Tuesday, 23 October 2012

South Downs and more conclusive evidence of Post Glacial Flooding

By Robert John Langdon

If you study any British Geological Society (BGS) geological map of Britain you will notice it shows a series of bedrock, sedimentary and superficial deposits.  At a scale of 1:50,000 km and below these deposits start to form labyrinth of material that look like canals and gigantic waterways which lay under the surface on top of the bed rock. This lays testament to how the landscape must have looked at some stage in of our natural history and this is particularly prevalent in the Stonehenge area as well as other chalk bedrock outcrops.

Stonehenge - BGS Geological Map showing superficial deposits
Stonehenge - BGS Geological Map showing superficial deposits
These superficial deposits that resemble ancient rivers can clearly be seen on the surface and are known to the archaeologists, geologists and the general public as ‘Dry River Valleys’ -  because the river valleys are currently dry.

But this was not always the case!

Until recently geologists believed that the contours of these chalk hills and valleys were cut during a ‘Periglacial Phases’ of the ‘Quaternary Period’, which is the current geological period that started about 2.6 million years ago - although there is no real evidence of their exact date of their formation.
Recent theories (and in Geology these new ideas are occurring on a regular basis) suggest that these dry river valleys are the result of water flooding, washing away the top soils and rounding the chalk sub-soil, during the melting period after an Ice Age. 

The problem for archaeologists and geologists is - which one?  - For there has been several during the quaternary period.
Devils Dyke - a 'dry river valley' on the South Downs
Devils Dyke - a 'dry river valley' on the South Downs
Geologists seem content to give rough estimations on the construction date of geological objects such as dry river valleys, which for the archaeologist can become misleading.  For although the origin of these objects is of interest, the actual dates when they could have been used my man is even more important, if we are to understand  the anthropological implications and through this process, any archaeological findings in relation to their location.  
So we must best try to understand not WHEN the dry river valleys were formed, but when LAST did they have water running within them?
Geological maps clearly indicate that great rivers once flowed through Britain and we know that the greatest deluge of water that has ever affected the landscape is at the end of an ice age, when the gigantic ice caps finally melt.  In the end of the last ice age some 17,000 years ago, geologist have estimated that the ice was over two miles thick in some places. This substantial level of ice MUST have created huge flooding all over the Mesolithic landscape including the Valleys of the South Downs, even thought they were over 100 miles away from the main ice sheet.
South Downs -BGS Geology map showing SALTDEAN
South Downs -BGS Geology map showing SALTDEAN
Modern geologists now accept that the dry river valleys are the product of water (not ice as previously believed) and looking at some extreme examples of the soil eroded and valleys cut, we are not talking about just frozen tundra slowly melting in the summer season - but millions of gallons of fast flowing water cutting away at the top-soil and sedimentary deposits, all the way down to the bedrock in some instances. 

Saltdean - showing the chalk face with the remains of the sandy post glacial river bed
Saltdean - showing the chalk face with the remains of the sandy post glacial river bed

This geological evidence can clearly be seen in the cliffs and valleys of the South Downs.  Just like the Stonehenge region, this area has the same chalk sedimentary bedrock and ancient post-glacial rivers.  Evidence for these rivers are found by the sandy subsoil consisting of sand, silt and clay.  This subsoil can be seen in the valleys (known as deans) of the South Downs and most graphically in the exposed face of the white chalky cliffs that have been eroded  by the sea giving us a perfect ‘dissection’ of a typical prehistoric waterway.  Modern geologists have yet to identify these huge concave sections as being the remains of the ice melt from the last glaciations that had filled with water leaving the sandy sediments embedded in the chalky sedimentary rock face just after the great melt, some 15,000 years ago, instead they claim they are 'wind blown' loess or wash from the valley walls.
What they can't explain is the relatively short distance from the sandy soil to today's top soil and the exact date of this sandy sediment.  As you can see the sandy remains of the river is touching the top soil.  If this dry river valley was as old as some archaeologists and geologists suggest - where is the rest of the top soil? 
If the top soil erodes as quickly as some 'experts' also suggest - why is there 18 inches of top soil on top of the chalk today, there should be none?
Bottom of the prehistoric riverbed - showing how close to the top soil is the sand
Bottom of the prehistoric riverbed - showing how close to the top soil is the sand
Are we expecting some massive climatic event to wipe away the top soil in the near future or is the dating of the prehistoric river beds and consequently dry river valleys totally incorrect?  
As a matter of practice, archaeologist investigating Stonehenge have always ignored the obvious dry river valleys that surround the site, as they are incorrectly perceived that this area looked as it does today at the time of Stonehenge's construction and therefore, the River Valleys were dry in the Mesolithic/Neolithic Periods.   
Our case studies (in my book - The Stonehenge Enigma) of the South Down's, the River Ouse gave us  radiocarbon dates of 6290 BC +/- 180 for this same sediment.  Combine this with our other case study of the Thames (shown on an earlier blog) showing it was cut in the early Mesolithic and at that time, ten times larger than it is today - we have proven beyond reasonable doubt these rivers actually existed from the start of the Mesolithic, just after the ice age great melt late into our prehistory in the Neolithic period and in some instances the medieval period as in the river Ouse
(by Robert John Langdon)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Biblical Floods are REAL - and absolutely enormous !!

By Robert John Langdon

Here is an article from August's discovery magazine showing that the amount of post glacial water over land is enormous - in America it created vast canyons and rivers and flooded the Black Sea in Asia  - quite a few miles away from the ice cap.  But geologists in Britain would have you still believe that all this water 'just ran into the sea' with no consequences on the landmass, during the Mesolithic Period.

The reality is that the ground water levels raised and the landscape was flooded for five thousand years as the water - slowly - ran into the sea creating The North Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel.  To quote the article;

 "At the end of the last glaciation, some 10,000 years ago, giant ice-dammed lakes in Eurasia and North America repeatedly produced huge floods. In Siberia, rivers spilled over drainage divides and changed their courses. England’s fate as an island was sealed by erosion from glacial floods that carved the English Channel. These were not global deluges as described in the Genesis story of Noah, but were more focused catastrophic floods taking place throughout the world. They likely inspired stories like Noah’s in many cultures, passed down through generations."

This is what can still be seen in the landscape in Britain as 'dry river valleys' and is the basis for my book The Stonehenge Enigma - whose second edition will be available in December 2012.

And let us not forget;

"Long before the discovery of the scablands, geologists dismissed the role of catastrophic floods in interpreting European geology. By the end of the 19th century such ideas not only were out of fashion but were geological heresy. When J Harlen Bretz uncovered evidence of giant floods in eastern Washington in the 1920s, it took most of the 20th century for other geologists to believe him. Geologists had so thoroughly vilified the concept of great floods that they could not believe it when somebody actually found evidence of one."

I know that feeling well!!



Geologists long rejected the notion that cataclysmic flood had ever occurred—until one of them found proof of a Noah-like catastrophe in the wildly eroded river valleys of Washington State.

by David R. Montgomery 


Washington scablands: Hundreds of square miles of Washington State were gouged by the great Missoula Floods 15,000 years ago.

After teaching geology at the University of Washington for a decade, I had become embarrassed that I hadn’t yet seen the deep canyons where tremendous Ice Age floods scoured down into solid rock to sculpt the scablands. So I decided to help lead a field trip for students to see the giant erosion scars on the local landforms.

We drove across the Columbia River and continued eastward, dropping into Moses Coulee, a canyon with vertical walls of layered basalt. We gathered the students on a small rise and asked them how the canyon had formed. They immediately ruled out wind and glaciers. The valley was not U-shaped like a typical glacial valley, and none of us could imagine how wind might gouge a canyon out of hard basalt. But neither were there rivers or streams. After a while I pointed out that we were standing on a pile of gravel. I asked how the rounded granite pebbles came to be there when the closest source of granite lay over the horizon. Silence.

Hiking through eastern Washington canyons littered with exotic boulders is a standard field trip for beginning geologists. It takes a while to register what you see. A dry waterfall hundreds of feet high in the middle of the desert. Giant potholes where no river flows today. Granite boulders parked in a basalt canyon. Gradually the contradictions fall into place and a story unfolds. Where did wayward boulders the size of a car or house come from? What was the source of the water that moved them around and carved the falls? Today, even novice geologists can conjure up eastern Washington’s giant floods.

Long before the discovery of the scablands, geologists dismissed the role of catastrophic floods in interpreting European geology. By the end of the 19th century such ideas not only were out of fashion but were geological heresy. When J Harlen Bretz uncovered evidence of giant floods in eastern Washington in the 1920s, it took most of the 20th century for other geologists to believe him. Geologists had so thoroughly vilified the concept of great floods that they could not believe it when somebody actually found evidence of one.

Bretz was a classic field geologist and a controversial figure throughout his career. In 1925 he presented the story of the region’s giant floods, seeing what others at first could not—and then would not—see. He spent his lifetime piecing together the story of how a raging wall of water hundreds of feet high roared across eastern Washington, carving deep channels before cascading down the Columbia River Gorge as a wall of water high enough to turn Oregon’s Willamette Valley into a vast backwater lake.

Bretz found exotic granite boulders perched on basalt cliffs hundreds of feet above the highest recorded river level. In the scablands, a desolate region stripped of soil, he came across dry waterfalls and potholes hundreds of feet above the modern river. Gigantic gravel bars deposited within dry valleys implied deep, fast-flowing water. Streamlined hills rose like islands, extending more than 100 feet above the scoured-out channelways.

He realized the chaotic landscape had been carved by an enormous flood that chewed deep channels through hundreds of feet of solid basalt. The ancient flood deposited an enormous delta around Portland, Oregon, backing up flow into the Willamette Valley. The waters, he eventually realized, could have come from catastrophic drainage of Lake Missoula, an ancient, glacier-dammed lake in western Montana.

Bretz was ridiculed until 1940, when geologist Joe Pardee described giant ripple marks on the bed of Lake Missoula. The 50-foot-high ripples, he said, were formed by fast-flowing currents and not by the sluggish bottom water of a lake. Only sudden failure of the glacial dam could have released the 2,000-foot-deep lake. The catastrophic release of 600 cubic miles of water through a narrow gap would sweep away everything in its path. In 1979, when Bretz was 97 years old, the Geological Society of America awarded him its highest honor, the Penrose Medal.

Recognition of the Missoula flood helped other geologists identify similar landforms in Asia, Europe, Alaska, and the American Midwest, as well as on Mars. There is now compelling evidence for many gigantic ancient floods where glacial ice dams failed time and again: At the end of the last glaciation, some 10,000 years ago, giant ice-dammed lakes in Eurasia and North America repeatedly produced huge floods. In Siberia, rivers spilled over drainage divides and changed their courses. England’s fate as an island was sealed by erosion from glacial floods that carved the English Channel. These were not global deluges as described in the Genesis story of Noah, but were more focused catastrophic floods taking place throughout the world. They likely inspired stories like Noah’s in many cultures, passed down through generations.

Since devastating floods were a fact of life on the margins of the world’s great ice sheets, people in those areas probably witnessed them. Early missionaries in eastern Washington reported stories of a great flood among Yakima and Spokane tribes, who could identify locations where survivors sought refuge. An Ojibwa Indian legend from around Lake Superior tells of a great snow that fell one September at the beginning of time: A bag contained the sun’s heat until a mouse nibbled a hole in it. The warmth spilled over, melting the snow and producing a flood that rose above the tops of the highest pines. Everyone drowned except for an old man who drifted about in his canoe rescuing animals. The native inhabitants of the Willamette Valley told stories of a time the valley filled with water, forcing everyone to flee up a mountain before the waters receded.
Did survivors of such events pass their stories down through the ages? Could the biblical story of Noah, on some level, be real?

Tsangpo Gorge Flood, Tibet
The Legend: Local folklore describes a traditional Buddhist pilgrimage that circled a small peak ringed by lake terraces. The pilgrims commemorated how Guru Rimpoche brought Buddhism to Tibet by defeating a powerful lake demon, draining its home to reveal fertile farmland. A local temple, which sits on top of a stack of ancient lake sediments, has a striking mural of Guru Rimpoche above a lake at the gorge entrance. The Temple’s head lama believes the ocean once covered all of Tibet.

The Evidence: During a 2002 expedition, geologist David Montgomery studied how the Tsangpo River once sawed through rock, carving the world’s deepest gorge. His team discovered ancient shorelines and 1,200-year-old wood fragments in lake sediments dating to around the time Rimpoche arrived in Tibet. At the head of the gorge, glacial debris was plastered on both sides of the valley, confirming that a massive tongue of ice once plunged down a nearby 25,000-foot-high peak. Two levels of terraces extending upstream indicated a wall of ice and mud had dammed the river, backing up a lake that filled the valley. Once the lake filled enough to breach the dam, a rush of water roared down the gorge, scouring out everything in its path.

Grand Canyon Flood
The Legend: A local Native American tribe, the Havasupai, attributes the canyon’s carving to a catastrophic flood down the Colorado River that occurred when the god Ho-ko-ma-ta unleashed a tremendous rainstorm. A more benevolent god, Pu-keh-eh, put his daughter in a hollowed-out log to save her from the monstrous current. After the flood receded, she crawled out and became mother of all humanity.

The Evidence: The rocks exposed in the canyon walls could not have settled during a single flood because they alternate many times in color, grain size, and composition. Although floods did not create the canyon [pdf], evidence suggests they helped shape it. Huge boulders are perched hundreds of feet above the river. Floods capable of stranding boulders so high would have been spectacular. The breaching of cooled lava dams that impounded the river may have launched these catastrophic floods. But these deluges occurred at least 400,000 years ago, long before people made it to the continent. The Native American tale of how the canyon formed is apparently an attempt to make sense of mysterious landforms.

Black Sea Flood
The Legend: In the story of Noah’s Ark, the book of Genesis says Noah lived during a time when all other people on Earth were evil. God became angry and decided to create a giant flood to kill everyone except Noah and his family. God told Noah to build a boat called an ark, big enough for himself, his wife, his sons, their wives, and at least two of every animal. Once the ark was built, God sent a rainstorm that lasted 40 days. The deluge rose higher than the tallest mountain. When the waters receded, Noah’s family and animals left the ark and repopulated the Earth.

The Evidence: After refuting the possibility of a global flood, geologists dismissed suggestions that the story of Noah’s Flood might be rooted in some sort of fact. Then, in 1993, oceanographers Bill Ryan and Walter Pitman of Columbia University used sonar to survey the floor of the Black Sea—and found evidence supporting the story after all. Submerged beneath the surface were ancient streambeds, river-cut canyons, and shorelines. High-resolution seismic reflection profiles showed a former land surface buried in the seafloor sediments. Drill cores from the seafloor contained roots of shrubs covered by marine mud. Ryan and Pitman argued that over 7,000 years ago, the Mediterranean began to rise, breaching rocks along the Istanbul Strait, a waterway that helps form the boundary between Europe and Asia today. The event caused the Mediterranean to spill into the Black Sea, triggering a catastrophic flood.

Were early farmers in the area forced to flee as their world disappeared underwater? Archaeologists found the rising waters coincided with the onset of the initial migration of farming cultures into Europe and the floodplains of Mesopotamia. Wherever they came from, the first farmers arrived in southern Mesopotamia shortly after the filling of the Black Sea. Did they bring the story of a great flood that destroyed their world?

Reprinted from The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood by David R. Montgomery. Copyright © by David R. Montgomery. With the permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.


(by Robert John Langdon)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Discovery Channel tries out my hypothesis - and it works!!

By Robert John Langdon

I have been alerted to the fact that the Discovery Channel have built a life size model of the apparatus I theorised in my book The Stonehenge Enigma - This news comes from Robin Heaths Blog:


"Without a single archaeologist in sight, a couple of boat builders and an inspired TV company show just how easy it can be to load a full-size bluestone onto a replica Bronze-Age boat. Robin Heath was there and took some photographs.

On the 15th August, near Poppit Sands, in Cardigan, West Wales, several skilled artisans showed how they would load a boat with a multi-ton bluestone. They did this with a force 7 on-shore gale battering the shore-line. In the time it took for the tide to come in, a flawless lowering took place of a large bluestone onto a prepared cradle within a near-replica of the boat found at Ferriby during the early 70s.

Discovery Channel remakes my Stonehenge 'cradle'

The Ferriby boat has been dated around 2000 BC, making it much too late for the period of bluestone moving (given at around 2700 – 2400 BC depending on which source one reads). But the boat is entirely believable as a design possible within the known technology of that period. Basically, if one can make Stonehenge, replete with mortice and tenon joints and tongue and grooving in stone, then one can make planks and joints in wood!. The remains of timber roundhouses reveal how timber was strung and stitched together.
Discovery Channel remakes my Stonehenge 'cradle' 2

Under the direction of a film crew working for the state-side Discovery Channel, not a single multicoloured pullover bearded archaeologist was harmed during this risky undertaking, primarily because none were employed. Instead, the company wisely sought out highly skilled local craftpeople, Nick, Dougie and Paul, time-served in the construction and repair of wooden boats including one (www.Keewaydin.com) weighing in at over 100 tons, and having much experience of building large wooden structures for maneuvering seemingly unfeasibly heavy weights. They delivered the goods with utter confidence and without fuss. The spectacle was a joy to behold.
The history of replicating aspects of how the bluestones were moved from sites in the Preseli mountains of West Wales is colourful, to say the least.  In 1923, Dr H H Thomas, a petrologist, wrote a seemingly innocent paper indicating that most of the Stonehenge bluestones had originated from just a very few outcrops around Carn Meini, near the village ofMynachlog ddu in North Pembrokeshire. Ever since a series of vitriolic and quite emotional arguments have periodically flared up to either applaud Dr Thomas on finally nailing this vital question for Stonehenge researchers, or to completely rubbish his experimental methodology because the stones “must have got there by the action of glaciation.”
The question is an important one, because if moved by the hand of man, it poses some humdinger other questions about the capabilities and intentions of the Stonehenge builders. These are uncomfortable to mainstream archaeologists, many of whom lie awake at night racked with anxiety whenever the present rather cosy model of Neolithic life is threatened by increased reality.
This ‘bluestone argument’ has recently been reactivated through the work of a team of geologists and archaeologists whose most well-known spokesperson, the amiable Professor Mike Parker-Pearson (Sheffield), oversaw the excavation of a buried and large megalith from a lowland outcrop on the northern side of the Preselis near Pont Saeson, near Brynberian, in 2011.Although not a classic spotted bluestone, this beast’s geology exactly matched that of the nearby outcrop and also matched the chemistry of several others of the “non-bluestone bluestones” at Stonehenge. The theory is put forward that, based on the evidence so far, no ice-age could have moved this stone or other ones from this site over the Preselis to Stonehenge. That the outcrop lies adjacent to a tributary of the Nevern river also supports the theory of transport by river, then the sea, as per the now traditional theory first promoted in the 1950s by Professor Richard Atkinson (Cardiff) and described within his still remarkably comprehensive book Stonehenge (Unwin, 1956). A later edition of his book has a Byronic illustration ( by Alan Sorrell) of a raft holding a doomed bluestone and crewed by savages being lashed by a Pembrokeshire so’westerly.
Discovery Channel remakes my Stonehenge 'cradle' 3

Now Atkinson really was old school archaeologist. Never far from a cigarette holder and always sporting a bow-tie, ‘Dickie’ Atkinson produced a classic 1950s TV re-inactment of bluestone moving using ‘multiple punts’ and other supposedly neolithic craft on a stretch of the Bristol Avon, using public schoolboys as stone-age stone movers. It was all rather Enid Blyton and Eton mess.
This may appear laughably naïve to us today, yet later attempts have been far more dangerous to life and limb than this first filmed effort. Perhaps it was the lashings of ginger beer that fortified the crews on the Atkinson boats, or perhaps it was just that folk had far more common sense than today, for since then, two attempts have sent bluestones tumbling to the bottom of Milford Haven, or Neyland, and at least four people have been hospitalized with crushing and fracturing injuries as a result of attempting to lift or move these heavy monoliths.
Discovery Channel remakes my Stonehenge 'cradle' 4

During the heady days of the new millennium, a lottery funded attempt to take a bluestone from Carn Menyn to Stonehenge became part of local folklore, and is a story that will be told to grandchildren by their grandparents for a while yet, as it contains all the tragedy, farce and comedy of a good narrative. The fated single stone now languishes in 70 feet of water opposite Pembroke Dock, where it lends support to the dangerous theory that suggests, perhaps, we have actually devolved in our abilities as a species since the Stone Age.
Those who have taken the trouble to read my own contributions to the matter of Stonehenge (in books, presentations and via www.skyandlandscape.com) will appreciate that another question needs to be asked concerning the monument. Once they are seen to have been moved to Salisbury Plain by the hand of man, it goes beyond how the bluestones arrived there and becomes why they were so important in the monument? It is 135 miles (as the crow flies) from Preseli to Stonehenge, and these stones were not moved without some powerful driving motivation. What might that be, eh? If the glaciation theory is attenuated by this new evidence, then ipso facto the argument for the bluestones having been moved by human intent is fortified. And this then begs a really tricky ‘geomantic’ question: Might the location of the bluestones, rather than their geological composition, be a significant reason for their required presence at Stonehenge?
Discovery Channel remakes my Stonehenge 'cradle' 5

No one in academia presently wants to get anywhere near this question, yet today’s successful positing of a fat bluestone into the bowels of a believable neolithic boat scores an important point in supporting the theory that the moving of the bluestones occurred through human intent. That being the case, why the Neolithic culture should have been compelled to undertake such a task now surely commands our utmost attention.
Watch the increasing thrumming emanating from various blogs and websites manned 24/7 by researchers, zealots, seekers, bigots and unemployed folk sporting archaeology degrees. Finally, watch the documentary on the Discovery Channel when it comes out! "
This method and construction is identical to the method I explained on page 78 of my book
"The secret of Stonehenge can be found not in the monument itself, but in the visitors’ car park. Three large round circles can be seen but there’s no explanation or reference to their meaning. This is, in fact, the site of the Stonehenge shoreline as predicted in my hypothesis. Facing North West, the three round circles represent a perfect match to the water levels during Mesolithic times.
This chapter will tell the story of how these circles came to be placed in their locations and how further excavations, verified by the findings discovered in one of these post holes, provides us with the date of Stonehenge’s - 7500 BC.
Stonehenge 'cradle' in the visitors car park

The most compounding evidence of the rise in water tables during the prehistoric period can be found in the car park of Stonehenge. Ignored by visitors who casually park their cars in the car park, three giant circles - similar to mini roundabouts - are painted on the floor. These painted circles show where post holes were discovered when the car park was constructed, and each measure approximately 1 metre in diameter. Interestingly, and rather ironically, the car park was constructed at its current location as archaeologists believed that area had no historical relevance –which is far from the truth.
TSE - drawing of the Stonehenge Cradle

Traditional archaeologist's describe the posts that would have been placed in these post holes as ‘totem poles’. If this were true, however, why would Mesolithic Man have struggled with using huge trees, approximately 1 metre wide, for the simple purpose of erecting ritual ‘totem poles’.
As only flint axes and fire was available to work with, it would seem more plausible that small trees would have been utilised to create these ‘totem poles’, rather than the giant metre wide variety. I believe that these post holes housed posts which had no ritual connotations, as associated with ‘totem poles’, but were in fact functional mooring posts for boats.
They were utilised for unloading cargo, and were used as simple lifting devices, created by placing a similar sized cross beam across their top, through use of a simple mortise joint, as clearly seen on Stonehenge lintels.  This lifting device would have been used to raise stones from boats at high tide after the stones had been tied to the cross piece. As the tide receded, it would naturally remove the boat from beneath the stone which would then be lowered either onto sledges, which would then have been dragged up the hill in order to place the stones in their required position, or onto two logs, which would enable the stones to be levered up the hill."
TSE - drawing of the Stonehenge Cradle in the visitors car park

My co-author is furious that this seems to have been stolen from the book without acknowledgement - but I take a more pragmatic view.  This is physical proof of the hypothesis, which gives the book further accreditation   For the apparatus needed to move the stones is just one small piece of the jigsaw that the trilogy is revealing to the world.


(by Robert John Langdon)