The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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Bryn Celli Ddu (Chambered Cairn) — News

News from Rupert Soskin: stone pillar is blueschist


I don't know whether Rupert Soskin posts here any more (if he does come on to discuss this I will delete this entry). I've just read this on the Facebook "Standing with Stones" page and, having not long since visited Bryn Celli Ddu, found it Very Interesting indeed.

Below is Rupert's FB post:

"Hi folks, Rupert here.
I thought it important to share this as many of you have expressed an interest. I was contacted last night on Twitter by Ffion Reynolds who had been to Bryn Celli Ddu with a geologist who identified the 'tree' pillar as blueschist - i.e rock, not fossil.
Now, the interesting thing about blueschist is that it is a metamorphic rock which only forms in extremely particular circumstances, best explained by this quote from the United States Geological Survey's website:
...................................
For many years geologists have been able to relate individual facies to the pressure and temperature conditions of metamorphism.
But they had no satisfactory explanation for the geologic processes that form metamorphic rocks, that is, until the theory of plate tectonics emerged.
One good example is this relatively rare metamorphic rock called "blue schist."
Experimental work had shown that the minerals in blue schist form only under very unusual metamorphic conditions.
These conditions are a pressure range equivalent to a depth of 15 to 30 kilometers in the crust and a very cool temperature, only 200 to 400 degrees centigrade.
That's the approximate cooking temperature of a kitchen oven or toaster.
At a depth of 15 to 30 kilometers, however, the temperature is normally about twice as hot, 500 to 750 degrees centigrade.
So the only way that rocks can be metamorphosed to blue schist facies , is to be quickly shoved down to those extreme depths and then rapidly brought back up before the rocks have time to heat up completely.
And that's exactly what happens where two tectonic plates are colliding in a subduction zone.
In fact, blue schist bearing rocks normally occur in long linear zones that mark ancient plate subduction boundaries.
..................................
One of the principal reasons I clung to the fossil theory was the cylindrical tree-trunk shape which had clearly not been cut, despite all previous descriptions of it being 'carefully worked'.
The formation of blueschist could allow a seam of cooling rock to literally roll up between the tectonic plates rather like a piece of seaside rock.
This leaves us with two, rather lovely points:
One: The builders of Bryn Celli Ddu would know no difference, it was still a magical stone tree.
And Two: Metamorphic rock does not form in conveniently sized pieces. There must be more."

Wiltshire — News

Exploring ancient life in the Vale of Pewsey


http://phys.org/news/2015-06-exploring-ancient-life-vale-pewsey.html

The Vale of Pewsey is not only rich in Neolithic archaeology. It is home to a variety of other fascinating historical monuments from various periods in history, including Roman settlements, a deserted medieval village and post-medieval water meadows. A suite of other investigations along the River Avon will explore the vital role of the Vale's environment throughout history.
Dr Leary continued: "One of the many wonderful opportunities this excavation presents is to reveal the secret of the Vale itself. Communities throughout time settled and thrived there - a key aim of the dig is to further our understanding of how the use of the landscape evolved - from prehistory to history."
Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive, added: "Bigger than Avebury, ten times the size of Stonehenge and half way between the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites, comparatively little is known about this fascinating and ancient landscape. The work will help Historic England focus on identifying sites for protection and improved management, as well as adding a new dimension to our understanding of this important archaeological environment."
The Vale of Pewsey excavation also marks the start of the new University of Reading Archaeology Field School. Previously run at the world-famous Roman town site of Silchester, the Field School will see archaeology students and enthusiasts from Reading and across the globe join the excavation.

The six week dig runs from 15th June to 25th July. Visitors are welcome to see the excavation in progress every day, except Fridays, between 10:00am and 5pm. Groups must book in advance

Great Orme Mine (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Fieldnotes

Not sure what I can add to previous fieldnotes so this is just a record of my visit last week 2/6/2015.

Spent the morning walking up to Aber Falls which are truly spectacular. After lunch in Abergwyngregyn we made our way to Llandudno and the Great Orme. By now it was a bright afternoon but very windy - I mention this because the wind on the Great Orme headland was too fierce to stay out in for more than a short while.

However, the Great Orme mine was sheltered from the wind and needless to say non-existent underground. This was somewhere I've wanted to visit for a long time so was able to put my usual claustrophobia aside. Before going into the mine you have to select a hard hat and are invited to watch a short introductory video - which proved to be helpful, informing us that the ancient mines were unearthed in 1987. We were joined by a couple from West Yorkshire and let them lead the way down into the narrow 3,500 year old passages leading to a massive, prehistoric cavern which is lit by coloured lights. The passages eventually come back out into the 4,000 year old Great Opencast.
To say this place is awesome is no exaggeration - the visitors guide to Llandudno quotes Current Archaeology Magazine "Stonehenge is certainly a world class site but now it is joined by the bronze age mines at Llandudno."

In the Visitors Centre there are displays and artefacts depicting mining, smelting and life in the Bronze Age. The gift shop and second hand book shop are staffed by archaeologists and historians working on the site - all profits go back into the project.

For anyone visiting from Llandudno without a car there is the Great Orme Tramway - which apparently is Britain's only cable-hauled street Tramway. The first stop is Halfway Station and probably where you should get out for the ancient copper mine.

Great Orme Mine (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Great Orme Mine</b>Posted by tjj<b>Great Orme Mine</b>Posted by tjj

Capel Garmon (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited Thursday 5th June, as part of a walk taken from 'Best Walks in North Wales' by Carl Rogers. The famous Victorian 'Fairy Glen' just above the Afon Conwy was at the start of this walk and of course a visit was compulsory on this beautiful warm June day (the best day of the week in weather terms). After visiting the Fairy Glen we crossed the lane to start the very steep zig zag walk up through a wooded area to eventually arrive on a peaceful lane leading to the village of Capel Garmon. Before entering the field to the tomb we had to run the gauntlet of a very barky border collie belonging to a nearby farm.

Capel Garmon burial chamber is described as "... one of the best examples of a Neolithic burial chamber in the locality and also has one of the finest settings - backed by a panorama of Snowdonia's highest peaks."
Very similar to some of the burial chambers to be found in the Cotswolds.
"The remains consist of a triple chamber faced with drystone walling as well as large upright stones using the post and panel technique."
A wonderful site in a stunning location.

Capel Garmon (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Capel Garmon</b>Posted by tjj<b>Capel Garmon</b>Posted by tjj<b>Capel Garmon</b>Posted by tjj

Penrhosfeilw (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

Last visit of the day on 31/5/15.

I was starting to feel tired by now when I spotted a sign pointing uphill. My companion (the driver) kindly turned the car around and we went to investigate. These stones pleased me as much as anything I had seen earlier in the day. Early Bronze Age, standing in the middle of a field on top of a very windy hill. Visually aligned with Holyhead Mountain in one direction and Snowdonia in the other. These stones reminded me of the stones at the Ring of Brodgar - their narrow shape and height. No circle though, just two solitary tall standing stones.

Penrhosfeilw (Standing Stones) — Images

<b>Penrhosfeilw</b>Posted by tjj

Barclodiad-y-Gawres (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Visited 31/5/2015

The interpretation board informed us that Barclodiad-y-Gawres means 'Giantess's Apronful'. I cannot add much in the way of field notes as we were not able to arrange a visit inside the tomb and could only look through the metal gate (which gave the tomb a cave like ambiance). A fabulous spot on the headland by a small bay, the entrance of the tomb faces towards the Irish sea and Ireland. The walk up to it was lovely, strewn with sea pinks on the day of our visit.

I understand there are engravings on some of the stones inside the tomb and these can be viewed by prior arrangement. I'm afraid we weren't that organised.

Barclodiad-y-Gawres (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Barclodiad-y-Gawres</b>Posted by tjj<b>Barclodiad-y-Gawres</b>Posted by tjj

Bodowyr (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

This is a lovely ancient site to visit. Visited on 31st May as part of our little road trip around the south west side of Anglesey. Down a quiet, narrow lane with abundant wild flowers growing along the banks. The day was starting to warm up after a chilly start and it was a real pleasure to walk over to Bodowyr - the dolmen itself stands within protective railings but with the magnificent views towards Snowdonia, the railings melted away.

Wonderful!

Bodowyr (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Bodowyr</b>Posted by tjj

Bryn Celli Ddu (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Bryn Celli Ddu</b>Posted by tjj

Bryn Celli Ddu (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

This was the first site we visited on Sunday 31/5/2015. Easy access via quite a long path up to the burial chamber - to get to it involves crossing a small bridge and river, there was something about this that reminded me of Stoney Littleton. Anyway, suffice to say it lived up to expectations in spite of being extensively restored. The stone pillar was of course an enigma; the mysterious stone with spirals is in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff - a day trip I can make from home soon to take a closer look (see photo of information board).

The midsummer solstice solar alignment is well documented on the interpretation board over in the small car park.

Bryn Celli Ddu (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Bryn Celli Ddu</b>Posted by tjj<b>Bryn Celli Ddu</b>Posted by tjj

Plas Newydd Burial Chamber (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Fieldnotes

I felt bit intimidated by the organisation of the National Trust on the Sunday morning we visited Plas Newydd - we didn't particularly want to go into the house a it was shaping up to be a pleasant day weather-wise so viewed the dolmen from the top of the slope is has restricted access to the public. At that time we didn't realise that unless you view Plas Newydd Burial Chamber from fairly close up it is not easy to see how splendid it is, certainly not from the path at the top of the slope where you can only see the top of it.
We went back the next day as the weather had turned wet and windy, it seemed like a good opportunity to have a look around the house. This time we asked to use the little motorised buggy that ferries less mobile people down to the house around the restricted access area. Nothing wrong with our mobility but it was a way of getting closer to the burial chamber. The driver of the buggy told us that the NT doesn't encourage people to get close to it but will allow if you specifically ask. He kindly pulled up in front of the dolmen so I could take a photograph. By this time the rain was lashing down and I had rain on the lens - so my photos are not brilliant but they do show there are actually two dolmens - a large on and a small one. The smaller one is virtually hidden from view if you look from the top of the slope. Obviously, they were there a few thousand years before the house and would have looked out over the Menai Straights towards Snowdonia.

In spite of the rain, we didn't stay long in the house ... that wasn't what I come for.

Plas Newydd Burial Chamber (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Plas Newydd Burial Chamber</b>Posted by tjj<b>Plas Newydd Burial Chamber</b>Posted by tjj

Bryn-yr-Hen-Bobl (Chambered Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Not sure where to start with my trip to Anglesey and North Wales so decided on this enigmatic small burial chamber. We went to Plas Newydd with the prime intention of seeing the dolmen on the front lawn of the house. It was a pleasant day so we decided to walk around the extensive grounds starting with the arboretum. I had given up on seeing Bryn-yr-Hen-Bobl as no one I asked seemed to know what I was talking about - on the way back from the wooded area I spotted it in a field adjacent to the Plas Newydd Gardens. We walked up to a locked gate and, feeling furtive, climbed over. The burial chamber itself is protected by a wooden fence and locked gate but easy to see it clearly over the wooden fence. Very satisfying to spot it and manage a quick visit.

Bryn-yr-Hen-Bobl (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Bryn-yr-Hen-Bobl</b>Posted by tjj

Petersfield Heath (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Images

<b>Petersfield Heath</b>Posted by tjj<b>Petersfield Heath</b>Posted by tjj<b>Petersfield Heath</b>Posted by tjj

Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse</b>Posted by tjj

Bratton Castle & Westbury White Horse (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Starting at Westbury White Horse today walked to Wellhead Springs which are approximately two miles from the White Horse along a well used bridleway. We didn't see them at first but when they came into view it was - yes, a magical moment. They are in a deep wooded combe which was a bit slippery to get down (but fun too). The water from the springs looked clear and clean though I didn't sample it. A dog walker told us that up until a few days earlier the place had been covered in litter. A solitary man had been down there over several days and cleared it all away with a wheelbarrow. What an unsung hero whoever he is.
Walking back uphill to a footpath which merges into the Wessex Ridgeway we came upon a massive hole in the side of the hill. A chalk quarry belonging to the concrete works in Westbury. I always wonder how this vandalism is allowed to occur to one place. I guess its just accepted in the name of commerce. So glad this hasn't been done elsewhere (to my knowledge anyway) on the wonderful chalk downs of Wiltshire.

http://www.corridor-alliance.co.uk/latestnews.html

Anglesey (County) — Links

Welsh History Month: A tale of two tombs ...


"The island of Anglesey has a personality all of its own. Sheltered in the lee of Snowdonia, it is the only area of fertile and accessible land in a region of high and barren mountains. It is, therefore, not surprising that settlers have been drawn to its shores from the dawn of history. And they have left us some of the most inspiring monuments in Wales."

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

Entry taken from "A Complete and Universal DICTIONARY of the English Language" by Revd. James Barclay - dated 1812.

STONEHENGE, a remarkable monument of antiquity situated on Salisbury Plain. It stands on the summit of a hill, which rises with a very gentle ascent; and consists of stones of enormous size, placed upon one another in a circular form: many of which are really stupendous, and cannot fail of filling the beholder with surprise and admiration. All the stones added together make just 140. One, at the upper end which is fallen down and broken in half, measures, according to Dr. Hales, 25 feet in length, 7 in breadth, and, at a medium, 3 and a half in thickness. The stones are supposed to have been brought from the Grey Weathers, upon Marlborough Downs, but the difficulty in bringing them hither, and especially in laying them one upon another, is inconceivable, as no mechanical powers now known are sufficient to raise those that lie across to their present extraordinary situation. It is supposed to have been a temple belonging to the Antient (sic) Druids. Stonehenge is 2 miles W. of Amesbury, and 6 N.N.W. of Salisbury.

Anglesey (County) — Links

Megalithic tour of Anglesey


Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Images

<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by tjj<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by tjj

Soussons Common Cairn Circle (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Soussons Common Cairn Circle</b>Posted by tjj

Grimspound & Hookney Tor — Images

<b>Grimspound & Hookney Tor</b>Posted by tjj<b>Grimspound & Hookney Tor</b>Posted by tjj<b>Grimspound & Hookney Tor</b>Posted by tjj

Grimspound & Hookney Tor — Fieldnotes

On a walking break for a few days in Devon last week. Spent a day (it was never going to be long enough) travelling to and walking on Dartmoor. First walk was to Wistman's Wood - a place I have long wanted to visit. Ancient twisted oaks dripping with silvery lichen and huge rocks covered in mosses, the place had another-worldly feel.
Later, a quick roadside stop to look at Soussons Common Cairn Circle and then on to Grimspound Bronze Age settlement.
Grimspound is one of the best known prehistoric settlements on Dartmoor, probably dating from the Late Bronze Age, with the remains of 24 houses/hut circles enclosed within a stone wall. A very impressive place to visit as positioned on the steep side of some spectacular moor land. A peaty fast flowing stream runs down past one side of the circular wall.
Text taken from 'Ancient Dartmoor' by Paul White says "The most famous of the pound settlements is Grimspound, which is untypical in the immense thickness of its outer walls. It has been calculated that these would have taken 35 man-years to make. Since the site is badly positioned for defence (and the Bronze Age was a remarkably peaceful period) it is hard to see why such a massive structure was needed." Paul White goes on to say it would be tempting to assume these people were pastoralists, keeping their sheep and cattle on the moor and bringing them in for protection from raiders such as wolves or 'the wild lads from the next valley', however, he adds there is no evidence to support these assumptions.

Avebury (Stone Circle) — News

AVEBURY'S WATERSCAPE


Steve Marshall will be giving a talk on springs, rivers & the Avebury monuments in Swindon!
Friday 26th Sept, 7.30pm, Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Bath Road.
Museum Friends £3.50, Non-members £4.50

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — News

Obama visits Stonehenge


"How cool is this" - BBC Points West publish a photo of President Obama strolling around Stonehenge this evening.

On Facebook under Points West.

Cley Hill (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

A chance visit, not planned at all. Just the other side of Warminster today on the way to somewhere else, spotted this marvelous enigmatic looking hill. Never seen before by me. Abandoned original plan with "Let's walk up it." Remarkably easy to access, just past the entrance to Longleat there is a National Trust signpost and small car park. Easy walk up ... today was very windy indeed which made it a lot of fun. There is a clear information board telling us about the Bronze Age bowl barrows, Iron Age hill fort and the six different varieties of orchid. Too late for the orchids today but amazing views - in some ways this hill reminded me of Uffington and even Glastonbury Tor as it has a smaller hill next to it. Very much the same 'feel' as Uffington but without the white horse of course.

Lovely, relatively, unsung place. Added to list of great hill forts around Wiltshire.

Cley Hill (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by tjj

Silbury Hill (Artificial Mound) — News

Silbury in August's Edition of Current Archaeology


In August's edition of Current Archaeology, Jim Leary talks about his theory first aired in 'The Story of Silbury Hill'. Did our ancestors build Silbury to mark the source of the Thames. I've always liked this theory.

http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/features/history/3319-did-our-ancestors-get-it-wrong-and-create-silbury-and-avebury-to-mark-the-source-of-the-thames

West Kennet Avenue Settlement Site (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — News

Update on second year dig at Avebury WK Avenue


http://www.marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk/features/history/3314-exciting-archaeological-finds-from-the-second-year-s-dig-at-avebury-s-west-kennet-avenue?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Archaeology students mostly from Southampton and Leicester universities have re-opened one trench from last year’s dig and opened another major area of investigation in West Kennet Avenue. This involves moving tons of turf and soil and getting down to a level of soil that has never been ploughed (“intact soil”) and so holds flints and other artefacts such as pottery shards, where they were dropped.

This part of the Avenue was chosen because it had been investigated by the marmalade millionaire Alexander Keiller in the 1930s and he had located a gap in Avenue’s stones. Such a gap must have been left for a reason – perhaps because there was a building or other special structure that had to be preserved.

Among these finds are several flint arrowheads – including one miniature barbed and tanged arrowhead (photo left) which the project's experts say is deliberately miniaturised. Whether it was made as a gift, a toy or for a ritual purpose is another matter altogether. Whatever the reason for making it, the workmanship is extraordinary.

This dig is part of the long term Between the Monuments programme which aims, as National Trust archaeologist Dr Nick Snashall puts it, “to put the people back into the Avebury site.” Finding out more about the routine lives and residence of the people who built and used Avebury’s henge and avenues should help understand why these monuments were made and why this site was chosen.

It is a collaborative research project between the University of Southampton (Dr Josh Pollard), University of Leicester (Dr Mark Gillings), Allen Environmental Archaeology (Dr Mike Allen) and the National Trust (Dr Ros Cleal & Dr Nick Snashall.)

On Tuesday (August 5), with only two full days to go before the dig had to finish and with some rain showers during the morning, people from the surrounding villages were shown over the site and heard about the project’s progress.

Despite the buckets, wheelbarrows and spades (there was even someone spotted wielding a pick axe – albeit on the upper layers of soil), archaeology makes use of all the latest technology. This year laser measuring equipment has been used on the site.

Dr Mark Gillings & soil samplesDr Mark Gillings & soil samplesAnd those plastic bags behind Dr Gillings (photo left) contain soil samples which will be analysed and may reveal tell-tale signs of plant life, what animals were about and so on. This is important as the soil is so acidic that snail shells and bones are not found – but pollen and chemical residues will be preserved and identified in the analysis.

Another recently available technique allows scientists to tell what different sizes and shapes of flint cutting tools were used for. This high-magnification process has shown one tool found last year was used to cut nettles – from which string and cords were made.

Another exciting find in one of last year’s trenches is what looks to the experts like the remains of a ‘possible hearth’. It was nearby in this trench that they discovered in 2013 twelve certain or probable stake-holes in a pattern that could justify the theory that they were part of a dwelling of some sort: it is very tempting to add two such finds together to make a dwelling.

And then, just when the students thought they had unearthed some really good and significant finds from many centuries BC, someone finds a mediaeval coin. Mind you, this coin far smaller than our five pence piece and paper thin, so spotting it amidst the soil and recognising that it was anything at all worth keeping from the spoil heap, is a testament to these students’ growing expertise and enthusiasm.

As ever, it is a matter of funding being available to allow a third year’s dig to reveal even more of the evidence of the human lives that flourished in between Avebury’s stones.

Wiltshire — News

Extension To Salisbury Museum opens


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-28276503

A £2.4m extension to Salisbury Museum housing more than 2,500 rare artefacts has opened.
The Wessex Gallery of Archaeology, which was partly funded by a lottery grant, is home to to a large collection of Stonehenge-related pieces.

These include the skeleton of a wealthy and powerful Bronze Age man dubbed the "Amesbury Archer" discovered in 2003.
The gallery also includes the Wardour Hoard containing 4,000-year-old sword fragments, spearheads and chisels.
Showing 1-50 of 617 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
Passionate about:
Nature; stone circles and all ancient sites that involve walking through unspoilt countryside/being near the sea; islands around the the British Isles, especially those with ancient monuments.

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