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

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