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Friday, 8 May 2015

Bedd yr Afanc again.....



























Made another visit to Bedd yr Afanc in the company of Chris.  This is a very small megalithic monument, classified as a Neolithic passage or gallery grave of a rather unusual type. It's really rather insignificant in the landscape, and is difficult to find on a gently sloping surface of grassland and heath vegetation.  But here are the location details:
        

OS Ref (GB): SN108345 / Sheet: 145
Latitude: 51° 58' 34.38" N
Longitude: 4° 45' 18.18" W

For other posts relating to this monument, use the search box.

The stones only project above the surface for  40 cms or so, and they vary a lot in shape and dimensions -- and rock type too.  Some are made of dolerite, some are volcanic ashes, rhyolites and what appear to be gabbros.  I did not think it was a good idea to knock chunks off so as to examine the lithologies a bit more carefully.  The stones have almost certainly just been picked up in the immediate vicinity and built into the monument.  They are typical glacial erratics made of rocks from the Fishguard Volcanic Series -- and not one of them has travelled very far from its place of origin.  The facets and broken surfaces seem to be of several different ages, but none of the edges is particularly sharp.

Where are the capstones?  There are plenty of flattish stones embedded in the turf in the vicinity.  Some may actually be embedded in the turf in the "passage" itself.

As we can see in the photos, many of the stones lean inwards towards the axis of the monument.  The passage is not aligned towards anything significant.......

There are a number of boulders with rounded-off edges in the vicinity which seem to be made of a very similar bluish rhyolite as that which is exposed at Rhosyfelin.  The rock outcrops there are less than 2 km away, towards the NNE.   Without proper geological analysis, the origins of these boulders cannot be reliably guessed at -- and there are of course many other outcrops of bluish foliated rhyolite  in the Fishguard Volcanic Series to the N and NW.


One of the boulders made of bluish foliated rhyolite, close to Bedd yr Afanc

   






19 comments:

Jon Morris said...

Looks a beautiful spot Brian (thinking of doing a road trip over your way in a few months time)

Hugh Thomas said...

Tis a puzzling site , difficult to make sense of it in regards to the landscape . There is though another suspected similar site north of Craig Talfynnydd amongst an unmarked settlement low down next to Cors Tewgyll...

chris johnson said...

I agree Hugh. It is much smaller scale that I was expecting. It was investigated in 1939 for the last, I think, before modern dating techniques and nothing was found. Even so archaeologists are quick to jump to include it in their pet theories and chronologies that stretch from 3500 BC to 1500 BC. Maybe it is a passage grave, but then of a very modest sort.

In terms of your orientations it seems to face roughly east with the closed chamber being on the west end. The "passage" is relatively long and so I imagine the days on which the rising sun casts light into the chamber are few indeed - did you calculate this? Might even give us a better idea of the date of construction.

Jon Morris said...

Does the chamber face East or does it slightly nearer to ENE?

A chamber oriented between E and ENE could signal the start of something happening around about autumn equinox. Autumn is usually warmer than Spring, so makes for a better time if you need to go up to high ground for any reason.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, the alignment is approx E-W, with the "entrance" at the eastern end. It does not seem to be aligned towards anything significant in the landscape -- but maybe we search too much for significance. Why not just aligned vaguely towards the rising sun on the far horizon?

chris johnson said...

Probably a coincidence but the eastern horizon here is low, low enough for the rising sun to cast a flat ray of light towards the passage.

I wonder why experts insist on calling it a passage grave. The passage graves I know have roofing stones and Bedd yr Afanc shows no signs of having been roofed.

Had it been roofed then only the "Little People" could have found their way down the passage, so low would it have been.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, they appear to be quite small standing stones -- but what we don't know is where the original floor level was -- it may have been as much as a metre below the present turf surface. Also, there may be capstones or roofing stones buried in the turf in the "passage" or thrown off to one side and subsequently covered with vegetation and soil. All rather mysterious.....

Geo Cur said...

The vast majority of monuments like passage graves ,gallery graves etc , show a similarity in orientation that is related to the typology rather than anything in the landscape . Most gallery graves and allée couverte face between 90 and 210 degrees .

BRIAN JOHN said...

So opening either approx towards the sunrise or towards the sunset?

Jon Morris said...

"Most gallery graves and allée couverte face between 90 and 210 degrees ."

So if a given monument had an alignment azimuth of say 75-80 degrees, would that make it unusual George?

Geo Cur said...

Brian , very few gallery graves and allée couvertes are aligned to the actual solstices or equinoxes ,they are off by enough to suggest that it is not a case of being inaccurate , it seems more like a general architectural grammar .
Wedge tombs are entirely different ,the majority are westerly facing but only in a general direction of sunset ,again nothing to suggest alignment to the solstice and because of the general direction nothing to suggest to alignment to landscape features .
What is striking is that various types face general direction and the vast majority of whole face those areas of the sky where the sun will enter the passage/chamber at some time . It is a very small minority of monuments that face an area where the sun will not shine into the passage ,see below .

Jon ,
it depends on the type of monument ,and area . e.g. Long Cairns in northern Scotland are mostly NE facing ,this may be due to the way they are built in relation to hill slopes but they tend not to "face " the opposite direction . There are few monuments in the north that do face the part of the sky where the sun will not be seen , and are therefore really intriguing .

chris johnson said...

The two Georges say that it is aligned parallel to the river valley of the Nyfer and this might be significant.

The alignment fits Geo's remark. It is directed at the one arc in the horizon where the sun would be low enough to enter the passage.

Evergreen said...

The Kilclooney More portal tombs are interesting in this respect. Metres away from eachother but facing different parts of the sky.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- parallel to the Nyfer valley?!! Too fanciful by far, I'm afraid. The valley twists and turns all over the place -- and in any case is not visible from Bedd yr Afanc.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Evergreen -- withy respect to inauspicious alignments of chamber entrances, a reminded of what George Children and George Nash said about the multiple-chambered tomb site of Cerrig y Gof, near Newport: "The five chambers (of Cerrig y Gof), each possibly served by a small entrance, are aligned so as to ignore the rising and setting sun."

Jon Morris said...

It's a shame that you can't distinguish what it's azimuth is from Google Earth. The picture just isn't good enough

Geo Cur said...

"The five chambers (of Cerrig y Gof), each possibly served by a small entrance, are aligned so as to ignore the rising and setting sun."

That makes about as much sense as the claim that that the Trefael marked rock represents constellations .

If you want to ignore the sun at that latitude then the chambers should be oriented between approx 310 -50 degrees .
The five orientataions are spread around 360 degrees and only one ,the least well preserved might fit that bill . One is almost due south so would not be aligned on the setting or rising sun .The remaining three are spread between approx 50 and therefore potentially aligned to the solstice (atypically and probably fortuitously )and 250 degrees . Two certainly will be aligned on the sun at one point when it rises or sets and four would allow sunlight to enter the portal at some point in the day .
Portal tombs are not associated with astro alignments ,although it is worth mentioning that they generally tend to face east (45%) .

BRIAN JOHN said...

I had some fun with that particular quote in a previous post!

Hugh Thomas said...

Hi Chris I have only ever been to Bedd yr Afanc once so do not yet have any Sun alignment and landscape perception ideas for the site and am planning more visits once I have finished my exp!orations around the area north of Carn Goeddog...I have a number of targets and view points around Brynberrian Moore I would like to check out...