New discoveries show the famous formations of Stonehenge are likely to have been transported from Pembrokeshire by land
Admitting that their decade-long beliefs about the bluestones of Stonehenge were largely inaccurate, scientists say a particular sample of the stones – known as the spotted dolerite – could lead a path to the Pembrokeshire hills in the latest investigations surrounding the famous site.
© National Museum Wales
Geochemical scrutiny of rock and debris has revealed that most of the dolerites come from Carn Goedog – about 1.5km away from the tors suggested by Herbert Henry Thomas, the geologist whose original theories about the samples were made in 1923.
“The geology of Pembrokeshire is unique,” says Dr Richard Bevins, of National Museums Wales, having spent more than 30 years studying the geology of the area, producing papers in successive years since 2011 with the help of Dr Rob Ixer, of University College London, and Aberystwyth University’s Professor Nick Pearce.
“These igneous rocks have been used in the construction of Stonehenge and only once we know their correct geographical origins can we fully interpret the archaeological significance.
"The area has much to offer in helping us understand what happens when magma is erupted from underwater volcanoes, and how those igneous rocks are transformed by the effects of increased temperatures and pressures during later mountain building events.
“I hope that our recent scientific findings will influence the continually debated question of how the bluestones were transported to Salisbury Plain.”
The team believe the stones were predominantly moved across land rather than sea.
In a breakthrough two years ago, Bevins and Ixer pinpointed the original location of rhyolites – a type of silica-rich bluestone at Stonehenge – to a prominent outcrop at Craig Rhos y Felin, near Crymych.
“Almost everything we believed ten years ago about the bluestones has been shown to be partially or completely incorrect,” admits Ixer, a fellow bluestone examiner with decades of experience at the druidic plains.
“We are still in the stages of redress and shall continue to research the bluestones for answers.”
Their most recent excavations have targeted Stonehenge-related quarries at Carn Meini, a set of stones on the county’s Preseli Hills which have been a repeated source of archaeological intrigue.
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