Barclodiad y Gawres – burial chamber

History

   Barclodiad y Gawres is the largest Neolithic burial chamber in Wales dating from around 3,000-2500 BC. It served as a common tomb and a place of religious gatherings of the local early agricultural community, for several generations. The end of its functioning came with the advent of the Bronze Age. During the archaeological research, inside, two male crematory burials were discovered, and in the central chamber, traces of the fire and the remains of food. The significance of the ceremonies is unknown. The tomb was discovered and examined in the 1950s, when its earth dome was reconstructed. The name of the tomb Barclodiad y Gawres means “The apron of the giant” and derives from the local tradition.

Architecture

   Barclodiad y Gawres is an example of a cruciform passage grave with a single central passage leading from the north side to a irregular, central chamber with a stone ceiling set on corbels. Three more branches go out from the central chamber into smaller chambers, producing a cruciform plan. The west chamber had a smaller annex within which the cremated remains of two men were found. The rooms and corridors are supported on dozens of stones, and the whole is covered with an earth mound with a diameter of 27 meters. Three stones in the corridor and  the end stones of the east and west chamber are covered with engraved drawings in the form of zigzags, spirals and diamonds. The building was erected without the use of metal tools.

Current state

   Thanks to reconstruction works carried out in the 20th century, Barclodiad y Gawres is now an excellent example of a neolithic passage tomb, but unfortunately the vault of the chamber was reinforced with a cement ceiling. The tomb is under the protection of the Welsh heritage organization Cadw, which makes it available to visitors, also inside, from April to October on weekends and holidays.

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bibliography:
Castleden R., Neolithic Britain: New Stone Age sites of England, Scotland and Wales, London 1992.

Website coflein.gov.uk, Barclodiad y Gawres burial chamber.
Website stone-circles.org.uk, Barclodiad y Gawres.