in previous posts about these features.

With friends like Tim, who needs enemies?

I am away in Sweden at the moment, with no access to my raw materials, but as soon as I get home I will deal with the matter in hand. Watch this space.........