Missing piece of Stonehenge is returned after 60 years


Blackleaf
#1
A piece of Stonehenge removed 60 years ago by a workman during restoration work has finally been returned to its rightful home in Britain after being kept as a souvenir in America for decades.

Robert Phillips was part of a team from Van Moppes, a Basingstoke diamond cutting business, that extracted a 4ft section from one of the standing stones in 1958.

Deemed little more than waste material at the time, Mr Phillips nevertheless decided to keep the core of stone and displayed it in his offices.

When he emigrated to Florida, Mr Phillips took it with him placing it pride of place on the shelf of his new workplace. But decades later, on the eve of his 90th birthday, he decided to return it to the country of his birth.

Missing piece of Stonehenge is returned after 60 years: Workman who took chunk of rock in 1958 as a souvenir before emigrating to the US finally decides on the eve of his 90th birthday to send it back to Britain


Robert Phillips led a project to remove a four-foot long stone core in 1958

The stone core was removed and metal rods inserted to stabilise the structure

It was in his possession for 60 years and he even took it with him to Florida

English Heritage will now study the core in a bid to find out more about the mysterious origin of Stonehenge's sarsen stones


By Colin Fernandez Science Correspondent For The Daily Mail and Joe Pinkstone For Mailonline
8 May 2019

A piece of Stonehenge removed 60 years ago by a workman during restoration work has finally been returned to its rightful home in Britain after being kept as a souvenir in America for decades.

Robert Phillips was part of a team from Van Moppes, a Basingstoke diamond cutting business, that extracted a 4ft section from one of the standing stones in 1958.

Deemed little more than waste material at the time, Mr Phillips nevertheless decided to keep the core of stone and displayed it in his offices.

When he emigrated to Florida, Mr Phillips took it with him placing it pride of place on the shelf of his new workplace. But decades later, on the eve of his 90th birthday, he decided to return it to the country of his birth.

Now it is hoped the thin cylinder can be studied to cast light on the ancient stone circle - and may help solve the riddle of where the sarsen stones came from. Unlike the smaller bluestones at the site, which were quarried at the Preseli mountains in Wales, the origin of the sarsens is unknown.

It was one of three sections of rock to be removed during the works decades ago.

English Heritage said it would like to hear from anyone who was involved - or whose family was involved - in the archaeological excavations at Stonehenge during the 1950s and who has more information as to the remaining two cores' whereabouts.


A piece of Stonehenge secretly removed 60 years ago during restoration work has finally been returned to its rightful home in Britain after a trip across the Atlantic. The four-foot long stone core (pictured) was taken from one of the standing stones



Robert Phillips (pictured, right, with wife Joan) was leading a project to remove a four-foot long stone core from one of the standing stones



The 1958 project was aimed to help preserve and save the iconic structure after some of the large stones began crumbling. Stone cores were taken out and replaced with metal alternatives to strengthen it


To extract the cores, engineers used an annular drill - which has a ring shaped drilling bit - to remove the pole-like piece of rock.

Metal rods were then inserted into the crumbling stone in a bid to hold it together and the holes blocked up with fragments of sarsen.

Mr Phillips, an engineer with a keen interest in archaeology, kept it in a Perspex tube in his office.

Now is in poor health, he was unable to return the stone in person and instead sent his sons.

Robert's sons, Robin, 57, a solicitor of Bath, and Lewis, 63, who works in finance, of Canterbury travelled to Stonehenge to return the piece of rock.

There they officially presented it to English Heritage curator, Heather Sebire.


Robert's sons, Robin (right), 57, a solicitor of Bath, and Lewis (left), 63, who works in finance, of Canterbury travelled to Stonehenge after the core had been rightfully returned to the site after a 60 year hiatus


To extract the cores, engineers used an annular drill - which has a ring shaped drilling bit - to remove the pole-like piece of rock. Metal rods were then inserted into the crumbling stone in a bid to hold it together and the holes blocked up with fragments of sarsen



English Heritage said it would like to hear from anyone who was involved - or whose family was involved - in the archaeological excavations at Stonehenge during the 1950s and who has more information as to the remaining cores' whereabouts


But Lewis Phillips told the Daily Mail his father wanted the stone to come back.

'I recall as a teenager visiting my dad in his office and there was this long Perspex tube containing the drilled out bits of stone and a picture of the drilling works in progress.

'So in 1976 when he left the firm, and everybody else in the project had departed and nobody else seemed to be interested in this piece of stone, he took it with him when he left and it went with him as he travelled across America.

'It was displayed in various homes my parents were in,' and Mr Phillips later divorced and remarried.

'My father is 90 and in recent years there have been concerns that as and when he dies he didn't want this thing getting lost or chucked away. He was keen it should come back.'

'It's a much travelled piece of stone, it's probably the furthest any bit of Stonehenge has gone. It's great they are able to use this, it's got provenance and we know exactly which stone it came from. There are lots of stone fragments buried around the monument, but we don't know exactly which stone they came from, but we do with this one.'

'I remember going to Stonehenge with my dad as a little kid, and he pointed out to me the work they did. Nowadays of course you cannot get so close. It would be nice if it went on display.'

'At the time in the 1950s it would have just been waste material, it's possible the other two cores just got thrown away.'

Heather Sebire, English Heritage's curator for Stonehenge, said: 'The last thing we ever expected was to get a call from someone in America telling us they had a piece of Stonehenge. We are very grateful to the Phillips family for bringing this intriguing piece of Stonehenge back home. Studying the Stonehenge core's 'DNA' could tell us more about where those enormous sarsen stones originated.
'The other two Stonehenge cores may still be out there somewhere and if anyone has any information, we'd love to hear from them.'

A British Academy and Leverhulme Trust project, led by Professor David Nash of the University of Brighton, is investigating the chemical composition of the sarsen stones at Stonehenge in order to pinpoint their source.

Professor David Nash, Brighton University, said: 'Archaeologists and geologists have been debating where the stones used to build Stonehenge came from for years. The bluestones have attracted a lot of attention recently, but in contrast little has been done to look at the sources of the larger sarsen stones.

'Conventional wisdom suggests that they all came from the relatively nearby Marlborough Downs but initial results from our analysis suggest that in fact the sarsens may come from more than one location.

'Our geochemical fingerprinting of the sarsens in situ at Stonehenge, and of the core itself, when compared with samples from areas across southern England will hopefully tell us where the different stones came from.'


Unlike the smaller bluestones, which are known to have been quarried in the Preseli mountains of Wales, it is still an open question where the great Sarsens came from.Researchers hope the four-foot long stone core will shed light on this mystery



The stone core was one of three 'cores' drilled out of a giant stone during the raising of a fallen trilithon, a group of two upright stones with a third across the top, in 1958. Monolith building is thought to have arrived in the UK around 4,000 BC (pictured) from people originating from France and Spain

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...-60-years.html
 
Curious Cdn
#2
Core blimey!
 

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