Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Sharing Treasure #3 Burial Chambers and Iron Age Hill Forts

Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber

Bryn Celli Ddu is one of the most spectacular burial chambers that I have come across. Most, if not all, burial chambers would have been mounded over like this one. The burial chambers that you see showing the exposed stones and top caps like in Bodwyr below have been excavated and would have been hill like originally.

Bryn Celli Dddu is one of the most exciting and pleasing burial chambers that I have ever visited. Not just because the mound like hill covers it, or because you can walk (standing) right into it or that you can see straight through one side to the other, or because my friend found a love letter to a departed soul saying how much they were missed and how sorry they could not be all that was needed during the period of illness before departing or that because when you lie with your feet at the top of the mound and your head above the door plinth you feel like you are going to slide down the hill so quickly you could be on a sledge in snow. I love this burial ground for all of those reasons, and many more besides. Its one of those places that you just HAVE to visit, and once you have, you will want to again and again.

This burial ground may be Britain's oldest sundial. It was originally a henge and then the burial chamber was added later. There is an area a few yards away from the entrance of the door for ox burial. Bryn Celli Ddu was built before Stone Henge and is 500 hundred years older than the Pyramids of Egypt. Historians have film footage of the internal chamber flooding with light at sunrise on the morning of the summer solstice. It is thought that may have been to warm the bones of the buried. This film is now exhibited at the National Museum Cardiff.

In the picture above you can see a free standing stone outside of the entrance to the chamber. This stone is a replica as the original (below) is now exhibited in The National Museum Cardiff.

Photo by National Museum Wales where the stone is now exhibited

The stone has amazing carvings on it. There are other carvings in the burial chamber, but none so spectacular as this one. Maybe you have noticed the grooves cut into the plinth of the doorway on the first photo? I'm not sure what they signify but I do have a feeling that they are not random.

image by Ray The Mapman of The Megalithic Portal

Above you can see a diagram of the carvings on the original standing stone. Beautiful aren't they. They would make amazing designs for felt. I know after having tried that I am not skilled enough to do Celtic knot work yet. Maybe if I practice some more? But there is something so appealing to me about stone art and cave paintings that makes me want to work with that style. Dorie of Fibre Fusing has already made some outstanding felt based on some of the French cave art, i'd just love to make an Eco dyed Welsh equivalent. Mind you she is one very talented lady i have a very long way to go to catch up!

Do you love this chamber? I know I do :)

Bodowyr Burial Chamber

Bodwyr is a neolithic communal burial chamber dating from the region of 4000-2000bc. its small and quite cute. As always with sites like this, I searched the web for folklore and mythology connecting to it. Rhiannon, contributor to The Modern Antiquarian website, tells that this is one of the sites associated as being the final resting place of Branwen.

Branwen is known in both Welsh Mythology as a Goddess and in Literature as daughter of a High King of Britain. The tale of Branwen goes that Mathwlych, King of Ireland consulted Bran (Branwens brother) with ideas of marriage. Branwen married Mathwlych but after 3 years Mathwlych tired of Branwen and sent her to work in the kitchens. Branwen spent the next 3 years rearing and training a stag whom she later charged to swim across the Irish Sea and carry a message to her brother Bran. On receiving the message, Bran sent an army to rescue Branwen and a bloody battle ensued leaving many killed or injured. the tale can be found the medieval Red Book of Hergest and White Book of Rhydderch.

In the distance you can see the Snowdonia Mountain Range that lies across the Menai Straits. The Menai Straits is a SSSI with a wealth of marine life including Puffins, Seals, and even Dolphins.

Caer Leb

Caer Leb is an iron aged hill fort dating back to 200 BC. There is not much to look at here. The site was excavated in 1865 revealing a stone hut dating from 400ad indicating that this site has been occupied over many centuries similar to Din Lligwy. I like the feeling of continuation to these settlements. Established roots meaning that the site was a good one and people found what they needed to live safely and hopefully happily.

The settlement is the shape of a slice of bread and is double walled due to being built on marsh land. We visited in the last week of October. There had been some rainfall that week so we needed walking boots. It was quite boggy in places but definitely worth a visit. The sun was shining brightly and their was a wonderful feeling of peace to site . I felt content ambling around the site skimming through mole hills looking for naturally upturned artifacts (a tip from an archaeologist friend who has found pottery this way).

Caer Leb is very close to Bodowyr Burial Chamber and Bryn Celli Ddu and we managed to fit all three sites and Beaumauris Castle into one morning, although I could have happily spent the entire day at all four sites if time had allowed it.

Bwrdd Arthur (Din Sylwy) Hill Fort

We stumbled across Bwrdd Arthur whilst trying to find another site on the way to Penmon Priory. We hadn't intended to visit this site, but well if you pass it, you may as well stop and visit right? The Hill fort is on top of a very steep hill and feeling invigorated by the glorious weather we decided to completely ignore the gently winding footpath and took the direct approach in a vertical line up the hill. Phew, I certainly felt a sense of achievement when I got to the top!

We had been looking for remains of walls or other signs of a hill fort (as the name may indicate) and did find lots of stones, but nothing that screamed hill fort at us. Later I looked the site up and found that the name (as Arthur would indicate) is said to be Arthur's table and if you look you can see where the table had been and a stone for each seat. I suppose it helps to know what you are looking at when you visit places like this. I will happily return again though to check this out. The views are second to none, and yes, as the pictures show, even four year olds love this kind of outing. Hills, walls to climb on, burial chambers to climb in and picnic's! What could be better? I've begun to notice that four year olds are very much like hobbits. They crave breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. Although to my knowledge most halflings do not like mushrooms!

The first two pictures show views out to the Irish Sea and the Snowdonia Mountain range. The third shows views across to Red Wharf Bay. The views are so spectacular up here that I could easily spend an entire day in good weather, maybe with a mini easel or a sketch book. It is just so stunning, and again as with so many sites here on Ynys Mon (The Isle of Anglesey/Mother of Wales) the feeling of sanctuary, of bright spirits and peace are mesmerizing.


Please join in the fun by sharing pictures, poems, stories or any other form of creative media about a place local to you and close to your heart. Add your post to Mr Linky below :)


Jasmine said...

I am sorry that this post is a day late. I have had a very poorly little girl to look after these past two days. Also, I enjoy reading about the sites I visit so much, I spend more time looking up facts and lore than I should which means I never have as much time as I would like to write the post as I'd like it. Must work on my time management skills! :)

Jasmine said...

All right, I've been cheeky. I'm posting links to all friends blogs that I think fit this blog carnival. If you want me to delete your link please let me know and it will be done. Hope you don't mind? xx

Phoenix C. said...

Another beautiful and interesting post - these places are so lovely!
Thanks for the link! I'll visit the other links tomorrow.

Debrina said...

Oooo a real treasure, indeed, Jasmine!! Thanks for sharing with us!!

Tammie said...

Your post is so enticing! such a gorgeous mix of nature, history and ancient ways of the people. I wish I could walk into some of these artful photos!

Faerie Moon Creations said...

Thank you for posting about this amazing and beautiful and spiritual place! Hope your little girl is feeling better. Theresa :)

Karen said...

Lovely post Jasmine and thank you for the link to my blog :-)

Robin said...

Such incredible history in these places, it's practically tangible.

My photography is available for purchase - visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

Titus said...

Wow Jasmine, whilst I love Bristol this has taken me to another place, and most importantly, time, altogether. What a fabulous post, going to have to come back to savour (tea time).

Jules said...

This is a geat post Jasmine, what fantastic sites, and fascinating stories. We're so lucky to still have access to so many of these incredible places, and the chance to wonder about them. xxx

T said...

your local area is beautiful. we saw some of these neolithic structures in France a few months ago. I always wonder how they placed that rock on the top.

what a great find, I bet you just have to learn everything you can about them.


Joei Rhode Island said...

wow jasmine...this is quite the tour! I will have to look around to see what RI has to see.

Jasmine said...

Thank you Phoenix. Its good to have you back :)

Debrina - The whole Island is bursting with treasures. It really is a beauty.

Tammie, Their is so much history here. I am sure there is much more to unlock too.

Hi Theresa. My little girl is much better now thank you. I think I've come down with the bug now though.

Thank you Karen. Thank you for letting me link to your blog :)

Robin, it certainly is.

Titus, glad you are enjoying the post. I loved your poem.

We are very luck arent we Jules x

Hi T - I have not explored the European sites but I know the web link for 'The Modern Antiquarian' above has many European sites on it too. I love the caves in France, must visit there sometime x

Joei - I would love to see some of the sites of RI :)

Melinda Cornish said...

wow! what beautiful places...they look like magic.....

ArtSparker said...

Some day I will come and you can show me these...wonderful.I am just reading Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn in the Mythago wood series, quite a bit about Celtic princesses and Arthur in those...I don't remember if you ever found a copy of Mythago Wood?

Jasmine said...

Hi Melinda, they are as magical as the dolphins you swim with x

Susan, I look forward to giving you the guided tour one day. I did buy Mythago Wood last year. It was fascinating but I have been in far too much of a distracted state of mind these past months to see any book through to the end. I still desperately want to read Caio's book too but cant begin until I know I can stick with a book. I will try Mythago again soon xxJ

Brian Sylvester said...


Fascinating and enchanting! What a beautiful land you live in!

History all around us ;)

Take care,

faerwillow said...

~what an unbelievably lush and gorgeous journey you took us on...fascinating and hauntingly beautiful the burial chamber is...cheeky you may be!!! what a sweetheart you are for linking my post...thank you so for your kindness and thoughtful gesture...i will try and link up with you next week as well...my l♥ve and blessings be with you always~

summertime dreams said...

Oh this was such a fantastic post. Gave me goosebumps it did. I've always felt a special connection to Angelsey, even more so once I discovered it once shared my first name (Mona.) My friend was part of a dig on Anglesey, and my soul just ached to be there too. It is my lifes goal to make it there, and your posts fill me with inspiration and certainty. Thank you so much for sharing!

Sandra said...

Must visit Wales one day.....

yvette said...

I don't understand this post c0mpletely but where I live are so many treasures by nature.
Hope N. is better and you too.

Anonymous said...

a really interesting post J..loved reading this, Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Chamber is magical.. i want to lay down on the earth inside and rest for a while..it's the time of year for it..:)

thanks for linking GW. i have lots of 'sharing treasure' posts in mind..but thats the thing they are still in mind lol. we're away for a couple of months over the winter again, and am busy now making cards and stuff to send to family before we get off..look forward to joining in with this next year. sue.. xx

Maureen Walsh said...

How lucky am I to have discovered your blog. Can't wait to get stuck in to the rest!
Thank you

Fallen Timbers said...

Thanks for the wonderful collection of "Treasures"!