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In the autumn of of 2015-2016 the EMRG investigated what was thought might be a denuded Bronze Age cairn and cist on the small plateau of Pant Morcell, directly above the historic workings of Cwmystwyth Mine. It was of potential interest to our landscape research in the vicinity of the Bronze Age Mine on Copa Hill, as it was situated on the hillside immediately opposite and intervisible with it, at an altitude of 386 metres AOD.

Following a de-turf of the structure, it became clear that it was a much disturbed feature, cut and partly removed in places by 18th century lead miners who had been interested in hushing the hill slopes below.

The presence of a circle of large and partly shaped fallen stone orthostat slabs suggested that it was perhaps once a dominant landscape feature; either a stone circle or kerb cairn burial monument.

The size and distance between the stones did resemble a kerb cairn, a type of monument common to parts of upland Ceredigian. Moreover, this was large at about 12 metres in diameter and was ellipsoid in shape.

In 2016 a full excavation of the SW and NE quadrants revealed only a shallow depth to bedrock (shales of the Rhuddnant grits) an outcrop which had clearly been quarried in the northern half of the monument to detach large blocks which made up 70% of the large and small orthostats.

Some 10-11 large fallen orthostats (largest 1.5m tall; smallest 0.8m) surround this, for which at least seven shallow socket holes cut in the rock were recognised.

This suggested an ellipsoid circle of stones, with perhaps smaller ones without sockets in between, of 9m diameter (N-S) large. The displaced stones and pits/socket holes within the centre suggest another stone grouping in the middle centred upon a rock outcrop.

Charcoal including hazelnut shell, was found in small amounts in a soil beneath the shallow shaly cairn material in the middle, associated with several small pits and some poorly defined burnt spreads. An off-centre pit just to the south of this, c.1 metre wide and defined by a placed stone rim, contained traces of a sub -round to square dark stain, perhaps originally the base of a wooden box.

More importantly was the find of two halves of a broken Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age polished stone mace-head made of Craig Llwyd microdionte sourced at the Group 7 axe factory site near Penmaenmawr on the North Wales coast. Also placed around the rim of this pit was a little-used grit grinding stone / quern with a perforated cup-mark and grooves across its upper face.

Further radiocarbon dating of some of the charcoal fragments from this feature will be attempted in due course.

Grants Received Pant Morcell Excavations, Cwmystwyth: 
A Prehistoric Stone Circle or Kerb Cairn

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This website was made possible by a grant from the Cambrian Archaeology Association

Excavations Services
Location of the Pant Morcell cairn (Tiger Geo Ltd.)
Excavations at Pant Morcell in 2016 (S. Timberlake)
Plan of the Pant Morcell cairn - excavated (B. Craddock)
Quarrying marks beneath the cairn for the detachment of blocks
Shaped orthostat, Pant Morcell
The two re-fitted halves of the perforated stone mace-
Mail: bc293@cam.ac.uk