Thursday 28 January 2016

Stonehenge Daggers Fading Away?

Archive film on a TV programme last night  had a close up of the famous Daggers on Stone 53 at Stonehenge.

Several people noticed that they looked a lot sharper than they now do:

 (photos: Bob Kenchington)

How much they have worn with the attentions of tourists rubbing the outline with their fingers has been much debated - Mike Pitts has an interesting blog post on this:

I wonder what happened to the latex cast of them that was made by Atkinson in 1956 and if it could be compared to the laser scan of the stone.


  1. Probably ended up under Atkinsons bed with all his notes.
    Try the University of Cardiff in Wales.

  2. Clearly not as old as some people imagine!


  3. Newall's casts, I understand, are stored in Salisbury Museum. So perhaps they know re. Atkinson's. Also, my notes, not that I am particularly interested in this aspect of Stonehenge, say that the latex cast was taken in 1967. Just for the record then Tim, could you confirm the date of the image as 1956?

    1. Historic England Reference Number: P51084 photo is dated Jan 1956 - other photos in the archive of taking impressions are of similar date (I got the photo from a dodgy Russian website so don't have the NMR link to hand.)

    2. The photo is Historic England Reference Number: P51058 (found it now) - 1956

  4. Hi Tim,

    I don't think the Dagger & Axe are wearing down. I think they're simply more prominent now due to 63 years of grubby fingers pawing at them.
    The light in the pictures is another clue. In the first, it's late afternoon, with sharp, angled contrast. In the second, the light is flat, seeming to melt the carvings into the stone.

    Hi Richard,

    The casts as shown were done in 56, and even if there were no notes on this, the photograph and the styles shown in it are proof enough. Any schoolgirl still wearing saddle-shoes and poodle skirts would have been laughed onto a psychiatrist's couch.
    In addition, there's no gravel on the ground, added to the site in 64 to keep the mud under control. (Painstakingly removed in 79.)
    Also, by 67 Atkinson no longer used the long cigarette filter.


  5. Hi, many thanks.

    Checked again...

    Misleading entries as at paragraph 13 of link:

    Wrong Atkinson!

    And yes Neil, as I started my undergraduate course in 1968, I would have been very disappointed, if not perplexed, to find as described, judging from dating experiences prior to that - and I don't mean dating Stonehenge!