Sites & cities that bear the name of Bryn Celli Ddu

Bryn Celli Ddu

Today in : United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
First trace of activity : ca. 4,000 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 19th century B.C.E

Description : Bryn Celli Ddu Welsh pronunciation: is a prehistoric site on the Welsh island of Anglesey located near Llanddaniel Fab. Its name means 'the mound in the dark grove'. It was archaeologically excavated between 1928 and 1929. Visitors can get inside the mound through a stone passage to the burial chamber, and it is the centrepiece of a major Neolithic Scheduled Monument in the care of Cadw. The presence of a mysterious pillar within the burial chamber, the reproduction of the 'Pattern Stone', carved with sinuous serpentine designs, and the fact that the site was once a henge with a stone circle, and may have been used to plot the date of the summer solstice have all attracted much interest. The earliest identified remains at the site are a row of five postholes previously thought to have been contemporary with the tomb. Radiocarbon dating of pine charcoal from two of the pits, carried out in 2006, showed these to date from around 4000 BC, putting them at the end of the Mesolithic, 1,000 years before the next phase of use. Their purpose, however, is unknown. Henge In around 3000 BC a henge monument was constructed. An outer circular bank and ditch would have defined the boundary, although only the ditch survives, some 21 m (69 ft) across. Within this, a stone circle would have provided the focus for a site of ritual significance. A ring of 17 stones formed an oval, many being in matched pairs either side of the centre. Cremated human remains were buried at the base of some of them, suggesting a central 'altar' During this period a pit was dug within the henge; a single human ear-bone was buried, and covered with a flat slab. A second stone known as 'The Pattern Stone' lay nearby, with the serpentine patterning on it. It is thought this would have stood upright within the henge, as the patterns cover both sides. Model of Bryn Celli Ddu in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff Some 1000 years after the henge was built, the site was radically altered. All but one of the standing stones were intentionally damaged, some were knocked over and six were smashed with heavy stones. In its place a passage grave was built. Much larger than the mound now remaining, it would have had a complete circle of kerbstones following the line of the old henge ditch, creating an impressive retaining wall around the mound, 26 m (85 ft) across. The burial chamber would have been entirely enclosed within the mound, rather than the back wall being open to the air, as in the reconstructed mound now seen. Individual human bones, both burnt and unburnt, were found within the chamber and passage, suggesting a variety of funeral practices, but in all cases re-using the tomb, and clearing aside the old remains. At the end of its period of use the tomb was 'closed' by means of a large stone set across the entrance, between the two portal stones. Between 2015 and 2020 the 'Bryn Celli Ddu Public Archaeology Project' has been engaged in studies of the wider landscape around the site. This is a partnership between Cadw and Manchester Metropolitan University with the aim of involving local communities in archaeological investigation. This has resulted in study of known ancient rock art on a nearby outcrop, and also identified and uncovered a number of other rock outcrops close by that have 'cup mark' decorations chipped into them. A second burial chamber, 50m to the south of the extant one, had been leveled, but as part of the project a 2019 excavation has revealed a large circular burial cairn which radio-carbon dating has placed at 1900 BC, which is over a thousand years after the earlier passage grave was built.

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