Ever visited a neolithic burial site? No? Now's your chance
Having lived in the town of Dyffryn Ardudwy for the past six months, I've spent so much time working in the house that I've hardly crossed my front door. I decided it was time to do some explorin' and see what my new hometown had to offer.
Dyffryn is a small village within Snowdonia National Park that lies between the summer tourist havens of Barmouth and Porthmadog, along the Cambrian Coast. I tend to drive through the town on the way to work and then again as I'm coming home, which generally means that all I ever see are the butcher shop (award winning, no less), the Spar and the local Post Office.
I was keen to go wandering around the warren of winding streets and narrow lanes that proclaim they're 'not suitable for coaches' and 'no access to the beach' and find out what hidden treasures my little village had to offer. On Sunday, in between periods of glorious sunshine and heavy rain, I ventured out to seek out the ancient local burial chamber I'd read about online.
Located at the rear of the local primary school (although, I'm fairly certain the school was built a bit later…) there is a small set of steps, which open out on to an exposed piece of land and two excellent interpretation panels, which are very informative and detail the history of the site.
Dyffryn Burial Chamber
The Neolithic tomb comprises of two chambers, known as a portal dolmen, which are generally found in Wales, Cornwall, and over the water in Ireland. Please don't ask me why, for I have no clue. Anyway, the two chambers, which were once covered by a mound of stones, jut out of the ground at around 30ft tall and are believed to date back to around 3500 AD. They are, apparently, one of the oldest surviving examples of burial chambers in the UK.
During some excavations, fragments of Bronze Age pottery and locally produced stone was found on the site, which is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, indicating its importance to the local, and wider, community. During the 1960's, when the excavations were being undertaken, it was also discovered that the two chambers were actually built at different times, which suggests that the site was used for an extended period.
Try not to imagine you're walking across someone's grave.
The site isn't particularly large, but it's in pretty good condition and can be wandered around at your leisure. Access is free and the interpretation panels are well worth reading before you venture on to the site of the burial chamber itself.
If you have a spare half hour and are in the vicinity of Dyffryn Ardudwy, the site is located at the southern end of the village and free parking is usually available along the main road or, on a weekend, the school car park.
Your part of the world certainly has some amazing history. There is something special if not a little daunting about standing next to something so ancient. It's not something I have yet had the opportunity to do so I'm a little envious.