Monthly Archives: Nov 2014

Gwerclas Burial Mound . A Little Known Mystery

Gwerclas Burial Mound

Gwerclas Burial Mound

Gwerclas cairn has never , as far as we know been excavated therefore classification has largely depended on a series of observations and surveys . Despite having been lately identified as a Bronze Age round Barrow it displays all the features of having been constructed at some time during the Neolithic period .

It appears to be what in archaeological terms  is called a Chambered Tomb – a Long Barrow

The long Barrows were funerary monuments of the Neolithic . The chambers of the barrows were often covered by capstones and burials were deposited over a period sometimes over a thousand years . They sometimes show evidence of ceremonial and ritual use .Excavations elsewhere have shown that fires were lit outside the tombs and deposits of animal and human bone have been discovered in a ‘ritual’ context .

Gwerclas is a large , long mound which is somewhat denuded through the activity of  erosion and farming over a long period

 Gwerclas cairn stones to right CADVAS

The kerbstones above indicate the entrance may have been in this area of the body of the cairn.

The location of the Gwerclas tomb is interesting . The monument lies near to the River Dee and a historic crossing point .Views to the river from the cairn indicate that the River was possibly a focal point for the tomb builders .

River Dee River fording point near Gwerclas

River Dee River fording point near Gwerclas

Gwerclas River crossing 1

A possible Neolithic ceremonial cursus monument has been identified across the Dee from Gwerclas at SJ06204343  and is known as the Corwen Cursus .  The cursus runs for  approximately 120 metres on a SSW-NNE alignment. The ditches  are around 27m apart and there is a ring ditch close to the northern end.

The  burial site may have been somehow linked to the cursus in some way although any theories have to be conjectural in the light of an excavation evidence which links the two .

The implications for a developed ritual landscape in this area are the focus for further research.
OS Reference : SJ05394213


Winter Solstice Walk Moel Ty Uchaf Stone Circle Sunday 21 December

One of our favourite places ,high above  the beautiful landscape of the Dee Valley is the stone Circle  Moel Ty Uchaf.  Meet at Hendwr Bridge at 11.30 . Suitable footwear and outdoor clothing is essential.

OS reference :SJ 05613717.    The circle consists of 41 surviving stones and is around 12 meters across.

CADVAS  Moel ty Uchaf1CADVAS Walk to Moel Ty Uchaf

CADVAS Walk to Moel Ty Uchaf

Moel Ty Uchaf  is thought to date to the Bronze Age . It is presumed that the monument was the focus for  significant ceremonial and ritual  activity . Lack of evidence from any excavations on the monument hamper further analysis , however the surrounding landscape reveals possible funerary monuments in the form of at least two cairns and at least four possible cists. A platform is clearly identifiable down slope  south of the stone circle

Platform Cairn near Moel Ty Uchaf

Platform Cairn near Moel Ty Uchaf

The raised , circular platform cairn  identifiable as belonging to the Bronze Age . It is around 16 metres in diameter and may have once consisted of a ring bank of stone with a surrounding kerb . At some point the centre of the cairn was filled with stones to form a level platform . These monuments are thought to be ceremonial/ritual and sometimes funerary monuments . In other areas excavations have revealed cremations have been placed within the circles and then covered by the platforms at sometime in the history of the monument .

The platform cairn is found at OS reference :SJ 0564537112

CPAT  have produced a detailed walk around the area which takes in most of the sites which we will be visiting in the future .Details can be found at this link

Possible burial cairn near Moel Ty Uchaf demonstrating the possible ritual use of quartz

Possible burial cairn near Moel Ty Uchaf demonstrating the possible ritual use of quartz

As you walk around this landscape look  out for the large amounts of quartz which is incorporated in the ceremonial and burial monuments . The use of quartz is frequently found in a ritual context throughout Britain and Ireland from prehistory to the present day

Corwen and Dee Valley Archaeological Society

Corwen Caer Drewyn

Corwen and Dee Valley Archaeological Society was founded in order to  research, promote and share the rich archaeological heritage of the Dee Valley and surrounding area .

It is the aim of the society to research and record through desktop studies and fieldwork the archaeological landscape of the Dee Valley from around 5000BC through to the post medieval period .

The earliest surviving monuments represented in the Dee Valley  are the funerary monuments  Tan y Coed, Cynwyd, being the best preserved example and probably dating to the earlier / middle neolithic .

Chambered tombs  tan y coed

Tan y Coed

Tan y Coed

Surveys undertaken by CPAT / Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust indicate that certain areas were favoured as what we term Funerary and Ritual Landscapes . This is apparent in the Llandrillo area with the occurrence of stone circles, tombs and reference to a cursus monument . The landscape for whatever reasons which are lost to us held deep significance for the people who lived here in the Neolithic and Bronze Age . The chambered cairns and stone circles represent a ritual landscape of archaeological importance and worthy of further research, investigation and analysis.