Kingoodie Hammer

From Fake Archaeology
Jump to: navigation, search
A wall of stone at the Kingoodie Quarry in Scotland.CC BY-SA 2.0 [1].

The Kingoodie artifact (commonly referred to as the Kingoodie nail or the Kingoodie hammer) is a metal object said to resemble a nail that was found embedded in a block of sandstone. The stone was quarried from the Kingoodie quarry in Scotland, and the artifact’s discovery was officially reported to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1845 [2].

Discovery

In the 1845 Report of the Annual Meeting by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, there is an account given by Sir David Brewster titled “Queries and Statements concerning a Nail found imbedded in a Block of Sandstone obtained from Kingoodie (Mylnfield) Quarry, North Britain”. This account does not come directly from Brewster himself, but from a series of communications with a collection of sources. The report attempts to summarize the situation by using information that was gathered from multiple sources directly connected with the discovery and transportation of the artifact. [2]

The Kingoodie Quarry

The quarry itself consisted of alternating layers of stone and a claylike substance called till. The sandstone that makes up this quarry dates from the Devonian geologic time period, which ranges from approximately 419.2 to 358.9 million years ago [3]. The eastern section of the quarry (where the artifact is said to have originated) had been worked for twenty years at the time of discovery, and the western section had been quarried more extensively for a longer period of time, sometimes employing as many as 500 men. In order to prepare the raw material for use, rough blocks of sandstone were cut from the quarry, then transferred to another workstation to be cleared of till, and subsequently worked by stone masons. Due to these workplace procedures, the stone block that held the artifact was handled and transported four or five times before the object was discovered. Masons that were preparing to work the stone in Inchyra (no longer on site at the Kingoodie quarry) found the object and reported it - these men are not named in Brewster's report. The remote discovery of the artifact means that the original location of the stone within the quarry is unknown, but since the eastern Kingoodie quarry had been dug for twenty years at this time, the discoverers assumed that the block did not come from a surface level stone (i.e. the “nail” could not have been a recent deposit and was, instead, from a deeper geological stratum than present day).[2]

The Artifact

According to Sir David Brewster’s narrative, the stone in which the object was found was two feet long, one foot wide, and nine inches thick. The tip of the object (“point of the nail”) projected into the layer of till about half an inch, and the rest of it laid along the surface of the block, with the other end (‘the head”) embedded an inch into the stone.[2]Brewster does not include a measurement of length for the object, but if his other measurements are true, the artifact would be anywhere from an inch and a half to just less than two feet long. The artifact was never photographed and is reported to be lost. [4]

Pseudoarchaeological Narratives

Due to the circumstances and nature of its discovery, the Kingoodie artifact is often included in pseudoscientific arguments with many and varied aims. These arguments hope to prove a smattering of different ideas, including (but not limited to) extraterrestrial intervention in human development, anti-evolutionary theories, and lost civilization ideologies. The foundational claim to all of these arguments, however, is that science, scientists, and scientific methodologies are maliciously ignoring legitimate data in favor of supporting pre-determined ideologies. This claim misrepresents the nature of science and how scientific knowledge is generated through controlled observation, repeatable experimentation, and constant peer-review. Below are a few examples of how the Kingoodie artifact is often included in these pseudoscientific narratives.

The Book of the Damned

First published in 1919 (with many following editions), The Book of the Damned by Charles Fort purports to be a catalogue of “damned data”, or pieces of evidence that mainstream scientific knowledge has purposefully ignored in favor of upholding previously held beliefs. In the ninth chapter, Fort mentions the Kingoodie artifact to support the idea that there was an ancient lost civilization on Earth that existed (and was wiped out by some catastrophic event) long before modern humanity existed, or the idea that aliens visited the planet and left behind artifacts on their travels. He says that “Brewster related all circumstances available to him”, but laments that the British Association for the Advancement of Science did not discuss or solve the problems posed in Brewster’s narrative, and instead nullified the data point in favor of protecting the status quo. This narrative especially focuses on the idea that accepted scientific practices purposefully ignore and reject pieces of evidence that do not support pre-established conclusions. [5]

Did Humans Walk on Earth Before Dinosaurs?, The Scottish XFiles

In a 2001 article for the Glasgow Evening Times, author Ron Halliday used the Kingoodie artifact (among other out of place artifacts) to posit several explanations for “strange discoveries which seem to throw our whole history into doubt”. The article presents five different examples of “unexplained” artifacts that appear to be man-made millions of years before the evolution of humanity. The author expresses mistrust of accepted scientific processes, claiming that since these findings would “turn human history on its head the public rarely get to hear about them", which accuses scientists of maliciously suppressing data that do not fit into their preconceived notions. Halliday then asks the reader a series of questions: “so were humans around even before the dinosaurs? And, if so, what happened to them? Could they all have been wiped out by some deadly disease or terrible nuclear war? Or are we dealing with visitors from other planets?”. He also claims that UFOs were sighted over Inverness in 1848, and also suggests that the biblical Star of Bethlehem was a UFO. These types of claims (extreme age of humanity, alien intervention in human development, lost civilizations, and mistrust of science) are often made within pseudoarchaeological communities. Ron Halliday has published many works supporting these kinds of ideologies, with a special focus on those that are related to Scotland. [6]

They Would Be Gods

Anthony K. Forwood published a book in 2011 titled They Would Be Gods: The Past Reconsidered, The Future Forewarned. In the first paragraph of the work, Forwood outlines that “this book is based on the possibility that there is an alien presence on this planet that has been secretly involved with the human race since our earliest times, and that these aliens … do not seem to have our best interests at heart”. He describes his belief that an enormous alien conspiracy exists to take over the world in great detail over the next 391 pages - referencing the Kingoodie artifact as part of a greater list of out-of-place-artifacts (ooparts) in “Part IV - Origins, Chapter 29: Some Interesting Anomalies in the Archaeological Record”. The chapter begins with a claim that modern humans existed more than two million years ago, and that all the evidence of this is being purposefully ignored or hidden by scientists, and subsequently lists artifacts that are intended to prove the existence of humanity millions of years ago. Forwood’s beliefs in extraterrestrial conspiracies, the extreme age of humanity, and a malicious scientific community are common threads within pseudoarchaeological communities. [7]

Captain LJB’s Chronology of Out of Place Artifacts

On a website called abovetopsecret.com, within a discussion thread titled “Those We Call Cavemen Were All That Remained Of Humanity After The Last Time We Destroyed Ourselves”, user CaptianLJB replied with a chronological listing of out of place artifacts. They reference the Kingoodie artifact within a list of 30+ other mysterious findings in the hopes of establishing a “Pattern to advanced prehistorical technology or habitation on Earth”. Within this listing, they also suggest that extraterrestrial beings visited Earth 2.8 billion years B.C., and that the age of humanity can be dated back to at least 600 million years B.C.. These claims that aliens visited the planet and that the human race is much older than current evolutionary theory supports are common within pseudoscientific communities, whether they are in books, newspapers, or on the internet.[8]

Out of Place Artifacts

The term out of place artifact ("oopart") is widely reported to have been coined by cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson to describe artifacts that (for a variety of different reasons) do not align with accepted archaeological chronology (or typology, morphology, geography etc). [9] Ooparts are a commonly used piece of rhetoric in pseudoarchaeologists’ writings because they can be used to both support whichever prevailing ideology they believe and discredit “mainstream scientists”. It is necessary for supporters of pseudoscientific claims to discredit science as a whole in their arguments because their beliefs by definition cannot align with the accepted scientific understanding of the world. This juxtaposition between the canon of legitimate scientific knowledge and out of place artifacts highlights how pseudoscientists adopt a lot of the terminology of science and use it to create arguments in an anti-scientific fashion. Most ooparts are easily explained by reapplying the original context of the artifact to its interpretation, or otherwise they are often hoaxes.


As a rhetorical device, each individual out of place artifact is usually not the focus of the argument. The speaker will create a huge list of data points in such a way that individually discussing and debunking each claim would take an inordinate amount of time and effort to prove using genuine scientific methods. In the case of the Kingoodie artifact, not enough information exists for it to become the sole focus of pseudoarchaeological theories, like the Kensington Runestone or the Pyramids.


Archaeologists make claims based on repeated patterns in their data, which must include the context of discovery to be considered legitimate. Pseudoarchaeologists make claims based on one piece of data that is usually divorced completely from its context. Within the scientific community, one artifact is not enough to claim that the entirety of established knowledge should be overturned, simply because the number of artifacts used to generate that knowledge is so much greater than one perceived anomaly in the record. This does not indicate that science is never wrong, it simply means that the reasons archaeologists make claims are based upon observable patterns and connections between many data points.

Scientific Interpretations

As the Kingoodie artifact was never photographed and is reported to be lost [4],it’s hard to draw any modern, meaningful conclusions on its true origin and age. Especially because the original context of the artifact was never known, archaeologically speaking, the object has little significance. There was never any significant scientific follow up dialogue to the original 1845 report to the British Association, so it seems like the Kingoodie artifact might have simply been a “growing pain” of this era of scientific advancement. Also, considering the various terminologies used - Kingoodie nail, Kingoodie hammer, Kingoodie artefact - and the common confusion of the Kingoodie artifact with the London hammer (another similar out of place artifact), connecting all the narratives associated with the object into a cohesive whole is difficult if not impossible. If the Kingoodie artifact was indeed a human-made object that dated from more than 300 million years ago, the prevailing, established theories about the timeline of human development and evolution would indeed need to be adjusted, as many pseudoarchaeologists claim they should be. However, applying basic archaeological principles to the situation of the Kingoodie artifact (and most of the other out of place artifacts), it is understood that if human activity had happened at that point in time, there would be sufficient amounts of material remains as evidence of that activity. Because there is no material archaeological record (i.e. collections of artifacts with their context that can be organized into recognizable chronological patterns) of human activity in the Devonian time period, scientists conclude that there was no human activity at that time - not because they want to push a prescribed agenda, but because of what the data tells them.

References

  1. Pepper, Duncan. 'Old Harbour Wall at Kingoodie Quarry'.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Brewster, Sir David. “Queries and Statements Concerning a Nail Found Imbedded in a Block of Sandstone Obtained from Kingoodie (Mylnfield) Quarry, North Britain.” Report of the Annual Meeting, British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1845, p. 51.
  3. “BGS Mineralogy and Petrology Collection Record.” BGS Rock Collections - Collection Record at Kingoodie Quarries, [1].
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keith. “Nail in Sandstone from Kingoodie (UK).” Bad Archaeology, 19 Aug. 2007, [2].
  5. Fort, Charles. The Book of the Damned. 1919.
  6. "Did humans walk on earth before dinosaurs?; Scottish X Files." Evening Times (Glasgow, Scotland), 3 Mar. 2001, p. 21. Gale OneFile: News, [3]. Accessed 14 Nov. 2019.
  7. Forwood, Anthony K. They Would Be Gods. Lulu Pub., 2011.
  8. CaptainLJB. “Those We Call Cavemen Were All That Remained Of Humanity After The Last Time We Destroyed Ourselves, Page 62.” AboveTopSecret.com, [4].
  9. Smithfield, Brad. “The Strange World of Out-of-Place Artifact (OOPArt).” The Vintage News, 26 Apr. 2017, [5].