Pant Y Saer Burial Chamber (3000-2000 BC)

OS Map ref: SH509824
53.317473, -4.239724
Sitting on a rise above the seaside town of Benllech, Pant y Saer (known locally as "Cromlech Tynygongl") is less splendid looking than many burial chambers on Anglesey and not maintained by CADW. It was originally covered by a kidney shaped cairn with access from the side instead of the more usual passage entrance. In this respect it is similar to the much larger Bryn yr Hen Bobl which still has it's 38 metre cairn intact.

There were two main methods of constructing the inner chambers of these tombs with huge covering capstones weighing many tons. The first was to erect the orthostats (side supporting stones) and then build a gradually sloping ramp to one side and heave the capstone up this ramp on rollers. The other method was to locate a suitable nearby boulder and dig pits below to place smaller orthostats, then digging the chamber below the capstone, possibly also levering the capstone up and placing the uprights beneath, where the pit left by the boulder becomes the chamber area. This method is most evident at Ligwy (pictured right), which is a couple of miles to the north of here.

A great number of human remains were found here. It was reportedly raided by treasure hunters in the 1870's who took several jaw bones, then many more bones found before it was excavated by W. Lindsay Scott in 1933 (footn) who found more than 40 bodies.
In total remains of 54 people were found including men, women and children. Nine full term foetuses were discovered suggesting a high rate of death in childbirth, or maybe something more sinister and ritualistic?

The small size of the tomb and the fact the bodies had not been cremated suggests that it was used over a long period of time with the bodies placed here in their entirity and allowed to decompose and the bones moved aside for the next burial. Most of the skulls and long bones were missing which could indicate they had been plundered, but evidence from an undisturbed tomb in West Kennet, Wiltshire suggests that they may have been removed and used in rituals during the use of the chamber(sup).

In summer the dolmen almost hides in the lush wild vegetation, but is still majestic when spotted from a distance, especially with the magnificent Snowdonia mountains in the background.
I noticed some interesting engraving in one of the east supporting stones which has not been documented (click on the picture to the right to enlarge). Perhaps it has more modern origins, although it is in a pretty inaccessible place under the lower part of the huge capstone.

From the north (400 metres walk): From the main road in Benllech (A5025) turn on to the B5108 at the Texaco petrol station in the direction of Brynteg. Follow this road for half a mile and park on the left hand pavement (sidewalk) outside a bungalow just after the first footpath sign which is the turning for the caravan site (with the Pant Y Saer farm sign). Just in front of you is the footpath with hedges on each side. Follow this path up to a gate and turn right up the hill and through the next gate on the left. Look up to the left corner of the field where there are farm and  kissing gates. Through this gate and straight on, the chamber will come into view after about 100 yards.

From the south (300 metres walk): Heading north on the A5025 take the left hand turn "Lön Glyn" about a quarter mile south of the outskirts of Benllech, just before the 40mph signs. Head up this road skirting the houses to the right and down to the village of Bwlch (about 1 mile) and turn right on the minor lane where the road bends to the left. After 100 yards there is an unsigned kissing gate on the left. Park a little further up on the right hand side of the lane.
Walk back and go through the gate and head up the field keeping the trees/gorse to your right. Turn right near the top of the field at the post on the ground with the yellow footpath arrow (pictured right).

Gallery(click on a thumbnail to view the larger picture and enter film strip viewer)
or see my Pant Y Saer slideshow movie on YouTube

No comments: