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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Thursday 6 June 2024

Lost in Salisbury Museum -- the Newall boulder emerges into the sun

At last, my article about the Newall boulder (examined in June 2022 when Tony and I paid a visit to Salisbury Museum) has been published in the international Quaternary Science Journal.  It was submitted a year ago, and has been through a rigorous and extended peer review process in which the reviewers were given the chance to check over and approve my responses to their comments.  Frustrating, but ultimately rewarding since one reviewer in particular kept on asking for expansions and extra detail -- which in the end turned a short note into a paper of rather wider significance. 

Anyway, here it is.  Enjoy!!

John, B. S.: A bluestone boulder at Stonehenge: implications for the glacial transport theory, 
E&G  Quaternary Sci. Journal 73, 117–134,, 2024


There has been considerable dispute over the mode of transport of the Stonehenge bluestones from their multiple sources in West Wales. For a century most archaeologists have accepted that the stoneswere transported by humans, but a number of earth scientists have taken the view that they were entrained and transported to Salisbury Plain by glacier ice. There is remarkably little evidence in support of either theory, and for this reason any new description of a possible glacial clast found at or near the stone monument is of potentially great importance. A small bullet-shaped boulder of welded tuff was found in a Stonehenge excavation in 1924, and apart from a brief examination by geologists from the Institute of Geological Sciences (IGS) around 1970, it has been stored out of sight and out of mind. Its geological source is uncertain. Following a detailed examination of its shape and surface characteristics it is now proposed that it has been subjected to glacial transport and that it has had a long and complex history. It is also proposed that the abundant weathered and abraded bluestone boulders and slabs at Stonehenge were also glacially transported, along with many of the cobbles and stone fragments found in the sediments of the local landscape. The elaborate archaeological narrative of bluestone quarrying and human transport to Stonehenge must now be re-examined.

As you will see, I take this boulder far more seriously that Bevins et al in their article published last year, in which they were intent on showing that it was just an insignificant "joint block" or bit of rocky debris left lying around at Stonehenge.  They claimed it was just the broken off top of a rhyolite standing stone of which there is no no trace.........

Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Nick Pearce, James Scourse, Tim Daw. 2023.
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

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

Our old friend Tim Daw is so enraged by my new article that he has accused the editors of QSJ of "letting through" a highly defective paper -- which has understandably left them feeling pretty furious, given the meticulous review and rewriting process which I was forced to go though prior to publication.

Truth will out, regardless of the attempts being made by certain people to shut me up or claim that I am a doddery and incompetent old fool.


Tony Hinchliffe said...

So glad you have finally got your Paper published by the QSJ. There are of course inevitably some folk who cling stubbornly to the far - fetched notion of human transportation way back. But what Brian is proposing is an admittedly far more prosaic explanation from way, WAY back, involving Mother Nature in all her glory!

Anonymous said...

Good read. I suspect the fierce challenges during the peer review have made the document even stronger. Any student in the West Country could make a name for himself or herself by finding another small boulder of which there must be hundreds in the vicinity. Builders digging foundations and ditches must run across them all the time.

chris johnson said...

Sorry, my comment above went in as anonymous.

Tony Hinchliffe said...

It's all a bit reminiscent of and analogous with what occurred in mid - Victorian times when Charles Darwin's book hacked a huge chip of the old, old block, the story that the creation of the earth occurred at a precise time during the year 4004 B.C.

Tony Hinchliffe said...

A shame Wiltshire farmer and Oxford graduate Tim Daw has been utterly flummoxed by Brian's conclusions after a thorough examination (including photography from every angle) and consultations with many glacial experts. Tim Daw appears, unfortunately, to rely on what geologist (not geomorphologist) Rob Ixer tells him.

Tom Flowers said...

Do I need to tell you, Brian, what I think of our Peers?