Bryn Celli Ddu

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Bryn Celli Ddu, entrance from the north-east
Bryn Celli Ddu - interior view

Bryn Celli Ddu is a prehistoric site on the Welsh island of Anglesey located near Llanddaniel Fab. Its name means 'the mound in the dark grove'. It was plundered in 1699 and archaeologically excavated between 1928 and 1929.

During the Neolithic period a stone circle and henge stood at the site. An area of burnt material containing a small human bone from the ear, covered with a flat stone, was recovered.

The stones were removed in the early Bronze Age when an archetypal passage grave was built over the top of the centre of the henge. A carved stone with a twisting, serpentine design stood in the burial chamber. It has since been moved to the National Museum of Wales and replaced with a replica standing outside. An earth barrow covering the grave is a twentieth century restoration; the original was probably much bigger.

Norman Lockyer, who in 1906 published the first systematic study of megalithic astronomy, had argued that Bryn Celli Ddu marked the summer solstice. This was ridiculed at the time, but research by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas in 1997- 98 showed this to be true.[1] Knight and Lomas also claimed year round alignments allowed the site to be used as an agricultural calendar. Steve Burrow, curator of Neolithic archaeology at Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum of Wales), has more recently supported the case for summer solstice alignment. This alignment links Bryn Celli Ddu to a handful of other sites, including Maes Howe and Newgrange, both of which point to the Winter solstice. It has also been suggested that a feature similar to the 'lightbox' at Newgrange may be matched at Bryn Celli Ddu (Pitts, 2006).

A row of five postholes previously thought to have been contemporary with the tomb (c. 3000 BC) have recently been proven to be much earlier. Early results from a radiocarbon programme date pine charcoal from two of the pits to the Mesolithic (Pitts, 2006).

Two researchers, Rupert Soskin and Michael Bott recently suggested that the pillar standing within the chamber is in fact the petrified remains of a tree trunk. Inspection of the pillar shows that it bears a striking resemblance to bark of a tree, however what is unknown at the moment, is whether the pillar is indeed petrified wood or natural rock chosen by the tomb builders because of its unusual appearance.[2]



  • Pitts, M. 2006. Sensational new discoveries at Bryn Celli Ddu. British Archaeology No. 89 (July/August): 6.
  1. ^ Knight, C and Lomas, R: Uriel's Machine. Century. 1999
  2. ^

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Coordinates: 53°12′28″N 4°14′08″W / 53.20787°N 4.23550°W / 53.20787; -4.23550