According to the BBC documentary: Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed (Waun Mawn; stonehenge) – when Mike Parker-Pearson’s (MPP) team found the Bluestone quarry at Craig-Rhos-Y-Felin, it was a significant breakthrough in the story of Stonehenge, as we now know that these precious ‘Bluestones’ were transported from Wales to Salisbury Plain, for reasons unknown to the current batch of English Heritage archaeologists.
The problems then started to materialise when MPP attempted to FIND dates from this quarry, rather than do what Scientists should, and examine the site without prejudice, to see if the quarry’s findings meet the same conclusions at their excavations at Stonehenge. Instead, they attempted to find a date that would vindicate their Stonehenge dating methods. This is ‘Bad Science’ and consequently naturally leads to corrupting of any findings as they would overlook other possibilities in the pursuit of a narrow band of desired dates.
For example, at Craig Rhos-Y-Felin, MPP overlooked the extensive evidence found in the sites man-made hearths which showed that the quarry was actually first occupied in the Mesolithic Period, rather than the limited Neolithic dates MPP was hoping for. This resulted in the team coming back for a second season and looking further afield from the main occupation area, until a couple of random ‘nut cases’ 😉 were found to have a “close date” to the 2800 BCE Mike required.
MPP then went ‘public’ and announced that they found the site of bluestones that supported his hypothesis on Stonehenge being built in 2800 BCE – but there was a problem even with this ‘nut case’ date. It was still 500 years too early, and so MPP came up with a ‘credible theory’ about the date differences – A Welsh prototype stone circle which was moved 500 years later.
Consequently, the search started for this mysterious ‘lost’ stone circle in Wales from 2013 (onward) to justify the 500-year gap in his dates. The BBC program highlighted that on several occasions; he claimed to find this ‘mysterious site’, later to discover, that it was nonsense (as he could not find his 3300 BCE date) and then they moved on to find another site. Needless to say, this is again ‘Bad Science’ as you have prejudiced your methodology, as these other sites may have actually had a more significant impact on the knowledge of Prehistoric Britain and the Stonehenge builders if they were fully excavated and reported upon – rather than just ‘backfilled’ for a later or another excavator in the future, as you are more focused on proving yourself right.
Therefore, the last hope of MPP’s reputation and his ’10-year search’ fell upon Waun Mawn, which culminated in the BBC documentary: “Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed”, show on the 12th February 2021. In it, he claimed many so-called ‘facts’ which I shall now highlight as ‘not making sense’, with the reasons why?
1. At (13:20) MPP shows signs of human-made quarrying and splitting of Bluestones at Carn Goedog in Wales – unfortunately, there are no extensive excavation reports on this site just a publish review showing that of the 31 carbon dates only three random samples supports his theory and none of the man-made hearths which are Mesolithic (like Craig Rhos-Y-Felin) or late Neolithic.
2. The program showed the suggested quarried stones at Carn Goedog which are over 12 feet long and 5-foot-wide, weighing therefore around 20+ tonnes – The Stonehenge bluestones are on average less than six feet high and about 18 – 24 inches wide weighing 1 to 3 tonnes. The review on the site offered no evidence that the stones were cut down and reshaped for the journey to Stonehenge or elsewhere.
3. MPP claims that the boat transport method (14.50) was infeasible as they did not have sturdy enough boats to carry the stones on such a journey – Sadly, you do not need a ‘boat’ to transport stones in a river as shown by Atkinson in the 1960’s who employed just four school kids to punt a raft with a 3 tonne stone attached down the Avon. Moreover, he has failed to recognise that the oldest boatyard in the world located in the Solent (at the end of the Avon) has found with planked wood (and associated wheat grain from Turkey) indicating that substantial seafaring boats were available by the 7th Millennium BCE.
4. Mike Parker-Pearson also suggested that an ‘ox-cart’ route that followed the current A40 was the most feasible way of transporting these stones to Stonehenge. He believed that they dragged these stones over 200 km on wooden sledges – unfortunately, the example shown on the program shows schoolboys dragging a small stone over flat grassland, which would not available for another 4000+ years and after Stonehenge’s initial construction. At the time of Phase I construction the environment (shown by pollen analysis) indicates that 70% of the terrain was woodland and forest and the remaining 30% was mostly made up of rivers and swampland, making such an endeavour impossible.
5. The Discovery (21:15) of ‘random’ hazel nuts at Craig Rhos-Y-Felin provides MPP’s required date for Stonehenge of 3300 BCE (which is still 500 years before MPP’s supposed construction date) – This clear ‘cherry picking’ of the archaeological evidence is ‘Bad Science’. To take just two carbon dates from over 40 at the Craig-Rhos-Y-Felin site and ignoring the more solid man-made hearth dates, that are Mesolithic and moreover, compatible with 26 carbon dates found at Stonehenge is plainly a falsehood.
6. When they eventually found their target site (36:15) Waun Mawn (after many claims that other sites were “the one we have been looking for” to eventually find that the carbon dating on these sites did not match the required date), they found just four bluestones, and so went on a stone hunt and found 10 further stone HOLES! – This is clearly a sad attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole. The excavation was flawed as it only identified 14 possible stone locations and the remainder of the estimated 15 – 25 stones was a ‘guesstimation’ based on the known 14 holes – two of which had non-bluestone stones in situ.
7. The BBC reconstruction shows just 28 stones (38:05) of the 56 Bluestones required for the Aubrey holes to be filled at Stonehenge, and MPP goes on to suggest, that the stone circle is of equal size and dimensions as Stonehenge, quote “the chances of the two sites having the EXACT dimensions are very slim”- This sadly, is another falsehood, the Moat/Ditch at Stonehenge is approximately 110 metres in diameter, NOT the Aubrey holes which are 90 metres in diameter. Moreover, Stonehenge has a ditch/moat surrounding the stones (for a good reason) Waun Mawn does not!!
8. MPP’s then used a new unused tool in archaeology to prove his hypothesis ‘photogrammetry’ and suggested that Stone 62 at Stonehenge fitted the stone hole 91 at Waun Mawn – The reason this method is not used is somewhat obvious to even non-academics. You would need a crane to move the stone vertically up and out of the hole to get an exact imprint. If you are taking out a stone by hand and or with levers you will rock it from side to side destroying the stone hole impression as we have seen from post holes in numerous excavations.
9. The program fails to report that the 40 carbon dates from wood found on the site did not come up with MPP’s magic date, and so he employed another form of Dating OSL (40:17) to find this single piece of evidence he desperately required. – Sadly, watching Dr Kim Kinnaird efforts to get a light uncontaminated sample from over a fallen Stone, summed up the state of archaeology as a science for me? Armed with black weed blocker and a bicycle light on his head he set forth to get a sample to prove MPP’s hypothesis. Anyone who considers this an effective way of obtaining an OSL sample is beyond scientific redemption, as logic would suggest, doing it at night would perhaps be more suitable? This was finally compounded when we saw him transporting the sample in his hand into the detector in daylight, which was pure icing on that flawed cake.
10. Roberts indicated (quite rightly) that ALL the dates were “way out” and all hopes were put on this one sample, MPP then claimed (42:20) “we had dated the thing, and it just before Stonehenge’s construction” (3300 BCE) – Sadly, and not report in the program, but within the Waun Mawn excavation report, there was not one OSL samples taken but 18, which gave results in the range of 6980+/- 2120 BCE to AD 1900 +/- 20. So 17 dating sample did not verify MPP’s Hypothesis ONLY a single one which was dated 3530 +/- 330 (with that date range the probability its 3300 BCE is slim!!) . In fact the OSL data in the review document suggested “removal of the stones” 2120 +/-520 BCE, long after Stonehenge phase I.
11. The program then went onto a flight of fantasy for 15 minutes (25% OF AIR TIME) with unscientific mythology and astroarchaeology (which proved MORE that astroarchaeology doesn’t have any significance as the ‘expert’ suggested that the stones were ‘in the general direction’ of an alignment – which by the very nature of a stone circle of 360 degrees – every stone circle in the world is in the general direction of all astrological alignments!! Even more ludicrous came an idea that the Welsh culturally invaded England in 3300 BCE and took the stones of Waun Mawn with them – Sadly, at no point did the experts attempt to justify why Stonehenge had 56 Bluestones and the site at Waun Mawn had less than 30 at the most. Even if this idea was remotely true, why would you leave four stones behind when you are already going to be 30 stones short and need to go back and get some more from the quarry site?
12. The program never went to any detail of the OTHER carbon dates found at Waun Mawn, which would allowed a balanced scientific program allowing the viewer to decide whether MPP’s hypothesis was actually feasible? It dictated speculation as fact justified by a number of site workers and the presenter agreeing on MPP’s ideas, without question or qualification – this is commonly known as ‘propaganda’ and not scientific methodology. Moreover, the REAL evidence CAN found in the report and shows that of the carbon dating evidence at Waun Mawn (the OSL data was excluded from the report accept a small paragraph without all data!) shows that of the 42 samples taken:
- 1 – sample were of 9th Millennium BCE
- 3 – samples were of the 8th Millennium BCE
- 8 – samples were of the 7th Millennium BCE
- 4 – samples were of the 6th Millennium BCE
- 10 – samples were of the 5th Millennium BCE
- 6 – samples were of the 4th Millennium BCE
- 11- samples after 4th Millenium BCE upto 17 AD.
13. The report on Waun Mawn contains other questionable evidence, which was excluded from the program, this includes the fact that the Aubrey holes are ALL two to three times deeper at Stonehenge than Waun Mawn. This indicates that Stonehenge Bluestones were made form larger bluestones than Waun Mawn (Stonehenge Bluestone hole 69 is over 1.5m deep as it is long and thin). It looks as if the original stone circle at Waun Mawn was made up of similar shaped stones to the existing recumbent stone 13 which is 6 – 7-foot-tall and surrounded by a moat. The shape of recumbent 13 indicates that rather than the long thin bluestones as at Stonehenge, Waun Mawn had ‘fat bottomed’ domed ends and hence the need for only shallow ditches.
In conclusion, it seems that the BBC has produced a nice piece of archaeological propaganda that supports the current false ‘archaeological narrative’ of mythology and speculation, rather than tested and qualified scientific fact. This lack of ‘critical analysis’ is a clear indication of why the ‘science’ of archaeology has not progress much over the last 50 years, even with modern technology which it has incorporated to very limited success.
More scientific and Analytical archaeological evidence and investigations relating to Stonehenge: The Lost Circle Revealed can be found on my website. www.prehistoric-britain.co.uk or my Video channel www.prehistoric-britain.online
Addendum – I first meet MPP on his excavation dig on the Avon in 2009, where he was in preparation to announce his bluestone site ‘Bluestonehenge’. At the time we had a discussion about the date of the site, as he was convinced that (at that time) he believed it predated Stonehenge Phase I (we now know this was the first of many claims of a predated Stonehenge bluestone circle). I did point out that at the meeting that I thought this date would be incorrect as according to my research (of the surrounding 50 sites around Stonehenge) which was included in my published book and post-glacial flooded environment hypothesis ‘The Stonehenge Enigma’ in 2013 – that this site would have been below water as the River Avon would remain flooded throughout the Neolithic period. At this point he ended the meeting and disappeared at such rapid speed – it look as if he thought I was clearly mad?
The later carbon dating proved my point and supported my hypothesis as it is now accepted that Bluehenge was constructed between 2840 – 2230 BCE Early Bronze Age.