PARC LE BREOS BURIAL CHAMBER;PARC CWM LONG CAIRN

Site Details



NPRN
93072
Map Reference
SS58NW
Grid Reference
SS53738982
Unitary (Local) Authority
Swansea
Old County
Glamorgan
Community
Ilston
Type of Site
CHAMBERED TOMB
Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Period
Neolithic

Site Description

Cadw SAM No.=GM122
Partially restored, elaborate forecourted chambered tomb, set on narrow valley floor.
(sources: OS495card; SS58NW2; RCAHMW 1976 (Glamorgan 1.1), 34-5)
RCAHMW AP94-CS 0639
RCAHMW AP945085/41-4; 955112/55

The transepted long cairn of Parc le Breos Cwm, taking its name from the great medieval deer-park in which it now lies (300001), is located at the bottom of a narrow dry valley at an altitude of about 15m above OD.
Presenting most of the classic features of the Cotswold-Severn group, the tomb comprises a wedge-shaped cairn aligned N-S and measuring about 22m long and 13m wide on the S (6m on the N), with a burial chamber accessed through an opening in a bell-shaped forecourt neatly revetted with local stone on the S. Much of the cairn has been removed and the chamber is fully exposed. It is built of upright limestone slabs with fine dry walling filling irregular spaces between them. The rectangular lay-out comprises a gallery about 6m long and 1m wide leading directly from the forecourt, and two pairs of transeptal chambers averaging 1.6m long (E-W) by 1.0m internally. The gallery uprights are up to 1.5m high, those of the chambers generally less than 1m. No capstones have been recorded.
Excavated in the early 1960s, samples have recently been subjected to radiocarbon dating in the most complete dating programme undertaken for any chambered tomb in Wales. The tomb was in use for as long as 800 years, from 3800 BC, or for as little as 300 years. Human remains recovered from the chamber represent an estimated minimum of 40 individuals. Some skeletal remains showed evidence for scavenging by carnivores. Bodies may have lain exposed for various periods of time and were deposited as defleshed parcels of bone, not bulky bodies. A passageway deposit showed no such damage and was therefore placed in the tomb as a fleshed corpse.
Animal bones were also recovered and included 8 dogs, a cat, a red deer, pig, sheep and cattle. There are insufficient data to show how they got there but one deer bone was dated to 800 - 200 BC; therefore some bones entered the tomb long after it was abandoned. Other bones gave dates of 6640-6410 BC and 11050-10200 BC, the latter from the end of the Ice Age. It has been speculated that these bones came from Cat Hole Cave, which overlooks the site. Corpses may have been placed there until defleshed and other bones unwittingly gathered up with human remains, or perhaps incorporated later in activities at the tomb.

Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 64 (1998), pp.139-182
S.Burrow, The Tomb Builders in Wales 4000-3000 BC (NMGW 2006)

D.K.Leighton December 2006





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