The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust
Historic Environment Record
 

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ARTHURS STONE (MAEN CETI)

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 00068w
Trust : Glamorgan Gwent
Community : Llanrhidian Lower
NGR : SS4913990556
Site Type (preferred type first) : Neolithic Chambered tomb
Legal Protection : scheduled ancient monument

Summary :
The monument now consists only of a series of orthostats supporting a massive boulder as capstone, all set within a bowl-shaped artificial hollow. The capstone is a wedge-shaped conglomerate boulder4.1m (N-S) x 2.3m and c2m high on E (slightly higher on

Description :
The monument now consists only of a series of orthostats supporting a massive boulder as capstone, all set within a bowl-shaped artificial hollow. The capstone is a wedge-shaped conglomerate boulder4.1m (N-S) x 2.3m and c2m high on E (slightly higher on W). It was originally propped up on a series of conglomerate orthostats on E, W and N sides, and across the middle, though post-construction movement means that now only a few actually make contact with it; these orthostats are typically about 1m high. There is another very large orthostat on the W side, and RCAHMW interpret the blocks lying to the W of the monument as having broken off the capstone. They believe that it is unlikely that the capstone was ever covered by a mound, but many small boulders lie interspersed with the orthostats, presumably derived from some sort of mound covering the sides of the chambers. The bank mentioned on the lip of the hollow is not now particularly apparent. The monument is divided into two chambers by the row of three orthostats across the middle, the west end orthostat doubling as a member of the W side, giving this side a total of three orthostats. There area another three on the E side and two across the N end; these are none across the S end. The profile of the capstone does not really match any of the surrounding hills; it is closest to North Hill Tor, but this has shallower angles than the capstone. Diameter hollow c18m (N-S); height stones c3m GGAT 72 Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites survey 2001. (1956) The chamber is orientated north- south and the ortostats average 1.0m high. The floor of the chamber is at a depth of 1.3m below the outer ground level. The part of the capstone which has been split off lies to the W of the chamber. The cairn has a diameter of 21.0m ( Source 22 )
(1968 /1976) Maen Ceti, generally known as Arthur's Stone, is a double-chambered megalithic tomb standing in the remnants of a round cairn at 150 m above O.D., on the brow of the moderate northern slope of Cefn Bryn, well below the highest part of the ridge.
The cairn does not appear as a mound, but rather as a slight stony bank surrounding a hollow, often water-filled, within which the tomb stands. The bank barely rises above the level of the ground outside, its outer limit being defined as a fairly true circle of 23m diameter where stones begin to protrude from the turf, while the inner limit of added material is about 4 m towards the centre. The stones of the bank vary in size up to 30cm across and are probably derived from the excavation of the hollow, in which stones up to 50cm across are included in the irregular surface at 0.8 m below ground level.
The hollow plainly results from the construction of the tomb at its centre by underpinning a natural boulder which rested at ground level.The full depth of the original hollow is not visible, so that it remains uncertain whether it was dug in a natural scree deposit or in a regular soil profile overlying rock.
It seems unlikely that the capstone was ever covered by cairn material, though the stones now distributed in the hollow may have been heaped against the sides.
The upper surfaces of the capstone are rounded by weathering, but the underside is mainly flat and horizontal. Its material is the local conglomerate, containing much quartz, which was also used for the supports and for the stones of the cairn. About one quarter of its mass, consisting of a regular slab 0.5 m thick, has fallen to the W, where it lies in one large and two smaller portions. The whole stone originally measured some 4 m long by 3 m wide by 2.2 m high, its weight having been variously estimated at 30 and 35 tons.The fallen portion probably became detached through frost action in a natural crack, assisted by the upward thrust of the SW supporters. The remainder of the capstone settled at that time to the S.W.,pivoting on its three central supports, perching its S end precariously on a lower point of the most southerly stone, and lifting from the supporters at the N and W.
Two separate chambers have been formed beneath the capstone by the insertion of uprights, of which nine remain in position. The central row of three, which serve as the main weight bearers, have a gap widening enough at the top to allow access between the chambers. Alternatively access to the north chamber would have been possible at its S.E. corner, but the two stones that have fallen outwards at the W, presumably displaced by the falling part of the capstone, would have closed the present access to both chambers on that side. The gap 1.2 m wide at the S end could have been closed by the block now displaced to the S, possibly leaving a smaller gap at the SE. Both chambers would thus have measured about 1.4 m by 1.2 m, with similar access; their height above the present infilling of stones does not exceed 0.8 m , the true floor being nowhere visible. (Source 21)
(1985) Dolmen. Very large capstone - higher than it is broad. Chamber of 9 uprights largely filled in with loose boulders. Fallen ? part of the capstone to W . Whole now in a dip carpeted with small boulders evidently part of mound. ?40/50 yards diameter. On open down - bottles etc. thrown among boulders . In no danger .
Chamber is polygonal with traces of ante chamber.
A double chambered megalithic tomb standing in the remnants of a round cairn . a fairly true circle of 23m diameter .. inner limit of added material is about 4m towards the centre. The stones of the bank vary in size up to 30cm across and are probably derived from the excavation of the hollow , in which stones up to 50cm across are included in the irregular surface at 0.8m below ground level. it seems unlikely that the capstone was ever covered by cairn material . its material is the local conglomerate, containing much quartz, which was also used for the supports and for the stones of the cairn. About one quarter of its mass, consisting of a regular slab 0.5m thick , has fallen to the W , where it lies in one large and two smaller portions. The whole stone originally measured some 4m long by 3m wide by 2.2m high, its weight having been variously estimated at 30 and 35 tons. Two separate chambers have been formed beneath the capstone by the insertion of uprights , of which nine remain in position. The central row of three, which serve as the main weight bearers, have a gap widening enough at the top to allow access between the chambers. Alternatively access to the N chamber would have been possible at its SE corner. The gap 1.2m wide at the S end could have been closed by the block now displaced to the S , possibly leaving a smaller gap at the SE . Both chambers would thus have measured about 1.4m by 1.2m , with similar access; their height above the present infilling of stones does not exceed 0.8m , the trur floor being nowhere visible. < Source 21 >
(1989) The megalith's most striking feature is the enormous size of the capstone which has an estimated weight of 25 tons. It measures 13.5 ft in length, 6.5 ft in breadth, and 7.5 ft in height, and was originally considerably larger, for a large portion of the western side has been detached. The stone is of Old Red Sandstone conglomerate, a rock native to the ridge, and its present appearance suggests that it was underpinned and not hoisted to its position. It was probably covered by a round cairn.
On the ridge of Cefn Bryn near Reynoldston with extensive views of Dyfed and the Lougher estuary, is situated the most impressive monument in Gower - Maen Cetti, or Arthur's Stone. This Neolithic cromlech has an immense glacial boulder for a capstone, estimated to weigh at least 30 tons, and the two burial chambers underneath were probably formed by underpinning the rock. The remains of a circular cairn surrounds the tomb, but it is unlikely that it was ever covered over completely. ( Source 03 )

Sources :
21/ PM list// RCAHM// 1976/ Glam. Invent/ p. 32 No. 33
06/ MM photo/ GGAT/ Lewis/ W/ 1979 - 1980/
15/ PM Desc text// KBG// Gower Journal/ The secret of Arthur's Stone p. 45 Vol VIII
11/ PM Desc Record/ Griffiths/ K// Gower Journal/ When Arthur's Stone was erected
17/ PM Desc text// Owen/ TR/ Gower Journal/ Further thoughts Arthur's Stone
20/ PM list/ Grimes/ WF/ 1931/ BBCS/ Vol VI, pt 1, pp 88-89
04/ MM PH/ GGAT/ Parkhouse .J/ A 635 -7/
01/ MM/ Desc text & Illustrations/ Neo. Studies Group & Lithic Studies Group Joint Conference/ Ward A./ 1988/ Flint and stone in Neo. Britain/ Cefn Bryn p 1-2
03/ MM desc text/ CADW/ Burnham H.B./ 1989/ am 107/
02/ MM Air - photo/ CPAT/ Musson/ C./ 1985/ 88.221/
05/ MM photo/ GGAT/ Davies/ T./ 1990/
10/ PH Desc text// Wilkinson/ G./1.870/ Arch. Camb./ Avenue and cairns about Arthur's stone, Vol 1, 5.4. P 23-45 and p 117 - 121
16/ PM Desc text// Owen/ T.R./ 1964/ Gower 16 p 54-55
07/ MM Record Card/ OS/// 1977/ SS 49 SE 18/
13/ PM Desc text// Daniel/ Glyn/ 1970/ Antiquity/ Vol. XLIV, p 260-268, Megalithic answers
18/ PM Desc text// Smith/ EG/ 1932-33/ Neath Ant. Soc./ pp 92-94.
14/ PM Desc text// Grimes WF/ 1931-32/ Neath Ant. Soc./ pp 90-93
08/ MM Record Card/ OS/// 1982/ SS 49 SE 18/ p3 only
12/ PM Desc text// CADW/ 1985//
19/ PM Desc text// Ward A./ 1988/ pps/ p 153-172
09/ MMAP/ GGAT// 1995// 1113-15-16
22/ MM Record card/ OS/// 1957/ SS 49 SE 18

Events :
E000569 : ARTHURS STONE (MAEN CETI), UNSPECIFIED EXCAVATION, c1870 (year : c1870)
E002399 : Uplands Survey in Neath and Port Talbot region SUR (year : 1998)

Related PRNs :


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