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Community Archaeology

Bryn Celli Ddu landscape project update 2016

We have returned to the Bryn Celli Ddu landscape again this year, working in the field next door to the main monument looking for the remains of a Late Neolithic/early Bronze Age cairn which was originally excavated as part of the investigations made by W. J. Hemp in the late 1920s. At the same time R. S. Newall excavated the remains of of the cairn we are working on this year. We are here looking for the trenches made during this excavation, and to learn more about what lies beneath the soil.

Aerial photograph of Bryn Celli Ddu and our trench in the background

Aerial photograph of Bryn Celli Ddu and our trench in the background

The cairn measures around 25 meters diameter according to our measurements, and as we opened the trench the remains of a stoney layer were uncovered literally as we took away the turf, around 10cm under the surface. As the first layers were removed, we were surprised to find a beautiful worked flint.

The cairn we are excavating is south-west of another potential monument which was identified from aerial photographs in the early 21st century.  We have undertaken a resistivity survey of this monument.

Newall reports a quite complicated round cairn, with several different concentric stoney areas and earth-fast stones.  We have been exploring these in our excavations, and by using aerial photogrammetry, magnetometry and ground penetrating radar.

Magnetometry results from over the cairn (excluding the excavated area) - you can see we hit the centre bang on with the corner of our trench. North is to the right.

Magnetometry results from over the cairn (excluding the excavated area) – you can see we hit the centre bang on with the corner of our trench. North is to the right.

We are still looking for concrete dating evidence, which will tell us exactly when the cairn was built, but by comparing the shape and size with others of its type, we suspect that is was built some time after the main passage tomb at Bryn Celli Ddu, perhaps within the next 500 years or so.

Working shot of our volunteers

Working shot of our volunteers

This suggests that Bryn Celli Ddu was not built in isolation, and that communities revisited the area, adding their own mark to an already special place.

During the original excavations by the archaeologists in the 1920s a central cist was discovered, which could have contained a burial or ceremonial offerings, by excavating carefully we hope to find evidence of earlier working by Hemp and his team, at least.

Aerial photograph of our trench showing extent of the cairn

Aerial photograph of our trench showing extent of the cairn

As part of the project we have also been looking for new rock art outcrops along the ridge above Bryn Celli Ddu, and today we have been lucky enough to find another one with clusters of cupmarks, at least 25 without even cleaning the stone back, perhaps the outcrop will reveal even more.

New rock art cupmarks detail

New rock art cupmarks detail

As part of the project we are having an Open Day, with tours of our trench and various hands-on activities on the 18 of June between 11-4pm, and the public are invited to join us! Hope to see some of you there!

Ffion, Seren, Ben & Adam

About FfionR

I’m Ffion, archaeological researcher at Cardiff University and Heritage and Arts Manager for Cadw, the historic environment service for the Welsh Government. At Cadw, my role is to oversee projects that link heritage with the arts, inspire new ways of engaging people with our built environment and to link people with their local heritage and archaeology.

Discussion

4 thoughts on “Bryn Celli Ddu landscape project update 2016

  1. Nice to find some more cups!

    Posted by theunlikelyarchaeologist | June 16, 2016, 9:20 pm
  2. Thank you for the opportunity to volunteer and making me feel welcome.

    Posted by Kelvin Trevail | June 28, 2016, 11:03 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Materials as Media @ Bryn Celli Ddu | Day of Archaeology - July 30, 2016

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