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Monday, 17 January 2011

More on Bedd Arthur -- was it a Bronze Age barrow?



Bedd Arthur, located on the hillside not far from Carn Meini, is often cited as a sacred site which supports the proposition that there was something "special" about the Carn Meini area, thereby providing justification for the fetching and carrying of bluestones over a great distance.  As I have mentioned before, the monument at Bedd Arthur (Arthur's Grave) is an ellipse rather than a circle, and made of small stones (mostly ashes and rhyolites) found in the locality.  I have always thought of it not as a ceremonial stone setting but as the last remains of a burial mound or barrow, with one "chopped off" end that makes one think of a portal dolmen.  The stones lean inwards, suggesting that they were laid onto the flanks of a mound -- in the middle of which, presumably, there was once (if this is a Neolithic site) a small burial chamber.  If there was once a cromlech there, it may now be collapsed, and embedded beneath the turf -- or alternatively it may have been taken away by local farmers during their "quarrying" operations in the area, as they hunted for gateposts, lintels, slabs and sills.  Alternatively, if this is a Bronze Age site, there may have been a small cist grave in the centre of a low mound.



In looking at other Pembrokeshire sites with similarities, I rediscovered this one -- the Dyffryn Syfynwy stone setting not far from Henry's Moat.  This is another elliptical setting of 12 small stones, some of them fallen -- but here the stones are clearly arranged around what is left of a large barrow, which must at one time have held a burial site.  Here the consensus is that the stones were erected vertically around the edges of the barrow, and were not resting on the sloping barrow surface -- but the similarities between these two sites are in my view quite persuasive.

One of the most interesting things about the Bedd Arthur site is that the builders of the monument were not in the slightest bit interested in the preferential use of spotted dolerite -- although it was quite abundant in the immediate neighbourhood......

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