PENMAEN BURROWS BURIAL CHAMBER

Site Details



NPRN
94571
Map Reference
SS58NW
Grid Reference
SS5315988118
Unitary (Local) Authority
Swansea
Old County
Glamorgan
Community
Ilston
Type of Site
CHAMBERED TOMB
Broad Class
Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Period
Neolithic

Site Description

1. Chambered Tomb, Pen-maen Burrows, at about 45m above O.D., among sand dunes on a low headline flanking three Cliffs Bay on the west. Two rectangular chambers and an entrance passage are exposed in a hollow below a large dune, which presumably conceals the remains of a cairn to the W. The structure is built of slabs of limestone, sandstone and conglomerate, and is ruinous, but most of the plan can be deduced. The main chamber, 4m long by 2m wide, has six uprights in their original positions, including the one which closes the W. end. The entry is from the east by a gap 0.8m wide between transverse portable slabs, from a passage 1.2m wide, of which the outer end is buried; the long axis of chamber and passage is at 80° E. of S. Between the two uprights of the S. side of the main chamber is the entry to another, which consists of three slabs and measures 2.6m N. to S. by 1.4m; there was probably similar chamber on the N., but its entry from the main chamber is obscured, and only one possible component slab remains, lying loose on blown sand. A smaller loose slab lies on the dune about a meter E. of the main chamber. The displaced capstone is resting on the S.E. uprights of the main chamber and on loose stones within it is large enough to have covered the whole of a side of a chamber or half of the main one.

Following minor investigations in 1860 and 1881, the remains were cleared in 1893 down to the original ground surface, which is now covered again by blown sand. The extant uprights of both chambers seem to have allowed a roof height of about a meter, while those of the passages were slightly lower. Some spaces between uprights and above short ones were completed with rough walling of thin sandstone pieces. The entrance passage was revealed as 2.4m long, and only 0.9m wide at its outer end. A supposedly fallen supporter noted beneath the N.W. of the capstone is hard to reconcile with the one now visible in that quarter. Finds were restricted to the S. chamber, and consisted mainly of late debris in the filling of blown sand, including human jaw fragments, animal bones and a piece of a bone tool handle. Bones observed beneath two paving slabs were left in place while ‘three small pieces of brown pottery’ lay on an early surface.

C. Fox, Arch. Camb., XCII (1937), p. 159, discusses the siting of this tomb under the name Pen-Y-Crug.
1860 by E. James and M. Moggridge; 1881 by Miss Bostock. No reports published.
By W.Ll. Morgan. Eported briefly in Arch. Camb., 1894, pp. 1-7, and in greater detail in Trans. Swansea Sci. Soc., 1892-3, pp.54 ff. Later descriptions and comment follow Morgan, e.g. Wheeler, P. and R. Wales, pp.76-8;Daniel, P.C.T., p. 210, No. 5 and passim.

RCAHMW, 1976. An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan, Volume 1: Pre-Norman, Part 1, The stone and bronze ages. Cardiff, Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, pp.32-4, & Fig. 8, plate 3


2. A chambered tomb located at about 45m above sea level in sand dunes in south Gower, on a low headland flanking Three Cliffs Bay which lies to the immediate east.

Two rectangular chambers and an entrance passage are exposed in a hollow below a large dune, which is believed to conceal the remains of the cairn to the west. The ruined structure is made of slabs of limestone, sandstone and conglomerate. The main chamber is 4m long and 2m wide, has six uprights in their original positions, including the one which closes the western end. It is entered from the east by a narrow gap between transverse portal slabs from a passage 1.2m wide, of which the outer end is buried. Between the two uprights of the chamber's southern side is the entrance to the second chamber, 2.6m (from north to south) by 1.4m. There was probably a similar chamber on the north but its entry from the main chamber is obscured; a possible component slab lies loose on blown sand. The displaced capstone resting on the south-eastern uprights of the main chamber, and on loose stones within it, is large enough to have covered the whole of a side chamber or half of the main one.

RCAHMW Glamorgan Inventory I (i), 1976, 32-3

David Leighton, RCAHMW, 6 December 2006

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