Parc le Breos Cwm Long Barrow, Pen-maen, Swansea

Text by Tim Darvill

Unusually, Parc le Broes Cym long barrow lies adjacent to a small stream in the bottom of a steep-sided valley. The stream has caused some erosion to the south-west horn, but the remainder is very well preserved and worth the journey to find this rather hidden site. Fully excavated and restored in 1960-1, the mound is small, 22m long by a maximum of 12m wide, strongly trapezoidal in shape and edged with a well-built dry-stone revetment wall.

Aligned almost exactly north-south, the wider southern end has a deeply recessed bell-shaped forecourt between two rather pronounced horns. At the back of the forecourt is the entrance to a central passage with a pair of side chambers opening off to either side. There is no end-chamber beyond the second pair of chambers.

The upper part of the cairn and the roofing of the chambers and passage are all missing, presumably robbed long ago, but this has the effect of providing the visitor with a neatly sliced-off structure whose internal arrangement can be examined. Early excavations in 1869 and the recent work in 1960-1 have together brought to light the remains of more than 40 people buried in the chambers and passageway. Radiocarbon dating suggests that they were deposited about 3500 BC.

The key things to look for at Pare le Breos Cwm are: the position and size of the barrow; the construction of the chambers and especially the deployment of jambs and sill slabs to constrict movement within the chamber and to structure the definition of spaces; the rubble construction of the mound; and the wavy effect created by the way the stones of the outer revetment wall in the forecourt are set.


SS 5372 8983. 1 km Northwest of Park Mill, N of the A4118, on the Gower, between Swansea and Port-Eynon. Signposted access via a narrow lam leading N from the A4118. Cadw.

Further reading: Daniel 1937b; Whittle and Wysocki 1998.

Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and surrounding areas – Tim Darvill

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