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Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece
Roy Goutté

This excellent and thoughtful book gives a somewhat different explanation of the construction and subsequent history of the prehistoric Trethevy Quoit burial chamber in Cornwall. The author, Roy Goutté, has spent many hours studying the chamber first hand and has come to his own fascinating conclusion as to how the cromlech arrived in its present form. The reader is introduced, step-by-step, to the author’s observations and theories through historical references, photographs, diagrams and several model reconstructions of this Cornish ‘Jewel in the Crown’ structure from the Neolithic (and how it may have originally looked). His findings are thorough and convincing with certain aspects truly ground-breaking; it would take an even more thorough investigation to successfully argue against the possibilities he advances.

Roy Goutté has gone very much against popular belief which considers that the fallen stone was the backstone to the burial chamber and has an alternative use/place for it. He believes that four of the current eight stones are out of position and supplies convincing evidence to support his observations.

There is also a dire warning at the end of the book regarding the present threat to the monument. Such threats to our scheduled monuments should not be ignored and the author’s analysis of how the chamber now stands shows not only its inherent vulnerability but also the ever-present threat it faces from the agricultural machinery and livestock encroaching upon it; this threat is most vividly shown in the accumulative erosion of the Quoit’s protecting and supporting bank.

A thoroughly enjoyable read and a theory to set the mind working. Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece is a thoughtful, well-analysed and down-to-earth exploration into one of the most stunning structures from our prehistoric past.

Paperback, 50 pages with over 30 photographs and diagrams.
Available from for £8.70 (which includes postage and packing within the UK). Australia: £11.40 inc p&p. Europe: £10.43 inc p&p. USA: £11.36 inc p&p.

In the June edition of the Cornish Archaeological Society’s News Letter, Adrian Rodda of the Society reviews the book as follows –
This is a well illustrated book which challenges accepted wisdom about the building of Trethevy Quoit. Roy takes it apart like a jigsaw and suggests that it was originally put together differently, fell, and was rebuilt. It is a thoughtful book and I am looking forward to taking it to the site and looking for myself. In the final section he highlights the damage to its surrounding mound from animals and humans, advocating the erection of a protecting fence. Now that should start some debate among our members!


A Meiji Period wooden shop sign (36cm x 30cm approx) in the shape of a bottle
The sign is carved with the hiragana character す (su) meaning, in this context, vinegar
Private collection, Great Britain
Hitachi Europe Ltd, and Hitachi Solutions Europe Ltd, announced last week that it will donate £120,000 to the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. The donation will directly finance the Sainsbury Institute’s development of an online and interactive English-language educational website. The website will enable school children across the world to learn about Japan’s rich history and interact with its numerous archaeological treasures.
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures based in Norwich, England reports that –
The role of history in education is currently in the headlines in the UK, as the future direction of how children are taught about the past is debated as part of the current government’s education reforms. With the sponsorship of Hitachi Europe and Hitachi Solutions Europe, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures will develop a new online resource which will provide unprecedented access for school children in UK and other English speaking countries to some of humanity’s most significant but woefully under-appreciated cultural heritage, the historical and archaeological treasures of the Japanese archipelago. This resource will enable students across the English-speaking world to compare their own history with that of Japan.
More here.
The Neschers antler showing the engraved head and front legs of a horse. Image credit NHM
Past Horizons reports on the 24 March the rediscovery of a 14,000 year-old engraved reindeer antler that had lain all-but-forgotten since 1882 in London’s Natural History Museum –
The engraving consists of a partial horse figure, produced some time in the Palaeolithic, towards the end of the last ice age around 14,000 years ago. In the 1800s very little was known about the early history of humans, so the significance of discoveries like the Neschers antler went largely unrecognised at the time and it was some decades before cave art was to be accepted.
The antler was put on display and mentioned in a Museum gallery guide, but its scientific importance was not recognised. It was eventually returned to the storerooms until 1989 when it was rediscovered by mammal curator Andy Currant and placed in secure storage. Despite this, it again remained unstudied and forgotten until an audit of possible worked bone and antler in the fossil collections began in 2010-2011. This was when its true scientific importance became apparent and finally, over 160 years after its discovery, a full description is now being published.
Museum human origins expert Prof. Chris Stringer, part of the research team says, “the remarkable story of this forgotten specimen shows how careful study and detective work can belatedly give an important relic the significance it deserves.”
Full article here . See also our earlier feature on the Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind at the British Museum.
Caveman and shopping trolley by street artist Banksy
An unverified report found on Facebook claims the above (allegedly by Banksy) was, “…secretly placed in one of the British Museum’s galleries, where it hung for three days. After its discovery the Museum took the unusual step of cataloguing the piece and later adding it to its collections.”
True or not it brought a smile to our lips.
A guest feature by Littlestone.
Looking at restoration projects across the globe one thing seems certain – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, each site having ‘suffered’ differently, and sometimes at different times, in its history. That fact might influence any decision as to when (and how much) restoration should be applied to any given site (or to any given monument at any point in time). For example –
Statue of the taller of one of the two Bamiyan Buddhas in 1976 before being destroyed by the Taliban. Source Wikipedia. Image credit Marco Bonavoglia
The Bamiyan Buddhas.
Most of us know what happened to them and who was responsible for their destruction, but what should happen there next. There are three (maybe more) options –
1) Other than several thousand fragments of stone the statues themselves have gone and that’s it (at least that’s present UNESCO policy).
2) Try to reassemble the fragments and restore the statues.
3) Preserve the original fragments (perhaps in a museum and as near as possible to their original position) but commission the sculpting of new statues from appropriate sources.
Some arguments for and against various restoration options at Bamiyan are here.
Anyone who’s seen photos of the fragments will know what a monumental task it would be to put them together again (and is Afghanistan politically stable enough at present for that to happen). Commissioning new statues (eventually) however would provide work for both the local Hazara people, and others, while giving back to the area a tourist/pilgrimage attraction which it has so sadly lost. How far the (new) statues should reflect the originals is another matter (though nonetheless an important one). For example, should the face (destroyed in earlier times) on the main statue be re-sculptured.
The Euston Arch.
To quote from The Euston Arch Trust website
“The Euston Arch was a powerful symbol of the optimistic spirit of the Victorian railway. Its demolition in the 1960s confirmed that blandness and lack of imagination had replaced the heroic vision of the past. Completed in May 1838, it was the centrepiece of Euston Station, the world’s first main line terminus in a capital city. Built on a huge scale, it symbolized modernity and new links between London and the north. It was the first great monument of the railway age, which Britain pioneered.
Demolition of The Euston Arch in 1962
“The Arch was demolished in 1962 after a short and sharp campaign to save it. Sanctioned by a philistine administration, the demolition now seems shocking and is widely regarded as a terrible mistake. In a story stranger than fiction, most of the stones from the Arch ended up at the bottom of a river in east London. The survival of much of the original material from the Arch, as well as detailed drawings, means that it can be faithfully restored, returning to Britain a masterpiece of international significance. …rebuilding the Arch would regenerate Euston in the best possible way, attracting investment and creating a great heritage asset for the wider community.”
There really does seem to be only one option here. As most of the stones still exist, and there are both photographs and detailed drawings of the Arch before its demolition, it should definitely be restored to its former sate (if not exactly on its former site).
Is there any more to say about the restoration of Avebury – some say no restoration, others say a little, while others say it should be completely restored. To quote from The Euston Arch website again, but with Avebury in mind –“Sanctioned by a philistine administration, the demolition now seems shocking and is widely regarded as a terrible mistake. The survival of much of the original material from the Arch, as well as detailed drawings, means that it can be faithfully restored, returning to Britain a masterpiece of international significance.” Of course Avebury and the Euston Arch are not identical examples of monuments that have been partially or completely destroyed but there are similarities.
Fallen stone in the south-east quadrant of Avebury
I’ll leave it there as far as Avebury is concerned but surely, surely, if nothing else we can agree on the re-erection of just one stone at Avebury. That being the case which stone might we like to see re-erected and how best might we go about making that happen. My own preference is the one above in the south-east quadrant (number 78 in the map here I think (map from Avebury: A Present from the Past website).
Other people will naturally have their own preferences.
Greensted Church, Essex England
The Heritage Trust
Parts of the little church of St Andrew at Greensted in Essex are estimated to be over a thousand years old, and it is possible that the site has been a place of Christian worship for 1,300 years. It is the oldest wooden church in the world and the oldest wooden building in Europe. The fifty one logs that form the walls of the Anglo-Saxon part of the church are of oak, and to touch them is to be transported back to the forests where they once stood and to the people who cut, shaped and used them for their place of worship.
See also here.
Of wood well made this wall
The Heritage Trust
Not of stone
Heart of oak, cleft down
from top to bottom.
Fastened well in wooden sill
round side out towards winter’s winds
flat side in for warmth.
Adze marks made here by a man
more than a thousand years ago.
Naes staenen!
But of wood well made this wall
Once fastened and thatched
A new hall for a new lord of all.
NB Naes staenen: Old English – Not of stone.
Peter Smith, architectural historian, 1926–2013
The Heritage of Wales reports today on the death of Peter Smith, architectural historian.
Peter Smith FSA, architectural historian and author of the classic Houses of the Welsh Countryside, died on the 12 March 2013 in a nursing home.  Born in 1926 at Winlaton-on-Tyne, Co. Durham, the son of a schools’ inspector (H.M.I.), subsequent moves gave Peter Smith an early appreciation of the diversity of Britain but he never lost the regional accent acquired in his childhood.
After Oxford, where he read Modern History, there was a brief career as an Assistant Principal in Whitehall in the Ministry of Transport. His enthusiasm for historic buildings, however, led him to study successfully for the R.I.B.A. intermediate exam.  In 1949 he was appointed to the Welsh Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, one of a small number of standing Royal Commissions, and began his long professional study of Welsh antiquities.
More here.

Gold and niello panel with Anglo-Saxon animal interlace

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is today one huge step closer to creating a permanent home for its Staffordshire Hoard display after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced it has awarded the venue £704,500 towards the creation of a Staffordshire Hoard Gallery.

First objects from the Staffordshire Hoard went on temporary display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in September 2009, two months after the Hoard was first discovered in a Staffordshire field. Objects from the Hoard have been on continuous display at the venue since March 2010 and have attracted more than 590,000 visitors from all over the world since then. However, there is not currently a permanent gallery for the Hoard at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

The HLF award represents significant progress in the campaign to raise the funds needed to create a permanent gallery for the Hoard. The proposed gallery will showcase approximately 300 items from the 7th century treasure trove and will interpret the story of the Hoard and its context within Anglo-Saxon history and culture. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the story of the Staffordshire Hoard, from the creation and original use of the items within it to the thrilling story of its rediscovery and conservation.

More here.


Pond in a Garden
Wall painting, dating from 1,400bce, from the Tomb of Nebamun, Luxor Egypt
Source Wikimedia Commons
Heritage Daily reports that –
A bright blue pigment used 5,000 years ago is giving modern scientists clues toward the development of new nanomaterials with potential uses in state-of-the-art medical imaging devices, remote controls for televisions, security inks and other technology. That’s the conclusion of an article on the pigment, Egyptian blue, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Tina T. Salguero and colleagues point out that Egyptian blue, regarded as humanity’s first artificial pigment, was used in paintings on tombs, statues and other objects throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. Remnants have been found, for instance, on the statue of the messenger goddess Iris on the Parthenon and in the famous Pond in a Garden fresco in the tomb of Egyptian “scribe and counter of grain” Nebamun in Thebes.
Full article here.

Trethevy Quoit
Image credit and © Roy Goutté

The Heritage Trust will be holding its Outreach Event in Cornwall this year. The event will extend over two or three days either side of the summer solstice on Friday, 21 June and will include visits to Trethevy Quoit, The Hurlers, Cheesewring, Rillaton Barrow and Craddock Moor stone circle.

There is no charge to attend, just an opportunity to share ideas and socialise with likeminded people. Mr Roy Goutté, author of Trethevy Quoit: Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece, will be our guide at Trethevy and will be pleased to discuss his findings of the quoit while there.

Please follow our Forthcoming events thread over the coming months for updates and further details.


An example of Quinkan (an Australian Aboriginal mythological being) rock art
Source Wikimedia. Image credit Michael Gardner
Some of the world’s most extensive and ancient rock painting galleries surround the little town of Laura, Queensland,  North-East Australia. “Aboriginal people have made their home in the Laura River valley for at least 50,000 years. In the wet season, they would camp under rock shelters on the high ground. This is where their rock art can be found, some of which are available for public viewing. (Wikipedia).
The Australian however quotes IP Shanks as saying that –
GINA Rinehart wants to explore for minerals near Laura (“Rock art now: writing on the wall if Gina digs”, 2-3/3). Forget it Gina, those art galleries are 40,000 years old, compared to Stonehenge, which is only 5000 years old.
Can anyone imagine the British allowing mining exploration anywhere near Stonehenge? The Laura art work is the oldest in the world and belongs to all. The giant horse cave is truly awe-inspiring and probably the first indigenous representation of a horse in Australia. What Australia urgently needs is legislation to control its rapacious miners.
More here.
Trethevy Quoit from the north-east
Image and © Roy Goutté
Following on from Mr Roy Goutté’s video Is time running out for Trethevy Quoit and other such unprotected Scheduled Monuments? we have recently received new photos from Mr Goutté’s of Trethevy Quoit showing that some attempt to ‘tidy up’ the site has been made. Trethevy Quoit is still at risk however, both from the misuse of land around it and the delicate condition it now finds itself in.
Trethevy Quoit from the south-west
Image and © Roy Goutté


Video AlJazeera English

The Global Heritage Network reports that –

Currently among Cambodia’s top-listed sites for nomination to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Banteay Chhmar (The Citadel of the Cats) is one of the great architectural masterpieces of Southeast Asia and the Khmer Kingdom’s epic Angkorian Period. Lacking any conservation over the past 800 years, the temple complex has slowly collapsed and disintegrated – its proud towers and awesome temples disappearing into the overgrowth. Coupled with threats from trees and the jungle, structural failure and looting, Banteay Chhmar is in critical need for conservation, master planning and increased protection. Local communities must be an integral part of the site’s protection and responsible development to ensure long-term success and proper management.

Full feature here.


Photographed before conflicts began, the mile-long remnants of the colonnade of the Roman city of Apamea in Syria. The site was reportedly shelled and occupied recently by Syrian government tanks.
Image credit Christian Sahner
David Arnold, writing for the Voice of America yesterday, reports that –
The civil war in Syria has resulted in the deaths of more than 90,000 people and forced an estimaed three million to flee their homes. Now, experts fear the fighting also is destroying cultural artefacts and archaeological sites on an unprecedented scale. With limited access because of the fighting, archaeologists and experts on Syrian culture try to monitor thousands of important sites representing five to six thousand years of civilization.
Just this past week, Irina Bokova, the UNESCO director-general, noted that the destruction had been especially devastating in and around the northern city of Aleppo. “After the damages on the Citadel and the burning of the souks, and previous damage to the Great Mosque last October, it has been reported that considerable destruction has taken place at the Mosque on Thursday 28 February,” Bokova said, adding that it had turned “this place of peace and study, one of the most beautiful mosques of all Islamic culture, into a devastated battlefield, notably its museum and library of manuscripts.”
Full story here. See also our earlier feature here.

The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire USA is running an exhibition entitled Lethal Beauty: Samurai Weapons and Armor. The exhibition will show “…the striking duality of deadly weaponry and artistic beauty from the Samurai culture of centuries past. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Andreas Marks, the director and chief curator of the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture in Hanford, California. With approximately 60 works by more than 30 master craftsmen from the 1200s to 1900s, Lethal Beauty features full suits of armor, helmets, warrior hats, face masks, long and short swords, daggers, rifles and more.”

The exhibition runs until the 5 May 2013. Details here.



March 2013
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