Tinkinswood Long Barrow, St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan

Text by Tim Darvill

As visible today, the Tinkinswood long barrow is in a restored state following extensive excavations in 1914 by John Ward, first Keeper of Archaeology in the National Museum of Wales. It gives a good impression of how long barrows like this would have appeared in the past, nestling as it does amongst thickets and patches of woodland.

The mound is more or less rectangular in outline, with a tidy external revetment wall. At the east end there is a wide shallow forecourt giving access to a simple rectangular terminal chamber with just one cell. The capstone is massive (7m by 4.6m by 1m thick) and weights more than 40 tonnes. The entrance into the chamber is narrow and set towards the northern side of the flat face at the rear of the forecourt. The remains of more than 50 individuals were found within the chamber, along with small quantities of broken pottery and worked flint. A rather unusual Beaker bowl was the latest kind of pottery present, probably placed within a series of blocking deposits.

Some of the forecourt walls have been reconstructed, the new build being distinguished by the herringbone pattern of stonework; a modern pillar has been inserted in the chamber to help support the capstone. The main body of the cairn comprises rubble and stone blocks. Several larger slabs within the stonework of the cairn suggest the existence of pre-cairn structures or later secondary burials inserted into the mound. One substantial slab-lined cist within the cairn on the north side is probably the remains of a pre-long barrow monument, perhaps a round barrow or rotunda grave.


ST0921 7331. 1km S of St Nicholas on the A48(T) W of Cardiff. Take the signposted road from St Nicholas towards Dyffryn; the barrow is W of the road, accessible by signposted footpath from the road. Roadside parking. Cadw. Finds in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

Further reading: Ward 1915; 1916; Savory 1971.

Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and surrounding areas – Tim Darvill

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