Thursday, July 29, 2021

Limited back yard area? Think "vertical garden". Think BioWall!

Here's the so-called "BioWall" as seen some weeks ago on my first viewing at a major supplier/installer.

 I've since taken an extra 3 piccies, separated by a week or more, showing the relative constancy of its impressive appearance.  (Point and click to enlarge). 

Why am I showing it here?

Yes, free advertising, one might say. But there's a separate, more important reason. 

Wife and I have just had one installed in our back yard! 

Here's how our own BioWall looked immediately after installation, together with our  two curious kittenish cats.

We're most impressed - not just by the appearance, but by the underlying science (especially the largely automatic system that keeps the 432 perennial pot plants regularly watered - but NOT overwatered.

More to follow - especially as regards the brilliant irrigation system...

Friday July 30

Yes, let's take a closer look at the irrigation system, which though largely invisible in the end-product, was captured in the piccies I took while installation was in progress.

Above you see some of the 144 containers (each comprising 3 separate pots) that have been attached to the  timber framework. Yes, they are linked. We'll see how shortly.

Here's a follow-up picture with some of the containers occupied, and with one of the two installers doing some careful measurements nearest the back door:

 Here's a clue to the top-to-bottom irrigation system that keeps the BioWall supplied with a life-preserving water supply.

Yes, you can see the inlet water-supply hose snaking up the side, then running behind the top  horizontal spar of timber to the highest tier of containers.

An here's where the water supply came from - namely an outside tap. It was fitted with a second tap and hose, as you can see on the right, the one on the left being the original.

July 31st, 2021

Here's a few details regarding the irrigation system.

First, here's an elevated view taken from the far end, furthest from the inlet feed to the highest tier:

Note the side tubing which takes water into each container. From this angle one cannot see where the tubes go, or how they end. That info is available, however, in a piccy that I took from the opposite end, i.e. from water-supply:

The side tubes dangle freely into the containers.  But what are those ribbed black objects, of which two are visible in the above piccy? To find out, I went down to a lower level and removed a single pot plant from an end-container to investigate in more detail.

I've placed a tick against the black-ribbed item. (Ignore the hole marked with a cross - it seems irrelevant from a brief glance).

Next I tugged lightly on the black ribbed item.  It lifted off, being the grid-protection for a drain exit for surplus water.

(I've marked the location of the vertically-oriented exit drain with a small yellow arrow). 

Sunday August 1

So, starting at the highest of 13 horizontal tiers, a shallow layer of inlet water from an outside tap builds up under each pot, sufficiently high to reach the base of the compost but no higher.  (One relies on subsequent capillary action to gradually wet the entire compost + plant roots). It then proceeds to overflow into a drain pipe, running down to the next tier below, and thus it continues.

Then what?  

Answer: the surplus finally runs into a gutter installed along the base.

Finally, one sees overflow into a conveniently-situated drain:

Time to turn off the inlet tap (which can be up to 20 mins or so after turning on, depending on when the pots were last watered).

Link to BioWall website:

(Added note: have deleted the inserted image of a colourful BioWall ad' in a free magazine that came through the letterbox. Why?  Answer:  this posting disappeared completely from a search engine listing shortly thereafter! Cause and effect - or mere coincidence? Let's see if the posting reappears or not.)

Have also just discovered that BioWall has a blogsite!

I'll now take a break, and wait to see what, if any, this posting attracts by way of feedback.



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Ace2Ace carpet cleaner - one truly amazing invention!

 I'm not in the habit of promoting commercial products, but I shall now make an exception. Why? Because I'm truly gobsmacked at what it does, what it achieves within the domestic environment.

I'll do this posting in instalments. First, here's a snapshot, taken a few minutes ago, of the product in question, i.e. the Ace2Ace carpet cleaner:

I've shown the device (hand, not power-operated) alongside what it's picked up from my household carpets (despite recent vacuuming!).

More to follow...

2nd Instalment (July 21, 21)

Enter Ace2Ace into search engines, and what do you see? Answer: prominent references to "pet hair removal" from carpets.  Indeed, that's how I first came across the device. Our two new(ish) cats had been leaving visible hair on our carpets, it had not been vacuuming up as easily as expected. Answer: I deployed an old-fashioned clothes brush initially, noting it was better than the vacuum cleaner, but not entirely successful. Thus the initial internet search under "carpet" and "pet hair", thus the initial introduction to Ace2Ace, followed by a payment of £13.99  to a well-known internet provider, and next day delivery.  

That's when I got the surprise of my life. Why?  Because while the device did indeed scoop up pet hair, consigning in to a compartment, it did much, much more that that, of which there's scarcely a mention in the online literature.

The Ace2Ace device rejuvenated my ancient carpets (inherited from a predecessor). How, you may ask?

Answer - by removing more than pet hair - much much more!  Yes, scarcely visible in situ with the naked eye, but oh-so-visible when viewed in the  Ace2Ace collection compartment - which needed re-emptying at regular 5 minute intervals!

I have just given a mention, correction,  plug,  ;-) to this site and its latest posting. Where?  On my Shroud of Turin website:

Apols.  (I'll spare you the reasons, except to say this: website visibility via a major internet search engine doth play a role!).

Hare's a piccy showing the compartment in which the fluff is collected. It is easy to access - one simply lifts a flap on the topside of the device:

Third instalment (July 22, 2021)

It's hard to know how best to sum up the internal geometry of the Ace2Ace carpet cleaner. It's both simple AND complex at the same time. Yes it looks simple, viewed intact from the outside, or even with the 'fluff collecter' flap opened to reveal and dispose of what's been collected. It's when one takes a closer look that one sees the simplicity (combined with effectiveness ) of its design. Why do I say that?

First, when you look at the underside, what do you see? Answer, at first sight it looks like a cylindrical roller lined with short stubby bristles, designed to dislodge hair (and dust!) from carpets. But no - the dislodging surface is not  a single continuous  bristle-lined cylinder. That's why one doesn't use the tool for long continuous runs across a carpet. There are in fact TWO wide strips of the 'dislodger'  mounted on the cylinder with intervening gaps.  That's why one uses the tool as if a paint roller, i.e. rolling back and forth over a shortish distance. That engages each of the strips in turn - one on the push stroke, one on the pull, gathering detritus  onto the separate strips each alternately and in turn.  But that alone would not transfer the muck to the collector. How is that achieved one might ask? Answer:  simple - but one has to look carefully within the guts of the tool to find the answer.

4th instalment, July 23

So let's see what the Ace2Ace is able to collect from a carpet, correction, a marked-out square metre of carpet.  

I've chosen a stretch of carpet that is not noticeably strewn with pet hair, despite having one of our two kittenish-cats in attendance:

Next step - use a pair of steel rules to mark out a square metre:

Next step: take a close-up photo of the Ace2Ace with an emptied fluff-collecting compartment:

Here's the fluff  collected and stored from just half that square metre of carpet:

Now move to the unbrushed left side of the carpet (with t'other pussy in attendance):

And here's what one sees inside the fluff-collecter  compartment after doing both halves of that marked-out square metre!

So how does the fluff get from the roller strips to the collecter compartment?  One has to peer closely into the narrow gaps between the cylinder and its outer casing (I did consider trying to get a piccy but thought better of it). In short, the answer is both simple yet ingenious from a mechanical point of view: the fluff-acquired cylinder makes contact with two additional strips of  bristly/stubble coating on the inside of the casing. They  gently and efficiently scratch off the fluff, the latter being dumped into the collector compartment. 

As indicated earlier, I find the combined  efficiency and mechanical simplicity of the Ace2Ace simply gobsmacking.   It's not to be seen purely as a device for collecting pet hair. As stated earlier, it picks up months, nay years of microscopic grey fluff and dust, giving one's ageing carpets a new lease of life. The  Ace2Ace inventors have maybe not qualified  (yet) for a Nobel Prize.  But a  consolation Loud Bell Prize of some description, internet- or  (better still) MSM-mediated - is definitely warranted!

I'll leave it there for now.  Comments welcome...

July 26, 2021: Back again. Why?  While keeping an eye open for interesting new additions to the shelves in retail outlets, here are two more to which I intend to give brief exposure. (Strictly interest only - no commission payments whatsoever, whether invited or received!).

I'll start with  a piccy of the two new additions,  parked side-by-side, taken just a few minutes ago:

One is a unusual Chilean white wine (from a  climate-blessed grape-growing zone region slightly inland from Valparaiso which wife and I visited in  late 2018).  The other is a novel vertical floor-standing outlet for electrical appliances.

More to follow hopefully  in a day or two. 

(My mind right now is preoccupied with yet another retail product that is being installed on our patio tomorrow, namely  a "BioWall".   (See  local retailer/installer display item below):


Late insertion - July 27:

My very own "Biowall" was installed today. Pussies are investigating: 

Yes. A real treat of an addition to the back yard of  one's otherwise humble household!  Read: instant garden (correction, "vertical garden" !) 

The suppliers have ok'd it being subject of a new posting - expect in a few days or so...


"BioWall" may well be the subject of a separate  future posting - from a strictly botanical point a view (432 perennial plants in 144 angled containers - creating a "vertical garden" suited to confined spaces!) 

Going back to earlier,  here are some close ups of  the label of that "unusual"  (oh so distinctive!) Chilean white wine:

Yes, it's a  plain-old " Chardonnay". But much else besides. Read on..

Label reads:  "Overflowing with tropical fruit flavours and citrus notes".

How come, one might ask?  (Not that I was complaining - having taken my first sip , and thinking " Oh boy,  oh boy, that makes one helluva  change from regular, routine white wine"). But beware - there's a tiny sting in the tail... see what else appears on the label 

New instalment: July 27

Here's a piccy I posted on my Shroudie site (tail end!) back at the, er, tail end of 2018:

It showed where missus and I stayed briefly on our 2 week excursion to far-flung Chile, up in the Andes.

But most of our stay was in Santiago (the capital) plus the adjacent Pacific coastline to the west - seaside-resort Algorrobo and  (then) the characterful  Valparaiso port city a short way to the north.

<i>En route </i>, we traversed the much-acclaimed  (ideal-grape-cultivation climate ) wine-making region with "Casablanca" a prominent place name:

Here's a map of that part of the  particular (long skinny)  stretch of Chile, with our travels approx midway north to south of that amazingly-elongated  country (with amazing contrast between  mix of coastal hill and plain, with nearby Andes to the east). 

Back to that newly-sampled wine from that oh-so-special region of Chile.

Here are two piccies  of the label in close-up:

Yes, it talks up (and rightly so) its exceptional flavour. 

But here is the sting in the tail, flagged up earlier, when on reads the adjacent small print:


Yes, it reads: " It is recommended that that this wine be consumed within one year of purchase". 



Why? Why ? Where's the explanation? Where's the SCIENCE?????

It is totally news to me that any wine (exceptionally flavourful or otherwise) should be consumed within ONE YEAR OF PURCHASE.  Never before in my wine-sipping life have I ever encountered that message before. What's the reason? What have I (and probably others) missed regarding wine - which we thought improved (not deteriorated) on storage?

Here, after a quick internet search, is a website that gives the answer as to why some wines store and improve better than others:

It's to do with what accompanies the alcohol, the flavour etc. The accompaniments to the alcohol etc (notably acids etc) may affect the durability of the wine!

That is/was news to me. Am I the only one to be surprised by what for me was an eye-opener - arriving oh-so-late in life ?

So, you pays your price. You may get exceptionally "fruity" flavour etc in the new wine - a year or two old - but there's a big big price to pay. Consume while the wine is still young".#

Enough said re wine ...

More to follow:

Sunday, February 21, 2021

An entirely new explanation for Woodhenge - and probably the initial Stonehenge too: a protective enclosure for livestock when coming under arrow attack

 This posting, over a year since the "last" on this blogsite, is intended simply to stake this retired academic's  claim for an entirely new "take" on Woodhenge (and with it the original Stonehenge too!).

Here's a modern-day photograph, borrowed from a farming website (link later) -  one that conveys the gist of the new thinking.

Oops. the caption is only partly visible. I'll try fixing later. For now, here's the caption separately:

Relevance to Woodhenge?  See the wiki entry on Woodhenge. I've attached an  abbreviated version I've added below. 

So what's the new idea?  

Answer: the folk who decided to settle in and around Salisbury Plain were farmers by trade, keeping a range of grazing animals (cattle, sheep, pigs etc). They periodically came under attack from the indigenous population of hunter-gathers, looking to supplement their intake of meat. Which weapons would the attackers have deployed? Answer: flint-head spears and (especially) ARROWS. 

So what would have been the sensible response on the part of the farmers? Answer: retreat behind a timber stockade with livestock. Attach the livestock to timber support posts towards the centre of the structure where the animals would have been largely shielded from arrows.

No, Woodhenge (and probably later Stonehenge too) had nothing whatsoever to do with solstice celebration. There were other reasons for the NE opening into both Woodhenge and Stonehenge. (In the case of the first, the opening was in the direction of the nearby River Avon, offering some protection from arrow or other attack from that direction).

More to follow in due course. (I am thinking of creating a new blogsite, dedicated mainly to Woodhenge as the likely clue as to the real purpose of Stonehenge, at keast as originally conceived).

Abbreviated version of the wiki entry on Woodhenge:

   "Woodhenge is a Neolithic henge and timber circle monument within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, England. It is 2 miles north-east of Stonehenge.

The site consists of six concentric oval rings of postholes, the outermost being about 141 by 131 ft wide. They are surrounded  first by a single flat-bottomed ditch, 7.9 ft deep and up to 39 ft wide, and finally by an outer bank, about 33 ft wide and 3.3 ft high. With an overall diameter measuring (360 ft) (including bank and ditch), the site had a single entrance to the north-east. 

Most of the 168 post holes held wooden posts, although Cunnington found evidence that a pair of standing stones may have been placed between the second and third post hole rings. Excavations in 2006 indicated that there were at least five standing stones on the site, arranged in a "cove". The deepest post holes measured up to 6.6 ft and are believed to have held posts which reached as high as 25 ft above ground. Those posts would have weighed up to 5 tons, and their arrangement was similar to that of the bluestones at Stonehenge. 

Further comparisons with Stonehenge were quickly noticed by Cunnington: both have entrances oriented approximately to the midsummer sunrise, and the diameters of the timber circles at Woodhenge and the stone circles at Stonehenge are similar.

Over 40 years after the discovery of Woodhenge, another timber circle of comparable size was discovered in 1966, 230 ft to the north. Known as the Southern Circle, it lies inside what came to be known as the Durrington Walls henge enclosure.

There are various theories about possible timber structures that might have stood on and about the site, and their purpose, but it is likely that the timbers were free-standing, rather than part of a roofed structure.  For many years, the study of Stonehenge had overshadowed work on the understanding of Woodhenge. Recent ongoing investigations as part of the Stonehenge Riverside Project are now starting to cast new light on the site and on its relationship with neighbouring sites and Stonehenge.

One suggestion is that the use of wood rather than stone may have held a special significance in the beliefs and practices involving the transformation between life and death,  possibly separating the two sites into separate "domains".  These theories have been supported by findings of bones of butchered pigs exclusively at Woodhenge, showing evidence of feasting, leaving Stonehenge as a site only inhabited by ancestral spirits, not living people. "


Here's a diagram of the Woodhenge site with its 168 postholes that has been erected in the actual location. Note the 6 concentric rings aka ovals of timber posts (albeit some fainter scarcely-visible  ones).  Note the outermost ring that constitute what I have term a stockade/palisade. (Will decide later which of those two is the better description!)

                                                               Diagram of  Woodhenge

Update: Tuesday Feb 23, 2021

See today's article by Callum Hoare in the Daily Express, summarising the new ideas developed  - and communicated in short order - by ... guess who?

Yup, your truly...  😊


Update, Friday 26 Feb

The thinking on my "livestock defence" model for  Phase 1 Stonehenge, aka proto-Stonehenge, has expanded these last few days to include the site's forerunners, near and far.

I'll provide only the briefest of summaries here, being totally disillusioned, nay despairing of the internet as a means of getting one's ideas into the public domain.

Here are a mere handful of sentences to summarise the gist of the broader thinking.

Initially there were the so-called "causewayed enclosures" scattered across continental Europe and England. The key feature was the external ditch, together with the inner bank. The combination served to create a fortress - not just for human defenders - but t primarily to protect livestock as well, either at settlements or further afield.

But a rethink became necessary, once attackers armed themselves with bows and flint-tipped arrows. They could rain their arrows down from a distance, such that the outer ditch ceased to be an initial impediment. That's when the henge evolved in England - constructed in the reverse order, with an outer bank and an inner ditch - the bank protecting both occupants and livestock against arrows, short-range especially..

Stonehenge we're told began as a causewayed enclosure - i.e. the classical defensive configuration, but was then provided with an outer bank - albeit incomplete, converting it to henge configuration.  A circular  ring of 56 holes was then added, just inside the inner bank, being used to house timber posts initially, i.e. a defensive palisade, maybe installing more substantial bluestones later, albeit in temporary locations, being uprooted later and shifted elsewhere.  Timber posts were then installed within the enclosure to act as further shielded/defensive tethering points for livestock.

See the wiki entries on:

(a) causewayed enclosures

The separate internet pdf on the Crickley Hill hilltop enclosure  near Cheltenham is especially illuminating, given the reference to 400 or so flint arrow heads retrieved from the site:

(b) the later henges, specific  by and large to England:

Repeat: I say that Phase 1 Stonehenge was intended mainly for protection of precious livestock against enemy assault, especially when  the latter were armed with bows and flint-tipped arrows

Update: Saturday Feb 27

Have finally (phew!) figured out - I believe - the purpose of the mysterious so-called Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge, a short way in toward the centre from the main  (original inner) embankment.

Why were those 56 equally-spaced holes (aka pits - a more accurate description)  installed  (whether to accommodate timber or stone posts) in the first instance? Why were the pits then cleared out,  refilled with chalk etc., only to be used again(?). Thus far a complete mystery, by all accounts.

Answer?  Simple. The Aubrey Holes/Pits were used to house/accommodate temporary tether points for livestock whenever the enclosure came under arrow attack. Livestock would be quickly shifted from the centre to the lee of the embankment, i.e. offering  effective shelter. 

Maybe the tether post would be moved at the same time as the animal, dropping  the post into a suitably-situated vacant hole or pit, choosing  the best-situated from a complete circuit of post holes. Later, when the threat had receded, the animal AND its tether post would/could  be moved back to the centre of the enclosure.

We're getting there, methinks, ever so, ever so gradually.  :-)

Reminder of  my specialist site title: "Sussing Stonehenge".  (See elsewhere - a report of an 8 year learning curve, amply provided with wrong turnings - such is the nature of science!)

Forget that romantic fixation with "solstice celebration" on the longest and/or shortest day of the year. Neolithic herdsmen had more important things on their mind - like defending their precious livestock against surprise raids from the local hunter-gatherers, ensconced within nearby woodland!

Update: Sunday Feb 28

Have been wondering if or how the 4 Station Stones can be fitted in to the arrow-defence model for early(ish) Stonehenge.

Here's a graphic I've pinched from the English Heritage Tourist Guide, which I purchased on site in 2012 (same year I created my specialist Stonehenge website). I've signposted each of the  4 Station Holes with red/white arrows:

Yes, there is a way they can be accommodated.

What you see above is labelled "The Early Stone Phase" in which the circles of outer "Aubrey Holes" proposed as temporary tether points for  bank-sheltering of livestock were replaced with central stones (arranged in the above diagram as a double arc). 

That meant that the livestock need not be moved if/when enemy arrows come streaming in - the stone columns providing adequate protection. 

So why the need for those 4 Station Holes? 

 Brainwave: many of the livestock were cattle - a mix of cows and bulls. 

But one only needs a few bulls to serve their essential role in breeding livestock. (Bulls would have been the trickier of the two sexes to shift at short notice from centre to periphery.) 

Answer: restrict one's  cattle herd to just 4 bulls maximum, keeping them permanently tethered  to those sturdy sarsen posts in their Station Holes in the outer (i.e. safer) near-bank location  (where the chances of being struck by arrows were essentially zilch).

Addendum (still Feb 28)

Here's the graphic supplied by English Heritage on the following page for the nascent stone circle at Stonehenge at its  more highly-developed "Late Stone Stage".

Two of the 4 "station posts"  - marked with blue/white arrows - have now been supplied with individual encircling ditches. One can only guess as to why it's only 2 of 4. But it's not hard to see why the two were supplied with the circular ditches in the livestock model. The ditches confined  two of my proposed  tethered bulls to a restricted area around its individual tether post!


Tomorrow's update:  have suddenly remembered that arrows got a mention on this site, way, way back in May of 2012.

But it was in connection with PIGS (at Durrington Walls, some 3 km NE of Stonehenge), not, repeat NOT Stonehenge, not cattle.

Those pigs, and the circumstances in which they were slain by arrows, will be the subject of tomorrow's update!

But here  - by way of clue as to what is to come -  is a screen-grab of the relevant section from my 2012 posting (the latter being early-days 90% claptrap!):

Update: March 2, 2021

Here's the Addendum 3  - highlighted in blue - on that May 19 posting from 2012, with the final word on that alleged "winter-feasting " on  "arrow-slaughtered pigs": Note especially what I've highlighted with in red

  Addendum 3 ...

"    "The village was shown to be about 4,600 years old, the same age as Stonehenge and as old as the pyramids in Egypt. The village is less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from Stonehenge and lies inside a massive manmade circular earthwork, or “henge,” known as Durrington Walls.

Remains found at the site included jewelry, stone arrowheads, tools made of deer antlers, and huge amounts of animal bones and broken pottery. These finds suggest Stone Age people went to the village at special times of the year “to feast and party,” says Mike Parker Pearson from Sheffield University in England.

He said many of the pig bones they found had been thrown away half-eaten. He also said the partygoers appeared to have shot some of the farm pigs with arrows, possibly as a kind of sport before barbecuing them.

No. I say that the wrong conclusions have been drawn from the archaeological evidence! The pigs were NOT slaughtered with 'sport-fired' arrows for winter feasting. 

They were victims of arrow-onslaught from outside. The marauding invaders then stormed and entered the enclosure, filling their bellies quickly  on the dead and dying livestock (after quick roasting of carcases)  throwing away their bones - plus  much uneaten meat -  in the process!

No, not winter-feasting on the part of site occupants, but winter-feasting on the part of successful site invaders! 

Update: Wed March 3, 2021

Hey. Guess what? Callum Hoare has penned another article on Stonehenge for the Express. 

                      Express Home Page, Wed March 3, 2021 - see the article on Stonehenge bottom right:

The focus is initially on Mike Parker-Pearson - the distinguished archaeology prof who recently made the fascinating link between the Waun Mawn circle of standing bluestones on the Preseli Hills (or rather, what's left of them!) and proto-Stonehenge. The prof maintains those 80 or so bluestones, with geology matching an extraction point just 3 miles away to the north-east, were lugged via human transport all the way to Salisbury Plain. I agree wholeheartedly!  (Where the two of us might differ is the purpose those stones may have served not only at destination, but additionally en route!)

But guess who gets lengthy quotes towards the end of the article?  Yup, yours truly, that "retired scientist and academic"!

No mention as yet of 8 or 9 years posting online to the internet - a scientific, often self-debunking learning curve - an attempt to edge closer and closer to the truth via detailed critical scrutiny and natural elimination. Never mind. One can't expect the world to fall into one's lap immediately - not where the MSM is concerned!

Update: Thursday March 4, 2021

Yes, have had a brand new insight as regards late Neolithic era stone circles - with Stonehenge representing the grandest manifestation of all - but still serving the same practical purpose - at least initially. (And what was that you may ask?  Answer: a compact, well protected place within which to tether and feed one's precious livestock, especially cattle - cows and a few bulls. Well protected from what?  Initially, raids by hunter-gathers, crossing the outer ditch and inner bank of the Mark1 pre-standing stone causewayed enclosure. Later, they initiated their attack from a safe distance, archers firing off volleys of their then new-fangled flint-tipped arrows.).

I shall now switch to using my specialist Stonehenge site, putting this one on the back-burner. But the "suss" site is in need of a total revamp, having received what I described a year ago as its Final Model 3! 

(Shortly-to-be-revamped Home Page of my sussingstonehenge  stops-and-starts learning-curve blogsite)

 Oops. I spoke too soon. Model 4 and now 5 have arrived, with standing stones serving normally as a tether point for wander-constrained livestock, with  that added protection for livestock and their herdsmen against ENEMY ARROWS!

#  Update: March 7, 2021:

Here's a screen grab with the new posting that has been placed on my specialist Stonehenge site (the topic now widened to include Neolithic stone circles in general - plus timber forerunners):

Link to the above posting.

And here's the final conclusion  (apols for the prelim. cartoon version) reached at the end of the above posting as regards the true role of Stonehenge, notably those trilithons - with their two massive stone uprights and an equally massive bridging lintel:



Appendix: I have the impressive Homestead Bloggers Site to thank for providing my summary graphic of the tethered cow.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Here for 2020 is an entirely new and original model for Stonehenge. It proposes, among other things, DUAL REASONS for carting those bluestones all the way from the Welsh mountains to Salisbury Plain.

Here, provided, UK time, at 0.01 am, New Year's Day, 2020, is my novel broadview take on Stonehenge, or rather its proposed bluestone origins.

Late insertion of this posting's novel message:  Stonehenge as we know it was  (initially at any rate)  intended as a late Neolithic  celebration of a remarkable journey - made with a  labour-intensive transportation of nightly Welsh bluestone-wall protected  monolith- constructed BLOCKHOUSE for a revered high priest or similar.  (Let's forget about those excarnating seagulls for now, the focus of  previous postings - whether attracted initially  to Stonehenge - or  its predecessor sites - Bluestonehenge etc -  on the wing from afar by accident or design ...). 

Yes, I do believe the bluestones originated in the Preseli Hills of Wales, probably the northern fringes thereof, and yes, I do believe they were transported  via human labour all the way to Salisbury Plain, and yes, I do believe the route was entirely overland (and over-river) NOT using sea-going vessels.

 And no, I don't believe that the transport was an accident of nature (glaciation  littering Salisbury plain with  exotic non-local "erratics" etc). The final Stonehenge with its mighty sarsen megaliths (trilithons with cross-piece lintels)  was no accident of nature, so why imagine that its humbler beginnings  as  assemblies of exotic man-size bluestones was? Yes,  a case of human selection from the word go, but for reasons that for now one can only guess at.

 But guesswork plays a vital role in science. That is alluded to in the strap alongside this site's title, that has appeared for many years at the top of my Science Buzz home page. Similar sentiments were expressed on Page 2 of the splendid book by Prof Mike Parker Pearson (" Stonehenge - Exploring the greatest Stone Age mystery "):

"... the process of piecing together the past can be compared with assembling a jigsaw puzzle only so far.  We may be able to see what fits together but this will not necessarily reveal how it fits together.
There must be a deductive insight  - a flash of perception -  that explains the hows and whys.  This is where we need theories and hypotheses - the starting points of all scientific endeavour ..."
Theories provide new ways of seeing, new understanding of the facts, and new lines of evidence to be sought out.  Theories are not articles of faith or belief; they are there to be tested to breaking point. When we discover that an existing hypothesis doesn't explain new findings, that hypothesis must be discarded or modified. Consequently the history of knowledge is strewn  with the debris of rejected theories.  In archaeology the most powerful theories  are those that match and explain evidence produced by new discoveries; if the new evidence doesn't support the theory's predictions then the theory is wrong."

One can see Prof.Mike Parker Pearson approx top-centre in the back ground of this photo from the Telegraph, taken in May 2016 at  Gordon Square, London (he's wearing a light-coloured short-sleeved shirt with hands crossed ). He's talking to someone on his right. Yup, that's me!

Yes, there we are (the two of us circled, exchanging viewpoints,  low profile me, high profile MPP!)

Yes, science only starts with guesswork. It doesn't stop with guesswork.  Guesswork is  a key stage in enunciating and developing models that then need to be ruthlessly tested (This retired biomedical scientist considered and discarded 9 models before settling on his final Model 10 for the 'Shroud of Turin').
Link (just one of many that could be cited):

There's also my model for man-made Silbury Hill, a short distance from the Avebury Stone Circle,  published on the Ancient Origins site in 2016,  was arrived at somewhat faster:

So this New Year's posting unveils my Model 2 for Stonehenge (let's skip the details of Model 1, which was always a shot in the dark, essentially non-testable.

Model 2?  The bluestones were NOT transported from Wales  to the vicinity of Stonehenge, some 140 miles away, merely as components of a planned megalithic monument, to be used only after arrival and assembly.  They served a more practical immediate purpose.

First, let's be clear about what we mean by "bluestones".

Here's a compendium gallery that I've put together using Simon Banton's  "Stones of Stonehenge" site that lists them in the numerical order first deployed by Flinders Petrie, along with, in some two thirds of cases, their estimated above-ground weight.

Source of the bluestones? See this handy  and readable article from 2015. 

The chief type (see above) , i.e.  spotted dolerite, which has been pinpointed to a rock outcrop at Carn Goedog

The  source of less common rhyolite  has been traced to this one at  nearby Craig Rhos-y-felin:

The Craig Rhos-y-felin source of the rhyolite bluestones. This and the Carn Goedog site are referred to in  both articles as "quarries". I prefer to call them natural rocky spurs or outcrops, given the ease with which monoliths can be extracted,  dear old Mother Nature having done most of the preliminary fracturing and separation of one portable stone from another. 

Weight of the bluestones? The estimated above-ground weights (reckoned to be about two-thirds the total on average) are given on the Banton site for the same proportion of bluestones. I've listed them in the table below:

Weight range of the surviving bluestones (where given for some 24 of 32 bluestones)

0 - 0.49 tons       8
0.5 - 0.99 tons    4
1.0 - 1.49 tons    7
1.5 - 1.99 tons    2
   2.0 - 2.49 tons    3   

The average is around 1 ton ( but with  3 being over double that weight). That concrete block you see being manually hauled on a sleigh-on-rails in the 2016 Gordon Square picture was also a ton-weight approx.

I've indicated earlier that I consider there to have been a DUAL USE for the bluestones, with an immediate one used in transit over those 140 miles separating  (a) the likely source of the bluestones in Pembrokeshire, west Wales and  (b) Salisbury Plain, location of Stonehenge (and its likely predecessor,  "Bluestonehenge" about which more later).

Here's a hint from wikipedia  as to what's to come, based on some 7 years of reading and reflection by this retired scientist:

 Yes, a blockhouse, more specifically a protective military blockhouse. But not just any old blockhouse.  Oh no, we're talking about  a blockhouse with a difference -  namely one that can be assembled and dismantled with reasonable speed, using stone blocks, approximately a ton or two in weight, ones that are portable (just!) even if having to be dragged asa distinct from carried!

In passing, my novel straight-off-the-drawing board blockhouse idea was initially flagged up on Tim Daw's site just a few days ago, tail-end 2019,  ago, but there I used the first descriptive term that came to mind, namely "air raid shelter". Shelter from what one might ask?  Answer: Neolithic flint-tipped spears and arrows.  Protection of whom (or what)?  Watch this space - more to come later in the day (still New Year's Day, 2020).

Here's an image I put together hastily for reporting to Tim Daw's site (see above link). It shows the manner in which three monoliths can be put together above ground to create what I termed an "air raid shelter":

Primitive air raid shelter assembled from 3 monoliths, whether or not bluestone., though not a lot of headroon (best to lie down at this stage!). (The blue is merely to distinguish the lintel/capstone from the uprights).

Notice straightaway that we have s feature in common with Stonehenge - yes, a trithon!   Straightaway we have a possible rationale for a key feature of Stonehenge which, to the best of my knowledge, has never been explained in all the millions of words about how the monument served to align with the summer or winter solstices, or failing that spring or autumn equinoxes, or failing that phases of the moon etc etc. Alignment, if real and not accidental, or serving some other purpose unrelated to that dubious archaeoastronomy, only requires uprights. Why the cross-pieces, whether narrow (lintels, as at Stonehenge) or broader (better described maybe as "capstones").  Have we stumbled on the significance of the crosspiece stone, however labelled?

First, let's ask how the headroom in the above set-up could have been improved. There are two ways. 1. Keeping the structure above ground, merely double up on the number of uprights, mounted one above the other.

Here we have bluestones double-stacked to create additional headroom:

One could go on stacking, but at the risk of decreasing stability, increasing ease of having the structure knocked over to expose  and/or injure the one or more occupants initially seeking shelter. Alternative? First dig a trench in the ground. Then line the sides with one's monoliths:

But that requires a lot of extra labour - and digging soil would never have been easy in pre-Bronze Age Neolithic times when all one had were antler picks!

So what's the qanswer - if needing to protect one or at most two people from spears and arrows, especially at overnight stopping points where intruders could maybe sneak up in the dark, undetected until too late?

Answer: how about a compromise? Construct a two layer of one's semi-portable but sturdy bluestones, surrounding a narrow, easy to excavate ditch into which one could place a bedstead - or the Neolithic equivalent?

"We'll never know" would be the obvious answer.  But is there maybe at least circumstantial evidence that such an arrangement was adopted in practice, later giving rise to folklore memories celebrated first in art, and later in the shape and form of Stonehenge itself - a permanent reminder of the spirited and courageous manner in which it was conceived and born?

Evidence from art?  Maybe. Go to Page 227 of Mike Parker Pearson's book. Look for these two images described as "chalk plaques" and the accompanying text:

Caption to images (MPP's own):  The chalk plaques found in a pit east of Stonehenge, during road-widening in 1968.  The small plaque is 56mm across. 

Quote from MPP's book  re the above chalk plaques:

(it concerns  archaeological finds, two in particular,  discovered in a pit on  the side of a ridge that lies between the River Avon and the nearby site of Stonehenge (precise dates and locations can wait for now, The red highlighting font is mine!)

"Within this pit lay two peculiar carved chalk 'plaques'  and an antler pick dating to 2900-2580 BC. Fragments of similar plaques have been found within the Neolithic and Copper Age village at Durrington Walls.  The pit finds are earlier than the finds from the Durrington settlement, and are decorated with unusual  and elaborately carved  Grooved Ware-style designs. One (ed. right of the two above images) has chevrons and criss-cross motifs  bordered by horizontal lines  and more chevrons.  The other (ed: left of the two images) has rectilinear meanders bordered by dotted lines. 
  The meaning and purpose of such carved chalk plaques  is entirely unknown.  Such objects are extremely quick and easy to make., and the raw material is ubiquitous throughout the region. Yet these decorated pieces of chalk are surprisingly rare; they must have had some special value which we can only guess at."

So what might the designs represent. Providing answers to those questions is the prime motive in my posting today, Jan 1, 2020!

Yes, there are "chevrons", Mike, and plenty of them.  Here's a definition of  chevron from the internet.

  1. a V-shaped line or stripe, especially one on the sleeve of a uniform indicating rank or length of service.
      an ordinary in the form of a broad inverted V-shape.

The essence of a chevron is its V-shape.

But look more closely, and what does one see? The chevrons  only appear where a diamond lattice abuts onto a line edge, the line essentially cutting off the top half of the diamond, leaving just the V.

Then look beyond the line edge, and there's a a new chevron the other side, with another diamond lattice beyond.  So what's being represented?

Here's my considered opinion for what it's worth. Suppose you wanted to make something shaped like an inverted   lid-less shoe box (for reasons we'll come to shortly). Suppose you wanted that structure before there was cardboard (which would not have served one's intended purpose anyway). Suppose you made it from a series of diamond lattices, one broad rectangular in shape, the 4 others, for the sides at right angles, also with diamond lattices, but with the diamonds bisected at the edges before attaching to the main sheet.

Now why would you want to do that, and what would you use to make the diamond lattices?

Materials first: I suggest you would make your diamond lattices from long slim tree twigs that are interlaced., and then bound edge wise through the severed midpoints of the diamonds, rather than at the pointed tips.

You have then created your shoe box  , which you can then turn upside down, with the base - sleeping surface - facing up, the open side facing down.

Why? Because you have created what could be described as a Neolithic bedstead with sprung base for lying on (overlaid with a Neolithic "mattress".

Here's a crude representation, put together with MS Paint, with the "  diamond lattice" and "chevrons" a bit jumbled up no doubt:

Might this have been the approximate overnight sleeping quarters for our protected VIP in his or her mobile blockhouse, with an above-ground  trilthon structure created with pillar- or slab-like bluestones plus a  twig-constructed bedstead in a shallow trench?  Was this the arrangement that inspired  someone to scratch those images onto the two chalk plaques?

 (Late insertion: the near end of the 'lattice-box' is shown open in the above diagram, as it would appear in cross-section. In practice, the  two ends would be diamond lattices as well,  to give necessary strength, rigidity, resistance to buckling under the weight of the VIP adult). 

 Relevance to the proposed bluestone blockhouse? Yes, dig a shallow trench first, just big enough to accomodate your Neolithic bedstead and mattress. Have a surrounding protective wall of bluestones, probably at least two courses high, maybe one or even two more.

That I propose is what is being depicted in the right hand picture - a Neolithic bedstead, constructed from twigs for use by a VIP on a long overland journey involving weeks, probably months of overnight stops. The left hand image depicts the complexity of the  arrow-deflecting trilithon wall surround (which may or may not have been below as well as above ground  - maybe the mirror images above and below the  horizontal midline symmetry hint at there being a below as well as above ground surround, if only to make the bedstead sit in its own  excavated  then walled surround as distinct from bare cut-edge soil with all that implies - moisture, plant roots,  insects  eartthworms etc.

What you see above is just the  blockhouse "bedroom". I haven't even started to think about separate living rooms, dining room, WC etc , which together could account for some 80 or more bluestone monoliths of varying shapes and sizes. What you see above is the germ of an idea.  I hope the germ will be seen as an essentially friendly, non-pathogenic bacterium!

There you have it folks, - the main  thrust of today's posting on the new 2020 model for Stonehenge, starting with its proposed initial use as a mobile blockhouse.  I'll add a few more words, later today. Expect another 4 postings in the month of January at approx. weekly intervals, more later in 2020  expanding on the above theme of  there having been a  planned and deliberate DUAL USE for those  human-transported Welsh bluestones, celebrated in those chalk plaques and much else besides (like the final megalithic sarsen-stone  phase of Stonehenge with its LINTELLED UPRIGHTS, with bluestones relegated to minor circles, ovals or horseshoes!

I have said nothing thus far as to the likely identity of the "VIP", transported across 140 miles of less-than-friendly territory (?) at such cost in time and effort. Who could  possibly justify this enormous input of planning and execution?

Looking at the subsequent  known, or even vaguely suggested history of the late Neolithic period, involving Bluestonehenge, Durrington Walls, Woodhenge, Stonehenge in all its developmental phases, to say nothing of what was happening some 20 or so miles away at  Avebury and, later, Silbury Hill, I consider there's a probable answer to my question re the identify of the highly-protected VIP. He (or she?) was  some kind of revered High Priest, one who set the entire development of the aformentioned sites in progress.

That's the end of   my Instalment 1. Expect Instalment 2 in a week's time, later in 2020  focusing on those predecessors of Stonehenge ("Bluestonehenge" etc).  Thanks again to Mike Parker Pearson and his UCL and other colleagues for opening our eyes to the likely history of Stonehenge. I repeat: his book is a a model of good scientific writing , aimed at non-specialists,  but admirably detailed while reader-friendly, a model of its kind.  Those who  have recently impugned his scientific credentials need to take a long hard look at themselves!

PS: Comment (No.15, italics ) submitted to Tim Daw's sarsen,org site (now awaiting approval, unlike previous comments):

(Some editing):

 On most blogsites, it's the poster who awaits feedback, via his or her  Comments facility

 Here it's the opposite. It's the commentator who awaits feedback!

We live in a strange world. 

I blame social media myself (Facebook, Twitter etc).

 It/they snuffed out any possibility of the internet providing not just a  social media but  (a  more upmarket)  "scholastic media" as well , a quickie alternative to those stick-in-the-mud refereed journals for getting new ideas quickly into the public domain.

Maybe consider re-inventing your internet persona and blogsite re Stonehenge for 2020, Tim? 

PPS: No more comments  from this co-blogger to your site , Tim, unless/until you make  you and your blogsite  more user-friendly towards us purveyors of new ideas (science-based  ideas that is - testable in principle - I hasten to add) ...


Appendix 1:  From Simon Banton's introduction to his splendid "Stones of Stonehenge" website: site's

Stone Numbering System

The numbering system for the stones is that devised by W.M. Flinders Petrie in the late 19th century and which is still in use by researchers and archaeologists to this day.

Extension of the arrow-defence idea to the Stonehenge sarsens: yes, the theory proposed here for use of the first-generation bluestones in transit to Salisbury Plain,  has now been extended to the end-stage sarsens used at Stonehenge to construct the stone circle and inner trilithon horseshoe.  Yes, protection against arrows - the primary function, I now maintain, nay assert forcibly,  of Stonehenge in the first instance!  You read it here first. See my follow-up posting to this one on my specialist Stonehenge site.

Title of new posting: 

Stonehenge – why its alleged chalk embankment/timber stockade infancy? Foretaste of the American Wild West – primarily a defence against enemy arrows?