Ancient Monuments

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Pen y Wyrlod Long Cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Talgarth, Powys

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Latitude: 51.976 / 51°58'33"N

Longitude: -3.2381 / 3°14'17"W

OS Eastings: 315054

OS Northings: 231563

OS Grid: SO150315

Mapcode National: GBR YW.KPFQ

Mapcode Global: VH6BV.TLJJ

Entry Name: Pen y Wyrlod Long Cairn

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 777

Cadw Legacy ID: BR175

Schedule Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Category: Chambered long cairn

Period: Prehistoric

County: Powys

Community: Talgarth

Traditional County: Brecknockshire


The monument consists of the remains of a chambered long cairn, dating to early Neolithic (c. 4,200BC - 3,000BC). Pen-yr-wrlodd Long Cairn comprises the remains of a very large long cairn of Cotswold-Severn type occupying gently rising ground on the brow of a low ridge with extensive views across the Llynfi-Wye basin to the W and N and also towards the northern Black Mountains to the E. The monument was first discovered in 1972 when the owner began to quarry a presumed natural mound for building materials, work halting when human bones and chambers were encountered, by which time over half of the southern end of the cairn had been removed, although the remainder of the monument is substantially intact. Limited excavation and recording by H.N. Savory established the principal structural components of the cairn.

The cairn is trapezoid in plan and measures 60m in length by a maximum width of 25m, its highest point being approximately 3m above external ground level. The broad end faces uphill to the SE and in common with other Cotswold-Severn cairns formed a ‘horned’ or lobed forecourt flanking a false entrance portal of massive orthostats (upright stones) , the possible capstone now lying on the intact surface of the mound. The body of the cairn is composed of very tightly packed irregular slabs of local Devonian sandstone the edges being defined by a pair of drystone revetment walls, the lower, outer wall being of very thinly cut and finely-bedded stones. The remains of four lateral chambers were identified in the disturbed part of the cairn, the largest in the south-western side of the cairn being described as the ‘main’ chamber by Savory, its rear orthostats and capstone exposed in the quarry face but is otherwise undisturbed. Three chambers were exposed and partially destroyed by quarrying in the north-eastern side (Savory’s NE I, II and III), all composed of slender upright slabs with blocked entrance passages in the thickness of the revetment walls. Due to the presence of tree on its summit NE chamber III and a mound of cairn material around it was only partially damaged and excavated. A small cist burial was identified at the SE end of the cairn. Deposits within the chambers had been heavily disturbed but quantities of disarticulated human and animal bones, flints and stone objects were retrieved. Bone retrieved from NE chamber II produced a calibrated radiocarbon date of 3800-3600BC.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of prehistoric burial and ritual practices. The features are an important relic of a prehistoric funerary and ritual landscape and retain significant archaeological potential. There is a strong probability of the presence of both intact ritual and burial deposits, together with environmental and structural evidence. Chambered long cairns may be part of a larger cluster of monuments and their importance can further enhanced by their group value.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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