Bryn Celli Ddu Project 2015-2020

We’ll be returning to the Bryn Celli Ddu landscape on Anglesey, for the fifth season of our public archaeology project between in 2019. Our excavation dates will be between the 8 of June and the 7 of July 2019.

The project will continue to focus on the landscape surrounding one of Wales’ famous Neolithic passage tombs – Bryn Celli Ddu, exploring hidden features that have been previously overlooked.

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Until recently, not much archaeological attention has been paid to Bryn Celli Ddu’s wider surroundings. This is something that our excavation hopes to rectify – a collaboration between Cadw (the Welsh government’s historic environment service), Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire.

During the project, we have spent time re-examining the known rock art, which saw the decorated outcrop next to Bryn Celli Ddu excavated for the first time. Our excavation suggested that the outcrop could be as much as three times larger than previously thought, so the known cupmarks may represent just the tip of the iceberg – though as the site is so disturbed by later quarrying, we can only speculate as to whether the ancient artwork might have originally been more extensive.

But that was only the start of the story. On rising ground within sight of Bryn Celli Ddu, and with views of prominent landmarks such as the Snowdonia mountain range, we discovered four new unrecorded rock art outcrops.

The cups themselves numbered in their dozens – the largest concentration,  on ‘Outcrop 1’, was made up of at least 40 – and while at first glance the marks appeared to be scattered randomly, on closer inspection we could see clusters forming ‘rosette’ patterns, while others seemed to follow the lines of natural fissures in the rock. Still more formed ‘dumbbell’ motifs, where two cups are linked by a shallow groove.

Last year we returned to explore further along the ridge, and to date we have discovered 8 new rock art panels further adding to the complex landscape that is now coming into focus around Anglesey’s celebrated tomb. We also excavated a possible Late Neolithic / Bronze Age cairn lying some 30m south-west of the main Neolithic passage tomb. We will be continuing our excavation here as part of the 2019 project, and you can find out more about the 2018 finds here.

An Archaeology Open Day will take place on the 22 of June 2019 at Bryn Celli Ddu itself, with workshops, art installations, and tours of the Bryn Celli Ddu monument and the excavation. There will also be a stargazing event, taking place on the evening of the 21 of June.

The Bryn Celli Ddu Public Archaeology Project is a partnership between Cadw, Manchester Metropolitan University, directed by Dr. Ffion Reynolds, Dr. Seren Griffiths, Dr. Ben Edwards and Adam Stanford.

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