More pseudo-scientific, pseudo-mathematical twaddle on Stonehenge (in the Telegraph no less).

 

telegraph pythagoras june 20, 2018

From the Telegraph, Wed June 20, 2018

 

 

Quote from article (Sarah Knapton, Telegraph Science Editor)

“One contributor, megalithic expert Robin Heath has even proposed that there exists a great Pythagorean triangle in the British landscape linking Stonehenge, the site from which the Preseli bluestones were cut in Wales, and Lundy Island, an important prehistoric site.”

Pythagoras’ discovery that the sum of the areas of two squares on the sides of a triangle will add up to the area of a square on hypotenuse has been used for millennia to help builders attain perfect right-angles.”

Link to article

How much longer do we have to put up with this attempt to portray our Neolithic forbears as sophisticated mathematicians, astronomers, cosmologists, all based on the arrangement and/or alignment of standing stones (for which there can be simpler more down-to-earth reasons as proposed earlier on this site)?

The idea that one needs Pythagoras (or pre-Pythagoras!) theorem merely to construct a right- angled triangle is fatuous in the extreme. All that’s needed is a stake and a line!  (Apologies  btw for the quality of this hastily-drawn diagram, showing 3 simple steps. labelled A, B and C …. The final triangle has sides in the correct Pythagoras ratios, e,g, 3, 4 and 5, as shown, but one does not, repeat NOT, need to know those proportions in advance!)

IMG_3066

See also this article on the same idiotic claims penned by journalist Sean Martin in the Express (just spotted):

Link to article

More to follow…  Comments invited.

Friday June 22

Here’s an animated version of the simple technique used above, employing just a ruler and pair of geometry set compasses, courtesy of YouTube:

 

Note the official description of the procedure, which is not “constructing a right angle” but creating a “perpendicular bisector” to any given line. The introduction of the right angle is  incidental, or a bonus if the right angle per se is the desired outcome.

One other thing: in my diagram I deliberately set out to create a 3,4,5 right-angle triangle (that being the simplest set of numbers that conform to the Pythagoras theorem: the square of the length on the vertical side plus that of the square of the the length on the adjacent side being equal to the square of the length of the hypotenuse.

3 squared+  4 squared   =  5 squared  (i.e. 9 + 16  = 25)

I didn’t need to use the 3,4,5 proportions, needless to say. One has only to chose the desired length of one of the 3 sides of the desired right-angled triangle, then to choose any value for the second. The length of the third side is then predetermined by the Pythagoras relationship.

It would of course be possible to construct a right angled triangle, at least in theory, if one had three lengths of  string or rigid material in the proportions 3,4 and 5. But that IS using a prior knowledge of Pythagoras theory, which I strongly doubt was the case where our Neolithic forbears were concerned. It’s far more likely they used the ‘perpendicular bisector’ method as demonstrated above, first by me on the dining room table, and shown more professionally step-by-step in the YouTube clip. Or maybe there’s an even simpler method that has not yet occurred to me (?).

blockred_sm_400x400

Are there any natural right angles in Nature, not counting those blockheads who continue to dream up wild explanations for Stonehenge and other standing stones?  😉

Yes, there is another method of creating a right angle. It uses Thales’ Theorem, and starts by drawing a circle, adding a diameter, then using that diameter as the first side of a triangle with its vertex on the circle’s circumference. The angle at the circumference is always a right angle:

Link to Thales’ Theorem

Sunday June 24

So why all the interest in triangles, right-angled ones especially? The Knapton article provides a brief clue. It’s given in this short passage: (Apols, I’m repeating what’s appeared already at the start)

“One contributor, megalithic expert Robin Heath has even proposed that there exists a great Pythagorean triangle in the British landscape linking Stonehenge, the site from which the Preseli bluestones were cut in Wales, and Lundy Island, an important prehistoric site.”

I’ll return later maybe to the tiny Lundy island, stuck out there in the Bristol Channel. “Important prehistoric site”?  Really? See this link to the archaeology of Lundy, which is mainly focused on the Mesolithic era (pre-New Stone Age) and Bronze Age, with scarcely a mention of the Neolithic era.

Late insert: from the web:  

Mesolithic Period. Mesolithic Period, also called Middle Stone Age, ancient cultural stage that existed between the Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age), with its chipped stone tools, and the Neolithic Period (New Stone Age), with its polished stone tools.

I can think of a better geometrical explanation for Stonehenge being where it is, and yes, it does involve right angles, there being 4 to a RECTANGLE (forget those triangles and Pythagoras):

Here are two hastily constructed diagrams, obtained using the nearest atlas to hand of Britain (the southern half especially), now defaced on the inside front cover.:

IMG_3069

Observe where the diagonals cross – Salisbury Plain!

Here’s a close up view of the point of intersection:

IMG_3073

Intersection point just a few miles from Stonehenge!

 

So what’s the significance of my rectangle?  Can you guess, based on the central proposition of this site, namely that Stonehenge was designed to attract voracious coastal seagulls for the purposes of pre-cremation “sky burial” (aka excarnation) of the newly-deceased?  Given the amount of work that went into creating the gull-friendly artificial “cliffs”  (and cliff ‘ledges’) that we call Stonehenge by means of those massive crosspiece lintels, there could only be one Stonehenge to serve a large part of southern Britain, thus minimizing the distance that the bereaved needed to transport themselves and their deceased loved ones.  That rectangle and its central point represents the happy medium: the bereaved walked the minimum  average distance, while gulls flew the minimum average distance from as many points as possible on the southern  English/Welsh coastlines (Bristol and English Channels especially).

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Stonehenge | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

To understand the REAL purpose of Stonehenge 4500 years ago, try looking at if from a (peckish) bird’s eye point of view!

Summary (red font):

We need a sober and realistic re-evaluation as to what Stonehenge represented. I say it existed for two-stage disembodiment of the recently dead – first by scavenger birds (“sky burial”)  closely followed then – and only then – by fire. What it did, it did efficiently, which is why it continued to grow and develop over the course of many centuries, as more and more level perch-space was installed with each new addition of  megalithic lintels – first from those 5 separate trilithons, colour coded yellow in my new banner, then with that even more spectacular  outer stone circle, colour coded pink. Stonehenge was fit-for-purpose. The fact that for many modern-day minds that purpose is/was unspeakable is neither here nor there. Stonehenge was not designed for modern 21st century users of the internet, a phone call away from modern undertakers should their services be suddenly required. It was designed for Neolithic man with no telephone, no internet, no metal spades (mere antler picks), no tarpaulins and thus no reliably dry source of firewood. Stonehenge was a product of its times – correction-  a very advanced, sophisticated way-ahead-of-its-times product of human resourcefulness and ingenuity…

birds on lintels

Those megalithic sarsen lintels make a most attractive perch, safe from ground-based predators… Might they have once been attractive for an additional reason?

IMG_2086 enhanced question mark

Can you guess why I’ve now shown the monument as it probably looked circa 2500BC,  AND why I’ve colour-coded just the tops of the lintels (yellow for each of the 5 trilithons, pink for part of the outer stone circle) AND added a token seagull? What might have attracted voracious gulls to Neolithic Stonehenge? Clue: think modern-day landfill sites…

 

_46754655_hi008296032 seagulls landfill site

Here’s another clue (that modern-day landfill site mentioned earlier, attracting not just scores, but HUNDREDS of gulls …)

Question:   In the context of this iconoclast’s AFS thesis (AFS = avian-facilitated skeletonization), considered a necessary preliminary to fuel-efficient cremation, what was the separate (?) role of the higher trilithon and  circular top surfaces?

Was the smaller but higher trilithon surface (colour-coded yellow)  intended primarily for assembled birds, with the much greater lower circular surface, colour-coded pink,  for pecking away at the bodies of the recently deceased OR was it vice versa? Or were both perching areas, with the deceased placed at or near ground -level in the centre of the site?

More to follow…

Tue March 13

Am presently assembling a list of collateral evidence that supports my thesis that Stonehenge was first and foremost designed as a pre-crematorium, dependent on AFS for initial de-fleshing, then followed by final fuel-efficient cremation and bone disposal.

There are some 20 items in my list so far, which I’ll post here in due course.

Update: March 20: Now have some 30 points listed! Have so far encountered some scepticism and nitpicking  on a couple of other websites, but thus far no serious arguments against the ‘bird perch’ interpretation, merely incredulity that Neolithic man would go to such time and trouble to construct a megalithic bird perch! To which I would say: put yourself in the position of Neolithic man, with no proper coffins, no metal digging implements with which to dig deep graves, lack of a year-round supply of dry firewood in sufficient quantity for efficient and complete whole-body cremation etc. Solution: prior AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, aka ‘sky burial’) followed by fuel-efficient cremation of what remains. Relatives then given an inoffensive compact package of ash to save or dispose of as they wished.

Have the advocates of intentional solstice-alignment ever undertaken a similar exercise?  Not to my knowledge they haven’t. That straightaway betrays an entirely  non-scientific (arguably unscientific) approach, especially when it involves promotion of an almost certainly dud and indeed decrepit model (made even less excusable by constant bad-mouthing of anyone who dares to challenge the status quo).

Actually, I may hold off publishing those 20+ reasons, accumulated over 6 years, that support my AFS model. I’m now realizing the futility of using the blogosphere as a means of inserting new thinking into the public domain.

So-called search engines, Google especially, must take a major share of the blame. Despite going for 6 years, this site is nowhere to be seen on a simple search under (stonehenge). It then becomes a Catch-22 situation – no visibility on a simple search means no adventitious site visitors worth speaking of.  Visits to other so-called Stonehenge blogsites are generally a waste of time, as I’ve discovered over and over again, given the cool or frigid reception and/or rejection there (generally) to new ideas (invariably dubbed “hang-ups”, “obsessions”, “fixations” etc etc).

Maybe it’s time to consider an approach to the good old-fashioned mass media, e.g. popular dead-tree science press.

Progress report (involvement of MSM), March 15

It’s now some 24 hours since I sent the following email to the features commissioning editor of a high-profile MSM periodical:

Subject: A totally new and original angle on Stonehenge, product of a 6 year gestation period…
From: sciencebod@xxxxxxxx
To:  xxxxxxx  xxxx
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:54
Attachment  the second image on this posting –  that colour-coded artist’s impression of Stonehenge – link opposite). galleryswstonehenge1…jpg (561 KB)

Hello xxxxxxx


Here’s an image  (see attachment) I placed just 2 days ago on my specialist Stonehenge/Silbury hill blogsite (founded 2012)
(See current posting with “bird’s eye view” in title).
I believe it’s time it made its debut in the public domain, and I’m offering it to you first.
Do you agree that the image is strikingly unusual? Do you see the significance of the seagull (crudely superimposed) and the bird’s eye view?
Did you ever see the BBC’s 1999 feature on what was dubbed “Seahenge” which is a timber, not stone circle, but which deploys the shunned e-word (“excarnation”). Or as I prefer to call it, AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization).
Yes, I consider that the unique architecture of Stonehenge, with those 6 sills (5, tops yellow-coded, provided by the lintels of the horseshoe- arranged trilithons, and the 6th, partially pink-coded  provided by the outer stone circle) served as a BIRD PERCHES, a key component of a Neolithic PRE-CREMATORIUM, custom-designed and built for “sky burial” as a preliminary to final cremation of  what the birds left behind.
Nope, maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, and English Heritage won’t like it, but as a retired scientist with other ‘models’ to his name, I’m concerned entirely with establishing the truth, and have neither time nor patience for those who promulgate duff models (like the solstice celebration angle on Stonehenge with scarcely a shred of hard evidence, bar that very approximate compass alignment, open to other interpretations, for which I’ve supplied two new ones). I’ve also assembled some 20 items of corroborating evidence no less in support of my scavenger bird-attracting pre-crematorium model.
I have also developed models for the Silbury Hill AND the Shroud of Turin (some 350 postings on the latter culminating in my 2015 announced flour-imprinting Model 10), but will say no more about those here, unless you are interested.
Maybe a feature on my new and original Stonehenge take? I’m not the world’s best writer, but could do you a first draft if you’re interested which you or one of your staff writers could maybe use as a rough template.
Kind regards
Colin Berry
Address: xxxxxxxxxx, xxxxx
Phone xxxxxxxxxx
(University of London MSc/PhD, previously Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at the since re-located  Chorleywood FMBRA). Best known for multidisciplinary research into dietary fibre and resistant starch)
#####

So far, no response, not even an auto-acknowledgement, despite offering first refusal! How long should one wait before trying somewhere else?

Those of you who have followed the comments posted to this site recently, and the exchanges I’v had on two other sites ( Tim Daw’s sarsen.org and Brian John’s Stonehenge/Ice Age sites) may not be surprised to read what I’m now about to say.

My views have hardened. Suggestions that my “bird perch” interpretation of Stonehenge are ill-considered, off-the-wall etc are firmly rejected. I first proposed the bird perch idea as long ago as April 2016 on my sciencebuzz site, and was flirting with different excarnation models some two years before that, based on curious details regarding the winter-feasting at Durrington Walls, on the mysterious ‘organic’ packages interred into Silbury Hill, on the BBC’s 1999 article on Seahenge, on proposed excarnation sites in the Golan Heights, in Anatolia (Gobekli Tepe) etc etc. The idea of a sudden brainstorm is simply not supported by the record of my postings over 6 years that are a diary of how a retired PhD scientist, one who has trained and examined other PhD scientists, operates when left to his own devices, deploying the internet/bloosphere  thus far as sole medium of communication.

As I say, my views have hardened. The bird-perch paradigm should cease being dismissed out of hand, or considered a poor relation to the fanciful  unsupported ‘solstice’ dogma (that being the sudden 18th brainwave from William Stukely that its present day exponents cannot be bothered to properly assess and document and merely wax eloquent and promulgate).

Let me say this once, and once only.  It is my bird perch model that should now be seen as the DEFAULT MODEL.   The image above of the colour-coded artist’s impression should be widely circulated.  Those who don’t care for it should get busy and seek out compelling evidence for dismissing it. I in the meantime will try to add to my list of 20 supporting points, but I have to say I’m not optimistic. There’s only so much one can do 4,500 years after fashions in disposal of the dead changed (probably as a consequence of  Bronze Age Beaker folk originally from Ukraine and Kazakhstan displacing earlier Neolithic settlers from Anatolia).

There’s the old saying that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

If it looks like it served as a bird perch 4,500 years ago, and STILL SERVES AS A BIRD PERCH to this very day, then IT ALMOST CERTAINLY WAS INTENDED AS A BIRD PERCH.

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Still Thur March 15, now 21:30

Still no reply from that MSM periodical. If I don’t hear from them by tomorrow, Friday 5pm, I shall  try somewhere else (while at the same time dispensing with plans to open a regular £4.50 per week subscription with my newsagent). There’s simply no excuse for bad manners –  any place, any time – least of all in the world of ideas.

Fri March 16

I sent my proposition to that MSM periodical last Wednesday with no great hopes of a response (having done the same some years ago with my thinking re the Shroud of Turin, and getting no response, no acknowledgement whatsoever!).

Surprise, surprise. 2nd time around: still no response!

I’ve been looking at the periodical since my teens – some half a century ago – and ever so gradually come to the conclusion that it does no favours whatsoever to Science UK. It simply feeds off  the output of science – national and international – purely to siphon off a pop journalistic profit for itself (though things must now be getting tough, given it now charges £4.50 weekly at the newsagents for a slim offering that is oh-so- ho-hum for the most part).

Here are two images that sum up my opinion of the periodical in question, given the school-masterly  blurb it gives online to would-be contributors, telling them at length what they must and must not do if wishing to be considered for publication:

Image 1: preliminary treatment with scissors of their current yawn-provoking offering:

IMG_2037 cut into small pieces

Image 2: where the above has now been consigned in this science blogger’s household:

IMG_2040 rubbish bin

Goodbye,  good riddance – you bunch of opportunist parasites…

………………..

Have decided to add the image* that appears second on this post to the end of ALLmy Stonehenge postings (some 24 in all, here and on my sciencebuzz site) as an addendum to ALL postings. Why not – since it’s my considered answer to the ‘mystery’ of the monument’s peculiar architecture, the conclusion to some 6 years of  deliberation?

 

 

 

I say Stonehenge was designed as a giant bird perch, a ceremonial monument dedicated to ‘sky burial’, i.e. soul release from mortal remains to the heavens via AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, considered the height of fashion (and practicality) in Neolithic-era 2500BC! The stripped remains were then cremated, so an apt description of Stonehenge might, as previously suggested, be PRE-CREMATORIUM.

March 18 2018

Well, I have have assembled in first draft form that complete list of my 25 postings on Stonehenge and related topics, starting Spring 2012, with “birds” making their first tentative appearance in the keyword labels in 2016, But there’s still editing, highlighting etc to be done, which is best done in WordPress Compose mode, i.e online. Rather than construct as an entirely  new posting with attendant risks of losing en route to completion (don’t ask!), I shall build it on the end of this posting first, as a series of instalments. Once complete  and I’m happy with the way it looks I may then cut and paste (or copy and paste) to the site’s next posting.

Purpose of the exercise? To shoot down that absurd suggestion that my “bird perch” model is over-hasty and ill-considered! It’s been 6 years in the making, preceded by two earlier excarnation models, the first for nearby Durrington Walls, down by the river, the second for Silbury Hill – part of this site’s title, some 20 miles away. That’s not counting the early mention of the BBC’s 1999 feature on what was dubbed ‘Seahenge’, up on the Norfolk coast, with its specific and candid reference to excarnation as its prime purpose! (The BBC later dropped references to excarnation in connection with Seahenge, probably for all the wrong reasons, i.e. fearful lest it be a taboo topic, certainly not for those of a nervous disposition, i.e. 99% of entire UK viewing public!)

You just can’t get the commentators these days – given to making their own over-hasty and ill-considered judgments. It’s especially galling when they try to teach their grandmother, or in this case -father, to ‘suck eggs’ (like delivering impromptu mini-lectures on the scientific method to someone who’s spent his entire career in scientific teaching and research!).

Expect to see that list of 25 postings and labels take shape below in the next day or two. I shall say no more for now about what prompted the exercise, unless provoked further from the same know-all, “I’ve written-a-book-on-Stonehenge-didn’t-ya-know?” individual.

I haven’t written a book on Stonehenge or on my other interests, and have no intention of doing so (though I used to contribute chapters to scientific treatises).  The trouble with writing books, at least on longstanding “mysteries”, “enigmas” etc  is that they  invariably require one to crystallize thoughts too soon, i.e.  prematurely. They also require one to constantly promote one’s book, or risk it slipping from sight…   In contrast, I  personally use the internet to report a scientific learning curve, warts ‘n’ all, and when there’s new or revised new thinking use a blogsite  as an archival diary to update the old via NEW postings.  (What a shame, nay scandal, that Google rankings do not recognize this opinion-forming non-commercial, non-profit-making use the internet!). Yup, one has to feel sorry for those perilously-close-to-their-sell-by-date authors, having constantly to visit others’ websites to promote their past offering, feeling obliged to slip in those little references to their Amazon listings …

Here’s that list (in instalments)

1. Why is Salisbury Plain so steppe-like? A prelude to another look at the Stonehenge mystery

SBuzz: 10/05/2012

Labels: Brian John, Google Earth, MOD, mystery, oasis, prelude, Salisbury Plain, steppe,

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2. A new theory for Silbury Hill – a communal reliquary for the “souls” (and vital organs) of the recently-departed?

SBuzz: 17/05/2012

Labels: captive earthworms, chalk, communal reliquary, David Field, evisceration, heart, Jim Leary, Neolithic, new theory, organic mound, prehistoric Britain, sciencebod, silbury hill, souls, Stonehenge, vital organs

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3. A new unified theory for Stonehenge. Britain’s first community recycling centre – designed for winter survival?

SBuzz: 19/05/2012
Labels: bluestones, cannibalism, Durrington Walls, flints, Neolithic, new theory, pigs, recycling centre, Salisbury Plain, sciencebod, secondary necrophagy, silbury hill, Stonehenge, Stonehenge theory, winter, Woodhenge

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4. Why was Stonehenge constructed with those woodwork joints (mortise and tenon; tongue in groove)?

Suss: 02/06/2012

Labels: enemy, joints, lintels, mortise and tenon, sarsens, sciencebod, stone circle, Stonehenge, sussing out stonehenge, theory, tongue in groove, woodwork

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5. The plain, unadorned truth about Stonehenge and its neighbours, Durrington Walls and Silbury Hill – not for the faint-hearted…

SBuzz:  06/06/2012

Labels: dark side, Durrington Walls, light side, Neolithic, silbury hill, survival, winter diet

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6. Road map to a new theory of Stonehenge, Woodhenge, Silbury Hill and Durrington Walls. How our Neolithic ancestors ensured their survival during the winter months,

SBuzz : 08/06/2012
Labels: burial, captive earthworms, compost heaps, Durrington Walls, excarnation, heart, internal organs, Neolithic, pigs, pork, scavenging, secondary cannibalism, silbury hill, soul, Stonehenge, theory, winter survival, Woodhenge

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7. Neolithic Silbury Hill: communal earthworm-implanted compost heap for freeing trapped souls from mortal remains?
SBuzz: 09/04/2016

Labels: ancient-origins website, biodegradation, compost, earthworms, local soil, Marlborough Mound, necropolis, Neolithic, new theory, organic mound, sarsen stones, silbury hill, subsoil, turf

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8: Genesis of a new theory for Neolithic Silbury Hill – a gradual merging of multiple, soul-releasing compost heaps.
Suss: 11/04/2016

Labels: compost heaps, deceased, earthworms, gravel, Leary and Field, mortal remains, mud, organic mound, topsoil, vital organs

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9: New Silbury soul-release model can explain the rounded sarsen stones implanted concave-side down into sides of the growing Neolithic mound.

Suss: 12/04/2016
Labels: animal scavengers, bones, consolation prize, David Field, Jim Leary, Neolithic, ribs, rounded, sarsen stones, silbury hill, soft tissue interment, sticks

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10: 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?
Suss 17/04/2016

Labels: Avebury stone circle, bones, cardionecropolis, carrion crows, defleshing, excarnation, Neolithic Britain, new theory for stonehenge, passive excarnation, roosting birds, seagulls, silbury hill, skeleton, sky burial, Stonehenge, West Kennet Long Barrow

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10 down, 15 to go. (No 10  was the landmark posting, as flagged up previously – first reference to “birds” etc in the keyword labels, but NOT the first to excarnation by other means, i.e. those “birds” were merely the development of an ongoing theme, part of a logical progression, NOT as claimed (by one or more internet-detractors) a sudden bolt from the blue).

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11.  Why the need for all those Neolithic standing stones at Stonehenge and Avebury? Why were igneous bluestones required from the distant Welsh mountains?11.  Why the need for all those Neolithic standing stones at Stonehenge and Avebury? Why were igneous bluestones required from the distant Welsh mountains?

SBuzz: 18/04/2016
Labels: Avebury, bird perches, bluestone, ease of cleaning, excarnation, igneous rock, porosity test, Preseli, sandstone, sarsen, sky burial, spotted dolerite, standing stones, Stonehenge

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12. Here’s how I think Stonehenge was constructed, and why it needed those carpentry joints…

Suss: 21/04/2016
Labels: carpentry joints, engineering aid, lintels, mortise and tenon joints, round peg in round hole, temporary aid to stability, tongue-and-groove joints

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13. Stonehenge can be thought of as a Flintstone-era funeral parlour. Its sales pitch was soul-releasing sky burial AND, by way of bonus, a compact take-away package of cremated bones.
S Buzz: 25/04/2016

Labels: bird figurines, bird sanctuary, bone and skeleton recovery, bone cremation, excarnation, House of the Dead, mortuary house, stone circles, Stonehenge, Vincent Gaffney, Wiltshire, Woodhenge

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14. Might Stonehenge have been designed as an easily-spottable feeding station for high-flying seagulls – as perhaps was the nearby “Cursus”?
SBuzz 27/04/2016

Labels: bank, bird’s eye view, chalk, Cursus, defleshing, ditch, excarnation, landmark, new theory, scavenger birds, stone circle, Stonehenge, timber posts

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15.How Britain came to possess Stonehenge, Avebury stone circle, Silbury Hill etc – in just 350 words.
S Buzz: 30/04/2016
Labels: artificial cliffs, burial, chalk, cremation, dolmens, excarnation, gulls, henges, Korea, lintels bird perches, new theory, scavenger birds, seagulls, silbury hill, sky burial, Stonehenge, timber posts

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16. The true purpose of Stonehenge was avian-facilitated skeletonization, aka “sky burial” (which we don’t hear from either English Heritage or the UK’s squeamish media).
SBuzz: 04/05/2016

Labels: Avebury, avian-facilitated skeletonization, Chris Collyer, crows, defleshing, English Heritage, excarnation, gulls, Neolithic Britain, scavenger birds, skeletonizing the dead, sky burial, Stonehenge

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17. Thanks Energyman: the lintels of Stonehenge would indeed have protected sky burial birds from ground-based predators.
SBuzz: 07/05/2016

Labels: bank, bird’s eye view, chalk, Cursus, defleshing, ditch, excarnation, landmark, new theory, scavenger birds, stone circle, Stonehenge, timber posts

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18. Shhhh. Stonehenge was simply a megalithic BIRD PERCH for SKY BURIAL of the dead.
SBuzz: 17/05/2016

Labels: AFS, alignment, avian-facilitated skeletonization, dawn, English Heritage, excarnation, Judith Dobie, pre-crematorium, scavenger birds, Seahenge, Stonehenge, summer solstice, sunrise, temple

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19. It’s time to get real about Stonehenge – Britain’s premier ‘SKY BURIAL’ site
SBuzz: 23/05/2016

Labels: AFS, Arbor Low, Carnac, excarnation, Gobekli Tepe, Ring of Brodgar, Rollright Stones, Rujm el-Hiri, Seahenge, Avebury, sky burial, Stonehenge, template for ideal sky burial site

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

Suss: 19/02/2018
Labels: avian-facilitated skeletonization, birds, disposal of dead, excarnation, giant bird perch, Heel Stone, Neil Wiseman, pre-crematorium, prevailing south-westerly winds, protection, sarsen.org, sciencebod, sky burial, Timothy Daws, windbreak

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20 down – just 5 more to go (phew!)

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21. New thinking on Stonehenge: might the original chalk embankment have been intended primarily as a simple windbreak, protecting those Neolithic open fires against gusts of wind from the Atlantic? Was it later reinvented for an entirely different purpose (don’t ask!)?
Suss: 24/02/2018

Labels: Aubrey holes, chalk embankment, new ideas, open fires, pre-crematorium, prevailing south-westerly winds, scavenging birds, sky burial, Stonehenge, windbreak

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22. New or neglected evidence for Stonehenge having existed primarily as a site for ‘sky burial’ (well-supplied with bird perches!).
Suss: 07/03/2018

Labels: avian-facilitated skeletonization, de-fleshing, excarnation, lintels, new thinking, pre-crematorium, seagulls, sky burial, stonehenge new theory

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23. Comment promoted – from Neil Wiseman (author of ‘Stonehenge and the Neolithic Cosmos’)
Suss: 10/03/2018

Labels: Neil Wiseman

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24. To understand the REAL purpose of Stonehenge 4500 years ago, try looking at if from a (hungry) bird’s eye view!24. To understand the REAL purpose of Stonehenge 4500 years ago, try looking at if from a (hungry) bird’s eye view!

Suss: 12/03/2018

Labels: AFS, bird perches, bird’s eye view, excarnation, forget those solstices, lintels, preliminary to cremation, real purpose, seagulls, sky burial, Stonehenge, trilithons, unfashionable theory

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25. So why does Stonehenge looks the way it does? Try imagining a bird’s eye view. It was clearly intended to serve as a megalithic bird perch!

SBuzz: 13/03/2018
Labels: AFS, bird’s eye view, de-fleshing, excarnation, giant bird perch, megaliths, new theory, pre-crematorium, sarsen stones, seagulls, Stonehenge

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In passing: have just spotted this recent entry in Google listings:

Building Stonehenge was about ceremony and celebration, experts …

9 Mar 2018 – The act of building Stonehenge may have been as important a ceremony to its ancient creators as the use of the finished stone circle, experts have said. Following the discovery of feasting at the nearby Durrington Walls settlement, which attracted people from across the country to help build the neolithic monument, English …

“Ceremony and celebration” ?   Not just the end-product the construction site as well!  Evidence?

Ah, those “experts” (English Heritage). They would say that, wouldn’t they?

Still March 18

 

I shall now copy-and-paste it to Comments!

March 19, 2018

IMG_2086 enhanced and further cropped

So how many reasons can the summer or winter solstice (or lunar cycle) promulgators of English Heritage and elsewhere muster I wonder?

March 20, 2018

Have been fine-tuning the new banner on this site. While a few more tweaks may be needed, here’s how it looks at present:

add new banner 20 march 2018

Thought I’d add a hint as to where my Silbury Hill ideas have appeared elsewhere, with its original ‘earthworm’ proposal  (if only to disabuse a recent commentator of his  quaint belief that I’m invisible on the wider internet). Not so, dear fellow: maybe it’s you who should get down off that high horse of yours and start “reading more widely”).

ancient origins silbury april 2016 earthworms

My article in ancient-origins.net, April 2016. See link below.

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

 

March 22 2018

Have decided against starting that new posting just yet (the one flagged up earlier with those 30+ supporting pieces of evidence in favour of Stonehenge having been created as a mega-bird perch for pre-cremational excarnation)

However, I can’t have folk, the knocking brigade especially, thinking that list is make-believe. Here it is thus far in telegraphic form. It may be some days, possibly weeks before I take each point in turn, and attempt to build a convincing argument for each.

1. Neolithic predicament re efficient body disposal.
2.Need to preface cremation with excarnation.
3.Outsourcing of excarnation/cremation to specialist sky burial/cremation site and professionals.
4.Reason why animal bones accompany human ones (Neolithic barter economy).
5.Evidence from Guernsey archaeology for cremation of excarnated bones as distinct from whole cadaver.
6.Numerous other sites, in Britain, continental Europe, from Asia Minor to Far East etc show evidence of monumental constructions that are seemingly custom-made to attract excarnating bird life.
7.Important parallels between ‘Seahenge’ on the Norfolk coast and Stonehenge. BBC (1999) report alludes to excarnation.
8. Explanation for Stonehenge’s ‘salt-tolerant lichens’ – suggesting seagull presence.
9.Explanation for lintels as additional perch capacity, needed when relying on seagulls etc as distinct from Continental and Eurasian vultures.
10.Rationale in ‘bird perch’ terms for adding bridging lintels to span uprights.
11. “House of Dead” near Stonehenge can hardly have been a house – with its forest of ‘indoor’ timber posts Same applies to another so-called house, or at any rate allegedly roofed structure at ‘Woodhenge’.
12.Rationale for non-defensive chalk embankments, aka henges in terms of sky burial. Gypsum coating on middle of 3 Thornborough Henges to render more visible from afar (to birds, not people!).
13.Rationale for dual-purpose “Aubrey holes”, initially as supports for timber poles or bluestone pillars. later as graves.
14.Two alternative non- archaeoastronomical explanations, for alignment of Stonehenge and other henge/pseudo-henge sites with one of more access points in a raised embankment.
15.The curiously un-remarked upon beaked arguably bird-like characteristics of the so-called sarsen “Heel Stone” (an unhelpful and potentially misleading description) that may have influenced choice of Stonehenge’s location.
16.Stonehenge as a site for fulfilling a range of funeral requirements simultaneously on a reasonable timescale geared to needs of the bereaved who may have travelled some distance.
17.Need to integrate the presence of accumulated cremated bones into a single overarching narrative.
18.New interpretation of use made of imported lithophonic Preseli bluestones (“dinner bell”).
19.Lack of incised insciptions on megaliths to support non-excarnation narratives. But Bronze Age daggers and axe heads.
20.Rationale for co-existence of animal bones among cremated remains – supplementary offerings to encourage bird life to stay in vicinity.
21.Significance of profusion of barrows etc on Salisbury Plain.
22.Paucity of evidence for link to solstices etc.
23.Multiple expressions of the Neolithic perceived need for prior excarnation.
24.Integration with Avebury, Silbury Hill etc, albeit some 20 miles away.
25.Integrating somewhat disturbing features of Durrington ‘winter feasting’ into excarnation narrative.
26.Explanation for the laboriously fashioned but out-of-sight woodworking joints.
27.Integrating the Cursus forerunner.
28.Attraction of Stonehenge for modern birdlife.
29.Search for Stonehenge counterpart equivalent to Seahenge’s central altar-like upturned tree stump.
30.Ancillary clues to ‘sky burial’ having been practiced in and around Stonehenge.
31.Rationalizing the presence of timber posts, later on stone pillars at numerous Neolithic sites, usually within a banked enclosure, for sky burial purposes.
32.New interpretation of dolmens as small-scale versions of Stonehenge.

33. Need for long-overdue break with conferring a slit personality on Stonehenge (sun-worship/place of the dead). Dispense finally with the first of those two. De-fantasize, de-romanticize.

34?

 

We need a sober and realistic re-evaluation as to what Stonehenge represented. I say it existed for two-stage disembodiment of the recently dead – first by scavenger birds (“sky burial”)  closely followed then – and only then – by fire. What it did, it did efficiently, which is why it continued to grow and develop over the course of many centuries, as more and more level perch-space was installed with each new addition of  megalithic lintels – first from those 5 separate trilithons, colour coded yellow in my new banner, then with that even more spectacular  outer stone circle, colour coded pink. Stonehenge was fit-for-purpose. The fact that for many modern-day minds that purpose is/was unspeakable is neither here nor there. Stonehenge was not designed for modern 21st century users of the internet, a phone call away from modern undertakers should their services be suddenly required. It was designed for Neolithic man with no telephone, no internet, no metal spades (mere antler picks), no tarpaulins and thus no reliably dry source of firewood. Stonehenge was a product of its times – correction-  a very advanced, sophisticated way-ahead-of-its-times product of human resourcefulness and ingenuity…

Late insertion (March 23) : I posted the above summary yesterday in standard black font, but later decided to send it to a contact in the MSM (one who previously approached me for advice on another matter, unrelated to my main interests) on the off chance his outlet might be interested. Given the length of this posting I’ve now decided to copy it a second time, using it as a Introduction/Summary for this present posting (and indeed my entire 6 years research into the real use  made of Stonhen

Moving on: does anyone know where I can locate images showing the upper sky-facing surfaces of the lintels in close up? So far no luck with that search, but there are grounds for thinking the evidence I seek to test a prediction may be there (see image below).

Prediction? If as I propose the lintels were intended as bird perches, then provision might have been made for a supply of  drinking water as well? Clay dishes? Maybe, but there would have been a risk of them getting blown or knocked over! Solution: create hollows in the tops of lintels, maybe adding to existing ones, crevices etc that would trap rain water, and/or which could have been re-filled manually at intervals.

Here’s that promising looking image:

GV OF STONEHENGE IN WILTSHIRE

From: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/page/95/?5743a200

Are there not indeed  many hollows and crevices in the tops of the lintels such as  I have predicted, maybe too many for all of them to be explained away as merely natural features of no practical significance? I’m assuming they are not simply surface encrustations of lichen. Thus the need for some close-up pictures…

March 23 2018

Silly me. I temporarily forgot that the splendid stonesofstonehenge site not only has images of all the separate stones with their systematic numbering system. There are multiple images of each stone including the sarsen lintels (numbered with 1, followed by 2 more digits) and most if not all those lintel galleries have a view of the upper surface included! Today I shall try to find time to go through them all and pull out the best pictures (i.e. those that display the most convincing of my predicted ‘bird baths’ that is, whether formed naturally or laboriously carved by Neolithic handtools into the sandstone!)

March 28 2018

This site was given a new title yesterday.  Before it was “Sussing out Stonehenge – and Silbury Hill too”.

It’s now (after some 6 years deliberation) a lot more emphatic in its message: ”

Stonehenge was built as a giant bird perch (for pre-cremation ‘sky burial’!) Forget all the fanciful stuff about winter solstice celebrations!

How best to summarise the role of Stonehenge in Neolithic and early Bronze Age Britain? Answer: how about?

Putting sky burial on a pedestal.  Correction: twin or multiple pedestals!

Thinks: once Google gets around to listing this site under a simple “Stonehenge” search, I might think of throwing a street party.

Nope, on second thoughts, maybe a geographically-more-appropriate party, say on The Avenue approach to the monument.  (Thank goodness it’s not excessively wide – multiple rustic trestle-bench hire for outdoor party-goers can work out quite expensive these days. Well-spaced benches along the length within megaphone hearing might be more economically feasible to this fixed-income pensioner).

Naturally I’d need to scatter the length and breadth of The Avenue a few days ahead of time with avian nutrition (modern-day vegetarian I hasten to add!) for truly authentic (?) Neolithic atmosphere, say with Poundland’s wild-bird seed (ouch, now £2 a bag – definitely worth a reference to my local Trading Standards!).

Apols to my US readers for all the parochial references…

Thursday March 29:

Speaking of our Stateside friends: here’s a message that might appeal to those across the pond.

Do  any of you have contacts in the media (at State or national level) who might be interested in the giant bird perch/pre-crematorium message now being promulgated on this site (currently receiving the customary treatment that the UK press accords unconventional new thinking that does not come from their regular soundbite suppliers!).

Single out (via comments) a named MSM site that you intend to contact, succeed in getting it to publish this site’s message, minimum 250 words, such that it puts this site into Google’s  (stonehenge) top 100 rankings (Past Week, Past Month filters initially) and a $100 Amazon voucher will come winging your way! Or Canadian currency equivalent!

Saturday March 31st, 2018

Things are really looking up on my Shroud of Turin site where clicks and visitors are concerned  (but then it is Easter!)

hits shroud of turin site easter sat 2018 march 31 1615

And it’s just late afternoon, with more than 7 hours to go to midnight!

Wish I could say the same for visits to this site. But when one is told, as was the case some 2 years ago, that the hypothesis unveiled was surely “tongue in cheek”, then it’s hardly surprising that one’s not getting the hits.

My views on the Shroud of Turin were similarly described as “surely tongue in cheek?” some 5 or 6 years ago. Those folk  are not saying that now,  and indeed have gone strangely silent.  Why? Because my Shroud views are now  backed up by intensive research, reported through some 350 online postings,  with new original findings …

How much longer before the world realizes the potency of the scientific method, starting from afresh with a blank sheet, and putting all the existing cosy, conventional thinking to one side?

Stonehenge was created in instalments, spread over centuries, as a giant bird perch.  Period.  It was designed for pre-cremational processing of the dead, to avoid the horrors of attempting to cremate whole bodies with inadequate resources  (i.e. less-than-abundant supplies dry firewood etc). Period.

Come on world. Get real. Catch up with historical reality…

Sunday April 1st 2018

So how come alternative narratives  to the long-established ones are not allowed a look-in where either the Shroud of Turin or Stonehenge are concerned, at least where UK media outlets are concerned?

Leaving aside the indifference or frank antipathy displayed  by liberal arts- disposed media types towards the boring old longwinded  hand-waving scientific community, there has to be a reason, but what?

I think I know.  The Shroud of Turin is seen as eye candy for a sizeable segment of the  Catholic community, to wit, those who gain comfort from imagery (relics etc), deployable at least once a year (right now in fact).

Stonehenge? For “Catholic”, substitute pre-Christian, pagan, Druid,  sun or moon worshipper etc etc , deployable on either the shortest day of the year (winter solstice), the longest day of the year (summer solstice) and even I see on the recent vernal equinox (March 20), though don’t ask me why.

We’ve all heard of the ‘silly season’, i.e. during the main holiday period, July/August, when the media dredge up the old favourites  (UFOs, conspiracy theories, jackdaws that can count from 1 to 7 etc etc) and dust them off for yet another annual showing. Think of the Shroud of Turin and Stonehenge in much the same light – standbys for those who are happier cranking the same old handle,  fearful of new thinking, new ideas… Best to stick with what’s comforting and familiar. Five minutes going through yellowed press cuttings is all that’s necessary. Do a Google search under a Past Year filter? Good heavens no! That’s for computer nerds only!

April 15, 2018

It sometimes takes a little time for one’s myth-busting claims  not just to be accepted, but to become the new norm. Such is the case with my 32-year old paper on ‘enzyme-resistant starch’ (“RS”, aka RS3, man-made dietary fibre!). It didn’t just claim that RS in baked goods (bread, biscuits etc) comprised short-chain fragments of crystallized starch. It gave virtually unequivocal proof that RS was NOT the familiar retrograded long-chain amylose starch as pretty well everyone else at the time presumed (bar the editors of  the Journal of Cereal Science) ! It was a new crystalline SHORT CHAIN species!

That 1986 paper was referred to last year as “highly influential”, with 5 excerpts being quoted.

resistant starch highly infuential 1986 paper

Back in 1986 I was being peed upon by all and sundry from a great height, including a ‘Professor Big’ in starch chemistry as a Kelloggs Symposium!

Sunday 22nd April, 2018

Barriers to uptake of new scientific ideas

1. That Google so-called ‘search engine’ – artificial ventilator for e-commerce more like it, with Google taking a fat percentage. Lousy deal for blogs – failure to flag up headlines of new postings etc. Vicious circles re ranking – high ranking ensures more clicks – deserved or otherwise. Low ranking denies searchers under simple search term entries  (“Shroud of Turin”, Stonehenge” etc knowledge of new ideas. Google is anti-idea, pro commission-generating click-bait. Google and its ilk, mostly California-based, is putting the Enlightenment into reverse.

2. Social media – year-on-year dumbing down …

3. Antipathy of mass media towards science and scientists – unless conforming to stereotypes …

4. Vested interests pushing conventional views that serve own interests – ideological, commercial etc…

5. Inertia – old ideas get rooted.  New ideas instantly ridiculed. (Read James Watson’s stupendous ‘Double Helix’: see how genetic material was presumed for decades to be protein on scarcely any real evidence, merely a ridiculing of DNA with just 4 constituent bases (A,T,C,G) . Chargaff’s rules (purine = pyrimidines, A=T, C=G etc) dismissed). Old hands, old ideas loath to give up on their ‘expertise’, alleged not-to-be-questioned grasp of detail etc.

6. Failure of commenters on web forums to make URL links to unconventional ideas – suppression not dissemination being the byword. The ‘world of ideas’ scarcely exists on the internet – more the world of sniping and/or special pleading.

7. Perceived pecking orders – newcomers to longstanding ‘enigmas’ must learn their lowly place etc.

8. Vested interest in maintaining those silly-season enigmas largely intact, merely playing around the edges.

……………………………………………………………………..

Recent headline (Independent):

Scientists discover 10,000 black holes hiding at centre of MIlky Way

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/black-holes-milky-way-space-discover-galaxy-columbia-university-a8288621.html

And let’s not forget the thousands of informational black holes that exist in cyberspace, sucking in information and ideas, releasing scarcely any back ...

Accident of nature?  I doubt it…

Posted in Stonehenge | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Comment promoted – from Neil Wiseman (author of ‘Stonehenge and the Neolithic Cosmos’)

Here’s Neil Wiseman’s comment, sent to my posting  which immediately precedes this one, but minus his preamble regarding a recommended site for discussion of Stonehenge (about which I say the less said the better, despite its self-congratulatory wiki entry, which is why I exercised my prerogative as site host and left it off!).

Sorry Neil, I don’t share your opinion re that Megalithic Portal site, or at any rate its stroppy insult-hurling founder who can’t cope with well-intentioned criticism re his editorial decisions…

But I shall try in the next few days to lay my hands on that (reputedly) well-informed book of yours, even if it does continue to promote some highly questionable ‘archaeoastronomy’  dogma regarding Stonehenge (viz. that deliberate alignment of stones with summer or winter solstices etc which I consider fanciful, poorly supported and outdated).

Stonehenge-and-the-Neolithic-Universe by Neil Wiseman

Moving on, here we hear from Neil (the comment he posted here today, addressing his previously listed points which I’ve bolded)

Why does Stonehenge resemble wood?

Every Trilithon- or Circle Stone at Stonehenge is tapered, shaped and polished. The upper tables are perfectly flat and all sport two tenons which fit into mortises scoured into the lintel undersides. The polish is more finely applied to the interior of the Ring Stones. The lintels are curved both on the inside and out, and have tongue-in-groove lock-joints fashioned into the ends — one intruding / one extruding. The curvature of the imposts ensured the capstones would simulate a continuous ring.
These processes are common in carpentry, where they serve to tightly lock the components together. Time consuming even with soft pine, they would have been completely unnecessary on stones with a density five times that of granite — so why was it done?
We can theorize on motivation all the live-long day, and there are a number of ideas. But these are the facts: The stones at Stonehenge were fashioned to resemble wood.

Why are the sets of Trilithons different heights?

The unique shape of the Trilithon Horseshoe is composed of five arches, recently thought to have been erected in as little as ten years. Four of the sets are paired, opposing each other across the court. The Great Trilithon is the tallest and stands at the bottom of the horseshoe. It would have been 26 feet with its lintel. The shortest set are the outermost pair, which stand at 19 feet high with lintel. Inboard from these is the middle set, at 21 feet tall.
Three of these sets are intact — the East, South and West Trilithons. The North- and Great Trilithon are now only one upright; the second stone and their lintels having collapsed. The height graduations are curious but consistent. Without their lintels, the outer set would stand as tall as the capped Sarsen Circle; that is: 16 feet. Now put lintels on them and see how the middle set of single stones is the same height. With their lintels in place they’re the same altitude at the Great Trilithon without its lintel. These graduations are specifically engineered to do this and can have little relationship to randomly selected templates.
And here’s another little tidbit: of the paired Trilithon uprights, the left one is always more finely polished, while the right one, though still worked, is rough. In addition, on the rear of each set is a mark of some kind. The South has what looks like a compass (It’s not), the East has a Viking Ship (It’s not), the West has a weird quadrilateral, and the North has those two spines.
The only evidence for a shortage of raw material is with the Great Trilithon. This set is almost certainly the first of the five to be raised. The remaining upright — Stone-56 — is seated 7 feet below the surface. This makes its total length 31 feet. i.e.: It’s big. Stone-55, its sister, was only seated 4-feet down, and because of this had that curious bulb fashioned into its base. This was done to aid in keeping the stone upright because they knew it was too short. (It also means that about half the original mass had to be removed to create the feature.) Sadly, none of this worked out well in the end, but infers that it was the height of the stones that was imperative, not the mass.

Why is the Great Trilithon polished on all sides, unlike the others?

Good question … I tend to think it’s because this was the premiere set of stones in the edifice and needed to stand out. They are indeed beautifully crafted. Further, it’s possible that they stood alone for some years before the others were introduced. Additionally, we now know that Winter Solstice was the more important annual event and it’s likely some form of observance was conducted on the SW side of that arch — meaning they wanted that side to be pretty as well.
Chalk slurry sticks to nothing, unless it’s bound to woven sticks, much like the walls of their homes. Also: why would they go through the massive effort of so carefully shaping those stones if they were supposed to be sheathed in chalk? I think we can put that idea to bed.

Why is the Altar Stone laid flat?

If the Altar Stone was upright it would block the sun from passing unimpeded through the structure at either solstice. Was some ritual performed at that location? I bet there was, but it would have had nothing to do with death. Fertility and life was, in part, the motivation for the structure in the first place. That said, I recommend thick soft blankets because that sandstone is hard!
Why are the Trilithons and the Sarsen Circle separated by at least 100 years?
I believe the two components were designed by two separate architects. It would have worked just fine with only the Trilithons, but a honing of their world-view made the Circle integral to the overall, now-inclusive concept.

If not astronomical, what purpose would the lunar and solar-aligned rectangle of Station Stones have served?

Evidence for the two missing Station Stones is present, so we can put that to bed.
Okay, so the Moon has a cycle that’s entirely different from that of the Sun, and it goes through a high and low period every 9.3 / 18.6 years known as the Lunar Standstill. This is a completely understood phenomenon: look it up. The two short legs of the Station Stone rectangle are parallel to the solar axis of the monument. The two long runs of the rectangle align to the high/low lunar rise and set of the Moon at one or the other Standstills. This isn’t wishful thinking on the part of the lunatic fringe. This is a documented occurrence. Archeo-astronomy is now an accepted school of thought. Look up Clive Ruggles, Alexander Thom, Gerald Hawkins, Aubrey Burl, to name a few.

What’s up with those two interior Barrows?

The North Barrow is older than Stonehenge and was apparently incorporated into the monument from the earliest days. Its original purpose is unknown. The South Barrow was incorporated at some point around the time the Stones went up. Notice that it’s smaller than the North. I believe this is because they didn’t want to impinge on the Southern Causeway, its purpose still relevant at that time. Station Stone-92 is centered upon it, meaning it’s what determined its placement. The Stone on the North Barrow is slightly off-center. Neither Barrow has any evidence of cremated or complete inhumations, so we know that was not their purpose. This is very common in many other locations where Barrows prevail. Generally speaking, these non-grave barrows were viewing spots for unrelated observations. Some say they were for instruction, and there’s some evidence which supports the idea.

Why are the solstice sunrise/sunset so obviously apparent to the exclusion of any other purpose?

To deny this borders on incredulity, while denial of it will shatter all theories which follow. Any idea about Stonehenge that doesn’t include this critical alignment will never be taken seriously. Period. You want the monument to be about bird-perches? Fine and dandy. But you’d be wise to re-think the solar aspect.
There are also alignments which show the Summer Solstice sunset, in addition to the Winter Solstice sunrise. These sightlines are present and easily demonstrated. Need I even mention the arrow-straight Stonehenge Avenue that’s centered on the solar axis? Or the Sun Barrow half a mile to the southwest? Straight shot with only a slight variation.
The henge is around 365 feet across. An 8 foot high embankment would never shield the interior from a prevailing wind. The peculiar inner embankment served a completely different purpose, which is (in my opinion) a metaphor developed in the earliest days.

Elsewhere you’ve mention my remarks as a vehicle to sell books. In another venue at another time this might be true. But nothing I’ve mentioned in my various remarks to you have to do with the theories which I may put forward in publications. Everything I have said in this context is derived from physical evidence, accepted by rank amateurs and professors alike. All that said, while I am widely considered to be an advanced expert on the subject, I would have no problem changing my ideas if presented with contrary evidence. I assure you that this has been the case several times.

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. They way things are done in reality is to look at every shred of available evidence Then cook up a theory. This is called the scientific method and is why ideas about the origin and purpose of Anything morphs over time based on new evidence.

Time and again I see people say things about Stonehenge which consistently fail to take the timeline into consideration. This culture was immensely old and the stone phase was at the very end of it. There is as much time between us and Caesar as there is between Caesar and the last days of Stonehenge. It existed for well over two thousand years before that, in various incarnations, while the culture that built it had been around for two thousand years before That.

Please bear in mind that the few topics discussed in these four pages are a mere fraction of the things about Stonehenge which haven’t been addressed. If you’d like to pose further questions concerning the monument I would be more than happy to clarify them as best I can — with the acknowledgement that there’s quite a few things we don’t know, and perhaps never will.

Best wishes,
ND Wiseman

I’ll be back later to respond, point by point.

Back! Now Sun March 11

OK, let’s get started on considered responses to the unusual, indeed unique features of Stonehenge that I too have pondered for many a year, starting with your first question: Question 1:  “Why does Stonehenge resemble wood?”

Apols. I misunderstood your meaning earlier , thinking you meant the surface appearance (graininess etc?). I realize now you were being economical with words, that you were asking why Stonehenge uses two types of woodworking joints – mortise and tenon for the separate trilithons plus an additional tongue and groove joint to link  together the lintels of the stone circle.  Yes, that’s a mind-boggling feat, even if done today, never mind 5000 years ago! But there is an explanation. It’s not the first, which I ventured on my very first substantive posting to this site, back in June 2012:

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

There I suggested that the vertical and horizontal interlocking was intended to make it well nigh impossible for rival tribes etc to pull down what they considered a threatening structure, e.g. by means of ropes, primitive or otherwise. At that stage I chose not to venture a suggestion as to why Stonehenge had been constructed, though ideas were starting to form on reading what went on at the nearby Durrington Walls in the winter months (I’ll spare you the grisly details for now, but they too were posted here in 2012).

Come 2016, 4 years later, I figured what I considered the real reason for those woodworking joints. It had nothing whatsoever to do with ‘showing off’ an ability to carve stone as if  mere softwood (given the joints are in any case completely invisible once the structure has been fully assembled !).

No, it was for an entirely different reason:

https://sussingstonehenge.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/heres-how-i-think-stonehenge-was-constructed-and-why-it-needed-those-carpentry-joints/

Explanation? There are two parts to what follows.

Let’s start with the more obvious, which is to do with the stability of the final arch-like (trilithon) structure, as compared with a single standing stone (such as one sees also at Stonehenge, notably the bluestones and of course in numerous UK and other sites elsewhere  (Avebury, Carnac etc). A single standing stone is always at risk of gradually tipping over unless deeply embedded. Not so a trilithon. Why not? Because the uprights not only support the lintel, especially when there are mortise and tenon joints to interlock the three megaliths. The uprights also support each other when connected by the cross-piece lintel. The structure is self-bracing!

But that’s  not all. Think about the practical problem of placing a heavy lintel weighing many tons onto two uprights. How do you get everything aligned in one single operation (when there are no cranes or pulleys etc, merely workmen with little more than ramps and ropes)? Answer: you don’t try and do it in a single operation but several steps, one at a time, that allow for re-positioning and fine adjustment. The second of my postings (2016) provides a possible sequence of events. It shows each upright planted into a hole with (initially) plenty of wiggle room between stone and surrounding chalk. An earth bank is then built around the two which provides (a) a ramp and (b) some initial support for the uprights. The lintel is then hauled up the slope and the two sets of mortises and tenons approximately lined up.

My diagram showed the two sets in perfect apposition, requiring only that the lintel be tipped over to engage mortises and tenons simultaneously.

new trilithon 1 aligned plus mound penultimate for blog

 

I’ve had second thoughts. Just one ‘ball and socket’ were brought together first. That combination then served s a pivot, allowing the lintel to be swung round like the hand of a clock. When the other mortise/tenon were in approximately the right position, the second upright and lintel were jiggled until one could then be dropped down onto the other. Hey presto, one now has the self-braced, secure, self-supporting archway structure! It was then a simple matter to remove the bank of soil, and to back fill the gaps between uprights and base soil.

In short, those seemingly OTT woodworking joints were not only a means of linking together natural megaliths,  minimally shaped to remove gross irregularities in order to achieve a stable final structure. They were an aid to progressive safe, secure stepwise assembly too! They were as much about engineering logistics as final appearance, if not more so, especially as they ended up out of sight, conferring no immediately obvious bragging rights!

 

Questions 2 and 3: Why are the sets of Trilithons different heights? Why is the Great Trilithon polished on all sides, unlike the others?

Here’s a artist’s impression of the completed Stonehenge which I’ve taken from the English Heritage site. It shows clearly that horseshoe grouping of 5 trilithons:

galleryswstonehenge11

Artist’s impression: Stonehenge as it may have looked circa 2500BC (English Heritage)

galleryswstonehenge11 perch area highlighted

As above, with high-elevation perch-area highlighted in yellow. I believe we are looking here at the real purpose of Stonehenge –  AFS on a semi-industrial scale, attracting  (a) the recently bereaved  with deceased loved ones from a catchment area of hundreds, probably thousands of square miles (b) scavenger birds, scores, maybe hundreds of them from the same or even greater area.

I can and have supplied a simple reason for what you see above, Neil. It’s 5 separate bird perches, surrounded by a 6th, more ambitious circular one. Together the two provide sufficient roosting space for AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization) aka excarnation, aka ‘sky burial’ , one that could function efficiently in Neolithic Britain without vultures, relying instead on mass invasions of local indigenous  scavenger birds.  Voracious gulls  especially were without a doubt attracted in from the coast by the prospect of a never-ending series of free meals, all  in safe secure surroundings.  AFS as stated before, while repulsive to the modern mind, was seen 5000 years ago as an essential preliminary to final  cremation, if only for fuel-efficiency. (One can but speculate on how important ‘sky burial’ and ‘spirit release’ also figured in the thinking).

So I can’t say as I’m terribly preoccupied with all the details you provide as regards relative megalith sizes, surface finish etc Neil, especially as you yourself supply no overriding reasons for why Stonehenge looks the way it does. Or there again, maybe you can. If so, what would be the specific role of those lintels in your scheme?  Surely not just to impress visually? Why go to all the trouble to install them? Why not be content with standing stones only as per forerunners of the final Stonehenge, e.g. separate bluestones only (which also fit my model, but each one supplying limited accommodation for one or maybe 2 birds only, and thus not having the industrial scale capacity of what we see in that artist’s impression above)?

Question 4: Why is the Altar Stone laid flat?

The name itself is scarcely warranted,  certainly in a strict scientific sense, unless one has some corroborating evidence that it served a role as an “altar”.

This quote from the wiki entry on Stone 80 (the ‘Altar Stone) says it all:

Its name probably comes from a comment by Inigo Jones who wrote: “…whether it might be an Altar or no I leave to the judgment of others’.[3]

Even if true it would leave open the question as to the nature of the offering.

As for the rest of Neil’s comment regarding the direction of the sun’s ray’s and/or obstruction thereof by Stone 80, were it have once been vertical, I really cannot comment.  Most of my career was spent in and around hospitals, medical schools etc,  researching among other things the claimed links between diet and disease.  It’s one thing for epidemiologists to find a statistical correlation between a particular diet and a particular disease. That’s the easy part. Establishing a real cause-and-effect relationship, and dismissing any suggestion of spurious correlation, is something else!

I am firmly of the belief that the so-called archaeoastronomy is based on spurious correlation. But it’s not by job to prove that. It’s the job of archaeoastronomers to at least come up with some corroborating evidence that supports their particular take on Stonehenge. What’s not right is the constant insinuation of archaeoastronomy, especially those summer/winter solstices, lunar cycles etc  into press releases etc as if established fact. No, it ain’t! It’s not even pseudoscience (this blogger’s bugbear), given it’s all pseudo and no science!

Sorry Neil. Someone had to say it!

Question 5: If not astronomical, what purpose would the lunar and solar-aligned rectangle of Station Stones have served?

In common with most of those with a scientific bent, I’m in the business of developing new conceptual models, aka paradigms, never content with the latest, always looking to improve it. (I discarded 9 models for the Turin Shroud before settling, for now at any rate, on my flour-imprinting Model 10 announced in August 2015). Having settled on AFS as the reason for the stone circles that litter the British landscape in profusion (or evidence of timber circles having once been present in scores of henges etc) I don’t see that the model stands or falls  on how one or other stone is aligned relative to compass points. That’s especially so given that two other explanations have been flagged up – optimal  dawn illumination in summer months of an inner embanked circle, rendering it and its latest offering  more visible to birds on the wing, and/or optimal placement for protection, if only partial, against prevailing south-westerly winds. Seeking corroborative evidence in support of a model, or seeking weaknesses, is second nature to those of a scientific disposition. One’s own models are forever under critical scrutiny. Inevitably that makes one wary of rival narratives that cannot in all honesty be dignified with the term “model”, far less scientific model, if there’s no sign now, or previously of critical scrutiny, where it seems that their proponents seem to have instantly ‘bought in’ and/or subscribed uncritically to hand-me-down ‘received wisdom’.

I regard my AFS model as a working hypothesis that has already been able to account for many details that would otherwise remain unexplained.  There was the recent incorporation of the lithophonic “ringing” bluestones, used to signal  the arrival of each new offering, the addition of gleaming white gypsum to the middle of the three Thornborough henges, the evidence from Guernsey that cremation was performed on de-fleshed bones etc etc etc. To those who say that that AFS is repugnant and does not bear with thinking about, I would simply ask for their version of why Stonehenge looks the way it does, and indeed go and look at the 1999 BBC report on that rustic equivalent to Stonehenge dubbed “Seahenge” with its references to “excarnation”, with its central upturned tree root that can be legitimately described as a putative “altar”, unlike Stonehenge’s Stone 80 whose role must remain a matter of speculation.

Question 6: What’s up with those two interior Barrows?

Those two barrows you mention, North and South, and the accompanying Station Stones are part of the problem of Stonehenge, but in the absence of written records or even graphical adornment, I doubt they will ever become part of the solution. Their ‘information content’ is simply too minuscule. Best to concentrate on features that are exceptional, like the imported bluestones, like the precise history of the cremated bone (whole or defleshed body), like the precise role of incrementally- built man-made Silbury Hill less than 20 miles away with its scarcely characterised ‘organic’ introductions etc etc.

There’s an old joke about “looking where the light is” (like the apocryphal late-night party-goer looking for dropped keys under each lamp post, despite knowing they’d ambled home that same night on the opposite side of the street without benefit of lamp posts!). Best to look where the dark is, and hope it gives up some secrets…

Trying to fit everything to a supposed sun/moon alignment is like “looking where the light is” (literally and metaphorically).

Question 7:  Why are the solstice sunrise/sunset so obviously apparent to the exclusion of any other purpose?

You open, Neil,  with :

To deny this borders on incredulity, while denial of it will shatter all theories which follow. Any idea about Stonehenge that doesn’t include this critical alignment will never be taken seriously.

The key word there is “critical”, referring to alignment. No, you have revealed the profoundly unscientific nature of your approach,  assuming that a particular chance alignment, one open to numerous different interpretations, is a “critical” one, critical that is to yours and others preconceptions. No scientist, attempting to fathom out an age-old mystery, least of all attempt to proffer a ‘simple’ explanation based upon entirely imagined “archaeastronomy” with no supporting oral, written, 2D graphical or 3D artefactual record, would ever deploy a term like “critical” without adducing some solid and convincing ancillary evidence, for which there is none in this instance, not a single shred.

Thank you for providing this opportunity to distinguish and discriminate between the scientific and non-scientific approaches to problem solving. As I say, the first of those involves testing hypotheses, not uncritically embracing them, and certainly not disseminating them as if self-evident truth when nothing could be further from the truth.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Have decided to add an image (improved colour-coding)  that appears on this post to the end of ALL my Stonehenge postings (some 24 in all, here and on my sciencebuzz site) as an addendum to ALL postings. Why not – since it’s my considered answer to the ‘mystery’ of the monument’s peculiar architecture, the conclusion to some 6 years of  deliberation?

Reminder*

 

I say Stonehenge was designed as a giant bird perch, a ceremonial monument dedicated to ‘sky burial’, i.e. soul release from mortal remains to the heavens via AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, considered the height of fashion (and practicality) in Neolithic-era 2500BC! The stripped remains were then cremated, so an apt description of Stonehenge might, as previously suggested, be PRE-CREMATORIUM.

 

Posted in Stonehenge, Uncategorized | Tagged | 11 Comments

New or neglected evidence for Stonehenge having existed primarily as a site for ‘sky burial’ (well-supplied with bird perches!).

I’ll begin this new posting with a list of 10 new (or neglected) points regarding Stonehenge which have now been worked in to my overarching ‘sky burial’ narrative, first mooted here some 2 years ago.

Yes, it’s time all that guff about Neolithic celebration of summer and winter solstices was laid to rest, English Heritage and modern-day Druids please note.

EH Welcome to Solstice

(Google Street View): Kindly give it a rest, English Heritage, even if Stonehenge is your biggest money-spinner (for all the wrong, rose-tinted bespectacled  reasons). 

I’ll be back later to flesh out with comments I’ve placed these last few weeks on two other sites (saves me having to compose/recompose all over again!)

 

Point 1: The north-east opening in the henge, or rather henges generally, not for alignment with solstices, whether summer or winter. Goodbye time-honoured mantra with scarcely a hint of backing evidence. It was the most advantageous position for a chalk embankment designed to serve primarily as protection against Britain’s prevailing south-westerly winds, sweeping in off the Atlantic Ocean.

cardington

Yes, the prevailing AND strongest winds in Britain are south-westerlies, coming in off the Atlantic Ocean (data for Cardington airfield, Beds).

 

Point 2: Reason for gypsum overlay at the Thornborough Henges – to mimic the chalk henges of southern England – which birds on wing, gulls especially, mistook as home-from-home white cliffs.

See what to my mind is this hugely significant passage in the wiki entry for the group of 3 Thornborough henges in Yorkshire (my highlighting):

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.

Point 3: Stonehenge’s peripheral misnamed “Heel Stone” – a natural sarsen, local to the immediate Salisbury Plain, with beaked head suggestive of a scavenger bird.

Heel Stone, pic 1 and 3

Point 4: Dolmens – miniature trilithons – bird perches

 

Dolmens-in-Osang-ri

Korea has a vast number of dolmens (15,000 est North, 30,000 South). Yet they are routinely described in encyclopaedias as “chambered tombs”, some covered with earth, but by no means all. Are we really to suppose that every dolmen in the above picture served primarily as a chambered tomb? Come now, get real… Let’s focus on that universal flat capstone, shall we, aka bird perch…

Here’s what I said by way of a comment to Brian John’s  Stonehenge/bluestone site just 3 days ago:

Cromlechs, aka dolmens, can also be readily accommodated within the pre-crematorium/AFS model if one assumes that those that are still under a mound of earth were covered over at the END of their useful ‘lifespan’ i.e. decommissioned when funeral rites/body disposal changed with abandonment of AFS.

How? Answer: They are miniature versions of Stonehenge’s trilithons (i.e. two or more stone pillars supporting a bridging lintel, the latter serving as a perch for flesh-scavenging birds) with a nearby cadaver undergoing ‘sky burial’ prior to cremation of final remains.

Put another way, the mighty trilithons of Stonehenge were merely the high point (literally!) of AFS-directed dolmen technology.

I stand to be corrected.

 

(Expect more insertions/additions/fleshing out of detail  beyond this point in the next day or two)

Point 5: Why use unwieldy sarsen megaliths as the final bridging lintels? Because that was all that was available locally to serve that role. Lugging new stones from Wales, bluestone or otherwise, was seen as oh- so- last-millennium…

Point 6:  Rationale for the initial Aubrey so-called “holes” (in reality, wide shallow pits excavated into the chalk, back-filled latterly with chalk AND human bones – maybe cremated, who knows?). They were dual purpose, initially supports , initially Welsh bluestones and/ or timber posts, then used finally as graves for human remains, probably cremated bones mainly or exclusively.

For more details, see the posting immediately preceding this one, especially its third instalment dated Mon Feb 26 regarding those Aubrey holes/pits/supposed Mark1 timber posts/supposed Mark 2 bluestones/cremation burials.  I can explain all that complex history  fairly simply albeit not prettily in terms of a sequence of AFS, cremation, burial. Where are the alternative explanations from Establishment archaeology? Why the pussy-footing around such crucial detail? State of denial?

Point 7: The intermediary jumble of timber posts at Phase 2 of Stonhenge is readily explainable – extra perching space as the site gradually became more popular with avian visitors.

Point 8: The role of those transported-from-Wales bluestones – lithophonic, the ‘ringing stones’ alerted scavenging birds to each new offering.

 

Here’s the comment in left on Timothy Daw’s Sarsen.org site almost a month ago. (Don’t know why I bothered!). It begins with a press-release from the Royal College of Arts regarding the ‘ringing bluestones’ of the Welsh Preseli hills, importantly the origin of those mysterious Stonehenge bluestones, their mode of transport still a matter of some controversy…

RCA Research Team Uncovers Stonehenge’s Sonic Secrets

2 December 2013

https://www.rca.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/sonic-stones/

(In what follows,”L&P” refers to the RCA’s somewhat mystifying “Landscape and Perception” project!)

“Sonic or musical rocks are referred to as ‘ringing rocks’ or ‘lithophones’. A significant percentage of the rocks on Carn Menyn (ed. Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales) produce metallic sounds like bells, gongs or tin drums when struck with small hammerstones. Where suspected Neolithic quarries are located, there’s an even higher localised percentage.

The Preseli village Maenclochog, which itself means bell or ringing stones, used bluestones as church bells until the eighteenth century. While the Preseli area has long known of lithophones, the L&P project has confirmed why so many Neolithic monuments exist in the region, and provided strong evidence that the sounds made the landscape sacred to Stone Age people. The study quantifies the comments of the British archeologist and early ‘rock gong’ pioneer, Bernard Fagg, who suspected there were ringing rocks on or around Preseli, and suggested the link between these and the sacredness of Neolithic monuments and landscapes.

In July, English Heritage gave the L&P investigators unprecedented permission to acoustically test the bluestones at Stonehenge. Accompanied by archaeologists from Bournemouth and Bristol universities, the research team set to work testing the megaliths.

They didn’t expect much, as lithophones require ‘resonant space’ – space, in which, sound waves have sufficient room to vibrate to produce the pure sounds that can be experienced on Carn Menyn. The bluestones at Stonehenge are set deep into the ground (some having been supported in concrete), which can also dampen acoustic potential.
To the researchers’ surprise, however, having tested all the bluestones at the monument, several were found to make distinctive (if muted) sounds. This was a sure indication they would have been fully lithophonic if they’d had sufficient resonant space. Furthermore, a number of bluestones at Stonehenge show evidence of having been struck. This have been in order (sic) to create an acoustic environment, according to Wozencroft. A full understanding of the nature of these markings will require further archaeological investigations, however.”

########################

Back to me, folks – beware: what follows is pure speculation!

Let’s suppose, just suppose, that the Neolithic folk who had inhabited the Preseli hills had been under attack from invaders, say from the sea (just a few miles away) and decided to migrate eastwards. Suppose they had decided to take their “ringing” stones with them, for whatever purpose (with gull-attracting properties a possibility).
It’s said that some 500 years separate the quarrying of the bluestones and their arrival on Salisbury Plain (based on radiocarbon dating of accompanying charcoal etc from fires). Well, 500 years gives plenty of time for manual transport, by whatever means (lifting, dragging etc). Maybe the migrants moved eastwards a little a time, setting up their stones at every stop, each one a new albeit temporary home. Might they have been trailed initially by their “own” gulls etc, but later attracting local ones at each new stopping place, the latter also becoming attuned to the ‘wake up’ call each time the stones were struck to signal each new offering when there was a death in the family (correction, families).

Point 9: The Anatolian connection – Stonehenge a close relative of Gobekli Tepe with its bridged uprights (bird perches).

Here’s a picture of the so-called “T-shaped pillars” of Gobekli Tepe, whose shape is rarely commented upon:

SOA2007_monumente__steinkreis

Many are carrying engraved images of wild animals, vultures included, not imaginary ones. There’s an article on the Ancient Origins site devoted to the so-called ‘vulture stone’.

So why wild animals.  Do I too need to draw pictures for the benefit of  Establishment archaeology? And why the T-shaped, like a stylized monolithic version of those dolmens from earlier, or like a monolithic version of a Stonehenge trilithon!

Gobekli Tepe the “world’s first temple” (if you believe the 10,000BC dating about which I personally and others are somewhat sceptical)? Doesn’t that ring a bell? Ah yes: Stonehenge is, we are ‘reliably’ informed  a “Neolithic temple”.

I say neither were temples! They were both purpose-built for AFS, aka ‘sky burial’, vultures  the de-fleshing species in the case of the Anatolian site,  with our less voracious species of avian scavenger  having to make do on Salisbury Plain (thus the need for as much perching accommodation as possible – the lintels being the final stage of site development, following one from those timber posts, isolated ‘ringing’ bluestone  or sarsen pillars etc).

Point 10:  Presence of bones with strontium isotope ratios indicative of long-distance travel – as far away a s Scotland – can be explained by assuming that livestock – pigs, cattle especially- were a crucial element in barter trade that existed before currency. Use of  mobile livestock as payment by the newly bereaved for use of the famed Stonehenge facility possible by bring or acquiring livestock that had been brought in from afar. E.g. if new animals born in Spring, it gives time to drive them on foot for long distances to reach Stonehenge well before the colder weather sets in.

 

Overview: there are loadsa additional reasons for fingering  Neolithic Stonehenge with its final installed lintels as primarily a site for AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization) followed by fuel-efficient cremation of what remained.

Here are just a few (9 thus far, links to come later) that spring immediately to mind, flagged up by this retired science bod over several years of blogging on Stonehenge (in addition to his main interest, namely the Shroud of Turin).

1. Seahenge
2. Winter- feasting on those young pigs at Durrington Walls
3. Salt-tolerant lichen on the tops of the sarsens
4. La Varde  (Guernsey) with its stone circle and cremated bones
5. Silbury Hill and its now ‘dark organic’ acquisitions… don’t ask…
6. Lack of markings on the Stonehenge megaliths, apart that is from Bronze age daggers and axe heads, i.e. nothing to support the taken-on-trust solstice narrative/temple theories etc
7. Water-repellency of imported-from-afar bluestone, but now rivalled by an alternative explanation, namely the lithophonic (“ringing-when-struck”) properties.
8. “House” of the Dead at Countess Farm near Stonehenge – a collection of closely- spaced timber posts behind a perimeter fence/screen not intended to support a roof, but (I claim) a safe, secure roosting place for avian-scavengers.
9. Explanation for “standing stones” and similar , from SW England and Wales right up to to the Orkneys. whose general role in Neolithic Britain is usually referred to in vague terms (yawn!) as ‘ritual landscape’ or some other semi-poetic renditions bla bla, with bodily remains merely mentioned in passing  as stage props to hint at some kind of undefined religious or ceremonial element.

 

Indeed the practice was probably standard right across the Eurasian landmass, as far as Korea (see above). But our archaeological Establishment can’t bring themselves to entertain the idea that the occupants of the British Isles some 5000-6000 years ago were essentially no different  from other races in the way they chose to dispose of their dead. Thus the constant evasion, attempts to divert attention, waffle, time-wasting, pandering to one or other fantasy, those winter or summer  solstices especially. Before you know what, they’ll discover what they claim to be  a crude Neolithic telescope , fashioned from near-transparent quartz, with convex lenses hand -ground to perfection with specially selected bluestones!

Addendum: March 16, 2018

Have decided to add the following image as an addendum to ALL my Stonehenge postings (some 24 in all, here and on my sciencebuzz site). Why not – since it’s my considered answer to the ‘mystery’ of the monument’s peculiar architecture, the conclusion to some 6 years of  deliberation?

Reminder*

 

I say Stonehenge was designed as a giant bird perch, a ceremonial monument dedicated to ‘sky burial’, i.e. soul release from mortal remains to the heavens via AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, considered the height of fashion (and practicality) in Neolithic-era 2500BC! The stripped remains were then cremated, so an apt description of Stonehenge might, as previously suggested, be PRE-CREMATORIUM.

 

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

New thinking on Stonehenge: might the original chalk embankment have been intended primarily as a simple windbreak, protecting those Neolithic open fires against gusts of wind from the Atlantic? Was it later reinvented for an entirely different purpose (don’t ask!)?

Let’s start this posting with the photograph that accompanied a front-page article in this morning’s Telegraph newspaper:

 

tunisian troglodyte enclosure

Note the reference to protection against “winter winds”  (more relevant to the UK climate – sorry, WEATHER – than “searing heat”,  hugely important for what follows.

Does the circle of banked-up soil put you in mind of anything else, like, say, the UK’s numerous henges, an inheritance  from our Neolithic forbears?

And what is the most famous henge of all (while atypical in certain regards)?.  Why – Stonehenge of course!

But one’s first mental picture of Stonehenge are those monumental stones and those mighty lintels that span the uprights. What’s the connection with the Tunisian refuge in the photograph you may ask?

Answer: Stonehenge evolved from simple beginnings, not dissimilar from what you see above.  Yes, it started out the same as all other henges (except for the chalk embankment being inside the excavated ditch, suggesting its original purpose was at least partly defensive, unlike the typical henge where the bank is outside the ditch).

I had to say that, to forestall the purists who might otherwise jump on me for using the term “henge” loosely in the case of Stone “henge” with its reversed chalk and ditch, despite that not mattering for what follows!

Here’s a schematic representation of the ‘Phase 1’ Stonehenge from another site (Chris Collyer’s) to which I’ve added compass points to show the location of the two gaps in the original chalk embankment (or as some would say its alleged intentional alignment with respect to sunrise and sunset, summer and winter solstices etc etc – about which a brief word later (very brief!).

stonehengephase1 labelled NE and S

 

Many other UK henges, and their predecessors , the so-called ’causewayed enclosures’ display the same orientation with respect to the compass points, with entrances on the north-east (or north) side of the circle, maybe one or two others, like the additional south-facing one above, but never on the west or south-west side. Why not?

Time for some plain speaking!  Put aside all the  bunkum about  Stonehenge being intentionally aligned to view the setting sun, whether on the longest or shortest day of the year (summer and winter solstices). That might make sense if Stonehenge had started out as the spectacular monument that stands largely intact to this day. But as just one of dozens of humble henges  with no stones initially, no framing arch-like trilithons, that makes no sense whatsoever.

So why the orientation you see above?

Answer: forget about so-called archaeoastronomy. Think meteorology instead. Think about the windy British Isles, with our prevailing south-westerly winds coming in year-round off the Atlantic!

cardington

 

That’ll do for starters.  More to follow tomorrow… starting with the location of the 56 so-called “Aubrey holes” you see in Chris Collyer’s diagram up close to the embankment. What were they for?

2nd instalment: Sun Feb 25

Yes, let’s try and get our heads round those 56 so-called Aubrey holes,  shall we? They  are perhaps better described as pits, given their dimensions, and which may (or may not!) have once each supported a wooden post.

Here’s Chris Collyer’s diagram  (right) of how the assemblage might have looked, if each of the 56 “holes” had indeed accommodate  a post.

 

Note that we are now viewing the proto-Stonehenge from a different angle (thus my labelling again with compass directions).

There are a number of noteworthy features. Firstly, note how close the conjectural posts are to the chalk embankment – a mere 5 metres of so (the diameter of the circle beig  much greater – some 85 metres). Note too that there’s no break in the circle of posts – they partially ‘obstruct’ both of the two entrances.

Here’s a copy & paste from the wiki entry on Aubrey holes:

It was found that the pits were an average of 0.76m deep and 1.06m in diameter. Twenty-five of the pits contained later cremation burials inserted into their upper fills along with long bone pins which may have secured leather or cloth bags used to hold the remains. Their presence makes Stonehenge Britain’s oldest cremation cemetery.

Plan of Stonehenge 1 with the Aubrey holes shown as white circles. After Cleal et al.

The pits appear to have been refilled with the freshly excavated chalk rubble soon after being dug as no weathering has been noted on the chalk sides of the pits. They may also have been dug out and refilled numerous times. The holes are in an accurate, 271.6m circumference circle, distributed around the edge of the area enclosed by Stonehenge’s earth bank, with a standard deviation in their positioning of 0.4m. The circle they describe is around 5m inside the monument’s bank. Twenty-one of the holes remain unexcavated and no reliable dating material has been recovered from the other thirty-five. The only available carbon date from the holes comes from charcoal in one of the later cremations. It gives the broad range of 2919-1519 cal BC.

Read on and we’re told that the 56 supposed posts (of which there’s no remaining trace) could have served as a lunar calendar (each 2 posts representing .one of the 28 days thereof) or even a celebration of the  human menstrual cycle (also 28 days).  Corroborative evidence?  Who needs corroborative evidence if one’s an archaeoastronomer, desperate to supply explanations that titillate rather than inform!

Tucked away, there’s a more credible answer for why there are 56 evenly spaced holes/conjectured posts. It’s to do with practicalities, like how do you mark out a series of evenly-spaced locations to accommodate a carefully, i.e. mathematically chosen number of locations that ensures even-spacing?

One might think as I did (at least initially) that one can go adding diameters to a given circle in a sequence that sequence that runs 1,2,4,8,16 … etc. But that gives an outcome that has 32 or 64 locations, not the 56 that accords with reality!

We have Anthony Johnson (see wiki reference)  to thank for what one of us at any rate considers a highly credible explanation.

Johnson, Anthony, Solving Stonehenge: The New Key to an Ancient Enigma. pp208-217 (Thames & Hudson, 2008) ISBN 978-0-500-05155-9

It’s called the ‘square(s)-in-circle’ methodology. One draws a circle and starts by inserting a singkle square, giving 4 equally- spaced points on the circle. One then adds a second square, rotated to the right (say) to generate another 4 equally spaced points. One goes on adding more squares, rotated further round the circle, so as to  mark off further loci. But this time one progresses in increments of 4 (0, 4, 8, 12 etc), i.e. an arithmetic as distinct from geometric progression,  and this time one ends up (if desired) with 56 equally spaced locations around the circumference!

So let’s forget about lunar or menstrual cycles, shall we, and acknowledge that Neolithic man had a little geometry at his disposal which enabled him to set out a circle of evenly spaced wooden posts, or rather holes for conjectural posts? Presumably he had some ‘higher’ purpose in mind, even if it eludes some modern (overly-modern?) minds …

So what’s the evidence if any, no matter how tendentious, that those holes really did contain posts? To answer that, one needs to assemble a lot more pieces of a jigsaw with much interlinking but hopefully credible speculation. I’ll continue tomorrow in Instalment 3 …

3rd instalment, Mon Feb 26

It’s time now to focus on a detail of what’s already been quoted, or rather two or more details packed into the one seemingly inconsequential paragraph, and hazard a guess as to why Stonehenge developed the way it did.  Why is/was it not a typical henge (inner bank/outer ditch) but an atypical one (outer bank/inner ditch)? Why was its early phase dominated apparently by a complete circle of conjectured timber posts of which there’s now no trace in the archaeological record, except for what are described as “cremated bones”?

Yes. let’s take a second look shall we at the first paragraph in the passage quoted yesterday. I believe that it supplies an answer to Stonehenge Phase 1, namely that form the very start it was planned as a dual purpose facility, not for the living but for the dead set aside from communal everyday activities.

Here’s the crucial paragraph again, with my highlighting in red:

It was found that the pits were an average of 0.76m deep and 1.06m in diameter. Twenty-five of the pits contained later cremation burials inserted into their upper fills along with long bone pins which may have secured leather or cloth bags used to hold the remains. Their presence makes Stonehenge Britain’s oldest cremation cemetery.

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that the pits which are suspected to have housed timber posts should be wider than they are deep, that there’s no trace of the timber posts themselves, but deposits of cremated bones instead?

There is an explanation, one that I shall first propose, and then, given the gaps in the archaeological record as regards those “pits”, attempt to assess critically via indirect means, seeking collaborative evidence wherever it can be found. (No, it’s not a “scientific” as this retired science bod would like, but it’s a darn sight more scientific than the never ending stream of  pseudoscientific twaddle that emanates from the current crop of archaeological bigwigs. I refer especially to the self-promoters who currently hold the UK and other media in the palms of their grant-hungry hands, as I said yesterday in a comment to the Brian John blog site:

sciencebod said…Thank you Brian. It’s good to know one’s cynicism regarding much of Stonehenge ‘archaeoastronomy’ is shared by at least one other blogger.

I know yours is not to be seen as an archaeology site as such, more geomorphology, glacial transport etc (even if its owner occasionally strays into that arena!).

But I’m sure mainstream non-astronomy-fixated archaeologists look in from time to time, in which case I’d be interested for an opinion on something I’ve just come across:

Here’s a copy-and-paste (my bolding of a certain passage):

“Based on their knowledge of the site and period, Willis et al. (2016) conclude that “Stonehenge was used as a cremation cemetery for mostly adult men and women for around five centuries, during and between its first two main stages of construction. In its first stage, many burials were placed within and beside the Aubrey Holes. As these are believed to have contained bluestones, there seems to have been a direct relationship between particular deceased individuals and standing stones. Human remains continued to be buried during and after Stonehenge’s second stage, demonstrating its continuing association with the dead.” Later burials found at Stonehenge are found around the periphery of the site; indicating that the use of the monument changed from a direct association with the recently dead to a more distant understanding of the site as the location for collective ancestors. Instead of it being a burial site, it became a memorial for ancestors, an argument that is consistent with previous interpretations by Parker Pearson (2012).”

http://spartanideas.msu.edu/2016/04/21/death-comes-to-stonehenge-the-burned-remains/

What I’d like to know is how one can tell that a site has become “a memorial for successors”, purely it would seem on account of the late addition of grandiose feats of construction – notably the sarsen lintels. To the best of my knowledge there is no corroborating evidence whatsoever, the only markings on the stones being allegedly Bronze Age additions of axeheads and daggers.

I shan’t mince my words – I think we’ve been let down by the current crop of so-called “archaeologists” where Stonehenge is concerned, forever insinuating their woolly blue-sky thinking with scarcely a fact to back it up.

I could cite a particular example if anyone’s interested, notably the failure to say exactly what they mean by “cremated bone”. The technology exists to distinguish between cremated bone that has been initially de-fleshed, as shown by the La Varde studies on Guernsey.

https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=3KegCgAAQBAJ&lr=&printsec=frontcover&pg=GBS.PA19

But I’ve yet to see any mention of that technology in connection with Stonehenge. Why not? Why the (deliberate?) vagueness, ambiguity and mealy-mouthed imprecision?

Is modern archaeology more concerned with research-grant-friendly image manicure than reality? I strongly suspect that to be the case, which if true makes for a sad reflection on the UK’s modern publicity-hungry brand of so-called ‘scholarship’.

So what could be the purpose of 56 regularly-placed timber posts, not too close together, not too far apart.

Here’s my proposed answer from May 2016, i.e. some 2 years ago:

1. 11850378_100445873645753_308043320_n

Yes, it’s a modern photograph (credits to follow) but is makes an important point: birds of a feather stick together, and what could be better than a series of evenly spaced timber posts from the tops of which they can see each other, while relatively safe from ground-based predators (cats, whether wild or domesticated, foxes etc). Wouldn’t it be nice if there was also a nearby source of food?

 

And here’s a revised, dare I suggest, upgraded model.

When a relative died, they were taken to proto- (Phase 1) Stonehenge for cremation. But whole-body cremation was not considered the done thing, whether on practical grounds (wasteful of timber, smoke, bad smells etc) or on religious grounds, “sky burial” via AFS , i.e. avian-facilitated skeletonization being considered de rigueur at that particular point in Neolithic history.  So the body could have been laid out on a wooden frame (say) and then left, and left and left some more, confident in the knowledge that scavenger birds would start to assemble on those 56 posts and duly proceed to feed. After a passage of time, maybe days, maybe less, the morticians would return, heap up branches of wood and proceed to cremate the partially or nearly completely skeletonized remains, quickly and efficiently.

So far, so good, if not to the modern mind, able to cope with the idea of cremation when it’s in a modern gas-fired furnace, with none of that oh-so-primitive AFS preliminary. But what to do with the cremated bones? Ah, that’s where the housing for those timber posts enters the equation. How?

The posts and their housing designed for easy insertion AND easy extraction. How?  One digs a wide fairly shallow pit, one inserts the post and then back-fills with loose chalk to create  a reasonably secure perch, one that won’t wobble when a light bird settles on it. Later, post cremation (when the birds are elsewhere) ONE of the posts is removed, the chalk scooped out, the cremated remains – in a leather pouch or similar – are dropped in the pit, the  chalk added back but probably no post, at least not straightaway.

The pit has now become a grave.  The remains are either recovered subsequently from the pit, when a permanent off-site home has been found for them – say in a nearby barrow – and then and only then the  post returned to the pit as a recycling exercise. Alternatively, if the  individual packages remains are not reclaimed, then they stay in their assigned pits for  later discovery by modern-day archaeologists.  (Most of whom will play down the “cremated bone” side of the Stonehenge narrative , or be happy to endow Stonehenge with a split personality (both a venue for winter solstice festivals – duplicating the role of nearby Durrington Walls!) AND a site for disposal of the dead).

So what happens next, as more and more timber posts are removed and not replaced? Where are the site visitors/diners supposed to perch?

We now enter Stonehenge Phase 2, for which Chris Collyer has also thoughtfully supplied us with a diagram of what I call the untidy phase – with unmistakable signs of growing desperation on the part of the site custodians:

NE labelled stonehenge-postholeplan-tm

Oh dear!

Yes, there’s no longer that presumed circle of 56 posts. They have all been used as graves or otherwise decommissioned.  How did that occur, step-by-step?  Here’s there’s scope for the exercise of a little more imagination.  The custodians began by inserting new outlier timber posts where they would not obstruct access to the central AFS/cremation area. So they bunched them together in the NE entrance. (Somewhere I read that it got widened at some point, not the S-facing access). Later still, they were forced to find space closer to the centre of the circle, but not right at the very centre (ignoring the relatively few placements there which were not necessarily bird perches, but supports for something else).

At some point, someone took a long hard look at the forest of wooden posts and decided enough was enough: start again from scratch, take out all the wooden posts, and maybe (for starters) reuse some or all of the 56 Aubrey holes/pits as supports for STONE pillars, giving the local wild life something more substantial on which to squat.

4th instalment, Tue Feb 27

Today we’ll move on to the early stone-phase of Stonehenge, starting with the incorporation of  Welsh bluestones from their presumed ‘Bluehenge’ location a mile (1.6km) away, down by the riverside.

See this readable link to Bluehenge, aka Blue Stonehenge.  Here’s a copy and paste of a key passage, to which I added some yellow highlighting.

bluehenge screen grab

But first, a small digression is necessary, namely to summarise the likely pros and cons of inner ditch/outer bank (i.e. the true henge configuration) compared with the opposite (outer ditch/inner bank) which describes Stone-so-called-henge. Here’s a diagram I have  just this minute put together in MS Paint which I hope readers will find self-explanatory and, most of all, CREDIBLE:

final pre and post henge, with labelled fires

Brief timeline (I’ll insert approximate dates later: what matters right now is the sequence of events):

  1. Bluestones arrive from Wales (we’ll not concern ourselves with that timeline for now!), installed in a small circle on a typical henge (inner bank/outer ditch). It may have been a pre-existing henge OR was purpose-built. Either way the site seems to have had one function only, namely to dispose of the dead by cremation and to inter at least some invidual’s remains on site.  (That’s final cremation you realize).
  2. It seems reasonable to conclude from the findings in the above article that a decision was then made to uproot the bluestones, and transfer them to the atypical Stonehenge site, implanting them initially in the Aubrey pits that had initially accommodated those timber posts.

 

Why the preference for the Stonehenge site?  I believe my diagram above supplies the some of the answer. The atypical outer ditch/ inner bank configuration was better suited for the purpose of CREMATION.  Why? Because it offered better protection from the prevailing south-westerly winds, allowing  funeral pyres to be kept going regardless of wind speed, neither too fast, consuming one’s stores of timber, or too slow,  and (perhaps a minor consideration) with smoke tending to go straight up initially due to a chimney effect conferred by the closer banks. A little smoke at ground level might not matter where cooking fires are concerned: it’s a different matter if the fire is a funeral pyre (I once had the misfortune to stand too close to a modern crematorium with visible smoke coming from the chimney – the smell was indescribable!).

Late insertion: some might think that a bank of chalk, reckoned to be about 2 metres high initially, might offer little by way of wind protection for an enclosed area some 85 metres in diameter. (Though as suggested. a fire could be started close to the W or SW facing bank for greater protection). However there is also a suggestion that there was once a 20ft (approx 6 metres!) high wooden palisade as well.  I’m a little dubious myself, but thought I’d better flag up the palisade notion which if true might reinforce my windbreak idea, as an alternative to the notion that it served a different function, i.e. to totally shield  the site from public purview …

But were the practicalities of open-fire management the only consideration?  No – they weren’t. There was a second consideration, namely the perceived need for partial or near complete excarnation of the deceased, to permit cleaner and more efficient cremation of defleshed skeletal remains. The other consideration, then, was to have a site that was attractive to scavenging birds in LARGE NUMBERS, probably voracious gulls for the most part,  given that Britain lacks the more efficient continental vulture.

5th instalment, Wed 28 Feb

But never underestimate the so-called “sea” gull, especially  those that stray inland:

seagulls and their nastier side

From the Express newspaper

Stonehenge had already proved its worth in that regard over many centuries. Why? How?

I believe that Stonehenge benefited from its isolated location on bare chalk uplands, away from the (probable) wooded banks of the River Avon, with that gleaming white chalk bank and ditch being visible from afar.

There’s some collateral evidence that suggests that visibility was a factor that weighed heavily on the Neolithic mind. Why?  Might Thornborough Henges up in North Yorkshire (near Masham) provide a clue (already flagged up in the previous posting).

Incidentally, I strongly recommend a read of the above link, if only to demonstrate the woeful state of UK ‘received wisdom’, one where astronomy is inextricably linked with Neolithic archaeology. Be prepared to see the following:

 

images

Yes, the three Thornborough Henges are a perfect match for the Orion Belt constellation in the night sky, didn’t ya know?

So how do they account for the superficial coating of gypsum applied to the henges in Neolithic times, discovered not so long ago by an observant archaeologist?

“Then, around 3000 BC, when the three Henges at Thornborough were constructed, they appear to have been deliberately laid out to mirror Orion’s Belt. Not only this, but their southern entrances framed the rising of the bright star, Sirius, which in turn meant their axis aligned on the midwinter solstice.

In an article by Dr Harding, he explained: “Thornborough was a sacred landscape, a place of religious worship, and we should try to interpret these astronomical orientations within that context.

(my bolding)

This astronomical association was emphasised by the banks of the Henges being coated in brilliant white gypsum. Neolithic people surely felt they were at the centre of the very cosmos as they worshipped the heavens above.

 

As already noted, there’s another explanation for that gleaming white gypsum, applied to the drab-looking sand and gravel bank: it was designed to give one (or more?) of the three Thornborough henges the same pulling power for birds on the wing – seagulls expecially – as the more southerly chalk henges. Why would gulls especially find white banks of chalk attractive? Answer: because they resembled coastal cliff faces, a place to roost and maybe even nest… provided there was a guaranteed source of food, suiting a largely carnivorous diet … modern day seaside bags of potato chips excluded!

I say it’s time that “AFS” (avian-facilitated skeltonization) was recognized as a Neolithic fact-of-life, that the attempts to pretend it’s not there, with resort to fanciful ‘archaeoastronomy’  needs to be relegated to a footnote of history.  We Brits are supposed to be practical and level-headed. You wouldn’t know it from what continues to pour out from our devotees of archaeoastronomy with their rose-tinted  spectacles, forever searching the night skies for clues…  I say look at the daytime skies instead – and be prepared for aerial raids on your chips!

6th and final instalment, Thur March 1

To summarise: The first chalk embankments to appear in Neolithic or pre-Neolithic Britain were primarily defensive in nature, perhaps situated if forest clearings, where invaders would first encounter the ditch, then the defended bank.

With time, other advantages of surrounding oneself with that raised chalk bank – notably protection for oneself, one’s family, one’s untethered livestock and one’s open fires from the prevailing southwesterly wind, winter gales especially. That is probably the real explanation for entrances to the circle being situated in the north-east or north side, that being the one receiving the least wind.

Living together as family or inter-tribal groups would gradually have led to communal agreement on how best to dispose of the dead. Cremation was clearly a preferred option where so many of the henges were concerned, given the numerous cremated remains that have been uncovered by archaeologists. Cremation placed even greater reliance on open fires, their needing to be reliable in all weathers. Cremation alone was not sufficient, especially when wood supplies were limited, on days when the weather did not favour pyres going for hours, maybe days on end.

That’s when another advantage of the chalk circle was noted and exploited. It attracted birds on the wing, seagulls especially, due to their looking from afar like white coastal cliffs. Timber posts,  then maybe stone, were installed, serving as perches, making the site even more bird-friendly.

Specialist henges appeared (or pseudohenges like Stonhenge with outer ditch, inner bank) that were either purpose built or adaptations of earlier ones, designed not only for cremation, but pre-cremation by what I have called AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization), a term I prefer to “excarnation” which is too vague as to purpose.

Finally, there was a final dividend attached to working inside a chalk embankment, whether inside or outside the ditch, namely screening from the view of the living (bar mortuary attendants) of what was happening inside the circle to the recently dead.

In short, Stonehenge and many other similar sites served primarily as pre-crematoria in the first instance, followed by efficient onsite cremation of skeletonized remains. Final interment of cremated remains was either onsite or offsite, in the latter instance in earthen barrows for revered leaders of society or taken away by relatives, suitably packaged for placement in the home, akin to the modern-day funeral urn.

Here’s a comment I placed yesterday on two different ‘Stonehenge-focused’ sites:

my comment re new ideas on stonehenge etc

“My own site (this one!) gets scarcely any visitors”. Yup, that’s the long and the short of it (mainly short):

stats for suss site, march 1 2018

 

I’ll let folk know if/when there’s been any response (thus far none, but it’s still early days).

Here’s the link to a site called “25 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries Ever”.

Stonehenge is No.12 in the list.  Here’s the accompanying photo. Please observe the caption!

Stonehenge No 12 on Greatest Mysteries site

Please sir, please sir. I know why!

birds on lintels

 

Oh, and I have a solution for the Turin Shroud as well (No.11 in that “Unsolved” Mystery list). Shame that the world (or at any rate, the blogosphere) is indifferent to solutions that do not accord with long-held preconceptions!

Half the fun of science is to watch one’s own or other folks’ preconceptions turn into Sir Kenneth Clark’s “dissolving perspectives”,  the process starting almost immediately after starting afresh with a blank sheet of paper and “unthinkable imaginings” (aka scientific hypotheses for the testing thereof)!

It’s not hard to see why scientists are so unpopular, at least in the UK (I can’t speak for the ROTW) , treated in the media and elsewhere as if they don’t exist. (Like when did you ever see a scientist in the story line of  UK TV soap, making even a fleeting appearance?)

….

Addendum: March 16, 2018

Have decided to add the following image as an addendum to ALL my Stonehenge postings (some 24 in all, here and on my sciencebuzz site). Why not – since it’s my considered answer to the ‘mystery’ of the monument’s peculiar architecture, the conclusion to some 6 years of  deliberation?

Reminder*

 

I say Stonehenge was designed as a giant bird perch, a ceremonial monument dedicated to ‘sky burial’, i.e. soul release from mortal remains to the heavens via AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, considered the height of fashion (and practicality) in Neolithic-era 2500BC! The stripped remains were then cremated, so an apt description of Stonehenge might, as previously suggested, be PRE-CREMATORIUM.

 

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

Hello again.

Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted here (Spring 2016). Why the absence? Well, I’ll say more about that later. For now, I would simply ask you to note the new tag line to the right of the site’s title, and the edited version of which chosen for this posting’s title (dropping the reference to Silbury Hill,  and flagging up what I consider a strangely neglected feature of Stonehenge – namely that menacing looking Heel Stone).

Ah yes, the “Heel Stone”. What a ludicrous name for what we’re told is a naturally-shaped (uncarved) sarsen (silicified sandstone) rock that is at or close to its original position (just a little over 75 metres from geometrical centre of THE  world-famous monument itself).

If you think I’m too harsh re nomenclature, then read the mumbo jumbo that appears on the wiki entry for the Heel Stone, with its references to “friar”, “heel” and “Devil”, then look at wiki’s accompanying photograph, and those of my own that now follow.

Yes, let’s start  this update  of my not-surprisingly unfashionable, some might say distasteful ) views on Stonehenge (and indeed of  Neolithic Britain’s quirky henges, stone circles in general, not to mention Silbury Hill) with some photos I took at the site in Spring 2012. Those lacking intestinal fortitude might be well advised to leave this posting now … Those made of sterner stuff, willing to empathize with our Neolithic forbears, constantly having to deal, often at short notice with an age-old problem (like how to dispose of one’s newly deceased loved ones) and unfamiliar with this blogger’s previous postings should clench their teeth and read on.

 

Heel Stone pic 2,4 and 5

The so-called ‘Heel Stone’ (yuk). Does that look like a heel to you? Or something else?  (Incidentally, that’s the now decommisioned minor A-road behind that used to join the busy A303 a short distance to the right, but is now dug up and turfed over)

 

Heel Stone, pic 1 and 3

I repeat. Does that look like a “heel” to you, or something else, something that matches the other side shown above? (Note the intruding traffic from the left which visitors to to Stonehenge won’t have seen since 2013).

 

I shall shortly insert a transcript of the Comments section from a posting on another site (Tim Daw’s  commendably factual but oh-so-restrained, some might say tight-lipped  sarsen.org site) in which the hugely , dare one say strangely neglected Heel Stone makes a brief appearance.

Here it is, minimally edited:

 

sciencebod 9 February 2018 at 15:33
The name that Tim’s given this upmarket site of his intrigues me, given that so much attention has been given over decades to the Welsh bluestones (about which more, nay, afterthought, less in a moment).
Why the focus on the local sarsens (chemically silicified sandstone). Sure, they are the tallest most imposing feature of Stonehenge. But what else is special? The lintels obviously. But in all the discussion and speculation re Stonehenge (astronomical calendar, mortuary for the remains of the dead etc) I don’t ever recall seeing any role proposed for those lintels! Why go to all that trouble in Neolithic or Bronze Age times? Surprising really, given those intricate and laboriously-carved woodworking joints (mortise and tenon, tongue and groove).
I’ve given my own explanation on a few postings earlier for those sarsen lintels, aka transoms, aka crosspieces. Thanks Neil Wiseman for your response. But let’s now be hearing some more sarsen-lintel focused ideas please!
Tim, what’s your thinking? Come on, it’s your site. Call the shots please…
As regards the bluestones, I’ve now been able to fit them into my scheme, drawing on a property that I scoffed at initially on first encounter but which is now music to my ears. But that can wait.
Come on folks! What’s so special about those sarsens, apart from ‘bigger is better’? I repeat: why go to all that trouble? It sure isn’t anything to do with summer and winter solstices, for which aligned uprights alone are all that’s needed.
Colin Berry (aka sciencebod)

 

——————
sciencebod10 February 2018 at 15:23
Oh dear. This site is turning out to be such a disappointment – so few comments, so little feedback, despite the informative and authoritative nature of Tim’s postings.
Don’t get me started on some of the alternative sites – which invite comments, then tell one that the comment one has submitted must first be pre-moderated, that one is in a queue, but which finally never appears (with most other postings also devoid of any genuine-looking comments).
There is much that is wrong right now as regards the received ‘wisdom’ regarding Stonehenge (read dogma) and stone circles, henges etc in general where the internet is concerned (I could say more, but will hold my tongue for now).
It’s getting on for 2 years since I last posted on Stonehenge/Silbury Hill on my own two sites – some 20 postings in all between 2012 and 2016. None – and I repeat none – have been picked up by any number of those dubious sites – even on comments – this one excluded.
There seems to be a deliberate attempt at message-suppression (to which this blogger is no stranger, having attempted to ‘tell it the way it is’ regarding the supposedly ‘enigmatic’ Shroud of Turin these last 6 years!
Any chance of a guest posting on this site, one that briefly summarizes my near certainty that our Neolithic ancestors set great store, as well they might, by preliminary AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization) aka “sky burial” aka ‘defleshing’ aka excarnation as a preliminary to final bone cremation?
Those massive sarsen lintels were the high point of AFS evolution and technology – monumental bird perches if the truth be told – designed to attract and retain the nearest the British Isles have to the Eurasian vulture – almost certainly the adaptable and voracious seagull!
Sorry to keep banging on – but I have to say it again – the internet is not working as it should to disseminate new ideas. That’s thanks, I suspect, to vested interests of one sort or another… this site being mercifully free, if somewhat low profile right now , due one suspects to its emphasis on unadorned facts rather than bonkers (?)ideas…
Colin Berry (aka sciencebod)
——————

Neil Wiseman10 February 2018 at 22:53
Hi Colin,
The level of correspondence I receive is such that I cannot immediately reply to everyone. Apologies.
I have little doubt that birds of various kinds participated in the excarnation process, it’s probably key among the factors why the wickets were elevated.
However, it is unlikely that the lintels at Stonehenge were set as a perch for birds waiting on queue to feed. If any consideration for this was given, I’m sure a simple post would have sufficed.
Excarnation was part of a process which was virtually obsolete by the time the Sarsen Circle was erected. Interment had come firmly in vogue during this period and it wasn’t long before cremation was discontinued altogether — at least according to the record. Therefore it’s speculative in the extreme that such a practice would be instituted by such a labor intensive program as these elaborate stone perches.
Moving on, elsewhere you have mentioned a disagreement with the idea that Stonehenge was aligned to the sun.
I have heard roofs. I have heard abattoirs. I have heard moats. I have heard Aliens, Pixies and Giants. I have heard it all. But nowhere have I heard that the sun was not among the prime motivations for constructing this monument.
There were other motivations as well, though detailing them is beyond the scope of this little notice. Basically, the sun was at the rock-bottom of every element in a belief-system that spanned over 4,000 years.
In fact, my friend, it still is — we simply call it something else.
The Stonehenge stone-phase is at the tail end of that vastly long-lived culture and embraces a number of concepts which illustrate a firm understanding of how the world worked and the people’s role in it. At that stage death played a peripheral mention. The Aubrey Holes had been forgotten and folks of status were being inhumed intact, complete with ceremonial grave-goods.
No birds need apply.
As a footnote, I do agree that at least one type of lichen was no doubt delivered by bird.
Best wishes,
Neil
——————

Modelling of a first-generation British (pre-British?) Neolithic  henge,   bank only shown, no ditch, with opening that faced the rising sun at dawn ( approximately east, but more NE in summer, more SE in winter), designed to illuminate and attract hungry birds on the wing to the offering of a free meal (shown as red disc). Forget about 18th century William Stukely’s  alignment with “summer and winter solstices”, now trumpeted as if established fact!

 

In other words, the role of compass location of gaps in the enclosure is linked to the Sun, but for reasons of illumination, rather than a solstice calendar. Later timber posts or standing stones would then have to be suitably aligned as well, so as not to block that early-morning shaft of sunlight.
One can add a role for those bluestones as well. They clang/chime when struck, functioning as a Neolithic precursor of metal bells. I propose that the bluestones were “rung” whenever there was a new offering, attracting gulls from miles around.
Astronomical calendar etc? Ingenious, but I’m reminded of that choice expression deployed by Sir Kenneth Clark in his “Civilization” TV series all those years ago (“false turnings and dissolving perspectives”)!
——————

Neil Wiseman 11 February 2018 at 13:10
Hi Colin,
The Brits, as you call them, certainly dug a lot of trenches in the UK in the Neolithic. There’s over 900 causewayed enclosures and henges there, in Ireland, and even a few in France. That’s a lot of digging over a vast period of time. There’s several different varieties among both categories. A henge is generally defined as a single circular ditch with the spoil piled on the outside as an embankment. There’s usually at least one causeway in the circumference. Stonehenge is not, technically speaking, a henge, as its spoil is on the inside. I think of it as a Reversed Causewayed Enclosure.
Whether cremations involved just skeletons or not is moot, and certainly relatives could have taken some of the ash away. But as anyone who’s had a relative cremated will tell you, a human doesn’t take up a lot of space. My mother and my brother sit on my mantle in tidy little urns. Inhumations of bodies are much more likely to have bones missing, and often do.
Conservatively, Stonehenge has 250/300 people buried in or near the Aubreys and on the bank at certain locations, making it the largest known Neolithic cemetery on the Island. But remember — some of the remains there are older than the henge itself, so must have been curated before being buried. The auroch skulls flanking the Southern Causeway are also older.
Metal certainly made it easier to dig in the chalk, yes.
The mostly unworked Heelstone is almost certainly a product of the immediate vicinity, and its solutional hole is probably very close by. In its nooks and crannies people see not only an eagle, but a dog, a moray eel, and a face among other things. Neither of us is the first to notice/mention it.
The Slaughter Stone is probably local as well.
I feel your AFS model could accommodate the sun, as the two are mutually exclusive. Bear in mind that I never mentioned the sun as a ‘calendar’. Though it certainly could have been, it was mostly the moon which was used. From the mid-Neolithic on the sun was celebrated for its life-giving properties, among other things. But earlier there seems to have been a fear associated with winter solstice. Would the sun return? There are several examples of a demonstration showing the people that it would, and I cite Newgrange as an elaborate case in point. Again, the scope of this thinking is very involved and cannot be detailed here.
The cardinal directions played a different role in the scheme of things than they do today, though there’s certainly an overlap. But, by my reckoning, only South is clearly shown to play a role at Stonehenge, and this association does not involve the stones. I know of no enclosure where North is a causeway, but northeast is, because that’s the solstice direction. As far as sightlines and alignments are concerned, be advised that the Heelstone’s original setting actually blocked the sunrise.
Where shadows fall also seems to have been important, and this is demonstrated in more than a few instances.
The Bluestones served a much more important role than as dinner bells for birds. They are buried in the ground and do not ring when struck. They thud.
I am usually loathe to use the term when discussing other people’s ideas, but in this case it’s apt. The concept is ridiculous in the extreme.

Best wishes,
Neil
——————
sciencebod11 February 2018 at 14:51
Hello again Neil
If anything to do with Sun or Moon, would there not have been a few markings on one or more stones, a point I raised earlier?
There is also the more general point that pre-stone circle/pre-henge farmers, those growing crops especially, would/must have had some crude kind of calendar at their disposal, and such a calendar would not have required massive stonework or even timber or chalk bank construction to figure out where one was in the annual cycle of seasons.
How? Imagine a farmer plonking down on a west-facing tree stump at the end of his working day, watching the sun set. He would be aware that the Sun sets progressively northwards up to a certain part of the year, with the longest day/shortest night , then stops, then moves back until reaching a new stop point much further south (80 degrees in modern terminology, i.e. the best part of a right angle).
Suppose now he counted the number of nights between what we now call the summer and winter solstices, by making cuts on a branch, or dropping small flints into a clay pot. He’d have found there were a regular repeating pattern of approx 182 nights, give or take between the solstices. Already he’d have a notion not just of days and nights (obviously) but now, more importantly, of years as well.
Months, notably lunar months? Yes, watching the phases of the Moon would serve, but why bother when it’s the warming Sun and seasons that are crucial to crops? Suppose then, dispensing for now with the Moon, our farmer decided to sow seed at the halfway point between the shortest and longest day, what we now call the vernal or spring equinox (arriving March 20 this year). He could do that crudely, by waiting for the Sun to set halfway between the two solstices OR, if wishing to be more accurate, could have waited until he had 90 or so notches or flints.
Why then go to the bother of constructing anything permanent simply to know where one is approximately in the passage of each new year when all that’s needed is a clear view towards the westward horizon (or alternatively the east-facing one instead if preferring to make his observations first thing in the morning?
What’s all this got to do with causeways, henges, standing stones, Stonehenge one might ask? I say nothing whatsoever – absolutely nothing. They were designed for an entirely different purpose, to do with giving dear departed relatives a respectful but efficient send-off to the afterlife, one in which an intermediary role for local birdlife was quickly perceived and accomplished by degrees, culminating in those mighty sarsen lintels (bird perches)for which it’s hard to see any obvious role where monitoring the annual seasons is concerned, or Sun or Moon worship etc etc.
I say that the summer/winter solstice theory is a false connection, one that should have been dispensed with long ago for lack of corroborating evidence and displaying, dare one say, a degree of fanciful or wishful thinking. It tries to make our Neolithic ancestors seem more detached from the problems of everyday existence than was really the case (like where the next meal was coming from, or what to do when Aunt Dot suddenly keels over, the ground outside is rock hard, the firewood nearly used up etc). Thank goodness for communal organization, or the first blossoming thereof.
Go visit the local (outdoor) funeral parlour, lit up at dawn if the sky is clear, thanks to its alignment in relation to sunrise and sunset. Those clever and methodical funeral directors have worked out a system. Call back a day or two later for an odour-free package of Auntie’s bones to add to the collection on their mantelpiece, or its Neolithic equivalent…
Don’t bother carving anything on the posts or stones. No one needs reminding what they are for…
(I’ll return with a separate comment later re the claimed ‘lithophonic’ properties of Stonehenge’s bluestones, once I’ve selected passages from that Royal College of Arts posting).
Cheers
ColinB

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sciencebod11 February 2018 at 20:07

From another site:

RCA Research Team Uncovers Stonehenge’s Sonic Secrets
2 December 2013

Link:
https://www.rca.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/sonic-stones/

(In what follows,”L&P” refers to the RCA’s somewhat mystifying “Landscape and Perception” project!)

” Sonic or musical rocks are referred to as ‘ringing rocks’ or ‘lithophones’. A significant percentage of the rocks on Carn Menyn (ed. Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales) produce metallic sounds like bells, gongs or tin drums when struck with small hammerstones. Where suspected Neolithic quarries are located, there’s an even higher localised percentage.
The Preseli village Maenclochog, which itself means bell or ringing stones, used bluestones as church bells until the eighteenth century. While the Preseli area has long known of lithophones, the L&P project has confirmed why so many Neolithic monuments exist in the region, and provided strong evidence that the sounds made the landscape sacred to Stone Age people. The study quantifies the comments of the British archeologist and early ‘rock gong’ pioneer, Bernard Fagg, who suspected there were ringing rocks on or around Preseli, and suggested the link between these and the sacredness of Neolithic monuments and landscapes.
In July, English Heritage gave the L&P investigators unprecedented permission to acoustically test the bluestones at Stonehenge. Accompanied by archaeologists from Bournemouth and Bristol universities, the research team set to work testing the megaliths.
They didn’t expect much, as lithophones require ‘resonant space’ – space, in which, sound waves have sufficient room to vibrate to produce the pure sounds that can be experienced on Carn Menyn. The bluestones at Stonehenge are set deep into the ground (some having been supported in concrete), which can also dampen acoustic potential.
To the researchers’ surprise, however, having tested all the bluestones at the monument, several were found to make distinctive (if muted) sounds. This was a sure indication they would have been fully lithophonic if they’d had sufficient resonant space. Furthermore, a number of bluestones at Stonehenge show evidence of having been struck. This have been in order (sic) to create an acoustic environment, according to Wozencroft. A full understanding of the nature of these markings will require further archaeological investigations, however.”
########################
Beware, dear reader: what follows is pure speculation (from this site’s owner!
Let’s suppose, just suppose, that the Neolithic folk who had inhabited the Preseli hills had been under attack from invaders, say from the sea (just a few miles away) and decided to migrate eastwards. Suppose they had decided to take their “ringing” stones with them, for whatever purpose (with gull-attracting properties a possibility).
It’s said that some 500 years separate the quarrying of the bluestones and their arrival on Salisbury Plain (based on radiocarbon dating of accompanying charcoal etc from fires). Well, 500 years gives plenty of time for manual transport, by whatever means (lifting, dragging etc). Maybe the migrants moved eastwards a little a time, setting up their stones at every stop, each one a new albeit temporary home. Might they have been trailed initially by their “own” gulls etc, but later attracting local ones at each new stopping place, the latter also becoming attuned to the ‘wake up’ call each time the stones were struck to signal each new offering when there was a death in the family (correction, families).
——————

Neil Wiseman11 February 2018 at 20:23
Hi Colin,
As you might imagine, there’s quite a few people who troll Tim’s Blog without commenting, and most are known to me.
I have just received an extensive list of henges and circles which do indeed have north-facing causeways.
So I stand corrected in that regard.
Best,
Neil

——————

sciencebod11 February 2018 at 21:00
“As you might imagine, there’s quite a few people who troll Tim’s Blog without commenting, and most are known to me”

So what prompted that observation, Neil? Hopefully not anything I have said…
Who might want to troll Tim’s site, and how can they do so if they don’t comment?
Consider me marginally gobsmacked…
——————
Neil Wiseman12 February 2018 at 01:19
I got an email concerning it. The remarks weren’t made here.
Reply
——————
sciencebod 12 February 2018 at 07:19
Thanks Neil. I realized afterwards it must be something happening elsewhere…
Just a quick note on possible logistics before this posting gets overlain with new ones (such a shame/annoyance that Blogger does not provide a “Latest Comments” list to all postings, past as well as present.
The aim was to perform the entire process in a 36 – 48 hour time span.
Here’s a possible sequence of operations
Day 1: body of deceased to be delivered after sunset. Necessary preliminaries (let’s not discuss details) took place during hours of darkness.
Day 2: prepared body placed on central spot shortly before dawn. Central zone then cleared of people.
The bluestones were then struck, the chimes attracting gulls and /or other avian scavengers from miles around.
The corpse was gradually stripped of most of its flesh throughout the daylight hours, at least at highly developed Stonehenge, Avebury etc, designed to attract and accommodate scores of scavenger birds. The soul of the deceased would be considered to have been released to the heavens (“sky burial”).
Come dusk, the skeletal remains would be collected up and dispatched to a nearby crematorium, probably outside the excarnation area, possibly outside the circular heaped-up bank.
Come nightfall, fires/pyres were lit, the largely-defleshed bones quickly and cleanly cremated, then later retrieved from the ashes.
Day 3: Relatives arrived to collect and take away cremated bones. While they would be aware of flocks of birds on the wing, coming and going, and indeed take comfort from that, they would be spared the sight of the central feeding area, that being screened off by the raised bank of the enclosure. (Indeed Mark 1 AFS relied almost entirely on the chalk bank of a causewayed enclosure, both as a screen and a man-made landmark visible to birds from afar, maybe with a few scattered timber posts initially as additional perches, later progressing to standing stones, then those mighty lintels.) Yes, the latter weren’t purely decorative – they served a purpose! Why so massive? Because that’s all that was available nearby as bridging stone. Thus the carpentry joints needed to prevent unwieldy sarsen stones from rocking, as well as a proto-Ikea aid to idiot-proof assembly.

From another site:
Newly discovered Neolithic Datchet enclosure (announced just 3 days ago)

Link:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5371127/5500-year-old-Neolithic-monument-near-Windsor-castle.html

Why all the animal bones – domestic and wild – to say nothing of that severed human skull?
Can be accommodated with the AFS model! How? Beware: more speculation:
To be a workable proposition, the skeletonization would have to be speedy and efficient (relatives don’t want to be kept waiting too long for their take-home package). That means attracting and retaining a sizeable population of avian scavengers so there’s always a number of hopefuls on permanent standby – scores at least.
What if there’s a temporary halt in supply of mortal remains? Answer: one plugs the hiatus with animal remains, maybe feasting on the choicest parts before giving feathered friends the left-overs.
Thus the connection between feasting, animal and human bones… Just don’t ask about all those young pigs at the Durrington wintertime-feasting site!
——————
sciencebod 12 February 2018 at 07:52
PS: More on those Datchet animal bones (both domestic and wild animals):
The funeral centre had to be paid for its services. But how, given there was no money in Neolithic times as a medium of exchange?
Answer: you didn’t just turn up with your deceased relative. You brought an animal as well – either from your herd if a farmer, or from hunting expeditions into the surrounding countryside.
As I say, the mortuary attendants could feast initially on choicer cuts, maybe inviting the relatives and/or others to join them, and then use leftovers to ensure there was always something that would keep the avian scavengers on permanent standby.
——————

Richard Bartosz 12 February 2018 at 10:50

Hi sciencebod,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll
Your passion on this topic of your theory is obvious. It is however off-topic!
If you can argue that this theory is fundamental to whether or not the tunnel should be built, then you will be on-topic and you might get a response from people – particularly anti-tunnel supporters – who would wish not only to use your arguments to support their case, but would also automatically promote your theory.
Best wishes.
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sciencebod12 February 2018 at 11:14
Point taken Richard
But there were no comments when I happened on this posting, nor the one before that, nor the one before that, nor the one… (get my point?)
So while I’m admittedly off-topic, there’s no-one on-topic either. So I could rightly claim (?)to be doing the site a small favour merely by inserting a touch of controversy, maybe attracting a few extra visitors while not as far as I can see deterring new commentators far less distracting from any ongoing dialogue of which there is scarcely any to speak of.
So come on, all you pro- and anti-tunnel supporters. Tim is going to some trouble to keep you informed and up-to-date. Supply some feedback please.
Oh, and there is the overarching site focus, expressed in its title no less – sarsen.org. Much of my own AFS thesis is directed to providing a function for the sarsen lintels, on which conventional solstice alignment mantra remains strangely silent!
As for that tunnel, I never cease to be amazed at the projected cost of so-called road improvements, in this instance £1.6 billion. Just think what could be done with that kind of money elsewhere, representing as it does over £25 for every man, woman and child in the country. The homeless could be given at least a temporary roof over their heads during the cold winter months…
——————

(An advisory site says that one merely needs to deploy the HTML command “img” using square brackets, but that was refused when testing on my own site a few minutes ago)!
There’s a second one I was going to shown namely traffic filing directly past the slightly elevated site at a safe and sedate rubber-necking speed a mere 200 metres or so away, but on second thoughts I shan’t bother with it. Everyone here knows the problem as regards the close proximity of Stonehenge and the major, most direct route across Salisbury Plain from London to the West Country.
My cheap and cheerful solution will follow later in the day (well, cheap compared with that obscene £1.6 billion for the road tunnel).
——————

sciencebod 14 February 2018 at 07:32
First, as a necessary preliminary, forget about any idea that cutting off all sights and sounds of road traffic guarantees a religious experience. It’s not just that you’ll be surrounded by scores, possibly hundreds of fellow sightseers. You’ll be too preoccupied with thoughts about the staggering sum of money (over £40 for a family!)you’ve been required to part with to that ghastly cash-cow-milking machine that calls itself English Heritage, and for what? To be restricted to a roped-off path that does not allow you to get up really close to the main stones!
There should be a two-tier entry system: free (except for car park) to those wishing to see their national heritage but willing to be allowed no closer than that path) OR a charge (say £5 per head) for those wishing to view the stones at close quarters (no touching etc).
The monument merely needs to be screened-off from the never-ending flow of nearby passing traffic. But how “nearby”? Over what length of approaching and receding A303, taking into account the various rises and dips in the road? How can motorists know (legitimately) they are approaching, then passing close, to a world-famous site if it’s then screened off closer-up so as to prevent a freebie rubber-necking view? (I suspect the distraction is caused as much – if not more – by the masses of wandering sightseers than by the stones per se!.
It’s the nature of the screening that is crucial, and I don’t mean a subterranean tunnel that requires scooping out and disposing of thousands of tons of local geology (and probably archaeology too).
More to follow…

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sciencebod 14 February 2018 at 11:06
Yes, an approx. two kilometre (approx 1.2 mile) stretch of A303 centred on the stone circle should be screened off so that sightseers do not see and hear road traffic at close quarters nor vice versa.
Ideally the screening, coming from the Amesbury/London direction, should start at the top of the incline one sees in my photo. Initially I thought an avenue of trees might suffice for that downhill stretch, compared with the more expensive man-made screen that follows. But I quickly discarded that idea. Why? Because motorists and their passengers should be allowed a fleeting glimpse from afar (1 to 1.5 km) of the monument and allowed time to decide whether to call in for a visit, scheduled or otherwise.
It’s the next (2km) stretch that is crucial. It should advertise the site to road traffic, but not create a distraction. How? The manner of doing that could be opened up to national competition.
My idea would be simple and reasonably cost-effective: set up a continuous solid screen, with a simple repeating painted frieze viewed from the road side, e.g. cartoon-like standing stones (no summer or winter solstices, and for now at any rate, no seagulls or other scavenging species).
There should be a foam-filled cavity in the centre of the screen, chosen to cut down noise penetration.
How should the opposite side look, as seen through the eyes of visitors? Again, invite suggestions from the public!
My idea? It could be simply painted so as to match the colour of the turf, blotting out the view of the road and traffic with the bonus of that sound-insulation too.
Can the screen be made a more attractive feature in its own right, without being too dominant? Maybe – like giving it a wavy top.
How about a continuous line of slightly-angled mirrors, such that visitors get a reflection of themselves as minute figures against the standing stones, as if viewed from double the distance of separation, giving a better idea of the site’s isolated location on one of Europe’s largest stretches of chalk upland. (Yes, let’s not forget the longer history of Salisbury Plain, stretching back to the Cretaceous era approx. 65-145 million years ago, when it was submerged seabed accumulating skeletal remains and later fossils of minute sea creatures).
Cost? Suppose the screen cost a princely £2000/metre (conservative estimate). That’s £4million for 2km. Compare with the cost of the tunnel (£1.6 billion). It’s just 0.25% (1/400th if you prefer fractions). I know which quotation I prefer, speaking as someone who pays income tax on his State Pension.
Is it any wonder we have one of the lowest State pensions among developed nations, when we are prepared to squander an astronomical £1.6 billion on a short stretch of A-road?
I blame the corrupting influence of that entirely fictitious, all-pervasive A word (Astronomical, as in “Stonehenge is believed to have served as an astronomical observatory… “)
Did it heck! It was a pre-crematorium, designed to provide a safe and comfortable perch for avian flesh-scavenging species attracted from afar in large numbers …)

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sciencebod15 February 2018 at 17:00
OK, so maybe it’s a bit too soon to expect feedback. Or there again, looking at the largely silent response to Tim’s recent postings, one maybe can’t expect any feedback, for any number of reasons upon which I don’t intend to comment or speculate.
I’ll wait a few days, and if it’s still “0 (further) comments” on this and Tim’s next postings, then I may decide to resume my previous postings (some 25 in all) on Stonehenge and its Neolithic predecessors via one or other of two of my three blogsites (either dormant or addressing different issues since mid 2016! One is specifically focused on Stonehenge (and Silbury Hill), the other tackling any number of general science topics of current interest.
If there are any objections to my copying and pasting from
this site, notably my own comments or those of others, then please say so now (though as an interactive blogger I reserve the right to quote comments appearing here without attribution to specific contributors).
Cheers

Colin Berry (aka sciencebod)

——————

sciencebod 18 February 2018 at 10:39
Hmmm. We seem to have reached a dead end where this site is concerned. Shame, it looked quite promising initially. Thanks however to Neil Wiseman and others for the brief glimmers of light … and occasionally shade…
In a few days time, I’ll add a new posting to one of my two sites (I have yet to decide which, each having its pros and cons). It will be the first on Stonehenge and my pre-cremation ‘sky burial’ thesis since April/May 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/

http://colinb-sciencebuzz.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/its-time-to-get-real-about-stonehenge.html

Topic? Probably that Heel Stone for starters. How wiki can restrict itself to mumbo jumbo re “heel”, “friar”, “Devil” with no mention of the animal-like head (whether a bird, dog or Moray eel) doth pass all understanding. I’d attempt an edit, but have no desire to re-experience that man-made purgatory…no, worse than purgatory…

——————

End of comments I and others placed on Tim Daw’s sarsen.org site (as of 13:30, 19 Feb, 2018).

Some more to follow from me later –  notably the failure/refusal of  the academic and even less formal internet blogging community to acknowledge my ‘sky burial’ pre-cremation thesis, one that I believe after years of study to integrate a lot of otherwise confusing speculation (like the endowing of Stonehenge  with a confusing split personality –  functioning both as a site for celebrating arrival of summer or winter solstices, while also a place for disposal of the dead!).

Comments invited sooner rather than later!

2nd instalment, 20th Feb 2018

Here’s what so far appears to be a typical blogsite page devoted to that Heel Stone:

 

There are some 16 photos of the stone itself, more when one includes views towards the monument. There are many, many references to the  (approximate  but not exact) alignment in relation to the summer and winter solstices.  There is a little on the Anglo-Saxon derivation of  the fanciful friar’s “heel” (why?). But there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, on the animal-like appearance of the stone itself. Why not? Narratives are supposed to fit facts, not vice versa…

There’s no Comments facility on the above site (?), but there is an interesting account from the site’s owner (Simon Banton) of what motivated him to# set not just the above blog, but several, all devoted to Stonehenge.

I reproduce his biographical entry in full, and urge folk to read it:

  

Who did this?

Filming for BBC Countryfile at The Long Barrow in All Cannings

My name’s Simon Banton and I’m fascinated by humanity’s long obsession with the sky. I’ve been an amateur astronomer since I was 7 years old and about 20 years ago I started to take an interest in ancient monuments that seemed to embody this obsession in their design.

There’s a word for this – archaeoastronomy.

In 2005 I moved to Wiltshire to be closer to Stonehenge – a monument that everyone seems to know is aligned in some way to the movement of the Sun. I wanted the opportunity to study it more frequently than by the occasional visit or through coming to the dawn open access events at the solstices and equinoxes.

Stonehenge and its environs quickly turned from a keen hobby into a passion and I began volunteering for English Heritage as part of their Education team, meeting school parties and giving them a rundown on the history of the monument so their visits became more than simply a school trip to a pile of rocks in a field.

That turned into a full time paid job as a Historic Property Steward for 6 years, explaining the theories and current state of knowledge to some of the more than 1 million visitors that come to Stonehenge every year.

As an independent researcher I often found myself searching in vain for particular resources online – and the genesis of this website – the Stones of Stonehenge – was the failure to find anything that had a photo of every stone at Stonehenge taken from every angle.

A companion website – the Stonehenge Barrow Map – was born of the lack of a single resource that cross-referenced the burial mounds in the Stonehenge environs against their various data sources in a map format.

Sky at Night filming at Stonehenge

I have a career background in software and Internet technologies so, on the basis that no-one else was likely to build exactly what I needed, I decided to do them myself.

These days I no longer work for the organisation that’s tasked with caring for Stonehenge and instead I’m focused on writing articles about Stonehenge and doing guided tours of the landscape and the monument.

For the seasoned megalithomaniac, the Stonehenge Monument website offers a small but growing collection of more in-depth articles about some of the less obvious aspects of Stonehenge.

Please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in commissioning work or arranging a tour.

I’m also available for media interview and conferences or talks on the astronomical theories and aspects of Stonehenge, I’ve done work for the BBC’s Sky at Night and Stargazing Live! programs on that subject.

You can reach me using the email address:

hengemaster @ stonesofstonehenge . org . uk

I hope you find these websites useful, or at least interesting.

Simon

#####################

Archaeoastronomy?  Is that an established scientific discipline? As ever  I used wikipedia as first port of call.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeoastronomy_and_Stonehenge

Here’s the first paragraph, under the heading “Early History”. I’ve highlighted a particular word in red!

Stonehenge has an opening in the henge earthwork facing northeast, and suggestions that particular significance was placed by its builders on the solstice and equinox points have followed. For example, the summer solstice sun rose close to the Heel Stone, and the sun’s first rays shone into the centre of the monument between the horseshoe arrangement. While it is possible that such an alignment could be coincidental, this astronomical orientation had been acknowledged since William Stukeley drew the site and first identified its axis along the midsummer sunrise in 1720.[1]

Stukeley noticed that the Heel Stone was not precisely aligned on the sunrise. The drifting of the position of the sunrise due to the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic since the monument’s erection does not account for this imprecision. Recently, evidence has been found for a neighbour to the Heel Stone, no longer extant. The second stone may have instead been one side of a ‘solar corridor’ used to frame the sunrise.[2][3]

Ah, yes, that Heel Stone again, with no mention of its distinctive shape!  But it’s that word “acknowledged” that sticks in a certain craw – mine (being a retired postdoctoral scientist)!

Sorry, but science does not depend on ideas being “acknowledged”. It insists on hard corroborating evidence, for which so far I’ve found none (but shall continue searching).

Sorry, Simon, but so far I see no grounds for regarding your study of Stonehenge as a scientifically-based discipline. Who’s to say that you (and those other site alignment devotees  who congregate at those summer and/or winter solstices) are not pursuing a spurious correlation, aka coincidence, namely that the site was intentionally  aligned in accordance with the ANNUAL passage of the Sun across the sky. Who’s to say its alignment was intended merely to ensure that the enclosure within the “henge’s” chalk bank, before and after addition of timber posts and later standing stones and trithons, received optimal illumination throughout the hours of daylight?

Still Feb 20 (now 20:30)

Have just posted this comment to the sarsen.org site (current posting: Anatolian migrants arriving in Western Europe, Britain included , in Neolithic times, replacing the hunter-gatherer lifestyle with farming):

Come to think of it, the DNA-based ‘Anatolian migrant’ discovery (on topic!) provides an entirely new rationale for those causewayed enclosures, henges, stone circles etc in Britain, Ireland, France etc, at least initially.

It even provides an explanation for gaps in the north-east facing part of a banked-off circle (nope, nothing to do with solstices!).

If there’s anyone out there who’s interested in radically new (?) out-of-the-box thinking, then say so soon, failing which I’ll make it the next posting on my own site.

Clue: think geographical conditions pertaining to the Atlantic seaboard of Europe…

######

 

3rd instalment, Wed Feb 21

Here’s another clue to that overlooked ocean-related factor, one that would be hugely more important to Neolithic farmers on both a day-to-day AND  year-round basis than knowing which was the shortest or longest day of the year!

cardington blanked-out script

Anyone care to guess what is shown in the above diagram,  one that summarises a year-round phenomenon occurring, in this instance, at a particular location in Middle England?

4th instalment, Thursday Feb 22nd

OK, here’s the complete diagram!

 

 

cardington

Here’s the reason why the UK is said to  lack a climate, having weather only! The chart summarises the year-round wind direction and wind strength, Cardington,  Beds, England.   The prevailing winds are from the south-west, due to those cyclones that come in predominantly off the Atlantic from the direction of the Gulf of Mexico, bringing with them moisture and rain.

Now do you see why the Neolithic earthworks that ultimately evolved to give us the magnificent Stonehenge were frequently (but not always) aligned the way they were, roughly on a NE to SW axis, with  the gap for access often on the north or north-east side of the circle or oval?

It was nothing WHATSOEVER to do with summer or winter solstices, for which there’s scarcely a shred of supporting evidence. Our Neolithic forebears had more important things to worry about, like lighting their fires, keeping them going – not too fast, not too slow – giving periodic shelter  (maybe intermittent) to themselves and their livestock from high winds, winter gales especially.

In short, those causewayed enclosures, and later henges and even stone circles, functioned primarily as WINDBREAKS originally. Later, much later, when their bird-attracting properties were noted, they acquired a second function, using either the original enclosure or digging out new ones specialized for what I’ve previously called AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization) as a preliminary to cremation.

Ah yes – those “second functions” that came later. Back in 2016 I suggested here and on my sciencebuzz site a role for the chalk banks of henges – namely to attract scavenger birds on the wing (with any NE gap serving to give illumination  of a new offering at or shortly after dawn – see the simple experiment above).

Well, I discovered some corroborating evidence just yesterday through reading the wiki entry on the Thornborough rings in Yorkshire. I’ve bolded the key sentences in red.

Henges

The three henges are almost identical in size and composition, each having a diameter of approximately 240 metres and two large entrances situated directly opposite each other. The henges are located around 550 m apart on an approximate northwest-southeast alignment, although there is a curious ‘dogleg’ in the layout. Altogether, the monument extends for more than a mile.

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 ‘dogleg’ in the layout appears to cause the layout of the henges to mirror the three stars of Orion’s Belt. The exact purpose of the henges is unclear though archaeological finds suggest that they served economic and social purposes as well as astronomical ones.

Note the intrusion of the usual astronomical silliness (“Orion’s Belt” – oh purleese!)

Yes, think of that added gypsum  (calcium sulphate, CaSO4) as a substitute for the white chalk or limestone (CaCO3) that was proving its worth elsewhere..

(The local geology immediately adjacent to the Thornborough henges is apparently sand and gravel, currently the subject of much controversy owing to the encroachment of a local open-cast quarrying firm).

One has sometimes to search diligently for  that oh-so-crucial “corroborating evidence”, leaving no stone (or in this instance masking layer of topsoil!)  unturned.

Archaeoastronomists, especially those who bang on endlessly about the Sun, Moon, Orion’s Belt etc,  please note…

………..

Addendum: March 16, 2018

Have decided to add the following image as an addendum to ALL my Stonehenge postings (some 24 in all, here and on my sciencebuzz site). Why not – since it’s my considered answer to the ‘mystery’ of the monument’s peculiar architecture, the conclusion to some 6 years of  deliberation?

Reminder*

 

I say Stonehenge was designed as a giant bird perch, a ceremonial monument dedicated to ‘sky burial’, i.e. soul release from mortal remains to the heavens via AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, considered the height of fashion (and practicality) in Neolithic-era 2500BC! The stripped remains were then cremated, so an apt description of Stonehenge might, as previously suggested, be PRE-CREMATORIUM.

 

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Here’s how I think Stonehenge was constructed, and why it needed those carpentry joints…

WordPress has excelled itself, managing to lose this posting when I hit the Publish key!

Quick repair job: here’s the new image that conveyed this blogger’s latest thinking.

new trilithon 1 aligned plus mound penultimate for blog

The secret is to slide the lintel up the artificial earth ramp ON ITS SIDE,  parking immediately behind the tops of the stone uprights, such that the mortise holes face OUTWARDS, towards the reader. When tenon and mortises are correctly aligned in two dimensions (horizontal and vertical) the lintel is then TIPPED OVER such that tenons slot into the mortices. The arch-like structure is then loosely locked together, sufficently to allow work to proceed safely to completion (remove earth ramp, ram hardcore into gaps beyween uprights and original subsoil).

Afterthought (added 26 Jan 18!)

In fact, the beauty of those mortise and tenon fixtures is that having installed the upright ‘pillars’ in holes that allow for some movement, the next step, i.e. adding the horizontal transom,  requires the constructors to locate  just ONE of the two joints initially. With that first of two ends secured, it can then be used as a pivot, allowing one to swing the other end round like the hand of a clock until it’s close to the other joint. It’s then just a matter of leverage, end-lifting, proabably aided by temporary support, and final lowering down into place so as to have both ends permanently secured!

 (Afterthought: the ramp on the right would probably have been much longer to reduce the steepness of the gradient.  It may also have had embedded timber tracks, laid lengthwise or maybe transversely like railway tracks, no doubt  greased or wetted with water,  to reduce friction. Pulling, via several tow ropes, would have been safer than pushing! Those who audibly questioned the need for a Stonehenge would probably have found themselves assigned to a pushing party.).

It was accompanied by a sizeable amount of text – all of it vanished, possibly for ever, there being no “restore previous draft”key visible.

I’ll try to reconstruct as best I can over the coming days. The caption to my schematic diagram above is new post-apocalyptic text.

As for Google, words fail me….

 

google search carpentry joints

What does Google think it’s playing at, ignoring  and striking out my very first search term,  one of just three, in this instance “stonehenge”?  Google needs to take a long hard look at itself, and make serious efforts to get back on track, responding first and foremost to the needs of the RESEARCHER.

 

Despite my increasing annoyance with the antics of the Google search engine, one has to be realistic, and say “If you can’t beat them, join them”.  I refer to Google’s own blog hosting platform, namely Blogger Blogspot, which I presently use and have used in the past. By and large that host’s software is a lot simpler, straightforward and less accident/disaster/apocalypse prone than the present site’s. I don’t know who designed the tabs and labels for bloggers on this site: if I did, I’d be tempted to hand them a blank sheet of paper and say “Now start again from scratch, and this time choose words that give some clue as to what this tab or label does when clicked, or which reveals its content when one hovers the pointer …

There’s also the matter of search engine visibility. While Google remains the world’s most popular seacrh engine, one has to be realistic and note that a posting to Google’s Blogger site appears almost instantly in listings under the appropriate search terms, if only “Past Hour”, “Past 24 hours” etc to begin with. Contrast that with WordPress where sometimes it’s 2 or 3 days before the Google web crawler picks up on its presence. (That is not right, incidentally: I do not see why Google cannot make an accommodation with major blog hosters like WordPress to ensure instant indexing of their new postings to ensure a level playing field).

If I see the need for any more postings  on Stonehenge/Avebury/Silbury Hill etc, they will be on my sciencebuzz site, this being my last one here.

So what conclusions have I arrived at, after first deliberating on the assorted enigmas for some 4 years (interrupted by a long digression onto the Turin Shroud)?

Here they are in summary form:

  1. Stonehenge, Avebury and other standing stones served as bird perches, the latter being encouraged to ‘adopt’ the site for the purpose of excarnation of the recently deceased. The primary purpose of excarnation was to (a) release the soul and (b) to isolate the skeleton that was then further cleansed by cremation. The cremated bones were then either buried in situ, OR interred in a nearby round or long burial barrow OR taken back by relatives to the deceased’s home.
  2. Silbury Hill was a repository for soft organs, probably harvested prior to avian or other excarnation , possibly the heart only. Silbury was what might be called a local speciality provided at the Avebury site/complex, some distance from the Stonehenge/Durrington Walls/Woodhenge/barrow complex some 25 miles away. The soft organs were probably interred with a handful of the deceased’s local turf and soil, probably with a deliberate inclusion of earthworms to ensure complete integration between old and new soil.
  3. The carpentry aka woodworking joints at Stonehenge were an aid to construction, rather then necessary for final stability (see this post). They served to fix and partly stabilise the intermediary arch-like geometry before removal of the earthern “formwork” i.e. the ramp followed by placement of rammed rubble around the base of each pillar for final anchoring of the structure.
  4. The bluestones were chosen for the Mark 1 Stonehenge because – being smaller than the Mark 2 sarsens, the working surfaces  i.e. tops were at eye level and thus visible.  They would have quickly become unsightly with uneaten flesh, bird droppings etc.  Thus the desirability of importing igneous bluestone in place of local sarsen sandstone. That’s because rocks of igneous origin, i.e. soldified magma and/or lava,  (e.g. the predominant dolerites and rhyolites of  Preseli and other Welsh ‘bluestones’)  are non-porous and liquid -repellent, and thus easier to keep clean and presentable.  It may be the lack of local bluestone that prompted the construction of the sarsen megaliths at Stonehenge. Being so much higher, the tops were largely out of human sight, and thus seen as safer more attractive places for scavenger birds (crows, ravens, rooks, seagulls etc) to perch, feed, roost, pass the time of day and maybe even nest.  Added note: 26 Jan 2018: the above section is not as clear as it should be, and will be re-written in the next few days.                
  5.  Automatic numbering that can’t be de-activated is something else that WordPress needs to look at!
  6. Postscript added May 23, 2016

This blogger’s thoughts on Stonehenge, and indeed 9 other sites with circles of timber or standing stone, have now gelled. Here’s the overall conclusion, inspired by taking another close look at that so-called “Seahenge”on the Norfolk coast.

 

 

stonehenge get real posting may 23 2016

Posting on my sciencebuzz site, May 23, 2016

 

Link to the above sciencebuzz posting

…………………………

 

Addendum: March 16, 2018

Have decided to add the following image as an addendum to ALL my Stonehenge postings (some 24 in all, here and on my sciencebuzz site). Why not – since it’s my considered answer to the ‘mystery’ of the monument’s peculiar architecture, the conclusion to some 6 years of  deliberation?

Reminder*

 

I say Stonehenge was designed as a giant bird perch, a ceremonial monument dedicated to ‘sky burial’, i.e. soul release from mortal remains to the heavens via AFS (avian-facilitated skeletonization, considered the height of fashion (and practicality) in Neolithic-era 2500BC! The stripped remains were then cremated, so an apt description of Stonehenge might, as previously suggested, be PRE-CREMATORIUM.

 

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