Dyffryn Ardudwy 

Two-period Portal Dolmens - Gwynedd

Home ] Up ] What's New ] Scotland ] England ] Ireland ] Europe ] Methods ] Us ]

More Pics


SH 58873 22843 (GPS 47min) - eastern chamber.
Visited August 2001

Dyffryn Ardudwy is quite an important monument, its excavation resulted in a profound change in the dating of burial chambers. The remains of two chambers exist at Dyffryn Ardudwy, and although dissimilar, they both belong to the Portal Dolmen classification. Portal Dolmens are found mainly in Ireland, Cornwall, and Wales. The classic form of this type of chamber is beautifully illustrated by the western chamber at Dyffryn, a rectangular chamber with high frontal pillars which flank a non-opening portal stone, all capped by a massive tilted capstone.
The Portal Dolmen was originally thought to have originated in the north of Ireland as a final evolutionary form of the Court Tomb, which then spread throughout Ireland and across the sea to Wales and Cornwall. This evaluation necessarily gave the Portal Dolmen a late date in the chronology of megalithic tombs, this all changed when Dyffryn Ardudwy was excavated in 1960. It was discovered that Dyffryn Ardudwy was actually a two period monument, the western chamber having been built first. This chamber was originally covered by a circular cairn with a small forecourt, in the material used to block the forecourt were found fragments of shouldered bowls dating from the Early Neolithic Period. This find gave a conclusively early date for the western chamber and forced a re-evaluation of typological dating for this class of monument as a whole.
The second phase of building at Dyffryn saw the construction of the eastern chamber, although this is a larger monument, it is seen as a "degenerate" form of the Portal Dolmen tradition. The eastern chamber seems to have lacked the typical frontal closure and high portal stones of the classic form, and if the reconstructed form seen today is accurate, it did not have a sloped capstone. This second chamber was covered by a massive rectangular cairn which completely engulfed the earlier chamber and cairn. Much robbed over the ages, only a vestige of the cairn remains today, but its extent is clearly visible.
Only a short walk from the main street of the village, Dyffryn Ardudwy is an excellent site to visit. Unfortunately this proximity to civilisation is not without its cost, we found freshly carved graffiti and evidence of several fires burned inside the eastern chamber.

Home ] Up ] What's New ] Scotland ] England ] Ireland ] Europe ] Methods ] Us ]