Friday 30 December 2011

Neath Barrow Mystery Solved - It's Robin Hood's Ball (Probably)

C Greenwood's map of Wiltshire dated 1820 shows"Neath Barrow" close to Robin Hood's Ball on Salisbury Plain.
This barrow doesn't show up on any other map I have to hand.

Comparing the map to a modern OS map leads me to believe it is actually the Causewayed Enclosure now known as Robin Hood's Ball and maybe an associated tumulus that it is referring to. The name was originally applied to the wood and then transfered to the enclosure.

Click on Maps to get larger versions.

Further investigation found that Neath Barrow was one of the original triangulation points for the Ordnance Survey:

The details are available in this book;

An account of the operations carried out for accomplishing a trigonometrical ... By William Mudge, Isaac Dalby, Thomas Colby, Great Britain. Ordnance Survey

Annoyingly the relevant map Plate VII isn't fully scanned - though presumably others will have a copy.

I'm not sure I understand the angles and distances figures in the attached scan

But I have mapped one place that is the stated distance (32882 feet) from the Beacon Hill Trig Point. - It is also about the right distance from Red Horn Hill, because that distance is given from Red Horn Clump which I don't know the exact position of.

There seems to be a second distance from Beacon Hill given (32869) feet, which is strange. And I am only guessing the Beacon Hill measurement is from where the Trig point was put up.

Frustratingly close to accurately pin pointing the Barrow,

View Neath Barrow? in a larger map

Robin Hood's Ball was the name given to a small circular copse of wood just to the north west of the earthworks. It is probable that over time the name came to be associated with the enclosure instead.

It all points to Neath Barrow being the original name for the enclosure. And before Colt Hoare et al dug it over the barrows on the northwest side it may well have been more impressive.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Dem bluestones | The Times

Dem bluestones | The Times: "Contrary to a recent archaeological report, the arguments for the Stonehenge glacial transport theory still stand
Sir, It is misleading to suggest that new evidence on bluestone provenance freezes out the Stonehenge glacial transport theory (Norman Hammond, “Bluestones glacier theory is now frozen out”, Dec 17). Many bluestone types at Stonehenge do not match the Pont Saeson outcrop. The arguments for glacial transport still stand: varied bluestones, many sources, and glaciers capable of removing large erratics from Pont Saeson and other areas.
Dr Olwen Williams-Thorpe
Senior Visiting Fellow, Open University, Guisborough, N Yorks"

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Bluestone Source Map (one of the sources at least)

View Larger Map

137 miles as Joe the Crow would fly to Stonehenge. Not a hard fact to check but beyond most of the journalists in their pitiable reports this week.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

CultureLab: Augmented monoliths: Stonehenge goes digital

CultureLab: Augmented monoliths: Stonehenge goes digital: "Ever wanted to stand at the centre of Stonehenge at summer solstice and appreciate the site’s beauty without the accompaniment of tourists or druids? Well, now you can. A new augmented reality app gives users a unique perspective on England’s famous standing stones.

Produced by the University of Huddersfield, UK, and developers Ribui, the Stonehenge Experience iPhone app lets users explore a virtual version of the famous site."

Monday 19 December 2011

National Museum Wales Press Release On Origin Of Bluestones

News | National Museum Wales:
New geological discovery paves the way for further insight into the transport of Stonehenge rocks

A new paper in Archaeology in Wales, produced by Dr Rob Ixer of Leicester University and Dr Richard Bevins of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales confirms, for the first time, the exact origin of some the rhyolite debitage found at Stonehenge. This work could now lead to important conclusions about how stones were transported from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge.

Over a period of nine months, Bevins and Ixer have been carefully collecting and identifying samples from rock outcrops in Pembrokeshire to try and locate the provenance of rocks that can be found at what is today, one of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites.
Their recent discovery confirms that the Stonehenge rhyolite debitage originates from a specific 70m long area namely Craig Rhos-y-felin near Pont Saeson. Using petrographical techniques, Ixer and Bevins found that 99% of these rhyolites could be matched to rocks found in this particular set of outcrops. Rhyolitic rocks at Rhos-y-felin are distinctly different from all others in South Wales, which gives almost all of Stonehenge rhyolites a provenance of just hundreds of square metres.
Yet, the story progresses. Along the Rhos-y-felin crags, the rhyolites are distinctly different on a scale of metres or tens of metres. This has enabled Bevins and Ixer to match some Stonehenge debitage samples to an even more precise locality at the extreme northeastern end of the area.
What this means is that the area is now small enough for archaeologists to excavate to try and uncover evidence for associated human activity so providing another strand of the story of how the stones from Pembrokeshire reached Stonehenge.
Dr Richard Bevins of Amgueddfa Cymru said:
“Many have asked the question over the years, how the stones got from Pembrokeshire to Stonehenge. Was it human transport? Was it due to ice transport? Thanks to geological research, we now have a specific source for the rhyolite stones from which to work and an opportunity for archaeologists to answer the question that has been widely debated. It is important now that the research continues.”
In addition the level of work carried out at Rhos-y-felin confirms that the four remaining above surface rhyolite and dacite orthostats at Stonehenge do not come from Rhos-y-felin and work is in hand to determine if their source can be identified.
Dr Rob Ixer of Leicester University added:
“Being able to provenance any archaeologically significant rock so precisely is remarkable, to do it for Stonehenge was quite unexpected and exciting. However, given continued perseverance, we are determined that we shall uncover the origins of most, if not all of the Stonehenge bluestones so allowing archaeologists to continue their speculations well into a third century.”

Date: 19 December 2011

Sunday 18 December 2011

Scientists discover source of rock used in Stonehenge's first circle - News - Archaeology - The Independent

Scientists discover source of rock used in Stonehenge's first circle - News - Archaeology - The Independent:

The work - carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales - has pinpointed the source as a 70 metre long rock outcrop called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire. It's the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge.

The discovery has re-invigorated one of academia's longest running debates - whether the smaller standing stones of Stonehenge were quarried and brought all the way there from Pembrokeshire by prehistoric humans or whether they had already been plucked out of ancient rock outcrops and carried all or part of the way to Wiltshire by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years earlier.

Archaeologists tend to subscribe to the 'human transport' theory, while some geomorphologists favour the glacial one. The debate is solely about Stonehenge's early/smaller standing stones (often known collectively as 'bluestones') - not about the larger ones (most of the so-called 'sarsens') which were incorporated into the monument several centuries later.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Bluestones theory is now frozen out | The Times

Bluestones theory is now frozen out | The Times:
Norman Hammond, Archaeology Correspondent
December 17 2011 12:01AM
The long-running debate about the origin of the Stonehenge “bluestones” and how they got to Salisbury Plain some four millennia ago has taken another turn: a precise quarry source for much of the Stonehenge rock has been pinned down to a few square metres in southwestern Wales. This supports the notion that the bluestones were taken by human agency all the way from Pembrokeshire to Wiltshire, rather than helped along their way in the Ice Age by glacier transport.
“The glacial theory is frozen out by this new evidence,” Dr Rob Ixer of Leicester University told The Times. If the stones had been transported east of the Bristol Channel by glacial action, a much wider range of sources would be expected. The pinpoint sourcing that has now been done argues strongly for human quarrying and transport of the bluestones, whatever the motivation and precise route employed.........
Three major rock types and two minor ones can be identified within the “bluestone” range using both the entire stones and waste chips known as debitage which result from trimming the slabs on site at Stonehenge. The three major groups, originally thought to be from different geographical sources, can now be shown to be from the same locale.
The area of the new find lies at Pont Saeson on the northern flank of the Preseli Mountains, long known as the general source of the bluestones, some 6.5 kilometres (four miles) from Newport in north Pembrokeshire. The discovery follows the use of zircons included in the rocks to identify an area near Pont Saeson as one likely source of Stonehenge material by Dr Ixer and his colleague Dr Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales.
“Almost all — 99.9 per cent — of the Stonehenge rhyolitic ‘debitage’ can be petrographically matched to rhyolitic rocks found within a few hundred square metres at Pont Saeson and especially to those found at Craig Rhosyfelin.
“However, it is possible in a few cases, where the petrography of these Welsh in situ rocks is so distinctive, to suggest an even finer provenance to within square metres, namely to individual outcrops,” Ixer and Bevins report in Archaeology in Wales.
The outcrop itself is some 70 metres long and has many tall, narrow slabs up to two metres (6.5 feet) high as the dominant feature, splitting off from the parent rock and reminiscent of the Stonehenge bluestones. One of the Stonehenge shafts, known as SH32e, can be matched very closely to this outcrop, and must have been quarried there, not transported by a glacier.
The dispute over natural versus human transportation for these elements of an early and important phase of Stonehenge now seems to be settled —as Ixer says, the glacial theory is out cold.
Archaeology in Wales Vol. 50 pp 21-31

The full story is available behind the paywall at The Times - or summarised by Mike Pitt here

Sunday 11 December 2011

The Unfinished Stonehenge

Wiltshire Heritage Museum Events: "LECTURE: The Stonehenge Landscape Project
2:30 pm, Saturday, 10 March, 2012

Recent Analytical survey and investigation in the World Heritage Site, by David Field."

This is a repeat of the lecture I went to yesterday - highly recommended if you can make it.

One titbit revealed is the absence of stoneholes for some of the missing sarsen stones. I'm sure we will hear much more about this in the near future so I won't steal their thunder. But if we can't find the stoneholes those sarsens weren't stolen or broken up but never erected...

Winter Solstice Sunrise alignment at Stonehenge

Winter Solstice Sunrise alignment at Stonehenge: "there is a deliberate Winter Solstice Sunrise alignment through Stonehenge, making use of a notch in Stone 58 to target a position on Coneybury Ridge where the sun rose in 2500BC."

Impressive find - I'll be there on the morning to try and see it.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Starry, starry nights and Stonehenge | The Times

Starry, starry nights and Stonehenge | The Times:
"A scheme of tilted lighting would not interfere with the view of the starry night sky and would provide much pleasure"

Sir, I am not surprised by the response (letters, Nov 28) to my letter (Nov 26) suggesting lighting Stonehenge at nightfall. The scientific camp think that this might interfere with a view of the starry night sky and ancient astronomical rituals. It is a minuscule portion of the population who are involved in something so esoteric, and no one appreciates the uniqueness of this place more than I, as someone who lives here and knows when there is a clear star-strewn sky (there are far more nights when there is not).
It is possible to tilt lighting so that it does not arc into the sky to interfere with a panoramic view of the heavens. This is also the main lorry route to the South Coast, with endless vehicle lights at night. As to the idea that one could pull off the road to gaze at the henge — there isn’t anywhere safe to pull off the A303; and can you imagine the disaster if dozens of cars tried this?
The ancient religious rituals in Stonehenge would certainly have involved torches and fires. Isn’t it time the scientific community climbs down from its astronomical ivory tower and shares a little more of the jewels of the nation with the rest of the country?
Lady Pakenham
Warminster, Wilt

Monday 28 November 2011

Falcon Circle at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo

Factsheets : Cadet Chapel: "FALCON CIRCLE
The worship area known as the Cadet Chapel - Falcon Circle came about through a request from the Air Force Academy's followers of Earth-Centered Spirituality, an umbrella of traditions that includes Wicca, Paganism and Druidism. The large stones comprising the circle were removed from the side of the hill overlooking the Academy's visitor center, where erosion threatened to collapse them onto the visitor center. The circular nature in which the stones were placed lent itself to facilitating outdoor worship services.

Following the Earth-Centered community's request, the Academy spent approximately $80,000 to upgrade the area, adding flagstones to enhance the circle's safety and a fire pit to accommodate religious services. Cameras were added to protect the site from unauthorized access.

The Falcon Circle was dedicated in an official ceremony May 3, 2011, making it the newest of the Cadet Chapel's worship areas. It is open to use by all religious communities to worship in a manner respectful of other faiths; however, in the event of scheduling conflicts, the Earth-Centered community receives precedence."

£50,000 on a stone circle - but then the stones just happened to be there already.

Stonehenge Cursus findings explanation

Shine a light on Stonehenge magic | The Times

Shine a light on Stonehenge magic | The Times (£):

Why couldn’t Stonehenge be very beautifully lit every night like the pyramids in Egypt or Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome?
Sir, It seems that of all the national treasures the most iconic and somewhat abused by bureaucratic inertia is Stonehenge. Despite a plan finally being adopted, I believe that costs for studies alone of how best to route roads, park vehicles and educate the public approaches £30 million.
Of course the plan must be thoughtfully planned, and rightfully so, and one must pay to park and walk around the stones, which is fair enough as British Heritage has costs to do the new construction and maintain it and employ staff. But why, right now — with no studies necessary — couldn’t it be very beautifully lit every night like the pyramids in Egypt or Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome; endless examples exist worldwide.
The magic of Stonehenge could be shared every evening with all who pass, many of whom can’t afford a ticket, just as it was a magical place thousands of years ago, sometimes with the Moon and clouds shining as well. With subtle lighting sunk well out of view and endless possibilities of solar energy, the monumental power of ancient man’s achievement in another age would inspire all who pass by.
Perhaps in depressing times a cocktail of cost-free magic is the very least we can expect from the guardians of the national heritage. What on earth have they waited for?
Lady Pakenham
Warminster, Wilts

(That it has been tried in the past seems not to have been noticed)

Saturday 26 November 2011

Secret history of Stonehenge revealed - The Cursus Theory

Secret history of Stonehenge revealed:

As the archaeological team from Birmingham and Vienna were using these high-tech systems to map the interior of a major prehistoric enclosure (the so-called ‘Cursus’) near Stonehenge, they discovered two great pits, one towards the enclosure’s eastern end, the other nearer its western end.

When they modelled the relationship between these newly-discovered Cursus pits and Stonehenge on their computer system, they realised that, viewed from the so-called ‘Heel Stone’ at Stonehenge, the pits were aligned with sunrise and sunset on the longest day of the year – the summer solstice (midsummer’s day).

The archaeologists then began to speculate as to what sort of ritual or ceremonial activity might have been carried out at and between the two pits. In many areas of the world, ancient religious and other ceremonies sometimes involved ceremonially processing round the perimeters of monuments. The archaeologists therefore thought it possible that the prehistoric celebrants at the Cursus might have perambulated between the two pits by processing around the perimeter of the Cursus.

Initially this was pure speculation – but then it was realized that there was, potentially a way of trying to test the idea. On midsummer’s day there are in fact three key alignments – not just sunrise and sunset, but also midday (the highest point the sun reaches in its annual cycle). For at noon the key alignment should be due south.

One way to test the ‘procession’ theory (or at least its route) was for the archaeologists to demonstrate that the midway point on that route had indeed a special relationship with Stonehenge (just as the two pits – the start and end point of the route – had). The ‘eureka moment’ came when the computer calculations revealed that the midway point (the noon point) on the route aligned directly with the centre of Stonehenge, which was precisely due south.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Stopping Up The Byways.

Inspector's Report on TRO

...recommend that the proposed Traffic Regulation Order be made, subject to modification so as to apply to the A344 only.

Monday 7 November 2011

Neath Barrow Mapped?

The original Trigonomic Survey uses Neath Barrow as one of its points.

The details are available in this book;

An account of the operations carried out for accomplishing a trigonometrical ... By William Mudge, Isaac Dalby, Thomas Colby, Great Britain. Ordnance Survey

Annoyingly the relevant map Plate VII isn't fully scanned - though presumably others will have a copy.

I'm not sure I understand the angles and distances figures in the attached scan

But I have mapped one place that is the stated distance (32882 feet) from the Beacon Hill Trig Point. - It is also about the right distance from Red Horn Hill, because that distance is given from Red Horn Clump which I don't know the exact position of.

There seems to be a second distance from Beacon Hill given (32869) feet, which is strange. And I am only guessing the Beacon Hill measurement is from where the Trig point was put up.

Frustratingly close to accurately pin pointing the Barrow,

View Neath Barrow? in a larger map


Wednesday 26 October 2011

The Track To Chirton Maggot

A sunny break on a wet afternoon so a walk up to Chirton Maggot was in order.

View Larger Map

From the A342 the track is wide and well elevated above the surrounding fields. It eventually enters quite a deep cutting as it makes its gentle way up to the top of the Plain. There is no unexpected awkward steep bits or other problems to spoil my theory.

As the most direct route from Marden to Redhorn Hill it seems the most likely route for the Sarsens on their way to Stonehenge.
(More info on the mapped route and the inclines are in posts below this.)

Saturday 22 October 2011

Neath Barrow Near Robin Hood's Ball in 1820

C Greenwood's map of Wiltshire dated 1820 shows"Neath Barrow" close to Robin Hood's Ball on Salisbury Plain.
This barrow doesn't show up on any other map I have to hand.

Comparing the map to a modern OS map leads me to believe it is actually the Causewayed Enclosure now known as Robin Hood's Ball and maybe an associated tumulus that it is referring to. The name was originally applied to the wood and then transfered to the enclosure.

Click on Maps to get larger versions.


Friday 14 October 2011

Stonehenge Sarsen Carving - Stone 57 Goddess

Is this a carving of a Breton Goddess. Atkinson wrote about this carving at length.

Stonehenge Sarsen Picture - Stone 52 Copper Nail

A nail in a stone - machine made so not that old - a surveyors mark?

Stonehenge Sarsen Photo - Stone 16 Spiral

A spiral spotted by Simon Banton - Meaning? Age?

Original Discovery - Stone 16 Spiral

Stonehenge Sarsen Pictures - The South Station Stone

OK so there is no shortage of Stonehenge pictures but here are a few oddities.

Peck marks in the South Station Stone showing aborted attempt to cut chunk off it, very similar to the well known marks on the slaughter stone.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Sarsen Route Profiles

A quick comparison of the route profiles for the Atkinson and Marden Henge routes across the Pewsey Vale.
Atkinson's route begins where it turns off the A361 above Bishop's Cannings, the Marden Henge Route on the top of Walker's Hill. Both end at the top of Redhorn Hill.
The blip in Atkinson's route in the middle is where it crosses Coate Hill.

The steepest ascent on Atkinson's route involves rising 40m in 300m whereas the Marden Henge route's steepest rise is 75m in 1000m going up Chirton Maggot, a much gentler climb.

Updated - Sarsen Route Map

The accepted route of the sarsens is based on Atkinson's 1956 Sarsen Route From His Book "Stonehenge"

I think research has shown that that route is not the most likely and a route through Marden Henge is more probable.

The extent of Cannings Marsh is one of the key features. Other factors are explored elsewhere on this blog.

This is the latest revision of the route which fits the geography best.

Click map for larger version

Update - Thanks to Simon Banton for correction on southern section

Monday 3 October 2011

First Edition OS Map of Pewsey Vale - showing pre-railway streams and tracks

Atkinson's 1956 Sarsen Route From His Book "Stonehenge"


It is now generally agreed by archaeologists and geologists that the origin of the Stonehenge sarsens must lie on the Marlborough Downs, in the area where sarsen blocks still litter the surface in many places today. In the past it has been suggested that the stones came from some other and smaller deposit of sarsen on Salisbury Plain, much closer to Stonehenge, which has since been entirely worked out. There is no evidence to support this. It is inconceivable that this hypothetical deposit should have consisted entirely of blocks of just the right size and number for the building of Stone henge, for even in the thick concentrations of boulders near Avebury examples comparable in size with even the smaller uprights at Stonehenge are very rare. Had this deposit existed, it must have contained many smaller boulders suit able for modern building, and some of these at least would now be incorporated in the houses and barns of the neighbouring villages. In fact, it is only around Avebury that sarsen is used for building at all. In the villages of the Pewsey Vale, east of Devizes, in the upper valley of the Avon and on the Plain itself, sarsen in buildings is unknown. This in itself is sufficient to disprove the notion that the Stonehenge sarsens came from anywhere nearer than the Marlborough Downs.

The method of transport to Stonehenge must certainly have been by sledge-hauling overland all the way, for there is no possible water route. The difficulties of this operation must have been enormous, for though the total distance, about twenty-four miles, is almost exactly the same as for the haulage of the bluestones the weights involved are about seven times as great, both for the heaviest stones and for the aggregate of them all. Moreover, the shortest route involves a river crossing and the negotiation of a steep escarpment of the chalk.

There is no certain evidence, of course, for the route actually followed, but an inspection of the One Inch O.S. Map, supplemented by field-work on the ground itself, sug gests one which is certainly possible, and even probable, since it is the only route which avoids excessively steep fall ing and rising slopes without deviating far from a direct line. Its practicability is evidenced by the fact that it is still followed by existing roads, which until the recent advent of the petrol engine always tended to take the line of least effort compatible with directness.

The effective starting-point was probably at Avebury. It is not to be supposed, of course, that the stones themselves originated there, for doubtless all the larger slabs in the vicinity had already been used for the building of the great circles at Avebury itself. But Avebury stands at the lowest point on the River Kennet at which exceptionally heavy sarsens could be dragged across a ford; lower down elaborate bridge-works of timber would be necessary for their passage. This then was probably the starting-point, to which selected stones were dragged from many different areas of the downs to the east and north; for we have seen that the builders of Stonehenge were hard put to it to find sufficient stones of the right size, and it is out of the question that all of them lay ready to hand in a single valley of the downs.

It is tempting, too, to think that Avebury may have served as the starting-point for other than purely practical reasons. Here, after all, was the greatest and doubtless the most renowned and revered sanctuary then existing. What could be more fitting than that the stones of the new monu ment, which was to eclipse it 'as St. Pauls doth a parish church', should ceremonially be dragged through its already ancient circles, so that their bearers could receive from the presiding arch-priest that spiritual benison and encourage ment of which their forthcoming physical exertions were soon to leave them so sorely in need?

From the fording of the Kennet just west of Avebury the route follows the line of the modern road through Beck hampton towards Devizes (A.361), a notably straight and level stretch which is an open invitation to the modern motorist (frequently and disastrously accepted) to overtax his engine. About a mile south-west of Shepherds Shore, where the road crosses the Wansdyke, a minor road leads south wards to Bishops Cannings and thence to Coate and Etchilhampton, falling and rising gently but avoiding the marshier bottom of the Vale of Pewsey. It is only by this route that one can avoid a difficult crossing of the northern escarpment of chalk that marks the edge of the Vale, which elsewhere is exceedingly steep. It need hardly be said that the difficulties maneuvering a fifty-ton stone down a slope of say, 1 in 4 are not less than those of hauling it up; in either case, such slopes were to be avoided.

The route thus described as far as Etchilhampton leads to narrowest crossing of the Vale of Pewsey itself, now marked by a portion of the modern road A.342, which itself perpetuates a much earlier trackway known as the Lydeway. running for two miles across the bottom of the Vale, significantly enough on the only line athwart the Vale which involves no crossing of a stream, the Lydeway reaches higher and firmer ground at Foxley Corner. From there the route follows approximately the line of the old Devizes-Salisbury road, now virtually closed to the public by the establishment of artillery ranges along its course. This road runs within two miles to the west of Stonehenge, and for the greater part of its course keeps to the natural ridgeway with the minimum of rise and fall. The only difficult point is where it climbs the steep southern escarpment of the Pewsey Vale at Redhorn Hill. Here the road makes a dog-leg kink to ease the climb, and doubtless the builders of Stonehenge did the same. Indeed, they had no alternative, for the escarp ment is equally steep for nearly four miles to east and west, and to make a detour to find a gentler slope would be to sacrifice the advantages of the subsequent easier going on the ridgeway.

Monday 26 September 2011

Nail in Stone 52 of Stonehenge

An old small copper nail in Stone 52 of Stonehenge, it seems to not to have been hammered hard into the plug of the hole, the hole may have a putty like plug, it certainly wasn't driven into the sarsen. I can't find any information about it, anyone know anything?

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Saturday 24 September 2011

3D Stonehenge Model Unveiled | English Heritage

3D Stonehenge Model Unveiled | English Heritage

A detailed survey of every stone that makes up Stonehenge using the latest technology, including a new scanner on loan from Z+F UK that has never before been used on a heritage project in this country, has resulted in the most accurate digital model ever produced of the world famous monument.
With resolution level as high as 0.5mm in many areas, every nook and cranny of the stones' surfaces is revealed with utmost clarity, including the lichens, Bronze Age carvings, erosion patterns and Victorian graffiti.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Mike Pitts on The Sarsen Quarries

Source: Fourth Plinth « Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper:

Hi Mike,

Read an article about your plinth stint in the online Gazette and Herald today, where it says:

“Mr Pitts said he was also hoping to lead a search for the quarries or pits from which the Avebury sarsen stones were originally excavated more than 4,000 years ago. The stones were left by the retreating glaciers but would have had to be excavated, he said.”

I thought that the sarsens were native to the area being silicified Cenozoic sediment boulders, rather than glacial erratics transported from elsewhere.

Can you comment?

July 22, 2009 at 11:23 am

Reply from Mike Pitts

Golly! Goes to show you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers. Yes, sarsens are local to the area, and as far as we know it has never been glaciated. What we hope to find (though it may be a long shot) are pits where stones had been removed in neolithic times. As they would likely have used antler picks to dig them out, there’s a good chance we’d find one or more we could radiocarbon date, offering a more reliable date for stone moving (and presumbaly erection) than we’re ever likely to get from Avebury itself. If we found signs of stone dressing, then the stone would have been for Stonehenge (the only site we know with carved stones), offering huge insight into the technology and transport issues of the site.

July 22, 2009 at 11:43 am

Sunday 11 September 2011

Stonehenge Building Climate 2

Source :
File:Holocene Temperature Variations.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The main figure shows eight records of local temperature variability on multi-centennial scales throughout the course of the Holocene, and an average of these (thick dark line). The data are for the period from 10000 BC to 2000 CE, which is from 12000 BP to the present time. The records are plotted with respect to the mid 20th century average temperature, and the global average temperature in 2004 is indicated. An inset plot compares the most recent two millennia of the average to other recent reconstructions. At the far right of this plot it is possible to observe the emergence of climate from the last glacial period of the current ice age. During the Holocene itself, there is general scientific agreement that temperatures on the average have been quite stable compared to fluctuations during the preceding glacial period. The above average curve supports this belief. However, there is a slightly warmer period in the middle which might be identified with the proposed Holocene climatic optimum. The magnitude and nature of this warm event is disputed, and it may have been largely limited to high northern latitudes.

Marden Henge Excavations

Marden Henge Excavations: "Mike Parker Pearson has recently put forward a new theory regarding the route for the sarsens from the Avebury area to Stonehenge. He believes that the stones were taken from the sarsen fields of Overton Down, down Clatford Bottom to the River Kennet where there appears to be a causeway that would assist the crossing of the river. From there they would take the easy sloping valley up to Knap Hill on the edge of the Marlborough Downs, and cross the Vale of Pewsey by way of Marden, on a direct route to Stonehenge.

It’s an attractive theory, because it neatly links three highly significant sites."

'via Blog this'

Sunday 4 September 2011



Moving the stones must have been one of the most consuming jobs for the builders. Hawkins (1965) calculated that with sixteen men per ton, and at an average weight of thirty tons (with the trilithons weighing up to fifty!), it would have taken eight-hundred men to transport the stones via a sledge and log rollers. Even more amazingly, this process would have taken at least a full seven years! Others, up to two-hundred, were probably along just to help clear the way and guide the sledge. Numerous theories abound as to how the transport actually might have taken place, but in any case, it was a colossal endeavor.

Once at the location, the stones had to be worked using tools such as mauls weighing up to sixty pounds! Because of sarsen's extremely hard composition, the tools used to shape the stones would have had to have been made of an equally hard material, such as sarsen itself. Experimenters found that a strong man bashing away at a block of sarsen with a maul can chip away just a scant six cubic inches per hour! With at least 3,000,000 cubic inches needing to be chipped from the Stonehenge sarsens, this endeavor alone could have taken a considerable amount of time. This dressing, of course, was only the coarsest of the process, with many more days spent smoothing the stone to its final shape.

My new hammerstone

Video of making it below.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Hammer Stone Making.3gp

My seven year old daughter helping to make a sarsen hammer stone or maul.
It surprised me how easy it was to fashion one using just another sarsen fragment and a block of wood. We finished it off by smoothing one side by damping the chips and dust on the wood and using it as a sanding surface.

Friday 2 September 2011

Hambleden Bucks archaeology Romans

Hambleden Bucks archaeology Romans

'Seeking Sarsens'

This part of the project is still continuing and is worthwhile research for the next part of the programme - anytime you are walking in the Chilterns, please look out for the different types of sarsens as shown below:...

Please support if you can .

Sarsen Stones of Stonehenge: How and by what route w... [Science. 1961] - PubMed - NCBI

Sarsen Stones of Stonehenge: How and by what route were the stones transported? What is the significance of their markings?
Hill PA.[Science. 1961] - PubMed - NCBI

A route via Lockeridge and the Avon Valley, involving a slide down the chalk escarpment, is postulated for the sarsen stones of Stonehenge. The transportation problem would have been greatly simplified if the stones had been relayed from point to point over snow or slush during successive winters. Markings on the stones hitherto undescribed are interpreted.

Origin and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of sarsens

Origin and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of sarsens:
Nature 281, 137 - 139 (13 September 1979); doi:10.1038/281137a0

Origin and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of sarsens


School of Geography, Mansfield Road, Oxford, UK

No detailed explanation has yet been provided for the origin of sarsens (silicified Cenozoic sediments) which are widely distributed across southern England (Fig. 1). The problem of sarsen formation is related to that of analogous terrestrial siliceous deposits recorded from every continent except Antarctica1–7. In addition sarsens are of considerable archaeological interest as they were extensively used in the construction of megalithic monuments, notably those at Avebury and Stonehenge. It has been suggested that sarsens are glacially traitsported erratics8,9, although this view has been challenged10. Their occurrence in areas in which other evidence of glacial activity is lacking, and the preservation on the surface of some sarsen stones of pockets of very weakly cemented sand, does not concur with the idea of long-distance transportation, but rather suggests local derivation from an original Cenozoic cover. Here the initial formation of sarsens is considered and recognition that they represent silcrete remnants enables broad conclusions to be drawn about their genesis and palaeoenvironmaental significance. From macromorphological, micromorphological and chemical comparisons with low latitude sileretes, primarily from southern Africa, it is concluded that sarsens represent remnants of surface and near-surface silicification developed on technically stable landsurf aces of minimal local reitet. Most sarsens seem to have formed under a semi-arid or arid climate, although there is evidence of development in a relatively humid environment for some occurrences.


1. Smale, D. J. sedim. Petrol. 43, 1077–1089 (1973).
2. Dewolf, Y. Bull. Ass. Géogr. fr. No. 424–425, 141–147 (1975).
3. Langford-Smith, T. (ed.) Silcrete in Australia (University of New England, Armidale, 1978).
4. Thiry, M. Bull. Bur. Rech. Géol. Min. Ser. 2, Sect. 2, No. 1, 19–46. (1978).
5. Dury, G. H. & Habermann, G. M. in Silcrete in Australia (ed. Landford-Smith, T.) 223–259 (University of New England, Armidale, 1978).
6. Fersmann, A. & Wlodawetz, N. C.r. Acad. Sci. l'U.S.S.R. Aug. 145–148 (1926).
7. King, L. C. The Morphology of the Earth 2nd edn (Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 1967).
8. Kellaway, G. A. Nature 233, 30–35 (1971).
9. Kellaway, G. A., Redding, J. H., Shephard-Thorn, E. R. & Destombes, J-P. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A279, 189–218 (1975).
10. Green, C. P. Nature 243, 214–216 (1973).
11. Clark, M. J., Lewin, J. & Small, R. J. Southampton Res. Ser. Geogr. 4, 3–40 (1967).
12. Kerr, M. H. Proc. Leeds phil. lit. Soc. (Scientific Sect.) 6, 328–337 (1955).
13. Summerfield, M. A. & Goudie, A. S. Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr. (in the press).
14. Cecil, C. B. & Heald, M. T. J. sedim. Petrol. 41, 582–584 (1971).
15. Heald, M. T. & Larese, R. E. J. sedim. Petrol. 44, 1269–1274 (1974).
16. Millot, G. Geology of Clays (Springer, New York, 1970).
17. Watts, S. H. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 41, 1164–1167 (1977).

Thursday 1 September 2011

South East Facing Hut Doors

Musings from a Stonehead: "we position the huts with the back wall into the breeze and the entrance facing south-east."

Not really about sarsens but an aside as I noticed much being made about Iron Age round houses having their doors facing south east. So do pig arcs. It is simply the most comfortable place considering the winds and rains to have it. Don't necessarily read into the positioning anything more.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Stonehenge by Frank Stevens

The Lithology of Stonehenge

The geologist would probably describe the Sarsen stones of Wiltshire as "masses of saccharoid sandstone," which in plain English might be rendered as boulders closely resembling gigantic lumps of coarse sugar. These huge stones are to be found, though in decreasing numbers, scattered all over the plain, and particularly along the ridges of the Marlborough Downs. The country folk, always picturesquely minded, call them "Grey Wethers," and indeed in North Wilts, it is not hard to conjure up their poetic resemblance to a flock of titanic sheep, reclining at ease upon the pasturage of the Downs. The alternative name Sarsen, has an interesting derivation. It is a corruption of the word "Saracen." But what have Saracens to do with Wiltshire? Frankly nothing. The name has come to the stones from Stonehenge itself, and is a part of that ever interesting confusion of ideas, which has been bequeathed to us by our ancestors of the Middle Ages. To them all stone circles and megalithic monuments were the work of heathens, if not of the devil himself. Heathenism and all its works was roundly condemned, whether it be Celtic, Mahomedan, or Pagan; and the condemnation was as concise and universal as the phrase "Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Heretics" of the Christian Prayer Book to-day. In the early days of the _Moyen Age_, the Saracen stood for all that was antagonistic to Christianity. Consequently the stones of Stonehenge were Saracen or heathen stones, which the Wiltshire tongue has shortened in due time to Sarsen.

This confusion of ideas may seem amusing, but it is not more absurd than the existing popular idea that Stonehenge is of Druidical origin. The stone circle of Salisbury Plain was many hundred years old when those half mythical Celtic priests first set foot in England, and the Druids of yesterday have about as much connection with Stonehenge as the Salvation Army of to-day.

The Sarsen well repays a close examination. A glance at one of these stones as it lies on the Downland, shows that it has suffered greatly from the weather. It is the core, or kernel, of a much larger block of friable sandstone, worn away on all sides by wind and weather. Moreover, these isolated blocks appear on the Downs in a country devoid of any rock save chalk.

How came they in their present position? In one sense they never came at all; for they existed on the surface of the chalk from the time it rose from the bottom of the sea to its present position. They are, in fact, the remains of a great sheet of fine sand and gravel cemented together by silex, which formerly overlay the chalk downs, the other parts of which have been dissolved and worn by wind and rain until only the harder cores or kernels survive to tell the tale. And the proof of this is not far to seek. The chalk of the London Basin is still capped by layers of such sandstone, as may be seen at Purfleet in Essex. The titanic sheep, or Grey Wethers, therefore, are merely a small residue of that widespread sandy deposit which once covered the whole of the south of England with its inhospitable sheet, and of which larger patches remain to-day in Surrey, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight. But though the hand of Time and the buffets of the weather have been heavy on the Sarsens, the hand of man has likewise borne its share. In a district like the Plain, devoid of building material other than flint, these stones have attracted the unwelcome attention of the farmers. Walls, gateposts, and paving-stones have accounted for many, while in the interest of the road-mender many a noble Grey Wether has been led to slaughter to provide macadam for the roads. Hence it is not surprising that the number of Sarsen stones to be found on the Plain where Nature placed them is becoming less and less. Indeed, the time may yet come when they will be as extinct as the Great Bustard who once strutted among them, and their memory will survive only in their accidental use in a prehistoric monument like Stonehenge.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Sarsens in Kent


Great Tottington - is a moated manor farm near Maidstone in the English county of Kent.

Upper Kennet News Landscape - The Stone Masons

Upper Kennet News Landscape - The Stone Masons: "In the mid 19th century stonemasons working in the High Wycombe area heard of the plentiful supply of sarsens in our valleys, and moved to Fyfield. Unlike the stones near High Wycombe, which had to be dug up from the clay, ours lay conveniently on the surface. From then until the 1930s sarsen became an industrial product. Its hardness made it ideal for kerbstones and tramsetts and huge quantities were bought by Swindon Corporation for the expanding town. One mason, employing six men, produced over 300 tons of cut blocks in a year. Their work was hard and their lives were short but their skill produced standardised blocks fine enough for West Overton Church (c 1850) and Marlborough College Chapel (1886). In 1939 one of the last orders was for four waggonloads of sarsen blocks to repair the walls of Windsor Castle; the original stone had come from High Wycombe."

Wherever the masons worked, the stones they rejected lie about where they were left, marked with indentations made by the pecker and cracked where chisels were inserted. The site at Totterdown above The Delling was the last to be quarried, from 1925 to 1939. It looks as though
the workmen had only just downed tools. It is the only place left where you could still go upon the stones all the way.

Each of our sarsen valleys has a different landscape quality. Lockeridge Dene is a favourite walk - our parish in miniature with a little of everything, valley, old grassland, and woodland trees. It may have supplied the Stonehenge sarsens. Piggledene is less accessible; a place to be alone in. Both are more enclosed than the Valley of Stones which has a remote, timeless quality. In Hursley Bottom the sarsens were blown up with explosives in the 1920s and crushed for road building. The craters remain and so does the concrete base of the stone crusher. A few survivors lie scattered among the trees along the ancient floodpath towards Clatford Bottom.

Source: N. E. King. The Kennet Valley Sarsen Industry. Wiltshire Archeology and Natural History Magazine
vol 65. 1970.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Wiltshire Geology Group

Wiltshire Geology Group: "Scattered over the Marlborough Downs and Kennet valley, where the Tertiary sediments originally covering the Chalk have been eroded away, are areas of sarsen stones. These lumps of hard sandstone lying at or just below the surface are silcretes, the result of localised patchy cementation of Tertiary sands. The ubiquitous presence of fossil root holes in the sarsens, indicates that this cementation occurred at the same time that the plants were growing, near the ground surface. If the sands were situated around the level of the top of the water-table, in the warm climate prevailing during the Tertiary period water would be drawn up through the sands by capillary action as evaporation occurred at the surface; this would concentrate dissolved silica in the ground water to the point where locally it crystallised out, cementing the sand grains together. Subsequent erosion of the uncemented bulk of the Tertiary beds left these hardened patches behind to form the sarsens or greywethers, which litter the landscape in these parts of the county. Many have been broken up and removed over the centuries as a convenient source of building materials, from the Stone Age onwards, but some patches remain and now have conservation protection."

Sarsen Stones and Erratics of the Wessex Coast; Geology of the Wessex Coast Field Guides

Sarsen Stones and Erratics of the Wessex Coast; Geology of the Wessex Coast Field Guides: "Sarsen stones are blocks of quartzite, often found above the Chalk, and most famous for their use at the major stones of Stonehenge (in addition to the Bluestones - dolerite). This webpage is concerned with those on the Wessex coast and adjacent area, with some inland examples also included.

Sarsens are very abundant in the Solent area, particularly from the coast at Chilling, near Fareham, southeast to Selsey Bill. They are particularly features of the low-level Pleistocene gravel terraces and the low-level raised beach of the Selsey peninsula. The Solent type of sarsens are not very large, often about a metre in length and with a thickness of about 60cm. They are usually joint-bounded and often with moulds of tree roots and small roots of shrubs. They mostly consist of medium sand of quartz, cemented by quartz.

The source area for the sarsen stones of the Solent has not been determined. Their common occurrence in southern England above the Chalk indicates a Tertiary origin."

Full text of "Geological magazine" NEW SERIES. DECADE IV. VOL. VIII. No. I.— JANUARY, 1901.

(Apologies for formatting - the article is available for £30 from
III.—History of the Sarsens

This is just my working record.

Full text of "Geological magazine": "THE


No. I.— JANUARY, 1901.

Note on the Structure of Sarsens.

By rrofessor J. W. Judd, C.B., LL.D., F.R.S., V.r.G.S., etc.

[^Introductory Note. — After the publication of my paper on the
Sarsens, or Sarsen Stones, in the Wiltshire Archifiological and
Natural History Society's Magazine, vol. xxiii (188G), pp. 122-154,
many friendly communications gave me further information on the
subject, and additional references to published facts and opinions.
From this correspondence, and my own notes made in the countr}',
I propose to utilize much that seems to be of interest. The most
important of these additions to our knowledge of the Sarsens is the
following memoir on their constitution and structure by my fi-iend
Prof. Dr. J. W. Judd, C.B., F.R.S., etc., of the Royal College of
Science, who most obligingly examined with care the microscopical
structure of manj' specimens from authenticated localities. With
his kind pex'mission this valuable communication (dated March 9th,
1888) is here printed. — T. Eupert Jones.]

THE microscopic examination of a series of thin sections, cut
from the Sarsens, shows that their minute structure varies as
strikingly as does the appearance of their fractured surfaces.
Microscopically, the Sarsens are seen to be made up of two kinds
of materials, clastic fragments of crystalline minerals and a cement
(base or matrix) of a microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline character.
The relative proportion of these two constituents varies very widely
in different cases.

The Sarsens with saccharoid fracture stand at one end of the
series. An admirable example from Camberley, North Surrey, is
seen to be almost wholly made up of sand grains, with very little in
the way of cement visible. Much of the cementing material in this
rock is ferruginous, and the rock is more incoherent than is the case
with most Sarsens.

At the other end of the series stand the Sai'sens exhibiting
a fracture resembling that of some cherts. Under the microscope
the greater part of their mass is seen to be made up of excessively
minute and imperfectly developed quartz, microlites, and these


2 Professor J. W. Judd — Structure of Sarsens.

occasionally exhibit a tendency to the spherulitic arrangement.
A beautiful example of this kind of Sarsen is one from Poxwell
Eing, near Dorchester. In this case the original sand grains seem
to have almost wholly disappeared, and an aggregate of grains of
secondary quartz has been formed, which crystallize out freely
on the sides of cavities. In parts, the section shows admirable
spherulitic structure, and the iron-oxides have separated into small
globular masses. The appearances exhibited, are strikingly like
those of some flints with highly crystalline structure.

All the other sections examined show the detrital crystalline
particles enveloped in more or less of the fine-grained secondary
matrix. The detrital grains consist mainly of quartz. By far the
greater part of these quartz grains exhibit the bands of liquid
cavities so characteristic of the quartz of granites and gneisses ;
corroded quartz grains with glass or stone cavities, evidently derived
from quartz-felsites, occur, but are much less rare, as are also the
polysynthetic grains, some of which may have been derived from
schistose rocks. With the quartz grains are a few unmistakable
particles of flint, but these are never numerous. Felspars and other
minerals are usually rare. Sometimes the grains appear to be well
rounded, and at other times they seem perfectly angular; but it is
probable that in all cases a considerable amount of corrosion of the
surfaces of the grains has taken place. Only in one or two doubtful
cases have I seen what could be taken as a deposition of secondary
silica upon, and in optical continuity with, the detrital quartz.

In a specimen from the valley of the Kennet (Enborne Lodge
gravel-pit) we have perfectly angular quartz grains embedded in
a nearly compact cement — one which can be resolved only under
very high microscopic power.

A very remarkable variety of Sarsen is one from Staple-Fitzpaine,
about 10 miles west of Taunton. In this rock the grains are much
larger than in any other Sarsen that I have examined ; they are
markedly angular, and though quartz grains form a majority of the
whole, yet felspars and other minerals occur much more usually
than in the other specimens examined. If this should be found
to be the rule with Sarsens from the most westerly localities, it
would indicate that the granitic and metamorphic rocks which
yielded the materials of which they are composed lay to the west
of the London Basin.

[In a subsequent letter (February 27th, 1S89) Professor Judd
states that this " specimen from Staple-Fitzpaine has a fragment of
whitened flint in it. The microscopic characters of which are
unmistakably those of a silicified Chalk-mud full of fragments of

The cement of the flint-conglomerate of Hertfordshire consists of
quartz grains, with a few grains of flint, embedded in a crypto-
crystalline siliceous groundmass. There is no very striking
resemblance between the cement of this conglomerate and that of
any of the Sarsens which I have examined.
III. — History of the Sarsens.

By Professor T. Rupert Jones, F.R.S., F.G.S., etc.

Additional Notes. — These further references and fuller quotations
are here given with the view of making the History of the Sarsens,
or Sarsen Stones, more complete and more easily available,
especially by indicating the chronological succession of observed-
facts and published opinions.

§ 1. Origin and Constitution of the Stones called ' Sarsens.'

§ 2. Fossils in Sarsens.

I 3. Localities. I. In the Counties north of the Thames : (1) Northamptonshirep.
(2) Suffolk, (3) Essex, (4) Hertfordshire, (5) Buckinghamshire, (6) Oxford-
shire, (7) Middlesex. II. In the Counties south of the Thames : (8) Kent,
(9) Surrey, (10) Hampshire, (U) Berkshire, (12) Wiltshire, (13) Dorset.
(14) Somerset, (15) Devon.

§ 4. Bibliographic List.

§ 1. Origin and Constitution of Saksens.

(See also Part i in Wilts Mag., 1886, p. 126.)

1819. G. B. Greenough, in his " Critical Examination of the
First Principles of Geology," p. 112, says that the Grey weather
Stones (' Grey wether sandstone,' etc., p. 293), scattered over the
southern counties of England, have been evidently derived frona
the destruction of a rock which once lay over the Chalk.

1871. In the Transactions of the Newbury District Field Club,
vol. i, p. 99, Sarsens are referred to as "indurated blocks of sand-
stones and conglomerates."

1882 and 1885. Sir Archibald Geikie, treating of siliceous
cements in sandstones, writes, "where the component particles are

^ Packard, " Carboniferous Xiphosurous Fauna of JYorth America": Mem. Nat..
Acad. Sci. Washington, vol. iii (1886), p. 150.


Professor T. Rupert Jones — History of Sarsens. 55

bound together by a flinty substance, as in the exposed blocks o{
Eocene sandstone known as ' Grey-weathers ' in Wiltshire, and
which occurs also [Landenian, sandstone] over the north of Franca
towards the Ardennes" ('-Textbook," 2nd ed., 1885, p. 162).

In a letter, Sir Archibald has obligingly stated that the first and
best account on which the reference to the above was b ised is by
Dr. C. Barrois, Ann. Soc. Geol. du Nord, vol. vi (1878-9), p. 8GG.
See also his short paper in the Assoc. Fran^aise, 1879, p. 6G6,
Gosselet quotes Barrois in his gi'eat work " L'Ardenne," 1888, p. 829.
Further references are also given by these two authors.

188o. The Rev. A. Irving, taking it for granted that a large river
in Eocene times flowed from a region of Palceozoic rocks in the west,
in the direction of the Thames Valley to the east, said that the detritus
would be quartzose and feli^pathic ; the felspars would ultimately be
decomposed by the agency of carbonic acid, and gehitinous liyilnted
silica would be produced. (Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. viii, pp. 150, 157.)

1887. The Rev. A. Irving, in a letter dated March 6th, LS87,
writes : — " You have overlooked one point which I have tried to bring
out in some relief — the fact that the surface acquires a poicelhiuous
texture, not duo to cementation by iron (for from the sup^rtioial
layer tlie iron is entirely leached out), but to an actual change of the
material by a solution-process. I suggesteil (three or four years
ago) C 0^ as the chief assent ; but later work has shown me that the
organic acids contained in pea It/ water have played a far more
potent part in this sub-metamorphic change."

1888. In the Geological Magazine, Dec. Ill, Vol. V,
Dr. T. G. Bonney states that the Sarsens of the Tertiaries are of
concretionary origin : " In the Sarsen Stones, and with matrix of
the Hertfordshire Pud<1ingstones, tliei e is chalcedonic silica converting
sandstone into quartzite" (pp. 298-300).

1888. J. Prestwich: "Geology," etc., vol. ix, p. 342. "These
sands [of the Woolwich and Reading Series] also occasionally
contain concreted blocks in irregular local beds of sandstone,
sometimes with very liard siliceous cement." Footnote at p 342 :
" Mr. Whitaker and Prof. Rupert Jones think that in Berkshire and
Wiltshire they [the Sarsens] are more frequently derived fiom the
Bagshot Sands." The ' Puildingstone ' of Bucks and Herts is here
referred to the Reading Bethat Sarsens occur in the Bagshot Sands of Frimle}' and Chobham.

N.B. — Concretionary action has produced in many Sarsens
mammillations on a large scale, which show on some surfaces
irregular, coalescent, smooth swellings, with shallow, valley-liUo
slofjcs and depressions, like those on the so-called ' bowel-stones '
of the Lower Greensand near Aylesbury. H. B. Woodward's
"Geology of England and Wales," 2nd ed. (1887), p. 377. Such
mammillated Sarsens occur in Suffolk, Wiltshire, and elsewhere.

N.B. — The convexity of the lower face of a Sarsen l}'ing in its
original sand-bed is due to the concretionary formation of tiie stone.

1901. J. W. Judd's "Note on the Structure of Sarsens"
(Gkol. Mag., January, 1901, pp. 1, 2) gives definite descriptions

SS Professor T. Rupert Jones — History of Sarsens.

bf the intimate constitution of many Sarsens from authenticated

N.B. — Besides the Tei'tiary sandstones, other and older white
sandstones have yielded large and small blocks, now on the surface
or in superficial deposits ; for instance, Upper and Lower Greensand,
Ijiassic sands, Millstone Grit, etc.

§ 2. Fossils.
(Refer also to pp. 142-147 of Part i in Wilts Mag., 1886.)
1871. Professor John Phillips, in his " Geology of Oxford," 1871,
p. 447, states : — " I have never found shells in any of these stones
lying in their native beds, and have some scruple in mentioning that
they do occur in a layer in one of the blocks at Stonehenge. But,
as 1 did not choose by chiselling that monumental stone to attract
attention to it, probably it may for many years to come escape all
injury except that which it must suffer from the strokes of time."

1878. In the churchyard of Sandhurst, a large Sarsen perforated
with pipe-like holes lies at the foot of the old yew-tree there.
(T. E. J., Trans. Newbury Distr. F. Club, vol. ii, p. 249.)

1887. C. 0. King suggested that in the Avebury district the
Sarsens were more particularly perforated by rootlets, and that, if so,
the shoals or sandbanks formerly bearing the trees were better
conditioned for the vegetation than other parts of the formation.

1888. J. Prestwich : " Geology," etc., vol. ii, p. 344. The
indications in the Sarsens of the former presence of rootlets, possibly
of Palms, are here mentioned.

1888. The same kind of fossil tubular marks in Sarsens may be
seen in some blocks on the side of the Newbury-Hermitage road, or
Long Lane, west of Coldash Common.

1897. Eootlet-holes, mostly vertical, occur in a Sarsen in a brick-
field near Watford, Herts. — C. D. Sherborn.

N.B. — The perforations due to rootlets have been widened on the
exposed surfaces of the stones by water-action and blown sand, so as
to leave the surface variously pit-marked. — T. R. J.

N.B. — Analogous pipe-like i-emains of rootlets occur as long,
small, vertical holes, in the Hastings sand-rock, East Cliff, Hastings
{Geologist, vol. v, 1862, pp. 135, 136, fig. 9; and Geol. Mag.,
1875, p. 589) ; in the Triassic (?) Sandstone of South Sweden ; and
in some of the estuarine, Jurassic shales of Yorkshire, near Whitby
(A. C. Seward) and near Scarborough. — T. E. J.

§ 3. Localities.

L (1) Northamptonshire. — 1896. Mr. Edwin Sloper observed in
a pit at the Northampton Brickworks at Blisworth a Sarsen that
had evidently fallen from the base of the Drift overlying the Lias
claj' there. This Sarsen was to be cared for by being placed in the
gardens of the Hotel at Blisworth. It consists of a white sandstone
with siliceous cement, and with filamentous cavities, which are
faintly stained with limonite.

(2) Suffolk. — 1889. Sarsens are abundant in the neighbourhood
of Nayland, at corners of cross-roads and elsewhere. Fine-grained


Professor T. Rupert Jones — Hidory of Sarsens. 57

•saccharoldal, ami stained. Many with large and small tubular holes,
some of which are split open and form furrows on the surfaces, often
due to old natural splitting.

1889. Hartest Green, Suffolk. A large brownish Sarsen (5 ft. 8 ins.
X 5 ft. 2 ins. X 3 ft. 6 ins.), much rounded (almost like a boulder),
fine-grained and whitish inside, where wounded bj' blows of stones.
Much pitted naturally on the outside. Flattened at the top, and
worn smooth by boys' play. It was taken years ago out of a field
now occupied by Mr. Griggs, and recpiired eight horses to drag it.
It is stated in a letter from a resident there that " it measures 12 feet
round (probably touching the ground for 6 feet of its length), and
about 4 feet across, weighing 5 of 6 tons." It is not alluded to
as a boulder by the Committee on Boulders, etc. (British Association).

1889. At Newton Green there is a large Sarsen stone (4| X
•3x2 feet) by the side of the pond next to the " Saracen's Head "
Inn, which shows on one side a ' bowelly ' surface, and the other
«ides split flat.

1889. One stone (3 feet long) with bowelly surface, and with
tubules, is at Frost Farm, Stoke, near Nayland. Near Nayland, at
the corner of cross-road from Bures to Colchester, there is a Sarsen
7ft. Gin. long, roughly oval in outline. By the side of the high
road near the Popsey bridge, a little east of tlie Anchor bi'idge. Nay-
land, a Sarsen standing on the bank (3 X 1^ feet) shows a natural
surface with a large hole, also a boldly mammillated surface
(bowelly). Its upper end and sides are split flat; lower end buried.

1889. In a letter dated Ipswich, September 12th, 1889, the late
Dr. J. E.Taylor obligingly informed me, with regard to some Sarsen
stones found at Ipswich, that " the Reading stone-bed specimen [not
a Sarsen] is highly calcareous, but I have found no traces of
Foraminit'era in it. The mammillated stone is purely siliceous. . .
.. . The siliceous stones are abundant hereabouts ; the others not
so. I got them both [the stones referred to] during the excavation
of the deep sewers in one of tlie streets of this town."

(3) Ussex.—lSdQ. T. V. Holmes : Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. xiv,
p. 190. A large Sarsen is here mentioned that has been removed
from the Glacial Gravel at Writtle Wick, near Chelmsford. A note
on the possible origin of the word Sarsen is also given.

1896. A. E. Salter: Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. xiv, p. 394. In the
Epping Forest gravel A. E. Salter noticed " Sandstones and Sarsens,
both large, various, and plentiful. At Epping Forest I saw three,
measuring 9 in. by 5 in., 12 in. by 6 in., and 20 in, by 5 in.
respectively." In the high - level Glacial Gravel at Witherthorn,
four miles east of Ongar, "large Sarsens (2 ft. by 1^ ft.) " (p. 395),
At Woodton, in the Yare Valley, "a block of Hertfordshire Pudding-
•stone was found " (p. 399),

(4) Hertfordshire. — 18d7 and 1899. The Eev. Alex. Irving
describes both Sarsens and Herts Pmldingstones as common in the
^tort Valley (Herts and Essex). He refers both to the Bagshot
Series, the latter particularly to the Pebhle-beds ; and he states that
both rocks are agglutinated by the same kind of siliceous cement

58 Professor T. Rupert Jones — History of Sarscns.

(Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. xv, pp. 196 and 236). He duly mentions
that Mr. Whitaker regards the Hertfordshire Pudding-stone of the
neighbourhood under notice as having, in part at least, been con-
solidated pebble-beds of the Woolwich and Reading Series, like
those at Addington, near Croydon. See also Mr. Whitaker's Address-
to the Herts Nat. Hist. Soc., Proc., vol. x, pt. 4 (September, 1899),
p. 116.

(5) BucTcinghamsJiire. — 1890. A row of coarse, gravelly Sarsens
lies along the side of the road up to the church at Badenham. They
were placed there by the Eector, who said that such stone underlies
the Rectory house and lawn cl()s>e by ; and some blocks of it were
still lying about there. In the cliurch tower, up along the re-entrant
angles of the buttresses and tower, numerous ordinary fine-grained
Sarsens are built in with the flint-work. Professor Prestwich said,
June 21st, 1890, that the coarse-grained Sarsens at Bradenham cam©
from the base of the Tertiaries.

In Buckinghamshire Sarsens are known as 'Wycombe stones,' and
in the Bagshot district as ' Heath stones.'

(6) Oxfordshire. — 1871. Professor J. Phillips regarded the
Sarsen stones as concretionary portions of extensive sand-beds once
overlying the district with its previously excavated Chalk valleys.
The loose sands were carried away by denudation, and the solid
portions suffered displacement. Some containing flint pebbles and'
fragments lie on the north side of the Wiltshire downs. Some larg&
Sarsens are found in the Drift, for instance at Long Wittenham,
near Abingdon. See his " Geology of Oxford and the Valley of the
Thames," 1871, pp. 447 and 462.

(7) Middlesex. — 1891. Horace B. Woodward, in the Geol. Mag.^
Dec. Ill, Vol. VIII, pp. 119-121, succinctly described a very large
Grey wether, of irregularly quadrangular form, that was found
lying in the London Clay, at the bottom of the Thames
Valley Gravel, at Moscow Road, Bayswater, in enlarging the
cellarage of the '* King's Head." It was 9 ft. 6 ins. long, and at
least 2 ft, 8 ins. thick. Mr. H. B. Woodward remarks that Sarsen*
have been found in many places at the same horizon in the base
of the Thames Valley Gravel — at the Law Courts in the Strand,.
and near Kew Bridge ; at Ealing in the Brent Valley ; at II ford, and
at Grays ; but not usually of large size nor common. He notes
also that Sarsens and Hertfordshire Puddingstone occur in the
Brickearth in Buckinghamshire, derived in Glacial times from the
wreck of Woolwich Beds and Bagshot Sands. The Thames Valley
got its gravel mainly from the Glacial Drift. The Bayswater Sarseu
is six miles distant from nearest known Glacial Drift ; and, he says,.
*' it is quite possible that this particular block may have been
derived directly from an outlier of Bagshot Sands, or it may hav©
been left as a relic of Preglacial denudation near the spot where it
has now been found."

1895. At the Grove, Stanmore (the residence of Mrs. Brightwen),.
large Sarsens have been collected from the neighbourhood and made
into a grotto. Que slab measures about 6 X 3 X 2 feet; another^

Miss M. S. Johnston — Geological Notes on Central France. 59>

about 6x6x2 feet. The surfaces of these two large slabs bave
been deeply scored by ruiiuing water, and pierced in all directions
by rootlet and other holes. — C. D. S. -•

1896. In the Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. xiv, p. 158, Mr. Alien
Brown states that " a large tabular water- worn Sarsen, and a portion
of it broken off in Quaternary times," were found in the gravel at
Hanwell ; and that another Sarsen occurred at the base of the
gravel at the back of Hanwell Station.

1900. In " The Pits," old gravel workings, an allotment, now-
wooded, belonging to William Sherborn, Esq., and formerly part of
Bedford Common, Middlesex, there is a large Sarsen, measuring
about 5x5x2 feet, from one end of which a block about a foot
thick was removed. — C. D. S.

1900. In front of the roadside inn (the " GrifEn ") at Totteridga
or Whetstone, near Highgate, stands a short thick Sarsen, abuut
25 inches high above ground, and 20 inches broad at top and
18 inches below. It is locally said to be as large again below th©
surface ; and to have been used as a ' whetstone ' for their weapons
by the soldiers going to the Battle of Barnet (1471). — A. 0. Brown.

1900. Horace B. Woodward describes a Greywether from the
Gravel of South Kensington, in the Geol. Mag., December, 1900^
p. 543 (with figure). It measures 3 ft. 10 ins. X 3 ft. 3 ins. X 2 ft.,
and is in many respects analogous to the specimen from Bayswater
described above. A smaller one has just been found on the same
spot (January 23, 1901).

Professor T. Rupert Jones — Hidory of Sarsens. 115

V. — History op the Sarsens.

By Professor T. Rupert Jones, F.R.S., F.G.S., etc.

{f!o)icli(dedfromp. 59.)

II. (8) iTeni.— 1862. Mr. W. H. Bensted, in the Geologist, vol. v
(1862), pp. 449, 450, states : " The Druid Sandstone, of which
Kit's Coty House, Stonehenge, and many other Druidical remains are
composed, is found scattered in great blocks over the surface of the
Chalk Hills, or buried superficially in beds of clay retained in the
hollows on the summits of the escarpments." These stones, he
added, are the same as the Grey wethers of Berks and Wilts ; and
are occasionally pebbly, like the Hertfordshire Puddingstones.

1872. In Fergusson's "Eude Stone Monuments," 1872, pp. 116-
120, some of the best specimens of Sarsens that remain as relics
of prehistoric monuments in Kent are noticed, especially those near
Aylesford, on the Medway.

1894. Thomas Wright, in his "Wanderings of an Antiquary,
chiefly in the track of the Romans in Britain," 1894, pp. 17(5-178,
describes in detail some large circular pits that have been filled
with flints and capped with broad Sarsens, on Aylesford Common ;
these, he thought, were probably sepulchral, and may have had
a chamber opening out of the side at the bottom.

1900. Some small Sarsens from the gravel of the Darent at
Shoreham, in Kent, show many perforations of rootlets. — E.. A. B.

(9) Surrey.— 1'&14:. T. Webster: Trans. Geol. Soc, vol. ii,
pp. 224, 225. At Pirbright, Surrey, loose blocks of stone similar to
what have been called Grey wethers. Many loose masses of this rock
lie scattered on the surface of the Chalk country, particularly in
Berkshire and Wiltshire. Stonehenge chiefly composed of it, and
found on the spot. No doubt close resemblance to the siliceous
cement of the Hertfordshire Puddingstone.

1847. J. Prestwich. The position of the Sarsen Stones in the
Bagshot Sands : Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. iii, p. 382. In the
Lower Bagshot Sands, " a few concretionary masses of saccharine
sandstone, which are more compact and harder than those in the
Upper Sands," and by no iiieans so abundant. " Sandstone
concretions at o " in the diagram, fig. 3, of Frimley Kidge, in the
UiDper Sands, at p. 382.

1876. The Sarsens in the artificially picturesque rockery of the
waterfall at the east end of Virginia Water are said to have been
brought from the neighbouring heath ; and those of the adjoining
cavern or grotto from a cromlech there. Murray's " Handbook of
Surrey," 2nd ed., p. 137.

1895. A Sarsen-stone footbridge over a streamlet at Frimley
Green, Surrey, carries the footpath from the fields on one side of the
stream that runs down a lane, to the path along the other side of
the little stream, which runs beside the lane from Frimley Green,
and across some fields to the border of Surrey and Hants near the
Farnborough Station. The length of the l)ridge-stone is 4^^ or
5 feet; the width is about 21 feet equally all along; thickness

116 Professor T. Ruperf Jones — History of Sarsens.

varies from 6 to 9 inches. The stones supporting the bridge and
bank are laid regularly ; they are all Sarsens, and others lie about
irregularly. One lies near the fence just beyond the path on the
further side of the bridge. — C. T. E. Jones.

1898. H. W. Monckton, Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. liv,
pp. 185-193, treating of some gravels in the Bagshot district, notes
that Sarsens occur at the base of these gravels, which are of the
Glacial Period, and were probably of fluviatile origin. Sarsens
with rootlet marks occur at Easthampstead. He doubts if any
Sarsens occur in the Upper Bagshots, and supposes that probably
most were derived from the Woolwich and Eeading Sands. All the
Sarsens must have been water- worn, or weather-worn before thej"^
were left in the gravel.

N.B. — At Camberley, in North Surrey, a Sarsen having a partial
polish on one of its sides was noticed, and the polish is ascribed to
the contact and rubbing of the dried stems of grasses and other
plants (with siliceous tissue) moved by the wind. — T, E. J,

In Buckinghamshire Mr. Upfield Green, F.G.S., has observed both
pebbles and prominences on pudding stones, smoothed and' polished,
on the sides of water holes, in the Brickearth near Great Missenden.

1900. Sarsen at Ballard's Farm, Croydon, a white saccharoidal
sandstone with siliceous cement. Dr. G. J. Hinde has kindly given
me the following notes on this large typical Sarsen near Croydon,
which is visited by geological classes from London. Its dimensions
are: length 4 ft. 10 ins. ; width at one end 2 ft. 9 ins., at the other
2 feet ; thickness at one end 1 ft. 8 ins., at the other 11 inches, and at
another place 14 inches. It lies in a grass field on Ballard's Farm,
on the south side of the bridle-path leading from Ballard's Lodge to
the Addington Hills ; and near to the outcrop of the sand-and-
pebble beds of the Woolwich and Eeading Series, of which indeed
it is probably a concreted portion, like the similar blocks in the
Caterham Valley.

(10) Hampshire.— 18Q2. Captain H. Blundell (Staff College)
noticed a large Sarsen in a ploughed field, about 4 miles from
Winchester and 1 mile from Martyr Westley Eectory. It is 12 feet
long, 10 broad, and 8 deep, " and bears a strong polish on a great
part of one side," glaciated or polished by the friction of siliciferous
stems of wheat. " The other side is hollowed out apparenth^
by water." ^

1898. Mr. A. E. Salter has seen a Sarsen in the gravel at Lee-on-
the-Solent (Stubbington) : Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. liv, p. 194.

(11) BerTcshire. — 1787. Daines Barrington made some remarks
on the Greywethers in Berkshire {Archoeologia, iii, p. 442).

1813. In W. Mavor's " Eeport on the Agriculture of Berkshire,"
1813, at pp. 34, 35. The Sarsen Stones, or Greywethers as the
country people call them, are irregularly scattered over the Berk-
shire and Wiltshire Downs. They are pretty numerous in a valley
near Ashdown Park and on the road from thence to Lambourn.

1 See also Lieut. -Col. Nicolls on '* Sarseus," Southampton, 1866: Geol. Mag.,.
Vol. Ill, pp. 296-298, PL XIII.

Professor T. Rupert Jonea — Hkfory of Sarmis. 117

1854. T. Eupert Jones, in a lecture on the Geology of Newbury,
treated of the occurrence of "the great blocks of Druiilstone,
■Grey wethers, or Sarsen-stones as the onhj remaining wreck of the
Lower Tertiaries of this area" ; and further broken up in the gravel
of the vicinity.

1869. J. Adams, in a lecture on the Geology of Newbury
(newspaper, December, 1869), referred to a traditional trace of an
ancient cromlech near Hangmanstone, for people say that there
was a cave made of large stones, but it was pulled to pieces by
the farmer.

1869. The Sarsens of Berkshire now existing as relics of pre-
historic monuments, especially in Wayland Smith's Cave, and the
groups in Ashdown Park, are the subject of a paper by Mr. A. L.
Lewis in the Trans. Internat. Congress of Prehistoric Archseol. at
Norwich, 1869, pp. 37-46. See also Fergusson's '• Rude Stone
Monuments," 1872, pp. 121, etc.

1887. Mr. Walter Money, F.S.A., referring to Sarsen Stones
in letters, notes that a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for
1760 mentions that two Roman milliaria or milestones were to be
seen near Aldworth ; and this statement is confirmed by Hearne,
Rows Mores, and other authors. " These milliaria are now to be
seen" (says the writer in the Gent. Mag.) "between Streteley
and Alder, one of which lies a mile from Streteley, and by countrj'
people is supposed to be placed by the Giants (as they call them) in
Alder [Aldworth] Church." He refers to the monumental effigies of
the De la Beche family. A few years ago I investigated this subject
for the late Mr. Thompson Watkin, of Liverpool, and found that one
of these milliaria stood, not so many years ago, between Westridge
Farm (two miles from Streatley) and Aldworth, in a bank, and
that it was a large Sarsen Stone ; and another I heard of as being
seen in Kiddington Bottom, one mile west of Streatley. One of
these, I learned, had been broken up for road-metal, and the other
was said to have been taken away by a gentleman at Wallingford
to be placed on his lawn.

Another statement is that many years ago the stone was taken
from its original position by the side of the Roman via from
Westridge to Streatley, and removed to a more convenient spot
about a quarter of a mile distant, where probably it still remains.
This stone, of Kisrantic size, was removed by the occupier of the
farm at Westridge with a team of eight horses.

There is still a very large Sarsen Stone by the side of the Roman
way from Newbury to Streatley, between Ilainpstead Norris and
Aldworth, which was probably used as a milliarium. It is curious
that in Brittany and other places on the Continent, as well as m
England, where prehistoric stone structures are found, that^there
are stories of the imprints of giants' hands or feet, as the Friar's
Heel at Stonehenge ; and there is a story told at Aldworth at
the present day, that one of these milliaria (that in Ki.ldington
Bottom), between Aldworth and Streatley, had been thrown hitlior
by one of the Aldworth giants, and that the print of the giant s

118 Professor T. Rupert Jones — History of Sarsens.

.hand, made when he grasped the stone, may yet be distinctly
seen. This corroborates the writer of the account in the Gent. Mag»
of 1760.

Last year, on going over the Lambourn Downs, I was struck by
seeing a huge Sarsen Stone, evidently roughly squared, about 5 feet
out of the ground, by the side of the road. It has every appearance
of a milestone of the last century ; and on examining its face next
to the road, I found that a flat face or panel had been cut as if to
receive a plate or letters ; but neither Mr. Barnes, who was with
me, nor myself could trace any letters at all. There is little doubt
that this is a Eoman milestone, as this ancient road leads direct to
TJffington Castle and White-horse Hill. This stone is called
' Hangman's Stone,' the same story being told about it as of the
Haugmanstone near Chaddleworth, and about similar stones else-
where in England. The stone (4' 6" long, V wide, and 1' 6" high
at each end) in Hangmanstone Lane is lying down, but the Lambourn
stone is vertical as with ordinary milestones. It is not known as
a boundary stone.

There are a great number of Sarsen Stones in the neighbourhood
of Ashbury, at the western extremity of Berks, on the northern
slope of the Downs, where they enter this county from Wiltshire ;
and it is singular that hamlets in this parish have the names of
Id-stone, Od-stone, and King - stone Winslow, and just beyond is
the parish of Bishop-stone (Wilts). Possibly the boundaries of
these places were indicated by stones, presumably Sarsens, from
their being so abundant at hand.

At Lambourn the boundary wall of the churchyard is built of
Sarsens ; some of them are 5 feet in height. Others are used as
stepping-stones and for margins in the Bourn at Upper Lambourn.

Large Sarsens are still visible close to some old churches, as at
Compton Beauchamp, East Shefford, and Merlstone, a tithing of
Bucklebury ; and they may be remains of material accumulated
for pagan temples, at places now occupied by Christian churches.

" There was, and probably is, a row or avenue of Sarsen Stones
in Whiteknights Park, Eeading, leading to the Wilderness, which
were said to have been supplied by the Kennet Eiver Navigation,
in early times, from the neighbourhood of Hungerford and
Marlborough."— W. M.

1887. J. E. Hedges. There are many Sarsen Stones collected
by Mr. Hedges for grotto-work at Wallingford Castle. Some are
perforated by rootlet marks.

1887. Numei'ous Sarsens, small and of irregular shape (probabl}'
from the gravel in the neighbourhood), are arranged around a flower-
bed at Theale Eailway Station. — T. E. J.

Dr. Silas Palmer noted several large Sarsens observable at Hill
Green, about 1 mile west of Leckhampstead Street, which is 6 miles
nearly north of Winterbourne, 1 mile south-west of Peasemore,
and about 2 miles north-east of Poughley in Welford Wood, and
2 miles north-east of the Hangmanstone in Hangmanstone Lane.
These are cared for by Mr. Harold Peake, of Westbrook House,.


Professor T. Rupert Jones — Bistort/ of Sarsens. 119

Boxford ; and Mr. Walter Money regards tliem as probablj^ remnants
of a chambered Long Room.

1887. In 1887 a buried or subterranean group of large Sarsens
was discovered by Mr. liobert Walker at Middle Hole, a quarter
of a mile north-west of Middle Farm,' about 2 miles north of
Lambourn. Mr. F. J. Bennett (of the Geological Survey) gives the
following description in his letters : —

A large leaning or nearly prostrate stone at the top of the group
of stones had probably once been vertical, but had fallen down.
The stones had been placed in a round pit-like hole, extending at
least 10 feet north and south of the central stone (once upright).

A square excavation, more than 20 feet deep, was made, and some
hundred Sarsens were taken out, weighing from a quarter to six
hundredweight each ; and there were left in the hole some stones of
from 3 to 7 tons weight. In the hole the stones were iu three
irregular piles. The central heap rested on a very large flat stone ;
the others were at the two sides. The intervals were occupied by
a stiff reddish clay with pottery, burnt and broken bones, wood-
ashes, and burnt earth. There is a large flat stone lying in the
valley not far off.

This north and south valley, or rather combe, in which this
accumulation of Sarsens was found, has been cut down by
denudation through the ' Chalk-rock ' and the ' Melbourne Rock,'
both recognizable in the side-slopes, and is floored with ' chalk-

This does not appear to be one of the deep, well-like pits, lined
with stones, tiles, clay, or wood, excavated for the purpose of
marking boundaries in Roman times. It may have been sepulchral ;
for Thomas Wright, in his "Wanderings of an Antiquary, chiefly iu
the track of the Romans in Britain," 1894, pp. 176-178, describes
in detail some large circular pits that have been filled with flints,
and capped with broad Sarsens, on Aylesford Common ; these, he
thought, were probably sepulchral, and may have had a chamber
opening out of the side at the bottom. (See ante, p. 115.)

1892. "A trail of large blocks of sarseustone is prolonged by
Hagbourne village to a line about 100 feet lower, on to the outcrop
of the Upper Greensand. Other slopes along these Downs exhibit
similar trails of sarseustone." (Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, xlviii,
1892, p. 313.)

At Newbury, Sarsens are frequent in the ' pitched ' crossings of
pavements at openings of yards; some are paved with squared setts.
Worn, subangular, small Sarsens are plentiful in the gravel-pit
south of the town. — T. R. J.

189G. W. Whitaker refers to the Sarsens at Streatley : 1 roc.
Geol. Assoc, vol. xiv, p. 175.

(12) Wiltshire.— 17(^7. Sir Joseph Banks, in his "Journal ot an
Excursion to Eastbury and Bristol, etc., in May and June, 17G<
(reproduced with notes by S. G. Perceval in the rroceedings ot

1 Eeferred to at p. 149 of pt. i. 1SS6.

120 Professor T. Rupert Jones — History of Sarseiis.

the Bristol Naturalists' Society, new series, vol. ix, pt. i, 1898),
refers to the Sarsen Stones as follows : " Observed between Silbury
and Marlborough the Stones called Grey weathers, which in one
particular valley were scattered about in great numbers on the
surface of the ground. The people in that neighbourhood were
breaking great numbers of them, either to mend the roads or build
houses, which gave me an opportunity of examining them and
bringing away some pieces, which I found to be of a very hard
and fine-grained Sand Stone. Whether it is found in beds in any
part of this countrey I will not venture to say, but remember that
some time ago, in seeing General Conway's place near Henley
[Oxfordshire], I saw a large heap of such stones, some of them of an
immense size ; and, on asking where they were got from, was told
that they were found scattered all over that countrey, lying on the
stratum over the Chalk at different depths, and that those I saw had
been got togethei*, at a large expence, for some work to be done in
the General's grounds — I think a bridge."

N.B. — This heap of large Sarsens must not be confused with the
dolmen from Jersey reconstructed by General Conway in his
grounds in the same locality, for the latter was necessarily only
of granitic and such like rocks, native to Jersey. See also " The
Channel Islands," by W. T. Austin & E. G. Latham, 1862;
J. Fergusson's "Rude Stone Monuments," 1872, pp. 51, 52; and
W. C. Lukis in the Trans. Internat. Congress Prehistoric Archasol.
Norwich, 1869, p. 221.

1833. In the Gentlemari's Magazine, vol. ciii, p. 542, is a notice
of a paper read by Dr. G. T. Clark to the Bristol Philosophical
Society, in which he alludes to the " Grey weathers " as being
" scattered over the Chalky Downs of Wiltshire."

1863. W. H. Hudleston, in the Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. vii, p. 138,
gives a succinct account of the four kinds of stones that constitute
the concentric rings of Stonehenge. The huge Sarsens composing
the outer ring he described as consisting of a compact quartzose
rock, derived from the Tertiary Sands. " These are, in fact, siliceous
doggers or concretionary slabs of enormous size, which have hardened
in situ [in their original beds], and have resisted the atmospheric
agencies of destruction. Several fragments were picked up of this
material, which seemed to bear the marks of roots or something
of the sort. It is by no means improbable, therefore, that the
decomposition of vegetable matter, and consequent formation of
humus, and the various organic acids which arise from its gradual
alteration into carbonic acid, may have had something to do with
the concretionary action. The influence of these organic acids on
silica has been the subject of interesting investigations in America."

1871. Dr. Joseph Stevens, "On the Geology of North Hamp-
shire," mentions the occurrence of a Greywether grindstone at
St. Mary Bourne, Wilts. (Trans. Newbury District Field Club,
vol. i, p. 86.)

1874. C. E. Davy, in a paper contributed to the Newbury
District Field Club, "Letcombe Castle," 1874, p. 23, describes


Professor T. Rupert Jones — Il'n^fory of Sarsen^. Til

a naturally-shaped, angular, pyi-amidal, water-worn fragment of
Sarsen Stone as a prehistoric sacred stone.

1876. A critical account of the lithology of Stonehenge, by
N. Story Maskelyne, was published in the Wilts Archaiol. Nat.
Hist. Soc, Mag., vol. xvii, pp. 149, etc.

1881. With regard to the carrying and raising large blocks of
stone, the late Dr. V. Ball gave details and an illustrative plate of
the method used among the hill-tribes of India. (" Economic Geology
of India," 1881, p. 544, pi. viii ; see also note in Pt. i, 188G, p. 125.)

1887. In a Reading newspaper (July 29, 1887) it was stated
that at Wardour Castle " the picturesque grounds are ornamented
with a pretty grotto and rockery, constructed from a number of
curious-shaped stones, which formed a prehistoric circle at Totbury,"
said to have been at or near Place Farm. This circular work is
recorded as having had a large central stone, 12 feet high and 4 feet
wide. (Britton's Topog. and Hist. Descript. Wilts, 1814 ; and
W. H. Jones, Wilts Mag., vol. vii, 1863.)

1887. The Stones of Stonehenge were the subject of Mr. W.
Whitaker's remarks in the Proc. Geol. Assoc, vol. ix, p. 530.
'• Dividing them roughly into two sets, the natives and the foreigners
{the former, of course, being the bigger), the latter are mostly of
igneous rocks, and must have been brought from a long distance ;
the largest of these, the altar stone, is a sandstone, but unlike any
sandstone of the neighbourhood. The natives are all greywether-
sandstone, or Sarsen stones which have been shown to be derived
from some of the older Tertiary beds, here probably from the
Bagshot Sand, which in these western parts comes nearer to the
Chalk than further east. Their occurrence, therefore, points to
a vast denudation of Tertiary beds, masses of clays and sands, tliat
once spread far and wide over the now bare plateau of Chalk,
having been slowly swept away, leaving behind only those hardened
parts of the sands, that could withstand the denuding agents, as
witnesses of the former extension of the beds."

1890. Treating of some constructions by a prehistoric (Neolithic)
people in Wiltshire, Mr. F. J. Bennet alludes to the abundant local
occurrence of Sarsens ("Sketch History of Marlborough in Neolithic
Times," March, 1892, pp. 4, 8). He also indicates how Sarsens were
used by the Neolithic folk in the boundary walls of the terraces of
cultivatable ground in Wiltshire. That they were used afterwards
in the building of houses, castles, churches, etc., is well known.

1894. Pebbles and flint-breccia in some Sarsens from Marlborough
Forest in Professor Prestwich's collection, seen July, 1S94.

1896. From Avebury a white saccharoidal sandstone, with
siliceous cement, and containing an irregular, coarse, brush-like
group of sub-parallel, tubular, and filamentous cavities, probably
due to rootlets, stained with iron oxide. — F. Chapman.

1901. The block that fell this Winter at Stonehenge contains
a layer of flints. It is No. 17 L (the lintel) of the map of Stonehenge
by the Archaeological Society of Wiltshire. — W. Cunmugtou,
January 9, 1901.

122 Professor T. Riiperi Jones — History of Sarsens.

(13) Dorset. — 1842. J. Sydenham : " Baal Durotrigensis :
A Dissertation on the Antient Colossal Figure at Cerne,. Dorset-
shire, etc.," 1842. In a footnote at p. 18, the Sarsens at Little
Mayne (referred to at pp. 136 and 161 of ray paper in the Wilts
Mag., 1886) are recognized as relics of circles and parts of avenues.

1871. E. H. W. Dukin, " Megalithic Eemains in South Dorset,"
in the Eeliq. Quart. Archeeol. Journ. and Review, 1871,
pp. 12-15 (separate copy), refers to the stones at Little Mayne.
Mr. C. Warne also (1872) notices those old stones in his " Antient
Dorset," quoting Sydenham's " Baal Durotrigensis."

1871. Poxwell, Pogswell, or Pockswell, is a village about
5 miles north-east of Weymouth, on the Wareham Road, and at
about a quarter of a mile south-east of the church is a small circle
of rough Sarsens, brown in colour, with much quartz-crystals in
cavities. The stones are much split on the surfaces in squarish
irregular segments, with something like gaping fissures. (Dukin,
1871, and T. R. J. 1887.)

Amongst the Sarsens of Dorset, many of them now relics of
ancient structures, but originally scattered over the surface of the
country, there are evidently many conglomerates. The grooved,
or probably holed and broken, stone at Tennant Hill Circle, consists
of a "hard puddingstone or conglomerate" (Dukin, 1871, p. 12).
The circle at Winterbourne Abbas is described (ibid., pp. 4 and 5),
partly after Stukeley ; and it is stated there are " ten stones of
a very hard sort, full of flints ; the tallest to west eight feet high,
the north seven feet broad, six feet high " (op. cit., p. 5). The
usual ridiculous belief in devil handiwork still exists in Dorset
and Cornwall (op. cit., p. 9).

1887. At Fordington Green, Dorchester, at the east end, at the
corner of a house bearing the Ordnance Survey Bench-mark, is
a Sarsen ; the top is three-faced (4 feet where widest, and 2 ft. 7 ins.
high), the sides rounded. This stone some people removed not very
long ago, but others had it brought back and replaced. — T. R. J.

(14) Somerset. — 1888. Many Sarsens in the country around
Taunton along the roads and lanes, and in villages at corners, farm-
gates, etc.

In the Castle grounds at Taunton, in the gardens of the
Archaeological Society, there is a Sarsen that has been set up as
a memorial stone to one of their officers. It is somewhat triangular
in outline, 4 ft. 6 ins. high, and 6 ft. 2 ins. at its widest part near the
base. Smoothly rounded and irregularly pitted on one face, and flat
(apparently split) on the other. It bears a tablet with inscription
to the memory of W. A. Jones, who was Secretary to the Society for
20 years. It also refers to the donation for buying the grounds for
the Society, made by the friends of Mr. W. A. Jones. — W. Bidgood.

1888. Numerous Sarsens are passed on the road from Taunton
for about 10 miles to Staple Fitzpaine, where in a hedge-bank are
several such stones, one of which, 5 feet long, and 4 feet high or
thick, above ground, with its surface rounded and water-worn, is
locally known as the ' Devil's Stone ' ; for, having knowledge of the

Professor T. Rupert Jones — Iltsfori/ of Sarseus. 12'5

intended building of a cliuvch there, be gathered a few rocks as he
came thither, but, getting tired, slept on the bank, until he awoke
in the morning, and to his astonishment saw the fine tower of the
church already up and finished. In his hurry to get up, his satchel
broke, the stones fell out, and one in particular remains there now !
This is the most western of the Sarsens that I know of. — T. R. J.

The microscopic structure of a piece of one of the blocks at or
near Staple Fitzpaiue, which had the appearance of a Sarsen, is thus
described by Mr. Fred. Chapman, A.L.S. :— " This rock is largely
composed of angular and subangular chips of quartz and chert,
cemented by a kind of paste of fine quartz sand and limonite.
The included fragments are very variable in size, the angular
predominating over the subangular. A fair proportion of the
fragments are of secondary quartz ; some clear, others with strings
of gas-cavities. There are a few chips of a somewhat brecciated
rock, not unlike a decomposed rhyolite in character. There is at
least one fragment of flint in the section examined. The chert
fragments, possibly of Cenomanian age, contain a few examples of
Globigerina cretacea. One of the larger pieces included in this
Sarsen (?) is a chert, crowded with Radiolaria, in a generally good
state of preservation, some of the organisms bearing long spmes
beset with smaller spines. Dr. G. J. Hinde, who has been good
enough to examine the slide, thinks that there is not enough
evidence for the identification of genera, but that the chert is most
probabl}' of Palceozoic age."

1888. In the Museum of the Bath Institute I saw a somewhat
water-worn block of light-coloured saccharoidal sandstone, looking
very much like a Sarsen; chips of this stone show an ochreous tint
and siliceous cement. The Rev. H. H. Winwood, F.G.S., Honorary
Curator of the Museum, informs me that it came from the Victoria
Gravel-pit, on the right of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, where
the road crosses the line at South Hill. It measures 33 inches in
length, 16 inches where it is broadest, and 4 to 7 inches in thickness.
With other similar blocks it lay at the base of the gravel on the blue
Lias clay. At first he was inclined to regard it as having been
derived from the Millstone Grit of the Wick and Bristol district ;
but he has since seen sarsenic pebbles and blocks in the Gravel, and
he noticed a large Sarsen at the Westbury Ironworks. Near Uown-
head, in the Mendips, he has observed numerous siliceous blocks
having the appearance of Sarsens; but others just like them lying
on the north slope of the Mendips at Ashwick, contain Liassic fossils.
Great caution, therefore, is necessary in determining these somewhat
similar siliceous blocks of Pala30zoic, Secondary, and lertiary age

respectively. — H. H. W. , , • i ^ j

(15) Devon.— In 1822 Dr. Buckland described the large, isolated,
siliceous blocks, scattered about on the hills near Sidmouth, as being
much like the Hertfordshire Puddingstone, but having the mcliuiecl
flint "mostly angular" and not rounded. In 182G he referred to
these in Devon, and others in Dorset and elsewhere, as being tne
same as the recognized Greywethers. (Trans. Geol. Soc, ser. ii,
vol. ii, pp. 12G, 127.)

124 Professor T. Rupert Jones — History of Sarsens.

Bibliographic List of Works treating of Sarsens,
Corrected, Enlarged, and Continued from the Wilts Mag., 1886,

pp. 153, 154:.

1644. Richard Symonds' Diary of the Marches Ivcpt by the Royal Army, etc.

Edited by C. E. Long for the Camdeu Society, 1859, p. 151.
1656-84. John Aubrey's Nat. Hist. Wiltshire. Edited by J. Brittou, 1847, p. 44.
1656-84. John Aubrey. The Topographical Collections, etc., by J. E. Jackson,

1862, p. 314.
.1673. Marlborough Corporation Accounts, by F. A. Carriugton. Wiltshire

Archasological and Natural History Society's Magazine, vol. iii (1857),

p. 111.
1787. Daines Barrington. Archa3ologia, vol. viii, p. 442.

1813. W. Mavor. Report on the Agriculture of Berkshire, pp. 34, 35.

1814. T. Webster. Trans. Geol. Soc. London, vol. ii, pp. 224, 225.

1819. G. B. Greenough. Critical Examination of the First Principles of Geology,

pp. 112 and 293.
1823. W. Buckland. Reliquiae DiluviansB, p. 248.
1833. W. D. Conybeare and G. T. Clark. Gentleman's Magazine, vol. ciii,

pt. 2, p. 452.
1833. G. A. Mantell. Geology of the South-East of England, pp. 48-50.
1836. W. Buckland and H. De la Beche. Trans. Geol. Soc, ser. ii, vol. iv, p. 4.
1847. J. Prestwich. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. iii, p. 382.
1852-3. W. Cunnington. Devizes Gazette, June, 1852, and June, 1853. Quoted

by W. Long, Wilts Mag., vol. iv (1858), p. 334, etc.
1854. J. Prestwich. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. (paper read May, 1853), vol. x,

p. 123, etc.
1854. T. R. Jones. Lecture on the Geological History of the Vicinity of Newbury,

Berks, p. 21.
1858. W. Long. On Abury. Wilts Mag., vol. iv, p. 334, etc, quoting

W. Cunuiugton.

1858. A. C. Ramsay and others. Mem. Geol. Surv., Explan. Sheet 34, p. 41, etc.

1859. A. C. Ramsay and others. Catal. Rock -Specimens, etc., Mus. Pract.

Geol., 2nd ed., p. 288.
1859. G. P. Scrope. Wilts Mag., vol. v, p. 110.

1859. J. L. Ross (quoting R. Faulkner). Ibid., p. 168.

1860. R. Hunt. Mem. Geol. Surv. Great Britain, Mining Statistics, p. 167.

1861. E. Hull, W. Whitaker, aud others. Mem. Geol. Surv., Explan. Sheet 13,

p. 47, etc.

1862. H. W. Bristow and W. Whitaker. Ibid., Explan. Sheet 12, p. 51, etc.
1862. A. C. Ramsay and others. Catal. Rock- Specimens, etc., Mxis. Pract.

Geol., 3rd ed., p. 163.

1862. "W. Whitaker. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. xviii, p. 271, etc.

1862. "W. H. Bensted. Geologist, vol. v, pp. 449, 450.

1863. 0. Fisher. Geologist, vol. vi, p. 30.

1864. W. Whitaker. Mem. Geol. Surv., Explan. Sheet 7, p. 71, etc.

1865. T. Codrington. Wilts Mag., vol. ix, p. 167, etc

1866. W. Long (quoting W. Cunnington's paper of 1865, which was not printed

in full). Wilts Mag., vol. x, p. 71, etc.
1866. A. C. Smith. Wilts Mag., vol. x, p. 52, etc

1866. W. T. Nicolls. Geol. Mag., Vol. Ill, p. 296, etc.

1867. G. Maw. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. xxiii, pp. 110, 112, 113.

1868. J. Adams. Lecture on the Geology of the Country around Newbury.

JSfeivhurij Neivs, December, 1868.

1869. A.L.Lewis. Trans. Internat. Congress Prehist. Archteol. for 1868, p. 43.
1869. John Adams. Wilts Mag., vol. xi, pp. 274, 277, etc.

1869. W. Cunnington. Ibid., p. 348.

1869. Anon. (Stukeley's notes.) Ibid., p. 344.

1870. T. Codrington. Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc, vol. xxv, p. 535.

1871. J. Adams. Trans. Newbury District Field Club, vol. i, pp. 104-107, 151.

1872. J. Fergusson. Rude Stone "Monuments, pp. 92, 95.

1872. W. Whitaker. Mem. Geol. Surv., vol. iv, pp. 309, 323, etc.