BEDD BRANWEN - CAIRN SOUTH-WEST OF GLANALAW
Map Reference SH38SE
Grid Reference SH3611184978
Unitary (Local) Authority Isle of Anglesey
Old County Anglesey
Community Tref Alaw
Type of Site ROUND BARROW
Broad Class Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Period Bronze Age
Site Description NAR SH38SE1
A Bronze Age funerary mound found in a meadow close by the Alaw river. The recovery of a cremation urn from a cist in 1813 reminded certain clergymen of the description of Branwen's grave in the Mabinogion.
This is a near circular rather dished mound about 30m across and 1.0m high. It was excavated in 1967, revealing a complex sequence of construction.
At the centre of the monument is a rather dumpy erect boulder or standing stone 1.2m high, set in a 0.6m deep stone hole. This is set at the centre of a carefully constructed cairn ring, 2.0m wide with an internal diameter of 7.5-8.5m. Eight Bronze Age urns were recovered, with fragments of three others, in addition to that recovered in 1813. Most of these contained cremation deposits. Four were incorporated into the cairn ring and the remainder were found in the inner court, one cramed into a small cist. This last was accompanied by a string of jet and amber beads. The court was paved with stones inclining towards the central monolith.
The cairn ring is set rather off centre within an earthen ring bank, 3.0-4.0m wide with a kerb of erect stones and enclosing an area about 16m across. A turf stack fills the remaining area within this ring.
The monument may have been constructed in a single operation or else over a considerable period of time.
Radio carbon determinations from material associated with the cairn ring and cremations, cluster in the period 1274-1403 BC. Material from a pit cut by the central stone hole produced a significantly earlier date.
Sources: Stanley with Way in Archaeologia Cambrensis 3rd series 14 (1868), 233-40
RCAHM Anglesey Inventory (1937), 36
Lynch in Archaeologia Cambrensis 120 (1971), 11ff
John Wiles 30.08.07