The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

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Plas Newydd Burial Chamber, Llanfair P.G., Anglesey

Cromlech at Plas Newydd, Anglesey (Drawing)

Cromlech at Plas Newydd, in Anglesey (Old Drawing)

    OS grid reference: SH 5198 6972. Plas Newydd prehistoric burial chamber, cromlech or dolmen, stands just 300 metres north-east of the shoreline of the Menai Straits – at the south-side of the island of Angle-sey and, just opposite Plas Newydd House and Country Park – in whose “private” grounds it is situated. The site is 1½ miles south-west of Llanfair P.G. village and Menai Bridge, which links the Welsh main-land to the island. After the Menai Bridge and link-road take the A5 road, then the  A4080 (Ffordd Brynsiencyn) road to the south-west for 1 mile. Take the first lane that runs off this road (south) to the NT Plas Newydd House. The ancient monument is just 150m to the south-east of the carpark and on private land in front of the big house! And ½ a mile to the south, at the edge of the country park, is a second ancient monument, Bryn-yr-Hen Bobl, which is a chambered cairn.

Cromlech at Plas Newydd in Anglesey (engraving 1799 Wikipedia)

Cromlech at Plas Newydd, Anglesey by Caroline Metz, 1799, Wikipedia)

    There are actually two burial chambers next to each other here, the larger one having a gigantic oblong-shaped capstone weighing many tonnes and measuring 3.5m x 3m, which is supported by five large and sturdy uprights, whereas the smaller chamber’s capstone is 2m x 1.7m and is supported by three smaller, round-shaped boulders. It would seem that the smaller monument acted as an antechamber (passage-way) to the larger monument. These burial chambers are said to date from the Neolithic age. Nearby there are some boulders embedded in the ground – they are probably outliers – and maybe an indication that the burial site once covered a larger area than it does now. There is no sign today of the large earthen mound that would have originally covered these monuments, or did each burial chamber have its own separate covering mound?

    Author Christopher Houlder in his work ‘Wales: An Archaeological Guide’, says of the site: “In parkland overlooking the Menai Strait is a megalithic tomb consisting of a main chamber 3 m by 2.4 m and a smaller antechamber, each with its own capstone, but there is no mound or other feature to give cultural definition.”

    And likewise, author Jacquetta Hawkes, in her book ‘A Guide To The Prehistoric And Roman Monuments In England And Wales’, says of the site: “The Plas Newydd dolmen stands at the end of the drive between the mansion and a cricket field where it commands a view across the Straits. In such a place it at once suggests an eighteenth-century folly, an ornament to the house put up by some romantically minded peer. In truth, however, it is a genuine prehistoric monument of a rather unusual kind; thereare two adjacent chambers, one larger than the other, with very massive uprights and capstones, separated by a single upright. It is possible, though not to my mind likely, that the smaller chamber was originally a passage or antechamber giving access to the larger.”

    Plas Newydd burial chamber were first marked as a cromlech on the OS map of 1841 and as Burial Chamber on the 1947 map, and later ones. There was apparently an early reference and illustration in ‘Druidical Antiquities’ published by S. Hooper in April 1784, which shows two capstones with the larger one resting on five uprights, according to Chris Barber in his work ‘The Ancient Stones of Wales’.

Bryn-yr-Hen Bobl burial Chamber (phot credit: robinLeicester - Wikipedia)

Bryn-yr-Hen-Bobl (photo credit: Robin Leicester – Wikipedia)

    About ½ a mile to the south (OS grid ref: SH 5189 6900) and at the edge of the country park, there is another ancient monument. Again it is on private land. This is Bryn-yr-Hen Bobl, a kidney-shaped grassy mound with a couple of trees on it – and a chambered cairn and funnel-shaped forecourt facing E. There is a revetted terrace some 12m wide extending 100m to the S. This megalithic burial tomb was excavated back in 1929 at which time some ‘earlier’ Neolithic artefacts were found including stone axes, plain ‘western’ and Peterborough types of pottery. “The tomb contained the remains of at least twenty individuals”. (Houlder, 1978)


Barber, Chris & Williams, John Godfrey., The Ancient Stones of Wales, Blorenge Books, Abergavenny, Gwent, 1989.

Hawkes, Jacquetta., A Guide To The Prehistoric And Roman Monuments In England And Wales, Cardinal, London, 1975.,_Plas_Newydd,_Anglesey.jpg    This photo is displayed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Houlder, Christopher., Wales: An Archaeological Guide, Faber, London, 1978.

Llech-y-Dribedd, Moylgrove, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Llech-y-tribedd, looking east (photo credit: Bob Helms for Geograph)

Llech-y-tribedd, looking east (photo credit: Bob Helms for Geograph)

    OS Grid Reference: SN 10063 43195. The Neolithic burial chamber Llech-y-Dribbed, or Llech-y-Trypedd, stands on private land 25 metres to the west of a farm track at the south-west side of Penlan Farm, and ¾ of a mile from the village of Moylgrove, in Pembrokeshire. It has been variously described as a cromlech, a quoit and a dolmen. And from some distance away this ancient megalithic monument looks quite eerie – and it has the appearance of an alien space-craft that has just landed, but close-up it becomes a tripod or triangular-shaped lump of stone on three smaller up-right stones, hence its occasional name ‘The Tripod Stone’. Local legend says that the large capstone was hurled from the top of Carn Ingli, near Nevern, by a local giant called Samson, although we don’t know whether this was St Samson, who is associated with other megalithic tombs in this part of Wales.

    The name Llech-y-Dribedd means ‘Stone of the Three Graves’ (Sykes, Homer, 1998) so as this was originally a long barrow we might assume that there were three burials here, but all that now remains of the chamber(s) are several large stones partly buried in the ground beneath the monument. It stands on three ‘sturdy’ up-right stones at a height of 8 feet while its huge, “triangular-shaped capstone measures 9 feet 8 inches long by 9 feet broad,” according to the authors Chris Barber & John Godfrey Williams ‘The Ancient Stones of Wales’. The earthen mound that once covered the tomb has long since eroded away, although one of the recum-bent stones beneath the capstone was said to be ‘still standing’ in the early 18th century; and I would hope that it will “still” be here in many years to come ‘as a testament to the ancient people who built it.’


Barber, Chris & Williams, John Godfrey., The Ancient Stones of Wales, Blorenge Books, Abergavenny, Gwent, 1989.      © Copyright Bob Helms and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Sykes, Homer., Celtic Britain, Pheonix Illustrated Orion Publishing Group, London WC2. 1998.