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Public Archaeology

The Mound in the Dark Grove: Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey 2016

We will be entering in to our third year at Bryn Celli Ddu in 2017. Here’s a summary of the 2016 project, published in Current Archaeology in September:

Ongoing archaeological work in the landscape surrounding Anglesey’s Bryn Celli Ddu (‘the Mound in the Dark Grove’) has revealed what is thought to be a late Neolithic/early Bronze Age cairn lying some 30m south-west of the main Neolithic passage tomb.

Aerial view of Bryn Celli Ddu and the Bronze age cairn trench 2016

Aerial view of Bryn Celli Ddu and the Bronze age cairn trench 2016

As part of the public landscape archaeology project – run by staff from Cadw (the Welsh Government’s historic environment service), the University of Central Lancashire, and Manchester Metropolitan University, and working with members of the public and schools – a team opened a 10m × 10m trench over the north-east quarter of a circular cairn.

The monument had been disturbed in the 1800s, and partially excavated in the late 1920s by R S Newall. Newall’s brief excavation report describes a complex of kerbs, stone cairn deposits, and a cist, but as no diagnostic material was recovered, the chronology is very poorly understood.

Aerial shot of the 2016 excavation trench, showing the circular shape of the cairn

Aerial shot of the 2016 excavation trench, showing the circular shape of the cairn

Aiming to record the cairn in plan, to recover samples for radiocarbon dating, and to re-excavate previous interventions in order to determine the construction sequence, the recent two-week excavation revealed a circular stone cairn with two concentric stone kerbs. Large stones of conglomerate, blueschist, and quartzite had been used for the kerbing and cairn.

Among the finds were pieces of worked flint, charred plant remains, and occasional fragments of burnt bone.The cairn is located to the south-west of another potential monument, identified from aerial photographs in the early 21st century. An electrical resistance tomography survey of this monument shows that further discoveries may await.

Flint blade

A flint blade found during the 2016 season

The proximity of these monuments to Bryn Celli Ddu emphasises the complexity of this landscape, about which we still know very little. The team has also undertaken a systematic landscape survey, which had previously identified rock art on outcrops around the passage tomb. During the 2016 season, another four panels of rock art were found in the vicinity, adding to our knowledge of activity in the environs of Bryn Celli Ddu.

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Ffion, Seren, Ben & Adam

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.

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