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Friday, 9 September 2011

The Carn Meini tomb

Above:  extract from NP Figgis, Prehistoric Preseli, p 75.  Click to enlarge, if you have problems reading it.
Below:  photo by Vicky

This is the site "discovered" by Profs D and W, but in fact well known for many years. Now for some proper science.  I like the NP Figgis description above -- quite measured, and free of wild speculations.

To me, it looks as if this chamber has similarities to Bedd yr Afanc in that there might have been a passage -- but it also appears quite crude, so may be linked with the "sub-megalithic" chambers that are thought in this area to represent the Neolithic - Bronze Age transition.  In those chambers, there was no attempt to lift the capstone onto high supporting pillars -- and it seemed sufficient just to lever up one end of the capstone, and maybe to excavate under it, so as to give enough room for a burial.

More to come.......  but why anybody would think that this has anything at all to do with Stonehenge is a complete mystery.

7 comments:

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian,

What I find rather interesting about this Carn Meini tomb is the large concentration of stones in a small area on what looks like the side of a hill. Is similar concentration of stones common in the landscape of Wales and southern UK? Are there, instead, fields with many stones scattered about sparsely over a large flat area?

Another instance of mounts of stones I clearly remember are the vaulted chamber tombs photos you posted awhile back of some small island off Brittany when you last visited there. That left an impression with me. But those stones were smaller and more 'tile-like'. But such a massive mount of them! More than would be structurally needed to built a burial vaulted chamber.

The shape of these stones at the Carn Meini tomb do not look to me like the kind you could even built a wall, let alone a vaulted chamber.

Also, looking at the photo of the Carn Meini tomb you posted, there seem to be some white spots on many of these stones. Are all of these the same as the bluestones at Stonehenge?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Kostas, this is a country of stones! They are everywhere, and the burial mounds are built of whatever stones happened to have been handy. In some places (as at Carn Briw) you can actually see the pits all around the mound, from which the stones were collected. Nice and simple -- and eminently sensible.

Constantinos Ragazas said...

So Brian, are these fields of stones scattered about sparsely and not in concentrated piles as with burial mounts? My original question.

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

Both, Kostas. In some places -- where there are moraine accumulations of periglacial blockfields -- there are stones scattered across the landscape. Sometimes there is a hummocky surface expression, as around the Pomt Ceunant moraine I described some time ago. On some of the steeper slopes there are screes -- made of nothing bit angular stones of all shapes and sizes. The burial mounds are usually pretty distinctive -- made of whatever local stones were lying around, and piled high into mounds. They occur mostly on summits and ridges -- but that may be because the lowland ones have been destroyed?

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Thanks! Much appreciated!
One of these days I'll come and see for myself!

Kostas

Constantinos Ragazas said...

Brian you write,

“In some places (as at Carn Briw) you can actually see the pits all around the mound, from which the stones were collected.”

I assume that the “pits all around the mound” date to the Neolithic when the “stones were collected” to built the burial mound. And I further assume that these “stone pits” had to be in the underlying bedrock and not in the top soil. Otherwise, how could these pits have survived?

So my questions:

1) When glaciers deposit erratics on the surface of a landscape, do these erratics form pits in the bedrock?
2) What makes up the bedrock where Carn Briw is located? I assume it is not chalk?
3) How deep are these pits, and what similar features these have with the “empty pits” under the Stonehenge Layer?
4) Are there similar “empty pits” found around every mound where stones where collected?

Kostas

BRIAN JOHN said...

The pits are not in the bedrock -- the ground surface here is covered in a litter of broken stones and morainic debris. This surface soil and regolith layer is in places up to a metre thick. The pits are up to 50 cm deep, and they have survived quite happily since the Bronze Age -- believe me!! They are not sockets like the pits at Stonehenge, but they are pits nonetheless.