Barclodiad y Gawres burial mound, near Rhosneigr

Barclodiad y Gawres burial mound, near Rhosneigr

A short distance west of the car park at Porth Trecastell, the Wales Coast Path brings you to a large prehistoric burial mound which indicates ancient connections between Anglesey, Ireland, France and Spain.

The Neolithic mound is known as Barclodiad y Gawres, which means “apronful of the giantess”. Other burial mounds in Wales have similar names, including Arffedogiad y Wrach, near Caergwrle, and Arffedogiad y Gawres, near Beddgelert. Arffedogiad also means “apronful” and y Wrach is “the Witch”. A Bronze Age cairn at Bwlch y Ddeufaen (near Llanfairfechan) is known as Barclodiad y Gawres.

In Welsh and other folklore, the stones of a previously earth-covered mound were commonly perceived as an apronful of rocks thrown down in disgust by a witch or by a giant's wife!

This Barclodiad y Gawres dates from the last period of the Stone Age, c.4000BC to 3500BC. To hear how to pronounce Barclodiad y Gawres, press play:

In the 1950s, archaeologists found inside the remains of two men who had been cremated. On some of the stones there are inscribed patterns, including spirals and zigzag lines, which have also been found at burial places in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, and in Spain and Brittany.

The 1950s excavation also uncovered the remains of a fire inside the tomb which was apparently extinguished by pouring a mixture of water, fish and small animals over it! Shells were then placed over the top.

The original mound was about 27 metres in diameter. A long entrance passage led to a central chamber. Three shorter passages led from the central chamber. The passages formed a cross-shaped layout.

Most of the stones over the passages were removed long ago. A modern roof has allowed the mound’s external shape and interior passages to be recreated.

A short distance north of Barclodiad y Gawres are the remains of a smaller burial mound from the Bronze Age (c.2300BC to 800BC).

With thanks to Andrew Davidson, of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, and Prof Hywel Wyn Owen, of the Welsh Place-Name Society

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Website of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust 

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