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‘Vandalism at its worst’

Concerns were raised over the protection of the ancient site of Llanfechell Cromlech on Anglesey, with one expert describing the current state of the site as "vandalism at its worst" (Image: George Nash)

This post  has been taken from an article by reporter Branwen Jones on Walesonline.

Rubble has been piled on top of an ancient burial site on Anglesey in an act labelled “vandalism at its worst”. The protection of the ancient Llanfechell Cromlech site has now come under scrutiny, with council chiefs investigating, after it was found to have rubble dumped on it.

The cromlech, or burial chamber, is a Neolithic tomb site, believed to have been constructed between 4000 to 2500 BCE and likely used during the Bronze Age (2500 to 900 BCE). The site, nestled between the villages of Llanfechell and Tregele in the north-west part of the island, was excavated and documented by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust (GAT) in 2013, reports WalesOnline.

It’s thought that the cromlech may have served as a double burial chamber. Between 2004 and 2005, late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age rock art was found on one of the stones.

The site maintains natural stones, which include a handful that were a part of the architecture of the monument. Pottery and flint tools have also been discovered during excavation at the site.

During the 19th century, the site was slowly dismantled, with its stones used for dry stone walls and farm buildings. But to this day, the cromlech remains an important site due to the fact it sits within a unique prehistoric burial-ritual landscape and is one of only three or four such sites on Anglesey. Others include the Bryn Celli Ddu site and monuments distributed around the Benllech area.

However, recent sightings of the burial ground have shown that it is now covered by a pile of rocks. George Nash, an associate professor of Coimbra University in Portugal and honorary research fellow within the department of archaeology, classics and Egyptology at University of Liverpool, said he was “in shock” when he found the current state of the site.

A spokesperson for Isle of Anglesey County Council confirmed that the land where the site was located was leased by the local authority and that they were looking into the matter. George Nash explained he was also a committee member of the Council for British Archaeology Wales (CBA), which is an organisation that works to engage with people who have interests in archaeology and prehistoric sites such as Llanfechell Cromlech Burial Chamber.

George explained that he visited the site in April ahead of an upcoming group tour of various prehistoric sites on Anglesey. He said: “I have the pleasure of taking groups around Ynys Môn from time to time. I tend to knock on a farmer’s door just to let them know about these tours beforehand.

“The cromlech site sits within a remarkable landscape that includes later prehistoric rock art and several standing stones – all of which form a unique landscape. I went to visit the site with a view of taking a group of people from CBA Wales and to my horror, many tonnes of rubble had been piled on top of the monument.”

As George explained, the site has never been scheduled, which means that it does not have protected status similar to other Neolithic burial sites, such as the Pentre Ifan site in Pembrokeshire. In response to the recent incident, George has called for the site to be protected.

He said the monument must be reinstated and scheduled by Cadw as soon as possible. “I am so angry,” he said. “It is one of three or four sites on Ynys Môn that is a part of the rituals monument landscape. It has remarkable archaeology around it and must be protected.”

He added: “In my view, this is vandalism at its worst. This should not happen on such a beautiful island with such a rich heritage. The long-term sorry state of this monument reflects the sometimes lack of respect for our heritage. Its reinstatement and its designation as a Scheduled Monument will go some way to restore faith in protecting these ancient sites.”

In response, a spokesperson for the Isle of Anglesey County Council said: “We can confirm that this is one of the County Council’s small holdings, which is leased to a tenant. Our officers will now be looking into the matter.”

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