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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Yet another proto-proto Stonehenge -- well, sort of........

 Trellyffaint collapsed cromlech.  Image: Paul Call

Oh dear --here we go again.  Yet another university press release which cannot resist talking up the latest piece of archaeological research in Pembs.  This time the object of attention is the collapsed cromlech of Trellyffaint, not far from Newport, which has been examined by George Nash and his colleagues, who are rather keen on cup marks and other markings on monoliths.  In their investigations they have found traces of "circular anomalies" and other sub-surface features -- and on the basis of this rather flimsy evidence they immediately start talking about "....a complex ritualised landscape that includes the precursor to a Stonehenge-type earthwork monument."  Hang on a bit, chaps, that's a bit rich, if I may say so...........   does everything circular have to be connected in some way to Stonehenge?  Isn't it just as likely to be structurally related to a circle of magic mushrooms?

Even if there are "buried anomalies" including alignments and circular patterns,  it seems to me entirely reasonable to assume that those might be related to other Neolithic / Bronze Age enclosures, walls and causeways (such as those at Rhos y Clegyr, Clegyr Boia or even Carningli) rather than making a gigantic leap of faith and assuming some sort of link with Stonehenge.

Anyway, let's see what transpires.  Apparently there will be a good number of people digging at Trellyffaint in late April.


Complex prehistoric patterns discovered around site of ancient Welsh burial chamber

Press release issued: 24 February 2017

A team of archaeologists, led by a researcher from the University of Bristol, has uncovered the remains of a possible Stonehenge-type prehistoric earthwork monument in a field in Pembrokeshire.

Members of the Welsh Rock art Organisation have been investigating the area around the Neolithic burial chamber known as Trellyffaint – one of a handful of sites in western Britain that has examples of prehistoric rock art.

The site of Trellyffaint dates back at least 6,000 years and has been designated a Scheduled Monument. It is in the care of Welsh heritage agency Cadw.

The site comprises two stone chambers – one of which is relatively intact. Each chamber is set within the remains of an earthen cairn or mound which, due to ploughing regimes over the centuries, have been slowly uncovered.

On the capstone that covers the south-eastern chamber are at least 50 engraved cupmarks (one of the most common forms of later prehistoric engraving in Western Europe), the meaning of which has been long forgotten but probably represented some sort of pictorial message.

Before now, it is thought that the site has never been fully investigated.

Dr George Nash, lead project director from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol and his team, which includes former Bristol students, have conducted a series of non-intrusive surveys in and around the monument.

The fieldwork element of the project started in December 2016 following the acceptance of a project design by Cadw.

This phase included a magnetometry study which covered 80 square metres around the monument and a detailed earthwork survey of the monument itself.

The geophysical survey uncovered a number of anomalies which are considered to be more than likely buried prehistoric features.

Dr Nash said: "To the south and southwest of the stone chamber and appearing to run underneath the southern section of the Trellyffaint mound are two clear circular anomalies.

"It is regarded that this feature may possibly be a henge (otherwise referred to as a hengiform) measuring around 12 metres in diameter.

"It is not clear if this feature possesses an accompanying ditch, however, a circular anomaly extends around this feature, again we are unclear of the relationship (if any) with the smaller circle – only excavation will tell."

Further subsurface features of a probable later prehistoric date occur to the north-east, north and west of the Trellyffaint monument.

Although the precise depth of these features is, for the moment unknown, the team were interested to note that 2-3000-years’ worth of accumulated soil has not created any visible earthworks. This phenomenon though is not uncommon in coastal areas where soil deposition and accumulation can be rapid.

Dr Nash added: "This site, one of only nine Neolithic burial-ritual monuments in Wales with prehistoric rock art - or what I would term aptly 'a visual communication system'."

So far, the results of the geophysical survey have yielded a set of subsurface anomalies that reveal a complex ritualised landscape that includes the precursor to a Stonehenge-type earthwork monument and is similar to the six or more features that were found using similar geo-prospection methods at the nearby Neolithic site, Trefael, in 2012.

Dr Nash said: "The next stage of the project is to apply for Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) which will include targeted excavation over recognised anomalies identified from the magnetometry survey.

"Before we do this, we will be widening the geophysics area and apply resistivity as well further magnetometry over a wider area."

This fieldwork will take place between April 21 and 23. For details on how to get involved, visit the Welsh Rock Art Organisation’s Facebook page.


TonyH said...


RECOMMENDED:- for those who like stories about rites of passage (not passage graves)

We "go round

And round and round

In the circle game"

It's her official website

chris johnson said...

Should be a worthwhile investigation when done properly - not like Nevern Castle, or some quarry hunts, or the sacred springs.

Sadly Prof W has passed over and so I got to watch a paen for the healing waters - what an embroidery of thin threads.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Chris -- do you have news of Prof GW? I knew that he was very seriously ill, and that the prognosis was not good -- but have heard no further news over the past week or two......

PeteG said...

he died a few days ago.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thank you Pete. That's very sad. I will do a post when I have some more info.......