Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
Regional Historic Environment Record

Lligwy Burial Chamber

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 3594
Trust : Gwynedd
Site Type : CHAMBERED TOMB
Period : Neolithic
Community : Moelfre
NGR : SH50148604
Legal Protection : Scheduled Ancient Monument

Description :
First reference to it was made by Pennant in 1781. Skinner visited it and gives some details and two sketches in his Tour Through Anglesey in 1802, in which he says the covering earth mound had been removed.

Excavated in 1908, the capstone is 18ft 3in by 15ft 9in and 3ft 6in thick. The stones forming the sides are 8 in number. The capstone is supported by the two horizontal stones on each side of the entrance to the E and by a long stone set on edge on the W. The five remaining stones from 3ft to 4ft in length stand upon an artificial foundation of rough stones laid horizontally.

The level of soil within the chamber was about 2ft below the capstone and about 2ft deep. Below this was a 1in thick layer of red, clayey soil with limpet shells imbedded in it and immediately below it. Then came a 15in layer of black soil and stones in which was dispersed some human and animal bones, flint scrapers, and fragments of pottery. Below this was a 3in thick paving stone, below which was a 9in thick layer of black soil and small stones with bones, worked flints and fragments of pottery. At the bottom was a wet, stick soil containing a quantity of mussel shells. At a distance of about 6ft below the capstone, undisturbed soil was reached.

The finds were 4 flint scrapers, flint flakes and pieces of flint; fragments of a coarse brown pottery with an incised design of zigzag lines; fragments of coarse black pottery; two fragments of ware, one piece of rim having a zigzag pattern; parts of 12 or more human jaws, a few of which later appeared to be identical to Eskimo jaw bones; and many fragments of skulls and bones, one of which was a foot bone of especial interest, being that of a six-toed individual; bones and teeth of a small ox, a sheep and a young pig; portions of the horns and bones of red and roe deer; the femur of a fox; the wing-bone of a fowl; and portions of an otter's skull.

An opening was made in the soil just to the N of the cromlech and at a depth of 4ft was found black soil containing a quantity of human teeth and fragments of bone, a flint scraper, a bone pin 4 1/2ins long by 1/4in thick and pointed at one end, and some teeth of bos, pig, and dog. The soil extended only 3ft 6ins from the cromlech and suggested that an entry into the chamber may have been forced here.

There is no record or tradition of the burials which have taken place here or as to the origin of this cromlech. <2>

There is one feature about the arrangement of the uprights of this dolmen which appears to be exceptional. The SE supporter points almost exactly due E and on the opposite side is a flat slab pointing almost due W. On the S side, another flat slab, set at right angles to the wall of the chamber points toward the S, but movement of the capstone has shifted it slightly. These features point to an early age when some form of sun worship was practised as the equinoxes and the solstices can be ascertained by the alignment of these stones. Sir Norman Lockyer obtained a clock star alignment from an outlying stone in a neighbouring field, enabling him to suggest 1200 to 1000 BC as the date of the monuments execution.

It is probable that a passage led up to the entrance and three stones found lying outside the chamber may have been used in its construction. Most of the pieces of pottery are precisely similar to those found at Din Lligwy Village. It is an equinoctial monument and is composed of carboniferous limestone throughout. A natural outcrop of large limestone slabs, lying on the surface is to be found within a few yards of the monument. <3>

Some of the pottery from Lligwy Burial Chamber has Neolithic affinities which one sherd suggests kinship with the Early Bronze Age. <4>

Situated on a level limestone plateau 1 1/4m E of the parish church of St. Michael. The chamber is remarked for the large size of its coverstone and the lowness of its supporters. It is built over a natural fissure in the limestone rock. No remains of the cairn are now visible. The chamber is as described in <2>. Condition: good, but denuded. In custody of H. M. Commissioners of Works. <5>

SH 50138603 Burial chamber (LB). <6>

As described in <2> and <3>. In the Ministry's guardianship. <7>

As described in <2>, <3>, <5>. <8>

The chamber at Lligwy produced several sherds of pottery and some flints. There was a layer of paving, but unfortunately the position of only one sherd was recorded, that of a rim, decorated with cardium shell impressions, which came from above the paving and has been compared with similarly decorated Beakers from Newborough Warren; and as it definitely comes from the higher level of the deposit the link is not unlikely. Two other rim sherds are of Romano British type, and are probably to be connected with the settlement at Din Llygwy nearby.

A polished bone pin, 11.4cm long, is of unspecialized type like that found at the chamber of Bryn yr Hen Bobl, and may also be compared with those from the Late Neolithic burials at Duggle by Hawe, Yorkshire. In the present circumstances, therefore, it is difficult to decide if there is any specific cultural background from this artefact. <9>

As described above. <10>

In guardianship. <12>

As described <2>, <3>, <4>, <5>, <9>. See ground plan. <13>

Site located on a gently undulating limestone plateau 1km from the coast. Clearly visible from all but NW, it stands at the break of slope just to the SE of a small local summit. Monument very well described elsewhere - Unusually low chamber with a massive capstone close to 4 x 4 x 1m. Current ground level in chamber is about 1.2m below capstone. Constructed from local limestone. Excavated in 1908 (Baynes 1909 Arch Camb). <15>

Sources :
Smith, G. , 2003 , Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Monument Survey: West Gwynedd & Anglesey , <15>
Baynes, E. N. , 1909 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <2>
Hughes, H. , 1796 , List of Cromlechau or Druidical Altars Anglesey , <1>
Baynes, E. N. , 1910 , Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion , <3>
Piggot, S. , 1933 , Archaeologia Cambrensis , <4>
Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments , 1937 , Anglesey , <5>
Ordnance Survey , 1967 , SH58NW 1 , <7>
Craster, O. E. , 1968 , Ancient Monuments of Anglesey , <8>
Lynch, F. , 1969 , Megalithic Enquiries in the West of Britain , <9>
Davidson, A. , 1986 , Lligwy Burial Chamber , <11>
Davidson, A. , 1992 , Lligwy Burial Chamber , <14>
Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments , Penrhos Lligwy , <13>
Ordnance Survey , 1963 , SH58NW , <6>
Ordnance Survey , 1970 , SH58NW 1 , <10>
Cadw , Lligwy Burial Chamber , <12>
Mason, M. , 1997 , Lligwy Burial Chamber , <16>
Mason, M. , 2005 , Lligwy Burial Chamber , <17>
Lynch, F. , 2009 , Anglesey Past Landscapes of the Coast , <18>
Longley, D. & Yates, M. , 2001 , Anglesey: A Guide to Ancient Monuments on the Isle of Anglesey , <19>

Events :
42861 : The Excavation of Lligwy Cromlech, in the County of Anglesey (year : 1908)
42862 : An 009 Fmw Site Visit (year : 1986)
42863 : An 009 Fmw Site Visit (year : 1992)
40526 : Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Monument Survey: West Gwynedd/Anglesey (year : 2003)

Related PRNs :


The above data are supplied by GAT in partnership with its Local Authorities (Anglesey, Conwy and Gwynedd County Councils, and Snowdonia National Park Authority), © GAT 2014 (and in part © Crown, 2014 - as indicated)
This information is supplied for the purposes of personal interest only and may not be used as part of a commercial project.

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