Holy Tom Jones! That’s the response to the news that the most famous thing to be born and once stand in Wales isn’t the sweaty, swivel-hipped blues singer … it’s Stonehenge! According to a new study, the bluestone monoliths that were erected some 5,000 years ago in Wiltshire were quarried in Wales and may have been a Welsh monument for a few hundred years before being taken down, moved and reassembled in England. Really?
According to a report published this week in the journal Antiquity, a team of archeologists and geologists lead by Mike Parker Pearson, a professor at University College London, confirmed finding the actual two quarries where the Stonehenge bluestones were excavated. These are the smaller stones at the site, not the larger sandstones that were from local sources.
The team determined that Stonehenge’s “spotted dolerite” bluestones came from the Carn Goedog outcrop (a visible exposure of rock) and one of the “rhyolite” bluestones was from the Craig Rhos-y-felin outcrop. Both are in the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire.
Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and hazelnuts from miners’ campsites shows the work was done around 5,400 years ago. Stonehenge was built 5,000 years ago. Did it take 400 years to move the rocks? Mike Parker Pearson has a new theory about that.
It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument somewhere near the quarries that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.
He also believes that the bluestones were used to build the original version of Stonehenge and the larger sandstones were added later. But why was a monument built in Wales and then moved 180 miles away? Why not just build a new one? Pearson has this to say:
Stonehenge was a Welsh monument from its very beginning. If we can find the original monument in Wales from which it was built, we will finally be able to solve the mystery of why Stonehenge was built and why some of its stones were brought so far.
The team returns to Wales in 2016 to hunt for evidence of a Welsh Stonehenge and a possible explanation for why it was built, torn down, moved and built again.
Are you surprised at Stonehenge’s unusual Welsh connection? Tom Jones isn’t.