THE BOOK
Some of the ideas discussed in this blog are published in my book called "The Bluestone Enigma" -- available by post and through good bookshops everywhere. Bad bookshops might not have it....
To order, click
HERE

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Rhosyfelin and Tycanol



Thanks to Chris for sending this link to some of his excellent photos -- from Rhosyfelin and Tycanol.  To find the latter, go to Wales and then you'll find the Tycanol Gallery.

http://www.chrisjohnsonnl.smugmug.com

The Rhosyfelin pictures are also very revealing -- you can pick up on a lot of detail because of the sharpness of the photos.  

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

More on Blick Mead / Vespasian's Camp


 
The New Discoveries at Blick Mead: the Key to the Stonehenge Landscape
http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/research/hri/blickmead

An archaeological team from the University of Buckingham’s Humanities Research Institute has been uncovering very large amounts of Mesolithic material from a site immediately adjacent to Stonehenge. At a point called Blick Mead (a part of the Stonehenge landscape known as ‘Vespasian’s Camp’ on the mistaken assumption that it was the remains of a former Roman settlement) around 12,000 pieces of worked flint and burnt flint have been unearthed, as well as over 500 pieces of bone dating from over 8000 years ago. Virtually all the tools are in pristine condition – indeed, some of the team have had their fingers cut by them as they are still so sharp.

The most significant consequence of the excavation is that we have now discovered where the communities who built the first monuments at Stonehenge once lived – something that has eluded archaeologists for the best part of two centuries. But the fact that the site also provides evidence for ritual activity in later periods suggests that the Buckingham team has also discovered a rare ‘multi-phase’ site, which was occupied over several millennia – indeed into the early medieval period.

David Jacques, Senior Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Buckingham’s Humanities Research Institute, has been directing the excavations at Vespasian’s Camp, Amesbury, Wiltshire, since 2005.

The archaeological potential of Vespasian’s Camp first came to light as a result of David Jacques’ detailed research of the site’s estate and nearby farm records. Indeed, before his team started their excavations, there was no evidence of Vespasian’s Camp having played any significant part in the Salisbury Plain ritual landscape or its history, and the site had been generally ignored by archaeologists, who assumed that any archaeological evidence on the site had been destroyed in the course of the landscaping of the area as a park for a neighbouring country house during the course of the 18th century.

Radiocarbon dating of objects from the Buckingham-sponsored excavations now shows that this site was occupied between 7550-4700 BC, which means that the Blick Mead site was in continuous use for almost 3,000 years.

This is generating great interest from archaeologists who have long pondered the possibility of a ‘missing link’ between the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods of activity at Stonehenge. The radiocarbon dates make this the oldest ever ‘homebase’ found in the Stonehenge area and could be one of the reasons why Stonehenge is sited where it is.

The findings produced by the Buckingham-funded excavations have led English Heritage to describe Vespasian’s Camp as potentially ‘one of the pivotal places in the history of the Stonehenge landscape’.

The 7500 BC dating of Blick Mead correlates strongly with the enigmatic posts found underneath Stonehenge car park in the late 1960s, which appear to be marking this area up as somewhere of special cultural significance

A copper alloy Bronze Age dagger, found nearby, at the Bluestonehenge monument in 2009, a 5th-century Anglo-Saxon disc brooch from a nearby spring, and medieval wooden staves from the main spring also connect Blick Mead to the early Anglo-Saxon and Amesbury Abbey periods. They add to the picture of the Blick Mead area being a place associated with veneration over the longue durée.

As a result of the support from the University of Buckingham’s Humanities Research Institute, further work is planned over the next two years.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Juddermarks



This is a nice one.  From the wonderful Glaciers Online website.  I've seen such things, but hadn't realised they had a technical name -- juddermarks.  As in all the best detective stories, the  thing that has done all the damage disappears without trace, in the warmth of the sun.......

When there are bits of brash ice floating in shallow water on a rising or falling tide (or this could happen in a shallow lake) the ice fragments may be jerked along the gravel or mud flats, marking them as they travel.  You need rather placid water for this to happen -- or wave action will disturb the judder marks.

What you end up with is a series of tracks on a small patch of sediments, apparently starting and finishing without reason -- almost as if a caterpillar tractor had descended from the heavens and then travelled a few metres before taking off again.....

There now.  Isn't that interesting?  Another piece of rather useless information for the lexicon.......

Sunday, 27 October 2013

New ice margin map gets it wrong....



I've been looking at the Abstract of a new article about the maximum of the Devensian (Last) Glaciation in the UK -- by some of the key members of a big new project that will hopefully nail down the actual Devensian ice margins on the basis of new fieldwork and comprehensive dating programmes, using a number of different techniques.  This project goes under the label BRITICE-CHRONO, and more detail is here:
http://briticechronoblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/94/comment-page-1/#comment-35

The paper is this one:
Bayesian modelling the retreat of the Irish Sea Ice Stream
Richard C. Chiverrell et al
Journal of Quaternary Science
Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 200–209, 25/26 February 2013Article first published online: 14 FEB 2013DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2616

Well, just in case faithful readers of this blog think I spend too much of my time slagging off archaeologists, now I'm going to slag off some geomorphologists as well.  I think they have got the ice margin all wrong in the Pembrokeshire - Bristol Channel area.  They show the maximum ice margin well offshore in the central and southern part of Pembrokeshire, and I am not aware of any evidence that supports that assumption.  I showed pretty conclusively in 1965 that Devensian ice impinged on the Pembrokeshire coast at least as far south as Milford Haven.  There are fresh till exposures at Druidston, West Angle, and West Dale,  and an extraordinary kame terrace at Mullock Bridge  on the north shore of Milford Haven -- all showing the presence of Devensian ice.  it's all published.  So far as I know, nobody has ever contradicted that evidence.  Just because it's old, it doesn't mean it's wrong!  So here is a call to all those authors of the new paper -- show us the colour of your evidence......... or put the ice margins in the right place.

As I have also argued on this Blog, there is fresh till which I assume to be Devensian on Caldey Island as well.  So here is another challenge to all these bright young researchers -- get over there and look at it, and let's see what you think.

And then there is the position of the ice edge in the Bristol Channel.  I do not see any justification for it to be placed where it is.  As I have agued before,  the strange ice lobe which is shown projecting far out beyond the Scilly Islands, far out into the Celtic Sea, is fine by me -- as long as there is a more realistic ice margin on its eastern edge.  This is all a bit technical -- to do with ice gradients and cross profiles.   I want the ice margin much closer to the coasts of Devon and Cornwall.  Maybe there are clues to be found on Lundy Island -- I hope the researchers are planning to go over there so that they can take a look.  Some cosmogenic dating may sort the problem out.

I hope the other Devensian ice margins shown on the map are based on rather more "ground truthing."

POSTSCRIPT

Thanks to Danny McCarroll I have now had a look at the full paper.  There's a lot of very interesting material in it.  But there is nothing to support the placing of the maximum Devensian ice margin in Pembs to the west of Skomer and Skokholm and 50 km to the west of Lundy.  The sedimentary record on the floor of the Bristol Channel is very messy indeed -- as of course it would be if there was a very short-lived advance akin to a surge which pushed a long lobe of ice south-westwards.  But ice streams do not move parallel to unconstrained ice edges -- in such circumstances ice movement is always perpendicular to the ice edge.  So I'll stick to my hypothesis that Devensian ice might well have reached Caldey and Lundy, unless somebody proves me wrong.


Another nice erratic


 Found this in the Britice Blog site -- a nice one!  Sadly, there is no location given.  Is it an Irish erratic in Scotland, or a Scottish erratic in Ireland?  I wish people would give locations......

http://briticechronoblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/young-london-artist-inspired-by-an-irish-erratic/

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Mesolithic gourmets enjoyed Heston Blumenthal diet...


 Heston Blumenthal.  New evidence from Wiltshire dig suggests that his ancestors were Mesolithic chefs in Wiltshire......

Wonderful news from Wiltshire, in case you missed it.  David Jacques and others are being VERY enthusiastic, and employing all the usual superlatives:  "........the greatest, oldest and most significant Mesolithic home base ever found in Britain."  Er, excuse me, but didn't we know already that Mesolithic people ate rather an interesting mixture of things, just as the Palaeolithics did before them?  Never mind -- don't want to spoil a good story......  but this is typical of the way in which the froth gets maximum media exposure, and the substance is ignored.  It was probably always thus.
----------------------------------- 
Frogs' legs may have been English delicacy 8,000 years before France

Dig at Blick Mead, Wiltshire, a mile from Stonehenge, turns up bones of toad's leg dating to between 7596BC and 6250BC
Mark Brown, arts correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday 16 October 2013

If you're French, asseyez-vous, s'il vous plait. Archaeologists digging about a mile away from Stonehenge have made a discovery that appears to overturn centuries of received wisdom: frogs' legs were an English delicacy around eight millennia before becoming a French one.

The shock revelation was made public on Tuesday by a team which has been digging at a site known as Blick Mead, near Amesbury in Wiltshire. Team leader David Jacques said: "We were completely taken aback."

In April they discovered charred bones of a small animal, and, following assessment by the Natural History Museum, it has been confirmed that there is evidence the toad bones were cooked and eaten. "They would have definitely eaten the leg because it would have been quite big and juicy," said Jacques.

The bones, from a Mesolithic site that Jacques is confident will prove to be the oldest continuous settlement in the UK, have been dated to between 7596BC and 6250BC.

And it's not just toads' legs. Mesolithic Wiltshire man and woman were enjoying an attractive diet. "There's basically a Heston Blumenthal menu coming out of the site," said Jacques. "We can see people eating huge pieces of aurochs, cows which are three times the size of a normal cow, and we've got wild boar, red deer and hazelnuts.

"There were really rich food resources for people and they were eating everything that moved but we weren't expecting frogs' legs as a starter."

The discovery is entertaining, but has a wider importance, said Jacques, as it adds to evidence that there was a near-3,000-year use of the site. "People are utilising all these resources to keep going and it is clearly a special place for the amount of different types of food resources to keep them going all year round. Frogs' legs are full of protein and very quick to cook: the Mesolithic equivalent of fast food."

Jacques is senior research fellow in archaeology at the University of Buckingham which is funding a new dig on the site. He said it was looking increasingly likely that the site was the "cradle to Stonehenge" which was built around 5,000 years later.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, chairman of Amesbury museum and heritage trust, said: "No one would have built Stonehenge without there being something unique and really special about the area. There must have been something significant here beforehand, and Blick Mead, with its constant temperature spring sitting alongside the River Avon, may well be it.

"I believe that as we uncover more about the site over the coming days and weeks we will discover it to be the greatest, oldest and most significant Mesolithic home base ever found in Britain."

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Erratic cobbles and hammerstones



Modern hammerstones used in experimental archaeology in the United States.  Some of them have "battering marks" and fractures resulting from constant percussive contacts with the "object" stone -- and it is often stated that such stones become rounder and rounder with use, as they lose their irregularities.  So  after prolonged use become almost spherical........


I've been doing some reading on hammerstones -- those nice handy cobbles which are just about right to hold in your hand when you are bashing flakes and irregularities off a piece of flint or some other stone which you want to make into an axe-head or an arrow-head, or a cutting implement, or whatever.  People have been using hammerstones for millions of years, ever since humans started making implements and weapons, and wanted to shape large stones into smaller useful items.

In the wild, as it were, such stones are incredibly difficult to identify, and many rounded cobbles of a convenient size have of course been labelled as hammerstones simply because flint flakes have been found in the vicinity, giving rise to the idea of "flint knapping factories" or knapping floors.  In some cases the percussive damage or battering marks are quite clear, and we might accept that stones with these marks on them are genuine signs of human involvement in stone shaping and tool manufacture.  But in other cases great care is needed, since rounded or sub-rounded stones are commonplace in nature, in locations where abrasion of one stone against another is commonplace -- for example on storm beaches, in turbulent rivers and in fluvial and fluvioglacial sediments.  We find many rounded and sub-rounded stones in glacial deposits too, and in such deposits there is an added complication in that signs of shearing and fracturing are much more common than in water-lain deposits.  This is because cobbles in transport within and beneath glacier ice can be subjected to intense pressure, where one stone or cobble can literally be forced onto or into another -- if one stone is harder than the other, or if it simply rests in a more convenient position in the ice, we can get conchoidal fractures or facets created.  Indeed, we sometimes find rough new facets and older smoothed facets, as illustrated on one of my older posts about a stone near our summer cottage in Sweden:

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/erratic-mysteries.html

We can also see rough facets on this small boulder of Cambrian (?) purple sandstone, found on the flank of Carningli last year:


Typical fracture damage found on two glacial erratics on the flank of Carningli.  The larger boulder is sub-rounded, and after the main fracture damage was done, there was clearly further glacial transport which has smoothed off the rough edges.  The stone on the left has a rounded surface away from the camera, but it is all that is left of an earlier much larger boulder which has split apart on two fracture planes more or less at right angles.  This is quite severe damage......

Where we see abundant striations on cobbles or boulders, we can be pretty sure of glacial transport (see pics below), but not all rock types striate properly, so we have to look at other features instead.  Most geomorphologists are pretty good at identifying glacially transported stones, and at Rhosyfelin we see many of them embedded in the till and also found in secondary positions where they have been eroded out of the till and caught up in colluvial or slope deposits that have accumulated post-glacially.  Here are some of them:


Now there MIGHT be real hammer-stones and mauls at Rhosyfelin -- until one has examined the stones designated as such by the archaeologists it's difficult to say anything meaningful.  But I am sure the archaeologists are aware of the dangers of circular reasoning here. Because this site is by definition a quarry, all rounded "convenient" stones are therefore hammerstones or mauls.  Because we find nice convenient stones in the excavations, that proves that the site is a Neolithic quarry.......  Round and round in circles, and to hell with logic.

So until somebody shows me a hammerstone that is utterly convincing, I prefer to remain entirely sceptical, and to believe that the rounded and sub-rounded stones collected up from within the till layer and above it are entirely natural.

Finally, here are some nice photos of striated erratic cobbles and stones from around the world.  No doubt about glacial action here.  Note that some of them have rather good facets and fractures which could, in certain circles, be interpreted as "percussion fractures" caused in the tool-making process.












Friday, 11 October 2013

Varanger - isostatic rebound



Above are two images of strandlines (raised beaches) in the Varanger Peninsula, on the extreme north coast of Norway -- on the shore of the Arctic Ocean / Barents Sea.  The top image is a satellite image, showing the little ridges of old beaches far inland.  You can pick out the highest strandline and see how the coastline has changed shape as relative water level has fallen;  what that actually means is that the land has risen faster than sea-level over this episode of landscape transformation.

The bottom photo shows what these raised beaches look like at ground level.  The numbers refer to altitudes; click on the photo if you want to see them more clearly.  The highest strandline marked is 79m -- but the highest shoreline here is at about 100m.  We are not sure, but that marine limit is probably about 12,000 years old.  When we bear in mind that sea-level at the time was probably between -100m and -80m, that gives us an isostatic rebound of almost 200m since the ice of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet melted from this coastal strip.  Using the usual conversion ratio of 1:3 we conclude that the ice over this area was AT LEAST 600m thick.  It was probably much more than that, because we do not know how much melting and ice wastage had already happened before the sea actually broke through onto this coastline and started to allow coastal processes to operate......

It's all fairly simple really...... and it all goes to show how elastic the earth's crust really is, and why we get faults and cracks all over the place, in all sorts of different rocks.

Pentre Ifan


Just for fun -- and as a reminder that we do have some rather good megalithic monuments in Pembrokeshire, here's an old water colour of mine, dating from 1996.  "Pentre Ifan, Early Morning."  It used to hang on the wall of the Eco House in Newport -- I discovered it in a filing cabinet when we were clearing out the office the other day.....

Thursday, 10 October 2013

More rock pinnacles: Ronde Spires and Tarnet Peak





I was looking up some Antarctic information and came across these incredible photos -- from the mountains about 150 km from Queen Elisabeth Base in Antarctica.  They show how pinnacles and even teetering spires can be created through a combination of glacial downcutting and frost shattering on exposed rock surfaces.  You can only get these sorts of features where there is efficient glacial transport to take away the accumulating scree which would otherwise soon build up on the flanks of an isolated rock pinnacle and eventually obliterate it -- and protect what is left in the "core".

The top photo shows the Ronde Spires, and the bottom two show Tarnet Peak from two different directions.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Rhosyfelin Myth Machine



I went to a talk last night given by Phil Bennett, the Archaeological Heritage Manager for the Pembs Coast National Park.  It was on the preservation of heritage sites within the National Park, and while I was quite happy with most of what he said, he was seriously astray when it came to talking about Rhosyfelin.   I like and respect Phil, and have known him for many years (he has had responsibility for the Castell Henllys "Iron Age Village" for a long time now, and has done a fine job there) but he and I have argued about things before, and probably will again in the future.......

I wrote to Phil today about his talk, and thought it worth sharing my letter.  I do this on the basis that when any one of us stands in front of an audience, and holds forth on something which we know something about, we have a duty to be accurate and balanced in what we say.  We should also be prepared to defend EVERYTHING which we put forward as established fact or as "consensus scientific opinion".  I think that Phil has been seriously misled, and I have to admit to getting very irritated when people like him, with gravitas and authority, are used to mislead and misinform -- and to perpetrate the myth that Rhosyfelin is indubitably a Neolithic Quarry.

By and large, people who sit in audiences in public lectures are ill-informed and gullible, and tend to believe or accept what "authority figures" tell them.  They also love a good story, and of course they are for the most part predisposed to believe tales of heroic feats performed by our distant ancestors.  That is why the "human transport" theory has survived for so long, and why it has become a "national myth."  Everybody knows it, and audiences feel affronted when somebody like me stands up in front of them and tells them that it has no factual basis to it at all........  In such circumstances charlatans and opportunists thrive by giving people what they want in exchange for their £3 entrance ticket, and fantasy is dressed up as science, and hardly anybody notices what is happening.  People seem to leave their brains at home when they go out for the evening.  Probably they want entertainment, not enlightenment..........  As Tony has just reminded us, the Piltdown Hoax is not so far away.

Every time somebody like Phil stands up and gives a talk, and repeats the bits of comfortable misinformation they have heard from the Rhosyfelin digging team, the myth is reinforced. As I have said before, story telling, public relations and marketing appear to have entirely replaced the scientific method.  And is the archaeological establishment (if there is such a thing) fast asleep in its open grave, waiting to die, while all of this is going on?

The letter:

Dear Phil

Thank you very much for your talk to PTA last night.  It was a pity it was curtailed by those technical glitsches -- I was similarly afflicted when I spoke to the PTA about Rhosyfelin etc in a quite different venue, over a year ago.  The Rhosyfelin goblins at work again........

I enjoyed most of what you said, and would like to have raised a number of issues with you if you had stayed a bit longer!  So I'll do it now.  My points relate to Rhosyfelin.

1.  You are really rather careless in referring to the site with 100% confidence as a Neolithic Quarry.  If I may say so, that's not good practice for an experienced archaeologist -- because no matter what MPP may say about his discoveries, what he seems to have discovered is a camp site used over a long period of time, with a pile of broken scree in the vicinity.  I have seen NO convincing evidence that this is a Neolithic quarry site, let alone one that has something to do with Stonehenge, and at the very least you should reflect this uncertainty and ongoing debate in what you say to uninformed (and often very gullible) audiences.......

2.  You said that two of the standing stones at Stonehenge had been provenanced back to Rhosyfelin by the geological detective work of Richard Bevins and Rob Ixer.  NOT TRUE.    None of the Stonehenge orthostats has been traced to Rhosyfelin.  What the two geologists have done is trace some of the rhyolite debris in the Stonehenge Layer to localities in and around Craig Rhosyfelin.

3.  You referred to the big "orthostat"  as being self-evidently quarried because of the position in which it is lying.  NOT TRUE.   It is not aligned parallel with the rock face, and it is simply a large stone that has fallen from the face just like all the others above it, beside it and below it.

4.  You mentioned the fact that the orthostat had been broken and had therefore been abandoned by the quarrymen. That's an unsupportable speculation -- ALL of the stones that have come from the rock face and from the crags above it are broken, to a greater or lesser degree!  You could probably put many of them back together again if you were determined enough...........  There's nothing unusual about the big one.

5.  You referred to the big stone as being supported or underpinned by other stones, deliberately placed there by the quarrymen. That again is an unsupported assertion.  As far as I can see, the stones beneath the big "orthostat" are lying in perfectly natural -- almost random -- positions, exactly where they fell.  They appear prominent today because the archaeologists have taken away all the debris surrounding them -- in other words, what we see now is an "archaeological artifice."

6.  You referred to the scratches or striations on that stone near the lower end of the "orthostat" -- and asserted that they were not natural, but were caused by big stones being dragged across them.  NOT TRUE.  Those apparent "striations" are in my view nothing more complicated or significant than outcropping foliations,  just like the ones we see on the surfaces of many other stones in the bank of scree and rock debris.  Those "striations" run in all sorts of different directions, right round the compass, as you would expect in a jumble of fallen rocks.

I could go on, but will resist.  I know you mean well, and that you have picked up on most of the things you have said directly from MPP and the other archaeologists involved in this dig, but it really does nobody any good when mythology is perpetrated in this way.  I appreciate that you are trying to encourage people to take an interest in archaeology and to value Pembrokeshire's rich heritage, and that's entirely laudable -- but when myth is turned into "fact" with the willing assistance of you and many other professionals, it does a profound disservice to archaeology -- which comes over as being unscientific and driven by fantasies and ruling hypotheses.    Archaeology should be accessible and popular, but it should also be truthful -- and it should accord due respect to the views of people from other disciplines including glacial geomorphology.  What is going on at Rhosyfelin is much too incestuous for anybody's comfort.......  I get the impression that everybody who turns up there has come to worship at the shrine, and not to ask hard questions.

http://forum.pembrokeshireu3a.org.uk/index.php?topic=1413.0

So please, when you have your sold-out big archaeology day in November, will you please encourage MPP to be rather more nuanced in his presentation than he has been in the past, and to allow for a degree of uncertainty in this business of the "Neolithic Quarry"?

All good wishes

Brian

------------

More on ropes


 Ropes found near the Red Sea -- reputed to be the oldest ropes ever found -- around 2,000 BC.

Some time ago I did a piece on ropes, and I have been thinking more about this.  The archaeologists want 80 or so bluestones to be moved from West Wales to Stonehenge -- and MPP now wants them to be moved not by sea but overland.  He suggests that the 80 or so stones, each weighing between 2 tonnes and 4 tonnes, would have been moved entirely by pivots and levers -- which is stretching fantasy to absurd lengths, if you will forgive the pun.  Maybe he has realized that "long rope" technology at the time was completely inadequate for the task of strapping big stones onto sledges or frames, or for pulling large stones across difficult terrain?

http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/rope-technology.html

In the little research that I have done, it seems that there was some knowledge of ropes back into the Palaeolithic and the Mesolithic,  but the ropemakers of the time would probably have used wild vines, brambles or nettles for the task, and to make ropes long enough and strong enought to shift a 4 tonne monolith would, I think, have been far beyond the capabilities of those early people.  Some authorities say that the art of making long and thick ropes (ie involving some sort of mechanical process for twisting the strands) started in China around 2800 BC and gradually spread into Europe and eventually into Britain.  On this schedule, the technology would not have been available at the time the archaeologists want big stones to have been moved from Wales to Stonehenge.

This seems to me to be an insurmountable technical hurdle.........


Lecture on December 3rd 2013


Advance warning -- on December 3rd I've been asked to give a talk in Moylgrove Village Hall on the subject "Stonehenge, Pembrokeshire and the Ice Age."  Time: 7.30 pm.  If you ask me nicely, I might even be prepared to spend a little time talking about Rhosyfelin.

However, I shall follow the philosophy of this blog -- that is, to test all hypotheses to destruction.  So I shall NOT simply dismiss the quarry hypothesis out of hand, and I'll try to present the evidence and then seek to find the most rational scientific explanations for what we see. 

Everybody welcome (I think the Village Hall committee might charge £3 for entry) -- and a good vigorous debate would be marvellous..........


Slapdash journalism from Earth Heritage





I came across this article in the magazine called "Earth Heritage" -- available online as a PDF, here:

http://www.earthheritage.org.uk/

It's a very attractive magazine, supported by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, GeoConservation UK and the GA -- so it has a good scientific pedigree, although it is intended for a general readership -- or a readership of people interested in geology and geomorphology.

There is a nice article by Rob Ixer and Richard Bevins in it, about Rhosyfelin.  But who on earth dreamed up the heading?  Not the authors, I hope.......... since it is a classic example of hype replacing scientific accuracy.

Let's put the record straight.  The "new science" has not pinpointed the source of "THE" bluestones -- just in case there is anybody out there who still thinks that all 43 of them came from the same place.  It has not even pinpointed the source of a single bluestone, let alone 43.  What it has done is locate the area from which SOME of the rhyolitic debitage in SOME PARTS of the superficial material in SOME PARTS of the Stonehenge landscape has apparently come.  A very different matter.

Is that all clear?  Well, that's all right then........









Celebrity Status for Rhosyfelin




I was at a talk last night -- of which more anon -- at which a photo was shown of Welsh Culture Minister John Griffiths being given the lowdown by MPP during a recent visit to the dig site.  Richard Bevins was in attendance, and one of the top people from the UK archaeology hierarchy was also present -- don't recall his name.  No matter.  I wonder how many other "celebrities" have been given the standard guided tour of the site in recent weeks?

One or two people on this blog have expressed the view that the members of the digging are not very good at marketing, and that they are but simple archaeologists getting on with their work.  I beg to differ.  You don't have high-profile visits like that of the Minister without some pretty effective marketing going on -- designed to demonstrate that Rhosyfelin is an iconic Welsh archaeological site of international importance.  That tunes in precisely with the MPP view that this is the best preserved Neolithic quarry in Europe -- soon, no doubt, to be featured in  a spectacular National Geographic film.  Before we know what's happening, we will find that Cadw is listing Rhosyfelin as an Historic Monument -- I wouldn't mind betting that this designation is already in the pipeline, with a citation packed with confidence and hype, and allowing no room for doubt...........

So the myth that this is a quarry site is peddled and repeated over and again, in all the right places, within the political, cultural and scientific establishment, until the fantasy becomes fact.   To hell with uncertainty and scientific rigour.  Should we laugh or cry?  I'm not sure........

I asked in an earlier post about the restraining voices from geologists and other earth scientists.  I ask again -- where are they?  Remarkably silent -- apart from one regular contributor to this blog.  Maybe all the others are keeping quiet because they too are enjoying the ride on the bandwaggon, for reasons best known to themselves?  I'm sorry if this all sounds rather churlish --  but the bottom line here is scientific integrity.  I have thrown down the gauntlet with my piece published on Scribd and with many entries on this blog.  If anybody out there has got anything to say in response, let's hear you!

http://www.scribd.com/doc/150104599/A-Long-History-of-Rhosyfelin

And I'm not going to accept any criticism from anybody who says that the Scribd piece is not peer reviewed, and is therefore not worthy of respect.  It has had a great deal more peer review, from the bloodthirsty readers of this blog (!) than the chapter dealing with Rhosyfelin (Ch 17) in MPP's recent book, in which he described Rhosyfelin as the "Pompeii of prehistoric stone quarries".