Ancient Monuments

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Tinkinswood Burial Chamber

A Scheduled Monument in St. Nicholas and Bonvilston (Sain Nicolas a Thresimwn), Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg)

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Latitude: 51.4513 / 51°27'4"N

Longitude: -3.3071 / 3°18'25"W

OS Eastings: 309268

OS Northings: 173292

OS Grid: ST092732

Mapcode National: GBR HR.MYNT

Mapcode Global: VH6FB.MSJ9

Entry Name: Tinkinswood Burial Chamber

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 3369

Cadw Legacy ID: GM009

Schedule Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Category: Chambered long barrow

Period: Prehistoric

County: Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg)

Community: St. Nicholas and Bonvilston (Sain Nicolas a Thresimwn)

Built-Up Area: St Nicholas

Traditional County: Glamorgan


The monument consists of the remains of a chambered long cairn, dating to the early Neolithic (c. 4400BC-3000BC). A long cairn is a roughly rectangular or trapezoidal stone, usually between 25m and 120m long, with a length exceeding twice its greatest width. The mound may be edged with a timber or stone revetment, and they contain one or more stone or wooden burial chambers at one end.

The cairn is located in a small, gently sloping valley in the Vale of Glamorgan. It attracted antiquarian interest as early as the late 18th century, when its appearance was rather different from now. The capstone was then on the ground surface, and the chamber was partly visible but buried, and could be entered only from the east side. The mound was ill-defined, with a heap of stones on it, much of which was removed in the 19th century. In 1914 it was thoroughly excavated and its true nature as a Neolithic communal tomb was revealed. It falls clearly into the Cotswold-Severn tradition, with its trapezoidal plan and forecourt with chamber opening off it. The mound is straight-sided, relatively squat and not as tapered as most in this group. The surface slopes gradually up towards the east, chamber end, leaving the capstone uncovered. Whether or not this was originally covered by the mound is not known. The edges of the mound are revetted by drystone walling. (Where this has been restored it is in a herringbone pattern to distinguish it from the original). The walling was upright or leaning outwards, and had deliberate packing outside it to buttress it up. For the same purpose the cairn stones around the chamber were larger than on the west of the mound and sloped towards it.

Within the body of the cairn, towards the western end, were found discontinuous parallel rows of small upright slabs standing on the original ground surface. These have been found in other cairns of the same type, and their purpose is not known. On the north side of the cairn is an unusual intrustive stone-lined pit which contained some animal bones. The forecourt was the focus of ritual activity connected with the deposition of the dead. It has curving drystone walls and a similar wall in front of the upright stones of the chamber, with a narrow stone-lined entrance at its northern end. Its surface was originally of beaten earth and gravel, with rough paving in front of the threshold. Simple pottery similar to a type known to date from about the middle of the 3rd millennium BC was found on the surface. When the tomb went out of use the forecourt was sealed with small stones.

The chamber itself is roughly rectangular, roofed by the huge capstone. Its south side has been robbed out, but the large upright slabs of the other sides are still in place. Inside and nearby were found about 920 pieces of human bone, nearly all broken. They are thought to have come from about 40 people of both sexes and all ages. The tomb was probably used by a small community over a long time, and there is evidence that it was in use right up to the end of the Neolithic period.

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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