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Blackrock Dolmen (1987) a sculpture by Rowan Gillespie
Image credit: Sarah777 at en.wikipedia. Transferred to Commons by User: Gerardus using CommonsHelper. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Here at The Heritage Trust we’re very fond of a dolmen or two (as you may have noticed). So, it was a great pleasure to stumble on this sculpture by the Irish born sculptor Rowan Gillespie entitled Blackrock Dolmen which is now on show in Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland.
More of Rowan’s truly inspirational work here.
One of the largest dolmens in the Jungnim-ri dolmen group in Maesan Village, Gochang County, North Jeolla Province, South Korea
Image credit Steve46814. Source Wikimedia Commons
The Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen sites contain the highest density and greatest variety of dolmens in Korea, and indeed of any country. Dolmens are megalithic funerary monuments, which figured prominently in Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures across the world during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE. Usually consisting of two or more undressed stone slabs supporting a huge capstone, it is generally accepted that they were simply burial chambers, erected over the bodies or bones of deceased worthies. They are usually found in cemeteries on elevated sites and are of great archaeological value for the information that they provide about the prehistoric people who built them and their social and political systems, beliefs and rituals, and arts and ceremonies.
Source UNESCO Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites.
The Trefael Stone
BBC News South West Wales reports yesterday that a ritual burial site in Pembrokeshire may have been in use 10,000 years ago – almost twice as far back as expected –
The Trefael Stone near Nevern was reclassified as a Stone Age burial chamber after its capstone was studied. But a three-year dig [headed Dr George Nash] has since found beads dating back much further, perhaps to the Neolithic or Mesolithic periods.
For centuries the Trefael standing stone was largely disregarded as just one of hundreds of similar Bronze Age monuments. Yet closer analysis of its distinctive cup marks now indicate that they loosely match the pattern of stellar constellations. This would only make sense if, rather than standing upright, it had originally been laid flat as a capstone which would have once been supported by a series of upright stones.
Dr Nash believes the Trefael Stone in fact topped a Neolithic burial chamber, probably a portal dolmen, which is one of western Britain’s earliest burial monument types. “Many years ago Trefael was considered just a simple standing stone lying in a windswept field, but the excavation programme has proved otherwise,” he said. “It suggests that Trefael once lay in the heart of a ritualised landscape that was in operation for at least 5-6,000 years.
A guest feature by Roy Goutté. Text and images © Roy Goutté.
Trethevy Quoit summer 2012
On the 31st of January 2013 I made an unscheduled visit to Trethevy Quoit, a portal dolmen sited in a field adjacent to the tiny hamlet of Trecarne just off the south-eastern fringes of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Grid Ref: SX259688. Accompanying me was an English Heritage at Risk Project Officer. Prior to this we had spent time on Craddock Moor discussing the possibility of remedial work being carried out on its stone circle which had fallen into disrepair and was slowly being consumed by the peat beneath and the gorse and brush above! The visit to the quoit, just some two miles away, was a very welcome time filler for the officer who had time to kill before her next appointment.
Over the past two years I had spent many hours at the quoit researching for my new book Trethevy Quoit… Cornwall’s Megalithic Masterpiece and had on many occasions during those visits sat on the lush grass of the quoits empty field and looked on in wonder at what our great ancestors had bequeathed us, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was to cast my eyes on that day. Horses… and plenty of them!
Without a care in the world it would seem, horses and ponies had been allowed to run free in the field without making any attempt whatsoever to protect the monument. Not even the simplest of electrified animal fencing had been installed which was simply inviting disaster. Due to our overly wet winter in Cornwall, and the horses galloping around like mad things, the ground had become so churned up that the grass in places had been replaced by mud and was no longer visible! Naturally the English Heritage Officer was as equally appalled as I was and immediately took notes and photographs to report back with.
Today (the 16th February) I made a return visit and was even more horrified. The horses had either been removed or out being ridden for a few hours, but the field area around the quoit was much, much worse than it had been before with huge tractor tyre tracks around it and hoof prints encroaching up to and onto the low remaining banked cairn surrounding the base of the quoit. It was in danger of becoming unstable if this was to continue as the side orthostats/slabs of the tomb rely on the banked cairn being there to keep their base in place! The consequences of this banking becoming dislodged or destroyed didn’t bear thinking about!
Tractor tyres and hoof-prints cutting up the ground to the north of the quoit with hoof-prints embedded in the banked cairn holding the side flanking stones in position
And the same to the southern side showing the banked cairn being encroached upon
I contacted English Heritage immediately and have left it in their hands. I stressed the importance of an immediate visit and emailed them a series of photographs. I also shot a video showing the damage that had been done and offered them any assistance I can as I live locally.
I find it unbelievable that in these supposed enlightened times a landowner can be so irresponsible as to allow horses to trample all around and over a banked cairn of a Scheduled Monument without making any attempt whatsoever of safeguarding it first. It beggars belief that in this day and age, someone can be so lacking in respect or concern for our heritage.
The quoit has stood in this field for some 5,000+ years and we have been allowed free access to it for as long as memory serves. It is Cornwall’s finest remaining fully standing cromlech and it is irresponsible acts such as this that can remove that access to us, but worse still, see the ultimate demise of Cornwall’s real jewel in the crown… our Megalithic Masterpiece… Trethevy Quoit.
The 5,000 year-old Poulnabrone dolmen, Burren, County Clare, Ireland
Source Wikipedia. Image credit Kglavin
Ashleigh Murszewski, writing in The Heritage Daily at the end of last year, asks –
Trefael Stone and illuminating the cupmarks. Image © Adam Stanford and WRAO
Writing in The Independent on Tuesday, 10 April, Dalya Alberge reports that –
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Neolithic portal dolmen, one of Western Europe’s oldest ritual burial chambered monuments, in an isolated field in Wales. It is thought the tomb was built from giant boulders about 5,500 years ago. Its capstone bears a seemingly random pattern of dozens of circular holes gouged into its surface – symbols of Neolithic or Bronze Age ritual burial activity. What makes it particularly interesting is that the site has rare remains of human bones and shards of decorated pottery.
The archaeological excavation near Newport in Pembrokeshire has been led by George Nash, Thomas Wellicome and Adam Stanford, who plan to resume work in September. Dr Nash, an archaeologist and lecturer at Bristol University, said: “The dolmen is the earliest type of monument you can find in the Neolithic era. “It is very rare to discover such a site of this age. Since 1600, intense farming practices have meant a lot of ancient sites were destroyed. What is unique about the whole thing is that we are dealing with thick, acidic soils but the bones and the pottery have survived.”
Full article here. Detailed reports on The Welsh Rock Art Organization website here and Past Horizons here. See also The Heritage Trust’s 2012 Outreach Event which will take place in Solva, Pembrokeshire. The Event begins on Monday, 16 July and lasts until Wednesday, 18 July.
Carreg Samson © The Heritage Trust
The Heritage Trust will be holding an outreach event over three days from Monday evening, 16 July to Wednesday evening, 18 July. The theme this year will focus on the dolmens of the Pembrokeshire Coast, south-west Wales. Visits to Carreg Coetan Arthur, Carreg Samson and Pentre Ifan are planned. Time and weather permitting, a visit to Carn Menyn, the possible source of the bluestones at Stonehenge, will also be included. The event is free, and will begin with an evening drink at the Cambrian Inn in Solva, Pembrokeshire on Monday, 16 July and end with a dinner on 18 July (costs for both are not included in the event).
This photo of The Cambrian Inn is courtesy of TripAdvisor