Monday, 09 August 2010 08:18

Giant's Grave, Parkmill, Gower

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Giant's Grave, Parkmill, Gower

This well preserved Neolithic long barrow tomb (SS 537 898) is known by a variety of names (just like the valley in which it stands), including the Long Cairn, Parc le Breos Tomb, Parl Le Bruce Burial Chamber and Parc Cwm Long Cairn. It's most commonly used name though is Giant's Grave. A classic example of a 'Severn Cotswold' Neolithic tomb, the site dates as far back as 3,500 BC and consists of a long mound of stones (of local origin) with a deep forecourt at its southern extremity. A slab lined passage dissects the monument, interrupted by two pairs of side chambers. These would have originally been roofed over with further slabs but now lie open for public view.

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Giant's Grave

Discovered in 1869 when workmen digging for road stone came across the stones of its central chamber, the tomb was excavated in the same year by Sir John Lubbock (famed for introducing the word Neolithic, meaning New Stone Age, into the English language). During this excavation, the remains of animals, Neolithic pottery and bones belonging to as many as 40 human skeletons were uncovered. These can now be viewed at the Ashmolean Museum ( University of Oxford ). The bodies of the individuals buried here are believed to have been first exposed to the elements, to speed their decomposition, before their ceremonial burial in the tomb.

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Interior View of Giant's Grave

Burial galleries, such as Giant's Grave, were typically utilised by several generations, the skeleton occupants of the grave being ritually dismembered and moved around as more members of the community needed to be accommodated here. Sir John Lubbock believed the cairn to be circular and it was not until the later excavation in 1937 that Professor Glyn Daniel discovered the site to be a long barrow.

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Giant's Grave, Parkmill

When Giant's Grave was originally built, it was located on the bank of a winding stream. Over the intervening centuries, however, this stream has become subterranean and now flows beneath the monument. Some theories suggest that tombs such as this were constructed to honour a water goddess as well as bury their dead.

Read 6548 times Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2013 22:43

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