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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Banc Llwydlos cromlech (1)

I wonder how many undiscovered cromlechs there are in Pembrokeshire?  Not many, I suppose.  Anyway, I found one of them today, while hunting for Neolithic passage graves on Brynberian Moor.  I have checked, and can find no record of it on Coflein, Archwilio or any of the other sites.  If somebody knows about it already, please get in touch, so that we can share info.......

I imagine that at the height of summer, the nettles and rushes will be much higher, making this capstone quite difficult to spot from a distance.

It's rather a nice little cromlech, located on a slight morainic ridge of dolerite boulders, some of which are up to 5m long, and deeply embedded in the ground.  Grid reference SN 088332.    I didn't have time to survey it accurately, but it is an "earthfast dolmen" with a flattish capstone about 2.5m long, with one end embedded in the ground and the other propped up in rather a complex fashion,  resting partly on a dish-shaped slab of dolerite about 1.5m long and partly on a smaller stone with dimensions 30 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm.  I think that is too complex an arrangement to have occurred by chance in a glacial environment -- so my conclusion is that the big slab has been used where found, with one end levered up (probably with the aid of long logs) and then supported by these two stones.   There are actually other smaller stones supporting the larger of the two supports.  

The capstone is about 60 cms thick at the earthfast end, and about 30 cms thick at its propped end.  The "entrance" or propped end of the chamber points roughly northwards. 

It is possible that in the past human beings could have crawled beneath the capstone into a chamber which is currently demarcated by an almost circular ridge or embankment.  This latter feature cannot be natural either -- it is perfectly obvious when you scramble around on it. 

The embankment is about a metre high, with many large stones projecting through the turf.  Again, big erratics have been used where found, with smaller stones packed between them.  The hollow adjacent to the capstone is very clear too.  The diameter of the whole embanked structure is about 6m. 

Was there a mound with a chamber beneath it?  It's possible.  My impression is that this is a very primitive feature (Early Neolithic?) built opportunistically in a place where all the stones needed were available on the spot.  All of the stones are dolerite, except for a small slab of mudstone which is found in the "entrance" to the tomb -- could it have been a portal or movable doorway?

The only other record that we have for Banc Llwydlos is this one, from Dyfed Archaeological Trust, relating to a cluster of huts not far away.  Are the features all related?

I'll do another post on the assumed "passage grave" (about 50m away) which I also had the opportunity to examine today.........


March 2010
By F. Murphy, M. Page, R. Ramsey and H. Wilson




FORM Earthwork complex

SUMMARY A settlement complex including at least seven hut circles surrounding a square enclosure and yard, situated on the northeast facing slope of Banc Llwydlos.

LONG DESCRIPTION A settlement complex including at least seven hut circles surrounding a square enclosure and yard, situated on the northeast facing slope of Banc Llwydlos at 270m above sea level. Indentified from aerial photography in 1990, 2009 saw the first site visit and this recorded a settlement complex of possible prehistoric date. The complex includes seven hut circles that are spread around a small square shaped enclosure. The square enclosure measures approximately 6.0m E-W by 5.0m and has an entrance on the north. The
entrance leads out to a small 'yard' area that has an opening on the east into a larger rectangular 'yard' area measuring 18m E-W by c.6.0m. These yards appear to have been constructed on a platform to create a level area on the sloping ground, and much of the settlement has the appearance of being somewhat terraced into the hill slope. The hut circles vary from 5.5m to 3.5m in diameter. All the features are defined by low, spread, stony earthen banks that have an average height of 0.3m and an average width of 1.3m. All the banks are grass covered and many have large stones protruding through the turf. 350m to the east is another hut circle group PRN 1565 that has been scheduled. FM & RR June 2009
A stone banked series of features including one or more possible huts with linking walls. Noted by CRM during air survey. TAJ 21:2:1990.


chris johnson said...

Great find! Exciting days in Prescelli.

BRIAN JOHN said...

As I have explained in my other posts, the site has been discovered before -- in 2011, by Murphy and Wilson, working for Dyfed Archaeology. But their report is somewhat obscure -- didn't come up on a Google search. I found it after some rather determined detective work!

See my two other posts from yesterday. I am increasingly convinced that this is indeed a grave site -- related maybe to the small simple graves in the Isles of Scilly.