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Monday 19 September 2016

Pensarn turns out to be a Bronze Age cist grave site -- as expected

 Photos:  thanks to Emyr Jones

So all is revealed.  Thanks to Dave for alerting me to this info published yesterday by Emyr Jones on his Facebook page:

So, the archaeologists that have been looking for the sources of the Stonehenge Bluestones are back again at the moment. They finished their dig at Careg Rhos Y Felin last year and were also excavating up at Carn Goedog. Towards the end of last years dig I got them interested in the fact that 2 of the very local farms have a ridiculous amount of huge gate posts and whilst taking their photographer around to look at them, we spotted (in fact he spotted) a bit of a lump in one of the fields... They did their Geophys scanning over the field and began to get rather excited that their was indeed what looked like a passage grave footprint in the field....
They came back a few weeks ago and this is where their excavations have got this year. Pretty quickly it became obvious that this wasn't a Neolithic passage grave as they were hoping but is instead a Bronze age cerb cairn or ring cairn. I've kept quiet about it as in the middle was a capstone, which would have covered the original burial and they have been a little worried about anyone trying to open this prematurely...
They opened the burial chamber on Friday and excavated it over Friday and Saturday, there were quite a lot of cremated bone fragments and a few bits of pottery but nothing particularly exciting otherwise. Never the less this is still a fantastic piece of archaeology, a unrecorded bronze age tomb, just on top of the hill, a few fields above my house.

From Emyr's photos, it looks as if there might be more than one burial site, since there seem to be several clusters of stones with traces of walls here and there.   Hence the ring cairn idea.  Emyr mentions one cist covered by a capstone, with cremated bone fragments inside.  It will be interesting to see if other capstones and cists are still to be found.   The stones used appear all to be local rhyolites,  dolerites and  quartz lumps -- all gathered in the immediate vicinity.  There do not appear to be any standing stones, although there is one in the next field.

So the "something big" referred to by Kate Welham turns out to be rather small after all, as predicted on this blog a few weeks ago.  The site appears to have nothing to do with the Neolithic, or with bluestone orthostats, or with quarries, or with Stonehenge, or with Rhosyfelin.  This will not stop MPP waxing eloquent about the fantastic flowering of prehistoric culture in the Preseli area, which (in his mind, at least) explains why people would want to cart 80 bluestones all the way along the A40 road to Stonehenge, as ancestor stones or tribute stones during a process of political unification.  The story telling will go on and on..... but will the diggers please now go away and leave us in peace?

And have we now heard the last of "proto-Stonehenge"?  Let us pray that we have.....


In the comments after the Facebook entry, we find these remarks:

They reckon there could be another 3 or 4 in the surrounding fields also...
They're going to leave those for some serious Bronze age researchers, they're still looking for a neolithic site that's had it's stones robbed to take to Stonehenge... They may look at Bedd yr Afanc next year.

Oh dear, they don't give up easily, do they?!!


I just found this quote (about the proposed proto-Stonehenge) from MPP in an article in The Telegraph, in June, round about the time of his Hay Festival talk:

“Why dismantle an original monument? We’re wondering if it actually might have been a tomb with a surrounding stone circle which they dismantled. If that were the case they were basically carting the physical embodiment of their ancestors to re-establish somewhere else.  Their idea of packing their luggage was rather more deep and meaningful than our own. They are actually moving their heritage, and these stones represent the ancestors. They are actually bringing their ancestors with them."

So this makes it very clear that what MPP and his team were hoping to find at Pensarn was a Neolithic tomb with a surrounding stone circle.

I'll do another post on this proto-Stonehenge idea..... 


Dave Maynard said...

The photographs seem to show it as a very nice site, I'd like to see some proper photographs and plans, but it certainly seems to have a classic barrow form. Looks as if quite a lot of effort went into it (the excavation).


BRIAN JOHN said...

Agree -- looks quite interesting. Seems to be a "kerbed cairn" of some sort, with several segments. All will be revealed..... There are other Bronze Aga sites with kerbs -- see the Figgis book.

Myris of Alexandria said...

A veritable company but so old??

I learned to cook, in Manchester, on an Aga, took an age to fry anything. Lovely cooking in the winter (before central heating days).

Sadly in a modern-build bungalow there are no walls strong enough,friends once offered me theirs but it was huge, but I have always lusted for one of my own. A green one, NOT oil-fired.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Oops! Well spotted, Myris -- since we have a nice red cosy Aga in our house (costs a fortune to run) I am clearly biased in favour of that particular technology. Wouldn't be without it....

Myris of Alexandria said...

Ah now I know you have an Aga I shall convert to the glacial view of things. Quarries, fie on them
Oh, unless of course, MPP has one as well. What a quandary.
My wife once complained about the noisy behaviour of one of the Aga Khan's sisters and entourage (who were exceedingly apologetic and polite when tackled)in her own (A's sister)Kenyan hotels. The hotel staff did not want to know!!!

In those days I would pit my wife against any two small African countries.