This is one for the urban prehistorian, for while it does not concern urban environments and an ‘unlikely place’, it does relate a modern megalithic feature installed close to a megalithic monument hailing from prehistory: the Neolithic henge monument converted into a passage grave in south-east Anglesey known as Bryn Celli Ddu.
I visited Bryn Celli Ddu last summer with three of my miniature archaeologists and blogged about it here. Either because I wasn’t expecting it and was so busy navigating said offspring out of the car and heading off for the ancient monument, or because it was only built in the latter part of 2014, I didn’t notice a striking megalithic feature within the Cadw car park itself. I noticed it this time when I visited with all 5 of my kids. So before even leaving the car park and setting off on the walk to the Neolithic passage grave, I set off with my horde of terrors to investigate this nearly-new megalithic feature with enthusiasm.
What we encountered was a miniature roofless replica of Bryn Celli Ddu itself, albeit with an entrance seemingly taking a different alignment (at a guess I’d say north). It comprises a ring of (low) standing stones surrounding a round mound, internally kerbed, thus creating an inner circular space. This is a megalithic knee-high bench running around the inner kerb, creating a capacious seating area for c. 20 people. A special touch was the incorporation of three trilithon features into this inner kerb: one opposite the entrance, two either side of the entrance. This last feature reminded me of the architectural trilithons at the early 19th-century ‘Druid’s Temple’ near Masham, North Yorkshire.
Is this a sanctioned ancient monument or the creation of some rogue megalithic artist? Is this a ceremonial feature built to serve the modern Pagans who utilise Bryn Celli Ddu for their ceremonies? Is it a megalithic picnic area for visiting school groups? Is it indeed new or was it protected and cloaked by spells during my last visit? Cadw’s website conceals well this new megalithic monument. Who out there can unlock its secrets and mysteries?
Of course my infantile barbarian horde did not understand this megalithic pastiche at all, with all its sophisticated and respectful allusions to the prehistoric monuments of Britain. Instead they used it briefly as an activity centre, re-arranging loose rocks and scaling the mound and climbing up the inner kerb and the individual standing stones, before being herded off to see the ‘real thing’. Unsurprisingly, the ancient monument itself was even more popular, even if in many ways its appearance is also a creation of the modern world as the nearly-new megalithic monument in the car park. Incidentally, and for reasons unclear, Bryn Celli Ddu is now regarded by my son as ‘The Coot’.
Note: Kenny Brophy has just blogged about this monument. I clearly caught it at an early stage in its monumental biography. Much more becomes clear by reading Kenny’s piece here.