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.


Arthur’s Stone

Arthur’s Stone © David Gill

The Neolithic burial site known as Arthur’s Stone lies on the edge of Golden Valley in Herefordshire (and on the border with Wales). It is now in the care of English Heritage.

The 1955 Ministry guide to the Midlands (see here) notes that while admission is ‘at any time without charge’, the key could be obtained at Caeperthy Farm.

Dunchraigaig Cairn

Dunchraigaig Cairn
Dunchraigaig Cairn © David Gill

Dunchraigaig Cairn lies within the prehistoric landscape of Kilmartin. It is situated on what appears to be a raised beach overlooking the main part of the glen. It contained at least three burial locations.

The cairn is now under the guardianship of Historic Scotland.

Dunchraigaig Car Park © David Gill

William Frances Grimes and guidebooks for Wales

(1960 [1971])
(1960 [1971])
William Francis Grimes had worked for the National Museum in Cardiff until just before the Second World War when he went to the Ordnance Survey (and took part in the Sutton Hoo excavations). He had a distinguished career with a strong interest in prehistory (see D.W.J. Gill, ‘William F. Grimes’, The making of a prehistorian’, Bulletin of the History of Archaeology (2000) [here]). He was invited to prepare two paper guides to two prehistoric sites in Wales:

  • Capel Garmon burial chamber (1958) [CADW]
  • Pentre-ifan burial chamber (1953) [CADW]

In 1953 Grimes was still the Director of the London Museum, but in 1956 he had been appointed Director of the Institute of Archaeology in London. He had conducted excavations at Pentre-ifan. Wilfrid J. Hemp had conducted work at Capel Garmon.

For further details about Grimes see Gill in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.