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Community Archaeology

First week at the Bryn Celli Ddu rock art outcrop excavation

The first week at the outcrop consisted of clearing and making visible the rock art on the great stone outcrop next to the Bryn Celli Ddu passage tomb. The outcrop is located north-west of the main passsage tomb, about 140 meters away.

It has been previously suggested that about 28 cup marks are located here, so we set about trying to uncover them all and record them. We made a laser scan of the outcrop, with the results to follow. It was actually quite difficult to see them all with the naked eye, so the laser scan will help identify them for certain, measure them and see if any patterns of depth and shape exist.

First Week at the Outcrop (thanks to Rhys Mwyn for images)

First Week at the Outcrop (thanks to Rhys Mwyn for images)

We also opened a trench below the outcrop in order to see whether we could find any evidence for more cupmarks or any working platforms below it, looking for any Neolithic activity that may relate to the working of the outcrop by the people living in this landscape around 5,000 years ago.

Trench One - Below the Outcrop

Trench One – Below the Outcrop

In this trench, the evidence suggests that we are looking at activity dating to much more recent times, especially as we discovered some modern drill holes, probably dating to the post-medieval period. This tells us that people were quarrying here for over 5,000 years. This rock outcrop looks as though it has been heavily disturbed in recent times, perhaps by quarrymen excavating this huge stoney resource in order to build the many stone walls that surround us.

A second trench was opened in the following days, around a ‘circular’ deposit north of the stone outcrop that our geophysical survey had picked up and so we set about deturfing and excavating this area.

Trench Two to the north of the stone outcrop

Trench Two to the north of the stone outcrop

Our excellent team of volunteers, all of them local to Anglesey or north Wales, including Beaver, Jeff, Jim and Rhys Mwyn helped with the hard work of deturfing and revealing a layer of stoney material, with a dark soil depression to the north-east of the trench. It became apparent during the next few days, that this too was the doing of post-medieval quarrying, especially as we were finding large quantities of local Buckley ware and also a beautifully decorated bowl of a clay pipe!

The east of this trench, however, revealed much earlier finds, with burnt rocks, a burnt piece of flint and a couple of worked flint pieces coming to the surface. It might be that this area had also been subject to much earlier quarrying, perhaps by the Neolithic builders of the tomb? More work needs to be done to find out exactly what these finds mean….

Worked Flint from Trench Two

Worked Flint from Trench Two

Ffion, Seren & Ben


About FfionR

I’m Ffion, Honorary Research Fellow 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.


One thought on “First week at the Bryn Celli Ddu rock art outcrop excavation

  1. Keep us informed Ffion. I’ll be leading a three day walk from Bryncelli Ddu to Holyhead mountain, exploring the prehistoric and Romano Celtic sites en route. Be great to know more and visit the outcrop at the beginning of our walk on 26th June. Ax

    Posted by angharadwynne | June 15, 2015, 9:26 pm

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