Plas Newydd

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 Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwll

Neolithic Burial Chamber: 3rd Millennium BC

This site is situated within the grounds of Plas Newydd, which is in the care of the National Trust. It is in private grounds, but can be seen from the pathway, which directs you down to Plas Newydd house. Guided archaeology walks are undertaken during the summer months hosted by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. When it is possible to get nearer the monument that is incorporated within the archaeology walk.


Literature written on this burial chambered spans nearly 300 years, where people have simply been curious and wanting to know more. They have described their observation according to the language and the knowledge available at the time of their recording. Consequently the antiquarian Rev. William Rowlands in 1766 recorded the site in his works. The writings of Thomas Pennant Tour in 1783 of North Wales mention it during his travels. It has also been recorded when Plas Newydd grounds were being landscaped during the 1800's. A missing upright support was noted. It was suggested that a marble pillar could be inserted as a replacement, complete with an inscription. Sir Norman Locker alsosurveyed the monument while looking for possible astronomical alignments, which became published in 1908 within the "Nature" magazine. Likewise, this has since been considered an early contributor towards archaeo-astronomy.

The burial chamber of Plas Newydd is situated in the small hollow several meter's in front of the Victorian Stables. C.W Phillips reports on the site in Archaeolga Cambrensis in 1936, concerning the carbon dating of charcoal uncovered on the chamber floor. However extensive alteration to the ground has occurred over the centuries. Therefore, it becomes unclear, as no actual archaeological excavation has been undertaken. The hollow or dip in which it resides is either an original feature or it has been landscaped. Unless excavations are eventually undertaken it remains speculative as to, which comment is correct?

Finally, there is also a brief description within the monument guides produced by Cadw, which cover the area of Gwynedd and Anglesey. There are probably more reports lurking around too, but one understands these are likely to be the main sources.

Archaeo-astronomy data

Surveyed in the Early 20th century by Lord Boston and E. N. Baynes. Table 1 shows their results of this investigation. The survey was undertaken in relationship to the two supports, however the published data indicates a relationship to the winter rising sun at the solstice.

 Magnetic North  155°
 True North  137°
 Amp.  E 47° S
 Hill  1°
 Azimuth  S 43° E
 Declination  25° 47' S
Plas Newydd Table 1


Griffiths. J., 1908, 'Astronomical Archaeology in Wales' in Nature 1908, 78, 295
Locker, Sir N. 1908, 'Some Cromlechs in North Wales I', Nature 78, 633-5
Lynch F, 1995, A guide to Ancient and Historic Wales: Gwynedd, H.M.S.O
Lynch F, 1991, Prehistoric Anglesey, Anglesey Antiquarian Society 2nd edition
Rowlands W, 1766, Mona Antiqua Restaurata, Dublin

This page first appeared on Bangor University Students Archaeology website 2001
Last updated 28/6/2002