There is a great deal of interest currently in a stone circle, which has been found on Dartmoor. Stories about the find have made the mainstream press e.g The Plymouth Herald and The Guardian which of course is good news – we like to see archaeology in the news from time to time. Well, we’ve been sifting through the various elements and presentation of the story and have come up with a few interesting things.
Let’s begin with the images used by The Guardian; the first one is not that of the ‘newly discovered’ stone circle at Sittamoor, but of nearby Scorhill. The second image is of Sittamoor, and you can also see it on an archaeology news feed here Archaeological News. Looks a bit different doesn’t it? Apparently it is supposed to show ‘what it would have looked like’ in the past. This, however, is not made clear.
We can see by comparing stories that the find is not ‘new’ and barely ‘recently’ discovered, as it was revealed by the burning of undergrowth in 2007. So, as with many other archaeological finds, it was due to chance, rather than an archaeologist using a theory or research. We can tell that the ‘mainstream’ media, in this case The Guardian, use stock images to report stories, but they are not alone in this. Indeed, it suggests Dartmoor National Park played its part as the image is credited to them. The image in Archaeological News is not as photogenic, less dramatic, what with those pesky stones being flat! Worth noting too is that the discoverer of the circle, Alan Endacott is variously described as Dartmoor expert, stained glass artist and independent academic researcher, but not once as an archaeologist. This goes to show that archaeologists don’t have a monopoly on making discoveries – how many have been made by non-archaeologists over the years?
So, as ever, it pays to read things closely and keep your eyes open in case you find the ‘next big thing’!
The Sittamoor circle has initially been dated to be around 4,000 years old, which puts it in the transition between the Neolithic and Bronze Age. This is an exciting development for a newer project – Moor than meets the eye which is exploring the landscape, archaeology and more of the Dartmoor area, which has probably one of the richest landscapes for Bronze Age sites in England. The team are excited by first results from geophysical surveys of the site, and they hope to have full results in a couple of weeks, so we’ll keep you updated on that.