Stonehenge

AlchoPwn

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Is everyone aware of the unusual pink flint phenomenon at Stonehenge? Link
 

Mikefule

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-wiltshire-53132567


Archaeologists have discovered a ring of prehistoric shafts, dug thousands of years ago near Stonehenge.

Fieldwork has revealed evidence of a 1.2 mile (2km) wide circle of large shafts measuring more than 10m in diameter and 5m in depth.

They surround the ancient settlement of Durrington Walls, two miles (3km) from Stonehenge.

Tests suggest the ground works are Neolithic and were excavated more than 4,500 years ago.

Experts believe the 20 or more shafts may have served as a boundary to a sacred area connected to the henge.
If the "shafts" are circular, 10 metres diameter, and 5 metres uniform depth, and there are 20 of them, that is 7,853 cubic metres of earth and rock excavated by hand with non-metallic tools, transported and disposed of somewhere. Neolithic tools means shoulder blades of oxen, wicker baskets, digging sticks, and possibly wooden shovels. That's a huge undertaking.

A 2 km wide circle means a circumference of 6.3 km. If there are "only" 20 shafts, they are rather widely spaced to be a boundary of some kind. Also, isolated pits or shafts are an unusual form of boundary.

I'll be interested to see whether they find more such shafts, whether they really describe a complete circle, and whether they find anything in them.

On a completely separate point: shaft is an unusual word in that it can mean to opposite things: a shaft can be a long solid object such as an arrow or spear shaft, or a gear shaft; and a shaft can be a deep vertical hole, such as a mine shaft. Conceivably, you could dig a shaft and insert a shaft into it. Funny language.
 

ramonmercado

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The idea of a raft is daft.

Mystery altar of Stonehenge sinks ancient raft theory

Medieval lore has it that the site foreman for Stonehenge was Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian legend, who is said to have used magic to transport its towering monoliths from Ireland.

Now fresh evidence supports a more down-to-earth theory — that an important part of the monument was hauled to Salisbury Plain some 5,000 years ago via a Stone Age highway that followed the contours of the modern A40.The provenance of Stonehenge has been debated for centuries. The source of the large grey-green stones — the so-called “sarsens” — that form the most visible part of the monument is no mystery. They come from the local area of southern Wiltshire.

The “bluestones” — a collection of smaller pillars that now stand in a rough circle — are more exotic. They are mostly thought to come from West Wales but among them there lies a six-tonne riddle: the so-called altar stone, which rests flat. It is clearly different from the others. In 1923 the geologist HH Thomas showed that most of the bluestones came from the Preseli mountain area of western Pembrokeshire. It was then widely assumed that the altar stone came from the nearby shores of Milford Haven.

Out of these observations sprang the theory that the bluestones were transported east by sea.

However, a new analysis of its microscopic structure, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, shows that the altar stone is much more likely to have come from about a hundred miles further east, near the inland town of Abergavenny, just a few miles from what is now the English border.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/...tonehenge-sinks-ancient-raft-theory-m7f5x0d3c
 

hunck

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Archaeologists discover likely source of Stonehenge's giant sarsen stones

You might expect this to have been found before seeing as they came from West Woods in Wiltshire, 'only' 15 miles from the site.

A breakthrough came after a tube-shaped sample of one of the Stonehenge megaliths taken by a man who worked on a restoration project in 1958 was handed back last year. Nash and his team were allowed to use “destructive” techniques on chips from the sample to create a geochemical “fingerprint” of the monument’s sarsen stones.

They then analysed sarsens from 20 sites across southern England including Mutter’s Moor in Devon and Valley of the Stones in Dorset, comparing their composition with the chemistry of the chips. Nash said they were surprised that stones from West Woods, which in the time of Stonehenge was probably treeless open high ground, turned out to be an exact match.

While it is thought the smaller bluestones were sourced from Pembrokeshire because the builders of Stonehenge had some sort of sacred connection with the landscape there, it may be that the West Woods site was chosen for – relative – convenience.

Greaney said: “When sourcing the sarsens, the overriding objective seems to be size – they wanted the biggest, most substantial stones they could find and it made sense to get them from as nearby as possible.”

Another puzzle is why two of the 52 stones appear not to be from West Woods. One possibility is that they are the work of different builder communities who chose to source their materials from a separate area.
 

Kondoru

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Oh, a minor mystery solved.

Not many sarsens in West wood now, -mostly used for stone roads.

(Its famed for its bluebells, if you are near there in the spring...)
 

ghughesarch

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Odd that four weeks before this latest "discovery" the Times reported (Ramonmercado's 2 July post above):
The provenance of Stonehenge has been debated for centuries. The source of the large grey-green stones — the so-called “sarsens” — that form the most visible part of the monument is no mystery. They come from the local area of southern Wiltshire.
And that indeed is what I'm sure I was taught at school 40+ years ago, and I'm also sure I saw either a BBC or C4 documentary 20+ years ago which visited the area where they came from, not far from Stonehenge, and showed various unused sarsens lying around on the ground at that location.
So why all the excitement?
 

Fluttermoth

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Odd that four weeks before this latest "discovery" the Times reported (Ramonmercado's 2 July post above):
The provenance of Stonehenge has been debated for centuries. The source of the large grey-green stones — the so-called “sarsens” — that form the most visible part of the monument is no mystery. They come from the local area of southern Wiltshire.
And that indeed is what I'm sure I was taught at school 40+ years ago, and I'm also sure I saw either a BBC or C4 documentary 20+ years ago which visited the area where they came from, not far from Stonehenge, and showed various unused sarsens lying around on the ground at that location.
So why all the excitement?
Because they have pinpointed the source with a much greater degree of accuracy than before, due to a core sample taken in the 1950s, when invasive procedures were still allowed, being returned a couple of years ago; a fascinating story in itself.
 

ghughesarch

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I suppose I'm surprised that - given their provenance in the Marlborough area has been accepted for decades (Francis Pryor's 2016 book on Stonehenge narrows it down to the Lockeridge Dene area, where West Woods is, and I doubt he was the first to do so) - the report states that:
They then analysed sarsens from 20 sites across southern England including Mutter’s Moor in Devon and Valley of the Stones in Dorset, comparing their composition with the chemistry of the chips. Nash said they were surprised that stones from West Woods, which in the time of Stonehenge was probably treeless open high ground, turned out to be an exact match.
 
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