An ancient bluestone of the type used to build England’s world-famous stone circle Stonehenge was stolen from Preseli Hills in Wales, bundled into a car, and taken 10 miles away to be used as garden ornamentation.
At Mynachlog-ddu in west Wales, at around 3pm on Sunday December 29th, officers from Dyfed-Powys Police received a report that one of the famous bluestones selected to form part of England’s most famous Neolithic monument , Stonehenge, had been stolen.
The criminals, however, were filmed digging up the stone and loading it into the trunk of a car. Soon after the police discovered it being used as a garden feature only 10 miles away.
Mynachlog-ddu location within Pembrokeshire, where the bluestone was stolen. (Nilfanion / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
An Unusual Crime
In what was not a dazzling show of policing, after reviewing CCTV footage with a cuppa, two men could be seen digging the stone up and putting it in the trunk of their car, and additional video from the eyewitness revealed the car's registration. This allowed officers to identify the suspects' home address in Narberth where the large rock was seen in the front garden, seized, and returned to a chapel for safe keeping.
Unfortunately, according to a report on Wales Online , Inspector Reuben Palin, of the Dyfed-Powys Police, said bluestones are “regularly taken from the Preseli” but in this case it was “quite unusual” having a witness to the theft, who the police thanked for filming while the stone was dug up and stolen.
Stealing Spiritual Healing
The man responsible for having stolen the stone admitted the theft and in his own defense he told police he was unaware that it was illegal to remove it, so he was advised on UK law. Furthermore, Dyfed-Powys Police have reminded the public that it is illegal to remove bluestones from their natural area and said while it might not seem like taking bluestone is causing harm “it is in fact illegal”, said Inspector Palin.
You would think that one of our spiritually advanced [humans], those who maintain they have a connection with greater energy systems than scientists can measure, would be more ‘tuned in’ to these ancient stones that make up the Mynydd Preseli site in Pembrokeshire, but the police inspector said that in the past we have had people take bluestone for the “ spiritual and healing property it is believed to possess”.
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- Ancient stone with strange carvings, possibly Anglo-Saxon, turns up in garden shop
- Stonehenge is not the only prehistoric monument that has been moved - but it is still unique
Mynydd Preseli site where bluestone are believed to process spiritual and healing properties. (Derek Voller / CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Stonehenge Has The Blues
The towering stones we see today at England’s Stonehenge were at one time surrounded by a circle of 56 wooden posts which many archeologists think were used to record the positions of the sun and the moon for the prediction of eclipses, seasonal changes, and to assist in agriculture. The ‘bluestone’ horseshoe at the center of Stonehenge is thought to have contained 19 individual stones representing the approximate number of solar years it takes for the sun and moon to complete a ‘ Metonic cycle ’ and then almost recalibrate.
Depiction of the 19 years of the Metonic cycle. Bluestones were used to depict the 19 solar years. (Dbachmann / )
The Dyfed-Powys Police have not released the specific location the thief was operating in, and there remains a chance he loaded his car with a stone from an area ‘not’ associated with Stonehenge, as for almost a century, according to The Guardian , archaeologists in the Welsh hillside have been chipping away at the “wrong rocky outcrop” on the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire.
About Turn, Everyone Is Wrong
Where the stones came from that were used to build Stonehenge greatly adds to the scientific understanding of its builders’ skills and the famous geologist Herbert Henry Thomas first linked the Stonehenge bluestones with Preseli in 1923. Dr. Thomas pinpointed the tor on Carn Menyn as the likely source of the famous bluestones, located over 190 miles from the ancient Wiltshire monument at the heart of southwest England.
Since the 1920s, archaeologists have examined ‘Carn Menyn’ but modern researchers now think the bluestones actually came from ‘Carn Goedog’ which is almost a mile away. Richard Bevins, keeper of geology at the National Museum of Wales , who made this observation told The Guardian that he “didn’t expect to get Christmas cards from the archaeologists who have been excavating at the wrong place” and therefore drawing up wrong conclusions over all these years.
Carn Menyn bluestones. These dolerite slabs, split by frost action, seem to be stacked ready for the taking, and many have been removed over the centuries for local use. (ceridwen / CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Better Luck Next Time
According to Dr. Rob Ixer, of University College London, in a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science , the bluestones are believed to have arrived at Stonehenge about 4,500 years ago and the scientist said “everything we believed 10 years ago about the bluestones has been shown to be partially or completely incorrect”. And more so than the much larger sarsen stones that give Stonehenge its familiar shape, some experts believe the bluestones “were the real draw” because they were believed to have healing powers.
Maybe the man who stole the bluestone was looking for some healing powers for his garden, but it would be advised that before stealing spirituality, maybe start with stealing a good luck charm.
Crime in the Hamptons Is Exactly Like You'd Expect
In many ways the Hamptons are a typical wealthy resort town, and the crime reports tend to reflect that — you've got your garden-variety DUI's, Goldman Sachs employee arrests, and unlocked car thefts (seriously people, how hard is it to lock your goddamn cars?) — but the East End's paper of record, the East Hampton Star, has also recorded some ephemeral, bizarre, and truly poetic criminal encounters over the season.
Police were called out for the Ragamuffin Parade last Sunday but there were no cases of unruliness reported.
A Woods Lane resident called police Sunday evening, worried that he had left his coffeepot on. When police got to the house, a caretaker told them he had turned it off.
Police were warned that the actress Betty Buckley has been the victim of a stalker recently. She appeared at a Bay Street Theatre show on Saturday, but the stalker did not.
A worker at a Terry Drive site complained last week that “an old man in a blue trench coat” had yelled at him and let the air out of his tires.
The police received another call about the Huntting Lane man who has twice recently chased errant tourists off his property, waving a grass rake. This time, the man began shouting at a passing jogger, accusing her of being on his property. Police advised him to call them next time he thinks someone is trespassing.
Two men charged with aggravated drunken driving who were seated next to each other on the prisoners’ bench Sunday morning found that their families knew each other.
Late one night, an elderly resident of Egypt Close reported a prowler with a flashlight in her yard. Police concluded that what she’d seen was her neighbor turning on his lights.
The defendant [arrested for a DUI in the Hamptons for a wedding] asked Justice Cahill if he could talk to her about getting an attorney. “Talk to the bride. She has connections,” the justice said, as she set bail at $500.
Vehicles parking for a Georgica Road yard sale drew the ire of Peter Minnick on Saturday morning. He told police that drivers were parking on his lawn and damaging the grass. Police told him that no laws were being broken and that the grass would be fine.
Only two people were charged with drunken driving last week, one in East Hampton Town and one in the village, as sure a signal as falling leaves that summer has ended.
A dog, apparently off its leash, mauled a fox at Two Mile Harbor Beach last Saturday afternoon. When police arrived the fox was dead, and the dog was gone.
If Diogenes had gone looking for an honest man on Friday afternoon, Sept. 6, he could have started and ended on Gay Lane in front of the post office. George Dracker of Dayton Lane found a large bill there, right in the middle of the road, and turned it in to police headquarters on Cedar Street, where it awaits a claimant.
A $16,000 stainless steel Rolex watch encrusted with diamonds was reported stolen by a Scarsdale, N.Y., woman last Thursday. She told police it was taken from her bag while she was at Main Beach. On Sunday police received a voicemail message from the woman, telling them she was back home and had found the watch there.
A large turtle was reported making its way across the 7-Eleven parking lot last week. By the time an officer arrived, it had reached the back of the professional building, headed toward the sandy beach beyond. No action was taken.
An East Hampton Town employee spoke to police after discovering on July 15 that a graffiti artist had drawn a portrait of the late reggae star Bob Marley and the words “One Love” and “Bob Marley” inside the men’s bathroom at Albert’s Landing Beach.
A Pleasant Lane homeowner found a large American flag on Newtown Lane on July 10. Police took charge of the flag.
A 7-year-old boy called police last Thursday, crying that his mother was missing. The child had woken from a nap and did not realize that she was on the back patio having dinner.
Police received a call on June 25 about a swan blocking the road at Ocean Avenue, and later in the day there was another report of the same swan, now said to be chasing a little girl. Officers chased the large bird into the water.
A Key West, Fla., man argued for — and won — an unusual way to beat the high cost of living in East Hampton last week: He got four days in the county jail, where the meals and beds are free.
Police received a report on May 29 that two teenagers were “making out in the park.” They left after an officer told them that Herrick Park is a “family-oriented place.”
Police were called to Egypt Close Saturday night to quell an eruption of “human noise, yelling, singing, shouting, etc.” The officer found only silence on the street, and marked the call “unfounded.”
Police investigating reported “cursing and shouting” on Newtown Lane one afternoon last week came upon a Montauk 17-year-old “who was attempting to free-style rap.” He was asked to take his artistry elsewhere, which he did.
A Wainscott woman who refused to be searched at East Hampton Town police headquarters following a car crash Sunday afternoon stripped off all her clothes in protest, according to the arrest report.
Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates the date in 1862 that a weaker Mexican army turned back French invading forces in the city of Puebla. Sag Harbor celebrants attempted a re-enactment of the battle, with altercations that night between intoxicated men reported outside La Superica and the 7-Eleven on West Water Street.
Speculation and excavation
Stonehenge has long been the subject of historical speculation, and ideas about the meaning and significance of the structure continued to develop in the 21st century. English antiquarian John Aubrey in the 17th century and his compatriot archaeologist William Stukeley in the 18th century both believed the structure to be a Druid temple. This idea has been rejected by more-recent scholars, however, as Stonehenge is now understood to have predated by some 2,000 years the Druids recorded by Julius Caesar.
In 1963 American astronomer Gerald Hawkins proposed that Stonehenge had been constructed as a “computer” to predict lunar and solar eclipses other scientists also attributed astronomical capabilities to the monument. Most of these speculations, too, have been rejected by experts. In 1973 English archaeologist Colin Renfrew hypothesized that Stonehenge was the centre of a confederation of Bronze Age chiefdoms. Other archaeologists, however, have since come to view this part of Salisbury Plain as a point of intersection between adjacent prehistoric territories, serving as a seasonal gathering place during the 4th and 3rd millennia bce for groups living in the lowlands to the east and west. In 1998 Malagasy archaeologist Ramilisonina proposed that Stonehenge was built as a monument to the ancestral dead, the permanence of its stones representing the eternal afterlife.
In 2008 British archaeologists Tim Darvill and Geoffrey Wainwright suggested—on the basis of the Amesbury Archer, an Early Bronze Age skeleton with a knee injury, excavated 3 miles (5 km) from Stonehenge—that Stonehenge was used in prehistory as a place of healing. However, analysis of human remains from around and within the monument shows no difference from other parts of Britain in terms of the population’s health.
The Stonehenge that is visible today is incomplete, many of its original sarsens and bluestones having been broken up and taken away, probably during Britain’s Roman and medieval periods. The ground within the monument also has been severely disturbed, not only by the removal of the stones but also by digging—to various degrees and ends—since the 16th century, when historian and antiquarian William Camden noted that “ashes and pieces of burnt bone” were found. A large, deep hole was dug within the stone circle in 1620 by George Villiers, 1st duke of Buckingham, who was looking for treasure. A century later William Stukeley surveyed Stonehenge and its surrounding monuments, but it was not until 1874–77 that Flinders Petrie made the first accurate plan of the stones. In 1877 Charles Darwin dug two holes in Stonehenge to investigate the earth-moving capabilities of earthworms. The first proper archaeological excavation was conducted in 1901 by William Gowland.
About half of Stonehenge (mostly on its eastern side) was excavated in the 20th century by the archaeologists William Hawley, in 1919–26, and Richard Atkinson, in 1950–78. The results of their work were not fully published until 1995, however, when the chronology of Stonehenge was revised extensively by means of carbon-14 dating. Major investigations in the early 21st century by the research team of the Stonehenge Riverside Project led to further revisions of the context and sequence of Stonehenge. Timothy Darvill and Geoffrey Wainwright’s 2008 excavation was smaller but nonetheless important.
Like Stonehenge, Waun Mawn was aligned to the solstices for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset, until most of its stones were moved in 3000BC.
A few centuries later, the larger sarsens – for which Stonehenge is best known today – were brought from a source 15 miles away and placed around the outside of the bluestones, which are thought to have previously formed a much larger circle.
Today, 43 of Stonehenge’s estimated 83 bluestones survive, though many are buried beneath the grass.
Moving them over nearly 200 miles of craggy terrain with no wheels would have been a huge task: they are around two-metres tall and weigh between one and three tons.
Stonehenge Bluestone Stolen for Garden Ornamentation - History
The thief swiped the bluestone last week from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where some of the stone used for the Wiltshire monument was quarried and transported
Ancient stones used to build Stonehenge are being stolen, police have warned, as one thief took them to use as a garden ornament.
The thief swiped the bluestone last week from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where some of the stone used for the Wiltshire monument was quarried and transported.
Officers tracked it down to a garden 10 miles away.The person responsible said they weren’t aware it was illegal to remove it from the area.
Inspector Reuben Palin said:“This case was quite unusual in that there was actually a witness to the theft, who swiftly started filming while the stone was dug up and put into a car.
Burl on Boles Barrow
Following some recent correspondence on this blog about Boles Barrow (again), I have taken another look at Aubrey Burl's writings on the subject. The barrow (otherwise known as Heytesbury 1) is generally classified as an earthen Neolithic long barrow, dated to approx 6,000 - 5,000 years BP. Burl is convinced that the big stones in this long barrow were sealed in place about a thousand years before the Steonehenge Q and R holes were dug and stones placed into them.
Burl knows his subject well, and has researched it carefully -- and in several of his books he describes the discovery by William Cunnington in 1801 of a lump of "bluestone of the kind later to be set up in concentric circles at Stonehenge." Burl says it was one of a number of loose stones so loosely stacked that they cane tumbling down as the excavation was under way. Above these stones was a capping of white marl -- which presumably means chalk detritus. Most of the big stones were sarsens, up to 200 lb in weight.
Cunnington lived just 3 miles from Boles Barrow, in the village of Heytesbury. He was a good enough geologist to know the difference between sarsen and spotted dolerite. He was so taken with these stones that he took ten of them and arranged them in a circle around a tree in his lawn. Later on (some time before 1860) the stone was removed from Cunnington's garden to the grounds of Heytesbury House, where it was known as the "Stonehenge Stone" -- not because it had come from Stonehenge but because it was clearly like the best-known of the bluestones there. Later on, in 1934, it was given by Siegfried Sassoon to the Salisbury Museum, where it remains to this day. Its dimensions were (and presumably still are) 76 cm x 67 cm x 41 cm. It was weighed and found to weigh over 12 cwt -- just about manageable by three men working together. So it was a big heavy boulder -- not a pillar like the most famous of the Stonehenge bluestones.
This stone has for a very long time been extremely inconvenient to those who subscribe to the "human bluestone transport theory" because it suggests that at least one big chunk of bluestone was present on Salisbury Plain a thousand years too early. Accordingly, many writers -- including James Scourse and Chris Green -- have gone out of their way to question the provenance of the stone and to suggest that it was really taken from Stonehenge either by Cunnington or somebody else, and mistakenly identified as the stone from Boles Barrow. They have no hard evidence to support this contention -- the best they can say is that the provenance is inadequately established. That is a pretty feeble line to take, and Burl gives it short shrift. Did Scourse and Green expect that the stones in Cunnington's garden should have written provenances, or bronze plaques with "certified places of origin" affixed to them" ? Burl argues that Cunnington was a fastidious recorder and that there is no reason why he or anybody else would get their stones and their provenances mixed up. In any case, he says, the careful survey of the Stonehenge stones and stumps by Flinders Petrie in 1877 established that no bluestones had been stolen or removed from the site between 1747 (the date of John Wood's plan) and 1877. He also suggests that if Cunnington was indeed into the business of boulder collecting, he was much more likely to collect stones from a ruinous and collapsed long barrow close to his home than from Stonehenge, which was deemed -- even in 1801 -- to be a very valuable archaeological site.
That's all good enough for me. Burl is dismissive of the human transport fantasy, saying in his book called "A Brief History of Stonehenge" (2007): "There was no human transportation. It is a geological certainty that agrees with several quite independent facts."
In accepting that the Stonehenge bluestones were from an assemblage of glacial erratics, Burl has not made any firm pronouncement (as far as I know) on where this assemblage was located. He suggests a site somewhere in West Wiltshire -- and inclines to the view that the stones were somewhere near Heytesbury and Boles Barrow, about 12 miles from Stonehenge, available on the ground surface and ready to be picked up. He mentions a place named Breakheart Bottom. Appropriate name, that.
The stone diaries
A week tomorrow is the summer solstice. The druids, the pilgrims and an assorted army of expectant people will gather at Stonehenge to greet the dawn. If it's clear weather, they will hope to see the disc of the midsummer sun appear in the gap between two of the huge sarsen uprights, in line with the single monolith of the heel stone. Then they will sing and rejoice and inhale the flow of spiritual force.
But they won't quite see it. They never will, because the heel stone is not quite where they want it to be. The midsummer sun actually appears a few degrees to the left of it and all the photographers shuffle a pace or so to the side to make it look like a perfect alignment. The heel stone is not an astrological sighting-mark, but was originally one of a pair: two outlying uprights which formed something like a gateway to the main circle. And Stonehenge was probably not about midsummer sunrise at all. Its line-up makes more sense if it was aimed in the opposite direction, at the midwinter solstice in late December.
Nobody cares much. For at least six centuries, since the first mention of the place by chroniclers, Stonehenge has been a gigantic peg on which every kind of dream, myth or interpretation has been hung, like a succession of wreaths. As each wreath withered, it has been replaced by another. Stonehenge has been stones whirled through the air from Ireland by Merlin, a druid temple erected by the ancient Britons, a stellar observatory planned with accuracy down to the last megalithic inch, a shrine put up by Mycenaean colonists from Greece, a landing site used by aliens.
And, as excavations now suggest, these changing wreaths of new interpretation were already being hung on the monument by the peoples who raised and constantly redesigned it. Today, the fashion is to see it as a late, spectacular ornament added to an already ancient sacred landscape extending for miles around it.
Now Stonehenge is being redesigned yet again. After 10 years of wrangling, the government has put its weight behind a plan to 'save' Stonehenge for the future. The monument is now caught in the angle between two busy roads: the A344, which passes a few feet away from the stones, and the major A303, whose traffic roars and glitters a few hundred yards to the south of them.
The Highways Agency plan is to remove the A344 altogether and to bury the A303 in a 2.1km bored tunnel (costing some £192 million). The landscape around the stones is to be restored to open grassland. The tatty visitor centre and car park, now a beer can's throw away from the circle, will be abolished and a new, superior centre built by English Heritage a mile away over King Barrow Ridge. The idea is to bring back a lonely, silent Stonehenge, towering over unfenced prairies across which the 21st-century public can wander in freedom.
A four-month public enquiry into the scheme has now ended and the inspector will probably deliver his conclusions in September. If he favours the official scheme, the government could approve it early next year, grassland restoration could start at once and the road construction finished by 2008.
It all sounds generous and imaginative. But there is tremendous opposition. The inquiry revealed that English Heritage and the Highways Agency are almost totally isolated in supporting the plan. Fierce objections came from a grand coalition which included the National Trust (owners of most of the Stonehenge surroundings), the Council for British Archaeology, the Prehistoric Society, the World Archaeological Congress, and the powerful Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, to name only the most formidable.
Their case is that the plan misses the opportunity of the century. Ambitious as it sounds, it does not go nearly far enough and it inflicts damage on the wider ritual landscape which would be irreparable for generations. The roads at present sever buried structures (such as the great processional avenue which can be traced from the stones down to the River Avon), and form a barrier separating patterns of burial mounds and carefully placed long barrows which can only be understood as a whole.
The present scheme leaves most of this 'severance' in place. It would also disrupt a setting of monuments at the west end of the tunnel, while the deep approach cuttings to the tunnel portals would form an impassable trench across much of the land to the south of the stones.
What most of the objectors want is a much longer tunnel. Back in 1995, a planning conference which included English Heritage agreed to recommend a 4.5km bored tunnel, which would clear both the avenue and the cluster of barrows at the western end of the site. But the cost of this 'long bored tunnel' would come to between £300m and £400m and the response of John Major's government was to drop the whole project like a hot brick. The Stonehenge improvements were struck off the 1996 roads programme.
Deadlock ensued. English Heritage played with an idea of 'privatising' Stonehenge under Tussaud's management which fizzled out. Suddenly, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, then head of English Heritage, put forward a totally different plan: a tunnel of only 2km built by the much cheaper method of 'cut and cover' instead of deep boring.
There was an instant outcry. Not only was the tunnel far too short, archaeologists and conservationists protested, but 'cut and cover' (digging a cutting and roofing it over) would destroy forever a wide swath of precious ground crammed with relics of neolithic and Bronze Age life, death and reverence. The Blair government came to power and in 2002, after long brooding, suggested a slightly longer tunnel (2.1 km) but securely underground in a deep bored tunnel. English Heritage decided to back this, the origin of the present scheme. The National Trust hesitated but then decided to oppose it, holding out not for the long tunnel but for a 2.8km bore which would at least dive beneath the avenue and allow the reconnection of its long, curving route from the river to the stones.
English Heritage probably went for the short cutting-tunnel simply to break the logjam and get the government back into discussion. But there is still intense bitterness about its changes of mind. One inquiry witness, archaeologist Chris Chippendale, suggested that English Heritage's hopes of making money from the new visitor centre constituted a conflict of interest, and that its evidence to the inquiry should be struck out. What the inspector will decide about the roads scheme is anyone's guess, although many 'Stonehenge stakeholders' fear he will accept the Highways Agency plan with only minor suggestions for amendment.
Several of them, like archaeologists Mike Parker-Pearson and Peter Stone, say openly that it would be better to leave Stonehenge as it is, roaring roads and all, than accept a half-baked design which would delay any proper solution for at least 30 years. Parker-Pearson adds: 'This is a textbook example of how to destroy a monumental setting.'
The stones themselves are a structure so marvellous, and still revealing such incredible details of their story, that it's easy to forget their surroundings. The bluestones, each weighing several tons, were dragged down from the Welsh mountains and rafted - apparently - across the Bristol Channel. The sarsen blocks, almost as hard as granite and weighing tens of tons, were somehow brought across the hills beyond the Vale of Pewsey, 24 miles away, and down the Avon valley. These monsters were shaped and smoothed only with stone tools, reared into trilithons whose lintels are held in place by carved mortices and tenons - woodworking techniques used by people whose temples, until now, had been made of timber. Thirty million man-hours were required, it's calculated, for the circle's construction. It's almost easier to believe that Merlin raised the place by sorcery. The stones are overwhelming.
And yet they are only the surviving tip of a vaster thing, a half-known landscape of sacred places made of timber and earth which stretches beyond the horizons. This is the point made by the objectors. The plan's central flaw is that it sees only the stones - the monument as it exists in 2004 - and is bothered only about what can be seen and heard from that particular spot.
This ignores the 'greater Stonehenge' which exists both in time and space. The stones are only the finale. The time dimensions strain imagination. The last remodelling of the sarsen and bluestone ring took place in about 1900BC, as long before the Roman invasion as we are distant from the Romans. The first earth and timber ring on the spot was constructed just after 3000BC. and the sarsens were reared at 2400BC. But this was near the end of many sacred millennia, when wooden henge temples, ritual enclosures and long barrows already studded the area.
That sacredness seems to have begun almost 10,000 years ago. Under the present car park were found the sockets of three enormous pinewood uprights, perhaps totem poles, erected by hunter-gatherers around 7500BC. Between then and 1600BC, when the stones and the ancient ritual landscape finally went out of use, runs a river of magical time almost 6,000 years long.
All around Stonehenge, burial mounds still exist, isolated or set in lines along the downland slopes. But much of this greater Stonehenge is invisible or visible only as shadows on the turf when the grass is short. This is true of the processional avenue. It is also true of the cursus, one of those long, mystifying neolithic monuments shaped like a racetrack, which runs across the fields to the north of the stones. Both can be seen, but only when an expert points them out.
Every year, more is found. Much was made at the inquiry of a long palisade - tall posts set tightly together - which is beginning to emerge near the visitor centre. Parker-Pearson is investigating what may be an earlier bluestone monument, in a plantation near the cursus. All over the area, unmarked burials keep turning up like the 'Amesbury archer', an Alpine immigrant warrior buried in the early Bronze Age with his weapons and gold jewellery.
The most important 'greater Stonehenge' is not the visible one, not even the known but invisible one, but the unknown. Understanding of how this vast interlace of pathways, waterways, tombs, stones and enclosures fitted into a pattern is only just beginning to dawn. What knowledge is hidden in those square miles of undisturbed subsoil? Shouldn't they be classified as a monument more fragile than the stones? Isn't the plan to drive broad tunnel cuttings through that subsoil a crime against 'heritage'?
Archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes once wrote that every generation gets the Stonehenge it desires and deserves. All the grand plans for managing the place turn sour and come to be seen as blunders within 10 or 20 years. The decision in 1901 by the landowner Sir Edward Antrobus to fence off the stones and charge a shilling for admission was overturned after the First World War (so was an attempt by the RAF to knock the stones down as a danger to aircraft).
A plan by the Office of Works in the 1920s to clear the landscape of modern additions was frustrated by the appearance of a pig farm and a Stonehenge cafe and by the building of the road which is now the A303. The current situation, in which the trilithons rise out of a subtopia of main roads, car parks and an overcrowded visitor centre, dates from the 1960s and has been described by Parliament as 'a national disgrace'. This latest scheme, if it goes through, may well be considered a disaster even before it is completed.
In the end, Stonehenge can have no solution. This is for two reasons and the first is about the public. Everyone now wants a more accessible Stonehenge, but everyone also wants to clear its setting back to romantic solitude. These are incompatible hopes. What 'empty solitude' can there be when Stonehenge gets a million visitors a year, as it soon will?
The second reason is that Stonehenge is not a problem but a process. It is still alive and talking to us, as more slowly emerges to reveal the complex mysteries of this landscape. In 50 years' time, we will understand the place in a very different way. That will mean different visions of how to approach and appreciate it. The answer to 'When was Stonehenge?' is not 'in the neolithic and Bronze Ages'. Stonehenge is today and, above all, it is tomorrow.
Bedd Arthur has been closely linked to Stonehenge, although no comprehensive study has been opened into how much they share in common.
Located in Pembrokeshire's Preseli mountain range, it is unclear when the circle was first erected.
It is believed that it was once on top of a mound that disappeared 4,800 years ago or so.
According to local folklore, Bedd Arthur - which translates from Welsh as 'Arthur's Grave' - is the resting place of King Arthur.
Researchers thus think that it may have originally served as a tomb, although whether Arthur is truly buried there remains unknown.
Stonehenge: The UK is filled with mysterious stone circles similar to that seen at Stonehenge (Image: GETTY)
A303 tunnel: Protestors occupy the site in reaction to the controversial A303 tunnel (Image: GETTY)
Indigenous history Edit
Indigenous Australians occupied the area long before maritime activities shaped the modern historical development of Williamstown. The Yalukit-willam clan of the Kulin nation were the first people to call Hobsons Bay home.  They roamed the thin coastal strip from Werribee to Williamstown/Hobsons Bay.
The Yalukit-willam were one clan in a language group known as the Bunurong, which included six clans along the coast from the Werribee River, across the Mornington Peninsula, Western Port Bay to Wilsons Promontory.
The Yalukit-willam referred to the Williamstown area as "koort-boork-boork", a term meaning "clump of she-oaks", literally "She-oak, She-oak, many." 
The head of the Yalikut-willam tribe at the time of the arrival of the first white settlers was Benbow, who became one of John Batman's guides. [ citation needed ]
Colonial exploration and settlement Edit
The first European to arrive at the place now known as Williamstown was Acting-Lieutenant Charles Robbins, who explored Point Gellibrand with his survey party in 1803. [ citation needed ] The mouth of the Yarra River was later inspected in May and June 1835 by a party led by John Batman who recognised the potential of the Melbourne town-site for settlement. The site of what became Williamstown they named Port Harwood, after the captain of one of their ships. [ citation needed ]
In November 1835, Captain Robson Coltish, master of the barque Norval sailed from Launceston, then crossing Bass Strait with a cargo of 500 sheep and 50 Hereford cattle which had been consigned by Dr. Alexander Thomson. After reaching the coastline of Port Phillip, Captain Coltish chose the area now known as Port Gellibrand, as a suitable place to unload his cargo. Within weeks of the first consignment, a stream of vessels began making their way across Bass Strait. Because of the sheltered harbour, many of these new arrivals decided to settle in the immediate area. [ citation needed ]
When Governor Richard Bourke and Captain William Lonsdale visited the emergent settlement at Port Phillip in 1837, they both felt the main site of settlement at Point Gellibrand would emerge at the estuary and they renamed it William's Town after King William IV, then the English monarch. It served as the Settlement of Port Phillip's first anchorage and as the centre for port facilities until the late 19th century. 
Williamstown was initially considered along with the sites that became known as Geelong and Melbourne for the capital of the new colony at Port Phillip. Although Williamstown offered excellent proximity to anchorage, Melbourne was ultimately chosen due to its abundance of fresh water.   Wiliamstown remained an important port of the new colony, and the first streets of old William's Town were laid out in 1837 with that in mind.
The first land sales in the area took place in 1837.  A 30-metre stone jetty was built by convict labour in 1838 where Gem Pier now stands. That same year a ferry service between Melbourne and Williamstown was established aboard the steamer Fire Fly.  It was used to convey passengers, as well as sheep and cattle from Tasmania. 
The first lighthouse, a wooden one with an oil-burning beacon at the top, was erected at Point Gellibrand in 1840.  In that same year a water police superintendent was appointed to Williamstown.  Williamstown remains the present-day home of the Victorian Water Police. 
A bluestone lighthouse was built in 1849–50 to replace the original wooden one. It only operated as a lighthouse until 1860, when a Pile Light was built and anchored off Shelly Beach,  after which it served as a time ball tower. 
Victorian gold rush and wheat boom Edit
Williamstown had been a primitive settlement until the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, but after the gold seekers began to arrive, many from the tin mines of Cornwall, and many more from the Californian gold fields, the settlement's growth was phenomenal. The first Williamstown Post Office opened on 1 March 1850. 
In 1853, an astronomical observatory was constructed at Point Gellibrand by the timeball tower, but it was moved to the Kings Domain in Melbourne ten years later when the Melbourne Observatory was established.
Australia's first telegraph line began operating between Melbourne and Williamstown on 3 March 1854. At this time, the timeball was moved to the Telegraph Station at Point Gellibrand. The Williamstown Chronicle, the first Victorian suburban newspaper, was established in 1854.  The Williamstown Freemasons chapter was also established in 1854. 
The first railway in Australia was established by the Melbourne & Hobson's Bay Railway Company in 1854 [ citation needed ] , and ran from Flinders Street to Station Pier in Sandridge (Port Melbourne). It went bankrupt, and this vital part of Victorian era infrastructure was only permanently established in the new colony by the Victorian Colonial Government. The first government line in Australia (1857) ran from Point Gellibrand to Spencer Street, at the western end of Melbourne's "golden mile".
Fort Gellibrand was built in 1855 during the Crimean War, to guard against a possible Russian invasion.  It was still in use sixty years later for training new soldiers for World War 1.
By 1858, Williamstown's two hotels had grown to 17. By 1864 there were 26. The Victoria Yacht Club was established in 1856 as yachting on Hobsons Bay became more popular. Also in 1856, a baths complex beside Williamstown Beach was built at the end of Garden Street. The baths were run by Mr Lillington, and was specified as 'ladies only' in 1859. 
The first lightship to mark the reef off Point Gellibrand was the former barque New Constitution which the Government purchased in October 1856 for £1050. It took up station on 25 July 1859. In May 1860, tenders were called for construction of a new lightship off Point Gellibrand. The new lightship consisted of two white lights of equal height, 24 feet (7.3 m) apart, and was shown from a temporary anchor in 4.5 fathoms of water. This lightship guarded Gellibrand's Point reef from 1861 until 1895. 
Williamstown Post Office (the oldest post office building still standing in Victoria) and a Mechanics Institute were built in 1860.   By 1861 Williamstown had 13 slips for boat repairs and building, and pier accommodation for 40 vessels. In 1864, the town boundaries of Williamstown were expanded to take in Newport and Spottiswoode, later to become Spotswood. Piped water from Yan Yean water supply subsequently arrived, allowing more rapid growth. 
The Williamstown Racing Club, founded in 1864, was once one of the senior thoroughbred racing clubs in Victoria. Built in 1872, the Williamstown Racecourse, with its large and elaborately decorated grandstand facing out to the sea, was considered one of the finest in Australia. The Williamstown Football Club, an Australian rules football club was formed in 1864. 
CSS Shenandoah incident of 1865 Edit
The Confederate States Navy warship CSS Shenandoah, which had successfully attacked several Union ships in the Indian Ocean, sailed into Hobsons Bay on the afternoon of 25 January 1865. Captain J. I. Waddell said he only wanted to put the ship onto the Williamstown slip for repairs, and to take on food and water. The Shenandoah was forced to wait while the Australians decided if letting the raider into their harbours violated their neutrality. As the only 2 dry docks belonged to the crown, it was decided to rent a dry dock to a private firm who allowed the ship to dry dock, thereby putting the responsibility on the private firm whilst keeping Australia's neutrality. [ citation needed ]
An 1871 hearing at the International Court in Geneva awarded damages of £820,000 against Britain to the US government for use of the port at Williamstown by the CSS Shenandoah.  
Victoria's major cargo port Edit
Between 1857 and 1889, the main railway workshops of the Victorian Railways were at Point Gellibrand, and at their height covered 85% of Point Gellibrand. Imported steam locomotives were assembled at the Williamstown Workshops. After 1889 the extensive workshops were moved to nearby Newport. 
By 1870, Williamstown was known as the major cargo port of Victoria, with piers, slipways, shipwrights, and gangs of wharfies, all working along the shore opposite Nelson Place. As well, the Customs Department, pilots, the Victorian Navy, and the Harbour Trust all established bases in Williamstown. [ citation needed ]
The foundation stone of the Alfred Graving Dock was laid on 4 January 1868 by HRH Prince Alfred, KG, Duke of Edinburgh, who arrived in the Royal Navy's first ironclad, HMS Warrior. [ citation needed ]
The Alfred Graving Dock is historically significant as the first graving dock in Victoria and the third in Australia at that time, for its role in the development of the shipping industry in Port Phillip, for its continuous use as a Dockyard since its completion and for association with William Wardell during his term as Inspector General of the Public Works Department. 
Williamstown Baptist Church was officially founded in 1868, though a congregation had begun to form eight years earlier in response to an advertisement in the Williamstown Chronicle dated Saturday, 24 November 1860. Baptismal services were performed at the back beach at Williamstown from 1861 through to 1868, the first being performed 10 March 1861 by the Rev. David Rees of South Yarra. The Oddfellows' Hall was rented for services from December 1868. The Presbyterian schoolroom in Cecil Street was later used, followed by the Temperance Hall from April 1870. The Tabernacle, now the Church of Christ on Douglas Parade, was used after this. In January 1876 services reverted to the Oddfellows' Hall. In 1884 the Baptist Church building on Cecil Street was officially opened. 
In 1873, the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, founded in May 1853 as the Port Phillip Yacht Club, moved to its present site at 120 Nelson Place, adjacent to Gem Pier.
Williamstown North Primary School was established in 1874  and in that same year part of the market reserve was purchased from the Williamstown Council by the Education Department in order to build the Williamstown Primary School No. 1183.
The Williamstown CYMS football club was formed in 1886 and remains one of the oldest sporting clubs in Australia. 
The Hobsons Bay Yacht Club, situated on Nelson Place at the end of Ferguson Street and adjacent to the pier, was established in 1888. [ citation needed ]
The Yacht Club Hotel was built in 1892 at 207 Nelson Place, a site previously occupied by an iron-framed 'wooden' hotel called the Lord Clyde. It was owned by Carlton and West End Breweries, later the Carlton Brewery Ltd.
The Williamstown Hospital opened in 1894 when the community responded to the increasing risk of accidents from a busy port, the railway workshops and the growing industrial area of Newport, Spotswood and Footscray to establish Melbourne's first suburban public general hospital. 
Williamstown Central Tennis Club was established in 1896 on a site at the corner of Ferguson Street and Melbourne Road. [ citation needed ]
The Williamstown Lacrosse Club was founded in 1898 at a meeting in the Williamstown Baptist Sunday School called by Arthur Whitley (son of the Minister). Arthur Whitley became the first Captain and Fred Scott the first secretary. 
20th century Edit
The description of Williamstown in the 1904 edition of The Australian Handbook notes that principal hotels in Williamstown at that time were: the Steam Packet, Royal, Newport, Prince of Wales, Yacht Club, Morning Star, and Pier. There were also a further 34 hotels in the area. [ citation needed ]
Williamstown Pier railway station was opened on 8 January 1905. The station existed primarily to serve the Williamstown docks precinct and was the terminus of the Williamstown line.
In 1906, one of the largest undertakings attempted by ship repairers in Australia was successfully accomplished at the Williamstown Dockyard. SS Peregrine, a 1,660 GRT vessel of the Howard Smith Line, was lengthened amidships by 40 feet (12 m). This was perhaps the first jumboising operation undertaken in Australia. 
The Williamstown Hospital was expanded with the addition of the Male Ward in 1911 and the Female Ward in 1917. 
Heidelberg School impressionist artist Walter Withers painted numerous landscapes of Williamstown around 1910, at a time when fellow Heidelberg School impressionist artist Frederick McCubbin was also painting the Williamstown landscape. Between 1909 and 1915, McCubbin visited Williamstown on numerous occasions and produced sketches and watercolours of the foreshore and the old shipyards. He also produced a major oil painting of the Williamstown docks in 1915. 
Williamstown was proclaimed a City on 17 May 1919. Construction of the Williamstown Town Hall on Ferguson Street commenced a year earlier in 1918, but it was not officially opened until 1927.
In 1919, when Melbourne was struck with the dreaded Spanish flu, the Williamstown Primary School was closed and used as a makeshift hospital for the ill. [ citation needed ]
In 1920, the Williamstown railway line was electrified. [ citation needed ]
The Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club was formed in 1922. Its clubhouse, at the western end of Williamstown Beach, was built much later, in 1935. [ citation needed ]
Situated within foreshore parkland adjacent to the Williamstown Football Oval, the Williamstown Lawn Tennis Club pavilion was opened in September 1928.
In 1930, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into certain matters affecting the municipal government of the City of Williamstown. [ citation needed ]
The Williamstown and Newport Anglers Club was formed in 1933  and rented premises at 221 Nelson Place, moving next door to 223 in March 1935. In August 1939 the club was granted a site on the Esplanade and in 1941 a clubhouse was opened. A jetty and slipway were built the following year.
In 1934, the bluestone time ball tower (the former lighthouse) was extended by 30 feet (9.1 m) with a circular brick tower on top. The extension was then painted with a coat of aluminium paint and it was re-established as a lighthouse due to the loss of singularity against the light of the City behind the Point Gellibrand Pile Light. It was electric, gave a green and red light, had a visibility of 15 nautical miles (28 km) and operated as a lighthouse from 1934 to 1987. 
Racing at Williamstown Racecourse ceased in 1940. The course, like the Melbourne Cricket Ground, was used to house troops. Racing was due to recommence after the war's end, but fire destroyed the two grandstands. [ citation needed ]
In 1945, Williamstown defeated Port Melbourne in the Victorian Football Association's Grand Final, starting a golden era for the Williamstown Football Club during which its senior team played in 16 finals series, including 10 Grand Finals. [ citation needed ]
In 1946, the Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club wrote to the Borough of Queenscliffe, suggesting that there was a need to establish a Surf Life Saving Club in Point Lonsdale.
Also in 1946, nine Williamstown residents met to form the Williamstown Little Theatre Movement. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Williamstown Little Theatre had several homes in Williamstown from the Mechanic's Institute to the Williamstown Town Hall Supper Room and the former Missions to Seamen building in Nelson Place. In 1967 the theatre company moved into its current venue, a converted bakery on Albert Street. 
In 1948, an electoral redistribution saw Williamstown included in the new Australian Federal electoral Division of Gellibrand, named after Joseph Tice Gellibrand (1786–1836). It was proclaimed in 1949 and was first won in that year by the Australian Labor Party candidate, John Michael Mullens. He held the seat until 1955. 
The destroyer HMAS Anzac was commissioned at Williamstown Naval Dockyard on 14 March 1951 under the command of Commander John Plunkett-Cole RAN.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the popularity of Williamstown declined and it was viewed as a run-down industrialised centre. [ citation needed ]
The Merrett Rifle Range at Williamstown was the rifle-shooting venue for the 1956 Olympic Games.
In 1958, the Williamstown and Newport Anglers Club was granted extra land and a new clubhouse and boat storage facility were officially opened on 18 November 1961.
In May 1962, the City of Williamstown annexed 83 hectares (210 acres) from the Shire of Altona.
Fort Gellibrand became the training and administrative centre for the 2nd Commando Company in 1966 and has continued to remain in this use since that time.
The Pile Light anchored off Shelly Beach in 1860 was destroyed in 1976 when it was hit by the Melbourne Trader, a vessel of 7,000 tonnes. The force of the collision snapped the piles at waterline area, the light was sheared off its piles at water level, pushed 7 metres (23 feet) sideways, and was left hanging precariously on several of the remaining piles. 
In 1987, the Victorian Government's Urban Land Authority purchased the former rifle range at Williamstown (comprising an area of around 110 hectares) from the Commonwealth Government for $11.7 million.
The development of the estate was accompanied by extensive public consultation, which emphasised creation of open space for passive recreation and preservation of the coastal strip. The coastal area had been virtually untouched by European settlement due to the 'protection' offered over the years by the active rifle range.
The Authority developed 60 hectares of the estate for housing and related commercial and community activities. Residential allotments were progressively released for sale from May 1991. The historic armoury building of the old rifle range was preserved, refurbished and is now as a funeral home set in a large formal garden.
The remaining 50 hectares was reserved for the protection of the surrounding environmentally sensitive area. This area, now known as the Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve  consists of open grasslands for passive recreation, two wetland lakes, the saltmarsh and mangrove conservation area, Wader Beach and the Kororoit Creek.
Williamstown is within the Victorian electoral district of Williamstown. The 2007 by-election was triggered by the resignation of Steve Bracks as both Premier of Victoria and the Member for Williamstown. Wade Noonan successfully contested the election with 61.7% of the primary vote. The Liberal Party did not contest the seat in 2007.
The 2010 State Election saw a very different result with a huge swing against the government. The ALP's primary vote was 46.75% (compared to 61.7 in 2007), with the Liberal Party polling 32.5% of the primary vote. In the 2014 State Election, Noonan retained the seat with a primary vote of 44.6%.
Friday, 19 August 2011
Stonehenge -- the empty quarter
Above: the recent EH plan of Stonehenge, showing the "empty quarter" (the south-west quadrant) very clearly. Below: the resistivity survey, showing relatively undisturbed ground in the "empty quarter" and suggesting that there are no buried stones or stumps there.
About a year ago I made the post which is reproduced below:
"The resistivity survey image (from the chapter by David and Payne, Proc British Academy, 92, 73-113: Science and Stonehenge) shows a large number of "anomalies". The stones are shown in black. The white areas are mostly areas of disturbed ground coinciding with areas of past exploration and excavation. The dark grey areas may represent areas where there are high densities of intersecting pits or sockets, ie areas where stones have been moved about many times. The indistinct lighter grey mottled areas are difficult to interpret -- but the X and Y holes do show up as indistinct blobs. Note that they are not arranged on concentric circles, and that the spacing of these pits is imperfect and even erratic. Apart from the white blobs marked A, B and C, there are no signs of "missing" stones buried in the turf in places where we might expect them, and in many places where we might expect sarsen and bluestone sockets there are not even dark grey shadows. The conclusion from this work has to be that the 67 missing stones are not hiding anywhere on the site --- they are indeed missing -- and as I have already suggested, there is no reason to believe that they ever were put into the positions where the archaeologists would like them to have been. So there we are then. Gaps galore. Stonehenge never was finished."
Well, I was hoping that somebody would come up with some evidence to show that the Empty Quarter was indeed built on when the monument was being created, and that Anthony Johnson's "immaculate conception" as to what Stonehenge was like in its prime, has some foundation in fact. Nothing has been brought to my attention, and I'm increasingly convinced that no stones were ever erected in this area.
Bluestones summer lecture
My summer lecture last night went off very smoothly, with a good audience of around 60 people from far and wide. I tried to summarise the recent published research in the fields of glaciology and geology and -- inevitably -- had a go at some of the archaeological fantasies which are currently in fashion. I expected some growling and snarling from the archaeologists and "ancient wisdom" people who were in the audience, but in the event it was all very civilised, and nobody came up with anything remotely difficult to cope with. Had a really good chat with many members of the audience afterwards, over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. Maybe the times -- and the Stonehenge story -- really are a'changin' .
The more I think about it, the more appealing the idea of Ikea-henge becomes! I really like the thought of these guys (giants maybe? It doesn't matter) being told by some chieftain or other to get on and build this strange thing out in the middle of nowhere, on some windy hillside on Salisbury Plain. He gives them this flat-pack of bits and pieces, and lays out the instructions for them as carefully as he can. Then he goes off to sort out some rebellious tribe somewhere, and leaves them to it.
And it's good to see some modern thinking coming into the frame, as far as EH is concerned. Just right for the Age of Ikea.
By the way, click on the images to enlarge them -- and don't forget to read the small print. Brilliant! No idea who did this, but whoever it was, he (she?) had a great eye for detail.