Thursday 20 December 2012

Darvill and the Stonehenge Stone Sources

A new report on the Antiquity paper on the dates of Stonehenge.
And Did Those Feet: New Stonehenge dates
Tim Darvill, co-author of the paper, said that previous sequences suggested that Stonehenge started small and grew: in fact, ‘it starts big and stays big’, and the giant sandstone horseshoe came first, drawing stone from nearby quarries; only then were the smaller bluestones imported from Wales: ‘they sort out the local stuff first, and then they bring in the stones from Wales to add to the complexity of the structure’, Tim said. The new timeline ‘connects everything together, gives us a good sequence of events and it gives us a set of cultural associations with the different stages of construction’, he added.'
My reading of the paper - Antiquity Vol 86:334, 2012 pp 1021-1040 - Timothy Darvill and others - Stonehenge remodelled - doesn't give me that certainty that the bluestones arrived after the sarsens. I think it still embraces the possibility that the bluestones were on site before the sarsens, it specifically mentions that Bluestonehenge might predate the sarsen arrival and that the Aubrey holes probably held stones (type unspecified).

Of course Tim Darvill may not be being quoted accurately. I also don't like the use of the word "quarries" for the source of the sarsens. It implies they were dug out of the ground locally to Stonehenge and there is no evidence for that. No local quarries have every been found. Large sarsens are still found on the surface of the chalk downlands and deep in the clays of Bedfordshire and further afield. In the absence of any other evidence the use of surface sarsens mainly from the Marlborough Downs is the most justifiable theory.

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