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PEN-Y-WAL, DOLLWEN CONCENTRIC BARROW, GOGINAN BARROW CEMETERY

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 404647

Map Reference SN68SE

Grid Reference SN68718144

Unitary (Local) Authority Ceredigion

Old County Cardiganshire

Community Melindwr

Type of Site ROUND BARROW

Broad Class RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY

Period Prehistoric, Early Medieval, Bronze Age

Site Description 1. During the drought of July 2006, aerial reconnaissance identified a complex of Early Bronze Age monuments in the valley bottom at Dollwen, Goginan. The chance which lay behind their discovery was considerable. Even into late June the field was under long grass for a silage crop. This was harvested in early July, following which there was a fall of rain; the persistent drought then returned into mid July forcing a regrowth of grass and weeds (the ‘aftermath’) where buried archaeological ditches provided sufficient moisture and nutrients for the roots. Thus a ‘cropmark’ appeared to the author during aerial reconnaissance, at first faintly on its discovery on 17th July 2006, then more pronounced 10 days later on 27th July when the key photographs were taken. The cropmarks were clear enough to be seen from the ground a few days later, when it was possible to photograph them and gain some sense of the extraordinary scale and imposing nature of this otherwise invisible monument. Without the particular coincidence of seasonal and agricultural factors, the Dollwen monuments could have lain undiscovered for many years to come.

The focal point of the Dollwen Early Bronze Age complex is a large and impressive concentric enclosure c. 43.6m in diameter (NPRN 404647), with 1.4-1.9m wide ditches (measurements were taken from the cropmark while it still showed on the ground). Only 20m to the south-east, cropmarks show a large circular depression or pit, likely to be a pond barrow. Fifteen metres to the north-east is an upstanding barrow (NPRN 404648), only discovered as a parched mound at the time of the cropmark discovery. ‘Ring ditches’, or further plough-levelled burial mounds, are also visible to the south of the concentric enclosure, and across the river to the north (NPRN 405448). Linear cropmarks of former boundaries could represent a contemporary field system within which the barrows were built, perhaps to ensure agricultural prosperity or to allow dead ancestors to watch over the farmlands.

For a full account see: Driver, T. 2009. Barrows, cropmarks and Lewis Morris: An Early Bronze Age ritual complex discovered at Dollwen, Goginan, Ceredigion, Ceredigion Volume XVI, Number 1. 1-21

T. Driver, RCAHMW

2. New aerial reconnaissance on 10th July 2018 during record drought conditions changed our understanding of this site. The new images provided clearer detail of the main concentric burial monument, showing both circuits of the concentric barrow 'flatten' on their north side apparently avoiding or respecting cropmarks of a pit or post/stone hole just outside the circle. The new cropmarks also showed indications of one square barrow and several grave cuts on the eastern side of the monument suggesting re-use of the site for burial in the early medieval period, as at Plas Gogerddan to the north-west. The square barrow is partly constructed over the inner ditch of the Bronze Age monument. The graves are aligned east-west suggesting Christian use of the cemetery.

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 23rd July 2018.

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