» Home > In the News

Mike Parker Pearson

8 December 2015

At http://phys.org/print368697672.html … we learn that Mike Parker Pearson is involved in a new project, also with an impact on Stonehenge, in Pembrokeshire on the western side of Wales. Parker Pearson is best known for his involvement in the recent Stonehenge invesigation of the surrounding landscape which culminated in the book 'Stonehenge:exploring the greatest stone age mystery' Simon and Schuster:2012, which can be picked up quite cheaply nowadays (especially second hand copies). Archaeologists from a number of UK universities have descended on the Presceli Hills where they claim to have discovered two quarries where the blue stones originated. These are at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin where the stones form natural pillars as outcrops and this allowed prehistoric quarrymen to detach them with fairly minimal effort – or that is the theory. Not everyone is impressed – geologists for example. At www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-35025352 … we have a video by a geologist who disputes what the archaeologists allege. This is all part of an ongoing debate as the transportation of the stones from Wales to Wiltshire is all part of the myth that has grown up around Stonehenge, a myth that attracts thousands of foreign tourists on buses that visit the iconic site every week in the summer months. The archaeologists clearly want to keep the lucrative myth alive – and finding an actual quarry is all part of that process. The geologists have thrown a dash of cold water on the myth at opportune moments as the media have allowed – but mostly the geological view is suppressed. This time the archaeologists hope to scotch the geologists scepticism alatogether and on their side is the fact that no known erratics of such rocks are known from anywhere between Wiltshire and the Presceli Hills.

We are informed by Josh Pollard of the University of Southampton that all the quarrymen needed to do was hammer in some wooden wedges in cracks and gaps and they could then leave the levering process to the weather – on the assumption it rained as much in prehistoric Wales as it does in the modern era. The wood expanded and the rock gave way, making it easy to dislodge in nice sized blocks (or pillars). Pollard is the author of an important book on Avebury and its environments, no doubt also going for a song second hand. Colin Richards of the University of Manchester chips in by sayin g the two outcrops are impressive (he is said to be a specialist on prehistoric quarrying). According to Kate Welham of Bournemouth University the ruins of a dismantled monument must lie near the two quarries – and geophysical research and trail excavations have taken place following aerial photography (in search of such a site). She is optimistic the monument will be found in 2016 – which means it has not been found in 2015. You might also like to visit https://mikepitts.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/have-archaeologists-found-sto… … which perhaps puts the feet on the ground. Some nice pictures and the news that there will be an article on this in the December issue of British Archaeology magazine (available in newsagents such as WH Smiths). A must read at a minimal cost.

Mike Parker Pearson of University College London is described as the Director of the project – and archaeologist from Leicester University are also involved as are the National Museum of Wales and the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (which covers Pembrokeshire). They also think they have found the camp site of the quarry workers and this has been C14 dated between 5000 and 4000BC – more precisely at 3400 and 3200BC. As the bluestone circle is now dated to 2900BC there is an overlap – which a Welsh monument would bridge. In other words, the Welsh monument was dismantled and taken to Wiltshire as a result of the event around 3000BC (known from low growth tree ring data). This actually is all part of the myth surrounding Stonehenge as Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed it had originally been set up in Ireland before transported to Salisbury Plain by the magic of Merlin (or something like that). In the post-Roman period Pembrokeshire and SW Wales in general was heavily settled by migrants from Ireland – which may account for the Irish add-on. We can only wait and see what they find in the 2016 excavation season.

The relevant article was published in Antiquity journal – DOI:dx.doi.org/10/15184/aqy.2015.177

Skip to content