11Notes On Newly Discovered Rock Art On And Around Neolithic Burial Chambers In Wales
NOTES ON NEWLY DISCOVERED ROCK ART ON AND AROUNDNEOLITHIC BURIAL CHAMBERS IN WALES
, Carol Brook
, Abby George
, Debbie Hudson
, Ellie McQueen
, 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.
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Fig 1 Barclodiad y Gawres : Tracing of decoration onStone 7.