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

So far, so good then. Two beautifully preserved and protected monuments.  So let’s move on to Yr Hen Eglwys. I’m guessing here that non-Welsh speaking readers may already be struggling with Welsh names. I appreciate how difficult this is and can also say that I too have found some difficulty in tracing these sites due to the many and various ways in which the Welsh Is written. Also it has been difficult due to the changing nature of areas locally.

However, I located the records for Cae’r Eglwys Long Cairn (The Old Church) and although Evans refers to its situation as Marcross it is now listed under the community of St. Donats.  The summary available describes this site as a Neolithic long barrow on the headland of Nash Point. It was described in 1811 as an ‘ancient cromlech’ called the Old Church which was traditionally known locally as an ancient place of worship but with no documentary evidence to support this. This site has not fared so well. The reports describe a revetment which has been completely robbed but states that it now comprises of an oval mound covered by long grass and brambles with no stone detectable beneath.  It is very sad that this site is known in tradition but was not protected by it. There is currently no legal protection. PRN 00408s. By using the facility available with Archwilio it is possible to see that this site is quite close to the sea. It is nice to see that the images available show that the recent ploughing respected the position of the monument and went around it, not through it.

The Laleston cromlech is now known as the Long Cairn NW of Laleston and is currently recorded as a Neolithic Chambered Tomb. This is not a straightforward site. There seems to have been some difficulties in its interpretation, partly due to the fact that the area has been regularly ploughed and there is some ongoing discussion as to whether any possible stones that were there in its original state are actually now forming part of adjacent field walls. The aerial view shows mostly a field with nothing visible of note. Evans described this is a ‘doubtful’ cromlech so perhaps the condition it is currently to be found in is similar to that at the time of writing in 1908. Due to the nature of this site it has not been possible to visit as landowners are not often happy to have crops trampled for the sake of a blog.  This is something any visitor to any site should always consider. However, this site is now part of the Glamorgan and Gwent Archaeological Trust Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites Project 2003 so more could still be discovered.  This is the case with most of the monuments on our list. This site has no legal protection but the PRN is 04574m.

Creigiau is next on my list. The records I located refer to Cae’r Arfau, a Neolithic Chambered Tomb now listed within the community of Pentyrch.  Because Evans describes it as being in Creigiau it wasn’t easy to locate the correct records at first. The summary available tells us that it is the remains of a stone burial chamber, situated on a low spur overlooking the Ely Valley.  Prior to 1875 several large stones were believed to have been removed and, sadly, a visible mound had also been levelled. Its more recent past has been quite different in that it appears that for some years this chamber had been regularly lime-washed during its time being used as a coal store. However strange this may seem to us now it appears to have been quite common to use monuments such as this one as shelters for animals, but I have to admit this is the first one I’ve heard of that had effectively become a coal-house.  It is not a site that could realistically be visited as the tomb itself is incorporated into a wall which is part of the drive to a private house. Effectively this is in their garden. Considering its current use, as part of a wall, I was a little surprised to see it has legal protection as a SAM, although of course, the changes to the site were made many years ago. The PRN is 00620m

Cae’r Arfau © Mike Murray. used with permission.

Cae’r Arfau © Mike Murray. Used with permission.

Tythegeston Long Barrow or Cae Tor is to be found in the corner of an arable field within the Parish of Tythegeston. It is described as a Neolithic Chambered Tomb, being a well-marked mound around 1.2m high ‘represented by the E-W aligned capstone propped up on the S side by a single orthostat towards the E end’. The records for this monument show that it has been regularly surveyed. Today it would seem that it is much the same as that described previously. It remains very over-grown but it remains more or less untouched, not only by time but by human intervention. The barrow is legally protected as a SAM, the PRN is 00287m. It is nice that this site has been respected and allowed to remain as an important part of our historic landscape.

Tythegston © Mike Murray

Tythegston © Mike Murray. Used with permission.

The last on Evans’ list is the Coity burial chamber. It is also known as Coedparcgarw. Evans described this as Cae Letwych so I’m guessing that it is this chamber he referred to.  It seems that this Neolithic Chambered Tomb was surveyed by RCAHMW in 1968 when it was described as two stones partly supporting a capstone. There was, at that time, a third stone that had fallen and a fourth still partly supporting what was believed to be a detached part of the capstone. It is stated that there were the possible remains of a mound. This monument stands in an enclosed field with a wall and a lane encroaching on its north side. It is sadly described now as much ruined and overgrown, so much so that is it difficult at this point in time to interpret its original character, although it seems there remain suggestions of a mound where it would be expected to be located if indeed it is a long cairn. Again, although seemingly not much loved, this is a SAM, PRN 00374m

Coity © Mike Murray

Coity © Mike Murray. Used with permission.

All of these sites can be looked at in more detail by accessing the Archwilio website. The biggest difficulty for people wishing to find records is the many and varied ways in which sites are named. Each of these discussed here are given their names as they are listed in the records. To access these you simply need to use the link for Glamorgan and Gwent. Use the search facility by entering the names listed, remembering to click that you agree to the terms and conditions. When records appear in the list click on the one you wish to view, this will then highlight the position of the site on the map. It is possible to zoom in to the aerial view of these sites and to find their position in relation to other similar sites locally.

It’s always good to be able to get out and about to visit monuments such as these. Particularly around the Tinkinswood area where you can get a real sense of the importance of such chambers. Permission may be needed at some sites if you are actually on private land.  It is very important to remember that trampling around or worse, over, such chambers can add to their demise. Please, if you visit any of these sites then remember to treat them with the respect they deserve, particularly as some could be the final resting place of what were once, real people. I cannot emphasise this enough.

 C. J. Evans, The Story of Glamorgan was published by The Educational Publishing Company Limited, Trade Street, Cardiff in 1908.

Arthur’s Stone (or Maen Ceti) PRN 00068w – a Scheduled Ancient Monument. I believe it is this site that Evans referred to.

Ward, J, 1915, ‘Archaeologica Cambrensis’ 253-320

Thanks once again to Sue for permission to publish her thoughts on some of her local sites. 

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