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A guest article by member Sue Brooke, previously published on her own blog.

The nice thing about a collection of old books is that they can give you a starting point. If you are lucky your collection may contain books on the same subject but written at different points in time. This not only allows you to understand how the various schools of thought on any subject may have developed and changed but also allows you yourself to think about whether things have changed for the better or for the worst. When reading a little book called The Story of Glamorgan this was highlighted for me. Towards the end of this book by C. J. Evans, published in 1908, there was a chapter written about ‘Antiquities of the County’.  There is a brief introduction where Evans talks of ‘cromlechau’ – giving the translation; Cromen as roof, Llech as a stone. When discussing these monuments Evans mentions the ‘largest in the kingdom’ which he stated would be found at Dyffryn Golwg.  He translates this thus; Dyffryn Goluch, the Vale of Worship.

This Vale of Worship is roughly between Wenvoe and St. Nicholas near Cardiff, within walking distance of where I live. It obviously caught my attention as I had not heard it being referred to as such. So, I did a kind of ‘let’s find out’ to see what now remains of these monuments. It’s always nice when you learn something new so it was lovely that Evans gave a little list of eight names of these different sites in Glamorgan. I obviously knew of the most well-known, such as those at St. Lythans and at Tinkinswood, but there were some on this list I did not know a lot about. I had certainly never linked or grouped them together in this way.

Glamorganshire covers quite a large area so there was one site in this list that was not local to me called Arthur’s Stone in Gower.  I always like to link my work back to my own local area as it helps me understand a little bit more about it.  It could be possible for people living in my locality to walk to most of these sites but as I simply thought a walk to the Gower was a little too far I excluded this site. So, for my purposes the list of seven was:

  • Castell Corrig
  • Cromlech at St. Nicholas
  • Yr Hen Eglwys (The Old Church) at Marcross
  • ‘Doubtful’ Laleston Cromlech
  • Creigiau
  • Tythegeston
  • Cae Letwych, near Coity

So, to take a look at these sites I’ve used information available from some of my own book collection. I’ve used the Archwilio website extensively. I’ve also put my boots on and gone out to look for myself, where it has been possible, locally. Not all of these sites are easily accessed and one, in particular, is in someone’s garden. Overall I’ve done my best and this is what I think. Of course, you may not agree with me, and that’s fine. I’m just an enthusiastic amateur, but I have to learn somewhere – so this is where I’ve started.

© Sue Brooke

Tinkinswood © Sue Brooke

Let’s look first at Castell Corrig. It’s also known as Castell Correg. It is better known now as Tinkinswood Chambered Tomb.  This is described as a Neolithic Long Barrow, which is approximately 40m long. This monument was excavated by Ward in 1915 when human remains were discovered along with evidence of Neolithic life, for example pottery and stone implements.  Having visited this site I can confirm that it remains much as it was re-constructed following the end of the investigations. It is interesting that this site remains as a site of significance. This is evidenced by the leaving of offerings as well as the tying of ribbons to nearby trees.  It is reassuring that this clearly important site has legal protection as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM). PRN 00374s

The second site on Evans’ list is that nearby described as the cromlech at St. Nicholas, known also as St. Lythans burial chamber. It is better known now as Maesyfelin (or Gwal y Filiast) a Neolithic Chambered Tomb, possibly of the Cotswold-Severn class.  It is quite a surprise to come across it for the first time as this is quite a spectacular monument and is preserved well. It is not really what you expect as you walk through the field.  It is very well-known as it is regularly photographed and featured.  Evans described this as a ‘splendid example’ and it is fair to say that it still is. This site has not been excavated but some evidence of human remains was reportedly found in debris nearby. Some coarse pottery was also discovered.  Again, this site is protected as a SAM.  PRN 00003s. It is also much respected by those in the local area and by those who visit.

St Lythans © Sue Brooke

St Lythans © Sue Brooke

To be continued…

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