Friday, 16 September 2016

Lost Avenues....

Robert John Langdon claimed last year that some green patches leading out of Avebury showed an avenue of stone holes;

I pointed out at the time this is just looked like the grain sprouting from where the previous crop has been laid by a path being formed.  After harvest the cultivating tractor goes back and forth dragging the seeds one way and then on return the other way.

I think the path was formed when the credulous visited a crop circle and the farmer had to create a path for them. Here's two example of crop circles on Waden Hill with a path following the same line as his avenue from Avebury.  

My sleuthing dog, Rufus, pictured, and I came across the same phenomenon on our morning walk near All Cannings this autumn.
The farmer had had to run down and mow the footpath across his field and after harvest and cultivations a very similar pattern appeared.

Click any to embiggen them.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Stonehenge and the Preseli - mining sites

The only report I can find on the excavations in the Preseli this month so far is in Welsh, so with Dr.Google's help here is a translation:

From Golwg360

Over the weekend the research to find out whether there is a link between some of the stones at Stonehenge and Wales have taken a step forward as archaeologists start excavating a new site.

In December last year, announced the archaeological society Antiquity report suggests that some of the stones at Stonehenge Wiltshire, England, may have originated from panes in north Pembrokeshire .
Already, archaeologists have conducted research on sites in the Preseli area south of Eglwyswrw, Garn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-Felin, and over the weekend they started digging third place close to both, on land farm Pensarn.

The research is being conducted by a team from University College London (UCL) and is being led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson, along with experts from the University of Manchester, Bournemouth and Southampton.

Work is expected to last for several weeks and the main objectives of the research is to try to establish whether there is a connection between the sites, understand the elements and transfer the neolithic stone....

Text of The Stonehenge Regulations 1997


1997 No. 2038


The Stonehenge Regulations 1997

 Made18th August 1997 
 Coming into force8th September 1997 

The Secretary of State, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by section 19(3) and (4) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979[1] and of all other powers enabling him in that behalf, hereby makes the following regulations: - 

Citation, commencement and revocation
    1. - (1) These Regulations may be cited as the Stonehenge Regulations 1997 and shall come into force on 8th September 1997.

    (2) The Stonehenge Regulations 1983[2] are hereby revoked.

    2.In these Regulations:

    "the deposited plan" means the plan entitled "Plan referred to in the Stonehenge Regulations 1997", signed by the Head of the Buildings, Monuments and Sites Division of the Department of National Heritage and deposited for inspection at the offices of the Secretary of State for National Heritage.
    "English Heritage" means the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England;
    "monument" means the ancient monument known as Stonehenge situated on Stonehenge Down near Amesbury in the county of Wiltshire and includes any part or parts of the monument;
    "site of the monument" means the land shown on the deposited plan edged in black and hatched.
Acts prohibited
    3.The following acts are prohibited:
    (a) injuring, disfiguring, removing or otherwise interfering with in any manner the monument or any notice or any other property situated on the site of the monument;

    (b) climbing on the monument;

    (c) digging up, removing or otherwise interfering with any soil, grass or plants within the site of the monument;

    (d) bringing onto, parking or leaving any vehicle on the site of the monument otherwise than in accordance with parking authorised by English Heritage;

    (e) bringing any animal onto the site of the monument without the prior consent of English Heritage or allowing any animal to remain after such consent has been withdrawn;

    (f) lighting a fire or a firework on the site of the monument;

    (g) throwing a stone or discharging a weapon or missile of any kind from, over or onto the site of the monument;

    (h) without reasonable excuse entering or being upon any part of the site of the monument to which access is at any time restricted by barrier or prohibited by notice.
Acts prohibited unless done with written consent
    4.The following acts are prohibited unless the prior consent in writing of English Heritage has been obtained:
    (a) entering or being within the site of the monument at any time when it is not open to the public;

    (b) entering the site of the monument otherwise than by the entrance authorised by English Heritage;

    (c) organising or taking part in any assembly, display, performance, representation, review, theatrical event, festival, ceremony or ritual within the site of the monument;

    (d) erecting a tent or any structure of any kind within the site of the monument;

    (e) erecting or using within the site of the monument any apparatus for the transmission, reception, reproduction or amplification of sound, speech or images by electrical or other means unless the sound emitted is audible to the user only.
Acts done by or on behalf of English Heritage or the Secretary of State
    5.An officer, servant or agent of English Heritage or the Secretary of State, acting in the performance of his duties, shall not be in contravention of regulation 3 and shall be deemed to have the prior consent in writing of English Heritage to any of the acts specified in regulation 4.

Chris Smith
Secretary of State for National Heritage

18th August 1997


(This note is not part of the Regulations)

These Regulations regulate public access to the ancient monument known as Stonehenge, near Amesbury in the County of Wiltshire.


[1] 1979 c.46.back
[2] S.I. 1983/678.back

ISBN 0 11 064841 2

The Stonehenge Regulations 1997 - The Missing Plan

Statutory Instrument 1997 No. 2038 The Stonehenge Regulations 1997 makes reference to ; "the deposited plan" means the plan entitled "Plan referred to in the Stonehenge Regulations 1997", signed by the Head of the Buildings, Monuments and Sites Division of the Department of National Heritage and deposited for inspection at the offices of the Secretary of State for National Heritage."

So I asked the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as the successor department incorporating "National Heritage", if they could inform me of the procedure to inspect the said plan as the regulations depend on being able to do so to determine the area of land covered by the regulations.

They sent a copy of the plan:

Click to enlarge 

Link to map overlain on Google's aerial photo which shows that the old A344 isn't included:
From Simon's comment below

But I replied I want to see the original, a copy has no legal standing, where is it and how can I get to inspect it.

They don't know, it is lost;  "I can confirm that the Department does not hold the original plan. You may wish to contact Historic England or English Heritage to find the information you are seeking." was the reply.

Without the plan the regulations would appear to be useless. Accused of transgressing them  a defence would be "show me the plan to prove I was within the area". The monument itself is protected under other laws anyway.

And of course the regulations have no penalty attached so are merely a civil matter anyway.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

All Cannings Superhenge Excavation 2016

At All Cannings Cross in Wiltshire there is a very shallow semicircular bank which shows up on the ground and in the Aerial Lidar. There is a hint in the latter that the bank may continue under the roads and form a more circular structure.

Natural or the palimpsest of something more interesting?

There was only one way to find out: an excavation of a trial trench.

Click to embiggen

No sign of any ditch or archaeology - a natural feature :(

Mammillated Sarsens

Russell Yeomans kindly sent me some photos of mammilated sarsens from Sidestrand and West Runton in Norfolk and a couple seen in Ipswich. I also include one that is my covert marking the resting place of my old dog George.

Mammilary;is defined as
1: of, relating to, or resembling the breasts
2: studded with breast-shaped protuberances
from the Latin mammilla breast, nipple, diminutive of mamma

UPDATE:  Rob Ixer informs me that they may be a bit too coarse to be called Mammilary and that Reniform would be a more accurate  term.

He also points out that they are probably Load Casts; "which are bulges, lumps, and lobes that can form on the bedding planes that separate the layers of sedimentary rocks. The lumps "hang down" from the upper layer into the lower layer, and typically form with fairly equal spacing. These features form during soft-sediment deformation shortly after sediment burial, before the sediments lithify. They can be created when a denser layer of sediment is deposited on top of a less-dense sediment. This arrangement is gravitationally unstable, which encourages formation of a Rayleigh-Taylor instability if the sediment becomes liquefied (for instance, by an imposed earthquake shock). Once the sediments can flow, the instability creates the "hanging" lobes and knobs of the load casts as plumes of the denser sediment descend into the less-dense layer." From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(They are in order as above, click to enlarge)

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Stonehenge Barrow Map

From  Simon Banton, the renown Stonehenge expert, writes:

"In 1812, Sir Richard Colt Hoare (henceforth RCH) published "The Ancient History of Wiltshire, Vol. 1" - a magnificent work (one of a pair - volume 2 followed later) which detailed the work he sponsored and William Cunnington supervised in the years before and after the turn of the 19th century.

Aided by Stephen and John Parker, this ensemble excavated many hundreds of burial mounds across Wiltshire. It was one of the earliest attempts at scientific archaeological recording as opposed to simple treasure hunting. Many of the finds ultimately ended up in Wiltshire Museum and the descriptions of the barrows' excavations are a valuable resource.

There is a map in Ancient Wiltshire labelled "Stonehenge and its Environs", drawn by Philip Crocker, that depicts the landscape around the monument together with the barrows that had been investigated and numbered by RCH during this work. RCH also grouped the barrows into several areas in his "Stations" and "Itineraries" in the text, but not totally consistently in all cases.

These days, we don't use RCH's barrow numbers.

Instead there are several different standards such as the Goddard/Grinsell Parish Numbers (eg Amesbury G15), the National Monuments Record Number (eg SU 14 SW 104), the Historic England Monument Number (eg 219732) or the Wiltshire & Swindon Historic Environment Record Number (eg MWI12998 SU14SW835).

All of the above refer to the same barrow - one called "Sun Barrow" - which is RCH's barrow number 164 in his Amesbury grouping.

It can be a real challenge to correlate information that uses one system with other information that uses a different system. What's more, there isn't (or wasn't) anything online that allowed you to find a barrow via any of these systems and see the reference numbers (and links to) the other systems alongside.

That sort of thing tends to frustrate someone like me so I created a Google Map backed by a Google Spreadsheet and set about matching up the data into a single reference work for the barrows shown on RCH's famous map. It took about 6 months to achieve - two days to do the coding, the rest of the time going through each of the sources carefully matching records together. Unsurprisingly, there are some errors in each of the reference sources so I sent in reports of discrepancies along the way and the custodians of those sources have been able to update the information in them to fix things.

There are still inconsistencies - it's inevitable. In the time between RCH's excavation and numbering of a barrow and Goddard and Grinsell's work in the early and mid 20th century, mechanized ploughing has obliterated many previously upstanding earthworks. Since RCH didn't have GPS or even decent OS maps to go by, determining exactly which slight rise in the ground matches which particular one of his barrows can be a huge problem.

Nonetheless, the end result is useful I hope. "