West Kennet Long Barrow: MPBW sign

west kennet-Edit
West Kennet Long Barrow © Patrick Taylor

The West Kennet long barrow was placed on the 1882 Schedule of Ancient Monuments. It now lies within the Avebury World Heritage Site. The scientific excavation took place in 1955–56.

Radiocarbon dates suggest that the monument was constructed in the period 3,700–3,600 BC, more than a millennium earlier than was thought in the 1960s.

Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit © David Gill

Lanyon Quoit is located near to Madron in Penwith. The remains formed part of a neolithic chambered tomb.

The stones were re-erected in 1824.

Ding Dong Mine sits on the skyline. This forms part of the UNESCO Cornwall & West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.

Ministry signs on St Mary’s

Porth Hellick Down © Patrick Taylor

The ancient monuments on St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly received Ministry signs. The chambered tomb on Porth Hellick Down is described as ‘the best preserved tomb of all those in the islands’, echoing O’Neil’s guidebook, ‘perhaps the best preserved of all those in the islands’. Again, ‘a few potsherds have been found in the chamber’, follows, ‘a few potsherds have been found in this tomb’.

Innisidgen © Patrick Taylor

At Innisidgen the sign starts with the same description as Porth Hellick. The description in the guidebook, ‘Nothing is known to have been found in the chamber’, follows the sign, ‘the chamber has long since been rifled of its contents’.

Lower Innisidgen © Patrick Taylor

The sign at Lower Innisidgen echoes the others.

Bants Carn © Patrick Taylor

The sign notes, ‘Cremated bones and pieces of pottery were found in the chamber many years ago’, whereas the guidebook states, ‘Four piles of cremated bones were found at the inner end of the chamber many years ago, as well as some pieces of pottery in the passage just outside the entrance to the chamber’.

Bants Carn Ancient Village © Patrick Taylor

Near to Bants Carn Burial Chamber is a village. The sign and guidebook place it to the 2nd–3rd centuries AD, describing it as ‘Roman period’ or even ‘Romano-British’. The sign and guidebook talks of ’round or oval huts … built of large, well-laid granite blocks’. The guidebook continues ‘Paths and garden plots or small fields may also be detected’.

Harry’s Walls © Patrick Taylor

A later monument is the artillery fort known as Harry’s Walls.

We are grateful to Patrick Taylor for digitising the images.

Trethevy Quoit

Trethevy Quoit © David Gill

The neolithic burial chamber of Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall was given to the nation in November 1931. It is now in the care of English Heritage and is managed by the Cornwall Heritage Trust.

For other prehistoric sites in the care of English Heritage see here.

Board Game at Sutton Hoo

Reconstructed ship burial at National Trust Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The reconstructed ship burial in the exhibition centre at National Trust Sutton Hoo includes the board game that was placed alongside the body. The original pieces are now in the British Museum.

Eddie Duggan writes:

It looks like hnefatafl – but all the bits are the same colour! 
The pieces are on the lines rather than in the spaces (alea evangelii may have been played on the lines, but alea evangelii was also probably intended as a symbolic use of the board [cf Wink Martindale’s “Deck of Cards”] rather than as a playable board game that was played for fun).  
If it is hnefatafl, pieces would play on the squares and there would be 24 attacking pieces and 12 defenders (together with defending a king); the defending pieces’ starting position is in a  symmetrical arrangement around the king while the attacking forces are grouped in sixes on each of the four sides. The aim is to get the king to safety, although which squares constitute safety is a matter of debate due to Linnaeus (the botanist) failing to make accurate notes during his tour of Lappland (Lachesis lapponica).

Cairn Holy: restrictions on cars

Cairn Holy © David Gill

The Neolithic chambered tombs at Cairn Holy overlook Wigtown Bay. There is a small parking area at the end of the road, and discouragement from proceeding any further up the (rough) lane.

The cairns were excavated in 1949.

Note the chambered tomb in the background.

Guides to chambered tombs in Wales

Pentre-ifan © David Gill

Pentre-Ifan in Pembrokeshire was the first prehistoric burial chamber to be placed under state guardianship in 1880.

The earliest guide to a chambered tomb in Wales was the one on Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey by Wilfrid James Hemp (1935).

1971 (repr. 1973)

This was followed by H.N. Savory’s Tinkinswood and St Lythan Long Cairns in the Vale of Glamorgan (1950), and William F. Grimes’ two guides for Pentre Ifan in Pembrokreshire (1953) and Capel Garmon in Gwynedd (1958).

(1960 [1971])
Savory, Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, also contributed the essay on ‘Prehistory’ for the Illustrated Guide to the Ancient Monuments of Wales.

Wales (1973)

O.E. Craster’s ‘blue guide’ to Anglesey (1953) includes several burial chambers:

  • no. 1: Bodowyr
  • no. 2: Trefignath
  • no. 3: Din Dryfol
  • no. 4: Presaddfed
  • no. 5: Ty Newydd
  • no. 6: Lligwy
  • no. 7: Bryn-celli-ddu
  • no. 8: Barclodiad-y-gawres

These were placed in state guardianship in 1910 (no. 4), 1911 (nos. 1, 2, 3, 6), 1920 (no. 5), 1923 (no. 7), and 1958 (no. 8).


Lesley MacInnes’ guide to Anglesey (1980) is divided into tours:

  • no. 5 [6]: Lligwy
  • no. 8 [7]: Bryn Celli Ddu
  • no. 11 [1]: Bodowyr
  • no. 12 [3]: Din Dryfol
  • no. 13 [8]: Barclodiad y Gawres
  • no. 14 [5]: Ty Newydd
  • no. 15 [4]: Presaddfed
  • no. 22 [2]: Trefignath

Parc Le Breos on Gower in south Wales has an extended entry in Diane M. Williams, Gower: A Guide to Ancient and Historic Monuments on the Gower Peninsula (1998). This is one of the Cotswold-Severn tombs (e.g. Hetty Pegler’s Tump).


The most recent guide is for Capel Garmon by M.J. Yates (1996). This consists of a foldout card with images and plan.

Clava Cairns


The Clava Cairns lie alongside the river Nairn not far from the Culloden battlefield site. The mounds date to c. 2000 BCE.

The mounds are owned by the National Trust for Scotland and are in the care of Historic Scotland. Historic Scotland has produced an Official Visitor’s Guide by Steve Farrar (2009). It is a foldout concertina style format with four pages each side, with plans and colour photographs. The sections are: Sacred for 4,000 years; the winter solstice; ring of fire; digging away the past; the south-west cairn; and the north-east cairn. Three items are listed for further reading.

This forms a companion to the booklet form of Historic Scotland guides.

  • Clava Cairns guide (PDF) from Historic Scotland

Hetty Pegler’s Tump


The DOE produced a short guide by L. V. Grinsell to the Neolithic chambered mound known as Hetty Pegler’s Tump, at Uley in Gloucestershire. The mound is under state guardianship (English Heritage) – since 1883 – and is managed by Gloucestershire County Council. The mound is named after the Peglers, the 17th century owners of the field in which the mound is located.

The folded concertina guide has five sections on each side: description, excavations, later history; possible origins; and principal literature. There is a detailed plan of the main burial chambers, and one showing how the chambers fit into the mound.

The guide cost 6p and was published in 1970. It is similar in format to the guide for Hardknott Roman Fort.

Other Cotswold-Severn burial chambers are also in the care of English Heritage and Cadw.


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