Archaeology

Maen Ceti – The Site

This is a neolithic burial chamber, a cromlech, which dates from 2500 BC. It is a huge glacial boulder supported on nine uprights. One of the best known neolithic sites in S.Wales it is called Maen Ceti Or Arthur’s stone.

The legend is that while walking in Llanelli, King Arthur found a stone in his shoe. He removed the irritant and flung it as far away as he could, landing on Gower. Many other legends surround the stone, again we have the common motif that the stones go down to the sea to drink at midnight, it is also said that on Midsummer’s eve they visit Burry stream to drink. A split in the capstone is said to have been made by St.David in order to prove “That it was not sacred”.Once split he then commanded a spring to run from underneath which was said to “flux and re-flux with the sea”. In fact the broken capstone is more likely to be the work of a local miller who needed a new millstone. Another Arthurian legends states that the king can been seen riding a white horse on a nearby path but can only be seen by moonlight. The path spoken of may be a despoiled avenue leading to the stones. In addition the dolmen there is a large flattened cairn nearby. If you approach the stones from the main pathe then the dolmen is of to the right on a short path. When I took the photographs I ended up approaching from the West, this was more by accident than by design but it did give me a view of the cairn which you can’t get from the path. The cairn is suprisingy bright looking almost white in the distance. This is due to the high concentrations of quartz in the stone. It is situated in the Gower Peninsula near Swansea in South Wales near the village of Reynoldston.

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Carn Llechart – Area History


Carn Llechart – The site

Stone Circle/Ring Cairn and Cairn
West of Pontardawe, West Glamorgan  OS Map Ref SN69730627
OS Maps – Landranger 159 (Swansea & Gower), Explorer 165 (Swansea)

Carn Llechart is one of the largest ring cairns in Wales. It is an unusual circle of 25 stones leaning slightly outwards and surrounding a central burial cist. Aubrey Burl in his “The Stone Circles of British Isles” wrote that such rings were thought to be the first stage of development of stone circles, but that these cairns, however, are almost certainly too late to provide such an ancestry. The reverse seems likely, that the existence of stone circles elsewhere impelled people to place tall stones around the bases of their own round cairns, a fusion of traditions resulting in monuments like spiky coronets. Such cairns may be seen on North and South Uist, and in Wales at Carn Llechart and Bryn Cader Faner.
The circle is 12m (40ft) in diameter, and the central cist has its east side stone and capstone missing. It seems that there is no entry to the circle and no trace of covering mound. A possible date for the site is the 2nd millenium BC. The central cist has its east side stone and capstone missing. It seems that there is no entry to the circle and no trace of a covering mound.The cairn appears vividly against the skyline when it is approached along the track-way from the North. ‘The altar stone, or flat stone from the top of central chamber now lies about 100 yards away from stone circle. Unfortunately, this was apparently removed by the gas board a few years ago. If you look in the farm field to the south west of circle, you will see another stone circle with much larger stones. This was constructed by the gas board to stop the farmers cows from rubbing against the machinery that was stored there. This was going to be the use for the large flat stone. This circle is often mistaken for the original stone circle by many people‘.


In the area there are also a Neolithic burial chamber and some Bronze Age cairns.

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Links:

Megalithic.co.uk


Clyne Valley – The Site

Clyne Valley lies on either side of the valley of the Clyne River and comprises an area of over 700 acres of land running from the sea at Blackpill, Swansea, inland to Gowerton. It is an area of once splendid woodland with enormous beech, ash and oak trees mainly on the Mumbles side of the Clyne River, and, on the Swansea side, woods and mainly scrub land that has naturally regenerated a reclaimed refuse tip. The valley forms an important link in the ecological corridor that runs from the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountain across commons and on into the Gower AONB. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty forms part of the valley’s boundary along Clyne Common. Now dormant – apart from the rich habitat that has formed from neglect – the valley at one time was part of the Vivian estate. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was a highly active industrial area with a long history of coal mining, mineral workings, brick making, charcoal burning, railways and canals.

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Building an Atlatl – Dryad

 

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Building an Atlatl – Thunderbird

There are many styles of atlatl but for the first attempt I went for the most ornate, a design adapted from the Thunderbird Atlatl.

First a rough design was drawn out onto the wood, similar to a Thunderbird but with an added central support for the spear. The excess wood was then scored and chiselled out to leave the basic shape. Holes for wax cord were drilled through to hold the spear peg in place and the top surfaces were molded into a ‘cup’ shape to hold the spear in place. After sanding and an additional groove was added to the base to position the thumb and give a better grip.

The holding peg was angled at 30 degrees and the top was shaved flat so it doesn’t jam against the spear as it is thrown. After sanding, the wood was then stained with beetroot and treated with linseed oil and sealed/polished with beeswax.

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At this point it was considered that the ‘neck’ may have been cut too thin and may snap under heavy force, so this will be strengthened later with a binding wrap.

On sanding the beetroot stain, the grain of the wood became exposed with a ‘distressed’ look which was rather nice and so 3 colours were built up using this staining then sanding procedure (indigo, mahogany & beetroot). This gave an interesting mottled appearance which has been nicknames ‘Zombie’ and is complimented with burgundy silk bindings and a natural rafia hand grip wrap. Still waiting for the burgundy wax cord to arrive to finish attaching the peg and hoping to make the shaft weight look like a skull …..

 


Atlatl History

An atlatl or spear thrower is tool that uses leverage  to achieve greater velocity in spear throwing. A traditional atlatl is a long-range weapon and can readily impart to a projectile speeds of over 150 km/h (93 mph).

It consists of a shaft with a spur at the end that supports and propels the butt of the spear. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the spur. The spear is thrown by the action of the upper arm and wrist, using the atlatl as a low-mass, fast-moving extension of the throwing arm.

The earliest secure data concerning atlatls has come from several caves in France dating to the Upper Paleolithic, about 21,000 to 17,000 years ago. The very earliest atlatl shaft found to date is a simple antler hook dated to the Solutrean period (about 17,500 years ago), recovered from the site of Combe Sauniere.

It seems to have been introduced to America during the immigration across the Bering Land Bridge, and despite the later introduction of the bow, atlatl use was widespread at the time of first European contact. Complete wooden spearthrowers have been found on dry sites in the western USA, and in waterlogged environments in Florida and Washington.

The people of New Guinea and Australian Aborigines also use spearthrowers. Australian Aboriginal spearthrowers are known as Woomeras.

As well as its practical use as a hunting weapon, it may also have had social effects. John Whittaker, an anthropologist at Grinnell College, Iowa, suggests the device was a social equaliser in that it requires skill rather than muscle power alone. Thus women and children would have been able to participate in hunting, although in recent Australian Aboriginal societies spearthrowers are in fact restricted to male use.

Atlatl designs may include improvements such as thong loops to fit the fingers, the use of flexible shafts, stone balance weights, and thinner, highly flexible spearsfor added power and range.

Another important improvement to the atlatl’s design was the introduction of a small weight (between 60 and 80 grams) strapped to its midsection. Some atlatlists maintain that stone weights add mass to the shaft of the device, causing resistance to acceleration when swung and resulting in a more forceful and accurate launch of the dart. Others claim that atlatl weights add only stability to a cast, resulting in greater accuracy.

Based on previous work done by William S. Webb, William R. Perkins claims that atlatl weights, commonly called bannerstones, and characterized by a centered hole in a symmetrically shaped carved or ground stone, shaped wide and flat with a drilled hole and thus a little like a large wingnut, are a rather ingenious improvement to the design that created a silencing effect when swung. The use of the device would lower the telltale “zip” of a swung atlatl to a more subtle “woof” sound that did not travel as far and was less likely to alert prey or other humans.

Links:

Paleoplanet Forum

Atlatl Darts

World Atlatl Association