Tinkinswood burial site uncovered

Thursday 1 December 2011, 15:30

Rachael Garside Rachael Garside

Excavation work is drawing to a close at an archaeological dig with a difference in the Vale of Glamorgan this week.

I've been to visit the Neolithic sites at Tinkinswood and St. Lythan's near the village of St. Nicholas to hear about a new project which is involving the local community in digging for hidden historical treasure.

Cadw and Archaeology Wales have joined forces to excavate three sites near the existing ancient burial chambers.

Dr Ffion Reynolds, a community archaeologist with Cadw, told me that at the Tinkinswood sites they managed to confirm that what they thought was a fallen Neolithic burial chamber was actually a Bronze Age barrow, which caused great excitement among the team.

The original excavation took place at the Tinkinswood burial chamber in 1914 by John Ward who at that time was the Keeper of Archaeology at the National Museum of Wales.

The remains of 50 people were originally found inside the chamber including men, women and children.

Neolithic burial chamber of the so-called 'Cotswold-Severn' type. Image by Alan Simkins

Neolithic burial chamber of the so-called 'Cotswold-Severn' type. Image by Alan Simkins.

There are large patches of rock exposed on the approach to Tinkinswood in an area known as 'The Quarry', thought possibly to be the source of the capstone used for the burial chamber - the largest in Wales at a colossal 40 tonnes.

The project has also managed to confirm that the quarry didn't supply the stone for the burial chamber which now leads to another question, where did the stone come from?

At St. Lythan's burial chamber against a backdrop of rolling fields and winter sunshine there was a small army of volunteers hard at work with spades in hand.

They'd come from all walks of life and not just from the local area:

Tom from Maesteg was made redundant earlier this year and wanted to do something constructive with his time.

For Seren a PHD archaeology student, the chance to excavate at the site of an ancient monument was a 'dream come true' whilst Ann who'd lived near Tinkinswood all her life just wanted to find out more about her local area.

The volunteers had discovered flints, pieces of broken pottery, cremated human bones and a variety of human teeth.

This was particularly appropriate for one volunteer called Gavin who had worked in dentistry for 20 years, 'I can't get away from teeth!' he moaned.

But their enthusiasm was infectious and it was obvious that everyone involved felt a real connection to the past.

It's amazing when you think that many of the objects they uncovered hadn't been touched by a human hand for around 6,000 years.

The objects uncovered at the dig will be taken away for more expert analysis before going on display in the National Museum of Wales.

For more information visit http://tinkinswoodarchaeology.wordpress.com

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