Capel Garmon

Hidden in a hollow in the landscape behind Tyn-y-Coed Farm is Capel Garmon Burial Chamber. This is of the Cotswold- Severn type of chamber, an unusual design for this area of Wales, and has created some debate on why it so far north.

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The outline of the cairn shown by the stones. Looking at the Western forecourt.

The first excavation was undertaken by the then Ministry of Works in 1924. Late for such a monument as the antiquarians usually had a go in the 18th and 19th centuries. But something had to be done as trees were growing out of the mound, and damage caused in the 19th century by the tomb having been used as a stable. Following excavation the outline of the tomb was marked with stones showing the size of the mound.

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The southern chamber

The size of the cairn that covered the tomb would have measured 27m long and 13 m wide, and narrows towards it’s western end. The wider eastern end is thought to have had a false entrance, and the two arms would have created a forecourt that could have been used for ceremonies. It is this forecourt area that makes it similar to the Severn-Cotswold group of chambers further south.

Most of the burial mounds in Wales are aligned north-south, but Capel Garmon is orientated east-west. This suggests that migration of people or ideas from further south along with local practices may have influenced the design and siting of the cairn here.

The passage into the tomb leads to a divided space from which branches of to two other chambers. Excavations did not reveal many findings, probably because the chamber had been cleared to allow it’s use as a stable. A single piece of Ebbsfleet pottery was found in the passage, unworked flints and a a human bone were also excavated. The monument could have been in used for over 1500 years as two late Neolithic/early Bronze Age beakers were also found.

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The single remaining capstone

There is only one capstone remaining, but this is impressive in it’s size. I have no idea how they would have moved these massive rocks into place. The organisation and effort would have been tremendous. Despite the time since it was built, and the deprivations it has been exposed to, it is still possible to see the quality of original dry stone walling of the main chambers.

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A view of the dry stone walling in the chamber still covered by the capstone.

 

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