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A guest feature by Roy Goutté. Text and images © Roy Goutté
An elevated view of the Trippet Stones taken in 2012 with Hawkstor farm in the background
After visiting King Arthur’s Hall the banked enclosure of uncertain age on King Arthur’s Down near St Breward, Cornwall, on the 12 June 2014 with fellow enthusiast Peter Castle, we decided on the way back to make a fleeting visit to the Trippet Stones stone circle on Manor Common. I’m very glad we did now otherwise we could have missed out on something quite interesting!
After wandering around the circle for a few minutes we came across two smaller stones that on first impression had that look that suggests that one part was the remaining stump of an upright, and the other, a broken section off it! In this instance however, on closer inspection, they were both found to be just lying on the surface or embedded just beneath, but neither seriously earth-fast! Where they came from I don’t know but the likelihood is that they are nothing to do with the circle at all and ‘just stones’ placed there at some stage.
However, on looking more closely at them, we noticed that one, the more secure of the two, had what appeared to be a form of horizontal and vertical crisscross carving on its stepped top. Some may even call it rock-art, something I’ll admit to knowing very little about, but maybe a follower of The Heritage Trust will.
It can be seen in the photo that both ‘steps’ in the stone appear to have been carved or ‘decorated’, but a more interesting point to me at the moment is the fact that the bottom and top halves of the stone have a fracture or fault running between them threatening to split the stone into two separate halves. If it did, it may well provide us with the answer as to whether the lower section of ‘grid-lines’ are natural or man-made. Obviously if the grid did run completely through the stone then the carving would be a natural feature, but if not…?
There must be many ways in which a stone can become ‘marked’ accidentally, one being when dragged out of the earth by a tractor when ploughing, but in this case I would have thought it unlikely, as the crisscrossed markings on the lower step go right up to the rising side of that step.
The fracture or fault line clearly seen running through the stone between top and bottom. If separated, would it reveal more of the ‘carving’ or just a plain surface? One action could solve an archaeological mystery, the other, damage it irrevocably!
Do the ‘grid-lines’ continue through the fracture or stop against the face of the upper section as seen from above? If it is just a random stone and not part of the setting, should it be split as one would when fossil hunting to prove it one way or another or left well alone?
The Trefael Stone
BBC News South West Wales reports yesterday that a ritual burial site in Pembrokeshire may have been in use 10,000 years ago – almost twice as far back as expected –
The Trefael Stone near Nevern was reclassified as a Stone Age burial chamber after its capstone was studied. But a three-year dig [headed Dr George Nash] has since found beads dating back much further, perhaps to the Neolithic or Mesolithic periods.
For centuries the Trefael standing stone was largely disregarded as just one of hundreds of similar Bronze Age monuments. Yet closer analysis of its distinctive cup marks now indicate that they loosely match the pattern of stellar constellations. This would only make sense if, rather than standing upright, it had originally been laid flat as a capstone which would have once been supported by a series of upright stones.
Dr Nash believes the Trefael Stone in fact topped a Neolithic burial chamber, probably a portal dolmen, which is one of western Britain’s earliest burial monument types. “Many years ago Trefael was considered just a simple standing stone lying in a windswept field, but the excavation programme has proved otherwise,” he said. “It suggests that Trefael once lay in the heart of a ritualised landscape that was in operation for at least 5-6,000 years.
Andrea Hahn writing for The Southern reports today that –
CARBONDALE – Stonehenge is much closer to home, but some of the sites a group of British archaeologists want to see are in Southern Illinois.
The Prehistoric Society Tour, a British archaeological society based in London and led by British archaeologist Pete Topping, includes two Southern Illinois sites on a whirlwind tour of prehistoric sites in the Eastern United States. Southern Illinois University Carbondale archaeologist and prehistoric rock art expert Mark J. Wagner will guide the group through the Piney Creek Rock Art site and to the Millstone Bluff site. The tour group will be in Southern Illinois on Thursday, June 21, beginning mid-morning.
“I’ve worked as an archaeologist in Southern Illinois for 20 years, and this is the first time I’ve been asked to guide a tour group of British archaeologists,” Wagner said. “I think this whole thing is pretty cool, that we have archaeologists from as far away as Great Britain that know we have sites worth seeing in Southern Illinois and want to visit them. It is definitely something out of the ordinary.”
Wagner is the right person to lead the group. He is the author of an official survey of prehistoric rock art in Illinois commissioned by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and has made the study of the rock art his research specialty.
Full article here.
Adam Stanford is an archaeological photographer in the UK. He is in need of funding for his field trip to record the excavations and archaeology at the Ness of Brodgar during the field work season of July-August 2012.
Art is part of what makes us human. Primitive or otherwise, though, it is not only about painting pretty pictures, but also about the complex use of symbols and forms of language.
An Australian archaeologist once told me that he had listened to an Aboriginal man talk for three hours about the meaning of a bark painting he had made. What to the uninitiated may have appeared to be no more than an attractive but random series of dots and lines was, the awed archaeologist admitted, in fact part of a complex web of stories and ideas.
Despite the centrality of art to the human experience, however, the archaeological record of prehistoric art is rather patchy. While the renowned paleolithic cave paintings of southwestern France or the rock art of Australia are outstanding examples of prehistoric art, there are many areas of the world where the remains of such early art don’t exist — or haven’t yet been discovered.
Japan is one such region: Here, evidence of early prehistoric art is sparse. This is despite the fact that more than 5,000 paleolithic sites have been found to date in Japan — a huge number compared with many other parts of the world. Where Japan really comes into its own, of course, is with the ceramic arts of the Jomon Period that followed the Paleolithic Age, dating from around 8,000 B.C. through to the dawn of the Yayoi Period around 400 B.C.
Full article here.
One of the rock art stones uncovered by archaeologists at the Knowth tumulus. Image credit Kevin O’Brien, OPW
Writing in the Meath Chronicle, Paul Murphy reports that –
New and exciting archaeological finds have been made at the Knowth tumulus over the last few months, according to archaeologists working on the site. The passage tomb cemetery at Brú na Binne has produced some extraordinary discoveries over the decades ever since Professor George Eogan made his first tentative exploration in and around the site. A number of previously unknown large-scale monuments in the field lying immediately to the south-east of the large mound have recently come to light.
Full article here.