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Friday, 21 July 2017

Yet more BBC nonsense on Stonehenge



No sooner have I finished one gripe about the BBC  than along comes another absurd non-story from the corporation, and yet another piece of Stonehenge mythologisation.  Will it never end?

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170713-why-stonehenge-was-built

This time, in addition to the usual guff about Stonehenge breakthroughs and new exciting discoveries, Vince Gaffney and Mike Parker Pearson are the featured archaeologists. There is nothing new -- this is just old info, regurgitated for no particular reason.  Somebody presumably needed to make a programme about Stonehenge.   In the midst of all the purple prose, Vince Gaffney makes one rather nice statement arising out of the fiasco surrounding the stones that never were, at Durrington Walls:  “Following this survey, we know not only where things are but where they aren’t as well.”  Quite so.

MPP's standard bluestone story is repeated here yet again.  Quote:  Parker Pearson suggests that the Welsh bluestones were the first to be put in place at Stonehenge, and that it was the monument that they came from that was important. The stones would have been considered to be ancestral symbols of western Britons, he said, and “bringing them to Salisbury Plain was an act of unification of the two main Neolithic peoples of southern Britain.”  Even today, the Preseli hills are dotted with dolmens (ancient tombs). “The density of dolmens reveals that this was an important region (both politically and spiritually) some 700 years before Stonehenge,” Parker Pearson said, making it “possibly a leading territory within western Britain in the centuries before 3000 BC.”  But even if we agree with the theory that bringing the stones from Wales was a symbolic and even political, act, it presents another mystery: how did prehistoric Britons move those huge stones?
Some suggest that people didn’t move the stones at all, and that instead, glaciers transported the stones across southern Britain. But the finding of two ancient stone quarries in Preseli ended that debate for the most part.  Scientists also have experimented with ideas of how to transport the large stones 160 miles (260km) from Wales. According to Parker Pearson, they discovered that moving small megaliths like the bluestones, which mostly weighed 2 tons or less, was not actually that difficult – even with just dragging the stone on a sledge."

Leaving aside the "ancient stone quarries" for the moment, I wonder why MPP needs to mislead gullible reporters (and a gullible TV public) by giving false information about the density of dolmens in the Preseli Hills?  It is quite clear from the maps of prehistoric features in West Wales (see the Darvill /Wainwright chapter in the Pembs County History) that dolmens are NOT that abundant in the Preseli Hills, and that the density of these and related features is much greater in other parts of Pembrokeshire.   What the hell -- when there is a good story to tell, who cares about the truth?

And moving bluestone monoliths is not that difficult?   Sure it's not, in a London Park on a sunny day with lots of willing students to pull a sledge across a nice flat lawn......

Everything is twisted -- and these senior archaeologists will continue to twist things for as long as they are allowed to get away with it.



4 comments:

TonyH said...

I see you MAY, if you so wish, follow these randomly - assembled "academic" twits on twitter. I doubt if even Donald Trump would be impressed with the BBC's efforts here. Perhaps the BBC merely sees part of its role, in post - Lord Reithian days, as to attract half - asleep tourists to honeypot archaeological sites during the lazy, hazy, crazy days end of Summer -Term Summer.......

TonyH said...

Vivien Cumming, the writer of the piece for the BBC, is worth checking up on via the Web. She has her own Blog site, for instance, and is/ has been an academic, though not an archaeologist as such.

TonyH said...

Brian, I'm repeating an earlier Comment the has not yet been displayed. It is well worth looking at the blog site of the lady author of this BBC "Nonsense" article, Vivien Cumming, which is easily found.

She has many strings to her bow, amongst which she says is an interest in landform processes. Perhaps we should give her the benefit of the doubt - to quite an extent she is merely repeating what the so - called Stonehenge archaeological experts are saying, anyway. She might be willing to be educated further on the strengths of the glacial transport theory! She certainly appears very widely educated, to and beyond? Ph.D level......

TonyH said...

VIVIEN CUMMING: "earth scientist, photographer, writer, explorer"


Go to:-


https://www.viviencumming.com/