Stonehenge – why its alleged chalk embankment/timber stockade infancy? Foretaste of the American Wild West – primarily a defence against enemy arrows?

Here’s a selection of screen shots from a number of US Westerns and/or their billboard advertising..

arrows in 7 western fiklms

Note the recurring feature: bows, arrows, defensive timber stockades (US cavalry forts etc).

So what’s this got to do with Stonehenge you may ask? Answer: everything, I now maintain (after some 7 years of study and deliberation), but on one condition: that one starts with ‘proto-Stonehenge’. namely Stonehenge in its infancy. I now believe that the bow and arrow  largely explains why Stonehenge looks the way it does.

I intend in this posting, under its new “arrow-dominated” title to  briefly summarise why.   The key concept is “Stonehenge – built  in progressive stages, primarily as a defence against  Neolithic bows and arrows. More detailed arguments can wait till later. Please be patient.

This posting will be assembled in short instalments. Expect more later in the day,

2nd instalment (approx 10:00am)

Here’s a screen grab from a US-based website showing  Stonehenge in 3 stages of development:

abyss 3 phases shenge

 

Splendid and helpful though the schematic diagrams are, they lack two important pieces of information.

First is absence of an alleged timber palisade in the first of the three (showing the simple beginnings of the Stonehenge site).

 

I shall  (with sincere apologies) give a somewhat lengthy quotation from just one of several sources that back uop my belief that the important addition has been omitted. It’s from Brian John’s “The Bluestone Enigma” (more about those bluestones later). I have highlighted the key passage in red:

Under “Earthworks and Pits”  (page 15):

The stone monument at Stonehenge is only about 30m in diameter, and it is all too easy to forget that it lies at the centre of a much larger (and older) circular enclosure about 110m in diameter and bounded by a ditch. Most of the chalk dug from this ditch was thrown up on the inside to form a low embankment, now much eroded.  The embankment, in its heyday, might have been just over 1.5m high, shining white and thus quite spectacular. This was the “The First Stonehenge”, dated to about 3,000 BC. On the crest of the embankment, excavations have revealed post-holes which may indicate that there was a timber palisade or barrier running round the whole circumference of the site (ed. which is why I have added “stockade” to this posting’s keywords.  Oh, and the immediate next section re bluestones and Aubrey Holes from Brian John’s account will come later.).

 

A timber stockade from the word go, mounted on top of a chalk embankment. What’s more the embankment is INSIDE the ditch, contrary to the standard design of British “henges”, which have an interior ditch and an exterior bank (the latter usually taken to mean that the  standard  Neolithic-era henge  (of which there are said to scores, if not hundreds) was not intended to serve a defensive purpose, but merely to screen what was happening inside. Doesn’t the combination of an interior bank AND that circular palisade aka stockade immediately imply a DEFENSIVE role for proto-Stonehenge. If so, for what purpose?   So who or what was the perceived threat?

Before addressing that question, let’s mention briefly the other omission from the schematic diagrams, namely any indication of scale (though alluded to in the above quotation).  What’s missing are the DIMENSIONS of the site, that often surprise those who make the journey to Salisbury Plain to see a world-famous monument. They are, to put it baldly, diminutive  to say the least – the stone circle being, yes, a mere 30 metres of so in diameter. Even the much wider chalk/ditch embankment, over 3 times that, is, needless to say,  a mere 100m or so in diameter!

Here’s a quickly cobbled-together labelling of the final phase of Stonehenge in the above trio of schematic diagrams, inserting those dimensions, (yellow font) plus some other additions  (red and blue font) that will then be introduced and explained.

abyss with dimensions arrows etc 1st draft

 

So what do the red and blue lines represent?  Answer: the crucial part of the new Model 2 being unveiled on this site, namely ARROW TRAJECTORIES, fired from the not-to-be quickly dismissed Neolithic bow by encroaching enemy forces.

 

Let’s now take a quick look at the splendid and informative 6-page pdf available online, provided by Stuart Prior back at the turn of the century.  It concerns a Neolithic bow recovered from Somerset peat, then reconstructed, then tested for strength and range.

Here’s an image of the reconstructed so-called “Meare Heath” bow being used to fire off just one of hundreds  (nearly thousands) of arrows:

Final Meare Heath bow from Stuart Prior

Here’s Stuart Prior’s own words as regards range, which one can then put alongside the Stonehenge dimensions. Already I hope the significance of the red and blue additions to the third schematic will be quickly apparent, seen against the ones I’ve added below!

 

The finished bow was firstly taken to The Roebuck Archery Centre at Gussage Saint Michael, Dorset.  The poundage of the bow was measured and found to be 42lb at 28”. On the outdoor range a dozen  arrows were shot over 25m and every arrow hit the target!   

the bow was then taken into the field to try some distance shots. It was found that the bow was accurate up to about 100 yards (90m). … it was capable of shooting an arrow further than this , but not accurately.

 

Yes, but for the added palisade, an enemy archer, maybe creeping up undetected as far as the outer ditch could have fired off arrows capable of accurately hitting targets at least as far as the centre of “proto-Stonehenge”. Not for nothing was a chalk embankment and palisade/stockade devised as a first line of defence, keeping the ensconced occupants safe (we”ll speculate on their likely identities later – whether farmers. soldiery, VIPs etc later). So the short range trajectory, shown in red, on that third schematic was rendered invalid even in the first of the three, once the embankment/palisade was installed.
But that would not have ended the threat to those occupants. Oh no! Why not? Because an alternative strategy could be adopted on the part of the enemy archers. Stay 50 metres or more away from the external ditch, and fire off arrows at a steep angle of ascent into the air that then arch down on a steep trajectory onto the occupants, striking the tops of heads and shoulders as well as torsos! The steep upward and downward parabolic trajectory is shown in blue!
So what additional protection could be installed to protect from those arching arrows following the blue fired-from-a distance trajectory (as used so effectively we’re told in the 14th century by the English against the French at the Battle of Crecy!). The answer is in the third schematic! Install an outer circle from uprights AND capping lintels. (More on the precise mode of taking effective refuge later). But don’t stop there. For added protection, at least of VIPs, install a second innermost oval or horseshoe with still more of those lintelled trilithons, albeit non-continuous. It’s then a matter for those under attack to see from which direction arrows arrive, if or when falling into the interior of the stone circle, and  then to re-position  themselves accordingly between particular pillars that are further shielded, or partially so, by others in the adjacent arc of the circle.

Oh dear. What about that ‘solstice celebration’ malarkey ? How can one celebrate a solstice when having to dodge in and out of pillared archways to stay safe from incoming arrows? Did our Stonehenge forbears maybe negotiate with the enemy in advance, to be allowed one or at most two days-off   in the year (longest or shortest) when they  could be allowed to let their hair down?

More  (maybe) to follow later in the day… But the main message has been transmitted … albeit in summary form . I now await verbal and written arrows to fall  towards me from the internet skies  – at varying angles –  whether shallow and well-targeted,  whether steep and somewhat hit-and-miss!

Footnote:  Model 2 (Stonehenge initially a defence against enemy arrows) came as a development of my New Year’s day posting elsewhere.

Model 2 proposes that the first-generation bluestones,  lugged all the way from west Wales,  prior to arrival and usage at Stonehenge  of the much larger  nearer-to-hand  sarsen stones,  were used en route as a kind of  in-transit  and/or overnight air raid shelter (probably of a VIP,  against, guess what (?). Answer: enemy spears and ARROWS!

Apols – this next passage is somewhat wordy, being  a difficult area to address in a strictly scientific manner. (Indeed, I’ve shed my scientific hat for this section, for reasons that should  soon become apparent):

So who or what needed defending at Stonehenge, right from the start of the site’s inception, and why invest so much time and effort in installing all those pillars and lintels? A VIP seems improbable, given the isolated location of the site some 3km or so from the nearest settlements of any size (Durrington to the NE, Amesbury to the E).
A clue is provided by the presence of those deposits of cremated bone. It is they among other things that have led to Stonehenge being described as a Place of the Dead. But it’s invariably assumed that it was a ceremonial funeral site. Indeed some say the predominance of adult male bone suggests it was used to dispose of the elite of local society. But there’s a contrary indication: why the disposing of crushed cremated bone in various pits and post holes, with lack of any grave goods etc. That’s hardly consistent with ceremonial disposal of an elite.

I have an alternative suggestion to make.
Salisbury Plain was populated by farmers growing crops and tending livestock. But a different type of occupant was never far away, namely the hunter-gatherer, concealed for the most part in the forested areas adjoining the Plain. The livestock – sheep, cattle, pigs etc- must have been a huge temptation, especially if all that was required was a well- aimed arrow, and a quick retrieval of the family’s evening meal taken quickly back to the woodland setting.
The farmers needed a means of deterring the poachers of their livestock. How? I suggest that a Plains quasi-military ‘Police Force’ was set up on the edge of the Plain, from which patrols went out to spot and apprehend would-be poachers.

Then what? The poachers would have been shown little mercy one suspects in the Neolithic era, indeed no mercy whatsoever if wishing to make an example of them, as a deterrent to further would-be poachers. They were escorted back to Stonehenge. Might they have been summarily executed, then cremated, their ashes being crudely disposed of, e.g. mixed with chalk for backfill in this or that pit?
We thus have an explanation for inherited terms like “Slaughter Stone” and maybe “Altar Stone”, with assumptions of human sacrifice when in fact it was summary punishment.
Is there any evidence that Stonehenge might have served so severe a role? Yes, I do believe there is, and indeed suggested it back in 2012. It’s to do with those so-called “carpentry joints” used to lock the pillars and lintels together.
Nobody would go to all that trouble merely through sentimental attachment to alleged timber-constructed predecessors of megalithic Stonehenge. As indicated I’ve suggested entirely different reasons, the first being to create a rigid interlocked structure that would resist being tugged over by ropes deployed by raiding parties intent on destroying the monument. But why? There would need to be a strong motive to attack and attempt to destroy Stonehenge. Such a motive would exist if it had (a) served a the headquarters for a Salisbury Plain police force with hunter-gatherers in their sights and (b) when caught in the act, dishing out summary execution sentences.
Tempers would be raised even more if there had been any display of the captured e.g. by suspending them from lintels, putting them on full display, whether living or dead.
Apols for having to inflict this gory scenario, but it seems likely, given the huge clash of lifestyles between pastoralists and hunter-gathers living on or close to Salisbury Plain.
What I described above is not a ‘serious’ proposal for why Stonehenge existed. It’s merely to indicate that the scenario of a small albeit prominent addition to the landscape need not defy explanation. One possible scenario has been described. There are no doubt several others worthy of consideration, though whether any are better than others will no doubt need a further input of new archaeological findings..read stroke of good fortune.

Tuesday Jan 21, 2020

Today I’m taking a close look at the internet entries for the so-called “Stonehenge Archer”,  questionably relevant I say to what I’ve said thus far.  If nothing else, it will show why one must never rely on a single internet entry if one’s to get a balanced overall picture.

Let’s start with the Salisbury Museum, which houses the skeleton of the Stonehenge Archer.

 

stonehenge archer salisbury museum

I’ve added some highlighting to what you see above, indicating which parts of the above I consider important to my “arrow-based” origins of the Stonehenge site:

stonehenge archer salisbury museum highlighting

Yes, All of it is important, every single word. Note first of all the labelling of the age, as determined by radiocarbon dating  of the non-cremated skeleton, in which the organic collagen connective tissue is still preserved –   as “Late Neolithic”. Why emphasise “Late Neolithic” for the skeleton’s age at time of death (2,400-2200)BC. Go to the wikipedia entry on the Stonehenge Archer and you will see why.

 

wiki entry stonehenge archer

 

Incredible!   The man was interred with flint arrow heads with him, and indeed in him, yet he’s described in the very first sentence as “Bronze Age”!  How misleading can you get?

Let’s now see what the Salisbury Plain authority, Prof Mike Parker Pearson has to say  (and not say) about the Stonehenge Archer  in a brief entry in his 2012 book (“Stonehenge – Exploring the Greatest Stonehenge Mystery”).

From MPP, Page 195/196

“The last burial at Stonehenge during the third millennium BC, probably after the cremations had ceased, was the inhumation of a young man in the outer ditch close to the north-east entrance. This burial took place at some point during the period 2400-2140 BC. This young man was buried with an archer’s wristguard but no Beaker. Remarkably he had been shot three times or more from different directions. There are marks on his bones where they have been grazed and punctured by arrows, and three barbed-and-tanged arrow-heads were found in the area of his body cavity. Known as the Stonehenge Archer he was a local man according to his isotope signature.
“Archaeologists have long speculated whether the Stonehenge Archer was a human sacrifice, a clandestine murder victim, or an executed criminal. He might have been a prehistoric Julius Caesar, assassinated in a bloody coup, a ruler toppled and executed by an angry mob, or even a war leader, surrounded in battle and filled full of arrows. When we put the Stonehenge Archer into the wider perspective of Stonehenge as a place of burial – a cemetery in use for hundreds of years – it is enough to describe him simply as the last person to have been buried at Stonehenge during its heyday.”

“Executed criminal”?   More than likely I would say!  Shame there’s no information thus far (at least that I have seen) as to whether the intact skeleton plus accompaniments (notably the wristband) were those of a Stonehenge defender (unlikely – given the unceremonious ditch burial) or those of a local hunter-gatherer, either attempting to poach livestock or fire off arrows at the occupants of Stonehenge.

Let’s take a look at yet another source of info re the Stonehenge bowman, this time not off the internet.

It’s the relevant section from the English Heritage  “Stonehenge Visitor Guide” which I purchased on site  at its shop when visiting in 2012. I’ve included the preamble, seeing as how it places the Stonehenge Archer within a useful time frame . (The Archer section has been highlighted in red).

PEOPLE OF STONEHENGE (Page 38/39)
The 1,000 years before construction started at Stonehenge had seen great changes in people’s lives, as farming gradually replaced a life of hunting and gathering wild foods on these rolling chalk uplands. This change meant settling down and investing in land, with the consequent ideas of ownership and territory. This was the time, in the earlier part of the Neolithic era (or New Stone Age) when tools were made of wood, stone or bone and when simple pottery vessels were made and used. It was also when long barrows and causewayed enclosures were built , communal monuments whose existence suggests and organized society, the presence of leadership, and the ability to communicate with large and possibly far-flung communities. The increasing emphasis on farming would also have ensured regular food supplies, freeing up part of the labour force for these essentially non-productive activities.
Stonehenge was built and presumably used over a period of at least 1,400 years, a huge length of time that saw considerable changes in the way prehistoric people lived their lives. The simple earthwork enclosure was started towards the end of the Neolithic era but we know little of the people who built it. We know more of the everyday lives of those who raised the stones nearly 500 years later, as their small neatly built houses have been found at Durrington Walls. From these it is possible to learn more about their diet and perhaps the organization of their society.
There are however, three remarkable human burials, discovered at Stonehenge itself and nearby, which provide which provide a fascinating insight into the great changes that were taking place at the time the stones were being raised.
In 1976 an excavation in the ditch at Stonehenge revealed a human skeleton buried with several finely worked flint arrowheads, some with their tips broken off, and a wrist protector made of stone, likely to have been used by an archer. The arrow were of early Bronze-Age style and the man who dies in about 2300 BC, soon became known as the Stonehenge Archer.
Examination of the bones showed that he was a local, aged about 30 and that he had met a violent death. The missing tips of the flint arrowheads were found embedded in his bones, so the arrows were not his possessions but the cause of his death. But even though he died violently, perhaps as a sacrifice, he was given a careful burial, a place that was by that time perhaps the most sacred place in the British Isles.

(ed:  “Sacred”?  Hmmm!  You would say that, wouldn’t you, EH?  Shades of that  minimally-documented “solstice celebration” ! I’ll now attach what follows regarding the so-called Amesbury Archer, if only for the contrast it provides with that of the approximately contemporaneous Stonehenge counterpart. The two are often confused on the inernet, especially in image files).

The discovery in May 2002 of another burial in Amesbury, about 5km (3 miles) from Stonehenge, provides a stark contrast to the one from Stonehenge. The Amesbury Archer discovered during excavations on a building site, had the richest grave ever discovered from the time of Stonehenge. The man, aged between 35 and 45 years old, had been buried in about 2400BC with an astonishing collection of artefacts. This was the time when the first metals, copper and gold, were being introduced from continental Europe, alongside a distinctive type of decorated pottery vessel known as Beaker ware. In his grave this man had three copper knives and no fewer than five Beaker pots, two stone wrist protectors, 16 finely worked flint arrowheads, and a pair of gold hair ornaments, the earliest gold to be found in Britain. He also had what appears to be a small stone anvil. Bone analysis shows that this man was not local, but was born somewhere in the Alps, most probably in what is now Switzerland. So he may have been one of the first to introduce metalworking to Britain, a skill that would have earned him enormous prestige and wealth.

More to follow shortly …

 

I think that will do for the present posting, with its off-the-wall idea  (correction – off the stockade arrow-bounce). I’ll wait to see what reception if any the new thinking gets from the existing “Stonehenge-focused internet websites” but have no great optimism where that’s concerned (nuff said) or even Establishment Academe (about which the less said the better).

Next posting?  it will be here, on this site. It may address some of the trickier issues, like the timber and bluestone antecedents at Stonehenge and elsewhere ( Stanton Drew, Woodhenge, ‘Bluestonehenge’ etc. that somehow have to be accommodated within the new conceptual framework, namely Stonehenge as combining both an OFFENSIVE  and (accordingly) DEFENSIVE role (the latter against enemy arrows, whether aimed directly or steeply arching down from above. ) .

 

Here’s a foretaste of what’s to come:

compars stanton drew circle somerset

Observe how Stanton Drew, Somerset, with its label ringed in green,  with  surviving remnants of a external ditch and stone circle, just a little wider overall  than Stonehenge (ringed in red) is reckoned on the basis of ‘geophysical survey evidence’ to have had a crowded interior with 9 (YES, 9 no less !) concentric  closely-spaced rings of timber posts. Now what purpose might they have served,  I wonder?

 

Time methinks to shelve once and for all those fanciful notions re ‘solstice celebration’ harking back to William Stukeley in the early 18th century.  One needs to reinvent oneself , oh  English Heritage/Stonehenge Visitors Centre (especially) even if your  cash registers fall quieter for a whil .  Put simply : get real!  Tell things the way they are, correction, were, 5000 or so years ago.  There were two entirely different lifestyles, attempting to live peacefully (or not so peacefully) side by side, clashing intermittently over the course of centuries, in which both microlith flints and megalithic stones each played a central role.

This final image (internet plus my MS Paint additions) should need no captions:

 

EMStonehenge with arrows

Postscript: on the same day I tack a mention of Stanton Drew onto the end of a posting, I find that the site is highlighted  this  very evening on the Brian John site (which these days I studiously ignore for the most part,  or at best gloss over, for numerous reasons I  shall keep to myself for now). Leaving aside the current politics re Brexit etc etc on the latest posting, it only makes reference to Stanton Drew’s  stone circle – no mention of the 9 concentric circles of timber posts that once existed. I could try posting a comment, if only to plug  this current posting, but shan’t. Wouldn’t want to be accused of merely plugging a current posting, would I?  That’s even assuming my comment made it through BJ’s stringent filter as to what is relevant  to his (narrow) take on Stonehenge and its bluestones (glacial transport of  bluestone alleged ‘erratics’ to Salisbury Plain or nearby..  Nope, I’m staying clear of the BJ site, now and probably forever…  Let’s not mince our words: in purely scientific terms, it’s frankly the pits,  banging on endlessly  about how we’re all wrong, failing to present hard evidence to back up his own fanciful notions, even if skilfully expressed.

For those  visitors here wishing  to have a preview of my next posting (maybe not for a week or two) then see the artists’   impressions of those  closely-spaced 9 concentric circles of timber posts at Stanton Drew. They are displayed  when one enters (stanton drew timber ) into Google, and then clicks on the image files.

Link

Impressive, yes? Purpose? It’s been given here in this posting.

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Purpose of Stonehenge (my initial Model 1)? Forget all the self-serving English Heritage guff about summer or winter solstice celebration! Think OPTIMIZED pre-Bronze Age disposal of the dead. Think “sky burial”. Expect Model 2 shortly (next posting) …

 

Update, Jan 18, 2020: Yes, there’s been a change to this site’s title, one that reflects the arrival of my Model 2, the first instalment of which appeared on my science buzz site on New Year’s Day (expect a second instalment here as a new posting  some time in the next week or two).

Here’s a hint of what’s to come – our modern day Red Arrows performing a steep  arching loop, returning  back towards earth at a steep angle of descent  (think  feared Neolithic equivalent in a pre-Bronze Age. era lacking metal shields or helmets – which didn’t do much to help the French anyway at Crecy in the 14th century!):

DrRNn6iXQAEyY1e red arrows

Red Arrows (from a 2018 Twitter posting)

 

Apols btw: this Update has been added to the most recent posting, based on Model 1 (sky burial) so there may be a little head-scratching initially until the new Model 2 posting appears.

PS: I make no apologies for switching between models, btw. It’s the MO of REAL as distinct from most internet so-called “science” , i.e. flogging particular themes endlessly.

In passing:  this retired scientist reported on 9 successive models over some 7 years  for the Shroud of Turin negative (tone-reversed) image before finally  rejecting any kind of proto-photography. I finally  settlled instead on my  Model 10  (contact-imprinting with white flour, followed by heating and/washing – a truly  ingenious, come might say cunning,  medieval simulation of an imaginary sweat imprint left on Joseph of Arimathea’s fine linen en route from cross to tomb).

Here, merely  for the record,  is how this site’s Home Page and Title – with its scarcely visible  ag line – looked a short while ago, and is now no more:

save old home page of suss site 18 jan 2020

 

Stop Press (added Nov 19, 2019): have just posted another no-holds barred to my science buzz site:

new sbuzz posting 19 nov stonehenge

Link to new sciencebuzz posting

Yikes!!  WordPress, bless ’em, have just gone and wiped all the original posting, result of inserting the above Stop Press.

Phew!  Sigh of relief!  Have been able to retrieve the copy from little known (?) safety net called  “Google cache” under its Search listings, which I’ll try copying-and-pasting below.

(It may need extensive editing to remove ads etc that have mysteriously crept in – we shall see).

Oh dear. All the graphics have disappeared!  Fortunately I have them on file, so will endeavour to add them back over the next few days. Postscript: weeks (Sorry, but its a tedious operation, being done in small instalments).

This, incidentally,  is the second time that WordPress have sprung a nasty surprise. The first was when I composed a lengthy and detailed posting, hit the Send button, and the whole lot disappeared, never to be retrieved, despite an hour or more of trying this and that!  

Anyway: here’s the original retrieved posting:

START

Here are this retired PhD scientist’s  main points  (some 15 or so thus far, each highly telegraphic for now, each to be the subject of separate postings in the coming weeks and months  – probably on my science buzz site). They are the culmination of some 7 years of (one-and-off) research since 2012 (the Shroud of Turin having been a competing major distraction!).

They are ranked in approximate order of diminishing impact and/or importance.

(Inevitably they get progressively more wordy towards the end, addressing as they do some less obvious, less compelling aspects).

(1) The so-called “Heel Stone” with bird-like head, probably the initial Mark 1 Stonehenge with its own surrounding ditch,  plus nearby ‘bird-friendly’ “Slaughter Stone’ with its curious and interesting iron-dependant red algae*, able to function  (hint, hint)  as a  ‘bird bath’.

*Iron from long-degraded blood since solubilized by acid rain?  (Yes, a bit of a long shot, I grant you)

DSC03377

Fig. 1 :  The so-called ” Heel Stone” (yuk!) as seen through my own camera, 2012.  (Personally I prefer to call it the “Bird Stone”!)

 

Here’s the same with a tiny no-holds barred addition to the above, see my preceding posting. (Sorry English Heritage, someone had to say it).

heel stone with addition

Fig. 2 :  That same so-called “Heel Stone” with my tiny addition to flag up what I consider was the real reason for Neolithic man having adopted   Salisbury Plain   littered   5000 years ago with an assortment of silicified (sarsen) sandstone megaliths as  the initial inspiration for a highly-specialized means for disposal of the recently deceased  (Stage 1: AFS , i.e.  Avian-Facilitated  Skeletonization, aka “sky burial” aka  ‘de-fleshing’  aka excarnation).

 

In passing, this is maybe the moment to give a brief mention to the so-called recumbent “Slaughter Stone” as short distance from the heel Stone.

It may  well have originally occupied the vacated pit adjacent to Heel Stone”. whose original occupant is generally referred to as “missing”

Heel v adjacent Slaughter Stone

Fig.3: Heel Stone in close proximity to Slaughter Stone (some  low-angle photographic foreshortening, needless to say!)

Why the proximity? Answer: both were probably “native” to the Stonehenge site, being local sarsens (silicified sandstone)  present before Stonehenge had been conceived in Neolithic minds some  5000-6000 years ago.  The Heel Stone would have been turned upright from  initially recumbent to vertical position, better revealing its bird-like features. The Slaughter Stone,  up close to the Heel Stone, could have been uprooted and moved the short distance (see above photo). . Why? To allow its cavities/hollows, whether natural, man-made or both, to serve as bird bowls/bird baths.

 

(2) ‘Seahenge’ which, as its media-endowed name suggests, hints at a coastal, scaled-down admittedly post-Neolithic (Bronze Age) version of Stonehenge).

Seahenge was briefly linked in an early 1999 BBC Report to excarnation (noteworthy, given it’s exceedingly rare for the UK media to mention that dreaded e-word!).

As already indicated, excarnation is also referred to occasionally as ‘defleshing’ or, less cringe-making, as ‘sky burial’ when effected by carrion-feeding birds. The latter are now  this site’s chief focus where Stonehenge and its elevated lintels (bird perches!) are concerned

 

bbc seahenge 1

Fig. 4: Screen-shot of the 1999 BBC feature that appeared, shortly after the exposure of the site following storms on the Norfolk coast

 

(3) Dolmens (aka cromlechs, albeit a  now hugely compromised term – don’t ask!)   which were arguably forerunners of Stonehenge’s lintel-bridged pillars, through having a cross piece “lintel”   read  ‘capstone’)  capable of serving as a dsafe and spacious bird-feeding table.   Yes, you read it here first – dolmens were proto-Stonehenge!

Clue to dolmen’s crucial role ( no, NOT  to be  dismissed as a mere  “burial chamber” as claimed on the waffle-laden Megalithic Portal website and elsewhere!).

You see, that megalithic capstone rests on pointed uprights. They were designed, I say,  to thwart attempt by opportunist ground-based scavengers or, worse-still, predators,  from accessing the uppermost ‘feeding table’ . They were unable to negotiate the combination of tapered end plus overhang.

It’s often the tiny, curious details that provide clues in science, the ones that tend to get ignored or hastily brushed aside by those fixated with  their fondly-held preconceptions.

Alternative explanations for that finally-balanced geometry  are invited,  we  theory-obsessed scientists  trying always to maintain  an open mind, though I see there’s a recent book that concurs with my view that dolmens were designed primarily for , shhh, excarnation!

(Oops. have mislaid the link. Will try to track it down).

 

BJ's Pentre Ifan home page, 2011

Fig.5: Typical dolmen (top) with capstone resting on those  POINTED (!) uprights plus  that interestingly large  OVERHANG  versus Stonehenge (below) and its lintels, arguably serving the same role.  (Image from Brian John’s blogsite). 

 

(4) La Varde, Guernsey: stone circle  (only occasionally referred to!) with cremated bone showing evidence of prior excarnation, aka defleshing.

 

peck marks

Fig.6: Image of cremated bone from the La Varde site, supplied  in the 2015  paper by Jenny Cataroche and Rebecca Gowland,  link to follow, showing what they maintain to be evidence of prior excarnation  (de-fleshing) , albeit  precise means as yet unspecified.

 

cataroche and gowland article 2015 La Varde cremated bone

Enter a caption

Fig.7: photo shot: link to the Cataroche and Gowland paper on cremated bone at the Guernsey site.

 

(5) Similar abundance of cremated bone in and around Stonehenge, though no information thus far on whether it displays signs of excarnation (or whether it would if excarnation had been merely via pecking birds)

_88037961_excavatingbones-cmikepitts

Fig 8:    Stonehenge’s cremated bones, excavated from one of the Aubrey Holes. (Photo: Mike Pitts).

 

6)   Summing up  thus far (OK,  so maybe a tad premature)  : yes,  with exercise of imagination , if only to accommodate the final Stonehenge (with its bird-friendly lintels) into my excarnation/sky burial narrative, but  including ALL the numerous predecessor manifestations also, on or offsite, like :

(a) dolmens (with  their megalithic capstones already mentioned) .
(b) the so-called House of the Dead (450m SW of “Woodhenge” near Stonehenge), almost certainly open to the elements, not roofed as claimed in the media.
(c) stone circles (Avebury and numerous other sites)
(d) timber circles (or closely-spaced clusters of timber posts)
(e) circular henges,  i.e. soil  (usually highly visible white chalk embankments) with adjacent excavated ditch serving as a bird perch, easily visible from on high. Yorkshire’s Thornborough henges  were given a dressing of imported white gypsum as a substitute for native chalk.

(Re-creation of my wiped posting has reached this point, Thur Dec 12, and will continue on a daily basis in small instalments until complete).

(f) maybe even that otherwise mysterious Cursus a short distance to the north of Stonehenge, serving perhaps primarily as a highly visible white scar on the landscape, a prominent landmark for miles around, at least to birds on the wing.

map avenue durrington

Fig.9:  map showing close proximity of that mysterious “Cursus” to the Stonehenge site (will add a distance scale later: most of places shown are within 5 km of each other).

 

Here’s a link to my 2016 posting on the subject of that Stonehenge “Cursus”, with various ideas (my own and others) on its intended purpose:

https://colinb-sciencebuzz.blogspot.com/2016/04/might-stonehenge-have-been-designed-as.html

 

(7) Salt-tolerant lichens, consistent with visits by coastal gulls coming inland, with their salt-excreting glands situated above their eyes leaving salt-deposits wherever they settle and feed. Human blood and tissue will leave salt deposits too that soak into stone over time, rendering unfriendly to lichens that are not salt-tolerant.

 

salt-tolerant lichens SH Visitor Guide

Fig.10 :Page from English Heritage Visitor’s Guide to Stonehenge regarding the “mystery” of the salt-tolerant lichens.  Note especially the last but one sentence: ” It is possible that the prevailing winds at Stonehenge, blowing in from the Atlantic, may have encouraged these species to grow, but again, specialists have not been able to find a convincing explanation.”  This specialist HAS provided an explanation – convincing or otherwise – namely that the salt-tolerant lichens were  introduced by coastal seagulls, winging their way inland, maybe following the course of the River Avon, lured by the prospect of an assured free meal!

 

 

(8)  Yes, gulls, aka seagulls  are exceedingly voracious, so can be considered as a local substitute for the neighbouring Continent’s carrion-feeding vultures –  rarely if ever seen in Britain. They also congregate in large numbers ( which is no small consideration if  one’s a Neolithic funeral director, setting up an industrial-scale “sky burial” site, designed to operate through entire daylight hours, and, who knows, maybe year-round too? ).

While gulls are generally considered to prefer coastal locations, with nesting places on cliff ledges etc, they also seem ready and willing to migrate far inland if  they know (or sense) there’s a plentiful supply on offer, as we used to see at the UK’s  now largely obsolete landfill sites –  prior to the now standard recycling of food waste-  whether for composting or biogas generation.

 

gulls from recent past at landfill site

Fig.11: Gulls from recent past at a landfill site, previously  rich in discarded scraps of food,  the latter now segregated for recycling.

 

 

Who’s to say that Stonehenge with its exceptionally tall pillars and lintels was not designed to be seen by birds on the wing, gulls especially, as “inland cliffs” ? (Oh, and why bother with lintels if merely aligning (so we’re told) with the summer or winter solstice – and what does one do by way of celebration if either of those two red-letter days ( longest or shortest) is rainy or cloud-covered ?) Who’s to say Stonehenge’s pillars and lintels were not chalked over to render more cliff-like in appearance? Might “chalking ” explain the absence of inscriptions on the megaliths, bar those post-Neolithic Bronze Age drawings of axes and daggers (late substitution of metal blades for agents of sky burial?).

(9) Received ‘wisdom’ (read age-old ingrained dogma) maintains the mighty and overpowering Stonehenge to have been created primarily for solstice celebration for just one, at most two days of the year (prior to the discovery of that abundance of cremated bones, later attracting the non-solstitial label “Place of the Dead”) as distinct from nearby Durrington Walls to the NE (“Place of the |Living”). Yes, it all started with William Stukeley’s 1723 observation, namely the north-east orientation of the open end of the inner horseshoe trilithon , aka “axis”, pointing towards the intermediate so-called “Heel Stone ” marker”. But there was a north-east opening in the earlier pre-trilithon henge-like embankment, which would also have been aligned with that Heel Stone. (Oh, and that Avenue too, noting that it’s only its initial direction that heads towards the summer solstice rising sun (while not forgetting the sizeable settlement of Durrington Walls in roughly the same direction, described not so long ago as the biggest village in NW Europe!) but then veering off sharply , first east, then south-east to a lower reach of the River Avon.

 

map avenue durrington

map avenue durrington.png
Fig.9: caption to follow.

Oh, and guess where the the builders of late-stage Stonehenge were housed? Yes, general reckoning is that they lived (and feasted) in that same populous Durrington Walls, roughly the same compass direction from the Stonehenge site as sunrise on the longer summer days… Is it any wonder that the Avenue initially went towards Durrington (then veering off sharply to the SE to a nearby stretch of the River Avon, about which more later).

There’s a golden rule that operates in statistics, science and indeed plain common sense: association, aka statistical correlation, should not be taken to imply causation. No, not without an abundance of independent corroborative evidence, it being largely absent where alleged Stonehenge alignment exclusively to solstice alignment is concerned.

(10) I’ll keep this one short, since it’s ‘hot from the press’ so to speak, and I still need to complete my research of existing literature (such as it is). It concerns sarsen Stone 16 which, like the Heel Stone is reckoned to a be megalith that is native to the Stonehenge site (i.e. not manually transported in) but on the opposite side of Stone Circle, aligned we’re told with the centre and the Heel Stone (and much else besides we’re told!).

What interested me is reading that it is free of manual shaping, and then finding just the opposite. Here is what seems a a quite deeply inscribed pictorial, i.e. man-made outline in the first of 3 pictures:

IMAG0301 sarsen stone 16

 

IMAG0301 sarsen stone 16
Fig.10 Stone 16

and here’s another view of the same, more square -on, to which (on the right) I’ve taken the liberty of adding some solid grey colour to accentuate the apparent outline, indeed apparent shape

stone 16 with without outline

stone 16 with without outline
Fig. 11: Are you thinking what I’m thinking, dear reader? Was Stonehenge ‘strictly for the birds’?

SHAC-027DSCN0028 copy
Fig. 12: And here’s a truly amazing and unexpected drone’s eye view of the top of Stone 16.

 

SHAC-027DSCN0028 copy

I know who, or rather, WHAT would be delighted to splash around in that, following a drop of rain, or take an occasional beaker full beak-ful.

Relevance to solstice celebration? Give me a little while to think – say a decade or two…

Link to further reading on that Stone 16

Link to Image file

(11) Now for those so-called “carpentry joints”: (Be warned , this one is long, very long…)

Yes, we’re told that Stonehenge uprights and lintels are locked together with carpentry,, i.e. woodworking joints. The one I want to focus on is invariably described as “mortise-and-tenon” (a term I have used myself in the past, but now regret – in view of what follows).

Here’s a diagram of a mortise-and-tenon joint constructed in wood:

1. mortise and tenon carpentry joints

 

1. mortise and tenon carpentry joints
Fig.13: Mortise and tenon joint (in wood)

Here’s what Stonehenge author Neil Wiseman had to say about the so-called “carpentry joints” on this very blogsite (as a comment) in April of last year (my underlining):

2. Neil Wiseman comment re carpentry march 18 suss site red

2. Neil Wiseman comment re carpentry March 18 suss site red
Fig.14 Caption to follow

Does Stonehenge display precisely that kind of mortise-and-tenon joint shown in Fig.13, in every single important detail that might crucially affect STABILITY and FUNCTION?

Answer: no, a resounding NO.

Why not?

Here’s a diagram that showing how the lintels are attached to the uprights at Stonehenge:

3. shenge mort and ten enlarged

3. shenge mort and ten enlarged
Fig.15: Caption to follow

Those are not actually “mortise-and-tenon” joints. What are they?

Yes, they can be used in woodworking/carpentry, and, importantly, masonry as well, although they go by a different name:

4. joggle joint

 

4. joggle joint
Fig.16 Definition of a “joggle joint”

Yes, they are called “joggle joints”. Why?

“Joggle” per se has the following definition:

“Move or cause to move with repeated small bobs or jerks.”

Human anatomy provides ta fuller answer, as a quick look at either our shoulder or hip joints will show:

5. ball and socket e.g. hip joint

5. ball and socket e.g. hip joint
Fig.17 Ball-and-socket joint

Unlike the “mortise-and-tenon’ joint, the so-called “ball-and-socket” joint of anatomy, deployed in carpentry/masonry under the name “joggle joint” allows for ROTATION, unlike the fixed, rigid mortise-and-tenon joint.

Might there have been reasons for the builders of the final megalithic Stonehenge to have opted for joggle joints, ones that permit rotation?

Answer: yes, and I said why way back in 2012. It was to allow a lintel to be attached to just one of the two uprights initially via one of the two “ball and socket” joint . Once in place, the lintel could then be swung round like the hand of a clock to engage with the second upright. With the lintel now firmly held in both its two uprights , the latter could then be “joggled” into perfectly upright positions, using a plumb line (probably) and applying LATERAL force only where needed, with NO FEAR OF the lintel becoming dislodged from its twin anchorage – one that relies on WEIGHT and GRAVITY. So let’s raise our Stonehenge-sussing hats to the manoeuvrable “joggle joint”, serving the needs of both carpentry AND masonry! Let’s retire that inappropriate, unhelpful “mortise-and-tenon” joint please.

So no, Neil Wiseman: forget your fanciful ideas about the builders of Stonehenge displaying a sentimental attachment to woodworking techniques. You got the terminology wrong, you ignored the practicalities of getting the three enormously heavy megaliths into place, and then proceeded to inflict your fanciful notions onto this science-based site as if given fact. I could say more, a lot more, about your blogging modus operandi, reliant as it is on others’ websites as distinct from having, apparently, none you can call your own (?) but shall say not more, at least for now. But rest assured I will not hesitate to say more if you attempt to dismiss me and my “excarnation”/anti-solstice model out of hand as you have tried to do, here and elsewhere, with the kind of argument deployed above.

Reminder: this site has chosen the blog vehicle to report an online LEARNING CURVE since 2012 in numerous instalments. Unlike you, Neil Wiseman, I am not in the business of force-feeding my ideas onto others. Ideas, aka hypotheses in science, are there in the first instance for critical testing. Who’s responsible for testing? Answer: the ORIGINATOR in the first instance. I rigorously test my own ideas, seeking out the tiniest FACTUAL details that might have a bearing…

(12) So why is Stonehenge situated where it is, i.e. out on lonely, breezy upland?

First, I’ll post a map of southern Britain shown previously on this site (and commended, dare I say, by a recent site commentator, i.e. Alex Illi). But I’ve also added some additional “sun” symbols, 5 to be exact, which are a new addition.

cropped map central location shenge + sun

 

cropped map central location shenge + sun
Fig.18 Caption to follow

Why 5 in those particular locations? Answer: they are listed as the places currently with the best sunshine record in the whole of Britain. They are – from west to east – (a) Tenby (in S. Wales (b) Bristol (c) Bognor Regis (d) Hastings (e) Eastbourne.

But Stonehenge is nowhere near any of those 5! OK, it doesn’t look too distant from Bristol to the west, but look at a larger-scale map:

bristol to stonehenge dup

bristol to stonehenge dup
Fig.19 Caption to follow

In fact it’s some 50 miles or more, and the route from Bristol -near the coast – climbs upwards to the elevated Salisbury Plain, losing the benefit of a near-seaside location.

Now some might say, rightly so, that current sunshine records might not be the same as 5000 years ago. But there’s still the likelihood that the seaside location is sunnier throughout the year than somewhere far inland on an elevated plain.

How likely is it that Stonehenge would have been chosen as the place at which to celebrate either the rising Sun on the longest day of the year (June 21 approx) or the setting Sun on the shortest day of the year. Cloud and rain are familiar sights year round in Britain, given the cyclones that come in off the Atlantic. Why opt for Stonehenge as the spot for solstice celebration. Why not a sunnier seaside location that gives a greater probability of seeing sunrise or sunset on those two allegedly ‘imagination-capturing’ days of the year?

I say that the location for Stonehenge had little or nothing to do with the annual solstices (at least not directly – especially as they are a mere 2 days out of 365 or 366 per year, with a sizeable chance of rain, cloud or both.

It’s to do with central location in Southern Britain, close to the meeting point of those two diagonal red lines. It meant the site would be reasonably accessible from all 4 points of the compass, not only for folk bringing their dead for what was considered optimized disposal (preliminary sky burial, followed by end-stage cremation of leftovers) but for those winged agents of sky burial, especially voracious gulls coming inland from their regular haunts, attracted from afar by highly visible additions to the wide-open landscape. Those additions? Initially that Cursus maybe – see map above. Then by gleaming white chalk banks , regardless of whether the ditch supplying the chalk was outside the bank (“defensive” or inside as per strict “henge” definition, i.e. (“non-defensive”). The early stages of Stonehnege may have been reserved for an elite, whose cremated remains were interred locally. Later the site evolved into its present megalithic form, without local interment (based on carbon dating of charcoal etc). Why?

Answer: the more folk wishing to give their loved ones a prestigious send-off, the more avian wild-life taking up residence nearby. That in turn shortened the time for excarnation, allowing the site to lower its professional fee, attract still more custom, still more feathered friends. Thus the evolution from simple bank/ditch to the grand monument we see today, one attracting ‘custom from far and wide – not just a few miles but probably scores, possibly hundreds of miles. One condition was attached in its later phase – collect and take away the final package of cremated bone – there’s no more room on site for interment of remains.

13. What was the purpose of the strategically-situated “Altar Stone” with its unique geology, different from both local sarsens AND Welsh-‘bluestones’?

Here from the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica is a diagram supplied by English Heritage of Stonehenge in different stages of development. Note that in the third and final stage it labels the Heel Stone and the Slaughter Stone, but not the Altar Stone (although it may be visible as an upright within the central trilithon horseshoe – it’s hard to tell)

MPP diag
Fig 20: caption to follow

So why is the Altar Stone not shown, given the somewhat arresting name bestowed on it by Inigo Jones?

The accompanying text in the EB article provides a clue. It was provided by Prof. Mike Parker Pearson no less. there are two, just two mentions given to the Altar Stone which my search facility has highlighted, first in yellow and second in orange:

MPP EBa

Yes, the Altar Stone is referred to categorically as a “toppled upright”. How can it have been an “altar” stone one might ask if it had been stood on end, i.e. upright, rather than lying flat and table-like on the ground? One might well ask! We’re not even told what function an upright “altar” stone would have served, despite its occupying a central position in that central horseshoe! The Britannica no less, or rather its exalted archaeologists/author could be said to be somewhat dismissive of the “Altar Stone”, wasting no time in discounting any role as an “altar”.

As for Google and wikipedia, singly or in combination, words fail me. Enter (stonehenge altar stone) into Google search, and here’s what you see:

google stonehenge altar stone
Fig.21 Caption to follow

That’s wiki dominating the returns. OK, except for one thing: the photograph shown is not the Altar Stone lying flat on the grass. It’s the Slaughter Stone, way outside the main stone circle!

It gets worse. Click on the wiki entry for Altar Stone, and here’s what you see- a different photograph, but still not the Altar Stone!

wiki entry altar stone wrong photo oct 23, 2019
Fig 22 Caption to follow

No the large recumbent stone in the foreground, front left, is Stone 59, more specifically 59a (there being two adjacent broken-off pieces, 59b and 59c.

So who for heaven’s sake does display the correct picture for the Altar Stone? Answer: you have to go to that splendid site which lists all the stones by number, with abundant photographs of each and every one taken from different angles.

stonesofstonehenge org altar stone 80
Fig 23 Caption to follow

But beware. The Altar Stone is barely visible in that first photograph. Why? Because it’s underneath the two large ones, almost entirely under the ground, merely a single surface peeping through! Here’s a close up with the Altar Stone (Stone 80) arrowed in red:

stonesofstonehenge org altar stone 80 cropped red crosses
Fig.24 caption to follow

So, what would be the shape and size of the Altar Stone, were it to be visible above ground, and what’s it made of: local sarsen or Welsh bluestone (it’s surely one of the latter????).

Read what Brian John has to say about the Altar Stone on p.103 of the first of his two books (The Bluestone Enigma):

“The Altar Stone has had considerable nuisance value within Stonehenge debating circles ever since it was realized that it was not made of spotted dolerite or some other igneous rock, but of a greenish sandstone unlike anything else found in the stone settings. It is much bigger than any of the other bluestone monoliths, about 5m long by just over 1m wide and about 50cm thick. It is a slab rather than a pillar, and its weight has been variously estimated at between 6 and 9 tonnes. It was and is an anomaly.”

Here, from Wikimedia Commons (spotted in B.John’s book) is a handy plan of Stonehenge with a clearly-labelled diagram of the CENTRAL position of the largely-soil-entombed Altar Stone, which I’ve (a) coloured red in the original and (b) shown enlarged in the yellow box on the right.

plus minus enlargement overlapped.png

So, sizeable slab-like megalith, unusual geology, buried deep in the ground, central location within the inner trilithon horseshoe, but allegedly, according to Prof MPP, standing upright initially with no no stated purpose, least of all one that could justify the continuing description (right or wrong) of “Altar Stone”.

Frankly, I see no grounds for rejecting the “Altar Stone” label, nor for assuming it was once upright, questioned not so long ago elsewhere. From its location, unique site geology, slender, flat, elongated slab-like shape etc etc it seems perfectly feasible to me that its function was exactly as stated, i.e. an altar stone, but with a qualification. That term “altar” has often in the past been ascribed both at Stonehenge an elsewhere to human sacrifice, implying onsite slaughter of the living as a sacrifice to the gods. Maybe it’s that suggestion that has led to the persistent downplaying of “altar stone” in the otherwise rose-tinted solstice-dominated Stonehenge literature, to the extent that even the Britannica passes lightly over it it as merely one more upright pillar among a multitude of many’.

No, I say that the Altar Stone fits with the narrative proposed and summarised in this posting. The Altar Stone was where the newly deceased, brought into the site, whether from near or afar, , were laid out at the isolated spot on Salisbury Plain, set aside specifically for ‘sky burial’. That was the case at least in the early days of the site when offerings were probably few and far between, maybe of distinguished elite only).

Stone 80, yes, the “Altar Stone” was deliberately set deeply into the ground , such as to make the topmost surface table-like, level with the turf. The notion that it was rammed down so far by the weight of two stones falling on top seems scarcely credible.

Yes, “scarcely credible”. But then the same could be said to be the case for so much of ‘received wisdom’ where Stonehenge is concerned, where imagination is not only allowed to run riot, but to proceed further, demolishing plain common sense at every available opportunity.

There are more I could add to this list, on top of the 13 thus far, but some might think this posting long enough as it is.

Red italic font: late addition inserted Oct 24:

Have just quickly perused the multi-author “pig transport” Madgwick et al paper from March this year, raising more questions perhaps than it answers as to why and how pigs would be transported over such long distances, e.g. from Scotland, to Durrington Walls, near to Stonehenge. (Like why was the supposed feasting on pigs at Durrington as distinct from Stonehenge per se).

One of the very first postings on this “Stonehenge” focused site, back in 2012, was in fact directed to Durrington, the feasting on pigs, and some curious, nay unpleasant details that accompanied that work, notably the inhumane manner in which aninals were slaughtered (bow and arrow) and the surprising degree of wastage (cooked pig bones with attached uneaten meat).

Link

That’s when the dreaded e-word first came to mind – there might, and indeed probably was, more to that pig-feasting so near yet so far from Stonehenge than met the eye.

I am presently taking a close look at the new data. Some additional possibilities come to mind that might better incorporate aspects of the new data. I’ll attach them here as Item No.14 when I feel ready to do so, hopefully quite soon. It would be good to be able to integrate the gist of my first posting (no matter how stomach-churning) into this current one, 7 years and more down the line.

09:00 (still Oct 24):

I’ll give a clue as to the way my thinking is going:

There is a rationale for the feasting at Durrington, separate from Stonehenge, especially in the winter months. Pigs at Durrington were born locally, but not fed local food. They were fed primarily on food brought it by those from afar, bringing their dead preferably for for avian-mediated pre-excarnation/post cremation, together with their own local food for feeding to Durrington’s resident population of pigs. Why? Answer: Stonehenge not rely on excarnating gulls and other carrior feeding birds being present all year round in sufficient number to guarantee rapid “sky burial”. So they hit on a solution, and a highly workable successful one at that. Keep pigs as a buffer. If or when birds were in small numbers, then excarnate at Durrington using pigs instead. Later, when the birds are back, slaughter the excarnating pigs, kept separate from the rest, then transport the carcasses to Stonehenge for feeding to birds. No, not all the pigs were used as excarnating agents. Ones that were unused (kept separate!) could be earmarked for feasting, either by the bereaved or by Durrington ‘townsfolk’ themselves especially the winter months when fresh food was in short supply.. Note the difference between what’s proposed here, and that articulated with a degree of reluctance back in 2012. The inhabitants of Durrington did not, repeat NOT feed on pigs that had been earmarked for intermediate excarnation of newly- arrived deceased. There were two entirely separate subgroups: excarnating v non-excarnating pigs.

“Feasting”? What is the evidence for “feasting” one might ask? Provisionally, at any rate, the only evidence I can see for feasting is the finding of sizeable accumulations of pig and other skeletal remains within “middens”, with pits etc listed as a subsidiary. That’s then interpreted as due to the presence of large numbers of folk gorging themselves at roughly the same time, i.e. a ceremonial feast.

But what if the pig left overs were due not to a sudden large number of outsiders descending on Durrington within a short time frame, days or few weeks at most, but over a longer one, say months or years? Have we overlooked the possibility, nay probability, that Durrington/Stonehenge, far from being a site for celebration, solstice-related or otherwise, was one for industrial-scale disposal of the newly deceased two-legged men or women-folk, brought in by their bereaved from considerable distances, along with site-supporting material (non-local food for resident pigs, plus non-local fuel for final cremation of what remains after sky burial, thus accounting for the non-local isotope ratios, mistakenly attributed to non-local pigs having been transported improbably long distances)

So let’s leave it there shall we, at 13 14 ? Comments as ever invited (with the usual proviso that they observe a modicum of blogging etiquette).

Aside: can the “solstice celebration” school of thought, correction, wishful thinking, accommodate all the evolutionary steps towards the final Stonehenge per se as we know it? If so, let’s be hearing from it please. (Oh, and please cease fobbing us off with those references to the site having served different roles at different times, with no attempt to find a continuous developmental thread as set out above in (a) to (f).

Oh, and let’s not forget that practice-cum-ritual of excarnation/sky burial is still practised even now in the modern world, for which some video is available online (no, definitely not for the faint-hearted!) showing a combination of blade and beak to effect the conversion of recently-deceased whole body to defleshed skeleton.

Late addition: today’s Express (Oct 25) has a article on those cremated bones at Stonehenge, though I have to say I am unable to see anything there we haven’t been told already!

Stonehenge breakthrough: How ‘treasure trove of information’ was found buried under site
Link:

29th Ocober, 2019

Scales have fallen from one pair of eyes at least!

Yes, I’ve gone back and re-read everything I can lay my hands on regarding the so-called “winter-feasting” at Durrington Walls (not Stonehenge itself!) – in books, published papers etc etc).

Sorry, you advocates of seasonal pigging-out on brought-in-from-outside piggies: I think you have got it wrong. Serioulsly wrong. You have overlooked the importance, nay flexibility of the humble pig in the pre-currency barter economy that existed pre-Bronze Age. where Stonehenge/Durrington was concerned, It didn’t have to be the pig per se that was a handy medium of exchange. Durrington could keep its own holding of pigs, housed in pens, bred all year round, slaughtered for maximal input/output efficiency at 9 months of age ANY TIME OF YEAR. No, it wasn’t the pigs that were the medium of exchange, but sustenance for those animals, brought in from far and wide by those seeking the services of a specialist funeral provider, needing to provide acceptable means of pre-payment upfront.

That exchange generated a self-sustaining, steadily expanding micro-economy, centred first on Durrington Walls, then shifting by degrees to nearby Stonehenge, passing though a number of phases (all directed to the same end, but with ever-growing degrees of ceremony and grandeur) all made possible by, guess what? Answer: proto-money in the form of the humble but flexible pig and, more specifically, its day to day sustenance prior to slaughter and consumption.

I say the “solstice fixation” is depriving us Brits of a fascinating insight into the way in which out market economy took root with simple beginnings, focused initially on a a sad but unavoidable necessity of life, namely disposing of the newly dead, and doing so in a way that could work with reasonable dignity and dispatch prior to the arrival of metal digging implements and much else besides.

Come on, English heritage! Re-invent yourselves. Open a new chapter in our prehistory, one that tells it the way it really was, warts an’all.

The gist of the above addition and one preceding it, have been conveyed to a prominent academic with published findings in the relevant areas. The response was one of mild interest, and thus heartening, given the customary blank response and/or total silence I get from the UK Archaeology Establishment when addressing in candid detail the REAL purpose of Stonehenge

The enlarged elaborated new model being unveiled here, on this humble semi-amateur/semi-professional site is far too important in my humble view to be left to the vagaries of internet communication, at least via the so-called weblog learning curve deployed these last 7 years. I have offered the academic first refusal on incorporating my new thinking into his own, whether positive, negative or somewhere midway. While awaiting a more definitive response than the one received thus far, I’ll continue to read, think, re-read etc and begin listing both strong and weak points.

New postings? Maybe, maybe not, probably not, at least not on the present site, while I see if there are more effective ways of getting one’s message across, maybe, hopefully, in partnership with one or more established academics. ( No, I don’t btw insist on co-authorship, I don’t even insist on a mention in Acknowledgements: I merely want to see the solstice narrative seen for what it is – almost certainly a spurious, i.e. FALSE link between trilithon horseshoe orientation and two (and only two!) particular directional extremes of sunrise or sunset (needing clear skies to be seen, sadly not a British speciality). I want to see a new chapter opened, one grounded in Neolithic REALITY as distinct from rose-tinted fantasy.

A reserve option is to start a new website, one with the message, or merely key question, in the permanent title (a necessity, given Google’s bizarre failure to display one’s individual WordPress posting titles, depriving one of web ranking and with it new “clicks” to enhance further. (Think withering on the strangulating-from-birth Google vine – grapes reduced to mere grapeshot! Accidental or deliberate where non-commercial blogs are concerned? Who can tell?)

Title of a new blogsite? Have given it scarcely any thought as yet, but one possibility might be:

Title: “Who for heaven’s sake financed Stonehenge?

Tagline (alongside on right, in italics) : (More particularly HOW – having not a single pre-Bronze Age metallic coin to their name?) Oink, oink …

Apols for typos: today’s addition was written in haste. I’ll return later to edit mercilessly, adding, subtracting , amending where necessary.

October 31 (2019)

Slight modification to the above scenario (the one that substitutes a different explanation than “winter feasting” for accumulations at Durrington of pig bones)

The bereaved did not set off from their homes, tens or scores of miles it seems in some cases from Durrington) laden with pig food as such. That would have been a little undignified. No, they probably loaded up with quality food initially, slung as I say from those poles straddling pairs of shoulders. Along the way they they would have made inroads into some of that food, but left-overs would have been conserved. On reaching their destination, they would hand over their departed loved one, then negotiate a mutually-agreeable upfront payment for ceremonial body disposal in terms of (a) a calculated surplus of fresh, quality human food that could keep the Durrington personnel fed and healthy (b) accumulated left-overs from the journey that could be fed to Durrington’s resident pigs. No, pigs per se would not have been “herded” from A to B. That is not the piggy lifestyle, even if someone is behind waving a big stick.

As I say, this site is, and always has been, a learning curve. In science |(even as a retired scientist) one tries to be one’s own harshest critic.

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Stonehenge’s “Heel Stone” (Part 2): comment submitted to Brian John’s ‘bluestone’ site.

Part 1 of my thinking regarding  Stonehenge’s so-called “Heel Stone” (a truly ludicrous label that should have been ditched long ago – centuries even) appeared on this site in Feb of last year (2018).

Best not to ask what Stonehenge was really for … though that beaked sarsen (so-called) Heel Stone may provide a likely clue …

DSC03377

The “Heel Stone”, my own snapshot from 2012 ,when there was still a road behind (since grassed over). Centrepiece of the original Stonehenge? 

Here’s a foretaste of Part 2, submitted earlier today to another blogsite (one of the few that has “Stonehenge” in the title AND invites comments).

stonehenge and the ice age, 1,2 and 3

Link to site’s current posting

(Currently showing no comments, 17:15, Oct 16, 2019)

Whether Dr.John accepts this comment is another matter entirely!

Here’s my comment:

I now consider the site’s title, or rather its emphasis on imported bluestones, to be misplaced. I believe the initial megalith at Stonehenge, the one that prompted all the later additions, was not an out-of-area bluestone, but a single local sarsen, one that was left unshaped, one that may have been hauled upright, but otherwise is almost certainly still in its original location. All subsequent alignments were aimed at IT, originally, not the rising or setting sun, least of all to two specific days of the year, requiring precocious astronomical insights and knowledge.

That particular sarsen has a memorable shape, explaining why it was uniquely left unmodified. But you’ll find scarcely a word in the literature (or online) regarding that particular feature. Instead, it’s left with a ludicrously unscientific (or as some might say pseudo- or indeed anti-scientific name tag).

It’s called the “Heel Stone”, needless to say. (Or as I prefer, “Bird Stone”).

I consider the sidelining of the so-called “Heel Stone” one of the greatest scandals to afflict UK science in its entire history. That cash-cow milking so-called charity called “English Heritage” must take a major share of the blame. (Look btw at the way it has “buried” the remains of “Seahenge” timber circle and central upturned tree-root altar in a parochial museum). …

When is our country (to say nothing of mass media) going to wake up to what is being done to misrepresent our Neolithic history, in order to paint a rose-tinted “solstice-celebrating” fantasy – oh, and keep the cash-registers ringing?

More to follow later

Addendum (not sent to the bluestone site):

Quote from the Lynn Museum link to its “Seahenge” display  (my bolding)

It is thought to have been constructed by the people of the small farming communities who lived in wattle and daub round houses.  We can never be certain what its purpose was.  It remains an incredible monument to the skill and beliefs of our Bronze Age ancestors.

Now compare with the original BBC Report from 1999, whose Seahenge Page is shown on my banner, top left above: That at least gave some hint as to what purpose was served by planting an upturned tree root in the centre of a closed-off timber circle, in salt marsh close to the Norfolk coast AND drawing a possible link with Stonehenge .

I shall round off this preliminary flagging up of Part 2 of my now expanded theory by listing the new points that can now be incorporated into the model:

(1) Grounds for thinking that the so-called Heel Stone, while a sarsen, was not transported in the 20 miles or so from the Marlborough Downs to the north, but was there from the outset (regardless of how it got there on a geological time-scale).

(2) It may well have had a close-neighbour of similar morphology, one that is still nearby, and peppered with the same holes ( Now what might that be ?????).

(3) Grounds for thinking that the Heel Stone was in fact neo-Stonehenge, i.e. the  initiating phase. The clue to that can be found in this passage from the Historic England site:

“The  (Heel) tone is surrounded by a ditch 12m in diameter and 2m wide, partly visible as a slight earthwork. Partial excavation in 1979 revealed the presence of a stone-hole 2m to the north west of the Heel Stone, and geophysical survey along a 240m length of the Avenue north of the A344 in 1979-80 suggested possible positions of further stone-holes.”

(4) Why the Avenue runs for only a relatively short distance to the NE, before veering sharply to the E,  away from the summer solstice,  shifting first east, then  south-east  ending finally at or close to the nearest point on the River Avon.

See this passage from the same Historic England site:

 “From its junction with the north east entrance to Stonehenge, the Avenue is constructed to maintain the axis of the monument for a distance of 560m in a north east direction. On the west side of Stonehenge Bottom it turns to run WSW-ESE for a distance of 760m towards King Barrow Ridge, from which point it curves gradually towards the south east for a distance of 500m, running in a straight line again for the final 900m to the bank of the River Avon.).

Expect a little more to be added tomorrow before my  next posting, one that sets out more formally  Part 2 of my new expanded  theory.It’s also one that not only rejects the “solstice” link as a spurious correlation, but substitutes what this retired science bod considers the real reason for the larger Phase 2 bank/ditch to have had its aperture in the north-east facing side. (Yes it may have provided  desired sunshine on days with limited cloud cover  where it was needed at or near the crack of dawn in the midsummer months, but that was not the primary intention in the first instance – more by way of a fortuitous dividend).

It’s now tomorrow (Thur Oct 17)

Have just tracked down this vaguely-recalled Stonehenge Tourist Guide, 2012 vintage, lurking in my bookcase these last 7 years:

1 front cover

See that scribbled note  top right hand corner, “coincidental alignment” ?  Yup, my hunch was right, my 75 year old memory still serving me OK. There was indeed something there that I had noted all those years ago, worth flagging up on the cover. So what was that, you might ask?

First, let’s see what English Heritage had to say on the back cover of this tourist Guidebook (charged extra  at the gift shop on top of the whopping great entrance fee to the site):

2. Back cover ref sun etc

Yes,  a “temple to the sun” we were told.  Evidence?   Mere alignment of a horseshoe formation of 5 trilithons to the NE?   (Since when has association implied causation?  Might there not have been other reasons?)

Let’s now  take look at that Page 33 that caught my attention…

3. p33

It was that final paragraph. What did it say?

4. p33 closeup.JPG

Gold dust. Sheer gold dust!  It’s rare to find that commodity in anything that comes from  English Heritage, but note the key phrases:  the first (highlighted  7 years ago): “coincidentally aligned on the winter and summer solstices”. The second: the reference to the Heel Stone as a “rare local sarsen“. ( My bolding in both instances).

Here’s a link to the current guidebook. 

“Although its exact purpose remains a mystery…” appears upfront.  But what does it say between its covers?  Sorry, EH, but I’m not shelling out another £6 to find out. You tell us!  Any chance you might mention the E word (or show a photo of a seagull or two?).

Friday October 18, 2019

You may consider the exact purpose of Stonehenge to “remain a mystery”, English Heritage. But this retired scientist does not.  Here’s a domestic arrangement, captured on my camera just a few minutes, ago.  It sums up the evolution in my thinking over a 7 year period, reported online as a real-time learning curve,  and one which you continue to ignore (and we all know why!).

screenshot 3D-ish seagulls

Here’s one more for your delectation dear English Heritage:

heel stone with addition

I repeat: I consider that what you see immediately above is Stonehenge Mark 1 prior to the construction of the circle of imported bluestones and sarsens. It  shows why Stonehenge is WHERE  it is ( visually distinctive  memorable local “landmark , or as we now say,  just one more silicified sandstone sarsens, albeit somewhat quirky) and, more to the point, WHY  it’s where it is (deployment of what I have previously termed “AFS” , short for Avian-Facilitated Skeletonization” as a preliminary to final fuel-efficient end-stage -cremation). The latter  was deemed by our Neolithic forbears to be preferable to either “simple” burial or “simple” whole-body cremation, neither being “simple” 5000 years ago, prior to the Bronze Age arrival of metal digging tools, prior to the invention of writing for identifying gravestones, pre-abundant  supply of dry year-round fuel for the hours and hours required  for whole-body cremation.

C’mon, English Heritage (and others) – get real. Try looking at the world as it really was 5000 years ago. Rid yourselves of those “solstice fantasies” based on negligible  data input,  with unbridled 18th century imagination taking its place, to say nothing of wishful thinking.

Next posting: it will be the ‘formal’ one –  setting out my new, all-embracing theory, centred upon  the “Heel Stone” as the initial Phase 1 predecessor of  what we now call Stonehenge. (The present posting was to warn folk – English Heritage in particular – about what was in the pipleline, a fin ishing touch on my earlier hunches regarding that “AFS”, now reinforced with the Heel Stone link.).

Thus far, i have been able to list some 7 separate points that in my view add up to a coherent body of evidence that places the Heel  Stone at the very start, with a rationale entirely different from solstice-celebration.

I may hold off for a while,  weeks rather than days – hoping I’ll be able to suss out one or two additional points that support the model. (Not for nothing was this site’s URL  entitled “sussing Stonehenge”  way back in 2012 – suspecting, correctly as it turns out, that there would be no immediate pat answers – suspecting that intense scrutiny of each and every tiniest  available detail would be needed, in the absence of a verbal folklore record – far less a written one).

I say we’re nearly there.  But let’s not go tripping at the final hurdle. Kindly bear with me folks, while I put the finishing touches to an entirely new and different take on that world-famous monument.  Repeat: it’s one  that English  Heritage  still claims to “remain a mystery”, while still  luring in and beguiling its £19 per head site visitors with its continuing  “solstice-celebration’ fantasy (to which it now adds additional fill-in year round “spring and autumnal equinox celebration too). You couldn’t make it up!  Well, yes you can while those cash registers and credit-card wotsits continue to feast on the proceeds of marketing what is almost certainly a false, carefully nurtured narrative.

You are a blot on the name of my home-nation, English Heritage, both scientifically AND commercially.  English Heresy more like it… Or maybe that should be Engli£h Here£y?

Here’s some unsolicited advice: start telling it the way it is,  EH, both online and in your visitor guidebooks, based on ALL the available evidence – not just your oh-so-narrowly circumscribed soap-opera version of reality.

Here, btw, are links to my other websites:

science buzz

Shroud of Turin without all the hype

Dreams and Daemons

Saturday October 19, 2019 (approx 10.10)

Perform a Google search under (stonehenge slaughter stone) and one is confronted by a major error:

Google mistake re slaughter v altar stone

One gets a wikipedia entry  (on the right) labelled “Altar Stone” (not the requested Slaughter Stone), with  the appropriate verbal description of the Altar Stone. It’s the accompanying photos that are the problem. They are NOT of the Altar Stone (most of which is hidden under turf bar the top surface), but of the Slaughter Stone!

I have used Google’s “Feedback” tab to notify them of this serious error on wikipedia’s part,  one which could cause much misunderstanding and confusion.

In fact, it’s the second error from that “people’s internet-based DIY encyclopaedia” .  I mentioned another a few days back, one which gives another wrong picture for the Altar Stone – substituting the largely above ground Stone 59a some considerable distance away. (Error not reported,  and thus still there,  being no user-friendly feedback facility on wiki! But I flagged it up to another Stonehenge-focused website owner who replied saying he’ll use social media to report the error).

Yes, I often use wiki as a first port of call when researching a new topic.  But I never, repeat NEVER take anything on trust, having once had a bad experience, causing much embarrassment and loss of face on the Ancient Origins site.  Cause of crossed wires?  Answer: that same wiki entry on the “Altar Stone” would you believe it?

Late addition (Oct 22, 2019)

Have just submitted the following as a comment to Brian John’s current posting re Tasman “dead ice”:

“Yup, dead ice under one’s feet, in danger of slipping away catastrophically at any moment. revealing goodness knows what previously lurking underneath.

Kinda puts one in mind of the ‘solstice fixation’ that took possession of Stonehenge so-called “thinking” some 300 years or so (thanks to instant uncritical acceptance of William Stukeley, 1723).

I say it’s time to start rewriting the text books (to say nothing of English Heritage publicity handouts) starting with some gentle prods from internet blogsites such as this one (and my own!) as the agent of change…”

He didn’t publish this posting-focused comment (see title above). Maybe he’ll publish this one!

 

 

……………………

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My final, considered solution to the enduring Stonehenge mystery – some 7 years in the making…

I posted the following  (red font below) as my final comment to another internet site earlier today. (What a waste time  that was!).  Yes, 7 years in the making, as per posting title,  reported  by this retired science bod in  numerous instalments to the internet as a step-wise learning curve,  mainly here but also  elsewhere, notably my science buzz site).

Stonehenge was simply a super-dolmen, with hugely-elevated cross-piece lintels serving the same function as the lowlier capstones on earlier rustic dolmens.

That function? Supplying a safe secure elevated platform for excarnating bird life, invited in via a prominent man-made landscape feature to procure first stage defleshing aka excarnation of the recently deceased, as a preliminary to final fuel-efficient disposal of the remains by cremation.

No, it’s not an attractive narrative that can be promoted to (fee-paying) tourists by the likes of English Heritage/Stonehenge Visitors Centre.

But I believe it to be the plain, unadorned truth. Forget all the cosmetic enhancement regarding “solstice celebration”. If intentional (?) the north-east alignment of the Stonehenge trilithon horseshoe was merely designed to illuminate the new offerings at first light on the midsummer (or thereabouts) crack of dawn.

(See the posting immediately preceding this one  (LINK) for illustrative photos (dolmens and their capstones, later upgraded to mighty ceremonial Stonehenge, also with upmarket CAPSTONES, albeit better known as cross-piece LINTELS!   The posting  immediately prior  to that  offers an explanation for stone circles and inner trilithon horseshoes: they were to ensure there were always patches of light AND dark shadow throughout daylight hours – penetrating shafts of  light keeping the site  visible to birds on the wing, but always accompanied by shadows to conceal  the altar-displayed “offerings” from any  mourning relatives who might still be in the immediate vicinity.)

Comments as ever invited (please keep them relevant, and preferably polite).

Are you still around, Alex Illi?  Your previously morale-boosting feedback in Comments, was most welcome., as too would be your opinion regarding  my most recent two postings ! Would that there were more like you on the internet…

Colin Berry (PhD)

Herts, UK

Afterthought:  here’s a visual aid (+ visual cues)  to go with the posting :

dolmen v stonehenge with birds

And here’s an added visual cue that points to a common role for both the rustic dolmen and the later more sophisticated, ceremonial Stonehenge:

cremated bone + 80 percent dolmen v stonehenge with birds

Yes, cremated human bone, present in abundance around Stonehenge, and found occasionally around dolmens too.

To understand the  real purpose of Stonehenge, one has to put together a mass of seemingly unrelated detail. Do that, and one arrives at a simple answer …  ceremonial ritualized excarnation, aka defleshing, as a preliminary to less fuel demanding, less time-consuming, less air-polluting  whole-body cremation…

Why are the support pillars of the dolmen pointed? As discussed earlier, it’s almost certainly to isolate feeding carrion birds on the capstone from ground-based scavengers or even predators, which might try climbing  the pillars. Even if the latter with good-gripping claws  made it as far as the underside of the capstone, they would not be able to negotiate their way round to the top surface, thanks to lack of grip provided at the tapered end, thanks to the overhang. So the crows, gulls etc would quickly learn that the capstone provided a safe perch – no need to be constantly looking  nervously over their shoulders (except maybe for winged top-of-food-chain predators like hawks, eagles etc.). Having said that, there would be no need for pointed support pillars at Stonehenge,  the lintels aka feeding platforms, being so much higher and accordingly inaccessible  for all intents and purposes to ground-based competitors.

Monday October 7, 2019

As indicated, I cannot  find a single shred of supporting evidence (independent evidence that is) for the solstice theory – whether summer or winter, whether also involving spring or autumn equinoxes as well! Nope, not a single point in its favour! It’s a mere correlation.

Reminder: correlation does not imply causation. Beware the spurious correlation (a memorable example of which was given in my old Yule and Kendall statistics textbook, namely the near perfect correlation between annual increase in US alcohol consumption versus year-on-year rise in schoolteachers’ annual salaries. Hic!

Does the proposed “sky burial”/final cremation narrative suffer the same defect? Does it lack for independent evidence  that can be mustered/cited in its support?

I’ve spent the weekend , listing this or that accompanying detail re Stonehenge and.or dolmens, that do  indeed serve the role of “independent supporting evidence”.

How many points thus far? A mere 22!  I’ll  display that list right here, on the end of this very posting  if anyone’s interested. In the meantime, I’ll continue to beaver away to see if I can’t get the number up to a nice round quarter century!

So why, one might ask, the monumental blind spot on the part of the world in general, and English Heritage in particular?  Er, blind spot for what,  one might ask?

Answer: blind spot for the (dare I say it?) obvious role of Stonehenge (not forgetting forerunner dolmens)  as communal  ceremonial site par excellence  for,  shhhh,  wait for it,  “sky burial”, followed by quick fuel-efficient cremation of left overs.

It’s all down to what I would describe as the “LNGDTR factor”.

LNGDTR?  What’s that when it’s at home?

Hint: here’s another of those visual cues…

ce_dead_end_road_3920

LNGDTR=  “Let’s not go down that (tourist unfriendly) road… ”   😉

or, for those of the gaze-averting tendency/ “let’s not jump to over-hasty conclusions (unless incorporating the be-all and end-all “solstice” buzz word).

ce_dead_end_road_3920 plus birds+ pyre

Apols for the lousy art… ( I made them black-headed gulls for better visibility, while acknowledging they are mainly – though not exclusively – Mediterranean.

Tuesday October 8

Anyone wishing to see a master-class in how  a tenuous message can be massaged and dressed up  to look as if established fact could do a lot worse than check out this English Heritage site:

English Hertiage, Stonehenge, winter solstice

On a different subject, things are, I’m pleased to say,  looking up somewhat on search engine rankings,  as  compared with my last report:

google rank page 6 stonehenge new theory

“Uncategorized”?  Not so. “Stonehenge” was entered into the Category box, as can be confirmed below, or by consulting the particular (September) posting cited. 

Here’s a disturbing thought – one I’ve been reluctant to mention thus far. Suppose someone – an interested party shall we say – had been able to hack into one’s WordPress  (and/or Blogger Blogspot) account. Suppose they had simply replaced ones’s “Stonehenge” category with “Uncategorized”?  Might that not be sufficient  to downgrade one where “Stonehenge” listings are concerned, such that’s one’s completely removed from simple “Stonehenge” searches, and even demoted on more specific ones, like that more circumscribed one above (“Stonehenge new theory”).

I have to say, after some 15 years of posting on internet blog sites since 2004 (some 7 sites in all), I’m firmly of the belief that search engine rankings are open to outside interference. (Rarely a week goes by when I don’t get an email claiming to be able to improve my search engine ranking(s), indeed  sometimes to Page 1: if it/they can be promoted, then  who’s to say it/they cannot  conversely be demoted too by malicious interests?).

I say it’s time that search engines took a long hard look at themselves, and ceased claiming that rankings are  governed  entirely by computer-generated algorithms.

Are they heck! Pull the other one…

Wednesday October 9

Have decided that it’s wrong and misleading to refer to the lintels as attached to uprights via “mortise and tenon’ joints (leading some to make out there was a prior use of sophisticated carpentry techniques deployed in an earlier all-timber phase which the builders were unable or unwilling to “let go” at the final stage).

No, the mortise and tenon joint has a rectangular-shaped peg fitting snugly in a similarly shaped socket.  That’s not the case at Stonehenge, where there is merely a rounded peg on the uprights that engages into a rounded socket. (Indeed, “ball-and-socket” as per our own hip joints etc would make for a better description. Why make an issue?  Answer: I suggested a reason for the renamed joint way back in 2012.  The balls served merely as a locating peg onto which one end of the lintel was engaged. That peg then allowed for the lintel to be swivelled round until the other end was similarly lined up, “ball” to “socket” and could then be attached.

https://sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/why-was-stonehenge-constructed-with-those-woodwork-joints-mortise-and-tenon-tongue-in-groove/

Conventional Carpentry “mortise and tenon” do not permit swivelling, i.e. rotation.

The end-to-end joint between different lintels is also described in carpentry terms as “tongue and groove”. Again, the two parts – peg and recess- are not rectangular in cross-section, instead approximately .semi-circular, so hardly an attempt to imitate   modern-day textbook carpentry techniques  but we’ll let that one by.

No, I reject entirely the woolly-minded view that Neolithic man was attempting to “show off” with those joints, especially as both would have been invisible to ground-based viewers. Their purpose was entirely practical – an initial aid to location and construction, as already flagged up, and as a means of rendering the final structure resistant to attack and toppling over by outside forces.

Yes, I’ve partly changed my mind since 2012 re terminology. But then, this is not a pulpit for preaching a final message, claiming to have it all sorted out beforehand in private. It continues to be what it was conceived as originally –  namely an online learning curve. Correction, a scientific learning curve, one where the researcher tries to be his own harshest critic.

Beware book authors etc who stalk the likes of this researcher on the internet, breaking in on other people’s websites to accuse one of spreading misinformation (read: opposing their own dogmatic views). I say they are guilty of gross misuse, nay abuse, of the internet, bringing it into disrepute, making it harder than it should be to unearth  and transmit the crucial relevant  facts,  and with it the real truth.

Tomorrow’s addition?  Here’s a typical “book author” putdown this retired scientist  was expected to shrug off lightly early last year:

“Basically what I’m seeing is that you looked at Stonehenge and said: “Hey! Bird Perches!” Then you cooked up an idea to support the idea”

What I’ll do tomorrow is demonstrate the falsity of that  hugely dismissive comment. How? Simple: putting together an online learning curve  as I have done on and off since 2012, everything is a matter of record. I’ll be able to demonstrate how “sky burial” and indeed Stonehenge’s purpose was addressed long after I  initially started to think about other matters relating to Neolithic history – focused first  on Durrington Walls winter feasting then  Avebury, then Silbury Hill  (construction and purpose) and then (and only then), “Seahenge”,   finally on Stonehenge! The route to “sky burial” was not a simple straight line.  Indeed, it was a Silbury Hill expert (Jim Leary) who asked in an email if I was able to work Stonehenge into my thinking re Silbury Hill, published incidentally on the Ancient Origins site in April 2016, 4 years (no less) after setting up this site!

https://www.ancient-origins.net/opinion-editorials/was-neolithic-silbury-hill-designed-welcoming-home-omnivorous-upwardly-mobile-020800

October 10, 2019

As flagged up yesterday, in a state of mild irritation, I’ve been going through old postings on my two sites – this one and science buzz – to see when and how  I first linked Stonehenge with “sky burial”. Was I suddenly smitten with a sudden barmy idea, clean out of the blue, as our know-all  author maintains, claiming just a couplem of days ago that I’m still fixated.

Eureka. I quickly found the key posting from April of 2016 that was the first to make the link. But  I invite you dear site visitor to  peruse it  it carefully, and ask if it was a wild flight of the imagination:

The site of posting?

Here’s a link to the posting, dated April 17, 2016:

https://sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/might-the-standing-stones-of-stonehenge-and-avebury-have-been-purpose-built-for-sky-burial-providing-a-secure-perch-for-crows-or-maybe-seagulls-to-roost-or-nest/

( I appended several comments in 2018  to the above posting which I’d recommend be read too, given they add more with respect to Stonehenge, the latter getting scarcely a mention in April 2016).

For those in a hurry, here’s a summary of the posting, posted as a comment  April 18, i.e. the following day,  to Ancient Origins.

Here’s a screen shot:

my comment to ancient origins - first re sky burial, 18.4.2016

Notice anything? The homing in on “sky burial” was not to Stonehenge. It was focused mainly on the standing stones at Avebury, with an attempt to link with neighbouring sites, namely Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow. I concluded by saying: “I’m working on a similar narrative for Stonehenge/Durrington Walls and hundreds of barrows with the cross-piece lintels (I wish I had said “dolmens”) arriving finally at a superior bird perch.”

Does that read like a crazy wild notion to you, dear reader,  for which one can get pounced upon , time and time again by the same book author, on numerous different websites?

I say it’t time that author took a long hard look at his modus operandi. Should he fail to do so, then I will start to quote some of his own claims, based on the notion that Stonehenge was the work of superhuman folk, centuries, nay millennia ahead of their time. Then we’ll see who is peddling the fantasies, and doing so in a manner that  simply do not stand up to  more than a few seconds of scientific scrutiny (their being capable of being summed up   “correlation = causation”).

Repeat: correlation does NOT imply causation.  It may sell books (to the scientifically-uninclined – but does not invite further interest on the part of those of us with a solid scientific  background and credentials

October 11, 2019:

What more can be usefully said as regards Stonehenge and its proposed role as a ceremonial site dedicated to SKY BURIAL?  (Not, repeat NOT summer or winter solstice worship as per received wisdom (William Stukeley, 1723, attempting to equate correlation with causation!).

I’ve been researching and commenting what has been said about “Seahenge” since the BBC’s initial report in 1999. Its timbers have now been dried , waxed and placed on display in Kings Lynn Museum.  What’s been said – or rather NOT been said – provides a big clue as to why my simple (if somewhat gut-wrenching )  “sky burial” narrative (by no means original) is simply failing to make an impact, not only with the mass media,  but even via the internet.  That’s despite the scores of postings, the detailed arguments , the  marshalling of a mass of ancillary supporting evidence etc etc.  Methinks the Lynn Museum will not be overly pleased with what I have to say. But then I’m not overly impressed by the Lynn Museum either, as will be seen later today…

Here’s a copy of an email sent this morning to the Lynn Museum,  Kings Lynn, Norfolk entitled “Your totally inadequate website description of  Seahenge”

Hello Lynn Museum

I  have just added a few words to the end of the current posting on my Stonehenge site (which did a posting on Seahenge some years ago, there and on my  separate science buzz site).

Suffice it to say that I am appalled, truly appalled, at the manner in which you gloss over the Seahenge display, failing to give any hint as to its likely, nay near-certain role as a site for excarnation, aka sky burial. I am also appalled at the lack of caption to the central upturned tree root, read “altar”. As for the artist’s reconstruction showing a cosy Neolithic village with huts, and the merest hint of the  seemingly adjacent “timber circle”, shown as a cut-off semi-circle, I am frankly gobsmacked

What you have in your possession is a coastal  salt-marsh version of Stonehenge, serving the same function, yet you are clearly embarrassed at having to display it to visitors, scared of offending sensibilities presumably.

I shan’t mince my words. You should be relieved of the Seahenge exhibits, collected and preserved at huge expense. They should be moved forthwith to the British Museum, with the  hard options of Neolithic body disposal given due prominence, with the timber or stone “bird perches” properly described as a compromise solution. 

I am giving serious consideration to putting the spotlight on the Lynn Museum and its woefully inadequate display (at least online) of the  major Seahenge finding in my very next posting (in a day or two)… If you think I’ve been unfair in this summary then please say so, and say why.

Regards

Colin Berry (retired PhD scientist)

https://sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com

Here is that artist’s, correction, model-builder’s  impression of ” cosy seaside ”  Seahenge” (er. where are the archaeological remains of adjacent dwellings in those alleged salt-marshes? Are they on display too? If not, why not?).

3, village surround to seahenge query nominal timber circle

that fake village at seahenge - artist's imp, Lynn Museum

There is now absolutely no doubt whatsoever in this science bod’s mind that the UK’s ‘Archaeology Establishment’ is not just trying to sanitise our nations’s prehistoric history. It’s trying to beautify, nay prettify it, no doubt with a view to keeping the income flowing into (a) tourist sites, notably Stonehenge and (b) research funding.

I say it’s high time that we as a nation dismissed the cosy mythology of our Archaeology Establishment. I say it’s time we embraced the hard facts of our pre-Roman Neolithic and Bronze Age history, notably the hard choice that confronted those needing to dispose of their recently deceased. I say that Stonehenge (and its predecessors – henges, timber circles, whether coastal or inland) were seen for what they were – sites for initial ‘sky burial’ of mortal remains /freeing of the supposedly immortal spirit, followed by collection for respectful preservation of whatever remained, cleansed by final end-stage -cremation at Stonehenge).

Am still struggling to think of the correct term to sum up that ghastly “villagy” reconstruction of Seahenge (the equivalent of ostensibly showing a picture of a high street funeral directors, but taken with one’s back to the entrance door, with a faked-up view of Boots, W H Smith etc etc along the street).

Candidates thus far:

Prissy, small-minded, blinkered, censoring, air-brushing, squeamish, belittling, nervous, twitchy, finicky, diminishing, escapist, embroidering, wilfully-misdirecting, obscuring, demolishing, undermining, sabotaging, trivializing, sanitizing, disguising, misrepresenting, de-mortifying, re-hashing, re-inventing, history-burying, fact-concealing, reality-avoiding/evading, truth-evading, diversion-seeking, truth-obscuring, falsifying, trivializing, infantilizing…

Verbatim quotes from the Lynn Museum website (I’ve highlighted certain sentences!)

 

Lynn Museum

Lynn Museum is home to the famous discovery of Seahenge back in 1998.  But it’s not just that exhibit that you should visit the museum for.

It is also full of medieval artefacts and object relating to the town of Kings Lynn and its maritime history, which was, at that time, a very prosperous and wealthy port, and it’s all laid out in such a way to make it a fascinating visit.

Main attraction at Lynn Musem

Seahenge is obviously the main attraction at Lynn Museum and I won’t go into detail here as you can find out more about Seahenge here, but once you’ve had a good look at the life size timbers and very well documented information boards about how it was discovered and excavated, and seen the very well set out displays and tools that would have been used, you then move onto the second room. 

Other attractions at the museum

My favourite attraction, once through the doors from Seahenge, was the amazing display of the “rise of the fairground rides” and it’s link to Kings Lynn.  I think it brought the child out in me, but seeing the life size real chicken and ostrich merry-go-round gallopers just filled me with such joy, and left me feeling very happy for the rest of my visit!

##########

 

Correction: have just discovered this larger photograph of the reconstructed “village”. (Thanks to aspi site).

dscn5152 reconstruction seahenge so-called village with timber circle with my arrow

It shows a timber circle, separate from the semi-circle, a bit to the right. I’ve highlighted it with a yellow arrow. We still have the timber circle as part of a cosy village, but at least it’s a complete circle with central inverted tree stump. The accompanying blurb still seems silent on what was the likely purpose (it sure would’t have been so close to dwellings if designed for ‘sky burial’ – that much is certain…).

Saturday October 12

I have laboriously copied every word in each of the 3 columns of text behind the Seahenge “reconstruction”. Nope, not a single word as to the purpose of the timber circle.  Maybe it’s elsewhere in the Museum…

Nuff said. It’s time Kings Lynn was relieved of the ‘liability’ thrust upon it by English Heritage and others, which has allowed Seahenge  and its significance to sink into obscurity.

Lynn museum –  summed up simply?  A parochial airbrush job… serving a wider covert purpose – to downplay Seahenge at the national level. (Existing cash-accruing narratives have to be protected at all costs…).

 

Oh, and here’s a short passage, tucked away in the wikipedia entry on “Seahenge”:

“The press were putting forward ideas of saving and preserving the monument where it was, something archaeologists explained was impossible. English Heritage’s chief archaeologist, Geoffrey Wainright, eventually gave the go ahead for a full excavation in March 1999. The procedure would cost £500,000, and the timbers would be conserved at the Fenland Archaeological Trust’s field centre at Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire”

See who conjured up half a million pounds no less to have “Seahenge” shifted to that hugely prominent new home (no not, the  iconic Lynn Museum but the even more glittering “Fenland Archaeological Trust field centre”? Why, none other than  “English Heritage”.  (Now there’s a surprise!).

I repeat: the sooner the archaeological finds are moved to the British Museum and given their proper due – both scientific and cultural  –    the better. What we see right now is  nothing less than a scientific and cultural smokescreen.  Speaking which, there are two other topics that I’m thinking can be described in the same terms: (a)  the manner in which dolmens are misrepresented as “burial chambers”, “previously covered we’re told by by earthen mounds, since “eroded away” (I say they are  rustic proto-trilithons, forerunners of Stonehenge) and (b)  the attempts to downplay the significance of the unique so-called “Altar Stone” at the centre of Stonehenge’s  trilithon horseshoe, which we’re solemnly assured was “once upright”  and  which is currently lying flat with only a surface exposed, the rest below ground” because , we’re told, “trilithon uprights fell onto it  “pushing it  almost completely underground”.   Yes, there’s at least one more posting there, attempting to dispel still more of those smokescreens that characterize both current and previous discussion and so-called debate as regards Stonehenge.

Why the need for smokescreens – verbal, written or otherwise?  Answer: because the Stonehenge “solstice celebration” narrative, far from being sound science (which it  most emphatically is NOT) is merely a cash-cow industry. But it also serves another less obvious purpose: it prevents the UK and rest of the world from knowing the real purpose of Stonehenge and associated megalithic sites (including those rustic dolmens), namely “sky burial” of the recently-deceased. Dolmen capstones and Stonehenge lintels served exactly the same purpose: elevated bird perches, ones where the scavengers of human flesh felt safe from ground-based scavengers and/or predators.  Afterthought: that salt-marsh location for Seahenge, which would probably have been rather more than a  mere stone’s throw from the Bronze Age dwellings, probably served precisely the same purpose. Birds could  and would have congregated in large numbers to peck away at the “food” on offer,  unbothered by foxes, wolves, bears, ferrets, weasels, rodents etc, which would not have  wished to venture into a marshy mammal-engulfing  coastal strip, nocturnal bats-on-the-wing  excluded!

Posted in Stonehenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is the probable site of origin for the Stonehenge bluestones persistently termed a “quarry” in the media? Read: unscientific, confusion-creating semantics!

Summary
No, No, Craig Rhosyfelin (aka Craig Rhos-y-felin) ought NOT to be described as a quarry – 19 times no less in a Mail feature on this alleged source in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, of Stonehenge’s original and iconic “bluestone” megaliths).

(“Archaelogists” or “earth scientists” mentioned by name are as follows: UCL team (director Prof Mike Parker Pearson), Richard Bevins and Rob Ixer, and  the three foremost anti-human transport critics Brian John, Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes).

D1 craig rhosyfelin more like buiders yard

Fig. 1:  Close up view of that Pembrokeshire so-called bluestone “quarry” 

“Quarry” is defined online thus:

D3 def of quarry edited with highlighting

Fig. 2: Definition of “quarry”, with the words “large, deep pit”.

See the photo  on the left  below of a “quarry”  fitting the above definition.

D2 Quarry on left, buiders yard right

Fig.3:  (Left): genuine quarry, fitting the dictionary definition, in contrast to the location of the bluestones at that Pembrokeshire site (for which the builder’s yard (Right) offers an arguably better modern-day equivalent.

But what we see at Craig Rhosyfelin is more like the one on the right – i.e. NOT a quarry, more like a modern-day builder’s yard, with the stones ABOVE, not below GROUND, albeit stacked against the side of a ridge, indeed, comprising the ridge, no doubt the backbone of the ridge,  but NO WAY a “quarry” !

No deep or arguably even shallow excavation is/was needed to remove the megalithic slabs or pillars for use elsewhere, whether now or the late Neolithic, pre-Bronze Age era some 4,500 years ago, albeit having to be prised away from their neighbours for HUMAN transport 230 km eastwards to Salisbury Plain.

(Candid aside: time some might think that Dr. Brian John’s impressionistic, seriously under-documented “glacial transport theory” was removed from the media spotlight, as in that 2015 Mail article, unless or until he can supply hard supporting evidence either for his own model, or is able to dismiss what I consider the (increasingly credible) human transport narrative. One hesitates to say it, but it rather seems that BJ uses Stonehenge to prop up his questionable geomorphology, when it should be the  other way round: geomorphology  and/or geology contributing to our knowledge of the origins of Stonehenge!).
Here’s a comment I sent yesterday to BJ’s own site:

“I’m not sure what “the bluestone human transport hypothesis” has to do with modern day politics.

I’ve taken a close look at the proposed site of origin of those bluestones (Craig Rhosyfelin) with the aid of Google Street view. It suggests easy Neolithic pickings aka “quarrying” – a misnomer if ever there was – from above-ground exposure from an unusual outcrop (the latter being a freakish outsprouting in otherwise pastoral scenery , quickly seized upon as first entry implants at Stonehenge , “quarrying” of the megaliths not required, mere freeing and dislodgement from the side of a crumbling rock-strewn ridge.
Craig Rhosyfelin is a little over an hour’s walk from the west Wales seashore, where the long-distance migrant Anatolians are reckoned to have first made landfall in Britain after sailing in finally from Brittany in search of new pastures (the latter available in abundance at or close to Craig). They quickly spotted and took a liking to those protruding megaliths (for reasons that remain speculative, though ideas have been mooted, mine and others included).

I’m minded to suggest we stick strictly to the objective science – I do not understand this posting’s attempt to link Neolithic history with modern day anti-EU politics – least of all that with a racial slant…

Post glacial Britain, 6000 years ago, could be seen as an Eldorado to any migratory racial groups – eastern Med included- looking for fresh green pastures in which to grow their crops, raise their livestock. But how best to dispose of their dead? Cue Stonehenge, cue those standing stones cue, dare I say, excarnational bird perches! Oops, nuff said…

See my posting tomorrow on the proposed origin of the first stage bluestones from Craig Rhosyfelin, a mere few kilometres from the Welsh shoreline. No, NOT a “quarry” if immediately to be talked down with references to a supposed need for anachronistic “engineering” to expedite stone extraction! No, merely tug loose from their insubstantial settings, previously exposed and eroded over the course of millennia by natural agencies (weakening via air, water, frost, vegetation etc etc).

Colin Berry

30 September 2019 at 21:15

and here’s one sent to Megalithic Portal site the previous day:
Google Street view allows one to “motor” up to Craig Rhos-y-felin, claimed extraction site for at least some of the bluestones. I’ll show the approach route in my own site’s next posting (a day or two at most).

What the Google photos show is that “quarrying” is too grand a term, given the way the stones are outcrops protruding precariously out of a wooded hillside rather than mountain, with trees and other vegetation growing in the vertical cracks, acting like slow separating chisels.

If the remaining stones are anything to go by, it was less a case of quarrying, more one of simply dislodging, even toppling over via a tug on slung round ropes etc. And the fact that the present-day site is approachable via gently-sloping country lanes surrounded by fields and crops suggests that transport away from the site, whether to the nearby coast and ships, or, as I prefer to think, via an entirely overland/cross-river migratory route, was entirely within the realms of the Neolithic-era possible, for those who, for one reason or another, had developed a strong attachment to the stones (sound of Neolithic “church bell” chimes when struck, for attracting attention in all three spatial dimensions?).

Colin Berry

29th Sep, 2019

and this one 5 days earlier to the same site, same link as above:

In the light of DNA and strontium analysis of bodily remains and bone respectively, given the links with migrants from Anatolia (with its megalithic sites at Gobekli Tepe and elsewhere), given the evidence of migration to Britain via the Med and finally Wales, the overland transport of bluestones from Pembrokeshire to Wiltshire no longer looks such an oddball hypothesis as it did initially. That’s especially the case if much heavier bulkier sarsens were also moved in some 20 miles or so from the Marlborough Downs.
Time some might think to lay the glacial transport theory to rest. Stonehenge and its construction over centuries is/was a a seeming miracle of human endeavour, not geomorphology.
It’s high time the focus was on the (real) reasons for constructing Stonehenge, free from the continuing and needless distraction of the glacial transport hangup…

What you’ve read thus far is by way of a Summary! The main posting, written before any of the above, with its “Google Street View” drive to the Craig Rhosyfelin site – to get a better idea of what it is, or more importantly, what’s it’s NOT – will follow shortly (today/tomorrow in instalments).

Quarry? YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!!

D4 You cannot be serious

Fig 4: Remind me,  who said that and when?

I have come up with an alternative to “quarry” that I consider should be used forthwith for Craig Rhosyfelin in the media and elsewhere. Sadly, one word has to be doubled to two. Initials?  Answer: “RS”.

Care to guess?

No, not “Redistribution Site” . (Probably spot on,  aided by  Neolithic human, not glacial transport,  and thus unlikely to find favour with a certain geomorphologist).

Category: Stonehenge

Tags: bluestones, quarry, Craig Rhosyfelin, Craig Rhos-y-felin, human transport, megaliths, Dr. Brian John, Neolithic, verdant countryside, Pembrokeshire, Wales, source of standing stones, Google Street View, rocky outcrop, builder’s yard,

Main posting to follow later in the day!

Yes, everything so far is by way of an Introduction/Summary!  My visit to Craig Rhosyfelin by Google Street View’s virtual motor car – the original plan for this new posting – follows shortly (the next day or two ). 

Here are the Google Maps/Street View images (text to follow):

low mag Google map Crai Rhosyfelin

Fig.5: low mag Google Map showing location of Craig Rhos-y-felin,  a short distance from the Welsh coastline (approx 6 km as the crow flies)

higher mag Google map Craig Rhos-y-felin see 200m scale

Fig 6: same map, higher magnification (see 200 metre scale, lower right hand corner, highlighted in red). Note abundance of country lanes.  This not the back of beyond…

No. 1 Craig Rhos-y-Felin 1 3D N at top.png

Fig 7 : Google Map  search for Craig  Rhos-y-felin (satellite view, low mag)

 (Late insertion – bolded italics:  Am I the only one to be gobsmacked by the location of the alleged bluestone “quarry”, surrounded  as it is on all sides by fertile countryside, as distinct from rocky wasteland, , now extensively farmed?  I don’t  ever recall being  given the slightest hint of that on Stonehenge websites  that endlessly argue the pros and cons of separating megaliths, one from another and subsequently hauling them away elsewhere… So let’s move in for a closer look – but not too close for starters. Let’s get an accurate idea of where this  now famed source of bluestones is located, relative to its gentle verdant surroundings. (Not for nothing has Pembrokeshire been described as the “little England beyond Wales”).

Craig Rhos-y-felin 2 etc magnified

Fig.8:  Google Map  search for Craig  Rhos-y-felin (satellite view, higher mag)

first approach by road to Craig, Google Street

Fig.9:  Approaching the U-bend , visible on the enlarged map, western side of Craig Rhos-y-felin. Note the columns of rock poking out the side of the wooded ridge. Not our so-called  “quarry” surely?

””’

Craig Rhos-y-felin street view try brakes

Fig 10: approach to Craig Rhos-y-felin , via the horseshoe bend west of the site. Rocky outcrop visible (no, NOT a quarry!)

……

craig rhos-y-felin street view ford

Fig. 11 : a bit closer to that rocky outcrop,  claimed site of the Stonehenge bluestones – which on balance I’m inclined to believe – largely  cloaked/concealed by vegetation. No, NOT a quarry!

crai rhos-y-felin final close up no road sign

Fig.12 :  Closer still ( still from the access road from west):  again, rocky outcrops, not a “quarry|” in the usual accepted sense,  original megaliths for Stonehenge having also been NATURALLY above ground, requiring no excavation, far less deep excavation pits…

Craig as Ikea -like Mail artricle

Fig.13:  image of bluestone site that accompanied the Mail article. Could this have been the  reason why the site was  misrepresented as a “quarry”, allowing for  modern-day exaggeration of the task of Neolithic stone extraction ?  Was the shallow pit created around the base of the ridge  by archaeologists, seeking evidence for Neolithic stone removal (accompanying tools, bonfires etc.)  have been mistaken for  precocious “quarrying” of the original stones, requiring technology beyond Neolithic means ?

aerial view craig site from mail, showing entire rocky spur

Fig.14 

And here finally is an aerial photograph  with its own caption of the site that came near the end of that Mail article. It kinda says it all. NO, it’s not and never was a quarry. It’s a rocky spur, one that has been laterally excavated  for megaliths at or above ground level! No sophisticated quarrying technology was required, Mother Nature having done most of the loosening and separating work...

New addition (Wed Oct 2)

Yes, the proposed new semantics, flagged up earlier as “RS”, replacing the downright misleading “quarry”, is “ROCKY SPUR”. (I prefer it to the maybe more homely “rocky embankment” for reasons we don’t need to go into right now, except to say that “embankment” used alone can be taken to mean “earth embankment”, also misleading).

So what does the internet have to say about  the term “spur” as a landscape feature?  I consulted wikipedia. Yes, there’s an entry, and here’s a screenshot:

definition of spur

Fig.15:  Wiki entry for SPUR  (landscape feature) . “A SPUR is a lateral ridge or tongue of land descending from a hill, mountain or main crest of a ridge . It can also be defined as another hill or mountain which projects in a lateral direction from a main hill or mountain range.”

Notice something, like that accompanying picture from the Tatra mountains?

spur in tatra mountains

Fig.16

Note the protruding rock columns that signal one is looking at something that was created initially by geological action, then exposed by erosive action – not man-made quarrying!  Ring any bells? See Figs 9-12 earlier – protruding, highly eroded rock columns, emerging from a tree-cloaked rocky spur.

Here’s some further reading from 2015. (Shame about the q word!):

MPP et al craig 2015

Link to pdf

Have just  googled “rocky spur”. Guess what – the term was used twice in June 2013 by none other than, wait for it, yes Brian John!!!  He also put “quotation marks” around quarry!

brian john june 2013 refs to rocky spur

Brian John, writing on the Megalithic Portal site. I have added red highlights to “quarry” and “rocky spur”.

 

Here’s Fig 14 again , with some enlargement and light photoediting.

dup enlarged craig from Mail 2015.png

Fig.15  (Fig 14 enlarged)

 

So we have a strange paradox. The folk one would expect to be placing quotation marks around “quarry”, stressing that it’s in fact a natural raised feature of the landscape (“rocky spur”) and thus minimizing the work and effort required to ease out the monoliths would be the UCL group, led by Mike Parker Pearson.  But he and his team deploy quarry repeatedly without qualification!  Contrarily, the folk one would expect to deploy the term “quarry”, maximizing the effort needed to extract the megaliths, are Brian John and his colleagues. Instead it is they who deploy the term “rocky spur” and place quotation marks around “quarry”.

We live in a strange world, where things one would expect to be orderly and well-defined, notably  terminology deployed in the service of science and indeed plain logic, are in fact topsy-turvy.  Why is that I wonder?

Afterthought (bolded italics): if one insists on using the term “quarrying”, if only because there’s no obvious specialist term for merely freeing up from the side of a slope, as distinct from hole in the ground, then I maintain it must be  suitably qualified. How?  There are any number of possibilities, but the one that springs immediately to mind is “gravity-assisted quarrying”. One makes clear that the extraction effort is devoted entirely to separating one megalith from its neighbours assisted by natural fissures: once that’s done, one can then use gravity to get the desired megalith  finally clear of the rock face, i.e. by pulling away laterally to reach the ‘tip-over’ point.  No huge input of labour, far less precocious technology is required!

One could go a stage further in the exceptional case of Craig Rhos-y-felin, and refer to “conveniently-located, gravity-assisted quarrying”. 

 

So where next (with research that is, especially that which can link Craig Rhos-y-felin ultimately with Stonehenge)?  One could do a lot worse, methinks, than put the nearby  Pentre Ifan  so-called  “burial chamber” under a geological microscope! It’s mere 2.4 miles away via country lane, according to the map below, shorter still as the crow flies (or the Neolithic local  crossing meadows on foot)

route craig to pentre 7 mins

Fig. 16: short distance from Craig to nearby “burial chamber”.

Why the quotation marks around “burial chamber”. Again, it’s those curious semantics again.  Brian John did  a posting on Pentre Ifan back in early 2015. Here’s one of his photographs

pentre ifan geology brian john 2015

Fig. 17 Burial chamber?  Wouldn’t it be better described as a DOLMEN, with the emphasis on that massive capping stone?

So how does the geology of that burial chamber  dolmen compare with that of the stones at Craig Rhos-y-felin and/or elsewhere within reasonable megalith-transporting distance?

See this passage from Brian John’s article, especially the words I have highlighted:

 

pentre ifan dark blue colour

 

Note the comment re paucity of geology thus far (why not!!!!).  Note the mention of at least some of the stone having  “an attractive dark blue colour”. Hmm!

Might a capped dolmen have been a precursor of, wait for it, a Stonehenge trilithon (pair of uprights, plus lintel, i.e. capstone.

Yes, it’s my belief that dolmens and later Stonehenge trilithons served the same purpose (see this site’s title).

So does that not make it possible that Neolithic settlers from the eastern Med, with a legacy of creating  megalithic monuments (Gobekli Tepe in Anatolia etc)  brought with them the motivation and know how to construct dolmens in west Wales, close to outcrops of volcanic rock, and then took those same or similar stones with them on the long tramp eastwards to Salisbury Plain. (There could have been many stops on the way, The entire journey could have taken decades, centuries even, but at every stop they re-erected their stones.  Why?  Answer: disposal of the newly deceased, not by “simple burial” (it wasn’t simple in Neolithic times) nor by “simple  whole body cremation” (that wasn’t simple either ) but via a compromise between the two (excarnation, followed by bone cremation).  Yes, they too probably had misgivings about the aesthetics of excarnation, whether by blade or by bird.  Answer: invest the procedure with ever greater reverence and ceremony, building ever grander monuments (always with posts and lintels) where the pillars and the shade they cast prevented the procedure being observed too closely by grieving relatives at close quarters.

PS: Have just discovered Brian John’s earlier posting on Pentre Ifan in 2011, with some interesting comparisons with Stonehenge.

I will probably reorganize to put them in chronological order (probably in the next day or two).

Back again (Thur Oct 3)

Here’s the home page from the 2011 posting referred to immediately above. It shows the Pentre Ifan dolmen at the top, with Stonehenge below:

 

BJ's Pentre Ifan home page, 2011

 

Brian John had his reasons for juxtaposing the two (see his text beneath the pictures). They are different from mine, but that picture above could be used to promote the simple message conveyed over and over again on this site, indeed in the site’s title.

How? Why?  Answer: take the top picture above, enlarge it, and what do you see?  (I’ve added some yellow highlighting circles to assist with spotting a crucial component, nay 7 or so components – feathered!):

bj 2011 with birds enlarged

Time maybe to draw a line  under this posting. (Comments invited). Next one?  Maybe a simple in-your face posting to the world in general, the internet and media in particular that demystifies Stonehenge, pointing out how the lintels are simply a development of the capping stones on smaller more rustic dolmens.

 

dolmens v stonehenge 2 star v 5 star excarnation

Ignore all the guff one reads online about dolmens being “burial chambers”. Since when have burial chambers required huge elevated capping stones, resting on tapered end uprights? No, not burial chambers, but excarnation platforms – providing a safe secure place at which birds can peck away at what’s been put out for them – a preliminary to body cremation.

modern-day seagulls still go for, er, human food

Modern-day seagulls are still attracted to  er, human food…

 

Here’s a suggestion: enter (dolmens cremated bone) into your search engine. Observe the number of entries for dolmens that have cremated bone at or close to their location. Then ask yourself this: why CREMATED bone if the dolmen served simply as a “burial chamber”?

Gradually, ever so gradually, this site gets a look-in on the World’s Favorite Search Engine.

google my site, oct 3, 2019 pqge 10

Yes, it’s presently on Page 10 of listings, indeed  displayed twice, one immediately  after the other.

But one has to add “new theory” after “Stonehenge”. Leave off the “new theory” and one’s nowhere to be seen!  Ain’t the internet wonderful?

 

Tester (Oct 20, 2019)

(Nerds Corner)

Am now seeing how easy (or difficult) it is to summon up ‘images’ posted to this WordPress site from weeks, months or years ago. (Am preparing a new posting that attempts to summarise the ‘Excarnation/End Stage Cremation model developed here since 2012, which will require diligent searching of that image file).

First, let’s call it up, and see  whether it has a URL address , one which can  be accessed freely, whether one is composing a new posting or not.

I shall now click on the “Add” image file, and see if a new URL comes up. If it does, it will be ‘captured’, i.e. saved to file then tested independently of this and other  WordPress ‘compose’ postings.

The present URL is wordpress.com/post/sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com/1122

Let’s now click on that “Add” tab, top left hand corner, next to an encircled + sign, and see if a new URL appears. (Have just done so- a menu appears with “Media” at the top of  the list. (Save/Update what I’ve said thus far, then click on Media).

Result: it would appear that my entire image file, added over some 7 years, pops up, without any change in the URL.

https://wordpress.com/post/sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com/1122

Next step is to see if I can call up the  above (?) image file independently to assist with constructing a new post, i.e. to see what’s already on file, not requiring one to import a new image.

Answer: NO. That URL simply links to this posting, despite having clicked on the “Add Image ” tab. Are my suspicions confirmed, namely that there is no separately accessible link to one’s image file?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Stonehenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why the hugely labour-intensive erection of those megalithic stone circles at Stonehenge – and numerous sites elsewhere?

Answer: maximal day-long illumination of the central area – designed to attract and retain voracious coastal gulls  and  maybe other  flesh-scavenging birds  (crows etc) for preliminary body-disposal.  (Aka:  ‘sky burial  –  combined with progressively shifting day-long shadowed areas that  largely shade  a  progressive (rotating hourly moveable) excarnation  (body defleshing) process. Think body-shifting ‘sundial’ , with the aim of preserving  localized shade for the unattractive body-consuming excarnation, while maintaining  bird-attracting light in the immediate surroundings!  Think less-than-ideal compromise between aesthetics and practicality…

(Correction: the mention of ‘sundial’ could be mistaken for thinking that the progression from sun to shade to partial shade referred to the outer stone circle.  No, it refers to the inner horseshoe comprising  5 trilithons).  That central interior of the ‘horseshoe’ was the ‘business area’ , site of excarnation, one that needed protecting from the public gaze, grieving relatives especially …). 

In short: the  most actively, bird -attended bodies  shortly post -sunrise   (of which there would be several as the site acquired progressively  more ‘daily additions’)  would  always be in the deepest shade, i.e. behind  the sarsen upright that was directly in line with the westerly tracking sun,  the lesser-excarnated  ones behind or ahead of it. (No, not a Neolithic ‘sundial’ as recently proposed by  (the as yet anonymous – see screen shot below ) Michael. S. Goff

you comment is awaiting moderation

Sent day before yesterday – still awaiting  a response…

– but a ‘pre /post fading-out’ device, one that relied  on the changing shift from light, interrupted by total shadow, then partial shade).  Yes, the model needs to be modelled (experimentally).  Give me time!

birds congegating on Stonehenge lintels

Modern-day birds also find the  mighty cross-piece lintels of Stonehenge an attractive area on which to perch . That’s despite the absence of a nearby inviting free meal as provided in the Neolithic era! (Shhh! Don’t mention the  initial first-stage body-dissipating  aka ‘soul-releasing’ e-word!)

Why?   All designed  – and fine-tuned over centuries – to preserve the sensibilities of any attendant bereaved, awaiting  the  final largely flesh-free bony remains   of their loved-ones (freed of their  immortal  otherwise ‘body-entrapped’spirit’) for  its  end-stage hygienic cremation.

Time  I maintain to finally dispense with all those romanticized “summer or winter solstice celebration” narratives, first suggested by  William Stukeley  way back  in the early 18th century (English Heritage please note!).  Time to move on, time to get realistic and down to earth.

Yes, this is the tail-end part of a 7 year learning curve, reported by a retired scientist in real time  via the internet (and only the internet, warts an’all). So I make no apology for reporting the rest of this posting, in days, maybe weeks, in smallish instalments.

Thanks to a recent commentator (Alex Illi, a German national working in Ghana, W.Africa) for his appreciative comments on my ‘excarnation’ take on Stonehenge and elsewhere, and prompting this addition, after a break of well over a year of silence and reflection).

2nd instalment (still Sep 22)

Yes, the stone circle is all about having an input point for new offerings (to scavenger birds) then progressively moving them around, hour by hour, keeping the  most-visited   corpses in the shadow of  megalith upright, depending on the position and angle of the rising  (and later setting sun ).

There you have it folks – a new and original take on why stone circles were so prevalent in our Neolithic Britain. They were all about making pre-cremation, i.e. ‘sky burial’,  more ‘socially acceptable’, i.e, by shifting the bird-attracting goodies, left or right on the circumference of an arc of a circle (or oval) so as to make the process of excarnation  aka defleshing, (preliminary to fuel-efficient  bone cremation) more acceptable in an aesthetic sense.

Yes. even those Neolithic folk had finer feelings… Ritualize the nasty preliminaries. Put all that  nasty  Stage 1 excarnation business out of sight. Merely collect what remains at the end, then incinerate. nearby  Collect the final package of cremated bones,  settling up on the undertaker’s fee. whether for interment on site, or for taking back home , maybe for storage in a decorative  pottery urn on the mantelpiece (or the Neolithic equivalent).

Death advanced the progress of technology!

Third instalment (23rd Sep)

Have just come across this paper:

DSD title page

Link:   On Stonehenge and its Moving Shadows

It will get a very careful read, which may take a little while (being packed with detail).

Here’s a handy graphic from the paper.   It shows the manner in which the (inner horseshoe) trilithons and other stones cast  their shadows at midday on the longest day of the year:

DD graphic shadows Fig 6a, page 22

Thanks Prof. Dendrinos!  An elegant paper indeed…

4th instalment (Tues 24th September)

Today’s project has been in the planning stage for some time. It was inspired (largely) by the recent show of support by Alex Illi for my ideas, and, though I hesitate to say it, by a strong suspicion that ‘Establishment Archaeology’ (on and off the internet) has been trying its level best to suppress me and my ideas.

Today I shall be creating a checklist of points that in my view points to Stonehenge (especially but by no means uniquely) as a site for ritualized body disposal via (a) Stage 1 excarnation, mainly gull-mediated followed by (b) Stage 2 cremation of the largely defleshed bones .

As the list grows I will from time to time reassemble in rank order, placing the more important points at or near the top of the list.

But I already know which tops my list. It’s a chance observation, one that gets barely a mention in the literature, and then only in the blurb that accompanies its specific geographical location.

No, it’s not at Stonehenge, it’s not even in Wiltshire. It’s in Yorkshire, well to the north, and the key word is, wait for it, gypsum.

Anyone know what I’m about to place at the head of my list?  More to follow later in the day…

Thus far,  there have been no comments to this posting. Comments are of course welcome, provided they are relevant to the site’s focus these last 7 years or so, namely ritualized excarnation being the accepted norm for disposal of loved ones in Neolithic times, ensuring what was seen as ‘soul release’ via ‘sky burial’, while leaving a permanent memento in the form of a package of  clean, hygienic incinerated bone.

RANKING

First:   Thornborough Henges, Yorkshire (of which there are 3) : 

Here’s the short but crucial sentence from the wiki entry (my  bolded italics). :

“Archaeological excavation of the central henge has taken place. It has been suggested that its banks were covered with locally mined gypsum. The resulting white sheen would have been striking and visible for miles around. A double alignment of pits, possibly evidence of a timber processional avenue, extends from the southern henge.

The entry fails to say why the central of the 3 henges (unlike the other two) needed to be visible for miles around.

Answer: to be visible to birds on the wing, needing to attract them for the purposes of “sky burial” of recently deceased loved-ones.

thornborough henges

Thornborough Henges

Above is a modern-day aerial view of the site. The centre henge is now only a slighter lighter colour, due one presumes to various factors (soil erosion, grass etc).

I suggest that the henges which preceded most stone circles were the initial attempt to attract birds, whether a ‘textbook’ henge with bank on the outside of the excavated ditch or, like Stonehenge (Stone “henge”) with the bank on the inside of the  circular ditch. Either way, excavated chalk or limestone, supplemented in the case of Thornborough with imported gypsum, created a new and highly visible feature on the landscape, one that could be interpreted as ‘artificial white cliffs”, being especially attractive  one might think to coastal gulls (exceptionally voracious!) migrating far inland in search of high-protein food.

Second:   That crucial misnamed stone:  this relates directly to Stonehenge, as distinct from bank/ditch forerunners. It concerns what I call the “Bird Stone”, an alternative the ludicrous official name bestowed on it centuries ago, and still used, mindlessly and/or misleadingly, by modern-day archaeologists., indeed “scientists” too according to the wikipedia entry.  Here’s a photo I took of the “Bird Stone” back in 2012:

Heel Stone, pic 1 and 3

(Yes, I’ve kept the “official” name label from 7 years ago. Yuk!!!!!!)

Here’s how the so-called “Heel Stone” got its name, according to Facebook:

FB heel stone

Third: “Seahenge” : see the BBC report from 1999, one of the very few that makes mention of  the dreaded e-word (excarnation  – and then not for very long either , even for this coastal site that was hardly an astronomical observatory, or even solar calendar!)

bbc seahenge 1

followed later by these words:

bbc seahenge 2

Yes, one can think of “Seahenge” as a “poor man’s Stonehenge in miniature, with timber rather than mighty stones “. Y

Yes,  “Seahenge” post-dated Stonehenge, we’re told. But let’s not forget that Stonehenge had simpler beginnings, also with timber posts, while retaining  a central “altar stone”  with its unique geology , no doubt for displaying  nutritious offerings to ‘winged passers-by” (see later).

So what does the current wiki entry have to say about the purpose of “Seahenge”?  Fasten your seatbelts:

Purpose

Researchers were unable to determine activity at Seahenge in the centuries after it was built, and its purpose is consequently unknown. However, the presence of Middle and Late Bronze Age pottery at the site suggests that it became a focal point again several centuries after construction. Theories about the site have focused on the idea of inversion, as represented by the upside-down central tree stump and the single post turned 180 degrees from the others within the circle itself. The theme of inversion has been noticed in some Early Bronze Age burials. Not all the split posts can be accounted for and it has been suggested that another structure was built nearby using them.

Seahenge is so named by analogy with Stonehenge and does not possess an extant henge and appears to have had little functionally in common with its namesake. The contemporary ground surface associated with the monument has long since been washed away meaning no associated features survive and the silt Seahenge stood in when found considerably postdates the timber circle. One theory of use is that Seahenge was a mortuary enclosure for the use of excarnation rather than a henge. In view of the relatively small diameter of the post circle and its height and its ” privacy” entrance, some have suggested it is a “Sky Burial”, (excarnation) site as found in Tibet, Mongolia & North America. There is no direct evidence for this.

Note the way that excarnation plays second fiddle to the notion of symbolic b””, where where simply turning things upside down has nothing to do with practicality, and everything to do with flights of imagination. Yeah, right…

Personally I prefer excarnation,  at least logistically, and regard “Seahenge” as a pointer to the true function of Stonehenge and  indeed multiple stone circles and their precursor henges elsewhere. (Oh, and those  capped  bird -friendly  dolmens as well, which get a mention later in this listing)

Fourth (added 25th Sept)

The spotlight today is on what might be termed the Anatolian connection to Stonehenge, its origins and inspiration. (Others prefer to refer to it as the Aegean connection: either way we’re talking about Neolithic settlers in Britain who initially hailed from the eastern Mediterranean, at or close to modern-day Turkey).

It was Alex (see earlier) who reminded me of Anatolia with a reference to the allegedly (?) 11,000 year old site, namely Gobekli Tepe.

Here’s what he said in his very first communication on 13th September:

Alex introduction 13 sep 2019 own photo

alex 13 sep gobekli tepe

The orange highlight is mine. Why highlight it?  Answer: because Alex is correct. I had flagged up Gobekli Tepe as a likely site for excarnation back in 2016 on the Megalithic Portal site. Here’s a screen grab of what I said:

mega site gob tepe my may 16 comm re excarnation

 

It got an immediate thumbs up from another commentator, Ivan Johnson, but apart from that it’s the only other reference to excarnation. “Sky burial” is simply not on the radar screens of those who congregate and comment on the megalithic site (and it’s not difficult to see why, since it’s on very few radar screens anywhere – in Establishment archaeology, in the MSM etc etc etc). So why raise the subject of Gobekli Tepe again?  Answer: Alex’s comment helped, but there’s a second reason, one that goes back to earlier this year with the appearance of a report on the BBC, one that I highlighted in the posting that immediately precedes this one:

BBC stonehenge dna anatolia mediterranean 16 april 19

It’s a summary of  a Nature paper that first appeared online in April 2019, with an amazing 27 co-authors, the prime movers being  Mark Thomas at University College London , Ian Barnes at the Natural History Museum and David Reich in the States. Here’s a screen grab of the hard print version that appeared in Nature the following month:

27 author Nature Ecology Evolution

So why is the above paper so important, so game changing, where Stonehenge is concerned?

What we see is the MISSING LINK:  those migrants from Anatolia did not just bring with them the relatively settled life of the crop and livestock farmer (as distinc from hunter-gatherer). Oh no: they brought something else as well. They brought (a) a preference for sky burial as a means of disposing of the dead and, importantly (b) a preference for monumental architecture as privileged-position  bird perches, even if preceded initially by less demanding installations. like henges and timber posts.

Whether they brought folk memories of Gobekli Tepe on which to model Stonehenge etc, or whether they stayed in touch with their contemporaries in the eastern Med, all the while updating their plans and aspirations, must remain a matter of speculation. Either way, Stonehenge can, and in my view, should be regarded as primarily a site for excarnation aka “sky burial”, and one that was the work NOT of then native hunter-gatherer “Brits” but of migrants from more developed societies that had flourished in the eastern Med and Asia many thousands of years prior to Britain’s slow recovery from the Ice Age and  subsequent albeit gradual re-population as the climate improved.

Bluestones?  Ah, now it gets even more speculative, but that BBC report provides a clue. It’s been suggested that those Anatolian migrants first travelled  westwards across the Med, then settled in Iberia, then moved northwards along the French coast, finally disembarking in the west of Britain,  with Wales (yes Wales, home of Pembrokeshire and local igneous bluestone ) as final disembarkation point.  They then developed an attachment to bluestones. Why?  I’ll spare you my thinking on that, articulated in a previous posting , except to say that some bluestones generate a sound like church bells when struck. So they may have decided to take some bluestones with them when deciding to migrate  150 miles or so inland, maybe in small stages, from Wales to Wiltshire, letting their stones chime from time to time (but let’s not mention that e word yet  again just yet – all things in moderation).

Fifth: next topic to be addressed are those cross-piece lintels – more mighty megaliths, not relying merely on gravity to keep them in place, but installed with carpentry-type skills (mortise and tenon joints securing lintels to uprights, tongue and groove joints securing lintels to each other).

Key question: if Stonehenge were  ‘merely’ a place for celebrating the rising or setting of the sun at winter or summer solstices, based on the alignment of its uprights, then why go to all the trouble of adding those lintels?

Answer: forget about those solstice celebrations, suggested by William Stukeley back in 1723, and promoted  as if holy writ ever since, esp by the English Heritage-run (paying) visitor centre. Think highly centralized site for excarnation, inviting, nay welcoming input from the bereaved from far and wide . Think the advantages of having commodious cross-piece lintels, as distinct from mere  cramped floor area at the tops of isolated stone pillars. Think not only of attracting local bird life (rooks, crows etc)  but out-of-area long-distance visitors too. Think of creating artificial “rock faces” aka cliffs that attract voracious seagulls far inland, tracking their way up the Hampshire Avon from the English Channel coastline, or maybe coming in from the Bristol channel direction too.  Think of Salisbury Plain as a compromise location, relatively easy to get to by all concerned, whether on foot or by wing.

 

Passing observation (nay – final making sense of the Stonehenge enigma):

So why all the intricate carpentry joints (mortise and tenon, tongue and groove, locking the structure together, as if to make it earthquake-proof)?

Answer: it’s that e-word, again!  Stonehenge was a Neolithic monument to, wait for it,  guilty misgivings (namely regarding their no-nonsense  means of disposal of the dead  (on a communal, nay pre-industrial scale). 

Yes, eminently practical, at least in the short-term  – but, decade by decade,  century by century, offending the  steadily evolving finer aesthetic senses).

In summary – think:

(A)  aesthetic inertia (no going back on what has been started) , and

(B)  aesthetic forward momentum  (“let’s try and make it more agreeable to those who still make use our quickie  Neolithic funeral services,  albeit with a growing and visible reservation, dare one say revulsion)”

 

Let’s build a mighty breath-taking monument to the dead (still disposed of via, shhhh, time-honoured sky burial, as performed by our distant ancestors in the eastern Mediterranean , Gobekli Tepe and elsewhere, but using local seagulls,  lazily circling vultures not being available on these  wave-pounded Atlantic coastlines…)

More to follow tomorrow.

Sixth instalment:  26th Sep

Change of plan. yes, there’s a lots more ‘pieces of the jigsaw’ that could be listed here, each commented upon in detail. But that’s the trouble – there are too many, and to comment on each in detail would make this posting excessively long.

So I shall simply list the ‘unfinished business’ item by item, inviting comments, and maybe doing one or more further full postings if there’s a demand.

So here are those additional items:

6. The presence of  numerous deposits  of  cremated bone at Stonehenge and elsewhere.  But we’re not told if the bone is from excarnated folk (why not???)

7. But there’s a site at La Varde on Guernsey, where there’s not only a circle of standing stones, but cremated bone that does show evidence of prior excarnation (albeit via blade rather than sky burial).

8. The  apparent existence of numerous timber posts at Stonehenge, prior to replacement with standing stones, consistent with a  desired aim of creating elevated roosting perches  for avian excarnators. (What other purpose might they serve?).

New addition (somewhat abbreviated for reasons stated):  27th Sep

9.  Those  pre-Stonehenge dolmens,  anywhere and everywhere,  at home and abroad , with their two tall supporting uprights plus a capping table-like stone, usually with a great deal of overhang.

Purpose:  maybe dual. For everyday purposes, you put all your food leftovers up on the table, where only birds could get at them. That way you deterred ground-based scavengers (wolves, bears etc) from entering your area of habitation. Children could play more safely. But once in a while, you used the dolmen for a different purpose – namely excarnation of one’s deceased members, as a preliminary (maybe) to fuel-efficient cremation.  The community ends up with a sterile package of  white calcined bones, one that can be interred or maybe stored above ground. Either  way, those wolves etc are kept at bay.

Think of the inner horseshoe  of 5 trilithons at Stonehenge as super-dolmens, essentially the same design, serving the same purpose. Maybe those first-deployed bluestones (more portable than the later sarsens) were also used in threes, to construct  bird-friendly, bird-protecting  “dolmens”.

 

New addition, 28th Sep:

10. The presence of salt-tolerant species of lichen on the Stonehenge site, consistent with introduction by coastal gulls that have ranged far inland, and deposited salt via their specialized glands onto stones, making them unfriendly to normal inland species of lichen unaccustomed to high concentrations of salt. Co-deposited coastal lichens would feel fully at home.

Might there be POSITIVE EVIDENCE for Stonehenge as a site for SEAGULL-mediated “sky burial”, those gulls having made the journey inland from either the English or Bristol Channel?

Back in 2016, on my science buzz site, I claimed the evidence was indeed there.  The reference to seagulls began with a mention of this article in the Guardian from May 2003:

guardian may 2003 lichen

I’ll spare you the details, the reasoning etc, for reasons stated (they can be found in the latter half of the my science buzz posting).

More to follow tomorrow.

Change of plan: I have some reading and more thinking to do,  partly in the light of comments appearing elsewhere on the internet, but also by way of taking a long hard look at where one’s at with the pre-cremation/excarnation angle developed on this site.  The  supporting evidence – both positive and negative – might be described as something of a potpourri of ingredients – hardly surprising given the total lack of documentary evidence, or even of inscriptions on monoliths (bar those axes and daggers that are said to be of later Bronze age/post Neolithic addition – though interesting nevertheless).

Having said that, the proposed link between the constructors of Stonehenge (as we see it today) and those Anatolian migrants allegedly crossing the Med and arriving finally in the Weest Country, notable Wales (original site of those Phase 1 bluestones  – whether subsequently transported eastwards via glaciers or not!)  means that one has to go back through all one’s past sources of information – books, internet etc – to see if there’s something one might have overlooked – including what at first sight seemed tiny inconsequential reading. And not just for Stonehenge, but the entire British Isles including Ireland, and maybe Britanny too (Carnac etc).

What cannot be allowed to go unchallenged is the rose-tinted version of British pre-history that is shamelessly marketed month after month, year after year, by the likes of English Heritage, taking as their starting point what is/was almost certainly a false correlation – namely the  William Stukeley’s 300 year old alleged “causal” link  between the inner  horseshoe of trilithons at Stonehenge and the summer (or winter) solstices. (Take you pick between the two solstices, indeed feel free to help yourself to both if you so desire, and  indeed go wild, adding both spring and autumn equinoxes for good measure, maybe throwing in some lunar phases too).  That this kind of shameless promotion of an almost certain false correlation – relegating the funerary aspects – cremated bones etc- to near-invisibility – should be placidly accepted  and indeed promoted without challenge by our mass media represents a blot on our  supposed standing as a society that respects and promotes the scientific method. Does it heck!  It does nothing of the sort, at least not in the last half century (things seemed marginally better when I was a young teenager with in-depth double-page features on science-based issues  in newspapers which one rarely if ever sees these days, such is the so-called “ghettoization” of science and its neither to-be-seen-nor-heard practitioners).

So I may be gone a while…

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Today’s BBC-article – “Stonehenge: First residents from west Wales”

At last, the mass media (well, the BBC at any rate ) are beginning to home in on the real (thus far unmentionable purpose!)  that Stonehenge and other megalithic sites  almost certainly served in Neolithic society, 5000 years ago :

bbc stonehenge wales strontium cremation So kindly

 

Link:  First to the BBC article:

Second, to the less-than-obvious research report by Christophe Snoeck  et al, on which the article is based.

snoeck et al nature scientific reports aug 2018

Yes, look hard and you will see it was published on Nature journal’s online, open-access portal entitled “Scientific Reports” which does not present itself as a hot link (being displayed as plain black font) unless or until one hovers one’s pointer above it, whereupon it then and only then turns blue!  So kindly get with it BBC!  Nature , whether traditionally in print or post-2011 online as well, is the most prestigious outlet for new ground-breaking science anywhere on the planet, so do please don’t omit to highlight that all-important  N word!!!!!!

I’ll be reporting on the Snoeck et al paper line by line at some point in the future, once I’ve got my head round all the technical detail AND the crucial new ideas floated there as regards transport of the (allegedly) pre-cremated dead from Wales to Stonehenge (????).  For now, here’s my summary thus far of  the real purpose of Stonehenge already flagged up on this site, starting in 2012, attracting scarcely any attention from ‘Establishment archaeology’, far less the UK’s science-reporting/non-reporting media in any shape or form…

Function of those mighty stones, aka megaliths, first of which (those lighter Welsh bluestones, pre- more local sarsens ) were lugged all the way from west Wales?

Answer – bird-attracting excarnation, aka initial defleshing  -pecking away – of a recent deceased loved one, aka ‘sky burial’ – a preliminary to fuel-efficient cremation.

No, not pleasant to contemplate. But then, neither were the alternatives, like difficult and inefficient cremation of an entire corpse.

Solution: let the gulls etc get a look in first, at a dedicated, fit-for-Neolithic- purpose, easily visible-from-afar site, one where the avian scavengers  would feel safe  from ground-based predators and other scavengers – and indeed welcome.

(Late insertion, 27th July, 2019  – red font. See this item on today’s BBC site regarding gulls:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49096417

Note in particular this key passage: 

“As their natural environments on cliff tops become seaside towns, he says, some species have travelled inland where they find high rooftops as a substitute home and plenty of food from litter and food waste.”

“We may think they are increasing in numbers because we see them more, but they have mainly just shifted where they are living,” he said.

For  modern “rooftops” substitute Neolithic  crosspieces spanning megalithic uprights…)

Back to the original posting…)

More later… like the preference for those  igneous, non-sedimentary bluestones…  Ringing tone when struck – not too different from church bells?  Why use a ringing rock?

It’s a topic I touched on briefly some 6 months back:

https://sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/best-not-to-ask-what-stonehenge-was-really-for-though-that-beaked-sarsen-so-called-heel-stone-may-provide-a-likely-clue/

Think need to alert  hungry local bird life each time there’s a new offering …

If new to this site, then here’s a link to my audacious thinking on the REAL purpose of Stonehenge and other sites (stone circles, standing stones, dolmens etc).   I believe that megaliths were deemed an essential part of the furniture required for an efficient bird-attracting, bird-retaining place to permit pre-cremation excarnation. Cremation was deemed the appropriate means of body disposal, but  NOT difficult and time-consuming  whole body cremation! Thus the need for preliminary excarnation (“sky burial”).

 

Saturday Aug 4, 2018

Am presently reading “The Megalithic Monuments of Britain and Ireland” by Prof. Chris Scarre of Durham University. (How I wish I’d discovered his splendid fact-jammed book sooner , the English language version of which was first published in 2007, preceded by one in French). Warning: it’s quite heavy-going in parts…

IMG_3655 chris scarre book cover

 

My next posting will take some of the many gems of observant detail from the book that backs up my thinking re Stonehenge and indeed megalithic  monuments in general (whether the good prof’ agrees with me is another matter!).

For now, here’s a foretaste of what’s to come. Below is a a schematic diagram from Page 60 (Chapter 2, “Scotland”).

Did my neighbours hear the yell of delight when I came across that two part diagram on  the Tomnaverie Neolithic site, due west of Aberdeen, and the accompanying caption?

tomnaverie stone circle large scale google

Google map – Tomnaverie Stone Circle, Scotland

It shows its  initial design, serving simply it seems as a “cremation pyre”, but later converted to a more complex “recumbent stone circle” without the on-site cremation focus, but with added timber posts instead.

chris scarre tomnaverie

Page 60, “The Megalithic Monuments of Britain and Ireland” by Chris Scarre (2007, Thames and Hudson)

 

“Recumbent stone”? Ring any bells?  Like the description applied to a certain “Altar Stone” many hundreds of miles south?

Why would a cremation pyre be replaced with a circle of timber posts AND a flat recumbent stone? Sea change in technology, with the focus on making cremation quicker, simpler, more fuel efficient?  Go figure…

Oh, and note the final sentence in my cut-and-paste with its reference to stone circles in general that feature a recumbent:

“Often the recumbent  is of different geological material from the other stones of the circle and contrasts with them in colour”.

Again, ring any bells?

Update:  Tuesday 16th April, 2019

Here’s  another fascinating insight into the background of the folk who constructed Stonehenge approx 3000BC. Again, it’s hot from the press, appearing on the BBC News website just 7 hours ago:

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47938188

 

BBC stonehenge dna anatolia mediterranean 16 april 19

 

DNA analysis suggests that the builders hailed originally from Anatolia (modern day Turkey), having used the Mediterranean first to settle  in Iberia, then moving up through France, and probably accessing Britain via the west and southwest. It’s a fascinating article – which I strongly recommend. (Oh, and it fits with the ideas regarding the true role of Stonehenge advanced on this site these last 7 years (ritualized excarnation of the newly deceased – avian -assisted – as a preliminary to defleshed bone cremation – but those gory details can wait – facts come first).

Personal note (added 8th September 2019)

Here’s a link to  my attendance yesterday at a Bishopshalt School Reunion, just 6 days short of my 75th birthday.  (I was a pupil there between 1956 and 1963).

NB: it’s  just over a year since I last posted to this site: here’s a snapshot of daily hits,  i.e. visitors, showing a steady upwards trend these last few weeks!

stats sussstonehenge site sep 12, 19

 

It would seem my message is gradually being picked up on the internet.

And not before time (none of us are getting younger!)

Comments as ever welcome –  but only if relevant to the ‘excarnation/’sky burial’/ pre-cremation’ hypothesis advanced on this site, and ONLY on this site!

Final comment (this posting) added Sep 14, 2019:

The Snoeck et al paper is so detailed and perceptive in so many respects – a masterpiece if the truth be told –  that one is loath to find fault. Indeed, this science-based blogger (“retired  PhD science bod)”  has held off quibbling on detail for over a year. But the time has come to take issue on one crucial point of interpretation, easily overlooked. Here’s the key passage from their online Nature paper with which I have to disagree – or at any rate propose an alternative explanation:

snoeck et al key passage re pre-cremation in Wales

 

Sorry, Christophe S. et al. I disagree. The deceased were NOT cremated where they died, i.e. west Wales.  They were enveloped (“wrapped around/tied up”) with local brushwood, then transported the 220 or so kilometres to the spectacular site created by their compatriots, whether living or  deceased, at  that iconic Stonehenge  site on the Wiltshire chalk upland. It was that local brushwood, still there when  first EXCARNATED by gulls to free their souls from mortal remains, then, and only then cremated, that left the ‘local’ carbon-14 signature of the forest woodland of their distant home base.

Why the enveloping in local brushwood?  Answer: to  aid the transport of the corpse, to protect and preserve the corpse from scavengers – whether flies and other insects, whether local scavengers (rats, foxes etc) when laid down on the ground at overnight stops.  The wrapping of brushwood would also have assisted partial drying out of the corpse, leading to semi-mummification, making it less attractive to microorganisms, rendering it less of an assault on the nostrils.

There you have it folks – a different take on that otherwise valuable link with west Wales.  No,  not just for the megalith uprights and connecting cross-pieces (“perches”)  designed to attract gulls for the purpose of sky burial, but as a final resting place for the excarnated/cremated remains.   Whose?  Answer: at least partially those elderly and other relatives still ensconced in the initial Wales-based home territory of those Neolithic migrants, heading inland from the Preseli mountains to newer more inviting territory. No, not primordial, Mesolithic “Brits”, but more recent migrants, initially from distant Anatolia, either seekiing new pastures (literally!)  in offshore Europe, or fleeing invaders displacing them from their own Near or Middle East homeland, taking their ‘pre-cremation/avian excarnation’ customs with them (substitute Atlantic seagulls for continental vultures).

No, as I’ve said before, hardly  dinner table conversation. Nevertheless,  this long-in-the-tooth  (75 year old) considers it a more credible take on the facts, such as presently exist, aided , I have to say considerably, by the new  strontium and carbon isotope data from Christophe Snoeck et al , splendidly set out in their  technically-brilliant  Aug 2018 paper in the ‘online’ version of Nature journal. Maybe a follow-up is needed in the  traditional, time-honoured print edition to maintain impetus and momentum.  (Granted the internet has its uses. But establishing AUTHORITY  – as distinct from  mere placing of  new facts and associated ideas  into the public domain – even BBC-assisted – ain’t one of them). 

 

 

 

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