The tomb in Parc le Breos was built in the younger Neolithic period, around 3800 – 3500 BC (bones found in the tomb were dated for this period) and it was used for several hundred years. It was connected with the change of lifestyle in north-western Europe and the transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer to a settled farmer. It probably influenced the development of a sense of territoriality and inheritance rights, and thus the desire to pay tribute to ancestors. A visible manifestation of this aspiration could be monumental tombs, also used to carry out religious ceremonies in their vicinity. The decline in the use of megalithic tombs took place around 2500 BC, when other methods of burial began to gain importance. The tomb was discovered in 1869 by workers working on road construction.
The tomb was erected in a shape similar to a wedge, about 22 meters long, 12 meters wide on the south side and 6 meters wide on the north side. The entrance to the burial chamber was on the south side, between the two bulges separating the kind of a small yard. This square was probably the place of the ceremonies, as fragments of burnt bones, pottery and arrowheads were found there.
The outer walls of the tomb up to a height of about 60 cm were revetted with stones of similar size, laid without mortar. Along this wall at a distance of about 75 cm deep in the tomb was another wall intended to protect the structure from the pressure of the cairn. The gap between both walls was filled with limestones, arranged more or less horizontally. A similar debris, mixed with earth, filled the inside of the tomb, probably heaping it to a height of about 1.5-2 meters.
Inside the tomb (cairn), the central passage, 6 meters long and 1 meter wide, led northwards, with two chambers to its east and west sides. The passage and chambers were lined with stone slabs, only the stones serving as the ceiling were not found. The height of the corridor was probably between 1 and 1.5 meters. In the lateral chambers, human remains of over forty men, women and children were stored. Some of them were cremated, while some of them have traces of exposure to weather conditions, which indicates the temporary display of corpses in front of the tomb, before they were buried. The cremated remains were placed only in the south-eastern chamber, where men and women were placed, as well as all age groups. The south-eastern chamber was also unusual, because it contained almost three times as many people as in each of the other chambers. Bone fragments were also found in the central passage, but they were stored there long after the lateral chambers were no longer used. Animal bones have also been found, including dogs, cats, deer, pigs, sheep and cattle.
Currently, the top layer of the tomb (cairn) has disappeared, however, its lower part has been reconstructed. There is a passage and four burial chambers with lateral stones forming them and the lower part of the tomb, allowing to visualize its size. The monument is available for free to explore.
Castleden R., Neolithic Britain: New Stone Age sites of England, Scotland and Wales, London 1992.
Williams D., Gower. A Guide to Ancient and Historic Monuments of the Gower Peninsula, Cardiff 1998.
Website coflein.gov.uk, Parc le Breos burial chamber; Parc cwm long cairn.