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24 December 2015
Stonehenge's bluestones: moved from Wales by glaciers?

Last week a team of archaeologists and geologists professed to have resolved if and how the 'bluestones' at Stonehenge were excavated and transported from Pembrokeshire by our prehistoric ancestors. The team said they definitively confirmed two sites in the Preseli Hills - Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin - had been quarried for two types of stone. It was suggested the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.
     But the assertions on how the stones were removed and transported, apparently leaving evidence so-called 'engineering features,' have been branded 'all wrong' by another team of earth scientists, in a conflicting report in which Dr Brian John, Dr Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes say there are "no traces of human intervention in any of the features that have made the archaeologists so excited".
     The group does not accept the idea of a Neolithic quarry in the Preseli Hills and says the supposed signs of 'quarrying' by humans at Craig Rhos-y-Felin were entirely natural. They also believe that the archaeologists behind the report may have inadvertently created certain features during five years of 'highly selective sediment removal'.
     Dr John is increasingly convinced that the rhyolite debris at Stonehenge comes from glacial erratics which were eroded from the Rhos-y-Felin rocky crag almost half a million years ago by the overriding Irish Sea Glacier and then transported eastwards by ice towards Salisbury Plain.
     On the recent paper the experts wrote: "While there appears to be no landform, rock mechanics or sedimentary evidence that this was a Neolithic quarry site devoted to the extraction of bluestone orthostats destined for use at Stonehenge, or for any other purpose, we would accept the possibility that there may have been temporary Mesolithic, Neolithic or later camp sites here over a very long period of time, as in many other sheltered and wooded locations in north Pembrokeshire."
     Dr Brian John added: "We are sure that the archaeologists have convinced themselves that the glacial transport of erratics was impossible. We are not sure where they got that idea from. On the contrary, there is substantial evidence in favour of glacial transport and zero evidence in support of the human transport theory. We accept that there might have been a camp site at Rhos-y-Felin, used intermittently by hunters over several millennia. But there is no quarry."
     Further excavations of the quarries are planned for 2016.

Edited from Wales Online (14 December 2015)

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