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The Sweet Track (Megalithic)
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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I must remember that "Differential Erosion" phrase next time I bump into an English Heritage geologist.

It might even be the same one that talked about the stones at Avebury being made of "concreted alluvial silicate deposits". Ordinary people call that concrete.

Our local English Heritage experts are still excited that they've (only just) found where loads of the Stonehenge stones came from. Near West Woods (near Marlborough).

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-53580339

Some might say it would be churlish to spoil their party atmosphere by demanding an explanation of how the stones were moved up and down the steep hills in between.

Perhaps it was Differential Erosion?
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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St Michael's Mount wrote:
Bronze Age Hoard
16 August 2016


In 2009 our Assistant Head Gardener, Darren Little came across something quite unusual when clearing away some bracken from the North Westerly slopes of the Island's garden. Darren discovered a small axe head hidden within a cavity in some rocks. Upon further inspection, a total of 48 artefacts were discovered, including blade fragments, a buckle, a chape and various ingot fragments.




The Mount, managed by the National Trust and the St Aubyn family, has had "surprisingly little archaeological work" not to mention "little original historical research" carried out so this lot from the back end of the garden is a biggie. Actually, shockingly rather than surprisingly -- no archaeological work has ever been done on St Michael's Mount, in contrast to its sister site across La Manche.

Presumably the ingots are tin, it's not stated, but anyway how have archaeologists interpreted the collection?

The finds were sent to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum for x-rays, cleaning, and inspection. It was then verified by the British Museum that the artefacts dated from the late Bronze Age, making them around three thousand years old. Whilst we know the age of these historic items, it is unclear as to how they came to be on The Mount. It is assumed that they belonged to a Blacksmith who used the cavity as storage, to keep the hoard hidden from potential thieves.

I suppose there could have been a smithy though the Mount's not perhaps a particularly suitable location. Tin horse shoes, anyone?

The discovery of the Bronze Age Hoard provides a link between St Michaels Mount and the manufacture of artefacts from this period. The most significant item in the hoard is a buckle, possibly a scabbard decoration, which is thought to be unique, as no other buckle of its design has been found in Great Britain.

https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/blog/bronze-age-hoard

It looks rather like a belt buckle, possibly valuable, but just as likely to have been accidentally fallen into the crevices between the rocks rather than intentionally hidden.
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Mick Harper
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Here's a little titbit that draws a few strings together

The Order of Tiron was founded in about 1106 by Bernard d'Abbeville. Bernard left the Benedictine Order in 1101 when his nomination as abbot of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe was disapproved by Cluny and Pope Paschal II. From then on Bernard lived first as a hermit on the island of Chausey, between Jersey and Saint-Malo, then in the woods of Craon, near Angers, with two other rigorist monks.

How promising is that for a mover-and-shaker? Very promising

Within less than five years of its creation, the Order of Tiron owned 117 priories and abbeys in France, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
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Boreades


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Any moment now, you'll be wondering which earlier chain of priories and abbeys was taken over by the Tirons.

I do love how these founders of multi-national businesses, with their private island homes, are still called "hermits".

Just like Richard Branson, with Necker Island?

I just want to be left alone.
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Mick Harper
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Hatty is currently trying to convince her Facebook Ridgway Walkers group of our Megalithic theory but they always insist Ancient Brits could navigate by the sun or the stars or memory or some damn thing. I came across a review of Megalithic Empire today which sums up the gulf

OK – so what are stone circles for? I don’t necessarily feel reverential every time I approach one, but often have felt some spiritual connection, which certainly doesn't happen on approaching Spaghetti Junction or the M25. The authors of this book, however, would have us believe that many megaliths were the direction-finding devices of their day. Not only this, but other ancient sites - the kind often used to mark out ley lines, could also be used as part of a larger package.

A very fair summation.

I can't help but wonder, though, if any useful navigational help, even if it is found to work in practice, is simply an unintended by-product of the astronomical alignments of many megaliths?

The dual-use heresy that AE is always inveighing against.

Harper and Vered begin by asking how copper and tin (the basic ingredients of bronze) could arrive at a foundry discovered on the outskirts of Birmingham (and dated to about 1,500 BCE) from North Wales and Cornwall respectively.

Aye, we do that.

Being a bit of a geography geek, I decided we should take an imaginary load of tin from Cornwall to this foundry, using Google Maps - which of course does give us the huge advantage of a satellite view of the UK...

They've been around for a long time but I didn't know it was this long. More later.
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Mick Harper
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... albeit undermined by the equally huge disadvantage of knowing nothing about any well-trodden trackways existing at this date.

This is the crucial point. People always think that trackways aid navigation. They just don't. Or at any rate, not much. Take 'em away and you've got the same problem. You might know the Ridgway goes west or Ermine Street goes north but where then? We are about to be told

Mind you, if someone were making it their business to get tin from Cornwall to the Midlands, I think they would make some effort to discover and memorise the correct route. I assume that as skilled navigators/Bronze Age delivery drivers they would also have sufficient knowledge of the sun, moon and stars to assist.

This is another problem we run into. The point-to-point heresy. Sure, if tin was only required in Birmingham, no doubt this would have happened (albeit with enormous difficulty, you try it sometime without maps or signposts). But what abut the other thousand places that need tin to get the Bronze Age up and running? And what do you in Birmingham now you've got your tin (and your copper) and you've made some bronze implements?

Though by the way, if you've memorised the route, what's the point of sun, moon and stars? Just chuck some other stuff in willy-nilly, why don't you? More later
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Mick Harper
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Now, there was at least one tin mine on the north coast of Cornwall so all we'd have to do is load the tin onto a boat and head out north-east

Well, the mine could be anywhere in Cornwall and you could just head north till you reached the sea, but let's stay with the programme.

keeping land in sight (but carefully, this coastline is treacherous!). Eventually we would reach the Bristol Channel, from where we can follow the Severn upstream all the way to Stourport-on-Severn in Worcestershire

This is where everyone goes wrong. How do you know when you've reached Stourport? Do you ask every few miles? No, fair do's, it's where there's a tributary. You'll have ignored all the other tributaries.

there joining the tributary river Stour and heading through Kidderminster up to Stourbridge.

"Hello-o! Is this Stourbridge?"
Here things become a little hazy

And whose fault is that? It's ours...
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Mick Harper
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as the authors don't give a location for the foundry, (they don't supply much in the way of footnotes or any bibliography at all) but from Stourbridge it is less than fifteen miles from the centre of Birmingham. We don't know exactly where we are going from here, so will have to assume either a smaller tributary river or portage from this point.

But the tin-carriers don't know either, do they? Is there going to be someone in Stourbidge who knows of a foundry fifteen miles away? You'd better hope so.

The authors dismiss transport by water in a couple of sentences, stating that Britain is not well-favoured with navigable rivers, but in fact the Severn is navigable until a few miles short of Stourbridge and the Stour may well have been so at this time.

This is another bugbear we have to bear. We dismissed rivers because, in their natural state, they are not navigable. They are bleedin overgrown, banks overflowing, boulder-strewn nightmares. Anything big enough, like the Severn, gets tidal bores that would have your boat over before you've goster to Gloucester. Especially if they're particularly frail boats...

Plus, of course, the boats would have been quite small and if portage of boat, tin and all was necessary in some sections this doesn't seem an insurmountable problem for the descendants of the megalith builders, whatever the stones were erected for.

Well, yes, if you add portage to rivers you could go anywhere. Blimey, why didn't we think of that...
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Mick Harper
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So - we made it, without consulting a single megalith along the way.

OK. Personally, I preferred the memory route but, like I say, let's go with the programme.

Now all we have to do is figure out how to get the copper here - at least it is mostly "downhill" from North Wales, so we wouldn't need to row so much - and actually make the bronze!

This is the best example of "with one leap they were free" I've come across in many a long year. And it's even got an exclamation mark!

The book has many new ideas, some breathtaking in their ingenuity,

Why not tell us what they are? I've read billions of books in my time and haven't come across a breathtakingly ingenious idea in any of them, no matter how interesting and informative they might be in other respects. I tell a lie, I've come across a few breathtakingly ingenious ideas in them and I tell everyone about them. They're pretty rare in all walks of life! But I think we're being set up...

others for their hilarity. It is suggested, for example, that Carnac was a central depot where obelisks were stored until needed, which unfortunately just makes me imagine Asterix and his companions in charge of the yard.

Me too but why not tell us why the authors say they are being stored, and why at Carnac? Who knows, it might be one of their breathtakingly ingenious ideas. But I think we're being set up...
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Mick Harper
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Or is this so unfortunate? As I read on, increasingly suspicious that this is in fact a spoof, almost a pastiche of, on the one hand, worthy tomes on megaliths, and on the other some of the more excitable theories out there.

As you know, this is standard. Imagine spending years writing a spoof on megalithic literature. That's a big market. But don't forget to throw in some breathtakingly original ideas as well. Sort of a hybrid spoof/critique/revisionist/visionary tome, if you will.

Perhaps the whole area is in need of a shake-up and this book hopes to provoke outraged debate among those who take it all terribly seriously. Which may be no bad thing.

You mean, with a spoof?

I read somewhere, back in the 1970s, that every generation gets the Stonehenge it deserves. Maybe "Megalithia, Inc." gives us the ironic, postmodern Stonehenge of the coming generation. I look forward to enjoying the debates!

Ah well, you'll be disappointed then. Our book didn't get the critics it deserved. Nobody has ever taken up (pro or con) any of the ideas in Megalithic Empire (except some of you lot but you don't count). This could be because the book was no good or it may be because the readers of it were no good. I'm great, Hatty's not bad, so that leaves... /ends
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Mick Harper
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I did attract one extremely conscientious reader for THOBR though. It's at the bottom of this page (of a forum new to me)
https://www.rootschat.com/forum/index.php?topic=218941.0
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