Waun Mawn and Stone 62 at Stonehenge

There has been much coverage in the media recently about the identification of the source of the bluestones at Waun Mawn that we hardly need another post on the matter. However, as Waun Mawn as the source of some of the Stonehenge bluestones is something I’ve covered on this site I decided to include a comment for completeness on this issue. Although I’m sure this will not be the end of the matter…..

Waun Mawn

The Stones of Stonehenge (SOS) project, directed by Professor Mike Parker Pearson (UCL, Institute of Archaeology), was established to explore the origin of the stones used in the construction of Stonehenge: sourcing the huge sarsens and the smaller bluestones using geological analysis to identify their precise locations.

Some old core samples taken from a limited number of sarsens at Stonehenge in the 1950s identified their source as West Woods, 15 miles (25km) north of the monument on the edge of Wiltshire’s Marlborough Downs. Simple enough? Not really, this was from very limited sampling of the sarsens and provides no guarantee that all the sarsens are also from West Woods, but with further sampling being denied it will have to do. However, the “bluestones“, a term used for all exotic, i.e. non-sarsen, stones at Stonehenge representing at least 20 different rock types, is a rather more complex matter. You probably know the story by now, however, I will briefly recap how we got to this point.

Over a hundred years ago Herbert Thomas identified the source of some of the bluestones at Stonehenge as the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales. Debate has ensued ever since as to how these exotic stones travelled  around 150 miles (250km) to Salisbury Plain in England.

Some of the bluestones show signs of previous workings such as tenons (stones 67, 70, and possibly 69) and mortices (36, 150), groves (68) and tongues (66), seen as supporting evidence for a long held suspicion that these stones once stood in a previous bluestone arrangement before their movement to their final location on Salisbury Plain and incorporated into the Stonehenge structure. 

This notion was re-affirmed when two quarry sites at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin were identified in the Preseli Hills but the dating evidence showed a discrepancy between the date the bluestones were lifted from the outcrops and their arrival at Stonehenge. In short there was a gap of several hundred years between the quarry date and Parker Pearson’s revised date for the first bluestone configuration which he envisaged standing in the 56 Aubrey Holes (the outer ring next to the ditch at Stonehenge) long before the sarsens arrived. All of this fitted together nicely with the bluestones having stood in a former stone circle somewhere near the quarry sites in Preseli. This has all been hyped up in the ‘Lost Bluestone Circle’ theory.

The Stones of Stonehenge team set out to find a dismantled stone circle near the quarry sites at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin. Today the nearby site At Waun Mawn has four unspotted bluestones configured in an arc suggesting they may once have been part of a stone circle, perhaps dismantled in antiquity. In contrast, today only three unspotted bluestones survive at Stonehenge (stones 44, 45 & 62). We don’t know how many stood in the original number.

Stonehenge stone structure (after Anthony Johnson, 2008)

A stone circle at Waun Mawn?
Having carried out excavations at Waun Mawn, the Stones of Stonehenge team claimed that six stoneholes and the four surviving bluestones (ten potential stone settings in total) may have originally formed part of a circle of 30–50 stones. This meant that other stone circles must have also been robbed of their bluestones to provide the 80-82 thought to have stood at Stonehenge in its full compliment.

In the interim report of the excavations of 2018 at Waun Mawan the team got a little over excited and suggested that one of the stoneholes (091) at Waun Mawn matched the pentagonal cross-section of one the bluestones (Stone 62) at Stonehenge. Had the team uncovered evidence of a direct stone lift from Waun Mawn to Stonehenge? Samples from a large flake of unspotted dolerite that is thought to have become detached from the stone during its erection or removal at Waun Mawn was sent for analysis to determine if it was of the same type of rock as that of Stone 62 at Stonehenge.

Similar conclusion jumping was seen during the excavations (2008-09) of the henge on the bank of the Avon at West Amesbury, termed “Bluestonehenge“. This henge was sited at the terminus of the Avenue which Parker Pearson saw as linking Stonehenge to Durrington Walls via the river Avon forming an ancient ceremonial route. The henge was surrounded by 24-26 stoneholes said to have held bluestones, making up the magic number of 80-82 when combined with the 56 that stood in the Aubrey Holes. One hole was said to bear the same distinctive groved shaped footprint as Stone 68 at Stonehenge.  However, not one chip or flake of bluestone was found at West Amesbury henge.

A new report in the Journal of Archaeological Science (Volume 45, October 2022) reports on the analysis of Stone 62 at Stonehenge and the bluestone flakes from stonehole 091 at Waun Mawn.

Using a portable XRF (a non-destructive testing techique), the team of Richard E.Bevins, Nick J.G.Pearce, Mike Parker Pearson and Rob Ixer examined the four unspotted dolerite bluestones standing today at Waun Mawn, along with two bluestone fragments from stonehole 091. The data obtained have been compared to data from spotted and unspotted dolerite outcrops across the Mynydd Preseli, an area known to be the source of some Stonehenge doleritic bluestones, as well as data from in-situ analysis of Stone 62 and ex-situ analysis of a core taken from Stone 62 in the late 1980′s.

This study has identified Stone 62 as coming from an outcrop nearly 7 km to the east-southeast of Waun Mawn known as Garn Ddu Fach. Unfortunately for the ‘Lost Bluestone Circle’ theory, not one of the four unspotted bluestones at Waun Mawn or the bluestone fragments from stonehole 91 have compositions which match Stonehenge Stone 62.

The data indicates that the Waun Mawn unspotted bluestones, and likely also the bluestone fragments from stonehole 091, can be sourced to Cerrig Lladron, 1.5 miles (2.37 km) southwest of Waun Mawn, suggesting that a very local quarry was used in the construction of the stone circle there.

The report also mentions that there is evidence that at least eight stones had been erected and subsequently removed from the Waun Mawn stone circle which in all probability also came from Cerrig Lladron.

From this report it is clear that we can rule out any connection between the sites at Waun Mawn and Stonehenge and the team must look elsewhere for the Lost Bluestone Circle.

Edited 09/08/22

Sources:
Richard E.Bevins, Nick J.G.Pearce, Mike Parker Pearson, Rob A.Ixer
Identification of the source of dolerites used at the Waun Mawn stone circle in the Mynydd Preseli, west Wales and implications for the proposed link with Stonehenge
– Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume 45, October 2022, 103556

There are photographs of all the stones at Stonehenge on the excellent Stone of Stonehenge website by Simon Banton including Stone 62.

 

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Arthur’s Stone: Digging up the King

Legends claim that this monument is either the tomb of the legendary King Arthur himself, his son or a giant that he killed. Indentations on one stone are said to be the marks of the giant’s elbows when he fell dying, while the marks on another stone are said to have been made by Arthur’s knees where he knelt in thanksgiving after the duel. Alternatively the identations may have been made by Arthur’s fingers as he played quoits with the capstone; many cromlechs in Wales are named “Arthur’s Quiot” and it is tempting to think that the name may once have also applied to the mighty capstone at Dorstone. However, although legends have become attached to them we cannot be certain if these prehistoric monuments were oirginally named after the legendary medieval king or some other Arthur?

Arthur’s Stone

Located between the villages of Dorstone and Bredwardine in west Herefordshire, England, Arthur’s Stone is one of the most notable of all Neolithic burial monuments in western Britain. Constructed around 3,700BC it is Herefordshire’s oldest man-made structure with its 25 ton capstone supported on nine upright stones, once covered by a mound at least 100 feet long.

The monument is a northerly outlier of the Cotswold-Severn Group of chambered tombs yet similar to other monuments of the not-so-distant Black Mountains Group. As in common with many burial tombs, Arthur’s Stone is deliberately set slightly below the ridge line and not on the highest point of Merbach Hill’s summit.  The monument has elevated views to the south of the Golden Valley and the Brecon Beacons beyond, to the north it is bounded by Arthur’s Stone Lane, a small road that dissects what would originally have been the site of the tomb’s elongated mound. The remains of the ancient stone cairn of the monument continues unbroken along the southern side of the structure.

Arthur’s Stone geographical context

Now a team of archaeologists from the University of Manchester and English Heritage began excavating the near 6,000-year-old Neolithic chambered tomb from 1st July for the next four weeks. The team are setting out to find out just how big the structure was and what really happened at Arthur’s Stone. After looking at previous sites in the area they soon realized there was likely much more activity there than they initially thought.

Arthur’s Stone excavations

Julian Thomas, professor of archaeology at the University of Manchester, project lead, said that from earlier excavations of the surrounding area, the team found there were more expansive traces of the monument with evidence of a small, low-turf mound with a timber palisade around it in addition to traces of an avenue of upright timbers in a series of postholes, which could indicate the presence of a ceremonial path that led south from the monument into the Golden Valley, a valley beneath the hills where the tomb is located.

Limited excavations by George Nash in 2006 established that the monument was a long mound and not a round mound as initially thought. The first phase of this monument comprised a circular mound with a 10ft passage with a sharp right-angled turn leading to a small rectangular gallery with antechambers either side. The chamber and passage were incorporated into a long mound, aligned north-south, which extended well over 100ft in length with a south facing entrance. The design appears to have intentionally restricted visual access between the chamber and the facade beyond; the right-angled bend in the passage alignment appears to be a deliberate demarcation between the realms of the living and the dead, the point where the two realms would have come in to contact. However, no human remains have been found in the chamber itself, it is thought it may have been disturbed in early modern times.

We look forward to further news from the team.

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St Lythans Burial Chamber

Megalithic Kennels 
Several chambered tombs in Wales bear the “filiast” name, such as Twlc y Filiast, Gwal y Filiast (St Lythans) and Lletty’r y Filiast (Great Orme), meaning “Lair of the Grey Hound Bitch” but no satisfactory explanation for this odd association with greyhounds (more likley a She-Wolf) has ever been given. The designation is often explained as an association with the witch Ceridwen who has transformed herself in to a greyhound bitch (milast) in her pursuit of Little Gwion (Bach) which started at Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) in Gwynedd, North Wales, in the Tale of Taliesin; these megalithic monuments were apparently named in her honour as a canine symbol.

St Lythans burial chamber which also carries the alternative name of Gwal-y-Filiast, The Lair of the Greyhound Bitch

An alternative explanation suggests that the South Wales cromlechs may be associated with the Arthurian legend of ‘Culhwch and Olwen‘ in which the legendary king and his hunting party pursue a giant boar across South Wales with their hunting dogs.

Chris Barber recalls a comment from a Mr J Smith Jnr in The Archaeology of the Great Orme’s Head, North Wales (1875) in which he calls Lletty’r y Filiast “a cromlech in which the bones of the mythical hag Keridwen are supposed to be interred”.

In discussing the cromlech at St Lythans Barber quotes Rev T Rees in A Topographical and Historical Description of South Wales (1815) who called it Lech-y-Filiast and states “that it has been conjected that it derived from the circumstances of the early Christians envincing their contempt for these vestiges of pagan worship by converting them into kennels for their dogs…”

Christian kennels for their dogs? Surely not!

St Lythans Burial Chamber
The chambered burial tomb known as St Lythans, or Maes-y-Felin, also carries the alternative name of Gwal-y-Filiast, the Lair of the Greyhound Bitch, is in South Glamorgan, near Barry, South Wales.

St Lythans burial chamber

Constructed around 4,000 BC, St Lythans consists of three large orthostats supporting a huge rectangular capstone measuring 14ft by 10ft with the chamber set at the east end. There is a hole in the western slab said to release the spirts of the departed interred within. Today only slight traces remain of an earthen mound, around 90ft (27m) in length, orientated east-west, said to have once covered this Neolithic burial chamber. Excavations in 2012 concluded that originally the burial chamber was buried within a large cairn of stones 98ft (30m) long and 39ft (12m) wide. The chamber itself has never been excavated. Maes-y-Felin, the field in which this cromlech stands, is said to be known as the “Accursed Field” as it is claimed nothing will grow there.

I struggle to accept that these cromlech’s were totally covered over by a mound. I believe that in many cases the tomb was built on a platform of stones or earth that formed a sacred platform that antiquarians and modern archaeologists rush to interpret as the remains of a mound forming a totally covered-over long barrow. Indeed we know many long barrows were entirely covered over, such as Belas Knap, Hetty Pegler’s Tump, the Kennet Long Barows etc, of the Cotswold-Severn Group. They generally have flat capstones. But surely the shapely capstones of those smaller cromlechs in Wales were meant to be seen; many mirroring a local landscape feature or pointing to an alignment on a distant hill. I believe the smaller cromlechs were an entirely different concept to the huge long barrows. Furthermore, very little funerary remains has been found at the cromlechs whereas the long barrows have been found to contain a large number of human remains.
However, both St Lythans and its near neighbour Tinkinswood are not typical Welsh cromlechs and both are categorised as belonging to the Cotswold-Severn Group and probably were long barrows; but where did that mound go?

Tinkinswood burial chamber

Tinkinswood Burial Chamber
The cromlech at St Lythans is often confused with Tinkinswood less than a mile away in the adjacent parish of St Nicholas. Tinkinswood is variously called Llech-y-Filiast, Maes-y-Filiast or Gwal-y-Filiast and well known for enclosing its burial chamber with the largest capstone in Wales, measuring 22ft in length and 3ft thick, estimated to weigh around 40 tons. According to Glynn Daniel Tinkinswood burial chamber was covered by a 130ft long mound orientated east-west. Excavations during restoration in the early 20th century revealed the remains of at least 50 people in the chamber. Neolithic pottery from this site was typical to that uncovered at other Cotswold-Severn type monuments. Artefacts dating to the Early Iron Age, Romano-British and medieval periods suggests that the monument may have been used as a shelter during these periods. George Nash observes that the monuments of Tinkinswood and Maes-y-Felin (St Lythans) are intervisible, i.e. each can be seen from the other, suggesting an unknown association.

Solstitial Alignment
A photograph of St Lythans Burial Chamber has won The Megalithic Portal Summer Solstice Photo Competition. The Winner ‘Mark_in_Wales’ tells us, “This light beam was photographed at 21:14 BST on the 20th of June 2022. St Lythans Burial Chamber is a highly accurate tool for determining the Winter Calendar and making this stunning Arrowhead light-beam at The arrowhead shape (known as an oblique arrowhead in academic circles) is extremely precise, with a straight back, curved cutting surface and hooked single tang. The light-beam is formed by only three stones and the angle of the wall it is being projected onto.”

This stunning photograph just goes to show that these megalithic tombs did not simply function as tombs, or kennels for dogs!

Further Reading:
Chris Barber and John Godfrey Williams, The Ancient Stones of Wales, Blorenge Books, 1989.
Glynn E Daniel, The Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales, Cambridge University Press 1950 (first paperback edition 2013).
George Nash, The Architecture of Death: Neolithic Chambered Tombs in Wales, Logaston Press, 2006.

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Stonehenge: The Latest Theories

Giant glacial erratic hailed as ’missing piece’ of Bluestone puzzle
A giant bluestone erratic discovered earlier this year near Mumbles, on the south Gower coast, South Wales, has been hailed as one of the most important glacial discoveries of the last century provoking rather excited premature claims that “it proves beyond doubt that the Irish Sea Glacier was capable of carrying large monoliths of dolerite rock from Pembrokeshire up the Bristol Channel towards Stonehenge.”

Mumbles erratic (centre)

The huge boulder, measuring 2.2m x 1.3m x 1m and weighing at least 7 tonnes, was found on the rocky foreshore around the mid-tide mark, at a location yet to be revealed, by Mumbles photographer Phil Holden.

Dr. Katie Preece of Swansea University has identified the rock as dolerite, which are not found anywhere near Gower, and the source area could be North Pembrokeshire.

>> Pembroke Today – 29 January 2022

Forget all the hype about this being evidence that glaciers can transport large boulders, pillars and slabs of dolerite from North Pembrokeshire up the Bristol Channel towards Somerset and Stonehenge (Mumbles is a long way from Salisbury Plain); we are still awaiting results of analyse, see the Megalithic Portal page:

>> Mumbles Erratic – Megalithic Portal (Last update 15 Feb 2022)

Stonehenge Served as an Ancient Solar Calendar, new study suggests
In the 18th century antiquarian William Stukeley claimed the solstitial alignment of Stonehenge suggests that the site included some kind of calendar.

Several hundred years later Timothy Darvill, Bournemouth University, having analysed the sarsen stones, examining their numerology and comparing them to other known calendars from this period, agrees with Stukeley. He has identified a solar calendar in their layout, suggesting they served as a physical representation of the year that helped the ancient inhabitants of Wiltshire keep track of the days, weeks, and months.

Stonehenge Calendar

“The proposed calendar works in a very straightforward way. Each of the 30 stones in the sarsen circle represents a day within a month, itself divided into three weeks each of 10 days,” said Professor Darvill, noting that distinctive stones in the circle mark the start of each week.

>> Bournemouth University 02 March 2022

Stonehenge: Archaeologists unearth 10,000-year-old hunting pits

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Ghent University have discovered thousands of pits believed to have been used by prehistoric hunters near Stonehenge.

One of the pits, which was 13ft (4m) wide and 6.5ft (2m) deep, was the largest of its kind in north-west Europe, the archaeologists claimed.

The researchers said the pits, dating from between around 8,200 BCE and 7,800 BCE, showed hunter-gatherers had roamed the landscape during the early Mesolithic period, when Britain was re-inhabited after the last Ice Age.

>> BBC News Wiltshire 12 May 2022

I am a little wary of the discovery of all these new pits in the Stonehenge landscape; I’m not sure we really have an understanding what many of them they were used for?

Stonehenge Built on Land Inhabited by Deer and Wild Boar
Hunting pits in the Stonehenge landscape ties in nicely with a recent report that the monument on Salisbury Plain was ‘built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar 4,000 years earlier’

Red deer, elk and wild boar would have roamed the Stonehenge area 4,000 years before the stones were constructed, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of Southampton have examined Blick Mead, a Mesolithic archaeological site about a mile away, and found that the area had not been covered in dense, closed-canopy forests as previously thought. Instead they believe it would have been populated by grazing animals and hunter-gatherers.

>> Salisbury Journal 30 April 2022

Stonehenge Altar Stone May not be from Wales
The Altar Stone at Stonehenge is enigmatic in that it differs markedly from the other bluestones. It is a grey–green, micaceous sandstone and has been considered to be derived from the Old Red Sandstone sequences of South Wales.

Previous studies have been based on presumed derived fragments from the Stonehenge debitage that have been identified visually as coming from the Altar Stone.

The Stonehenge Altar Stone lying under the fallen sarsens of the Great Trilithon

A new study has conducted Portable Xray fluorescence (pXRF) analyses on these fragments (ex situ) as well as on the Altar Stone (in situ). Importantly, pXRF being a non-destructive technique, does not compromise the integrity of the ancient monument.

A notable feature of the Altar Stone sandstone is the presence of baryte (Ba) in both the debitage and the Altar Stone. These high Ba contents are in marked contrast with those from a small set of Old Red Sandstone field samples, raising the possibility that the Altar Stone may not have been sourced from the Old Red Sandstone sequences of Wales.

This raises questions over the potential source of the Altar Stone, and any possible transporation route, as there are not currently any reports of baryte-bearing sandstones in the Old Red Sandstone sequences of Wales or the Welsh Borderland.

>> Linking derived debitage to the Stonehenge Altar Stone using portable X-ray fluorescence analysis by Richard E. Bevins, Nick J.G. Pearce, Rob A. Ixer, Stephen Hillier, Duncan Pirrie, and Peter Turner.
Mineralogical Magazine (2022), 1–13

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Tracking the Beltane Sunrise

In the late 1960’s John Michell “rediscovered” the St Michael Line. Michell noted that Burrow Mump was 11 miles from Glastonbury Tor, both orientated at 27 degrees north of east, to the Beltane sunrise on 1st May. Extending this line in both directions it marks the longest continuous stretch of land in southern England.

The so-called Ley Line, running from St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, passing through many hilltop sites dedicated to St Michael, to the east coast of Norfolk, is known as the St Michael Alignment.

However, the line also passes through many megalithic sites such as the Hurlers and Avebury, so perhaps the Beltane Line is a more appropriate name.

Is the Beltane Line just a coincidence of aligned sites or the route of a genuine long distance earth energy line?

 

The Sun and the Serpent tells the story of how Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller traced this alignment by dowsing two earth energy lines they termed the Michael and Mary Lines.

 

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Waun Mawn: The bluestone circle that never was

After all the hype that the Stones of Stonehenge Project had identified a bluestone circle in Preseli, south-west Wales, that was dismantled in the Neolithic period and the monoliths transported to Salisbury Plain to be used in the first stone setting at Stonehenge around 3,000BC, the team has now rejected Waun Mawn as the Lost Stone Circle:

February 2021
“The discovery of a dismantled stone circle—close to Stonehenge’s bluestone quarries in west Wales—raises the possibility that a 900-year-old legend about Stonehenge being built from an earlier stone circle contains a grain of truth. Radiocarbon and OSL dating of Waun Mawn indicate construction c. 3000 BC, shortly before the initial construction of Stonehenge. The identical diameters of Waun Mawn and the enclosing ditch of Stonehenge, and their orientations on the midsummer solstice sunrise, suggest that at least part of the Waun Mawn circle was brought from west Wales to Salisbury Plain. This interpretation complements recent isotope work that supports a hypothesis of migration of both people and animals from Wales to Stonehenge.

  • The original Stonehenge? A dismantled stone circle in the Preseli Hills of west Wales, Antiquity 2021 Vol. 95 (379):pp.85–103, 12 February 2021 – Mike Parker Pearson, Josh Pollard, Colin Richards, Kate Welham, Timothy Kinnaird, Dave Shaw, Ellen Simmons, Adam Stanford, Richard Bevins, Rob Ixer, Clive Ruggles, Jim Rylatt and Kevan Edinborough.

 

January 2022
In summary, the 2021 excavations provide evidence that only 30% of Waun Mawn’s stone  circle was ever completed, leaving large gaps on the west and south sides. Features along  the southern perimeter can be identified as holes that were dug but never held stones,  revealing that building of the circle stopped in mid-construction. Eight standing stones were  subsequently dismantled, leaving just four in place. It is unlikely that there were ever more  than 17 stones erected within this circle, resulting in between eight and 13 being taken  away in prehistory. It is possible but unlikely that there was another dismantled circle within  the larger, 110m-diameter circle; early stone circles of this type, such as Stanton Drew, tend  to have smaller circles beyond them and not inside them. In these circumstances, if Waun  Mawn provided some of the bluestones for Stonehenge, these can only have been a small  portion of the total.”

  • Waun Mawn and Gernos-fach: the Welsh origins of Stonehenge project Interim report of the 2021 season – Mike Parker Pearson, Chris Casswell, Jim Rylatt, Adam Stanford, Kate Welham and Josh Pollard. [Full report available at Tim Daw’s Sarsen.org  posted 12 January 2022]
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Lindow Man: The Last of the Bog Bodies?

Part I

Pools of Violence
On 13 May 1983 two men working on commercial peat extraction at Lindow Moss, near Wilmslow, Cheshire, noticed a round object about 20cm diameter on the conveyor belt of the elevator. It was their responsibility to remove any objects that could damage the shredding mill. They joked it could be a “dinosaur egg” but after washing it off with a hose they found it to be a human skull with an eyeball and some hair still intact. The skull was taken to the police.

Lindow Moss

At that time the Macclesfield Police had been investigating an unsolved murder. During an interview two suspects of another crime told the police of a former cellmate who had boasted of murdering his wife. The man claimed to have disposed of his wife’s body twenty years earlier in 1960 by dismembering her body and burning her remains. At that time he lived in a property that backed on to Lindow Moss; the skull was found just 300 metres from his back garden. Earlier that year in January when first interviewed by the police the man denied murdering his wife and investigations in the garden failed to produce any evidence; to date, remains of his wife’s body have never been found. But when the police informed him of the discovery of the skull in May he made a full confession.

Yet when the police submitted the skull to archaeologists to determine its age it proved to be around 1,800 years old meaning the woman lived during the 2nd century, the Romano-British period. The skull was therefore not related to the murder enquiry at all but the man was convicted of the murder of his wife owing to his confession. The skull was said to have belonged to a woman of 30-50 years age and named accordingly as Lindow Woman (or Lindow I) by archaeologists.

The discovery of Lindow Woman has striking similarities to a find in a peat bog some 25 years earlier a little further north in a peat bog near Salford. On 18th August 1958 John Connelly, an employee of the Lancashire Moss and Litter Company, was walling peat blocks in an isolated spot when he noticed a black ball-shaped patch with matter inside and then what appeared to be a bit of neck. After making a rough search he found a piece of bone with teeth attached. No other body parts were found at the bog.

The remains were discovered just inside the Worsley boundary, about two miles from Astley Green. Worsley Moss is part of the Chat Moss peat bog complex in Salford, Lancashire, as such the head was named Worsley Man.

Initial examination suggested the head belonged to a male aged between 24-40 years of age and had been in the peat bog for probably less than a year. The head was then examined by a Home Office pathologist who determined that the remains consisted of “a portion of skull, an upper and a lower jaw, the first two and a half cervical vertebrae, some skin above the right ear, a two-inch section below the right ear, a one- inch strip of skin on the right side of the neck and a separate tooth”.

He suggested that Worsley Man was probably somewhere between one hundred and five hundred years old. As the cause of death had not been determined the coroner returned an open verdict and suggested the remains should be retained as a historic relic. They were donated to the Pathology Museum at the Manchester Medical School who passed the head of Worsley Man on to the Manchester Museum in 1992.

Further studies using modern technology have since revealed evidence of decapitation and a twisted cord embedded in the neck tissue suggestive of a ligature. The lack of decay is indicative that the head entered the bog soon after it was severed from the body. Evidence of sharp force trauma indicates Worsley Man experienced a violent death and suffered a minimum of three devastating blows: a non-fatal sword blow behind the right ear, a forceful axe wound on the top of the skull and finally decapitation. None of these injuries could be ascribed to damage caused by the peat cutters.

A sample of facial tissue was dated at 1,800 years old placing the man firmly within the Romano- British era. Further investigation carried out in 2010 subjected the head to a CT Scan which revealed a fragment of a sharp object embedded in the neck tissue. At first this was considered as the tip of a ceremonial bone spearhead. However, the “spear” in the neck appears to have been the fractured end of the temporal styloid process from the right-hand side of the head (a slender pointed piece of bone just below the ear) which sheared off during decapitation.

We don’t know if this was a formal execution or sacrifice. However the sheer number of blows inflicted on Worsley Man, which can only be described as overkill, seems to eliminate organised execution. Yet, as stated above, Worsley Man has striking similarities with Lindow Woman (Lindow I), and these are not the only examples of heads found in peat bogs. Had the peat cutters unearthed evidence of a cult of the head in northern England

Lindow Man
On 1st August 1984, one year after the head of a woman had been pulled out of Lindow Moss, a man working on a peat cutting machine at the same peat bog pulled a long thin object off a conveyor belt. When the object hit the ground the loose peat fell off to reveal a human leg. The police were informed and the next day the county archaeologist Rick Turner visited the site and examined the cutting where the leg had been found.

At the edge of the cutting Turner noticed a flap of skin sticking out of the peat. On 6th August the block of peat containing the skin was lifted and taken to a local mortuary. Further peat was removed to reveal the remains of a body, which Turner suggested was at least a thousand years old. It was then moved to a special storage facility at the British Museum in London. Once all the peat had been removed it revealed the upper torso of a man with the head intact. He was named as Lindow Man (Lindow II). He was naked except for a fox-fur armband. Around his neck was a twisted cord made from animal sinew, on the top of his head and around his neck were signs of physical trauma.

Forensic examination of Lindow Man revealed the following injuries:

A v-shaped laceration to the top of the head delivered from a ferocious blow with a blunt edged weapon (possibly an axe) which pushed fragments of the skull into the brain. This blow was not fatal as bruising started to occur around the wound which suggests that although it no doubt knocked him unconscious Lindow Man could have have lived for several hours after delivery of the blow.

A laceration to the scalp at the back of the head was probably the result of a blow with a blunt weapon which fractured his skull. Other injuries include ligature marks to front and sides of the neck indicating the sinew necklace was used as a garrotte; a clean cut wound on the right side of the front of the neck made by a sharp instrument into the jugular vein; possible stab wound to right upper chest; several broken ribs; a fracture of the spine at the neck with his head twisted to the right at the point of break.

Further peat cutting at Lindow Moss was periodically monitored by Turner but no further discoveries where made until 1987 when over seventy body parts were found, including the back of an adult man, a hand and a leg (Lindow III). In June and September the following year parts of the buttocks, left leg and right thigh of an adult male were found in the bog (Lindow IV). As these parts were found just 15 metres from the discovery site of Lindow Man they were considered to be the missing parts of the same body, broken up during the peat excavation process.

Comprehensive sampling has indicated that Lindow Man died in the First Century (2 BC – AD119). His hair, now red due to the staining from the peat bog, was well groomed, beard and moustache trimmed and his nails filed. Residues of green pigmentation from high levels of copper on his skin was initially considered to be evidence of the ancient practice of body paint as observed on Iron Age peoples by the Romans and recorded by ancient historians. However scientific analysis has shown that these residues occur in peat bogs when organic remains are exposed to acid where oxygen is absent; it therefore seems unlikely that Lindow Man had been painted green as some early reports claimed.

Bog Bodies of Northern Europe

Bog bodies are found throughout the peatlands of Northern Europe. Lindow Man is without doubt the finest preserved example found in Britain, yet debate continues as to whether these bog bodies were victims of execution, murder or ritual sacrifice. Capital punishment for unlawful crimes, an execution victim, would usually be fulfilled in one blow, such as a straight beheading with a sharp weapon such an axe or sword. Occasionally it would take more than one attempt, but wounds would be concentrated in the same area as they literally hacked off the head. Unlawful killing would also typically result in death by a single blow, however it is possible several blows could have been dealt if a struggle ensued or torture was involved.

Yet many of the bog bodies have received significant weapon trauma; a forceful blow to the head that stunned the victim but was not usually fatal. Then the throat was cut, followed in many cases by decapitation. The garrotte found on many bog bodies indicates strangulation. Finally, if there was any chance of any life left in the victim he was thrown in the peat bog and drowned. This has been described as massive “overkill” and linked to the Celtic triple death. A ritual death and deposition in a liminal zone such as a peat bog, the threshold between water and land, the boundary between worlds, suggests sacrifice. The healthy condition of Lindow Man suggests he had been specifically selected, possibly from a young age, for this ritual ending and like many sacrificial offerings, probably went to his death without struggle.

Evidence of Celtic Triple Death?
We find literary evidence of these peculiar practices in Celtic literature such as the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. Although in their current form the “Four Branches” are held in Middle Welsh prose written down between the 11th and 13th centuries, these tales seem to be based on pre-Roman cultures which have been described as “one of the oldest and most complete repositories of British Celtic Myth”. The Second Branch features the Cult of the Head in which Bendigeidfran (Brân) is decapitated yet his head lives on after its removal from his body:

And then Bendigeidfran ordered the severing of his head.

‘Take the head’ said he ‘and bring it to the White Hill in London, and bury it with its face towards France. And you will be on the road a long time. In Harlech you will be seven years in feasting, the birds of Rhiannon singing to you. The head will be as good company to you as it was at its best when it was ever on me. And you will be at Gwales in Penfro for eighty years. Until you open the door facing Aber Henvelen on the side facing Cornwall, you will be able to abide there, along with the head with you uncorrupted. But when you open that door, you will not be able to remain there. You will make for London and bury the head. Cross over to the other side.’ [Trans. Will Parker]

In the Forth Branch, when asked how he can be killed Lleu Llaw Gyffes describes three conditions that will bring about his death:

‘It is not easy,’ he continued ‘to kill me by a blow. It would be necessary to spend a year making the spear to strike me with – and without making any of it [at any other time] except when one was at mass on Sundays.’

‘I cannot be killed inside a house, nor outside,’ he continued ‘I cannot be killed on horseback or on foot.’

‘Aye,’ said she ‘[so] in what way can you be killed?’

‘I’ll tell you,’ he replied. ‘By making a bath for me by the side of a river, making a curved, slatted roof over the tub, and thatching that well and without [leaving] any gaps. And bringing a buck,’ he continued ‘and putting it next to the tub, and me putting one of my feet on the buck’s back, and the other one on the side of the tub. Whoever would strike me [while I am] like that would bring about my death.’ [Trans. Will Parker]

Will Parker describes the Four Branches as containing all the “hallmarks of a primitive ‘magical’ consciousness, the legacy of its origins in the pre-Christian past”. Indeed, The Four Branches recall the ordeals of the Gods; The Children of Dôn and the family of Llyr. Lleu Llaw Gyffes, the hero of the Fourth Branch clearly relates to Lugus ‘the Gaulish Mercury’ and in the Second and Third Branches features Manawydan fab Llŷr, who also appears, probably owes his origin to a maritime cult prevalent in the Irish Sea area during the early centuries of the common era (Manannán mac Lír.

Indeed, Celtic scholar Anne Ross saw Lindow Man as a Druid Prince kept and nurtured for this special occasion. Ross argues that to the Celts the number three was sacred which may be reflected in the apparent triple death inflicted on these sacrifices to the gods of the Celts.

In the Pharsalia Lucan talks of three Gaulish gods, Teutates, Esus and Taranis that each required a certain form of sacrifice: drowning, hanging or stabbed to death or both, and burning respectively. A sacrificial victim could be offered to one god and killed by that god’s preferred method, or as seems likely with certain offerings such as Lindow Man, they were given to more than one god and several ritual methods of death, one after the other, used accordingly.

And now Lindow Man, this offering, this gift to the gods, sits in a class case presented to the public as a lonely exhibit at the British Museum in London as one of their most popular displays. For me this is a sad sight, I really am uncomfortable with this man being a museum piece to satisfy mankind’s morbid fascination with death. But that’s just me, I really don’t enjoy displays of human remains.

Lindow Moss – land of the peat cutters

It was noted above that no further bog bodies have been discovered at Lindow Moss since the late 1980s. It is now very unlikely there will be another discovery of this type at Lindow Moss as the owner has agreed to cease peat cutting and restore the bog. Lindow Man really could be the last of the bog bodies.

Continued in Part II – Landscape of Devastation

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Stonehenge: New Revelations?

Stonehenge: The New Revelations
TV documentary screened at 9.00pm, 9 December, Channel 5

This new documentary claims that although Stonehenge has stood on Salisbury Plain in some form for over 5,000 years it still has secrets to share.

Host Rob Bell guided viewers through the latest discoveries which are below the surface, found using a variety of geophysical survey techniques including ground-penetrating radar.

A research team under archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson (UCL) claim to have discovered a vast irregular circle, nearly a mile across in diameter, of previously unknown massive pits centred on Durrington Walls, the location of a large prehistoric settlement claimed by Parker Pearson to have been used by the people who came togther to build Stonehenge nearly 2 miles away.

Archaeologist Susan Greaney, a researcher for English Heritage said, “Eighteen months ago, I was emailed the plan of what had been discovered and for quite a long time, I didn’t even believe that it was true because it was such a ridiculous new discovery. These pits are five metres deep and about 10 metres across at the top. So, these are big pits and they enclose a huge area, a whole valley, basically.”

The pits are a challenge to archaeologists; It seems an important part of the landscape but how do they explain them as a monument?

Vincent Gaffney, of Bradford University, the archaeologist who headed the team that made the original discovery, said science had proved that this was indeed a huge Neolithic monument.

These hidden pits have considerable archaeological value in that whatever they contain has lain undisturbed for literally millennia. Now filled in, these pits should hold artefacts and remnants dating from the Neolithic culture that actually constructed the monument.

But, alas this program offered nothing new, there were certainly no new revelations about Stonehenge itself as titled. But of course anything with “Stonehenge” as the subject matter is clickbait and guaranteed to pull in the punters.

The documentary, however, did provide Parker Pearson a further opportunity to recap on his theory of Stonehenge, the bluestone quarries, the people of Durrington Walls, the two sites linked by avenues to the river Avon, the human remains from the Aubrey Holes linked to the bluestone sites in south-west Wales. Parker Pearson peddles this stuff out as though it is fact, but most, if not all, of this is based on conjecture and leaps of faith. Yes, we’ve heard it all before and it’s as unconvincing now as it was when the Stonehenge Riverside Project commenced its journey nearly 20 years ago. But Mike has produced a theory and he is sticking to it like the proverbial blanket.

In response to earlier claims following the discovery in June 2020 that the pits were natural features Gaffney claims the huge circle of pits are definitely human-made, dug into the sacred landscape almost 4,500 years ago, perhaps as a boundary guiding people to a sacred area.

It’s difficult to envisage how pits this size could function as a boundary. Too big to support megaliths or timber posts, yet empty would hardly be visible in the landscape. The spacing and distance from the Durrington settlement makes their use a storage pits unlikely.

However, we must exercise caution before reading too much into these (potentially) man-made pits. Excavation is required before too many conclusions are leapt to; once we get under the soil things are not always the same as the wishful interpretations of ground surveys might suggest.

In 2015 The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes team, once again under Vincent Gaffney, claimed they had found evidence of nearly 100 large stones, some measuring 15ft (4.5m) in length, buried under 3ft of earth surrounding Durrington Walls. The find was termed “Superhenge“.

“Superhenge at Durrington Walls”

However, twelve months later in August 2016 following excavation of two of the features the stones theory was disproved. The excavation revealed two enormous pits that contained wooden posts with ramps at the sides. It is believed the pits once contained huge timbers which have been vertically lifted out and removed at some stage. The top was then filled in with chalk rubble and then the giant henge bank was raised over the top.

Yet, the putative circle of pits centred on Durrington Walls makes me think of the Y and Z Holes surrounding Stonehenge but on a massively larger scale. The Y and Z Holes form two irregular, concentric rings contain 30 and 29 shallow pits respectively cut around the outside of the Sarsen Circle at Stonehenge. Their purpose is unknown but is claimed that the Y and Z Holes never held stones. Antlers placed in the Y & Z Holes have been dated to around 1,600 BC, indicating that their construction was certainly the last structural activity at Stonehenge. The monument then went into a long period of neglect and the holes filled with wind-blown debris. Did the construction of the Y and Z Holes signal closure of the monument, no longer to be used. Did the pits surrounding Durrington Walls serve a similar purpose, albeit on a massive scale to signal the monument was out of bounds, no longer to be used?

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Durrington Walls: Huge Pits Confirmed as Man-Made

In June last year it was reprted that a 1.2 mile-wide (2km) circle of large shafts measuring more than 10m (30ft) in diameter and 5m (15ft) in depth centred on Durrington Walls had been discovered in the Stonehenge landscape as part of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, led by the University of Bradford. [Ring of Shafts Discovered Centred on Durrington Walls]

The team from the universities of St Andrews, Birmingham, Warwick, Bradford, Glasgow and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David suggested that the 20 or more shafts may have served as a boundary to a sacred area connected to the henge.

As a man-made feature the ring of pits would be the largest prehistoric structure found in Britain, but some were sceptical and dismissed the pits as mere natural features.

The pits were first noticed by archaeologists in the early 20th century but they assumed the structures were dew ponds, or shallow artificial pools created to hold cattle’s drinking water. Others suggested that the pits were natural sinkholes.

Now Professor Vincent Gaffney, of Bradford University, an archaeologist who headed the team that made the discovery, said science had proved that this was indeed a huge Neolithic monument.

While part of the circle has not survived, owing to modern development, Gaffney said the latest fieldwork involved scientific analysis of nine of the pits which has proved that those gaping pits, each evenly spaced and aligned to form a huge circle spanning 1.2 miles in diameter, centred precisely on Durrington Walls, were definitely man-made, dug into the sacred landscape almost 4,500 years ago.

Gaffney said, “We’ve now looked at nearly half of them and they’re all the same. So effectively this really does say this is one enormous structure. It may have evolved from a natural feature, but we haven’t located that. So it’s the largest prehistoric structure found in Britain.

Using modern remote sensing technology they searched below the surface and pinpointed where the ground has been disturbed even after thousands of years combined with dating evidence determined by the use of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), which is able to date the last time that sediment was exposed to daylight.

The underground analysis was carried out by Dr Tim Kinnaird, of the school of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews, who said: “These proved beyond doubt that the pits date to around 2400BC.”

He added: “It’s confirmed that the [pits] are all very similar, which is fascinating.” If these were natural features such as sinkholes, they would be different sizes.

The data showed that the pits were being used from the late Neolithic until the Middle Bronze Age, which suggests they were being maintained beyond the monumental phases of Stonehenge.

According to Gaffney, the discovery makes the site the largest prehistoric structure in all of Great Britain and perhaps Europe.

The discovery is explored in a Channel 5 documentary titled Stonehenge: The New Revelations, to be aired on 9 December (9pm).

 

L&M Comment: It is difficult to envisage the purpose of these massive pits; too large to hold an individual stone or timber post but clearly forming some sort of demarcation around Durrington Walls. Requiring massive effort to produce, would these huge empty pits have been easily recognised as boundary markers to a no-go sacred zone? Surely if this was their purpose then a simple ring of spaced wooden posts would be more visually effective and easier to construct.


Further reading
:

Gaffney, V. et al. 2020 A Massive, Late Neolithic Pit Structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge, Internet Archaeology 55

New tests show neolithic pits near Stonehenge were human-made – The Guardian 23 Nov 2021

Stonehenge pits ARE man-made – The Mail Online 24 Nov 2021

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The First Circle of Stonehenge?

SECRETS OF THE DEAD Season 19 Episode 3
First aired: 03//11/2021

“A decade-long archaeological quest reveals that the oldest stones of Stonehenge originally belonged to a much earlier sacred site – a stone circle built on a rugged, remote hillside in west Wales.”

For generations many have argued over its origins, meaning and purpose but now a dedicated team of archaeologists and scientists claim to have made an amazing discovery that rewrites the entire history of the monument as seen in the documentary The First Circle of Stonehenge.

The story begins with a series of excavations over the last ten years 150 miles from Stonehenge in west Wales. Mike Parker Pearson, Professor of British Later Prehistory at the Institute of Archaeology University College London, asserts that the secret of Stonehenge is in the bluestones; witness a man obsessed with a vision. His early work determined the early configuration of the monument, claiming that the first Stonehenge was an enormous monument, a circle of bluestones not just a bank and ditch as originally thought but a ring of bluestones.

Parker Pearson says to solve the mystery of Stonehenge we must determine where the bluestones came from and why. Using the latest science, archaeologists claim to have unearthed an immense dismantled stone circle  that stood centuries before Stonehenge in another part of Britain.

A Medieval Fiction?
The program repeatedly referred to the origins of Stonehenge from the Merlin legend as Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote down over 800 years ago. Geoffrey produced a story, for the first time in writing, that Stonehenge, then known as the Giants’ Dance, had been taken from Ireland by the Britons and re-erected on Salisbury Plain by Merlin’s magic as a monument to the British nobles murdered by the Saxons at a peace conference.

Parker Pearson tells us that archaeology and myth are uncomfortable partners yet he seems convinced that there is a grain of truth in Merlin’s story.

However, we now know that the Stonehenge bluestones, although they came from the west, did not come from Ireland as in the Merlin legend, as 100 years ago geologists determined that the bluestones came from west Wales. Parker Pearson claims that at the time story was written down in the 12th century West Wales was regarded as part of Ireland.

Following on from the Stonehenge Riverside Project, which investigated the prehistoric environs of Salisbury Plain, Parker Pearson was lead on the Stones of Stonehenge Project which set out to locate the origins of the bluestones in Wales. The investigation duly set off to Preseli.

Excavation of the claimed bluestone quarry at Craig Rhos-y-felin 

Bluestone Signatures
By comparing samples from bluestones at Stonehenge to select sites in west Wales the 20th century geologists made a crude match to two locations in Preseli. But Parker Pearson was not convinced these were correct. Modern science has now revisited these samples and potential quarry sites in west Wales. Geologist Richard Bevins has studied hundreds of samples of bluestones and explains the rocks in Preseli possess subtle differences and each location is unique he says.

Using geochemistry in an archaeological context for the first time Jane Evans of the British Geological Survey took bluestone samples from Stonehenge and Preseli to determine the chemical composition of the stones to identify the unique fingerprint of certain outcrops.

A favourite mineral marker is Zircon, known to scientists as natures geological clock as it is very robust and unaffected by geological processes, its very slow rate of decay can be used to determine the age of rocks. From the moment zirconium is formed the radioactive uranium atoms in it start to decay into lead at a steady rate. By measuring the ratio of uranium to lead in a sample one can determine a unique signature to determine its precise age. The TV documentary claims the results are “game changing”.

Yet the date of the zirconium signature in the Stonehenge bluestone samples does not match the outcrops in Wales suggested by 20th century geologists, thus confirming Parker Pearson’s suspicions. Based on this research two new sources have been suggested by modern geologists as the source of the bluestones; we have been looking in the wrong place for the last 100 years.

The Source of the Bluestones 
Armed with this new information Parker Pearson’s team claim to have determined the original bluestones quarries at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin in the Preseli Hills. But when were the stones removed from the quarries?

Parker Pearson at Carn Goedog: “quarried bluestones ready to

From excavations at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin the team discovered what they considered was clear evidence of bluestone pillars split from the outcrop by the use of primitive wedges to provide “ready to go” bluestones. At the base of the outcrop the team discovered strangely positioned stones, which Parker Pearson sees as trestles, forming “a bluestone production line” he says in which the stones were moved down from the slope and to the valley below ready for transportation to Salisbury Plain.

Parker Pearson argues that the land route north of Preseli is preferable to the traditional sea route suggested in the 20th century. Experimental archaeologists then built a wooden cradle to demonstrate how easy it easy for a team of school children to move a 1.5 ton rock sliding it over 30 metres along wet grass.

At what date were the bluestones quarried? At Craig Rhos-y-felin the team discover the remains of the “quarry men’s fire” containing burnt hazelnuts, carbon dated to 3300 BC. But this is 400 years before the date that Parker Pearson has determined that the bluestones first stood at Stonehenge.

Parker Pearson tells us that at that time it was a divided country with an influx of new people arriving in the west who built megalithic monuments. He decides that these bluestones must have originally been used in another monument somewhere in west Wales, probably close to the quarry sites, around this time – several hundred years before being moved to Salisbury Plain. Accordingly the search then moves for evidence of a dismantled stone circle in Preseli.

Haystacks and Needles
Using aerial photographs and photogrammetry combined with ground surveys they search for evidence of prehistoric archaeology with stoneholes of a certain size in a certain formation.

Pensarn ring

At Pensarn a group of henge-like circular enclosures previously identified by geophysical survey in 2016, stood out as a potential bluestone circle site. Excavations the following year revealed a small pit in the centre containing what could be the remains of a standing stone of spotted dolerite, a type of bluestones similar to some at Stonehenge. Carbon dating revealed that the Pensarn circle is a bluestone ring but dated from the Bronze Age, 1000 years after the first Stonehenge. The new circles detected by geophysics were found to date to the Iron Age, 3000 years later than the bluestone quarries and therefore can be ruled out as Neolithic henges.

At this point the team had investigated every location on their list except one; Waun Mawn.

The Last Hope
Initial ground surveys at the suspected stone circle at Waun Mawn failed to pick up anything significant and it did not look promising but Parker Pearson says it was their last hope, the last throw of the dice.

Waun Mawn

At Waun Mawn they had to establish if an arc of four standing stones formed the remains of a dismantled Neolithic stone circle where bluestones once stood.

During excavations in 2017 they discovered a stonehole and returned the following year when they unearthed “stonehole after stonehole” to form a circle 110m diameter which Parker Pearson claims is exactly the same size as that at Stonehenge; Waun Mawn could well be the predecessor of Stonehenge he enthuses.

Parker Pearson says the profile of one stonehole at Waun Mawn possesses a pentangular shape which is an exact match for a bluestone currently standing at Stonehenge. However, if there is any substance to his proposal the date of Waun Mawn’s construction had to match the date of the quarrying at Craig Rhos-y-felin, i.e. around 3300 BC and its dismantling match the date that Parker Pearson argues for the arrival of the first bluestones on Salisbury Plain some 400 years later.

To determine the age of Waun Mawn the team use Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), a process with determines when the sediment was first exposed to light. OSL provides a construction date of around 3400 BC.

If this was indeed the precursor to Stonehenge Parker Pearson suspected that the Waun Mawn circle must have been aligned to the sun and called in Clive Ruggles, Professor of Archaeoastronomy. Ruggles determined that the circle at Waun Mawn was indeed aligned to the midsummer sun; two stones in the circle twisted at right angles would have targeted the midsummer sunrise 5000 years ago.

Back on Salisbury Plain we are are drawn to the natural lines, formed by glacial melt-waters, which align with the Stonehenge Avenue and the midsummer sunrise; similar to the solstial alignment at Waun Mawn. According to Parker Pearson this is the reason that Stonehenge was built at this precise location on Salisbury Plain.

Migrating Monoliths
But the question remains that if Waun Mawn was such an important site in Preseli why was it moved to Salisbury Plain? Back to the Merlin legend who claims the Giants’ Dance was stolen from Ireland, but Parker Pearson admits there is nothing to support this theory.

Waun Mawn excavation

He explains that people were being buried at Stonehenge from the moment the bluestones arrived. There must be a connection. Using strontium analyse of bone fragments excavated by Stonehenge Riverside Project from Aubrey Hole 7 results revealed that some of the human remains were from west Wales which Parker Pearson identifies as a migration signal. He concludes that the monument was moved because the stones were not stolen but represent the ancestors that the migrating people took with them.

Parker Pearson concludes that Waun Mawn was part of the stone circle revolution which first appeared around the time the bluestones were quarried, around 3300 BC.

Representing the ancestors, the bluestones were taken to Salisbury Plain as part of a migration event around 2900 BC. The people of Durrington Walls repositioned the bluestones around 2500 BC and we’re back to his theory of stone for the ancestors and wood for the living.

Stonehenge

A Modern Fiction?
For Mike Parker Pearson this is now fact and claimed to be an astonishing historical breakthrough that has transformed our understanding of Stonehenge and Neolithic Britain; we now know the bluestones of Stonehenge didn’t just come from Wales but it is claimed they actually first stood in Wales in a lost stone circle.

This program screened by PBS America presented nothing further than that covered by the television program Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed screened on BBC2 on 12th February with Professor Alice Roberts.

Good archaeology or bad archaeology? I listed concerns with Parker Pearson’s quest here: The Quest for the Origins of Stonehenge

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