NEOLITHIC PORTAL DOLMEN FOUND IN WALES -- DATING TO C. 5,500 YEARS AGO
Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Neolithic portal dolmen, one of Western Europe's oldest ritual burial chambered monuments, in an isolated field in Wales. It is thought the tomb was built
from giant boulders about 5,500 years ago. Its capstone bears a seemingly random pattern of dozens of circular holes gouged into its surface - symbols of Neolithic or Bronze Age ritual burial activity.
What makes it particularly interesting is that the site has rare remains of human bones and shards of decorated pottery. An official burial license must now be sought before the bones can be removed, but eventually radiocarbon-dating and other tests planned for the remains may give new insight into Britain's early farming ancestors. The archaeological excavation near Newport in Pembrokeshire has been led by George Nash, Thomas Wellicome and Adam Stanford, who plan to resume work in September.
Dr Nash, an archaeologist and lecturer at Bristol University, said: "The dolmen is the earliest type of monument you can find in the Neolithic era. It is very rare to discover such a site of this age. Since 1600, intense farming practices have meant a lot of ancient sites were destroyed. What is unique about the whole thing is that we are dealing with thick, acidic soils but the bones and the pottery have survived."
While the tomb is thought to date from 3,800BC, the pottery with its grooved design appears contemporary with late Neolithic activity, Dr Nash believes. Further finds include two perforated, sea-worn shale beads, each about 4.5cm in diameter, which are thought to be some form of jewellery. Dr Nash has linked them to hundreds of examples found in the 1970s at a nearby coastal settlement from the Early Mesolithic period 9,000 years ago. He believes his Neolithic site may have even older, Mesolithic origins.
What is particularly interesting about this dolmen discovery is the number of ancient capmarks on the slab ... and the recovery of human remains with pottery. They will be able to extract a lot of information from the bones: where these people came from, where they lived, and whether they came from