Trefignath – burial chamber

History

   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.

Architecture

   The first burial chamber was erected at the western end of the site. It was a simple cube made of stone slabs with an entrance from the north. It was covered with a mound of stones (cairn) with a shape similar to circular. 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, the latest burial chamber was erected on the eastern side of the two previous ones, and the entire mound was extended towards it, ending also with the form of a wedge.

Current state

   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.

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bibliography:
Castleden R., Neolithic Britain: New Stone Age sites of England, Scotland and Wales, London 1992.
Website coflein.gov.uk, Trefignath burial chamber.