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Barclodiad y Gawres from the north-west
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Views out to sea from the top of the mound

This is a fabulous location for a passage grave; isolated on a headland between two rocky inlets and with the wide bay of Rhosneigr to the north-west. One can almost imagine this as a lair of the dragon in Beowulf on the sea-cliff on the edge of his Geatish kingdom.

Access is easy from a car park to the south-east and a short walk up the hill to the right of the bay. One encounters a spectacular monument with views out to sea and along the south-west coast of Anglesey.

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The bay to the south-east

Beneath a large round mound of earth is a single chamber with a corbelled roof accessed by a passage. Five of the stones inside the chamber are decorated with abstract designs. In all these regards, the monument bears similarities with Bryn Celli Ddu and the passage graves of eastern Ireland: Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Excavations in the 1950s revealed cremated bones, indicative of late Neolithic passage grave mortuary practice in Ireland and Wales. What a headland for cremation ceremonies to have taken place ahead of their interment in the tomb over years and perhaps even over generations!

It is difficult to fault the presentation of this monument, despite the heavy reconstruction and locked chamber. Because it can be seen from the road, it is served by a car park and it is on the coastal path, this is a well-visited and popular heritage site.

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A group visiting the monument

 

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The ‘restored’ passage grave

The monument is heavily reconstructed and protected by two iron gates. The innermost is locked most of the year to prevent vandalism. Still, with a torch and flash photography, one can see into the chambered space. Also, I noticed another recent Pagan votive offering.

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The chamber in Barclodiad y Gawres
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Modern offerings within the chamber
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One of two heritage boards – this one inside the passage, the other beside the car park

 

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