Stonehenge

AlchoPwn

Public Service is my Motto.
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
2,555
Reaction score
3,960
Points
154
Is everyone aware of the unusual pink flint phenomenon at Stonehenge? Link
 

Mikefule

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Dec 9, 2009
Messages
503
Reaction score
1,455
Points
149
Location
Lincolnshire UK
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

CyberPunk
Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
50,832
Reaction score
24,870
Points
284
Location
Eblana
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

Antediluvian
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
5,327
Reaction score
7,282
Points
284
Location
Hobbs End
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

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
6,422
Reaction score
1,387
Points
234
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

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jul 30, 2009
Messages
113
Reaction score
171
Points
59
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

Mrs Treguard
Joined
Feb 5, 2008
Messages
972
Reaction score
1,019
Points
149
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

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jul 30, 2009
Messages
113
Reaction score
171
Points
59
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.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
18,251
Reaction score
24,343
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Acoustic testing conducted with a scale model of Stonehenge indicates the monument should have been capable of acoustically insulating / isolating the area within the main circle from the outside and vice versa.
Stonehenge enhanced sounds like voices or music for people inside the monument

Welcome to Soundhenge. Better known as Stonehenge, this ancient monument in southern England created an acoustic space that amplified voices and improved the sound of any music being played for people standing within the massive circle of stones, a new study suggests.

Because of how stones were placed, that speech or music would not have projected beyond Stonehenge into the surrounding countryside, or even to people standing near the stone circle, scientists report in the October Journal of Archaeological Science.

To explore Stonehenge’s sound dynamics, acoustical engineer Trevor Cox and colleagues used laser scans of the site and archaeological evidence to construct a physical model one-twelfth the size of the actual monument. That was the largest possible scale replica that could fit inside an acoustic chamber at the University of Salford in England, where Cox works. This room simulated the acoustic effects of the open landscape surrounding Stonehenge and compacted ground inside the monument. ...

Stonehenge Lego, as Cox dubbed the model, was assembled assuming that Stonehenge’s outer circle of standing sarsen stones — a type of silcrete rock found in southern England — had originally consisted of 30 stones. ...

Despite many gaps between stones, sounds briefly lingered inside Stonehenge Lego, the team found. Reverberation time, a measure of the time it takes sound to decay by 60 decibels, averaged about 0.6 seconds inside the model for mid-frequency sounds. That effect would have boosted the ability to hear voices and enhanced sounds of drums or other musical instruments, Cox says. For comparison, reverberation time reaches about 0.4 seconds in a living room, around two seconds in a large concert hall and roughly eight seconds in a large cathedral.

Stonehenge Lego did not project sounds into the surrounding area or boost the quality of sounds coming from external speakers. And sounds did not echo in the scale model. Inner groups of simulated stones obscured and scattered sounds reflected off the outer sarsen circle, blocking echo formation. ...

Previous research has been done on Stonehenge’s acoustics, but was incomplete ...

Although the new study was “carefully and rigorously done,” questions remain about sonic effects at Stonehenge ...

Whatever people once did at Stonehenge, the new study “shows that sound was fairly well contained within the monument and, by implication, [Stonehenge] was fairly well insulated from sounds coming in” ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/stonehenge-acoustics-sounds-voices-music

Edit to Add:

See Also:
https://www.livescience.com/stonehenge-acoustics-amplification.html
 
Last edited:

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
18,251
Reaction score
24,343
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Here are the bibliographic details and main conclusions from the published study on Stonehenge acoustics.

Using scale modelling to assess the prehistoric acoustics of stonehenge
Trevor J. Cox, Bruno M. Fazenda, Susan E. Greaney
Journal of Archaeological Science
Volume 122, October 2020, 105218
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105218

... Stonehenge in 2200 BC had a small but noticeable reverberation of 0.6 s, which provided useful amplification of the voice and enhanced musical sounds for those standing within the stone circle. The monument does not facilitate the projection of sound out into the surrounding area, for example to an audience standing outside the stone circle but within the henge enclosure. Nor were sounds created outside the stone circle readily heard by those within the central setting. If participants were to benefit from the enhancement provided by stone reflections during rituals, then that would apply to a relatively small and restricted audience, within the sarsen circle.

... the results suggests that any sounds created within the stone circle were best intended for others within the same relatively intimate setting, rather than to be broadcast more widely to those outside, whose view into the stone circle would also have been obscured. This evidence once again emphasises the contradiction between the large numbers of people required to transport the stones and construct the monument, with the small number of people able or allowed to fully take part in, and witness, activities within the stone circle.

The most significant change to the acoustics during the various historic configurations examined was when the outer sarsen uprights were added. This would have increased the reverberation time by a noticeable amount. With the outer sarsen uprights in place, the introduction and various rearrangements of the bluestones only make subtle changes to the acoustics ... Moreover, no echoes were audible in the 2200 BC model. Overall, it seems improbable that sound was a primary driver in the design and arrangement of the stones at Stonehenge. Other considerations were more likely to be important, including the astronomical alignments, the incorporation of two different groups of stones, the replication of similar timber monuments and the creation of an impressive and awe-inspiring architectural structure.
FULL ARTICLE: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440320301394
 

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
41,254
Reaction score
30,911
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
That seems to be yet more evidence that Stonehenge was built by druids for having all night raves.
I'm convinced it was a meeting place of all the clans. Feasting, partying and drunkenness probably featured quite highly.
 

hunck

Antediluvian
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
5,327
Reaction score
7,282
Points
284
Location
Hobbs End
That seems to be yet more evidence that Stonehenge was built by druids for having all night raves.
If you put aside the several thousand years separating them.

It's an observatory of sorts isn't it? The novel acoustic properties would surely be a side effect, though maybe a welcome one.
 

eburacum

Papo-furado
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Messages
3,617
Reaction score
1,692
Points
184
I finally got to read my Missus' copy of Current Archaeology, which details all the stuff about the provenance of the stones that has already been posted in this thread. Summary; most of the bluestones come from Preseli, the altar stone comes from Abergavenny, most of the sarsens come from West Woods, but two sarsens (26 and 120) come from elsewhere. As Fluttermoth mentioned, one of the core samples that were tested has an interesting backstory - it was found in a drawer, having been taken in the 1950s when they re-erected stones 57, 58 and 158. The other sample had been in America, a souvenir belonging to a 90-year-old man who'd worked on the restoration.

The sarsen stone itself is geologically interesting - it is actually a kind of petrified soil, silt and gravel called 'silcrete', formed before the ice ages when our country was much hotter. Sarsen sometimes has fossilised tree roots in it, trapped when the soil was petrified.
 
Top