Research published today in the peer-reviewed journal "Quaternary Newsletter" throws serious doubt on claims that there is a Neolithic "bluestone quarry" at Rhosyfelin in Pembrokeshire.
Since 2011 archaeologist Prof Mike Parker Pearson and his colleagues have conducted annual summer digs at the site, not far from the village of Brynberian, and they have promoted the idea that some of the rhyolite bluestones at Stonehenge were quarried here and then carried all the way to Stonehenge by Neolithic tribesmen about 5,000 years ago. In 2012 Parker Pearson referred to the site as "the Pompeii of prehistoric stone quarries." His theory arose from some precise "provenancing" by geologists Richard Bevins and Rob Ixer, who discovered that some of the fragments of rock in the soil layers in and around Stonehenge could be matched closely to a flinty blue foliated rhyolite rock exposed in a crag at Rhosyfelin. The archaeologists also discovered an eight-tonne elongated slab of rhyolite close to the Rhosyfelin rock face, which they assumed had been quarried and then somehow left behind. Many tonnes of sediments have subsequently been removed by the archaeologists in their hunt for quarrying traces.
Now geologist John Downes and geomorphologists Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and Brian John have examined the site very carefully, and have come to the conclusion that there are no traces of a Neolithic quarry here. Instead, they interpret the rocky debris found during the archaeological dig as entirely natural accumulations resulting from intermittent rockfalls over a long period of time. In their new article they also describe a number of different landforms and sediments which can be related to the events of the Ice Age -- and in particular to the last glaciation of this area which occurred around 20,000 years ago. They accept that there might have been a prehistoric camp site in the sheltered valley at the foot of the Rhosyfelin rocky crag, and that this may be confirmed by radiocarbon dating, but they suggest that the site was used by hunters rather than by quarrymen.
Back to the glacial transport theory.......
Speaking about the new study, researcher Dr Brian John said: "We have no argument with the geological work that links this site with Stonehenge. But we cannot accept the idea of a Neolithic quarry here without firm evidence -- and in our considered opinion there is none. The archaeologists admit that there are no artefacts, bones or tools at the site. In a future paper we will examine the so-called "quarrying" or "engineering" features at this site, and will show that they are all natural.
"We are also increasingly convinced that the rhyolite debris at Stonehenge is derived from glacial erratics which were eroded from the Rhosyfelin rocky crag almost half a million years ago by the overriding Irish Sea Glacier (Britain's biggest ever glacier) and then transported eastwards by ice towards Salisbury Plain. Glaciologically that was perfectly possible, if not probable. We are confident that radiocarbon and other dating in the future will confirm the falsehood of the Neolithic quarry theory and the essential reliability of the glacial transport theory."
<div><font face="HelveticaNeue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif" size="3"><span style="-webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(26, 26, 26, 0.301961); -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0);">(http://brian-mountainman.blogspot.com/2015/11/press-release-new-research-undermines.html)</span></font></div>
Reference: Brian John, Dyfed Elis-Gruffydd and John Downes (2015). "Quaternary Events at Craig Rhosyfelin, Pembrokeshire." Quaternary Newsletter, October 2015 (No 137), pp 16-32.