The eastern burial chamber at
An overall view of the site showing both chambers
and the cairn stones.
The date is estimated at
This site excavated in 1960 was one of the first
sites where multi period building was recognised,
and has become central to the understanding of
the portal dolmen group in this country and in
Portal dolmens form the most common type of tomb
in this region. They stood at the centre of the
farmed land,a focus for the community like a
parish church, and many of them are striking and
daring examples of architecture and engineering.
The western chamber here is a beautiful monument
and one of the most classic in design. The
current belief that they are amongst the earliest
tombs built in these islands is largely the
result of the excavations here at Dyffryn.
The monument consists of a roughly rectangular
cairn containing two chambers facing up the hill.
The western one is the earlier of the two. It is
a small structure with an H-shaped portal with a
high closing slab, a rectangular chamber and
sloping capstone - all typical features of the
portal dolmen. It was covered by a small,
circular cairn held back from the forecourt area
by drystone walls running up to the entrance
The base of the cairn and
these forecourt walls can be easily seen. Within
the forecourt was a pit containing deliberately
broken pottery, a ceremonial offering in front of
the tomb. This pottery, like the design of the
tomb itself, showed many similarities to
contemporary Irish material. There is a cupmark
on the inner face of the north portal stone.
later eastern chamber is much larger but less
classic in design. It does not have the high
entrance stones, but the front has a portal area
defined by projecting sidestones and a low
(broken) closing slab. In front of this was a
squarish forecourt which had been carefully
blocked or filled in by pitched stones set
against the closing slab and by a low bank built
across it further out. This blocking covered
offerings of pottery in a slightly later style
than those from the western chamber. When the
eastern chamber was built, the large rectangular
cairn which covered it engulfed the western
chamber and its round cairn.
There were no bones surviving in the western
chamber, and those in the eastern chamber came
from a Bronze Age cremation burial put into the
chamber at a later date. Two small finely
polished plaques made from Mynydd Rhiw stone were
found in the eastern chamber; their purpose is
The eastern chamber.
Below are pictures
of the Bron y Foel Isaf Burial Chamber.
This site is just a few miles from the Dyffryn
This is a badly damaged tomb, almost certainly
the remains of a portal dolmen. One sidestone , a
low backstone and the large slipped capstone
Although it is so
badly damaged it is worth a visit because the
view is magnificent and the capstone is
Dyffryn Ardudwy Chambers.
OS 124 SH 588228 U2
The site is at the south end of Dyffryn Ardudwy
village, signposted on left just before the
school. Site is up short footpath with kissing
gates, just a few hundred yards from the main
Bron y Foel Isaf.
OS 124 SH 607246 U1
From Dyffryn Ardudwy village, go north on A496
and turn right after hotel; persevere up hill for
1.3 mile; at complex crossroads take right hand
road to Bron y Foel. Turn right just before the
farm; tomb is in roadside wall, 160yards on the
right. The last 1/4 mile or so involves opening
and closing a few gates.
Visit the next
Bwllch y Ddeufaen standing stones
Capel Garmon Burial Chamber
For holiday breaks including accommodation close to these
and other Standing Stones, Stone Circles and Burial Chambers
in North Wales please contact
the Bryn Holcombe Hotel.
Visit the walesdirectory home page for links to other
interesting Welsh historical sites.
Acknowledgement: A Guide to Ancient and Historic
Wales. Gwynedd. Frances Lynch.