Saturday 8 June 2024

The Altar Stone's Chemical Secrets to be Revealed

The Altar Stone is a gray-green micaceous sandstone, otherwise known as Stone 80. It is anomalous in its composition, size, and weight when compared to the other bluestones. A recent publication by a team of geologists, which included Professors Bevins and Andò, proposed that the Altar Stone be declassified as a bluestone. Based on X-ray and Raman analysis in the laboratory on fragments of the stone using a Renishaw inVia Raman microscope, they hypothesized that the stone did not originate from the Anglo-Welsh Basin, as previously thought. Instead, they are looking at other possibilities for where the Altar Stone originated, such as rocks of the same age or younger in Northern England or Scotland, for which Raman spectroscopy will help elucidate the source....

A versatile portable Raman laboratory. The Virsa Raman analyzer at Stonehenge, powered by a portable battery pack (left). The flexible Virsa SB200 stage carefully positioned close to the Altar Stone (right). The inset shows the Virsa probe focusing on a region of the Altar Stone. 

Sergio Andò, Marta Barbarano, Jorge Diniz, Richard E Bevins, Nick J G Pearce, Investigating the Secrets of Stonehenge with Raman Spectroscopy: Provenance of the Ancient Altar Stone, Microscopy Today, Volume 32, Issue 3, May 2024, Pages 28–29,

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