Carreg Samson burial chamber, Abercastle
Carreg Samson is one of the most impressive burial chambers in South Wales. It's a short distance from the coast path, beside the footpath to Longhouse Farm.
Carreg Samson was constructed in the Neolithic (New Stone Age) c.5,500 years ago, when a new way of life was spreading along the Atlantic coasts of Europe. This was based on farming rather than hunting and gathering, and these first farmers introduced domesticated crops and livestock in Britain.
They also brought the first pottery here, along with the practice of building large stone monuments, like Carreg Samson. These megaliths are found along the Atlantic coast from Spain to Orkney. In Pembrokeshire the remains of at least 30 megalithic structures can still be seen today.
What we see at Carreg Samson today represents the shell of what the monument would have looked like during its use. The remains include six upright stones, three of which support a massive capstone that is 4.7 metres by 2.7 metres and 1 metre high. This would have been covered by a mound of earth and stones, possibly leaving the capstone exposed. The earth and stone have long since disappeared, possibly reused in the surrounding walls.
If you stand on the inland side of Carreg Samson looking towards the rocky ridge of Garn Fawr on Strumble Head, the outline of the capstone almost mirrors the outline of the ridge (as shown in the photo by Philip Lees). It is likely that landscape and ancestors formed an important part of the early farmers' belief systems.
Carreg Samson was once known as the grave of Samson's finger. Local legend records that St Samson, son of a royal courtier and later abbot of the monastery on Caldey Island, lifted the 12-ton capstone into place with his little finger – but severed the finger in doing so.
With thanks to Philip Lees and Tomos Jones