Looking Back: The Old Stones Of Din Lligwy

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We came here last week, Monday 2nd January 2023. I’d been here before – the north-easterly corner of Ynys Mon (Anglesey) and to this field above the sea, where there are ruins of a Norman chapel (12th century) and a Romano-Celtic settlement of the late 300s AD.

And with all these chronological markers in place, I should perhaps add one more and say that it was probably 60 years since I was last here. Sixty years. Ye gods! How time does fly.

Back then, we were visiting what my mother mistakenly called ‘a stone age village’. It was one of my big holiday excitements whenever we came to Anglesey.

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Above and below are the settlement’s two circular houses, inhabited during the later Roman era, but abandoned by 400 AD when the legions departed. So, mummy dear, not a Stone Age village at all, though unknown to me at the time of those childhood visits, there is in fact an impressive Stone Age monument very close by.

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As you can see, the stone houses have massively constructed walls, faced inside and out with huge slabs, and the space between packed with rubble. They probably supported conical, timber-framed and thatched roofs. (A reconstruction HERE)

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There are also at least 7 rectangular buildings associated with the houses. Two of these contained several smelting hearths and were probably iron-making workshops supplying the local Roman legions with tools and weapons. The whole site was then bounded by a pentagonal wall, well over a metre thick, and entered via a gatehouse. There were also further house remains outside the boundary wall.

To me it has the looks of a secure unit. Perhaps with workshops under direct Roman control. By the 4th century the locals could well have been growing restive; itching to arm themselves. This is just my hypothesis. Other interpretations are that the outer wall was for keeping cattle in, and that the defences were considered ‘light’.

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But now a step back in more recent times and the way things were for the Ashford family circa 1960:

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And finally a giant’s leap back – some 5, 000 years:

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It’s only a short walk from the Romano-Celtic settlement, and barely a stone’s throw behind a field hedge, but here we have a Stone Age cromlech, the burial place of some thirty Neolithic farmers, men, women and children. Among their remains archaeologists also found animal bones, flint tools and pottery.

The hugeness of the capstone is breath-taking. It’s reckoned to weigh 25 tons and, in consequence, it’s also thought that the stone was already in situ at the time of construction (a handy glacial delivery?) and that the tomb builders excavated underneath, wedging it on boulders to create the chamber. The whole was then probably covered with turves and soil, and as with similar monuments that were in use over a period of time, may also have included some kind of ceremonial forecourt. But however it was constructed, it surely took a massively concerted effort.

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Our visit over, we turned back to the car. Back to the present. Across the lane from the tomb was the misty view of the Great Orme on the mainland (named by the Vikings during the next invasion phase). Behind us was the  small place called Din Lligwy  – five millennia of human history documented in stone.

On my personal time-scale, I’d like to say I’ll be back there in another sixty years, but it seems unlikely. Still, you never know…

Lens-Artists: Looking Back This week Sofia sets the challenge.

copyright 2023 Tish Farrell

37 thoughts on “Looking Back: The Old Stones Of Din Lligwy

  1. LOL Tish, loved your closing thought. You never know indeed! Fascinating history, especially the cromlech. I find it kind of sad that we keep digging up our long-ago ancestors but I suppose someday they may come looking for ours! Hopefully we’ll get that extra 60 years before that though 😊

    1. Now that is one amazing place to live near – the way the village grew up around the stones. I think recent archaeological research has revealed there were earlier circles and avenues in the area, but made of wood, so they left little trace. Also recent work in South Wales has shown that the Stonehenge blue stones had been a henge there before being transported a couple of hundred miles to Salisbury and recycled.

    1. I understand that missing. Britain’s sparsely populated peripheries and islands seem blessed with ancient remains; successive generations content to leave them be.

      1. Jerusalem — Israel in general — was THE place to be. You could dig almost anywhere and find something old. I remember discovering that all along the shore at Caesarea where literally piles of Greek and Roman coins. I once scratched the surface near a dig along the secondary (old Roman) road from Jerusalem to the coast and finding pieces of what turned out to be Byzantine pottery. I bought a box of buttons at the store where I got my jeans shortened — and there was a coin in the box from 88 bc, the second (or third?) year of the rebellion of the Jews against the Romans (which ended in the second destruction of the Temple). I didn’t know what it was, but someone looked at it and said “Hey, that’s an ancient coin. Soak it in lemon juice. Some of that crust will come off.” Eventually, after a lot of working on it, it was in fact a bronze penny. I had it framed and put it on a cord and gave it to my mother. I don’t know what became of it.

        I lived there when you could still go inside the old city walls and climb up and walk along the top. You can’t do that now. Everything is “protected.” But still, it’s prime pickings for amateur archaeologists. EVERYTHING is old.

        Here, old is from the 1700. The Natives didn’t leave much behind.

      2. Ah, now I’m truly seeing what it is you miss -to touch so many layers of the past and in one place. This description of your time in Jerusalem is a time capsule in itself.

  2. What a fascinating place, and what stories those old stones could tell! It’s wonderful that you could return to a favourite childhood spot after so many years (I had the same feeling when we went to Cardingmill Valley recently!) That cromlech is especially impressive, however it was constructed.

  3. I love the history you brought us with this post. Interesting you were just there a week ago and your share your thoughts with us. I imagine is nice to remember your family time in Anglesey, and yet, how much more did you learn on your visit this time. Always interested in your part of the world, Tish. I love that you included your family photo.

  4. It is fascinating to re-visit places that have meaning. You clearly have the same sense of wonder and amazement! That capstone is huge! I enjoyed your post very much.

      1. Thank you, dear Tish, we are recovering. Well, we had only mild symptoms.
        All the best, keep well, take care
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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