Saturday 19 May 2012

The Mystery of Stone 42c And The Lead Encased Buried Stone

Browsing a book from a second hand bookshop - Michael Balfours's Stonehenge and its Mysteries - published in 1979 - I came across an intriguing photo captioned: "Custodian Griffiths in front of Stone 58 in March 1978, the week after the fence went up. The four metal rods indicate the position of a stone which is buried encased in lead to preserve it"


Well it isn't Stone 58 pictured, it is Stone 23 on the outer ring. I took the liberty of taking shots of the same scene today. No sign of a stone or of a hidden buried one. And why would a stone be encased in lead?

So I dusted off my trusty Cleal and sure enough below the surface in front of Stone 23 there is Stone 42C, a buried Bluestone.
Only a small stump and nowhere near the size of Balfour's lead encased monster, which looks be a lot longer than Custodian Griffiths is tall.

So I think we can write off the lead encased buried stone as a myth. But the mystery doesn't end there.

If we look at the excavation report in Cleal the area has never been dug. So how do we know what is under the surface? But wait, there's more!

If we look at the Restoration Map in Cleal it seems that Atkinson (probably) removed and replaced stones in this area presumably as he was straightening Stone 60. But no record of what he found as he did this appear in Cleal.  

According to Atkinson, there are ten bluestone stumps. One (35) is above ground, and there are nine that are wholly buried beneath the surface: 32c, 32d, 32e, 33e, 33f, 40c,40g, 41d, 42c. 

Of these, four (32c and 33e and 33f and 41d) are of "altered volcanic ash, dark olive-green in colour when unweathered, with a laminated fracture and a noticeably softer texture than the other bluestones." (Atkinson, p 48) Stone 32e is supposedly rhyolite, and stump 40c is a calcareous ash, referred to by Atkinson as a laminated blue rock. Stumps 40g and 42c are supposedly of Cosheston sandstone, "a blue-grey rock spangled with mica".

 All very odd.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm - Cosheston sandstone eh? Wasn't the Altar Stone thought to be from the Cosheston beds for a long while?