But is it news?

So, Martin Doutré has himself some free publicity for the Celtic New Zealand thesis in today’s issue of the Herald. The evidence; boulders.

Celtic Boulders.

Well, round concretions; about a dozen of them. These concretions, up to 3 metres in diameter, were uncovered about thirty-eight years. The mystery, apparently, is how they ended up on top of a hilltop, because:

“It sparked a lot of mystery over how they got there,” said Mr Doutré. “They were concretion boulders, which can only form in sea sediments, yet they had made it to the top of this high, yellow clay hill.”

That sounds a little interesting, doesn’t it? Boulders in non-normal space1 That would suggest that the boulders had been moved, in some way. Could it be that they were moved by human hands?

Geological Society spokesman Bruce Hayward said there was no mystery how the boulders got on thehill.

He said they were 70 million years old and pushed up from the sea floor and the enclosing countryside eroded over time, leaving them exposed.

Well, that seems to squash that part of the thesis.

Doutré (and his ilk) seem to have a problem when it comes to understanding site deposition; sometimes items are part of the landscape because geology, not humanity, put them there. Doutré thinks that because they are on a hilltop that they were placed there. He assumes that location is almost entirely intentional rather than accidental, which is a problem for his entire `archaeological’ method; he cannot tell the difference, by and large, between objects that are placed on a landscape versus objects that happen to be there.

Still, perhaps the boulders, as objects whose presence in the landscape can be explained entirely naturally, can still lend credence to Doutré’s thesis, because:

Some boulders showed ancient etchings of geometric designs similar to those on structures in Britain dating back to 3150BC.

The image in the article isn’t particularly clear; you can see spirals (and what looks like the Bass Clef, which is a remarkable bit of foresight by our `Celtic tangata whenua’) and the like, which somehow suggests that these markings are pre-Maori and of Celtic origin.

Because not only do we all know that there are no spiral patterns in Maori art but, really, that the only people to use the spiral in art were the Celts.

That seems to the argument, it really does.

It’s a little hard to know what to say to such vacuous claims; it’s harder still to know what to say when the Herald publishes blatant puff pieces for such wacky views.

I think a few choice letters to the editor are in order. Get typing.

As I go to press (so to speak): Stephen Judd weighs in.

Notes

  1. That should be a prog-rock album name.

About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

6 comments:

  1. Nice work pulling the Herald up on this one! I can’t believe Doutre has more publicity due to the shitty journalism of the Herald. Absolutely fuming! I’ve sent a letter to the editor as you suggested. Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.

  2. Nice article. That story in the Herald had me steaming. I really really really wish that journalists could apply just a little critical thinking (about the ‘news’ item & also the way they present it) before the ink actually hits the paper. Yes, yes, I know, pressure of time, deadlines, editorial demands & all that – but there really is no excuse for such woolly thinking!
    Rant over 🙂

    1. Thanks. It’s a little hard to know how to take such an article, given that it would have had to go through an editor et al before seeing print. Did no one think that it was in the least a little controversial?

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