BRYN CELLI DDU is a prehistoric site on the Welsh island of Anglesey
Llanddaniel Fab . Its name means 'the mound in the dark
grove'. It was archaeologically excavated between 1928 and 1929.
Visitors can get inside the mound through a stone passage to the
burial chamber, and it is the centrepiece of a major Neolithic
Scheduled Monument in the care of
* 1 The Monument
* 2 Original uses
* 3 Archaeology * 4 Media * 5 Gallery * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 External links
Bryn Celli Ddu
Several unusual stones are at the site. Free-standing inside the
burial chamber is a smooth stone pillar, some 2 m (6.6 ft) high, with
a very rounded shape. Shaped stones of this sort are very rare.
Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott recently suggested that it could be the
petrified remains of a tree trunk, but Soskin later reported that the
pillar has been identified as the metamorphic rock blueschist , not a
Bryn Celli Ddu
Beyond the back wall of the chamber, in a location that would once have been within the mound, is a replica of the 'Pattern Stone'. This was found buried under the mound, and has been put standing up in what is thought to have been its original location at a time when the site was a henge rather than a tomb. The patterns take the form of sinuous serpentine shapes that wind around both sides of the stone. Inside the tomb another stone has a small spiral pattern chipped into it, although its authenticity has been questioned. Bryn Celli Ddu kerbstones and henge ditch
Outside the tomb, a ring of kerbstones shows the original extent of the mound, and they also follow the line of the ditch of the earlier henge monument. Three of the stones, visible within the cairn mound, are thought to be from the stone circle of that time.
The passage is roughly aligned with the Summer
The monument is part of a cluster of Neolithic and Bronze Age features. Two further cairns have been identified just to the south of Bryn Celli Ddu, while in the field immediately to the west is a standing stone , and a rock outcrop with cupmarks carved into it.
The earliest identified remains at the site are a row of five postholes previously thought to have been contemporary with the tomb. Radiocarbon dating of pine charcoal from two of the pits, carried out in 2006, showed these to date from around 4000 BC, putting them at the end of the Mesolithic , 1,000 years before the next phase of use. Their purpose, however, is unknown.
In around 3000 BC a henge monument was constructed. An outer circular bank and ditch would have defined the boundary, although only the ditch survives, some 21 m (69 ft) across. Within this a stone circle would have provided the focus for a site of ritual significance. A ring of 17 stones formed an oval, many being in matched pairs either side of the centre. Cremated human remains were buried at the base of some of them, suggesting a central 'altar' During this period a pit was dug within the henge; a single human ear-bone was buried, and covered with a flat slab. A second stone known as 'The Pattern Stone' lay nearby, with the serpentine patterning on it. It is thought this would have stood upright within the henge, as the patterns cover both sides.
Some 1000 years after the henge was built, the site was radically altered. All but one of the standing stones were intentionally damaged, some were knocked over and six were smashed with heavy stones. In its place a passage grave was built. Much larger than the mound now remaining, it would have had a complete circle of kerbstones following the line of the old henge ditch, creating an impressive retaining wall around the mound, 26 m (85 ft) across. The burial chamber would have been entirely enclosed within the mound, rather than the back wall being open to the air, as in the reconstructed mound now seen. Individual human bones, both burnt and unburnt, were found within the chamber and passage, suggesting a variety of funeral practices, but in all cases re-using the tomb, and clearing aside the old remains.
At the end of its period of use the tomb was 'closed' by means of a large stone set across the entrance, between the two portal stones.
The earliest archaeological descriptions date to around 1800. In 1796
it was included on a list of
Anglesey cromlechs in the Cambrian
Register . In 1802 Rev John Skinner made a "Ten Days' Tour Through the
Isle of Anglesea", an account of which he wrote up, but never
published, describing the numerous archaeological sites he visited. It
was finally published as a supplement to
Having suffered depredation of the more movable stones of the site,
the monument was excavated by W J Hemp in 1928-29. He revealed much of
the sequence of use on the site, and found the 'Pattern Stone'. It
has since been moved to the National Museum of
Norman Lockyer , who in 1906 published the first systematic study of
megalithic astronomy, had argued that
Bryn Celli Ddu
The serpentine pattern and the passage tomb featured strongly in the short animated film, 'Songs from Stones', about some of Anglesey's evocative archaeological sites and artifacts, produced as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012.
South-west side. A replica of the decorated stone stands outside the south-west opening in the burial chamber. *
Entrance, portal stones and kerbstones on east side *
Internal view of the passage *
Passageway to interior *
Pillar stone *
Original stone with serpentine design, found within the chamber, now in the National Museum of Wales.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to BRYN CELLI DDU .
* ^ A B coflein NPRN: 93827, RCAHMW, accessed 12 June 2014
* ^ A B GAT PRN: 2694 Gwynedd