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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Tuesday 21 November 2023

Stonehenge in its Landscape -- free online

I have just caught up with the fact that the big (definitive?) volume edited by Ros Cleal et al is now online as a free PDF, available for download. So well done, EH and the Archaeology Data Service.

I refer to it frequently, and I really do like its cool, matter-of-fact approach in which evidence is presented methodically, analysed and assessed as to its importance -- all mercifully free from the hype and hubris that we see all too often in Stonehenge studies........

It's not perfect -- no book ever is -- but since it was published in 1995 nothing has come near it in terms of value for money.  And now it's free!  Enjoy........


This volume represents a detailed discussion of the structural history of Stonehenge, arrived at by the integration of evidence from primary records of excavations carried out between 1901 and 1964. These major campaigns of excavation and recording include those of Prof William Gowland (1901); Lt-Col William Hawley (1919-26); Profs Stuart Piggott and Richard Atkinson with J F Stone (1950, 53-5,56,58 and 64) and some smaller, previously unpublished campaigns as well as more recent, small-scale excavations which are already published. The evidence for the use of the monument from the Middle Neolithic to the present day is discussed in terms of its landscape and social settings. The evidence for the rephasing of the monument, including artefactual and ecofactual assemblages, details of the radiocarbon dating programme, geophysical surveys, transcripts of all available field plans, sections, and stone elevations is presented together with a variety of summary lists, concordances, and a guide to the site archive. A new suite of radiocarbon determinations has been obtained which redefines our understanding of the sequence of construction and use of the monument and augments the surviving archaeological evidence.


Tom Flowers said...

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear.

Cleal's book claims the Altar Stone(80)to be 16 feet long - six imperial inches short of Petrie's six megalithic yards.

An image of Atkinson's 17ft trench with the Altar Stone can be found on page 560 and is described thus...

“Cutting 53: Atkinson, all features plan. Copy of tracing from original site plan."

One must wonder what happened while taking this "trace" since the stone appears parallel to the sides of the trench.

There is, in fact, a difference of one degree between Stone 80 and Atkinson's trench, and whilst this is a small amount, it would show up.

So, the conclusion has to be that instead of presenting us with the original plan, as the book should, someone lifted the stone out of context by tracing and plonking it back off angle.

And please keep me from starting on the uselessly small and inaccurate scales adopted by archaeologists.

It may be 16ft long now, but that differs from what it was in 1880, thanks partly to Petrie for popularising it and souvenir hunters etc who hired mallets and chisels to chip pieces off each end.

BRIAN JOHN said...

OK -- there are inaccuracies, and I have found some too. But on balance I still like the book!

Jon said...

Agree with this: cost about £50 about 10 years ago and still the best value. The only disadvantage of the free version is that the images have been coarsely digitised: there would be good reasons for doing this, but it means that the original remains good value (even at more than £50)

Tom Flowers said...

I look forward to the day I can sell it. Unfortunately, its value of £200 will likely plummet, thanks to said PDF.