Stone Age chamber goes back even further
Anyone interested in ancient historic sites will find plenty of prime examples in Pembrokeshire. And a fascinating new find has recently been revealed at the Trefael Stone near Nevern.
Archaeologists believed the Trefael Stone, near Newport on the coast of Pembrokeshire and West Wales, to have been a ritual burial chamber dating back 5,000 years to the Stone Age. However, a three-year dig has now found beads dating back much further, perhaps twice that, to the Neolithic or Mesolithic periods. The carbon dating of bones found there also suggested it was used as recently as 1900 BC. The location was excavated by the Welsh Rock Art Organisation and Bristol University.
It’s not known why this particular site became so significant but the best theory appears to be that such sites symbolised the edges of prehistoric territories where hunter-gatherers would have met to trade and negotiate. In other words, generation after generation would have returned to the same location - quite a common trend with visitors to Pembrokeshire today! The Trefael Stone most probably topped a Neolithic burial chamber and the archaeological discoveries of barrows, prehistoric enclosures and human remains suggest that it once lay in the heart of a ritualised landscape that was in operation for millennia.
After 6,000 years of continuous use, however, Trefael appears to have been abandoned soon after the date of the unearthed human remains. That’s in common with similar burial sites around Europe. With the increasing importance of metal, Bronze Age Wales moved away from the democratised society of mass ritual burials to one where power lay in the hands of a fairly small warrior elite.