Monday 22 February 2021

Bluestone Arse Wipe

I was asked about the rumours of a second Bluestone pebble found in the Durrington Larkhill area.
The archaeological report on the imputed find spot in Larkhill doesn't seem to support the rumours:""An archaeological evaluation conducted in 1999 immediately adjacent to the site (WA 95) revealed a few features such as gullies, building footings and a trackway, although they were all thought to be modern in date." and I can not find any other report of such a find.
Unless an actual report surfaces I think we can put this down to crossed wires.

The bluestone pebble found in Durrington is fully reported in  a report I have;  
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 and here.

"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.

Further, thin section petrography shows the artefact to be manufactured from rhyolite with a 'sub- jovian' texture, texturally one of the most extreme (and hence characteristic) of the Craig Rhosyfelin rhyolitic rocks. In hand specimen, this rock-type would be very distinctive.
Relict flake scars confirm that the blank was subjected to rudimentary bifacial flaking around the edges, although it is less certain by how much the sides of the object result from flaking or are products of natural fracture. The edges of the object are all heavily ground, with a distinct flattened facet around the circumference. This flattened facet is a sufficiently recurring feature of similar objects of the type to indicate that it was an original feature and not a subsequent alteration to the edge. Grinding also extended across both sides of the object by as much as 11 mm from the edges.
The function of the object remains unknown; "

Elsewhere at Durrington in another Romao-British context there were found: "18 pottery disks clipped into roughly circular shapes. Suggestions for their use include spindlewhorl production, gaming counters or even ‘pessoi’ for cleaning after defecation."  

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? 

1 comment:

  1. Agree that there seems to be confusion over provenance,Tim. I couldn't work it out from the assorted references..... the description is of course underpinned by the assumption that this is a man-made artefact. It might be -- and then again it might be a glacial erratic pebble. I'd like to see it!