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As far as this district is concerned, there was a period, in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, when very many of the tumuli, etc., were opened, and their contents removed; but it has been almost impossible to trace any of the objects then taken away. As a more modern illustration of this, a stone cist was opened at Llanfairfechan in 1886, and, in the description of it, the fact is mentioned that there were numerous pieces of bones and fragments of pottery. These have entirely disappeared, and only by a mere chance were a few fragments found by the writer in another part of the district.
The pre-historic remains naturally divide themselves into two groups :-(1) Burial places; (2) Dwelling places, including hill fortresses.
It is proposed to take them in order, and to describe the most important of each of these groups, but omitting the hill fortresses.
The local megalithic chambers may be roughly assigned to the Neolithic Age, and the tumuli, etc., mostly to the Bronze Age, but it must be remembered that these two merge into one another. The cromlechs or dolmens probably were the graves of chieftains, and may indicate the old Neolithic centres of population.1 They may have borne some resemblance to the primitive dwelling, and it is interesting to note that these megalithic structures occur in those districts where there was a supply of suitable stones.
The only cromlech remaining in the district under
CROMLECH MAEN Y BARDD.
This is on the north side of the Roman Road leading from Bwlch-y-Ddeufaen to Ro Wen, and about 1 mile from the latter place, situated in a wall that joins the road at right angles.
1 "The Early Settlers in Carnarvonshire," by Sir E. Anwyl, M.A., in Arch. Camb., 1904, p. 197.
It consists of a capstone resting on four upright stones. The capstone measures about 12 feet 9 inches by 8 feet in its greatest length and width, its thickness being about 2 feet. The average height of the supports is about 4 feet 4 inches. The entrance is S. by E. It is locally known as "Cwt y Filiast," and is sometimes called "Cwt y Bugail" (Shepherd's Hut), but perhaps this latter term may apply to a stone cist close by.
Not far from Maen y Bardd was a large cromlech, "Cae'r Bardd," and under this "a great thickness of ashes." Unfortunately, this has been broken up to build walls some years ago.
In 1860, Mr. J. O. Halliwell, F. R.S., noticed a fine cromlech about a mile from Ro Wen, after passing westward a farm-house called Buarth; it was on the right-hand side, a few yards from the road, and in the line of a loose wall; it consisted of "four upright stones surmounted by a very large rude slab." In a MS. of date 1772 it is called "Llech yr ast." In August, 1911, its situation was located by the writer, but all that remained was a number of large stones, blasted.
About 50 yards to the east of Cromlech Maen y Bardd, is a good example of a megalithic cist.
The chamber is situated on ground slightly sloping to the S.E., and the capstone projects only a little above the present surface of the ground. The cist is roughly in the centre of a mound, the longer diameter of which (from N.E. to S.W.) is about 26 feet. On the S.E. side are three stones, situated at distances of 12 feet 5 inches, 13 feet 2 inches, and 10 feet 3 inches respectively, from the eastern extremity of the N.E. upright. There is also a large stone at the S. W. end of the mound. The entrance is at the east ends of the S.E. and N.E. sides, and is 2 feet 5 inches wide. The opposite corner has no large upright stone, but the gap of about 3 feet is filled up with rounded stones. The four stones mentioned above evidently form the outer ring of the mound, and may have been covered with earth. The interior of the cist is approximately rectangular in plan.
In Carnarvonshire, toward the beginning of the Bronze Age, the covering mounds of cists were circular
in form. Belonging to this class is the tumulus on the side of the hill known as Dinas, Llanfairfechan, and situated on Ty'n y llwyfan Farm.
Tumuli, with or without cist vaens, are very numerous on the uplands to the south of Penmaenmawr and Dwygyfylchi. Most of these were originally discovered by Mr. A. E. Elias (late of Penmaenmawr), who rendered the writer invaluable assistance in the fieldwork involved in recording them. The mounds may be divided roughly into the following groups :
1. Those between Moelfre and the Tal y fan-Foel Lwyd ridge.
2. Those near the Druids' Circle.
3. Those between Waen Gyrach and Tyddyn Grasod. 4. Those about mile south of Caer Bach.
5. Those between Penmaenmawr Mountain and Moelfre.
1. The district between Moelfre and Tal y fan contains a great number of mounds. These are indicated by numbers on the accompanying maps (Figs. 1 and 1a).
To the south of Moelfre there is a ridge of slightly higher ground known as Bryniau Celyn, and this extends in a curve to the pass between Tal y fan and Foel Lwyd; along the top of Bryniau Celyn runs the old road, or track from Craig Lwyd to this pass. Το the west of this ridge is a swamp, and it is worthy of note that these tumuli are found on the slope of this ridge, in the form of a semicircle, the concave part of which faces the west. Crossing the stream known as Afon Maes y Bryn, there are several more tumuli, and they almost reach the western end of Foel Lwyd, close to Bwlch y Ddeufaen. In the swamp itself are to be found very few tumuli, one is, however, composed almost entirely of earth. It will thus be seen that from this position a magnificent view may be obtained of Anglesey and the Menai Straits. What more suitable place could be chosen for a burial ground, more especially when it is remembered that in earlier times these uplands had a fairly dense population?