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Cefn Bryn Burial Chamber (Nicholaston)

Primary Reference Number (PRN) : 00273w
Trust : Glamorgan Gwent
Community : Ilston
NGR : SS5076888800
Site Type (preferred type first) : Neolithic Chambered tomb
Legal Protection : scheduled ancient monument

Summary :
Chambered tomb on the lower slopes of Cefn Bryn, discovered as a result of quarrying and partially excavated in 1939 (Williams 1940). RCHAHMW summarises the excavations as follows: 'The mound was 37.2 m long from NE to SW by a maximum of 20.4 m wide.

Description :
Chambered tomb on the lower slopes of Cefn Bryn, discovered as a result of quarrying and partially excavated in 1939 (Williams 1940). RCHAHMW summarises the excavations as follows: 'The mound was 37.2 m long from NE to SW by a maximum of 20.4 m wide, and was preserved to a height of 1.2 m above the original ground surface. It consisted of successive layers of peaty soil, some with a dominant content of angular stony fragments, obtained locally and showing signs of fire, presumably from ground clearance. Larger stones formed a rough kerb defining the mound, 0.6 to 1.2 m wide and apparently surviving to its full height of 0.46 m on the NE. The chamber, built of local conglomerate, measured 0.9 by 1.2 m internally, the two stones of the roof being supported at a height of 0.6 m by slabs which formed the NW and SE sides, with an additional square pillar on the E. The original access was from the NE across a small area of paving and a sill stone, between two portal orthostats only 0.4 m apart, but there is no suggestion of a passage from the edge of the mound. Dry walling was used to complete the sides and the whole of the SW end wall. The latter had been breached at an unknown date, and the contents of the tomb had been removed, though fragments of oak and hazel charcoal remained between the internal paving stones.'

The monument now appears as a chamber with capstone set in the middle of what remains of a long mound, which survives reasonably well to the W of the chamber but is badly disturbed on the E, and also at the S end, making it difficult to determine where the end is. The mound is oriented NE-SW and is largely overgrown with gorse and bracken. Where its interior is visible, it is made up of small blackish stones; the chamber is made up largely of slabs of quartz conglomerate, with a few in sandstone. The capstone looks as though it was originally a single slab of conglomerate (1.8x1.4m, 0.3m thick), but is now cracked from side to side into two parts, the further one being triangular in shape. It is supported by the orthostats forming the two sides of the chamber (NW and SE) and either side of the back (NE); the SW side is open. Two orthostat slabs are visible on the inner surface of the NW side of the chamber, but the excavation plan shows that there is a larger single slab outside them; the SE side is a single slab orthostat; the orthostats forming the back are more block-like, with a gap between them. The chamber is c1.0m square internally and c0.35m high. On the SW side immediately following on from the chamber there is a row of small blocks on either side, three on the NW side and two on the SE side.
Reference: Williams, A, 1940, A megalithic tomb at Nicholaston, Gower, Glamorgan, Proc Prehist Soc 6, 178-81 24.4m NE-SW x 21.8m max (at SW end), c1.2m high ma GGAT 72 Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites survey 2001. (1956) The cairn and burial chamber are as decribed in Source 03 . The cairn is grass and fern covered and is situated well below the crest of a hill on land which falls gently to the south. It is oriented NE - SW . Situated in rather marshy land; the cairn is mis- shapen as a result of excavation. ( source 02 )
(1966/1976 ) Just below the steep southern scarp of Cefn Bryn, at about 100m above OD is a gently sloping tract of clay and gravel subsoil which provided the material and situation for an elongated mound. The quarrying of gravel, and the exposure of the capstone of a megalithic cist at the approximate centre of the mound, led to a thorough excavation in 1939. The site now appears as a somewhat shapeless, overgrown feature, though the cist is discernable.
The mound was 37.2 m long from NE to SW by a maximum of 20.4 m wide, and was preserved to a height of 1.2 m above the original ground surface. It consisted of successive layers of peaty soil, some with a dominant content of angular stony fragments, obtained locally and showing signs of fire, presumably from ground clearance. Larger stones formed a rough kerb defining the mound, 0.6 to 1.2 m wide and apparently surviving to its full height of 0.46 m on the NE. The chamber, built of local conglomerate, measured 0.9 by 1.2 m internally, the two stones of the roof being supported at a height of 0.6 m by slabs which formed the NW and SE sides, with an additional square pillar on the E. The original access was from the NE across a small area of paving and a sill stone, between two portal orthostats only 0.4 m apart, but there is no suggestion of a passage from the edge of the mound. Dry walling was used to complete the sides and the whole of the SW end wall. The latter had been breached at an unknown date, and the contents of the tomb had been removed, though fragments of oak and hazel charcoal remained between the internal paving stones. ( Source 01 )
(1969) condition unchanged. ( Source 11 )
(1985) What appears to be the capstone of the chamber can now be seen towards the north of the mound area, and the large quarried hollow appears to be towards the southern end. The site is heavily overgrown with bracken, especially on the south and east, and there are no obvious signs of the lines of kerbs, though these were probably only visible during excavation in any case. (Source 07)
(1989) The site is as previously described, if not somewhat more overgrown, and there are some traces of burrowing not previously reported.( Source 04 )
(1997) The site is substantially unchanged from the 1989 visit. The remains of the cist now appear at the NE of the surviving portion of the mound, which is very irregular as described by previous commentators Indeed it is difficult to identify its extent on the ground at all. Interestingly , there is a small stone about 1.0m high to the SSE, on the line of the fence; a similar stone stands about 80m to the W. ( Source 10 )

Sources :
Cadw , Cadw Scheduled Ancient Monument Record
Evans, E , 2002 , Prehistoric funerary and ritual sites. Neath Port Talbot and Swansea
01/ PM list// RCAHM// 1976/ Glam Invent/ p 32 No. 34
02/ MM record card/ OS/// 1956/ SS 58 NW 11/
03/ PM Desc text/ / Williams/ A/ 1940/ BBCS/ Vol X Pt II pp 187 - 8
04/ MM Desc text/ CADW/ Burnham/ HB/ 1989/ AM 107/
05/ PM Desc text/ Grimes/ WF/ 1984/ Glam County Hist Vol. II/ p 148 - 9/
06/ MM desc text/ Neo. Studies Group & Lithic Studies Group Joint Conference/ 1988/ Ward A ./ Flint & Stone in Neo. Britain/ Cefn Bryn p 1
07/ MM Desc text/ CADW/ Burnham/ HB/ 1985/ AM 107/
08/ MMAP/ RCAHM/ / 1992/ / A121 - 01
09/ MMAP/ GGAT/ / 1991// 108 - 67 - 68
10/ MM Desc text/ CADW/ Burnham/ HB/ 1997/ AM 107C
11/ MM Record card/ OS/// 1969/ SS 58 NW 11

Events :
E000602 : CEFN BRYN BURIAL CHAMBER (NICHOLASTON), FULL EXCAVATION, 193 (year : 1939)
E001812 : Field visit Cefn Bryn Burial Chamber (Nicholaston) (year : 1964)
E001813 : Field visit Cefn Bryn Burial Chamber (Nicholaston) (year : 1985)
E001814 : Field visit Cefn Bryn Burial Chamber (Nicholaston) (year : 1997)
E001815 : Field visit Cefn Bryn Burial Chamber (Nicholaston) (year : 2004)
E001958 : Field visit Cefn Bryn Burial Chamber (Nicholaston) (year : 2001)

Related PRNs :


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