The stonehenge bluestones
Book cover (Designed by Martin John)
Greencroft Books, 256 pp, 110 illustrations. Full-colour A5 paperback.
Cover price £15.00
Publication Date 1st June 2018
Greencroft Books, Trefelin, Cilgwyn, Newport, Pembrokeshire SA42 0QN. Tel: 01239-820470.
Distribution: Welsh Books Council, Aberystwyth.
Brief author biography
Brian was born in Carmarthen, by accident. He studied at Haverfordwest Grammar School and at Jesus College, Oxford, where he read Geography from 1959 to 1962 and went on to obtain a D Phil for a study of the Ice Age in Wales. He worked as a field scientist in Antarctica and spent eleven years as a geography lecturer at Durham University. He has travelled widely in the Arctic, Antarctic and Scandinavia. Since 1977 he has made his living as a writer and publisher. He publishes under the Greencroft Books imprint.
Brian is also actively involved in environmental and community organisations; in 1980 he founded Eco Centre Wales in Newport and is one of the leaders of the community group GM Free Cymru. He is the author of innumerable articles and 90 books, including university texts, walking guides, coffee table glossies, and books of popular science. His "Glaciers and Landscape" (written with David Sugden), a university textbook, remained in print as a geomorphology classic for almost 30 years. In recognition of his contributions to polar geomorphology, a glacier in the Pensacola Mountains of Antarctica has been named John Glacier. He also writes on topics of local interest related to Wales: tourist guides, books of local jokes, walkers' handbooks, and titles on local folklore and traditions. In 2012 he won the Wishing Shelf Gold award for his children's book called "The Strange Affair of the Ethiopian Treasure Chest". In 2001 Brian published his first novel, set in North Pembrokeshire and called “On Angel Mountain”. It became an instant best-seller, and has now sold 37,000 copies. Its very imperfect heroine, Martha Morgan now features in another seven novels. The eight-volume Angel Mountain Saga now has accumulated sales of 84,000 copies.
Another of Brian’s abiding interests is the local connection between the Stonehenge bluestones and the Preseli Hills. His first book on this topic has gone through several printings and is now sold out, and a more controversial sequel, called “The Stonehenge Bluestones”, is published in June 2018.
1. The Enigma of the Foreign Stones
Sarsens and bluestones
The Pembrokeshire connection
The Preseli tors
2. Stonehenge and the Bluestones
The holes and the stones
Earthworks and pits
The stone settings
Many pits, but how many stones?
The origins of the sarsens
The origins of the bluestones
The Stonehenge Layer
3. The Bluestone Transport Myth
Once upon a time.....
Testing the myth
The Millennium Stone fiasco
4. The Fable of Merlin the Wizard
Concerning the prophecies of Merlin
The back story
Politics and marketing
5. Spreading the Myth
Variations on a theme
Dating the bluestone expeditions
Other dating methods
The starry sky
The Boscombe Bowmen
The Neolithic argonauts
The Enchanted Land
The healing springs
The 2008 Stonehenge dig
The stones of the ancestors
Orthodoxies and Dissidents
6. The Bluestone Quarrying Myth
The Carn Meini “quarry”
The Rhosyfelin “quarry”
The Carn Goedog “quarry”
The making of the myth
7. The Science of the Stones
The geological evidence
Packing stones and mauls
Axe-heads and battle axes
The Altar Stone
Those other sandstones
The Berwick St James mystery
The volcanic ashes
Other inconvenient stones
The clay-with-flints puzzle
The “periglacial stripes”
The bluestone assemblage
8. The Work of Ice
The wider context
Glacial features of eastern Preseli
Glacial traces in the South-West
Reconstructing the glacier
Ice movement and entrainment
The bluestone erratics train
Erratics, magic and mythology
A Matter of Convenience
9. The Balance of Probabilities
On human quarrying and transport
On glacial entrainment and transport
Keeping it simple
One hundred years ago it was discovered that the Stonehenge bluestones had come from a small area in West Wales. Since then, the stones have been at the centre of one of the greatest controversies in prehistory. Geologists and archaeologists have argued about how and when they were moved, and for what purpose. In the discussions, myth-making has unfortunately been a greater priority than sound science. In a dramatic development, following a forensic examination of the evidence from many disciplines, and drawing on exciting new research, earth scientist Brian John now shows that the stones were not quarried or transported by our Neolithic ancestors. Instead, they were carried eastwards by the great Irish Sea Glacier almost half a million years ago, and used where they were found by the builders of Stonehenge. And when the stones ran out, the great building project ground to a halt.......... the great prehistoric icon always was a ruin.
This book is a detective story with a difference. Written in an easy and accessible style, and lavishly illustrated, it will cause a fundamental reassessment of “the science of the stones”, upset many archaeologists, and enhance our sense of wonder about the forces at work in the natural world.
Of interest to a general readership and also to those who study archaeology, landscape, the history of science, geology and cultural heritage.
The author Brian John is an earth scientist who has a special interest in the Ice Age. He has more than 90 books to his name, including the best-selling 8-volume Angel Mountain Saga. He lives in the source area of the bluestones, and has studied it in detail for many years.
SOME ILLUSTRATIONs from the book
BACK COVER BLURB
The mysterious bluestones of Stonehenge have caused heated debate for a hundred years, following the discovery that they came from West Wales. Were they quarried and carried on sledges and rafts all the way to Salisbury Plain by our Neolithic ancestors? And did the famous monument ever look as immaculate as the archaeologists have imagined it?
Following a meticulous examination of exciting new research from Stonehenge and West Wales, earth scientist Brian John tests a number of fondly-held beliefs to destruction. He concludes that the bluestones are all glacial erratics, carried eastwards by the Irish Sea Glacier almost half a million years ago and gathered up not far from the monument.
This book is a detective story with a difference. It will cause a fundamental reassessment of “the science of the stones” and enhance our sense of wonder about the forces at work in the natural world.
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