Saturday, 25 September 2021
Friday, 24 September 2021
Thursday, 19 August 2021
Who was Clarissa Frances Miles - pioneer photographer of Stonehenge? Described by @MartynBarber2 as "a friend of the Antrobuses" who gives her address as Amesbury Abbey when claiming copyright for her photographs, now at the National Archive.
"born in 1860 at Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England.1 She was the daughter of Colonel Charles William Miles and Maria Susannah Hill" - http://www.thepeerage.com/p53357.htm#i533566
Saturday, 26 June 2021
The July-October 1954 edition of the Antiquaries Journal has an interesting write up of the 1952 excavations at Durrington Walls which I have not seen referenced before.
Stone, Piggott and Booth discovered a row, mostly a double row, of post holes that held posts when the bank was raised. They only excavated a 68 yard length so how far round the circle it went is unknown. The details are in the images below.
In 2016 excavations in the bank tested the "superhenge" theory and found that large posts had been in place before the bank was raised in the middle of the bank - for details see: https://archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/rethinking-durrington-walls-a-long-lost-monument-revealed.htm
It would have been interesting to have discovered if the outer post row extended to the areas where the massive posts were.
A note on the journal - this edition was missing from the Wiltshire Museum library and I was lucky enough to be given it and donate it to them. It was unopened or intonso so I took the liberty of using a plastic card - better than a knife - to open the pages to take the photos for my notes. There is still a lot to learn from old reports which are too often left unread in search for the new.
Saturday, 1 May 2021
All editions of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine (1855-2013) are freely available online at https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/12272
The passage below is in Vol X 1865 – it refers to a paper read by Cunnington at the Eleventh Annual meeting :
No. XXVIII. JULY, 1866. Vol. X.
Account of the Eleventh General Meeting, at Salisbury, 13th, 14th and 15th September, 1865
Mr. Cunnington F.G.S. next read a paper on " the Geology of the Stones of Stonehenge," in which he first pointed out the many erroneous statements which had been made on this subject, some having described the stones as foreign marble resembling that -of Carrara; others as formed of artificial matter, moulded to the original forms; and others again as a species of coarse freestone. These various statements having been satisfactorily refuted, he proceeded to explain that the outer circle and the large Trilithons at Stonehenge as well as the whole of the circles at Avebury, were composed of sarsen stones : the sarsens found so abundantly in Wiltshire, more especially in the Clatford valley of North Wilts, being the remains of sandy strata once lying above the chalk, the softer portions of which have been washed away, leaving these rocky masses on the surface. He then referred to the smaller circle and inner oval, and pronounced all these stones to be primary igneous rocks and of foreign origin, the altar stone is a fine-grained micaceous sandstone. From the facts adduced, Mr. Cunnington argued that Stonehenge was not originally erected either as a sepulchral monument, or as an astronomical calendar. This paper will however be found in extenso in the Magazine, and need not therefore be anticipated here.
Next to the final sentence “The paper will be found in extenso in the Magazine, and need not therefore be anticipated here.” Someone has written “Where?”
The same person (presumably) has written in the margin a few inches higher up “See Vol XVI – p71-74 –reported by Long”.
I have looked at the reference in Vol XVI which says “ But upon this subject, there is no one who deserves a hearing, and a more attentive hearing , too, than Mr Cunnington, F.G.S., who has devoted so much time and thought to the study of the geological character of the Wiltshire megalithic structures. He says, in a paper “on the geology of Stonehenge,” read at the Salisbury meeting of the Wilts Archaeological Society 1865: “We are indebted to Mr Prestwich, the treasurer of the Geological society, for the exact determination of the stratum from which the ‘Sarsens’ are derived (vide Journal of the Geological society).” (thanks to a volunteer library researcher for this)
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Landscape and Monuments
Mike Parker Pearson, Joshua Pollard, Colin Richards, Julian Thomas, Chris Tilley & Kate Welham | 2020
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
I have written about the bluestone pebble found in Durrington which is fully reported in "Along Prehistoric Lines: Neolithic, Iron Age and Romano-British Activity in the Former MOD Headquarters, Durrington, Wiltshire" By Steve Thompson and Andrew B. Powell Published by Wessex Archaeology, 2018 and summarised at https://www.wessexarch.co.uk/our-work/mod-durrington .
"A discoidal 'bluestone' object with heavily ground and flattened edges was found in the tertiary fill of the northern terminal of Romano British ditch 6256 (slot 5145), 7 m from the intersection of the two Late Neolithic posthole alignments (at posthole 5047). The object, which has a rounded trapezoid shape, is 64 mm wide, 67 mm long and 18 mm thick. It is made from a slab of stone that has developed a light grey surface patina, although a fresh break in one corner suggests a poorly developed conchoidal fracture and is a dark grey colour when freshly worked."
Pessoi are rarely mentioned as a use for lithics and ceramics though before the luxury of Andrex they were commonly used. Elsewhere pessoi discs are described as 3-10.5 cm in diameter and 0.6-2.2 cm thick. Pessoi, Greek for pebble, is the correct term for lithic ones but is often used for pottery ones, which are also called Ostraka (Ostrakon sing.), which were "re-cut from old broken ceramics to give smooth angles that would minimise anal trauma". Ostraka have the added bonus that you could scratch the name of a person you wanted to Ostracize on them.
The Durrington Bluestone is exactly the right shape, size and context to be one, I wonder whether this posh souvenir from Stonehenge was one?
As an update as I was walking the dogs on the path where occasionally I find a bit of Roman pottery I noticed with fresh eyes a flint disc. I have seen something similar before, it has a crudely worked edge which is smooth rather than either a cutting edge or a bashing edge as most flint tools are.
Tuesday, 23 February 2021
I note elsewhere that there are worries that the bluestone bloodhounds haven’t been testing enough rocks to justify their assertions that the sites so far identified as sources of the Stonehenge non-dolerite bluestones (SH38 40 46 48) and the Craig Rhosyfelin-like outcrops are unique. Similar criticism has been made of the Sarsen sourcers. Sampling will always have this criticism and the familiar cry of more test and tracing is voiced endlessly.
But with Bluestones and Sarsens it seems that the coverage has been more than reasonable so far and any further refinements will be building on firm foundations.
The Whispering Molinia tells me that MPP had a remarkably successful 2020, considering.., and many more boxes of rock samples are off to be analysed so that nearly 250 potential bluestone locations that will soon have been checked against the Stonehenge references. They have been snuffling up and down the streams that flow around Craig Rhos-y-felin leaving no stone unturned. I look forward to learning the results.
Areas sampled for bluestone rocks up to the end of 2020
Wednesday, 6 January 2021