Skip to main content

Spectacular Skies in the Haute-Loire

Mountain regions are known for their extreme weather. Although the Massif Central, where I am right now on fieldwork, isn't full of towering peaks like the Alps, it is a very extensive and high plateau. The fieldstation here is at about 975m above sea level, and the highest hills nearby rise to over 1600m (there's a ski resort too!).
This means that summer temperatures are slightly lower than other parts of southern France (I'm grateful not to be in 36 degree sauna conditions in Bordeaux at the moment), but it is still hot, up to about 28 degrees, with cooler evenings. This creates complex interactions in air masses, and a lot of storms. We've had torrential cloud-bursts some days, and others very impressive thunder & lightning storms. All this produces some dramatic skies, and most afternoons you can see the ominous masses marching towards you well before the thunder is audible.
Here are some photos of the changing skies here, including some calmer moments. I've used high contrast black and white for some images, and in others multiple exposures are combined.




Popular posts from this blog

Wherefore Art Thou, Neanderthal?

Adventures in Silcrete: "It's flint Jim, but not as you know it!"

Something that everyone who works in the archaeology of deep prehistory has to get to grips with is the technology of stone tools, or lithics. This includes thinking about the ways in which people made their tools, which techniques they chose to use, etc. It also means that Palaeolithic archaeologists, alongside needing to know stuff about climatology, palaeontology, and ecology, need to delve into the science of geology. People in prehistory might not have understood the origins of different kinds of rocks, but they certainly appreciated the diversity in stone qualities, not only between very different rock types but also within geological/mineral categories.

These two Neandertal tools that I studied for my PhD, called handaxes, are both very finely worked, but made from completely different rocks. The one on the left (Castle Lane, Bournemouth) is made from Cretaceous flint found in the south and east of Britain, and the one on the right (Coygan Cave) from rhyolite, a volcanic stone…

Geological Road Trip: Volcanic landscapes of the Massif Central

Geology and geography are fundamental to archaeologists in understanding the landscape contexts that people of the past lived within. While climate and environments have drastically altered over the time span of the Palaeolithic, the topography often, on a broad scale, remains relatively similar. Erosion can be extensive, river systems can change course (the Thames used to flow much further north than it now does for example), and the great depth of sediment accumulation in some areas changed local situations. But the big stuff made of rock like plateaux, mountains and watersheds have remained relatively static over the time hominins have been around. There are exceptions to this however, primarily in the form of volcanism and tectonic action, and the region I'm working in is a textbook example. Here in the Massif Central, there is a long history of volcanic action of many types, the most recent of which occurred less than 5000 years ago- well within the history of human settleme…