Trefignath’s tomb was erected during the Neolithic period between 4000 and 2000 BC. It served as the collective burial place of the early-agricultural community, probably in use for many years, before the entrance was eventually closed to it. Its construction and enlargement were carried out in three phases, probably separated by some hundred years breaks.
Trefignath tomb 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 first burial chamber was erected at the western end of the site, situated at the top of a longitudinal outcrop. It was a simple cube made of stone slabs forming walls on three sides, with an entrance on the north side, covered with another large, flat stones (capstones) acting as ceilings, above which a mound (cairn) of a circular shape was created of small stones and earth.
The second burial chamber was erected on the eastern side of the previous structure. It was a bit longer and the entrance was directed to the east. It had the shape of a rectangle and two stones marking the entrance from a narrow square, a kind of small yard. Like the previous one, it consisted of vertically arranged stones, topped with capstone, large slabs acting as ceiling. The whole was covered with a larger mound, elongated on the east-west line, with the eastern end in the form of a wedge.
The third, latest burial chamber was erected on the eastern side of the previous two, and the entire cairn was extended towards it, ending also in the form of a wedge. The entrance to the new chamber was flanked with two high portal stones, 2 and 2.1 meters high. If they originally carried the lintel stone, it could not be too massive.
The third, the latest burial chamber, having both side and capstones, has survived to the present day in the best condition. In a slightly worse state is visible the western chamber without upper stones, and the collapsed middle chamber. Around it you can see numerous smaller stones that originally formed a mound. They mark today the outline of the original structure. The tomb is under the custody of Cadw, available free of charge throughout the year, except for holidays and New Year.
Castleden R., Neolithic Britain: New Stone Age sites of England, Scotland and Wales, London 1992.
The Royal Commission on The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Constructions in Wales and Monmouthshire. An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Anglesey, London 1937.