Neolithic landscape

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Gfamily
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Neolithic landscape

Post by Gfamily » Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:59 am

An extraordinary report of a circle of pits, each 5 metres deep and 10 metres across centred on Durrington Walls.
The incomplete circle of pits is about 2km across.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... stonehenge
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by lpm » Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:31 am

Meh. OK, they're big pits. But nothing compared to the whopping great tunnel we're going to dig right through this neolithic landscape.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Grumble » Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:55 am

Gfamily wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:59 am
An extraordinary report of a circle of pits, each 5 metres deep and 10 metres across centred on Durrington Walls.
The incomplete circle of pits is about 2km across.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/202 ... stonehenge
Every year we find out more and more about this area, it’s quite amazing how much we don’t know. But then again a lot of these developments have come hand in hand with better geo-phys and that has improved enormously in the last 10 years, never mind before that. It’s only fairly recently that the scope of “Stonehenge” has been increased to “the landscape around Stonehenge” as well, or at least that’s my impression.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:40 pm

Very very cool, exciting and mysterious. Such a shame that the ancient Brits didn't write stuff down so we could have a better idea of what they were up to.

Disappointingly little speculation in the article about what the pits were for. Unlike yer average henge, a pit isn't generally visible from very far away (as they go down rather than up). So what was the point? If I had to guess I'd say putting fires in them so create an ethereal atmospheric glow for their late-night druid festivals or whatever, but presumably that would leave shitloads of burnt stuff so they'd have mentioned it.

I'm racking my brains for any examples of ceremonial arrays of pits from other cultures. Can't think of any.

Maybe they were just bins or something.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Gfamily » Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:58 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:40 pm
Very very cool, exciting and mysterious. Such a shame that the ancient Brits didn't write stuff down so we could have a better idea of what they were up to.

Disappointingly little speculation in the article about what the pits were for. Unlike yer average henge, a pit isn't generally visible from very far away (as they go down rather than up). So what was the point? If I had to guess I'd say putting fires in them so create an ethereal atmospheric glow for their late-night druid festivals or whatever, but presumably that would leave shitloads of burnt stuff so they'd have mentioned it.

I'm racking my brains for any examples of ceremonial arrays of pits from other cultures. Can't think of any.

Maybe they were just bins or something.
I doubt it's related, but on a walking visit to Ouessant forty-mumble years ago I noticed that many isolated farm buildings were close to shallow pits about a metre deep and 4 or 5 metres across. I assumed that these were mini-quarries dug close to where the stones were needed.

However, with the indications are that these are definitely arranged roughly equidistant from Durrington Walls its not likely to be a ring of farmsteads is it. [speculation] is it possible that the removed stones might also have been used to create a similarly concentric walkway, wall or similar feature? [/speculation]
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Gentleman Jim » Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:51 pm

Docking points for alien space craft of course
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Grumble » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:00 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:40 pm
Very very cool, exciting and mysterious. Such a shame that the ancient Brits didn't write stuff down so we could have a better idea of what they were up to.

Disappointingly little speculation in the article about what the pits were for. Unlike yer average henge, a pit isn't generally visible from very far away (as they go down rather than up). So what was the point? If I had to guess I'd say putting fires in them so create an ethereal atmospheric glow for their late-night druid festivals or whatever, but presumably that would leave shitloads of burnt stuff so they'd have mentioned it.

I'm racking my brains for any examples of ceremonial arrays of pits from other cultures. Can't think of any.

Maybe they were just bins or something.
Archaeologists go mad for rubbish heaps, so I’m sure that would have been mentioned if they’d found much, but maybe it’s too soon in the excavations to say.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Martin Y » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:03 pm

Post holes for the 4,500 BC millennium dome, obvs.

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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Grumble » Mon Jun 22, 2020 3:34 pm

The article only mentions coring, I guess a full excavation of one or two will happen next year.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Martin Y » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:06 pm

Anyone familiar with the strata around there?

If you dug down 5m with your antler picks, what would you be digging through?

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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Gfamily » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:25 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:06 pm
Anyone familiar with the strata around there?

If you dug down 5m with your antler picks, what would you be digging through?
BGS online iGeology app says chalk and flints
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by murmur » Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:30 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:40 pm
Very very cool, exciting and mysterious. Such a shame that the ancient Brits didn't write stuff down so we could have a better idea of what they were up to.

Disappointingly little speculation in the article about what the pits were for
. Unlike yer average henge, a pit isn't generally visible from very far away (as they go down rather than up). So what was the point? If I had to guess I'd say putting fires in them so create an ethereal atmospheric glow for their late-night druid festivals or whatever, but presumably that would leave shitloads of burnt stuff so they'd have mentioned it.

I'm racking my brains for any examples of ceremonial arrays of pits from other cultures. Can't think of any.

Maybe they were just bins or something.
I, just to be contrary, was pleased with the lack of speculation about functions for the pits in the absence of much in the way of evidence. I do have a long history of being peeved with speculative presentations in museums/interpretation boards/etc and in the meejah which are never supported by anything, but confidently make claims about functions.I become even more peeved when that specualtion, with no support, just says "Oh, religious and ritual, oh yes!"
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Martin Y » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:03 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:25 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:06 pm
Anyone familiar with the strata around there?

If you dug down 5m with your antler picks, what would you be digging through?
BGS online iGeology app says chalk and flints
Thanks. Sounds horribly like our garden. Those neolithic folk were made of stern stuff.

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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Gfamily » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:07 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:03 pm
Gfamily wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:25 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:06 pm
Anyone familiar with the strata around there?

If you dug down 5m with your antler picks, what would you be digging through?
BGS online iGeology app says chalk and flints
Thanks. Sounds horribly like our garden. Those neolithic folk were made of stern stuff.
Have you been to Grimes Graves? Amazing place.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by JQH » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:08 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:25 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:06 pm
Anyone familiar with the strata around there?

If you dug down 5m with your antler picks, what would you be digging through?
BGS online iGeology app says chalk and flints
Could they be flint mines?
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Gfamily » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:11 pm

JQH wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:08 pm
Gfamily wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:25 pm
Martin Y wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:06 pm
Anyone familiar with the strata around there?

If you dug down 5m with your antler picks, what would you be digging through?
BGS online iGeology app says chalk and flints
Could they be flint mines?
It's a possibility, but their positioning relative to Durrington Walls suggests something else was going on.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Martin Y » Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:16 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 5:07 pm
Have you been to Grimes Graves? Amazing place.
Saw a TV thing about it but never been.

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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by individualmember » Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:38 pm

Isn’t the usual thing to say when the purpose isn’t obvious is it’s ceremonial?

I always think that if Wembley Stadium is uncovered in a few thousand years time it would be labelled as ceremonial. Which it kind of is, in a way.

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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Grumble » Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:43 pm

individualmember wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:38 pm
Isn’t the usual thing to say when the purpose isn’t obvious is it’s ceremonial?

I always think that if Wembley Stadium is uncovered in a few thousand years time it would be labelled as ceremonial. Which it kind of is, in a way.
That and “three stones make a wall”
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:44 pm

I've read the paper - it seems sensible work. https://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue55/4/full-text.html

They make a convincing case that the distance of the pits from the Durrington Walls henge was measured out uniformly by pacing: they're almost equidistant from the centre, but the wobbliness of the circle corresponds with flat vs sloped land (people take longer paces on flat land). There's no sensible reason to pace 800m from a monument at regular orientations just to dig flint pits - or, as they put it:
In respect of clustering of large pits, those associated with, generally earlier, flint mines may invite consideration (Field and Barber 1998; Barber et al. 1999; Mercer 1981). In some instances, such as Cissbury hillfort, large pits associated with mining do form linear alignments; presumably following seams of flint within the boundary of the later Iron Age hillfort (Barber et al. 1999, 29). More locally, work by Booth and Stone (1952) and Stone (1958) record the presence of flint mines near Durrington. However, the illustrations provided by Stone demonstrate that these features are significantly narrower at the entrance than those described above (Figure 21). When considered spatially, Stone's features are also unlikely to be directly linked with the arcs of massive pits presented within this article. While it is not impossible that flint extracted from these pits may have been used on an ad hoc basis, the structural arrangement of the pit group around Durrington Walls, and their apparent link to the area of the henge monument, suggest that such a prosaic interpretation is not sufficient as an explanation for these features.
They haven't actually excavated the pits yet, just taken a single core from each one, so they haven't got a particularly detailed idea of what was down them, nor how deep they might originally have gone.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Grumble » Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:49 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:44 pm
I've read the paper - it seems sensible work. https://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue55/4/full-text.html

They make a convincing case that the distance of the pits from the Durrington Walls henge was measured out uniformly by pacing: they're almost equidistant from the centre, but the wobbliness of the circle corresponds with flat vs sloped land (people take longer paces on flat land). There's no sensible reason to pace 800m from a monument at regular orientations just to dig flint pits - or, as they put it:
In respect of clustering of large pits, those associated with, generally earlier, flint mines may invite consideration (Field and Barber 1998; Barber et al. 1999; Mercer 1981). In some instances, such as Cissbury hillfort, large pits associated with mining do form linear alignments; presumably following seams of flint within the boundary of the later Iron Age hillfort (Barber et al. 1999, 29). More locally, work by Booth and Stone (1952) and Stone (1958) record the presence of flint mines near Durrington. However, the illustrations provided by Stone demonstrate that these features are significantly narrower at the entrance than those described above (Figure 21). When considered spatially, Stone's features are also unlikely to be directly linked with the arcs of massive pits presented within this article. While it is not impossible that flint extracted from these pits may have been used on an ad hoc basis, the structural arrangement of the pit group around Durrington Walls, and their apparent link to the area of the henge monument, suggest that such a prosaic interpretation is not sufficient as an explanation for these features.
They haven't actually excavated the pits yet, just taken a single core from each one, so they haven't got a particularly detailed idea of what was down them, nor how deep they might originally have gone.
Surely depth will be fairly straightforward from a core? There is presumably a bedrock strata with the rest being millennia of infill.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:06 pm

IIRC they didn't hit bottom with all of the cores.

I think this announcement is basically "wow look at this crazy thing we found - please fund us to find out more!", which is fair enough really.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by murmur » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:09 am

individualmember wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:38 pm
Isn’t the usual thing to say when the purpose isn’t obvious is it’s ceremonial?

I always think that if Wembley Stadium is uncovered in a few thousand years time it would be labelled as ceremonial. Which it kind of is, in a way.
Back in the old parish, during a some discussion about an archaeological site, I did a spoof post about the un-earthing of St James Park in a few thousand years, describing a religious centre, a priestly caste, various sub-groups, ritual behaviours, hymns, the whole shebang, which seemed to me to make as much sense, based on as much actual evidence, as much archaeological interpretation.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by discovolante » Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:23 am

murmur wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:09 am
individualmember wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:38 pm
Isn’t the usual thing to say when the purpose isn’t obvious is it’s ceremonial?

I always think that if Wembley Stadium is uncovered in a few thousand years time it would be labelled as ceremonial. Which it kind of is, in a way.
Back in the old parish, during a some discussion about an archaeological site, I did a spoof post about the un-earthing of St James Park in a few thousand years, describing a religious centre, a priestly caste, various sub-groups, ritual behaviours, hymns, the whole shebang, which seemed to me to make as much sense, based on as much actual evidence, as much archaeological interpretation.
Well in this case, BOAF has read the paper (and linked to it) and summarised a couple of key points that suggest it isn't just flint pits. I have to be honest that I haven't read the paper, but if you have any comments on it specifically I'll continue to follow this thread with interest.
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Re: Neolithic landscape

Post by murmur » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:51 am

Oh yeah, I've seen the paper and know (as per my previous post) that they've nicely avoided speculating about usage.

I'll certainly be interested to see what else is found as excavation happens.
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