4th Meeting of the Implement Petrology Group
held at the Archaeology Department, University of York by kind invitation of Professor Mark Edmonds
Present: Vin Davis (RVD) (chair), Stephen Briggs (CSB), Steve Burrow (SB), David Dawson, Mark Edmonds (ME), Dave Field (DF), Rob Ixer (RI), Heather Jackson (HJ), Frances Lynch, Yvan Pailler (YP), Jamie Quartermaine (JQ), Alison Sheridan (JAS), Joan Taylor and Ann Woodward (AW).
Mark Edmonds was thanked for hosting the meeting, and to RVD and ME for arranging a display of material, including the Stuart Feather Collection of stone implements and debitage, and the Geoffrey Taylor Collection of Group VI implements from the Great Langdale area.
Ann Woodward was welcomed as a guest of the IPG.
3. Moment of respect for recently-deceased member
A minute’s silence was held to honour the memory of late member Roy Ritchie, who had died in late October. RVD reported that a card had been sent to his daughter Moira, and that JAS had attended the funeral, on behalf of the IPG. (See also Chair’s Report, Item 1.)
4. Apologies for absence
Tom Clare, Jon Clatworthy, Gabriel Cooney (GC), Tim Darvill, Mike Heyworth, Nicky Milner, Colin Richards, Fiona Roe, Dave Weddell.
5. Minutes of the 3rd IPG meeting, Isle of Man
After the words ‘non-sarsen sandstones’ was substituted for ‘sarsens’ on p.2, 3.4.20, the minutes were approved and signed as an accurate record. It was noted that the meeting had not been quorate.
6. Matters arising, not dealt with elsewhere
7. Chairman’s Report
See attached document, representing the report with amendments and annotations arising from the meeting. The items flagged in the Agenda under ‘Chairman’s Report’ as being of especial note are dealt with separately below.
i. (Item 10 on Chairman’s Report): RVD tabled a paper (attached: ‘Dial solutions’) regarding the setting-up of an IPG internet portal and search engine. He reported that contact had been made, thanks to database specialist, Geoff Howard, with a database design company, Dial Solutions, in Leeds. Dial Solutions had offered to create, for free, a pilot web page and searchable database (featuring text, photos, video clips and a regulated chatroom) in time for the 2007 International Conference. If the IPG wished Dial Solutions to work any faster than that, funds would have to be found. It was agreed that IPG was not currently in a position to raise tens of thousands of pounds. RVD’s aim was to load up the thin section database from Stone Axe Studies II; Gabriel Cooney had reported (by post) that there were 21,000 Irish Stone Axe Project entries that could usefully be loaded up. Free access to a scanner in Bolton was being offered. Discussion focused on financial issues, with the suggestion being made that ADS (who can bid for setting-up money) should be the host for the website, rather than Dial Solutions. For the time being, the Sub-Committee’s meeting with Dial Solutions would help to clarify long-term aims. CSB asked whether it would be possible to integrate GIS information into the database. This would be discussed with Dial Solutions.
A Working Group was established, comprising RVD, Gabriel Cooney, Mark Edmonds, Steve Burrow and David Dawson (the last corresponding by post). This group was to meet with Dial Solutions on 4 December. In the meantime, ME would mention this matter to Julian Richards at ADS, to sound him out initially.
ii-iii. IPG International conference progress. See attached documents, to which RVD spoke. All IPG members to note contents carefully, and to confirm – if they are down as a speaker – whether they are content to present. According to York University regulations, delegates may not be charged for attendance at the conference. There would, nevertheless, be costs that had to be met, and work is progressing on seeking funding. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.
Regarding the conference flier, YP reported that he would shortly be translating it into French for publication in the Bulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française. (This has since been done.)
iv. Stone Axe Studies 3. See attached document. RVD explained that this would be the title of the Conference proceedings, and that CBA had very kindly agreed to publish the volume. RVD and RI would co-edit the petrological papers, and ME would edit the archaeological papers, so the Editors would be (in alphabetical order) Davis, Edmonds & Ixer. RI and ME were thanked for agreeing to co-edit.
8. (moved from elsewhere in the original agenda) Short presentations
These were received from:
i. YP, who spoke about his recent field research in Mali, to record the work of the last living makers of stone armlets. The quarry areas, and the stages in armlet manufacture, were shown.
ii. RI, who talked about his current work on Stonehenge bluestones. (RI subsequently provided the following summary text:)
Drs Vin Davis and Rob Ixer travelled to Fargo Plantation to identify the ‘bluestones’ that had been excavated from close to the cursus at Fargo Plantation.
Macroscopical identification showed there to be no dolerites or spotted dolerites (preselites) amongst the bluestones (used in its original sense of non-sarsen Stonehenge stone) and apart from sarsen fragments none of the lithologies appeared to match any bluestone from Stonehenge.
Many lithologies were represented by more than once and all were foreign to the local geology.
Some of the rocks had modern paint on them others appeared similar to modern railway ballast and surface road chippings.
Nine rocks were selected for petrographical analysis using polished thin sections. They were chosen as representatives of the major lithological groups and to confirm the macroscopical identifications.
Preliminary petrographical identifications showed that three sandstones fragments are sarsen, there are two altered, fine-grained basic lavas with a strong trachytic texture, two very different granodiorite, one of which is quite similar to the Mountsorrel granodiorite, one slate and one siliceous rock. It is noted that two preliminary macroscopical identifications proved incorrect.
All macroscopical and microscopical petrographical identifications have been completed.
It is intended to compare these lithologies with any bluestone excavated from beneath the cursus in 2007 and with the non-plastics in local Beaker pottery.
iii. SB, who spoke about his most recent fieldwork (with HJ & DF) at Mynydd Rhiw in the summer of 2006. The area was surveyed by DF, and small-scale excavations revealed evidence for shallow quarrying, with many flakes. Charcoal samples had been taken for C14 dating.
iv. AW, who described her current Leverhulme-funded project into Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age funerary assemblages in England and talked in detail about the results of initial work on wristguards – and in particular the exciting finding that certain ‘fancy’ wristguards appeared to be of Gp VI rock. In the subsequent discussion, ME said he had found small roughouts that could be for making wristguards, and AW said that the team would be checking the Claris & Quartermaine collection of Gt Langdale thin sections for similarities with the wristguard rock. One distinctive feature was the presence of small red inclusions. JQ explained that tuffs with this feature had been spotted at various parts of the Gt Langdale deposits. CSB mentioned late 19th century work on the distribution of Gt Langdale erratics (and he subsequently circulated details to IPG members by email), and drew attention to his 1991 paper in Arch J which listed erratic boulders. The Group offered AW every assistance in furthering her wristguard research.
9. Officers’ reports
The Hon Sec reported that there was nothing to report that had not already been covered elsewhere; and in the absence of the Treasurer, there was no Treasurer’s Report.
10. Members’ business
JAS reported on progress with Pierre Petrequin’s Europe-wide project on the use of Alpine jadeites during the Neolithic: following on from the successful trip to Le Frasnois in September 2005 with around 30 axeheads (representing c 80% of the Scottish examples and 100% respectively (1 each!) of Manx and Welsh collections), she had recently visited Brussels with 3 axeheads from Marischal Museum in Aberdeen, and with 4 small axeheads from Inverurie Museum, Aberdeenshire, along with non-jadeite axeheads from the NMS collections which copied the shape of Alpine axeheads. All of the ‘candidates’ for Alpine rocks were confirmed except one, which was a recent Maori manuport.
11. Material exhibited during the meeting
See item 7, sub-items 7 & 8 in attached document)
12. Date & venue of next meeting
This was set for 5 May 2007, in Castle Museum Taunton (hosted by David Dawson) and/or in Cornwall: see item 7, sub-item 22). Members are requested to notify RVD as to their preferences and availability. Is early May OK for University-based Members?
The business meeting was followed, on the next day, by an excellent field visit led by Jamie Quartermaine to the Great Langdale area, including Top Buttress and Harrison Stickle. The party was joined by Jane Kenney (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust). SB took many top-quality photographs and has been sharing these with the participants. (No doubt he would be willing to share them with other IPG members if requested.)