I revisited Tinkinswood having heard of the work carried out during the summer. The quarry area as you approach is now clearly marked and accessable which is brilliant. You can clearly see debris in many of the adjoining fields and the size of some of the stones show the size of this project. The newly installed wind up information point was working and infact very informative.
The chamber itself is imposing as it always has been but I do detest that pylon and those overhead cables!
After reading an article in the latest CADW magazine I was inspired to make another trip to Tinkinswood.
This was no hardship as A – it was a lovely sunny day, B – it’s only 30 minutes away and C – it’s a fab place to visit!
I parked in the small parking area and made my way across the field to the burial chamber.
As ever, I had the place to myself although on this occasion the chamber didn’t have its near permanent puddle, just a few inches of soft mud.
Which at least made stooping through the entrance a bit less messy than normal.
The sun was warm, the grass dry (also for a change) and I sat a while in the forecourt and tried to imagine the ceremonies which may have taken place here and all the people who had been here over 5,000 years or so. It was a very relaxing experience.
I then headed over to the ‘quarry’ area to have a look at the place where a Bronze Age Barrow had recently been discovered.
The CADW article states that this was a ‘modest barrow, about 5m in diameter. It covered two pits cut into the bedrock but, presumably due to the acidic soil, no traces remained of the burials’. In the upper levels, a lot of cremated bones and a Roman coin was found.
Looking at the Barrow site a very slight raise can be seen if you use the ‘eye of faith’.
It did make me think mind why the large slabs of stone were piled on top of it?
Was this deliberate or coincidence? I guess we will never know.
These stones used to be thought as a possible collapsed burial chamber but it has been shown that this is not the case – even if it looks like one!
I then went to have a go at the new audio post which CADW have installed to tell the site’s story. Unfortunately it has already been removed! I did hear that it had stopped working after only 2 weeks so hopefully it has been taken to be repaired and not as an act of vandalism.
Despite doing a degree in History, my niece, Danielle, had never visited a prehistoric site before – I was about to put that right!
An obvious, nice and easy, post Christmas site to choose was the famous Tinkinswood burial chamber.
I was keen to re-visit this site following the excavation work carried out in October.
I brought along a spare pair of wellies which was just as well as the area near the kissing gate was not much more that a quagmire. Things improved as we approached the Long Barrow although, as ever, the inside was under water.
One thing I did notice (which I don't remember from previous visits) was the number of ribbons tied to a nearby tree. 'Offering's no doubt.
In my non-expert sort of way I explained to Danielle all about Long Barrows, how they were constructed, when built, what would have been placed inside and why it looks the way it does now etc. She was most impressed – not by me no doubt but the site itself! 'That's amazing' was a phrase she often repeated!
The bushes, brambles etc had all been cut back from around the tomb and viewing the site was even easier than before.
On one side of the Long Barrow appears to be an excavated side chamber but I can find no reference to this is the site report. Perhaps it is not a side chamber but something else? It certainly looks like a side chamber!
On my last visit I mentioned the large stones I had spotted in the trees/bushes near the burial chamber. I am pleased to see that this area has now been investigated with the following conclusion (it is referred to as the 'quarry site'):
'The test pits in the possible quarry have produced no evidence at all that slabs were cut from the outcrop to make the capstone for Tinkinswood chambered cairn.'
The pile of stones near the 'quarry site' which does indeed look like a fallen cromlech has been proven to be just field clearance. The team report 'The pile of stones and large slabs sit on top of a layer of soil that lies directly over a bedrock outcrop. We found a piece of metal that looks like it originated from a tractor below one of the larger stones. We now think that the stones were cleared from the local field, by machine, sometime in the 19th C'.
The team exploring the site should be congratulated for not only clearing scrub from around Tinkinswood and confirming the position regarding the other possible sites but for also enabling much easier access to the 'quarry site' and 'fallen cromlech'. The bushes/trees have been removed, a new wooden stile built and a fence surrounding the site constructed. All in all a top job which allows the visitor to appreciate this site even more.
An unsettled Monday (27.6.2011) takes me to the little village of St Nicholas, a couple of miles west of Cardiff. I'm here to see two of South Wales' most famous prehistoric monuments, tucked away in the low-lying fields of the Vale of Glamorgan.
Leaving the village behind to the north, the OS map shows a long distance path, the Valeways Millenium Heritage Trail, providing an off-road route to both of today's sites. Nicely waymarked, it leaves the minor road over a stile and into fields of pasture. So far so good for the first two fields, but the third brings something of a problem – a herd of bullocks, far too curious for my liking. In some haste to leave their field, I manage to catch my trouser leg on barbed wire, cutting a 6" slit from knee to shin. Damn.
So I arrive at Tinkinswood in less than ideal spirits. Nevertheless, the first sight of the enormous structure goes some way to improving things, until I sit down and realise that the slash in my trouser leg continues into my leg and I am bleeding quite badly. Oh dear, this isn't going especially well. Antiseptic wipe and plaster applied (see, I was prepared), it starts to rain. Good grief.
I take shelter under the capstone itself – it's possible to stand upright under it in places and despite the muddy puddle in the centre there are places to sit out of the rain. Sadly, there is a lot of rubbish strewn in here and on the mound. My equilibrium isn't quite right here, and after the rain stops and I've taken a few pictures, I decide to head off to St Lythans. I will be back here later anyway, hopefully for a longer stay.
After my first experience of the Heritage Trail, I decide to abandon the plan of following it to the next site and instead make for the nearby road along the permissive path. As others have noted, there are a number of very large slabs of the local mudstone that forms the Tinkinswood capstone tucked away in the trees and neighbouring paddock. I had read that the capstone itself was dragged from here and that a matching gap had been found amongst the trees.
I return on my way back from St Lythans. This time I approach along the permissive path rather than trying any footpaths.
Once again, rain is threatening. I have a few things to look for this time though. The plan of the monument from George Nash's excellent "The Architecture of Death" shows several intriguing rows of stones running N-S within the mound at its western end. I find the tops of a few of these, barely protruding. There is also a finely presented stone-lined pit cut into the top of the mound, next to a jumble of large blocks. The pit may be a cist from a secondary burial. The mound is neatly revetted by (restored) drystone walling, which rather oddly continues across the face of the blocking slab in the forecourt, leaving only a small portal that presumably was the original point of entry into the chamber itself.
This time, I go round and collect all the rubbish I can find, about half a carrier bag's worth of tealights, filter tips, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and even the charred end of a fence-post. That done, I immediately feel much better about the place. Strangely perhaps, even the pylon has little effect on my mood here, it seems the litter was the more pressing intrusion. It's a shame to find such a magnificent site left in a state – the wags may keep "amending" the info board to show that the monument is "in the care of the Goddess", but if so she's not doing a right lot to look after the place.
The rain comes in, heavier this time. Once more I take shelter inside. There is often a comforting feeling in watching heavy rain fall when you're safely indoors and that feeling is very strong here, sitting under the protective capstone and watching the water lashing down and running off the stones. The chamber is a fascinating place to spend time. The inner faces of the stones, like those at St Lythans, have been worn smooth in many places. Whatever the purposes the chamber was used for in prehistory, it has certainly seen a lot of people coming and going over its vast timespan, rubbing the surfaces smooth. The rain retreats and advances again over the next two hours. A couple of people come and go, one dog walker stops to chat for a few minutes in between the showers. It is nice to spend this amount of time at a single site, something I rarely do on my trips out. I will definitely be back here again; it's a bit special.
First time visiting this great chamber yesterday. I drove there with my girlfriend after we'd been to St Lythans too.
Tinkinswood is so impressive, almost humbling. It's a real shame that the pylon is so close by however! We were scared we may not be able to get in after first seeing the surrounding fence, but we went through the kissing gate at almost 7pm despite the site being "closed" at 4pm. Interesting to see that a new(ish) information board is near the gate, with the "Under the care of Cadw" information scrubbed out and replaced with "The Goddess".
Had a great time exploring the insides of the cromlech, although slightly alarmed that someone had crudely painted a few haphazard pentagrams and the like over the insides of the support brick pillar. I suppose this place is a magnet for teenage types interested in that kind of stuff. We also passed the remains of a bonfire with cider and beer cans scattered about nearby :(
Nevertheless, it was a brilliant sight, and it's amazing to think of the effort involved to construct this amazing piece.
We took a quick walk into the woods which were suitably creepy - someone had constructed a teepee in the woods with branches and twigs, which stopped us in our tracks when we saw it!
Will definitely be going here again, hopefully when the weather is a little brighter and the temperature a bit warmer. And also when I've figured out how to take decent photos without having a pylon in the background.
Isn't it funny how you can visit a site several times and spot something you hadn't seen before on each visit? Well, that was certainly the case for me today. Taking Dafydd out for a drive I decided upon a double visit to the CADW sites of Tinkinswood and the nearby St Lytham's. Both sites are well signposted and easy to access. One of the things which had prompted a return visit was seeing a drawing of how the site may have looked when in use (Prehistoric Britain page 18 by Alan Sorrell)
Anyway, parking in the small parking area provided we went through the kissing gate when I noticed to my left a sign post showing the 'approved path' to the site. I had not noticed this before; I had always walked along the rough track directly to the burial chamber. Taking this route for a change I first noticed the large outcrops of stone, on the left, amongst the trees on the other side of the fence. Were these 'natural' or once part of the chamber? Just before reaching the burial chamber, again in a field to the left, there was what could be easily to the untrained eye (i.e. mine!) be confused as a ruined burial chamber. Access is easy enough to this 'oddity', over a home made wooden stile, although I am sure it is on private land. There are four large stones to be seen, the largest (capstone looking) was on top of one of the others – worth a quick look.
As for the 'real' burial chamber, the inside was under a couple of inches of water – as it has been every time I have visited and there were the remains of several tea lights. It was nice to compare the drawing in the book I brought with me with the site itself – it certainly stirs the imagination! I will have to visit on a hot summer's day as this would be a pretty good place for a picnic – but not today!
Another site I have visited many times. (when visiting here you should also visit St Lythans just up the road) Parking is easy and a 10 minutes walk across the field takes you there. The cap stone is huge and the chamber quite well preserved. I have never actually crawled into the chamber as every time I have visited it has always been very muddy. Unfortunately I usually find lots of rubbish / beer cans etc throw into the chamber by the less well educated in society.
Ooh I did enjoy this place very much. It's such a pleasant walk across the field, and then there it appears, with its tidy and inauthentic herringboned stones at the front, looking like a little thatched cottage sunken into the ground or something. But when you see how big the capstone is - I couldn't help smiling. It's amazing. No one else has mentioned this, so it must just be me being weird, but there was only one obvious course of action to me. I had to leap up on the top and lie down immediately. The stone is like a gigantic golden mattress, it really is, albeit a bit on the hard side. But lying there you'll realise it is at the perfect angle for gazing at the sky, it's gently sloping and very comfortable. I watched the clouds float past. It was a bit like being anchored at the centre with everything moving round. ?Or is that just my overactive imagination. And of course you'd get all the benefits of the Ancestral Wisdom seeping up through the stone. Imagine what it would be like to look at the stars from here, just marvellous. It was a bit cold this afternoon to be honest, but when the soon-to-be-setting sun peaked out from the clouds - and it happened to be directly at the right angle for the capstone - the stone turned such a beautifully warm colour.
It's slightly galling that you can see the disguised top of the brickwork pillar in the top of the capstone. It's not so bad as from the side. But where did the missing side of the burial chamber go? And I was interested to see the curved stone chosen to define the front entrance 'portal' too.
I didn't stay half as long as I'd have liked. But even so my imagination had been further carried away by the time I got back to the first of the kissing gates. It had a rather interesting multi-note squeak which I couldn't help thinking reminded me of the Authentic Prehistoric Music :)playing in the gallery at the museum in Cardiff, where I'd been earlier. If tma had an mp3 facility for gate noises, I'd have been tempted to record it.
The site is well signposted from the main road in St Nicholas, it has a proper hard parking spot, and the path (although undulating) is very smooth. No mud today, Postman. There are two kissing gates though, which I don't think can be avoided. The sign says it's open from 10-4 but I didn't feel too naughty being a bit later. Perhaps it's to discourage stargazers and those wanting to do a bit of dreaming like in the folklore. I tidied up the usual tea light cases as you can imagine.
Found this one without the help of Odnance Survey, just a bog standard road map will do, once your away from "the jewel in Wales crown"
Cardiff going south on the A4232 turn right onto the A48 and when you get to St Nicholas turn left, Tinkinswood is a few hundred metres on the right. 200 metres over a muddy field.
Tinks is on her third information board in eight years, where they get to I dont know maybe it's like Widnes railway station here. The first info board claimed her to be 4000bc and indeed she is very old, but she's not lost any of her poise, grandeur and dare I say it, curves, she's not a day over 3800bc or my names not mick.
After watching the solstice sunrise at Heston Brake it was nice to get away from the modern world here with this big beauty, first came here years ago with my growing family but I'm alone today, it's good to see the old place again, nothings changed, except the information board, the trees are bare and there's snow on the ground and it's bloody cold, did I say I had the place to myself, ok so lots of things have changed.
Not the easiest place to find, going downhill park up in the small layby on the right and walk through the gate and beyond the trees, taking care not to stumble (d'oh!) over some tufty grass. Despite its location Tinkinswood seems popular with walkers and those who just want to chill for a while.
Whilst the overhead powerlines and unflattering brick support pillar don't let you forget the 20th century, there is enough peace in this part of the world, and enough presence in the enormous capstone to kick back and engross yourself in the experience.
There's an avenue of buried stones leading to the side entrance of Tinkinswood burial chamber and the ground is either worked or walked to make a furrow leading up to the chamber. To the left of this avenue there's what appears to be (to me, a lay person) the buried beginnings of another burial chamber. From this position, looking straight ahead, there are some stones (behind a hedge). Again, after jumping the fence, these look, to me, to be what could be another collapsed and un-excavated chamber. There are large stones all over this site, in hedges and buried. I got the feeling that there was more to this place than initially meets the eye. I'm thinking maybe these excavation teams dig a small area (the tomb we've come to see) and leave the rest of the area be. It is, after all, a burial place. But, hey, what do I know? Maybe I'm getting stone-blind.
The Goddess certainly blessed Karen and I the day we visited Tinkinswood, St. Lythans, the Pont-y-Pridd Rocking Stone, and Notgrove. The forecasters had predicted a sunny start, with cloud rolling in by the afternoon. But the Goddess had different ideas, and we were blessed with glorious June weather; blazing sun, brilliant blue skies, puffy altocumulus clouds and stunningly green fields for the whole day.Which made the arrival at Tinkinswood all the more fantastic. We walked through a fabulous hay meadow, rich with wild flowers and butterflies, the grasses whispering in the breeze, as chaffinches called to each other. Continuing up a slope, past hawthorns and more butterflies, eventually we caught sight of the magnificent capstone atop the gently swelling cairn.
A sign at the kissing gate that allowed entry to the cairn announced that ‘this site is being managed for the Secretary of State for Wales by Welsh Monuments’ (or some such body, I can’t remember exactly). Anyway, more importantly, someone had scratched out ‘Secretary of State for Wales’, and replaced it with ‘Goddess’. Well done, whoever you are!!! :-)
Tinkinswood is a truly impressive site. I mean how, just how, did they get that capstone up the hill, then erect it over the cairn? Staggering. The atmosphere was so serene and nurturing, it was lovely to just lie in the grass and drink it in. And I was very impressed how the energy continued to be so strong, as only a few hundred yards away, in the next field, a stonking great electricity pylon loomed over her. In addition to that, the chaps who had excavated the site in 1914 had built an unlovely brick pillar inside the chamber to support the capstone (which is great, but *brick*?). But they couldn’t leave it at that. Oh no. Just so everyone remembers, they thought, let’s slap into the pillar a dirty great plaque that says ‘Excavated 1914’, right at the front, so no-one can miss it – corking! Thanks guys. . . But ignoring that, and the pylons, I really enjoyed our time at this site, and was very reluctant to leave; her magnetism was subtle, but very strong. Do pay her a visit.
In Late Summer 2000, a friend and myself after arriving late at the Tinkinswood site, happily set up our tent and chilled down for the sun-melt and starry nightshow. Half-surrounded by a small and dense bunch of trees and sitting upon the top of a small, gradual hill, Tinkinswood is a surprisingly wind-free and gentle-sight.
Kicking-back we spoke about Magick and other oddities under warming, summer lunar currents. The night punctured with novel and odd rackets from the undergrowth around and beside us!
Later just before we hit the hay i started to get an extremely seriously headache. It came out of no-where, and was quick and intense. Over the next 3 hours or so I experienced intense head pain accompanied by strange images which didn't leave me till I left the site and slept in the car!! Most of these images were just too fantastic to remember and I later managed only to draw one of them accurately from memory! I hadn't taken any khemicals to open the gates and the experience being so strong i thought maybe there was some form of 'contact' occuring My Gran saw and spoke to the dead often!
Afterwards I only remembered one or two things, the most sane being that the whole site was surrounded by thousands of differently coloured beings - shaped like humans - all linked, stood shoulder to shoulder and glowing!! They 'felt' benevolent, and I think they may of even tried to speak to me, though this is still 'weird' in my mind!!... this ranks as a mind-expanding experience in my own humble journey I seek no single judgements; I am open minded!
We left the site the next morning in a downfall (which was to last for weeks, producing floods across most of Britain). A mile up the road though we had to turn back, I had lost my Silver Celtic Ring somewhere. Back at the site, I flew up the field in the pouring rain. Arriving at the site I looked at the ground for the space of a couple of seconds and saw my Ring immediately. I thanked the 'Spirits', said a few words and ran back elated. I had a warm glow all the way home.
I intend to visit the site again sometime... despite a very painful episode I feel positive about this place. It took me off on a tangent... which I always respect!
Visited 28th April 2003: After St. Lythans we headed for Tinkinswood, and weren't disappointed. It was a sunny evening, and the tomb looked great in the contrasting light and shadow. William was very happy playing here, because the chamber is so large. He kept running up to the edge of the capstone, which scared us silly as it's a long drop to the ground in places. The cists behind the chamber were interesting, as was the beautiful dry stone walling on the east side of the site. The nearby power cables and pylon didn't bother me too much, certainly not in comparison to the uncomfortable feeling I got at the Countless Stones. What a great place!
All hail to this mighty burial chamber! All wind and all rain, too. To reach the beast, I galloped the quarter of a mile through the tall wet grass in the field in inadequate clothing clutching an all-too-small umbrella to protect me from the horizontal, angry hailstorm.
But I wanted to inspect the GIANT weetabix capstone, the beautiful construction of the stones supporting it, the whopping chamber beneath it. The appalling weather made it feel very intimate, not only because I had it entirely to myself, but also because from beneath my umbrella my field of vision was severely impaired, so the massive pylon looming over it so closely was completely irrelevant to me. The rivulets of water streaming off the stones made them glisten with life and despite the dull lighting conditions, the photos I took showed the stones off as shiny and wonderful.
I marvelled at Tinkinswood's great size and shape, it reminded me of Belas Knap, but without the swelling of Belas' reconstructed mound. Tinkinswood is more collapsed and flatter. Was it always thus?
Despite my cold, saturated trousers I felt happy and inspired by this place. Carole, waiting for me in the car, could hardly believe that after having spent 15 mins out in the storm I could return to the car smiling. That's the power of Tinkinswood.
Another signpost almost rendered invisible by overgrown verges and hedges, while because of trees, Tinkinswood itself is only visible across the field from one side of the lay-by.
On approaching the site even the close proximity of a huge electricity pylon can't detract from the impressive structure. It seems to only partially emerge from the earth, additionally, the trees at the rear serve to confuse the distinction between the man-made and the natural. Exploring the woodland, it's easy to become transported to another age, one without pylons.
There was much evidence of recent visits inside the chamber: beads, ears of corn, candle wax and the remains of joss sticks. Ashes and a circle of burned grass beyond the kist on top of the cairn indicated a small fire had been tended there in recent days.
Both Tinkinswood and St. Lythans chambered tomb are so situated as to seem remote from any built-up areas, but are in fact quite close to Wales' most populous area, Cardiff, our glorious capital.
Extraordinary to visit such ancient structures almost within sight of Cardiffs' latest monument, The Millenium Stadium.
From St. Nicholas at the lights follow the signs for Dyffryn Gardens and about a half a mile down that road park under the powerlines. The site is sign-posted from the pull-in. The cap stone IS one huge mother and yet again has me scrabbling to understand the unfeasible mechanics and all from around 4000 BC. In it's completeness it reminded me of some of the dolmens on Jersey. It's all the more saddening when you see what places like Devils Den, Lanyon Quoit and Spinsters rock etc would have been like pre-agricultural clearance. There was plenty of debris around the surrounding fields but didn't really have time to explore.
..at St. Nicholas, near Cardiff, a man told me that his mother took him to 'Castle Corrig' (a cromlech near St. Nicholas, perhaps the biggest existing in Britain), when he 'had a decline' as a boy, and she spat upon the stone, rubbed her finger in the spittle and rubbed him on the forehead and chest.
... I feel convinced there is a good deal of this sort of thing, but I cannot get it out, or else it exists among a residuum which feels such a gap to exist between student and peasant that freedom of speech becomes impossible. But I have felt the sort of thing to underlie many ordinary stories, from certain turns of expression.
From 'A Fisher-Story and Other Notes from South Wales' by E. Sidney Hartland and T. H. Thomas, in Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 3. (Sep. 29, 1905), p339.
Perhaps he could have got more out of his informants if he didn't use words like 'residuum' on them. It's a shame though.
You can read a rather long story called 'Roger Meyrick's Ride at http://www.red4.co.uk/Folklore/trevelyan/snow2sea/rogermeyrick.htm
in which he finds himself riding a very strange and swift "horse"*, with the monumental and rationalising cop-out that it was all down to the effects of the local beer.
The story is part of 'From Snowdon to the sea' by Marie Trevelyan (1894).
There is a remarkable cromlech near the hamlet of St Nicholas, Glamorganshire, on the estate of the family whose house has the honour of being haunted by the ghost of an admiral. This cromlech is called, by children in that neighbourhood, 'Castle Correg'. A Cardiff gentleman who asked some children who were playing round the cromlech, what they termed it, was struck by the name, which recalled to him the Breton fairies thus designated. The korreds and korregs of Brittany closely resemble the Welsh fairies in numberless details. The korreds are supposed to live in the cromlechs, of which they are believed to have been the builders. They dance around them at night, and woe betide the unhappy peasant who joins them in their roundels.
The Bords (in 'The Secret Country') advise that you don't fall asleep at Tinkinswood on any of the three 'spirit nights' of May Day eve, St John's eve (23rd June) or Midwinter eve. Not unless you're prepared for one of the following to happen: you will either die, go mad, or become a poet. Not very good odds for a positive outcome.
Marie Trevelyan ('Folklore and Folkstories of Wales' - 1909) describes how the site is haunted by the spirits of druids - and that they are particularly unkind to drunkards, not to mention other wicked people. One victim said that
"they beat him first, then whirled him up into the sky, from which he looked down and saw the moon and stars thousands of miles below him. They held him suspended by his hair in the midheaven until the first peep of day, and then let him drop down to the Dyffryn woods, where he was found in a great oak by farm labourers."
Which rather makes you wonder what his drink had been spiked with.
This page accompanies an article entitled The Stone Age tombs of south-east Wales by Steve Burrow. I'm including it here because it contains an, "imaginative reconstruction of a burial ceremony at Tinkinswood".