Sunday 6 May 2018

The Welsh origins of Stonehenge - Excavation Update - Michael Parker Pearson

"the four megaliths found at Waun Mawn do indeed appear to be part of a larger stone circle dismantled in antiquity."

FULL REPORT from the Rust Family Foundation: Archaeology Grants Program at


In 2017 the specific goals were:
1. To establish whether a group of circular enclosures at Pensarn were remains of a complex of Neolithic henges that might have formed a regional centre of power linked to the quarrying of the bluestones.
2. To establish whether an arc of standing stones (Waun Mawn) formed the remains of a dismantled Neolithic stone circle where the bluestones were first erected before being moved to Stonehenge..


All four enclosures at Pensarn were evaluated in September 2017 with excavation trenches dug to sample their enclosing ditches and, in the case of the two largest enclosures, to sample their interiors to establish whether these were Neolithic henges.

The large circular enclosure (60m-diameter) turned out to be an Early Iron Age fort (c.500 BC), located on the crown of a low hill at 135m OD. Its surrounding ditch was 1.7m deep and its rampart was formed of upright posts and large stones, all the latter having fallen into the ditch. The fort’s interior was occupied by two Iron Age roundhouses, one of which was 10m in diameter. In the centre of the fort, a small pit containing chippings of spotted dolerite could be the remains of a prehistoric standing stone, dismantled in the Iron Age.

The two smaller circular enclosures (20m and 15m diameter) date to the Late Iron Age c.100 BC. Investigation of the interior of the 20m-diameter enclosure revealed the remains of a small roundhouse (5m diameter). This enclosure’s entrance was placed adjacent to a Late Bronze Age pit (c.800 BC) which contained grinding stones and pottery.

The sub-rectangular enclosure at Pensarn was another Iron Age feature, dating to the end of the Late Iron Age (1st century BC/AD). As the Pensarn enclosures were found to date to the Iron Age, 3000 years later than the bluestone quarries, we can be sure that they were not Neolithic henges.

Waun Mawn
In contrast, the four megaliths found at Waun Mawn do indeed appear to be part of a larger stone circle dismantled in antiquity.

In September 2017 we dug six trenches at Waun Mawn, two of them around the outer two recumbent stones and two pairs of trenches on the east and west sides at each end of the arc....

The large recumbent stone (Stone 1), viewed from the south; its stone socket is on the left side beneath its end.


Investigations into the stones of Stonehenge in 2017 moved from study of the bluestone quarries to exploration of the prehistoric landscape in which Stonehenge’s bluestone sources were located.

The main discovery was that four standing stones in an arc at Waun Mawn, above a source of the River Nevern, are the likely remains of a prehistoric stone circle, most of which was dismantled and removed in prehistory. Its 80m-long arc suggests a former diameter of c.115m, which would make it the largest stone circle in Britain except for the outer ring of Avebury. Although excavations in 2017 failed to obtain a date for the stone circle’s erection or dismantling, its stone sockets were emptied and the stones removed before the onset of peat growth. We are currently awaiting radiocarbon dates from the base of the peat, though it is likely to have started forming in the Bronze Age.

Further research is planned for 2018 to confirm that Waun Mawn is a giant stone circle and, if so, when its standing stones were erected and dismantled. Using geological analysis, we aim to establish if the megaliths that once stood here can be matched with bluestones at Stonehenge.

Continuation of geophysical survey around and beyond Pensarn, where the enclosure complex was discovered by magnetometry in 2016, identified two mounds as probable prehistoric features, one to the northeast of the Pensarn complex and the other to its east. That to the east is identical in its magnetic patterning to the one excavated at Pensarn in 2016 which was found to be an Early Bronze Age kerb cairn dating to c.2000 BC.

FULL REPORT from the Rust Family Foundation: Archaeology Grants Program at


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. From the centre of the proposed Waun Mawn circle to the centre of Durrington Walls there is Megalithic Yard connection, the 739840 Feet = 2.72 ft (MY) x 272,000. See Video.
    Measuring from within the Waun Mawn circle to Bluestone Henge 740928.4 Feet can be seen. This is 2.722 ft (MY) x 272200.

  3. And how could they possibly have measured that distance, assuming they intended to?

  4. Robert,

    Bill Wilkinson's research investigates recurrence of metrological connections. The recurrence of speculated root measures, such as the MY, whether it is believed they exist or not, results from a process of collecting data. Statistics can help answer the question of whether the data is significant. The question "How...?", is irrelevant - it is not a statistical question!

    It's akin to the many super detailed gold and other artefacts found as grave goods - e.g. Pylos Combat Agate. The answer to "How on Earth did they do it?" may never be found, but the artefacts exist globally - full stop!

    The same applies to the question "Why?". It may be that the "length" 2.722(or close, i.e. +/- a quantity as found via statistical analysis) as compared to our modern system of 'ft'(ignoring metrication) may not even have been a standard measure used in the epochs concerned. Nonetheless, it is translated, by many researchers, as being a distance which clearly has significance - probably significant in terms of "sacredness" of some kind allied to whatever system of counting of observed phenomena and/or measuring that was used at that time to help them (not us!) make sense of the world they lived in (not ours!).

    1. I take your point re collection of data. My reaction was regarding the 'megalithic yard'. Collecting data ad infinitum on a measure for which the evidence has been at best flimsy since Thom advocated it, would only be worthwhile if it could be shown that it was not simply the average pace length.

  5. The measurements of 2.72 (Megalithic Yard) ft x 272,000 from the centre of the proposed Waun Mawn Bluestone circle to the centre of Durrington Walls and the 2.722 (Thom’s more accurate Megalithic Yard) ft x 272200 from Waun Mawn Bluestone circle to Bluestone Henge, I would suggest is not some freakish coincidence.

    Other examples between major monuments can be noted.

    The Sanctuary to Woodhenge, centre to centre, is 27200 yards or 30,000 MY.
    Stanton Drew centre to Stonehenge centre is 2.72 ft x 68,000 ft (Thom’s Megalithic Rod is 6.8 ft).
    Thornborough (central) Henge to the Rollrights at 180 degrees is 272,000 yards.
    Callanish 1 centre to Stonehenge centre is 2764800 ft. This divided by 2.88 ft ( 3 x 0.96 the Short Foot) = 960,000.
    Conybury Henge to Sutton Common Henge at 90 degrees =30,000 MY.
    Woodhenge centre to Stonehenge centre 10036.224 ft or 3.168 ft (3 x 1.056 the Long Foot) x 3168.

    These measurements, and more, are shown in the videos below.

  6. In the paper below one can read about and see, Fig.17, a reconstruction of the enclosed building in T14 (Trench 14) at Durrington Walls.

    The video again showing the 2.72 ft x 272,000 from the centre of the proposed circle at Waun Mawn to T14 at the centre of Durrington Walls.

  7. Robert,

    Interesting use of language, "...average pace length." is of course a result of statistical analysis! More important therefore is the question, "What is the variation?", because this leads to how the "pace" was applied to usage both between and within cultures. The Roman pace length varied until it was inadvertently "standardised" by Agrippa in around 29 BC. Even more important is the fact that distances, such as the Roman Mile were measured by counting paces, in this instance in 10's, i.e. "metric". Which is why analyses return significant relationships when using both "yards" and "metre" (and respective related smaller and larger units) calculations.

    It is of course a long story, beyond the scope of dialogue here, but the key "metric" to be looking for is therefore the relationship of the 2.72 MY to the design of key monuments, such as Stonehenge. You'll find that 52 "paces" of 2.72 feet results in a radius of 141.44ft - close the radius of the Aubrey circle as found by Thom, but not quite. So one then has to look for other parameters which might have been employed, in terms of "sacred" proportions. Now, "proportions" can consist of elements such as astronomical, geometrical and time functions, not just architecture related to standard distance measures.

    We find that if one multiplies the above radius by the time ratio of 86400(solar day)/86162(sidereal day)one gets a diameter result of 283.66ft for the Aubrey circle. Alexancder Thom's survey - still the most accurate assessment because it involved the marking out of many of the Aubrey Holes via excavation, etcetera, by Richard Atkinson - found the mean diameter to be 283.6ft.

    I could go on - there is considerably more "parameter" evidence - but I think the point is made, statistics is best at posing questions, not necessarily providing answers. The issue of the "pace" has been misused, if not abused, for decades by both academics and serious researchers wishing to promote their own "theories", leaving people like Bill in an almost impossible catagory of "pseudoscience".

    My on going research points to the MY as being one of a handful of "sacred" measures used for specific purposes, but because of its inter-relationship with astronomical cycles, geometry and counting methods, it appears to have a 2.72 mathematical outcome. Unfortunately this was interpreted as the "standard" measure used, which more recent research suggests otherwise. The result is that Thom has been "maligned" in various ways by academia to its own disadvantage and questionable scientific integrity. As so many archaeologists heve now commented to me over many years, "...archaeology has thrown out the baby with the bath water..."!

    I'm not, of course, saying Robert, that you are one of these people - indeed, you are asking the right questions but the importnat thing is to remember that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". There remain many researching in lonely isolation, but paradigms can change even if it takes generations to happen!


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