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Standing with Stones

We were casting around for something to watch the other day and hit upon a really excellent 2-hour documentary about British prehistoric sites. Standing With Stones was self-funded twelve years ago by a pair of non-archaeologists. It took them two years of driving around Britain.

Very well written and presented: no woo or aliens. A little speculation, but sensible. I shan’t spoil it for you, but I had no idea there were a thousand stone circles in Britain.

Their whole channel is worth a look: The Prehistory Guys. Also, their Patreon.

I love British prehistory, but it’s ultimately frustrating because we will never know enough about it. Still, modern techniques like ground-penetrating whotsit are uncovering all sorts of interesting new information. Go watch it!


Comment from durnedyankee
Time: September 4, 2020, 12:44 am

I dunno.

Are you sure setting up standing stones isn’t cultural appropriation?

On a serious note- consider that they had ‘free’ time to quarry that stuff, and set them up. Or someone did, a bunch of someone’s. And since many appear to be celestially related, a bunch of someone’s who had free time to watch the heavens and make notes, over time.

By free time, I mean they weren’t out there on the moor every day digging around in the filth with Dennis and the other members of the autonomous collective.

Comment from Mitch
Time: September 4, 2020, 1:09 am

I’m convinced a lot of these things were competitive in nature. In one tribe a bunch of young guys starts stacking rocks as game. Next thing you know it’s a team sport with intra-tribal rivalries. Bigger and better stones, more elaborate structures and working on points for style…BOOM Stonehenge.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: September 4, 2020, 6:08 am

“Mr Tribe Leader! We must not allow a stone henge gap to develop!
Furthermore, I consider that Hounslow must be destroyed!”

Comment from Jeff Weimer
Time: September 4, 2020, 11:15 am

We have no idea how much of the nice things we see are make-work. “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” and all that.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: September 4, 2020, 1:10 pm

The trick here is the number of idle hands when you need them to be ‘idle’ for your project!


Do a SWAG on, say a group of us moderns organizing, using the tech they had, and assuming we already knew where things were going to be positioned. How many peoples would we need, and how long. Assume we understood logs for rollers, and had rope and could quarry the stone with the tools they had (the mind boggles don’t it?)

I think it’s really neat because it makes me realize given their tech capacity there were some pretty damned smart cookies running loose in the ancient world, and not in just one or two places.

Comment from ExpressoBold
Time: September 4, 2020, 8:00 pm

It really is a masterfully-done two hours… the production values are high, the sense of curiosity right alongside reverence for the ancestors is obvious and the introduction to stone circles beyond the familiar Stonehenge is almost mind-boggling.

I’ve watched the full two hours and am going to do so again this weekend. It’s that good!

Comment from BJM
Time: September 5, 2020, 12:49 am

@Stoaty and ExpressoBold I’ve watched it twice and will keep it in rotation. It’s that good, isn’t it?

Boffins, God love them. They are part of what makes Britain great. Amid all the strife and noise, it’s comforting to know that people are thinking about and exploring the unknowable.

Perhaps one day a cave or a cache of writings that predate Bede and explains the stones will be discovered.

Neil Oliver did a pretty good series for the Beeb “A History of Ancient Britain”, but it’s not as granular as The Prehistory Guys”…who are phenomenally interesting.

Comment from technochitlin
Time: September 5, 2020, 11:56 am

Thanks so much for that link; technowife and I watched it last night and were utterly enthralled. Who knew this N Georgia redneck/Alabama transplant could be so transported by a bunch of British stones!

It’s amazing and impressive that the tech has gotten so advanced that “just guys” could put together such a professional show. I look forward to their other stuff.

Comment from The Neon Madman
Time: September 6, 2020, 9:02 pm

That was a very interesting show, and thanks for the link.

If I was one of those people who have a little bit (or a lot) of spare coin laying about, and a more understanding wife, I’d love to build my own stone circle out back, with a big standing stone in the center. Maybe some day ….

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