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Those Blue Stones Again

24 February 2011

At www.culture24.org.uk Feb 22nd … a report on a team of geologists searching for the origin of the blue stones at Stonehenge. The dolerite is known to come from Myndd Preseli but it seems the rhyolites may have an origin north of these mountains, not far from Pont Saeson. The research is due to be published in the March issue of Journal of Arcchaeological Science (2011). If the rhyolites did come from north of Myndd Preseli this presents archaeologists with a bit of a problem – as the consensus opinion, and the 'English Heritage' myth is that the stones were transported via Milford Haven. Why would they have dragged some stones from the new locale, up and over the Preseli Mountains, and down into Milford Haven? A lot of hard work for nothing. So, archaeologists now have to think in terms of an alternative route – but there is a major problem, and it probably remains true of Milford Haven too, but generally ignored, and will probably continue to be ignored, and that is the lie of the land. Where was the Welsh coast of Cardigan Bay and Pembrokeshire actually located 5000 years ago. In tradition large pieces of land were lost to the sea as recently as the Late Roman period – but going back 3000 years before that makes you wonder what the situation might have been. Cardigan Bay could have been largely dry land. Secondly, a re-evaluation of the blue stones as erratics may be in order. In addition, it is assumed the blue stones were in some way 'special' – chosen for the white spots of feldspar on a dark blueish background. However, if the stones were found littering Salisbury Plain, brought there by ice and by water, would they really have been so special if people had not travelled to Pembrokeshire in order to transport them by land, sea and by river all the way to Salisbury Plain? The same idea of 'special' status for the stones popped up in Neil Oliver's excellent The History of Ancient Britain, third programme in a series of four, on BBC2 (22nd February). If they were erratics from somewhat closer to Stonehenge this might take some of the gloss away from the monument but they would have been picked out from the otherwise plentiful sarsen stones, used for the later revamp at Stonehenge, so some kind of property or symbolism may have been involved. Sarsens are common to the Salisbury Plain and Wiltshire Downs, a sandstone that is particularly hard and difficult to shape and model. It was usually done with stone hammers. The blue stones (not all dolerite by the way but from a variety of rock formations) are much softer and pliable and chipping at them was much easier – even more so if they were erratics that had been weathered. Now, Fred Hoyle in his book Ice, Hutchinson: 1981, suggested such erratics could have been split from mountain and hill tops by lightning, but this would still require transportation by other means – ice or water.  

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