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Stonehenge Phase I: An Openpit Coalfield Model; (1 Viewer)


Garry Denke

Stonehenge Phase I: An Openpit Coalfield Model; The First Geologic Mining School

Round about 5,000 years ago ancient South Wales coal miners transported approximately 800,000 pounds (241 cubic-metres; 8,510 cubic-feet) of South Wales "Carboniferous Limestone" (see Map below, No. 22 therein) to a South sloping hill on Salisbury Plain for the purpose of constructing an Openpit Coalfield Model of their roughly circular 'sacred boundary' South Wales Carboniferous Limestone outcrop (modeled Counterscarp Bank at Stonehenge), their roughly circular South Wales "Millstone Grit" outcrop (see Map below, No. 20 therein), and their roughly circular (centre basin) South Wales "Coal Measures" outcrop (see Map below, No. 19 therein), coating the bottom of their 56 "Coal Measures" firepits (modeled 56 Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge) with the perimetre 'sacred boundary' Carboniferous Limestone. (Note the ancient South Wales coal miners had no arial photographs 5,000 years ago believing the white stone circled their South Wales Coalfield home)


Today the South Wales Coalfield is mapped and well known. It is a very large basin which measures some 90 miles on its east-west axis and about 16 miles wide. The rocks of this basin belong to the Carboniferous System. This can readily be divided into three main formations; Carboniferous Limestone, the Millstone Grit, and the Coal Measures. Because of the round basin-like shape, the Carboniferous Limestone, being the oldest of the formations, forms a thin outer rim. Inside this is the Millstone Grit, with the Coal Measures being the youngest formation filling the centre of the basin. The lower coal seams rise to the surface towards the edges of the basin. Because the inclination towards the centre is much steeper on the south and east boundaries, the working of coal in more recent times was confined to the north and west edge of the coalfield. As a result, the South Wales Coalfield was later developed on an extensive scale by the Iron Masters of North Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.

In the Stone Age, Before the wheel, Coalfire was king...

The remains of an ancient African barbecue suggest our ancestors had learned to control fire nearly 1.5 million years ago. Using a new method to analyse heated bone, researchers from the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, South Africa, and Williams College in Williamstown, Pennsylvania, have pushed back the first instance of controlled fire use by a million years. The researchers analysed burned bones collected in South Africa's Swartkrans region in 1998. Some bones appeared to have been heated to higher temperatures than others. Hearth fires can attain temperatures nearly 300 degrees Celsius higher than brush fires. For this reason, scientists suspected the bones were evidence of early fire use. Now, a technique called electron spin resonance analysis proves that the bones must have been heated to intense campfire temperatures in order to reduce so much of the material to pure carbon. One of two pre-human species living in the area at that time, Australopithecus robustus and Homo erectus, likely cooked the bones. The next-oldest evidence of fire use, in Zhoukoudian, China, is 400,000 to 250,000 years old. In comparison, Stonehenge Phase I, is 5,000 years old.


1) Denke, G.W. 1973. Stonehenge Phase I: An Openpit Coalfield Model; The First Geologic Mining School (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) GDG, 73: 1-56.
2) Denke, G.W. 1975. Invertibrate Paleontology of the High Tor Limestone (Lower Carboniferous) and the Upper Senonian Chalk (Late Cretaceous) of Stonehenge. (Arizona State University) GDG, 75: 1-7.
3) Denke, G.W. 1977. Possible Source Areas of the High Tor Limestone (Early Mississippian) Fill of the Aubrey Holes and Heel Stone Ditch in Europe. (Arizona State University) GDG, 77: 1-24.
4) Beus, S.S. 1984. Fossil Associations in the High Tor Limestone (Lower Carboniferous) of South Wales. (Northern Arizona University) Journal of Paleontology, 58: 3; 651-667.
5) Denke, G.W. 1984. Mid-Dinantian (Waulsortian Facies) High Tor Limestone: The First Stones Transported to Stonehenge from the South Wales Coast. (Arizona State University) GDG, 84: 1-4.
6) Denke, G. 1984. Magnetic and Electromagnetic Surveys at Heelstone, Stonehenge, United Kingdom. (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) GDG, 84: 5-42.
7) Lees, A. and Miller, J. 1985. Facies variatian in Waulsortian buildups, Part 2; Mid-Dinantian buildups from Europe and North America. (Revised) Geological Journal, 20: 159-180.
8) Geologist, Denke, G. 1986. The Paleontology of Stonehenge, England. (Arizona State University) GDG, 86: 1-3. (State of Texas, County of Stonewall, Deed Records, Volume 393, Page 851-853)