IMG_3032The atmospheric passage grave of Bryn Celli Ddu is well-known. There is evidence of interventions as early as 1699 when men broke in and were terrified when they found the central pillar looking ghost-like in the chamber.

The principal excavations were between 1927 and 1931 by W. J. Hemp. IMG_3054

It is now thought to be a two-phase monument, originally a henge monument of the late Neolithic with bank (now gone), ditch and stone circle. Either as part of the ceremonies conducted at the henge or during its ‘re-dedication’, a decorated stone was raised. Also, a pit was placed centrally, a fire lit in it, and a human ear bone placed at the bottom before it was covered with a stone. Weird stuff! IMG_3056

After this, the henge was ‘sealed’ by the building of the passage grave. This monument is one of the latest of this tradition known from Brittany to the Orkney Islands.

One of the chamber’s stones is decorated with an incised spiral. Both flint artefacts and human remains (burnt and unburnt) were uncovered during the excavation. Unsurprisingly, given how long exposure of the chamber, no in situ deposits were uncovered during the 1920s excavations.

Around the entrance of the chamber were hearths and quartz stones, together with the burial of an ox within a stone and timber enclosure, perhaps a ritual focus during the use of the tomb and/or after the blocking of the chamber. IMG_3036

The Welsh Rock Art Organisation has explored the rock-art at the tomb and in the neighbourhood in some detail, as shown here.  IMG_3055The passage and chamber have been reconstructed and consolidated with concrete and RSJs.

A section through the mound to the back of the chamber simultaneously gives the visitor a sense of the mound’s composition and allows light to enter into the otherwise dangerously dark chamber.

As I witnessed last year, the chamber is filled with all manner of graffiti, focusing on the easily inscribed concrete supporting beams and uprights. Some of the votive offerings – flowers, coins, headdresses etc, reflect the active use of this site for Anglesey’s neo-Pagan communities.IMG_3057 IMG_3039 IMG_3047 IMG_3038

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