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

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Preseli: the eastern tors


I rather like this photo, taken a couple of days ago!  Click to enlarge......

Carn Meini (the craggy area at top left) is often described as the most prominent feature of the Preseli skyline,  and this is used as an explanation for its desirability as a sacred site and as a quarrying site.  Actually the prominence of the skyline features is very dependent upon where you are standing.  If you are a Neolithic trader wandering along the "Golden Road" or ridge trackway, on the spine of Mynydd Preseli, Carn Meini is not particularly prominent, and from this viewpoint (on Foel Dyrch) the most prominent of the tors is Carn Gyfrwy -- the one towards top right.

Anyway, whatever the perceived desirability and significance of particular crags might have been, this is a rather wonderful landscape.......

Stonehenge and the arrival of the Beaker hordes



An interesting article in the paper today:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/20/dutch-invaders-stonehenge-ancient-britons#img-1

It suggests that during the construction of Stonehenge there was a major incursion into Middle England of the Dutch tribes bearing beakers.  Must check out how strong the evidence is -- there is clearly some debate.  But it's suggested in the article that this all happened before "the Stonehenge project" was completed.  So does this back up my thesis that Stonehenge never was completed?  I have always had concerns that the "immaculate Stonehenge" made of c 80 sarsens and c 80 bluestones -- as imagined by generations of archaeologists, tourist operators and artists -- is not actually supported by hard evidence on or in the ground........

I'm also intrigued by what this new research means for all the current hype relating to Durrington Walls.  Were the gigantic hog roasts much beloved of MPP and others jolly international affairs to which the Dutch were invited, or were they the last hurrahs of a culture about to be replaced?

 Postscript:  Is migration making a comeback, at the expense of acculturation?  And the idea that beer was a key component of the movement of beakers and tribes is an interesting one.  Maybe all those wild BBQ events at Durrington Walls really were drunken orgies initiated by the Dutch invaders?

From Wikipedia:
Migration vs. acculturation
Given the unusual form and fabric of Beaker pottery, and its abrupt appearance in the archaeological record, along with a characteristic group of other artefacts, known as the Bell Beaker "package", the explanation for the Beaker culture until the last decades of the 20th century was to interpret it as the migration of one group of people across Europe. However, British and American archaeology since the 1960s had been sceptical about prehistoric migration in general, so the idea of "Bell Beaker Folk" lost ground, although recent genetic findings lend renewed support to the migratory hypothesis. A theory of cultural contact de-emphasizing population movement was presented by Colin Burgess and Stephen Shennan in the mid-1970s.[29]
Under the "pots, not people" theory the Beaker culture is seen as a 'package' of knowledge (including religious beliefs and copper, bronze and gold working) and artefacts (including copper daggers, v-perforated buttons and stone wrist-guards) adopted and adapted by the indigenous peoples of Europe to varying degrees. This new knowledge may have come about by any combination of population movements and cultural contact. An example might be as part of a prestige cult related to the production and consumption of beer, or trading links such as those demonstrated by finds made along the seaways of Atlantic Europe. Palynological studies including analysis of pollen, associated with the spread of beakers, certainly suggests increased growing of barley, which may be associated with beer brewing. Noting the distribution of Beakers was highest in areas of transport routes, including fording sites, river valleys and mountain passes, it was suggested that Beaker 'folk' were originally bronze traders, who subsequently settled within local Neolithic or early Chalcolithic cultures creating local styles. Close analysis of the bronze tools associated with beaker use suggests an early Iberian source for the copper, followed subsequently by Central European and Bohemian ores.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Pwllderi Cliffs, Pembrokeshire


This pic has nothing very much to do with the Quaternary, and nothing at all to do with Stonehenge, but I post it herewith simply because I like it!  This is the most impressive cliff rampart in Pembrokeshire, with cliffs over 120m in height.  (Normally around this coast the cliffs are 30m high, or less........)

The light on the cliffs when I took this photo was perfect -- when the cliffs are completely in the sun, or completely in shade, you see far less detail.

Click to enlarge.

Ice-moulded features near Strumble Head


These images are from the west coast of the Pencaer Peninsula in Pembrokeshire, between Pwllderi and Strumble Head.  I have shown some images from here before, demonstrating the extent of ice moulding.  Had a most pleasant walk there on Sunday, in glorious weather -- so I did some more photography.

Here the Devensian ice of the Irish Sea Glacier was moving directly onshore, and the extent of "debris cleaning" and ice moulding is very impressive.  I have not seen any obvious striations.  We can only assume that these features are of Devensian age, although of course we cannot discount the possibility that some are inherited from earlier glacial episodes.

There are of course other areas of ice-moulded bedrock in N Pembs -- and I have already illustrated this in locations like Garn Fawr, Carningli, Carn Meini and Carnllidi.

It would be rather interesting to get some cosmogenic dates for these surfaces........

Friday, 12 May 2017

New book on Preseli



A new book on Preseli has just been published -- written by my old friend Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd.  It will be a fascinating read, for those who can read in Welsh.  Anyway, I'm happy to do my bit in promoting it, since it will, I am sure, be reliable!

Link:
http://www.gwales.com/bibliographic/?isbn=9781785620829&tsid=2

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Boles Barrow Bluestone -- more photos







Many thanks for these photos of the Boles Barrow bluestone, kindly sent in by Phil Morgan.  Here we can see that most of the surface is heavily weathered and abraded -- and even polished -- suggesting surface exposure over a very long time period.  We can also see the "broken" part of the stone, with a relatively sharp edge to it -- and we can see the much "fresher" rock surface which has nothing like the same degree of weathering.

One question (which we have already discussed extensively) is whether this boulder was genuinely found inside Boles Barrow, or whether it actually came from Stonehenge.  The other question is this:  is this a broken-off part of a larger monolith, or is it simply an erratic boulder with facets of different ages on it?  Clearly the archaeologists would like it to be a piece of of monolith, the rest of which might still be at Stonehenge.........  and that question could possibly be resolved by cosmogenic dating on the "old" and "new" surfaces of the boulder.