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Linking derived debitage to the Stonehenge Altar Stone using portable X-ray fluorescence analysis

Bevins, Richard E. and Pearce, Nick J. G. and Ixer, Rob A. and Hillier, Stephen and Pirrie, Duncan and Turner, Peter (2022). Linking derived debitage to the Stonehenge Altar Stone using portable X-ray fluorescence analysis. Mineralogical Magazine. 86 :4 , PII S0026461X22000226
[Research article]

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Abstract

The Altar Stone at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK, is enigmatic in that it differs markedly from the other bluestones. It is a grey-green, micaceous sandstone and has been considered to be derived from the Old Red Sandstone sequences of South Wales. Previous studies, however, have been based on presumed derived fragments (debitage) that have been identified visually as coming from the Altar Stone. Portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) analyses were conducted on these fragments (ex situ) as well as on the Altar Stone (in situ). Light elements (Z<37) in the Altar Stone analyses, performed after a night of heavy rain, were affected by surface and pore water that attenuate low energy X-rays, however the dry analyses of debitage fragments produced data for a full suite of elements. High Z elements, including Zr, Nb, Sr, Pb, Th and U, all occupy the same compositional space in the Altar Stone and debitage fragments, and are statistically indistinguishable, indicating the fragments are derived from the Altar Stone. Barium compares very closely between the debitage and Altar Stone, with differences being related to variable baryte distribution in the Altar Stone, limited accessibility of its surface for analysis, and probably to surface weathering. A notable feature of the Altar Stone sandstone is the presence of baryte (up to 0.8 modal%), manifest as relatively high Ba in both the debitage and the Altar Stone. These high Ba contents are in marked contrast with those in a small set of Old Red Sandstone field samples, analysed alongside the Altar Stone and debitage fragments, raising the possibility that the Altar Stone may not have been sourced from the Old Red Sandstone sequences of Wales. This high Ba 'fingerprint', related to the presence of baryte, may provide a rapid test using pXRF in the search for the source of the Stonehenge Altar Stone.

Authors/Creators:Bevins, Richard E. and Pearce, Nick J. G. and Ixer, Rob A. and Hillier, Stephen and Pirrie, Duncan and Turner, Peter
Title:Linking derived debitage to the Stonehenge Altar Stone using portable X-ray fluorescence analysis
Series Name/Journal:Mineralogical Magazine
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:86
Number:4
Article number:PII S0026461X22000226
Number of Pages:13
Publisher:MINERALOGICAL SOC
ISSN:0026-461X
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 6 Humanities > 601 History and Archaeology > Archaeology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Geology
Keywords:Stonehenge, Altar Stone, sandstone, debitage, portable XRF, provenancing
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116810
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116810
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1180/mgm.2022.22
Web of Science (WoS)000782298100001
Scopus2-s2.0-85127979995
ID Code:28820
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
(S) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:12 Sep 2022 11:25
Metadata Last Modified:12 Sep 2022 11:31

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