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Notes on Newly Discovered Rock Art on and Around Neolithic Burial Chambers in Wales. George Nash, Carol Brook, Abby George, Debbie Hudson, Ellie McQueen, Christopher Parker, Adam Stanford, Ann Smith, John Swann and Laurie Waite.

Notes on Newly Discovered Rock Art on and Around Neolithic Burial Chambers in Wales. George Nash, Carol Brook, Abby George, Debbie Hudson, Ellie McQueen, Christopher Parker, Adam Stanford, Ann Smith, John Swann and Laurie Waite.

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Published by: Digital Digging on Jun 11, 2010
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11Notes On Newly Discovered Rock Art On And Around Neolithic Burial Chambers In Wales
George Nash
, Carol Brook 
, Abby George
, Debbie Hudson
, Ellie McQueen
,Christopher Parker
, Adam Stanford 
, Ann Smith
, John Swann
and Laurie Waite
It is clear that there is a link between what is termed rock-art and the construction and use of Neolithic megalithicchambered tombs in Wales. Rock-art, which we term asa conscious decision to mark a surface using a varietyof geometric symbols, as well as carving or paintingabstract and representative figures and arranging themin a certain way, appears in a variety of locations(Beckensall 1999; Nash and Chippindale 2002; Mazel,Nash and Waddington
). Recent research inWales by Darvill and Wainwright (2003) and Sharkey(2004) suggests that up to 45 sites possess rock-arteither within or outside the monument, or more usuallyon the top of capstones or on the side of standing stones(monoliths). It is not clear if the art and the erection of the monument are contemporary. However, in the case of cupmarks appearing on the capstones of Neolithic burialmonuments, it is more than likely that the art is laterthan the construction and Neolithic use. This sequence,recognised long ago by Daniel (1950, 115), appears tosuggest that cupmarks are primarily a Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age phenomenon. However, the dating of these enigmatic designs remains nearly impossible, justas the recognition of their artificiality remains a problemin many instances.The carving of such markings may follow the disuseof the monument as a place of burial, suggesting thatthese monuments constitute an important place for post-Neolithic communities when cremation is the preferredmethod of mortuary practice. It is probable that withinthese monuments cremation rites and rock-art areindelibly linked. The presence of cupmarks and now, thefirst cup-and-ring carving, on megaliths in Wales alsosuggests that the capstones on many monuments wereexposed rather than covered by earth or cairn.In November 2005 and spring 2006, a Universityof Bristol team visited a number of sites in north andsouth Wales. This article presents the results of theirexamination of six sites, Barclodiad y Gawres, Bryn CelliDdu and Llanfechell in Anglesey, Cae Dyni in Lleyn andGarn wen and Garn Turne in Pembrokeshire.
Barclodiad y Gawres, Anglesey (SH 32907072)
The cruciform passage grave of Barclodiad y Gawres islocated on an exposed peninsula on the western side of the island and was excavated between 1952 and 1953by Terence Powell and Glyn Daniel. It is one of threedecorated passage graves in England and Wales that dateto the later Neolithic. The megalithic art from this site isregarded as an outstanding example (Lynch 1967).The site, comprising a circular mound with passageand chamber has five stones that have been pecked withgeometric art. The art consists of concentric circles,chevrons, cupmarks, lozenges, serpentine motifs andspirals which are carved on strategically placed uprightsin the inner passage and chamber areas. Art on one stone(7), forming the northern upright of the eastern chamberwas not recorded during the 1952-3 excavation, nor in1967, but was first recognised in 2001.In February and March 2006 a team from theUniversity of Bristol recorded the stone using a varietyof techniques including digital photography and tracingon acetate. The results from this fieldwork not onlyconfirmed the discovery of 2001 but also revealed thattwo of the stone uprights, located between the south andwestern chambers had been damaged through vandalism.The discovery and the vandalism were duly reported toCadw on March 9th 2006.The pecked lines, although not as clearly defined asthose on other stones, can be identified as a series of geometric patterns (Fig 1). The fine pecking techniquehas made them very difficult to see. This stone, referredto in Powell and Daniel’s excavation volume as Stone7 (Stone C2 in Shee-Twohig’s numbering (1981)) formsthe northern wall and is at present hidden away from anynatural light source. Originally, of course, any naturallight within the chamber would have been extremelylimited. Excavation revealed a hearth within the centralchamber area and this would have provided the necessarylight source in order that the decorated stones could be‘read’.
Gifford Ltd, Chester
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology,University of Bristol.
Archaeology Safaris Ltd, Tewkesbury, Glos
Fig 1 Barclodiad y Gawres : Tracing of decoration onStone 7.
12Archaeology in Wales 45 2005The decoration on the stone comprises a series of vertical and horizontally pecked lines that form a chevron(Fig 1). These lines on the inward face converge towardsthe centre of the stone and merge into a lightly peckeddisc section
40mm in diameter. The pecked chevronextends to the western edge of the stone, onto the sideface. Centrally placed on the side face is the lower sectionof a single lozenge measuring
220mm × 190mm. Apartfrom the chevron design there appears to be anotherphase of carving on the northern face of the stone. Thehorizontal lines that form the chevron appear to have beeneither extended or the chevron has been carved over anearlier design comprising a series of four horizontal lines.The designs appear to result from two phases of artisticendeavour possibly executed by an individual artist orgroup of artists returning to the site. Several motifs onthis stone have similar design traits to other decoratedstones within the inner passage and chamber area andalso with several stones that once formed a passage gravenear Calderstones Park in Liverpool.Following a detailed study of the monument it wasconcluded that the original excavation team had missedother stones with rock-art, such as Stones 20 and 21 withinthe western chamber each possessing several cupmarks.A single cupmark was also recorded on the north-easterncorner of the capstone that covers the southern chamber.
Cupmarks on rock-outcropping at BrynCelli Ddu, Anglesey (SH 508 702)
The Bryn Celli Ddu monument, excavated by Hempbetween 1925 and 1929 comprises a passage and a sub-circular chamber set within a circular ditch. Decoratedstones were recognised at the site during the excavation.In the southern part of the chamber at Bryn Celli Ddu,on one of the uprights, is a small spiral. Also foundduring excavation and covering a central pit was a highlydecorated stone known as the Pattern Stone.Located some 140m west of Bryn Celli Ddu is a standingstone (SH 50632 70103). Both monuments stand withinan undulating landscape that slopes to the north-west.Approximately 120m to the north of Bryn Celli Ddu and120m north-east of the standing stone is a substantialexposed rock outcrop of [Palaeozoic] laminated shales(SH 50623 70240). Other smaller rock outcrops exist tothe north and east. Following recent fieldwork by a teamfrom the University of Bristol up to 28 cupmarks werediscovered on top of the rock outcrop (Fig 3). The burialmonument, the standing stones and the rock outcrop areintervisible.The cupmarks appear to be clustered into groups(Figs 4 and 5). One set, comprising four cupmarks hasbeen arranged in a crescent. Similar arrangements have
Fig2 Barclodiad y Gawres: photo of ston
: The editor has examined the stone which isextremely faintly marked. Some of the horizontal lines canbe followed through the damaged surface at the top left and are probably partly due to variation in the crystalline formation of the rock. However, on a second visit, thevertical lines could also be recognised and the style of art is reassuringly consistent with the other stones.Fig 3 Bryn Celli Ddu: view of Standing Stone and out-crop near the Passage Grave.Fig 4 Cupmarks on western section of outcrop at BrynCelli Ddu.
13Notes On Newly Discovered Rock Art On And Around Neolithic Burial Chambers In Walesbeen recorded recently on the uprights at Cae Dyni nearCriccieth (CRN 14) (see below) and Cashtal yn Ard(MAN 1) on the Isle of Man. Cupmarks on rock outcropslying close to Neolithic burial monuments are found atCist Cerrig (CARN 10) and Cromlech Farm (ANG 15)(see below). It is probable that the cupmarks, the standingstones and the use of the Bryn Celli Ddu monument arecontemporary.
Cupmarks on and around Cromlech Farm, Llanfechell, Anglesey (SH 360 920)
Rock art at this site was discovered during a surveyundertaken during two seasons of fieldwork between 2005and 2006. Of particular interest was the area between thenow collapsed burial monument (ANG 15, Powell
et al 
 1969, 305) and a closed group of three standing stones,known as Meini Hirion, located at SH 363 916.Cromlech Farm, the most northerly of all the Angleseymonuments has one cupmark on a large stone on itseastern side (Fig 6). A further four cupmarks and partof a possible carved ring are found on stones withinthe southern part of the monument. Daniel regards thismonument as ‘nothing more than a large number of stones’ (1950, 188). However, a sketch by the ReverendSkinner in 1802 (reproduced in Daniel 1950 pl. iii) showsa near-intact rectangular chamber possibly belonging tothe Portal Dolmen series (Lynch 1970, 43). It is possiblethat the cupmarked stone is the capstone.There is a distinct cupmark on a north-facing slope of an exposed rock outcrop some 350m south at SH 362918, between the burial monument and the Meini Hirionstones (Fig 7). It is possible that further cupmarks existbeneath the turf. Approximately 15m south-west of thisexposed outcrop is a larger exposure and carved ontothis are a further five cupmarks and two possible lineargrooves, similar to those found elsewhere in northernBritain (Beckensall 1999).
Cae-Dyni chambered monument, nearCriccieth, Gwynedd (SH 511 382)
This site, located within the coastal zone, east of the townof Criccieth has in the past been considered a cist dated to
Fig 5 Cupmarks on central section of outcrop at BrynCelli Ddu.Fig 6 Llanfechell: cupmark on eastern stone of collapsed group.Fig 7 Llanfechell: cupmark on rock between CromlechFarm and Meini Hirion.

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