In the first part of our exploration, we delved into the televised program ‘Digging for Britain’ and scrutinised the methodology employed by the purported experts, questioning the reliability of their conclusions regarding the dating of Cerne Abbas. Our investigation highlighted flaws in the sampling process, particularly the oversight of soil creep, which significantly impacts the interpretation of the site’s history. (Digging for Britain Debunked)
Now, in this second part, our focus shifts to the professionalism of archaeologists involved in such endeavours and, by extension, the broader state of the archaeological profession in the 21st century. A critical lens is turned towards the National Trust’s excavation efforts, particularly the four trenches dedicated to OSL dating. Despite the extensive timeframe of over two years for this undertaking, a conspicuous absence of an official report raises concerns about transparency and the ability for scrutiny by other knowledgeable individuals. This delay in producing and sharing findings with the wider community questions the efficiency and accessibility of archaeological information.
The quality of documentation further comes into question, as hand-drawn cross-sections, seemingly rushed and lacking the meticulous detail expected in rigorous scientific practices, were presented. This not only reveals an apparent ‘back of an envelope’ approach but also underscores a profound oversight by the experts. Despite having two years for scrutiny and examination, critical questions were left unexplored, a shortcoming magnified by the collaboration with the BBC for the televised program.
The absence of a comprehensive and timely report, coupled with the apparent lack of attention to detail in documentation, casts doubt on the thoroughness and professionalism of the archaeological efforts surrounding Cerne Abbas. The urgency to present findings to the media and create a documentary may have compromised the meticulousness required in archaeological endeavours.
This prompts a broader reflection on the state of the archaeological profession itself. The slow pace of report publication, potential gaps in expertise, and a seeming reluctance to subject findings to robust scrutiny raise concerns about the agility and accountability of the discipline in contemporary times.
The deficiencies in the excavation process around Cerne Abbas become more apparent when we scrutinise the placement of the trenches and the sampling locations. The hand-drawn illustrations (which I consider ‘outdated’ in an era of affordable and prevalent 3D high-definition cameras) indicate that samples were taken from the topsoil just above the chalk bedrock. However, a photograph reveals a more accurate location at the bottom of the topsoil near the bedrock chalk, leading to the Saxon date conclusion.
A critical oversight emerges when we consider the implications of the Saxon date. If accurate, the absence of topsoil dating back thousands of years raises intriguing questions. Three plausible scenarios are explored: deliberate removal of soil before Cerne Abbas construction, the absence of soil initially, or inaccuracies in OSL dating.
Option one, soil removal, implies an intention to obliterate what was originally present, raising logistical questions about the necessity for such an extensive process compared to the simplicity of laying new lines on existing chalk.
Option two speculates on the absence of soil due to something atop the bedrock, a theory we will delve into further.
Option three questions the accuracy of OSL dates, which, if proven, could cast doubt on the entire OSL science.
Option two gains credence when exploring the Post-Glacial Hypothesis, grounded in the notion of elevated water levels in prehistoric times. LiDAR imagery of the site reveals a landscape shaped by Mesolithic waters, with identified natural harbours and Neolithic camps indicating the higher historical river levels. Archaeological findings, including tools and earthworks, support the hypothesis of the river running parallel to the figure being significantly higher during the Neolithic period.
This scenario accounts for approximately seven thousand years with no topsoil on the figure. Examining the bedrock reveals signs of extensive water weathering, consistent with chalk erosion over thousands of years. The excavation report and photographs uncover broken chalk at the bottom of the topsoil, demonstrating water-induced erosion and redeposition. The darkened appearance, a result of drying after being broken and re-laid on top, mirrors the common impact of water on solid chalk.
Further evidence points to Post-Glacial Flooding and a Neolithic origin for the figure, strategically marking the entrance to the harbour. LiDAR maps hint at a man with a balance on his shoulders or head, potentially representing a trading centre surrounded by quarries and mining pits.
The intricacies of Cerne Abbas, when viewed through the lens of geological processes and archaeological evidence, unfold a narrative of ancient landscapes shaped by water, a figure emerging from millennia of erosion, and a Neolithic trading hub leaving its mark on the chalky canvas of history.
NB. The findings at the The Long Man of Wilmington by Prof. Martin Bell shows very similar findings and geology as Cerne Abbas –
“Our method was to machine cut a trench at the base of the slope to look at the sediment sequence, then carefully hand excavate an adjoining strip, recording in three dimensions the positions of all artefacts, no matter how modern, in order to date each layer.
At the base of our trench there were chalk meltwater muds from a time of rapid physical weathering at the end of the last Ice Age. Above these were bowl-shaped features, perhaps tree-throw pits because they contained land snails of woodland habitats, showing this part of the slope had been wooded earlier in the Postglacial. They also contained some flint flakes, so they could be archaeological features.
Over these was a buried soil. Ed Rhodes, formerly of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at Oxford, now of the Australian National University, has used OSL to date this soil to the mid-2nd millennium BC. The snails show that by this time the landscape was open. Later in the Bronze Age the soil was buried by more soil derived from cultivation at the base of the slope. Snails show the escarpment above was grassland. Many sites on the South Downs show evidence for quite extensive Bronze Age soil erosion. Bronze Age and Neolithic pottery and flints from the basal soil and the colluvium indicate that a settlement was nearby.”
They called the broken chalk we saw in these excavations ‘chalk meltwater muds’ and he is correct but this kind of deposit can only be produced by thousands of years of water erosion not a couple of hundred and his OSL dates confirm this – as just above this level is a OSL date of 2,000 BCE. We have 8,000 years of top soil missing as the site like Carne Abbass as it was covered with river water creating another natural harbour – and would you believe it – it also has a Neolthic Settlement (trading post above it on the top of the hill) indicating these figures were once used as boat markers/sign posts on the raised rivers of the past, before being change in the saxon period and beyond.
For information about British Prehistory, visit www.prehistoric-britain.co.uk for the most extensive archaeology blogs and investigations collection, including modern LiDAR reports. This site also includes extracts and articles from the Robert John Langdon Trilogy about Britain in the Prehistoric period, including titles such as The Stonehenge Enigma, Dawn of the Lost Civilisation and the ultimate proof of Post Glacial Flooding and the landscape we see today.
Robert John Langdon has also created a YouTube web channel with over 100 investigations and video documentaries to support his classic trilogy (Prehistoric Britain). He has also released a collection of strange coincidences that he calls ‘13 Things that Don’t Make Sense in History’ and his recent discovery of a lost Stone Avenue at Avebury in Wiltshire called ‘Silbury Avenue – the Lost Stone Avenue’.
Langdon has also produced a series of ‘shorts’, which are extracts from his main body of books:
For active discussions on the findings of the TRILOGY and recent LiDAR investigations that are published on our WEBSITE, you can join our and leave a message or join the debate on our Facebook Group.
- 1003037 – Ditch 530yds (484m) SW of Stitchcombe Farm
- 1003254 – Linear earthwork NW of Sidbury camp
- 1003726 – Earthwork 360yds (328m) NW of Warren Copse
- 1003769 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 560yds (510m) in Pennsylvania Wood, Ufton Park
- 1003784 – Wansdyke: section 610yds (560m) NW of Wernham Farm to 250yds (230m) SW of New Buildings
- 1003804 – Dray’s Ditches See also LUTON 1
- 1004534 – Dray’s Ditches See also BEDFORDSHIRE 1
- 1004719 – Wansdyke: section from S of Furze Hill to Marlborough-Pewsey road
- 1004736 – Section of the Wansdyke
- 1005373 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 300yds (275m) in Church Plantation
- 1005374 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 880yds (795m) in Old Warren
- 1005375 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 470yds (430m) in Little Heath
- 1005376 – Grim’s Bank: Section extending SW 900yds (825m) from New Plantation, Ufton Park, to a point 250yds (230m) SE of Rectory
- 1005377 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 420yds (400m) in Old Park and Raven Hill, Ufton Park
- 1005386 – Wansdyke (now Bedwyn Dyke), section 530yds (490m) on W side of Old Dyke Lane
- 1005389 – Grim’s Bank: section extending 240yds (220m) E of Padworth Gully
- 1006958 – Boundary ditch E of Near Down
- 1006977 – Ditch on Boydon Hole Farm
- 1006981 – Grim’s Ditch: section 1 mile long E from Southfield Shaw to Streatley parish boundary
- 1006982 – Grim’s Ditch: two sections in Portobello Wood, Holies Shaw and High Holies Wood Gap
- 1007136 – Bishop’s Dyke (Cumbria)
- 1007525 – Three (Cross) Dykes on Middle Hill – Kidland Forest Northumberland
- 1008274 – Cross dyke, 200m south east of Hosedon Linn
- 1008275 – Cross Dyke South East of Uplaw Knowe
- 1010988 – Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum from A6071 to The Cottage in the case of the Wall, and to the road to Oldwall, for the Vallum, in wall miles 57, 58 and 59
- 1010990 – The Vallum between the road to Laversdale at Oldwall and Baron’s Dike in wall miles 59 and 60
- 1010992 – Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum between the field boundary west of Carvoran Roman fort and the west side of the B6318 road in wall mile 46
- 1011396 – Cross dyke, South of Campville
- 1014695 – Hadrian’s Wall Vallum between Mill Beck and the field boundary east of Kirkandrews Farm in wall mile 69
- 1014708 – section of the north Oxfordshire Grim’s Ditch at Model Farm on the Ditchley Park Estate
- 1016860 – Scot’s Dike
- 1017288 – Wansdyke and associated monuments from east of The Firs to the eastern side of Tan Hill
- 1017736 – Cross Dyke and two building foundations at Copper Snout
- 1020643 – North east of Buttington Farm
- Britain’s Linear Earthworks (Dykes) Gazetteer
- Dawn of the Lost Civilisation
- LiDAR Mapping Service – Contact Page
- Prehistoric Bedfordshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Berkshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Buckinghamshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Cambridgeshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Cheshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Cornwall Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric County Durham Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Cumbria Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Derbyshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Devon Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Dorset Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Durham Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Essex Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Gloucestershire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Hampshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Herefordshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Kent Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Lancashire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Leicestershire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Lincolnshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Middlesex Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Norfolk Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Northamptonshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Northumberland Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Oxfordshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Shropshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Somerset Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Suffolk Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Surrey Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Sussex Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Warwickshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Wiltshire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Worcestershire Canals (Dykes)
- Prehistoric Yorkshire Canals (Dykes)
- The Post Glacial Flooding Hypothesis
- The Stonehenge Enigma