Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Stonehenge Landscape Survey

Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society

Analytical Surveys of Stonehenge and its Immediate Environs, 2009–2013: Part 1 – the Landscape and Earthworks

With contributions by

Integrated non-invasive survey in the Stonehenge ‘triangle’, Amesbury, Wiltshire, has highlighted a number of features that have a significant bearing on the interpretation of the site. Among them are periglacial and natural topographical structures, including a chalk mound that may have influenced site development. Some geophysical anomalies are similar to the post-holes in the car park of known Mesolithic date, while others beneath the barrows to the west may point to activity contemporary with Stonehenge itself. Evidence that the ‘North Barrow’ may be earlier in the accepted sequence is presented and the difference between the eastern and western parts of the enclosure ditch highlighted, while new data relating to the Y and Z Holes and to the presence of internal banks that mirror their respective circuits is also outlined.


Multi-disciplinary, non-invasive, analytical survey techniques
have produced a considerable amount of fresh
data relating to the chronological depth and spatial
relationship of sites and features across the ‘triangle’
which provides a broader context for the pivotal
monument of Stonehenge. The latter can now be seen as
part of a suite of immediately adjacent ceremonial and
burial monuments, the earliest of which may be a small
formerly unrecognised Cranborne Chase-style long
barrow, while several others with henge-like affinities
might be expected to fit within a 3rd millennium BC
cultural spectrum and to have been contemporary with
one or more of the Stonehenge phases.....On the ground
the presence of subtle earthworks at Stonehenge has
an important bearing on the interpretation of the
structural phasing of the site, for while some features
attest to the attrition of the historic period, others are
undoubtedly ancient and add new details relating to the
enclosure ditch, Y and Z Holes, the possibility that the
‘North Barrow’ is an earlier feature, and introduce a
previously unobserved mound amongst the stones. Laser
scanning of the ground surface has provided a detailed
record of subtle undulations that depict the site’s
chronological and cultural biography. Accompanying
these data are the high-resolution GPR results collected
over the Stonehenge monument which successfully
revealed a series of anomalies to complement both
existing geophysical data sets and the earthwork
surveys. Deeper lying geological anomalies, possibly
flint seams or layers of marl within the chalk, have also
been revealed beneath the site although it is unclear
whether these might have once had surface expression.....

Lots of fascinating stuff - get a copy.

Authenticity in conservation is an outmoded sacred cow.


Conserving and Managing Ancient Monuments

Heritage, Democracy, and Inclusion

Keith Emerick

The origins and use of conservation principles and practice from the nineteenth century to the present day are charted in this volume. Written from the perspective of a practitioner, it examines the manner in which a single, dominant mode of conservation, which held sway for many decades, is now coming under pressure from a different and more democratic heritage management practice, favouring diversity, inclusion and difference. 
The author blends case studies from Ireland, Cyprus and England with examples from current practice, community heritage initiatives and political policy, highlighting the development and use of international charters and conventions. 
Central to the main argument of the book is that the sacred cows of conservation - antiquity, fabric and authenticity - have outlived their usefulness and need to be rethought. 

Dr Keith Emerick is an English Heritage Inspector of Ancient Monuments in York and North Yorkshire; he is also a Research Associate at the University of York.

I think I prefer "antiquity, fabric and authenticity" to "democratic heritage management practice, favouring diversity, inclusion and difference"; but then I'm old fashioned, and can't afford the £60 to buy the book to be converted.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Under the Stonehenge Landscape

Unveiling the prehistoric landscape at Stonehenge through multi-receiver EMI 
Philippe De Smedt, Marc Van Meirvenne, Timothy Saey, Eamonn Baldwin, Chris Gaffney, Vince Gaffney

Archaeological research at Stonehenge (UK) is increasingly aimed at understanding the dynamic of the wider archaeological landscape. Through the application of state-of-the-art geophysical techniques,unprecedented insight is being gathered into the buried archaeological features of the area. However,applied survey techniques have rarely targeted natural soil variation, and the detailed knowledge of the palaeotopography is consequently less complete. In addition, metallic topsoil debris, scattered over different parts of the Stonehenge landscape, often impacts the interpretation of geophysical datasets. The research presented here demonstrates how a single multi-receiver electromagnetic induction (EMI)survey, conducted over a 22 ha area within the Stonehenge landscape, offers detailed insight into natural and anthropogenic soil variation at Stonehenge. The soil variations that were detected through recording the electrical and magnetic soil variability, shed light on the genesis of the landscape, and allow for a better definition of potential palaeoenvironmental and archaeological sampling locations. Based on the multi-layered dataset, a procedure was developed to remove the influence of topsoil metal from the survey data, which enabled a more straightforward identification of the detected archaeology. The results provide a robust basis for further geoarchaeological research, while potential to differentiate between modern soil disturbances and the underlying sub-surface variations can help in solving conservation and management issues. Through expanding this approach over the wider area, we aim at a fuller under-standing of the human-landscape interactions that have shaped the Stonehenge landscape.
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Some nice results, showing up a couple of hengiforms for instance.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Songs of the Stones - The acoustics of Stonehenge - pseudoscience?

Songs of the Stones: An Investigation into the Acoustic Culture of Stonehenge 
Dr. Rupert Till - University of Huddersfield, UK.  Journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music   doi:10.5429/2079-3871(2010)v1i2.10en

 "concludes that the sonic features of Stonehenge were noticeable and significant, and that it is likely that they were a part of the ritual culture of the site."

Now acoustic expert D.N.Thomas has hit back -

Pseudo science in British archaeoacoustics: Rupert Till's interpretation of the perception of sound. 

which "suggests that Till's approach is pseudo scientific approach and likely to
lead to erroneous conclusions and misinterpretation".

(thanks to http://www.pdfunlock.com for ability to copy pdf content.)

Friday, 8 August 2014

How to construct a level sarsen circle with boning rods.

The stonemason who is building the Long Barrow at All Cannings explained to me how easy it would be to set out the sarsen circle and get it level.

Before laser levels, and still widely in use, on building sites boning rods were used. These are the T shaped wooden stakes you will have seen on the edges of sites.

They don't actually need a T shape, though it helps. Just posts that all have an equal length marked from one end work.

So make eight five foot long straight posts with a pointed end and a flat end. Lie them side by side and mark all of them at four feet from the flat end with a line.

Now on a wet autumnal day decide where you want the centre of your circle to be. Scoop out a shallow depression, six feet in diameter but only six inches deep or so and puddle the clay soil by dancing around on it. You may find a greasy auroc skin helps line the pool. If it doesn't rain enough fill the pool with water.

Around the edge of the pool space your eight posts equally and bang them into the ground until the marked line is level with the water. You now have a ring of posts whose tops are level.

Looking across from post to post it is then easy to set up other posts so their tops are also level.

And then you can decide that the top of your sarsen uprights should be so many feet above that level, and you can measure down into the excavations from your level to get the depth of the hole right for the length of the sarsen you have to hand.

As he says, simples. But I hadn't had it explained to me before so it had never occurred to me that that was how it could be done..

More on boning rods at http://www.pavingexpert.com/setout03.html

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Edgerton's Stonehenge Pictures

Harold "Doc" Edgerton is probably most famous for his milk drop photo:

But during the last European Unpleasantness (1939-1945) he was involved in strobe pictures and aerial reconnaissance. And luckily for us Stonehenge was a target...

(better quality)

And his most famous

More at webmuseum.mit.edu/detail.php?t=subjects&type=all&f=&s=stonehenge&record=0

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Parch Mark Paper To Be Published.

A note from Antiquity journal:


TYPE: Research

TITLE: Parchmarks at Stonehenge, July 2013

AUTHOR(S): Simon Banton, Mark Bowden, Tim Daw, Damian Grady, Sharon Soutar

" I am writing to let you know that your article will be published in Volume 88, Issue 341, September 2014. The volume will be available online at http://antiquity.ac.uk/journal.html from around 26 August and the printed copy of the journal will be available from 1 September."

This relates to the parchmarks revealed here, but there is more to them than I have been, and am, allowed to reveal pre-publication.