Monday 27 August 2012

Stonehenge Slag

A bunny has been busy digging under Stone 14 - chucking out a lot of what seems to be slag, or furnace clinker, with bits of china and glass. Remains of the hard surface that was put down in the centre I guess, but why is it under Stone 14?

Newall on Stone 66

An interesting plan showing the parallel arrangements of the Altar Stone and the Great Trilithon. (And the end of the Bluestone Horseshoe?)

Saturday 25 August 2012

New Heritage of Astronomy Site Launched

Welcome to the new integrated web portal for the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative, launched on August 24, 2012 during the sessions of the IAU’s Astronomy and World Heritage Working Group at the 28th IAU General Assembly in Beijing, China.

And of course it has lots, with more coming, about our favourite site.

The Stonehenge WHS contains more than 700 archaeological features, including more than 350 burial mounds, and a number of key monuments such as the Cursus (c. 3600–3400 BC); Woodhenge (c. 2300 BC), Durrington Walls henge (c. 2500 BC) and the Stonehenge Avenue (c. 2500–1700 BC). A new henge has recently been discovered at West Amesbury (c. 2400 BC) at the end of the Stonehenge Avenue.
A number of these monuments appear to have been deliberately aligned along the midwinter sunset-midsummer sunrise solstitial axis: Stonehenge stone circle, the ‘final approach’ of the Stonehenge Avenue, Coneybury henge, and Woodhenge. By contrast, a number of other monuments appear to have been aligned along the midsummer sunset-midwinter sunrise solstitial axis, including the timber circle known as Durrington Walls 68 and possibly the timber Northern Circle at Durrington Walls. There are also two further definite examples on significantly sloping ground, thus permitting us to identify their directionality: these are the recently discovered Durrington Walls Avenue, which is aligned on the midsummer sunset, and the Durrington Walls Southern Circle (another timber circle), which is aligned on the midwinter sunrise.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Stone 4 Carving

Ten years ago there was the first Laser Scanning of Stonehenge - reported here.

Since then there has been a more detailed scan which we await the results from. 

Stone 4 was one of the stones scanned and revealed many carvings.

Walking round the stones yesterday one of the carvings was so obvious I took a photo of it and thought it was interesting to compare it to the laser scan. 

Caption - Looking along the scanned area from the right. Note the axe heads in the foreground.

And here is my snap  showing the carving - it is the one in the scan with two dots above it. Can you see the rest?

Sunday 19 August 2012

With MPP at Clatford - Extra Photo

Your humble blogger helping MPP clear cattle from the ford across the Kennet at Clatford 

- Photo by Dan Rendell. 

Can't help humming...

Rollin rollin rollin
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them doggies rolling
Rain and wind and weather
Hell bent for leather
Wishing my girl was by my side
All the things Im missin
Good victuals, love and kissin
Are waiting at the end of my ride

Move em on (head em up)
Head em up (move em up)
Move em on (head em up)

With Mike Parker Pearson at Clatford

Just to the west of Marlborough Mike is directing a couple of digs relating to the route that the sarsen stones took to Stonehenge. The preliminary results he revealed to us were amazing, much more excavation and analysis is certainly justified by these finds and I'm excited by what the published results will reveal.

I think I can say that my proposed route is fairly close agreement to the findings though some adjustments and refinements will be needed.

A great afternoon, thanks to WAMS and MPP for organising it.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Mike Pitts' Screws - More Pictures

As he reported on his blog recently Mike Pitts found two modern screws, just a bit corroded, in two of the is in the small upright no. 11.

Here are some close up pictures of it, it is a mystery which no one seems to know about. Click any to enlarge.

I previously published photos of what I think is the other "screw" he mentions, which is in Stone 52, here.

Thursday 16 August 2012

MPP Investigates The Possible Clatford Crossing Of The Sarsen Route To Stonehenge

Wiltshire Heritage Museum Events:

OUTING: Stones of Stonehenge Project: visit to Clatford Excavations - 18 August
2:15 pm, Saturday, 18 August, 2012

OUTING: Stones of Stonehenge Project:  visit to Clatford Excavations - 18 August
The Stonehenge Riverside Project Team is investigating a possible henge and a suspected causeway used in the transport of sarsen stone from the Marlborough area to Stonehenge in August.
With the thanks to the Site Director, Mike Parker Pearson, we have been able to arrange a visit to the site on the weekend of 18 and 19 August. Numbers are strictly limited, so prior booking is essential 

Find the location on Google maps - labelled as The Electric Wheel Company.

(I have my ticket and will report back)

Monday 13 August 2012

How Sarsens Are Formed Video

Having found silicified sandstones are common in France I tracked some down to Fontainbleau.

The boulders are so large and common there is a whole sport of climbing them.

And then I found a video that describes their geology.

The sarsen stones of Wiltshire which Stonehenge and Avebury are built of are the same sort of rock. The difference is that all the sand has been washed away leaving just the stones on the chalk downlands.

Mark Anstee - Stonehenge Painter in Residence

In 2007, Mark Anstee was invited to be an Artist-in-Residence on the Stonehenge Riverside Project, a huge and ambitious archaeological investigation of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, England.

For the artist this was the beginning of an extended exploration of the area, its monuments, the landscapes, the wildlife, and the activities of the people who live and operate around the site.

In 2008 he returned with the organization Artists in Archaeology to further develop creative responses and, in 2010, he was made a Leverhulme Artist-in-Residence with the Department of Archaeology at The University of Manchester to continue this work. In 2011 he was made Honorary Research Fellow with the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures at the University, and in 2012, tired of all the traveling to and fro, rented a house with his wife Gabi a few miles south of Stonehenge to facilitate a year’s long study of the stones.

His aim is to draw the stone circle for the year of Summer Solstice 2012 to Summer Solstice 2013 and to commit this visual knowledge to memory.

His blog is here

Meeting Mark and Gabi is one of the joys of visiting Stonehenge and talking to them reinforces my belief that most visitors "look but don't really see".

Saturday 11 August 2012

Paris Sarsens

A short holiday in Paris brought the unexpected delight that the streets are paved with Sarsen stones - not all the streets, just some of the older ones and around the Louvre. In France they aren't called Sarsens, but they are  silicified  sandstone boulders, they are found still in the sand rather than as on the Marlborough Downs left behind after the sand has been eroded. I haven't had a chance to find out more about them but it appears that maybe some boulders are to be found lying on the surface judging by my random discoveries.

Much more to be investigated.

A brief description from a very informative website is below.

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

Thiry , M. and Marechal, B. 2001. Development of Tightly Cemented Sandstone Lenses in Uncemented Sand: Example of the Fontainebleau Sand (Oligocene) in the Paris Basin.By Médard Thiry and Benoît Marécha. Journal of Sedimentary Research, May 2001, vol. 71, no. 3, pp. 473-483.
In the Fontainebleau Sand (Oligocene), superposed lenses of sandstone result from a silicification process controlled by the watertable during the recent geomorphologic evolution of the landscape. The most outstanding feature of these silicified bodies is the contrast they show between the very hard, tightly cemented sandstone and the loose and permeable embedding sand. This pattern raises the question of the growth mechanism of the lenses. The lenses are composed of tightly quartz-cemented sandstone with well-developed quartz overgrowths. Cathodoluminescence of the sandstones shows detrital grains with subeuhedral quartz overgrowths and isopachous quartz rims surrounding the detrital grains or the overgrowths. The isopachous rims suggest amorphous or poorly ordered silica deposits that later recrystallized into quartz. The syntaxial overgrowths and the silica deposits alternate in a sequential way on a centimeter scale and reflect variations in the physicochemical characteristics of the feeding groundwater. The mechanism of the silica deposition is probably complex and can only be hypothesized. Whatever the mechanism, it appears from the arrangement of the sandstone layers that silica precipitation occurred near the watertable and at the interface between regional groundwater and local recharge water. Silica precipitation along an interface may explain the sharp boundary between cemented sandstone and loose sand.
The cementation was modeled with the coupled reaction-transport code METIS. The model was constrained with permeability values, hydraulic gradient, and dissolved silica contents measured in the Fontainebleau Sand. The simulation reproduced the characteristics and morphologies shown by the sandstone lenses in the field. It shows the importance of a high groundwater flow rate to provide the silica necessary for cementation of the sandstones in a time span compatible with the geological constraints. The conventionally accepted kinetics of quartz precipitation did not result in simulating cementation of the sandstone lenses in a geologically reasonable time frame. To overcome this constraint, it was necessary to increase the kinetic reaction rate about 1,000 times, which agrees with the amorphous silica deposits observed in the Fontainebleau Sandstones.


Friday 3 August 2012

Stonehenge II - What Might Have Been

Stonehenge II

... Aleksandra Mir will also present a scale model of Stonehenge II, a proposal for a work in a public space. Originally presented to the art-commissioning agency Artangel/Times commission in 1998 (and subsequently rejected), the proposal was to build a Stonehenge replica close to the original, to reduce the volume of pedestrian traffic and save this piece of cultural heritage from further destruction. To compensate for the necessary limited access to Stonehenge I, Stonehenge II would allow full access and promote a wide range of activities on its grounds. The project was proposed a second time to students on the Royal College of Art curating course, who were asked to join the artist in the production of the project over the summer of 2001. (Also rejected.) The scale model was constructed in 2002–3. Aleksandra Mir continues to further her ambition to realize this work and hopes to make contact with interested parties who wish to assist.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Stonehenge Bird List

Back in 2006 keen birders listed the birds they saw at Stonehenge.

It's not a great list, 50% means they only saw them on one of the two visits.

Stonehenge Bird List:

Species,Scientific Name,Reporting Rate
Kestrel,Falco tinnunculus,50%
Jackdaw,Corvus monedula,50%
Rook,Corvus frugilegus,50%
Skylark,Alauda arvensis,50%
Starling,Sturnus vulgaris,100%
Pied Wagtail,Motacilla alba,100%

I reckon there are more bird species there now, anyone want to list them?