Barclodiad y Gawres: Anglesey’s Coastal Neolithic Burial Chamber

Barclodiad y Gawres

Nestled on the headland between Cable Bay (Porth Trecastell) and Porth Nobla is Barclodiad y Gawres, one of Anglesey’s oldest burial chambers. It forms one of the island’s many ancient and historical monuments, and it’s a perfect example of a cruciform passage grave. But what makes the Barclodiad y Gawres burial chamber extra special is the carvings on stones found here during an excavation during the 1950s, as we shall now explain.

Barclodiad y Gawres: A Brief History

The name Barclodiad y Gawres means “the Giantess’s Apronful”, which originates from a local legend recounting the tale of a giant woman who carried a number of large stones in her apron before dropping them in a pile on the ground.

Those who first stumbled upon the site didn’t think much of the pile of stones, believing them to be nothing more than a collection of cists. However, when excavations on the site began in 1952, it soon became apparent that this was an altogether more impressive structure, with multiple burial chambers and cremated remains.

Barclodiad y Gawres Main Chamber
The main chamber of Barclodiad y Gawres

While many cremated young male burials were found on the site, the main chamber contained something extraordinary. The central chamber revealed five decorated stones complete with complex zig-zag, chevron, and spiral engravings. A sixth stone with further decorations was found much later, in 2001. What makes the discovery of these stones (along with the cruciform structure) significant is that they are traditionally only found in Ireland.

Barclodiad y Gawres
Another view of the stones in the main chamber

In fact, the only other site boasting Neolithic art of this type in the UK is at the nearby site of Bryn Celli Ddu (read our guide to visiting Bryn Celli Ddu).

Where is Barclodiad y Gawres?

As mentioned, this burial chamber is found near the clifftops of the headland between Cable Bay and Porth Nobla beaches. However, the quickest access point is from Cable Bay car park. If you’re driving, the directions are as follows:

Take Junction 5 (signposted for Rhosneigr).

Follow the A4080 as it winds through a few small hamlets before arriving at Llanfaelog.

Continue on the A4080, ignoring right-hand turns signposted for Rhoneigr in Llanfaelog and Bryn Du.

Follow the road as it passes the large Broad Beach car park, and slow as the road rises toward a blind summit.

Immediately after cresting the hill, you’ll see Cable Bay on your right, as well as the entrance to the car park.

Once you’ve parked up and paid for a ticket, it’s a short walk up the footpath from the right-hand side of the beach (as you’re facing the sea) to the burial chamber. Be careful as the path narrows and has steep drops down to the beach below in places, before opening right up to become grassy headland.

Barclodiad y Gawres
The path is narrow and has steep drops down to the beach in places before opening out onto the headland

Barclodiad y Gawres Opening Times and Prices

In the past, viewings of the central chamber were by appointment only, and you were accompanied by a keyholder based in Llanfaelog. However, the site is now under the care of Cadw, and you can pay a visit at any time throughout the year between the hours of 10 am – 4 pm. However, the main chamber often sits behind a locked gate.

Admission to this historical attraction is free, year-round, making it an excellent pit-stop on your coastal walk or day out at the beach. Finally, please note that no smoking or drone-flying is permitted at this site.

Barclodiad y Gawres FAQs

Where is the Best Place to Park When Visiting Barclodiad y Gawres?

The best place to park for Barclodiad y Gawres is Cable Bay Beach. It’s easily accessed from the A4080, which runs directly from the A55 Expressway to the beach (see directions above). The car park has room for approximately 30-40 vehicles. However, be aware that there will likely be motorhomes in the car park, especially during the spring and summer months.

The car park used to be free. However, it is now a pay and display car park sharing the following rates (correct at time of writing):

Up to 1 hour – £1.00
Up to 2 hours – £2.00
Up to 3 hours – £3.00
Up to 6 hours – £5.00
Up to 12 hours – £8.00

Cable Bay Car Park

What Facilities are Available at Barclodiad y Gawres?

There are no facilities available at Barclodiad y Gawres. However, there will often be an ice cream van parked up in the car park during the summer months. For more substantial refreshments, you will need to travel to the nearby villages of Rhosneigr or Aberffraw.

Can You Bring Your Dog to Barclodiad y Gawres?

Since the site sits on the Anglesey Coastal Path, you can indeed bring your dog. However, it’s best to leave them outside when making your way into the burial chamber.

Is Barclodiad y Gawres Accessible?

While not wheelchair-friendly, those with accessibility requirements can make their way to Barclodiad y Gawres using a motorised scooter with off-road capabilities. Those with these requirements are best approaching the site from the north side and working your way across the headland from there, as the path from Cable Bay is very narrow in places.

What is the Postcode for Barclodiad y Gawres?

The closest postcode for Barclodiad y Gawres is LL63 5TE.

Who Owns Barclodiad y Gawres?

The site is under the care of Cadw, the historic environment service of the Welsh Government.

Joe Roberts

Joe is a keen runner and loves exploring new places to stretch his legs within North Wales. Particular favourites at the moment include Newborough Forest and pretty much anywhere in Snowdonia.

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