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Tinkinswood burial chamber, in South Wales, was built nearly 6000 years ago. The capstone, at around 40 tons weighs almost as much as a fully-laden 18-wheeler articulated lorry! The basic design of the site classifies it as one of the Cotwold-Severn group of burial chambers.

It was first excavated in 1914 by John Ward, Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, when over 900 human bones were discovered – it is estimated these were the remains of between 40-50 people. The vast majority of the bones had been broken, but the mix of ages and sex suggests use of the site by the entire community over an extended period.

The Tinkinswood of today is very different to that prior to the excavation, as extensive ‘restoration’ work was carried out at that time:

  • a brick-built supporting pillar was inserted into the chamber
  • the courtyard supporting walls were rebuilt, using a distinctive, and not at all authentic, ‘herringbone’ pattern to the brickwork.
  • the rectangular mound and external revetment wall have been trimmed and generally ‘prettied up’, allowing easier interpretation of the site by visitors.
  • the entire site would have originally been covered by an earthen mound so that no stones other than the courtyard entrance would have been visible.


In 2011, a local community project undertook a further excavation to learn more about the monument and it’s setting. Their project blog makes interesting reading for those interested in more information about this fascinating site!


August 2015

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