1 The Monument 2 Original use
2.1 Alternative theory 2.2 Construction technique
3 Archaeology 4 See also 5 Notes 6 External links
As it now stands, the
A possible reconstruction under the traditional theory as to its use
The dolmen dates from approximately 3,500 B.C. and has traditionally been identified as a communal burial. Under this theory the existing stones formed the portal and main chamber of the tomb, which would originally have been covered by a large mound of stones about 30 m (98 ft) long and 17 m wide. Some of the kerbstones, marking the edge of the mound have been identified during excavations. The stone chamber was at the southern end of the long mound, which stretched off to the north. Very little of the material that formed the mound remains. Some of the stones have been scattered, but at least seven are in their original position. An elaborate entrance facade surrounding the portal, which may have been a later addition, was built with carefully constructed dry stone walling. Individual burials are thought to have been made within the stone chamber, which would be re-used many times. No trace of bones were found in the tomb, raising the possibility that they were subsequently transferred elsewhere.
Alternative theory A major study by Cummings and Richards in 2014 has produced a different explanation for the monument. They identify several distinctive attributes shared by the class of monument known as dolmens, all of which are particularly well exemplified at Pentre Ifan.
Pentre Ifan, photographed in around 1885.
Firstly such monuments typically have a large capstone derived from a glacial erratic - far bigger than is required or sensible if the aim was to roof a chamber. Furthermore, the capstone has a flat underside. Sometimes, as here, this has been arrived at by splitting the rock, other times, as at Garn Turne, some 12 km to the south-west, it has been laboriously 'pecked' off using stone tools. The capstone is supported on the tapering tips of slender uprights. As at Pentre Ifan, there are often other stones within the group, but they play no part in holding up the capstone, and the resulting effect of the enormous stone appearing to float above the other stones would seem to be deliberate and desired. If these are the key elements of the monument then, it is argued, the stones were never designed to be buried within a mound, and they never formed a chamber to contain bones. What we see today is the monument as it was intended to be seen. It might therefore represent a more elaborate version of a standing stone. Its purpose could be simply to demonstrate the status and skill of the builders, or to add significance and gravitas to an already significant place. Construction technique The sheer size of the huge capstone that is supported by the larger dolmens makes it overwhelmingly likely that the stone was not brought in from elsewhere, but already stood as an independent glacial erratic on the same spot it now occupies. Evidence from the 1948 excavation is compatible with the idea of a large pit being dug at Pentre Ifan, to expose and work on the stone, perhaps splitting it to create a flat underside, It could then be levered vertically upwards a little at a time, using poles, ropes, and large numbers of people, and packed into place using a growing heap of boulders. Once at the required height, the supporting uprights could be introduced, and the boulders removed to leave only the uprights, and such other surrounding stones as were wanted. Archaeology
View of Portal
List of Scheduled prehistoric Monuments in north Pembrokeshire
^ a b British Archaeology Magazine: News, Issue 108, Sep/Oct 2009
^ DAT PRN: 1471 Dyfed Archaeological Trust - Archwilio Database
^ a b c d coflein NPRN: 101450 RCAHMW: Coflein database
^ a b www.megalithic.co.uk
^ a b stonepages.com Accessed 7 June 2014
^ Cummings, Vicki; Richards, Colin (2014). "The essence of the dolmen:
the Architecture of megalithic construction". Préhistoires
Méditerranéennes (En ligne). Colloque – 2014 Functions, uses and
representations of space in the monumental graves of Neolithic Europe.
Association pour la promotion de la préhistoire et de l'anthropologie
méditerranéennes (published 29 October 2014). ISSN 1167-492X.
Retrieved 22 May 2015. (text is in English)
^ a b Cummings & Richards 2014, para 13.
^ Cummings & Richards 2014, para 15.
^ Cummings & Richards 2014, para 26.
^ Cummings & Richards 2014, para 20.
^ www.bluestonewales.com, accessed 7 June 2014
^ a b c www.rock-art-in-wales.co.uk, accessed 7 June 2014
^ a b Hunter, Robert (1907). " Appendix A". The Preservation of
Places of Interest or Beauty. Manchester University Press.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pentre Ifan.
www.geograph.co.uk : photos of
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