Archaeological work at Llanfechell Standing Stone, Anglesey

Bu i faen hir trawiadol yn Llanfechell, ger Cemaes, Ynys Môn, syrthio i’r llawr fis Tachwedd 2009.  Roedd wedi bod yn gwyro ryw ychydig ers blynyddoedd lawer ac wedi cyfnod o dywydd gwlyb iawn, meddalodd y tir o’i gwmpas. Meddalodd y tir ymhellach wrth i wartheg ei sathru.  Wedi i’r maen syrthio, gwelwyd mai dim ond 0.7m ohono oedd wedi bod o dan y ddaear, er ei fod yn faen mawr iawn, yn 2.7m o uchder. Roedd y maen yn nodwedd enwog yn lleol ac yn Heneb Gofrestredig. Ymatebodd Cadw yn brydlon, gan ofyn i Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Gwynedd drefnu gwaith cloddio, er mwyn gallu rhoi’r maen yn ôl yn ei le.  Symudwyd y maen, sy’n pwyso 4.6 tunnell, i’r naill ochr gan graen ac ym mis Ionawr 2010, cloddiwyd ryw ychydig ar y twll a oedd wedi’i ddifrodi a chynhaliwyd arolwg geoffisegol ar yr ardal o’i amgylch.  Ni ddaeth yr arolwg o hyd i unrhyw nodweddion newydd ond datgelodd y cloddio 20 o gerrig pacio yn y twll. Gwelwyd bod y fwyaf o’r cerrig pacio hyn wedi’i haddurno â chafn-nod a chylch pigedig a chafn-nod arall. Mae cafn-nodau a chylchoedd yn brin yng Ngogledd Cymru ac mae’r cysylltiad â maen hir yn arbennig o arwyddocaol.  Mae’n awgrymu swyddogaeth symbolaidd, fel rhan o seremoni’n gysylltiedig â’r maen neu i gyd-fynd â chladdedigaeth efallai. Yng ngwaelod twll y maen, o dan y safle lle’r oedd sylfaen y maen hir, cafwyd hyd i dwll bychan wedi’i orchuddio gan lechfeini.  Roedd yn cynnwys sylwedd organig tywyll, gyda rhywfaint o olosg grug ynddo. Mae’n sicr bron bod y twll yn safle ar gyfer dyddodion sylfaen, yn cynnwys offrwm efallai. Nid oedd unrhyw arwydd ei fod wedi cynnwys corfflosgiad. Mae’r cyfle i archwilio union leoliad maen hir, yn hytrach na’r ardal o’i amgylch, yn un prin ac yn gyfle posibl hefyd i ddarganfod yr union ddyddiad pryd gosodwyd y maen yn ei le.  Mae gwaith cloddio blaenorol o amgylch meini hirion yn awgrymu eu bod yn dyddio o’r Oes Efydd Gynnar, tua dechrau’r 2il fileniwm CC. Ychydig iawn o sylwedd wedi’i garboneiddio a gafwyd o’r maen yn Llanfechell a dim ond un dyddiad sydd wedi’i sicrhau hyd yma.  Roedd hyn tua 700-400CC, ychydig yn hwyrach na’r disgwyl, ond y gobaith yw sicrhau o leiaf un dyddiad arall.

Ailgodwyd y maen ar 6ed Medi 2010 gan gontractwyr ar y cyd â Chadwraeth Cymru, tîm gwaith adeiladu Cadw. Cloddiwyd twll newydd a rhoddwyd y maen yn ôl yn ei union leoliad gwreiddiol gan graen, ac yn cael ei gynnal gan graidd caled wedi’i wasgu’n dynn i’w le a’i atgyfnerthu gan gymysgedd galch.  Mae’r garreg cafn-nod a chylch wedi mynd i Oriel Ynys Môn a bydd adroddiad ar y gwaith yn cael ei lunio wedi rhagor o astudiaethau gwyddonol. Diolch i berchennog y tir, Robin Grove-White, ac i’r ffermwr, Jac Jones, am eu cefnogaeth a’u cymorth. Dywedodd Mr Grove-White bod rhoi’r maen yn ôl yn ei le yn achlysur pwysig i’r gymuned ‘Mae’n dirnod pwysig iawn yn y rhan yma o Ynys Môn ac mae’n golygu llawer i bawb’. Mae’n ymddangos bod ardal Llanfechell wedi bod yn ganolfan bwysig i weithgarwch cynhanes a’i bod yn deilwng o waith ymchwil pellach. Mae’n cynnwys gweddillion beddrod siambr Neolithig, lleoliad unigryw gyda thri maen hir, grŵp o grugiau crynion mawr ac anheddiad pen bryn yn dyddio o’r cyfnod Neolithig Cynnar a’r Oes Haearn.

George Smith

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An impressive standing stone at Llanfechell, near Cemaes, Anglesey fell over in November 2009. It had been leaning slightly for many years and a period of very wet weather softened the ground around it, increased by the effects of cattle trampling. The exposed stone showed that despite its large size, 2.7m high, only 0.7m had been below ground. The stone was a well-known local feature and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Cadw quickly responded, asking GAT to organise an excavation to allow re-erection of the stone. The stone, weighing 4.6 tons, was moved to one side by crane and in January 2010 a small excavation was carried out of the damaged stone-hole and a geophysical survey was carried out of the surrounding area. The survey did not identify any new features but the excavation revealed 20 packing stones in the pit. The largest of these packing stones was found to have been decorated with a pecked cup and ring mark and another cup mark. Cup and ring marks are rare in North Wales and the association with a standing stone is especially significant. It suggests a symbolic function, as part of a ceremony associated with the stone or perhaps to accompany a burial. At the base of the stone pit, beneath the former position of the base of the standing stone, a small slab-covered pit was found. It contained a dark organic fill containing some heather charcoal. It seems certain that the pit was a foundation deposit, perhaps containing an offering. There was no sign that it had contained a cremation burial. The opportunity to investigate the actual setting of a standing stone, as opposed to the area around it is rare and presents the possibility of dating the actual erection of the stone. Previous excavations around standing stones suggest that they are of Early Bronze Age date, around the early 2nd millennium BC. There was very little carbonised material from the Llanfechell stone and only one date has so far been obtained. This was about 700-400BC, somewhat later than expected, but it is hoped to obtain at least one more date.

The stone was re-erected on 6th September 2010 by contractors together with Cadwraith Cymru, the building works team of Cadw. A new pit was dug and the stone dropped back by crane exactly in its former position, supported by rammed hardcore strengthened by a lime mixture. The cup and ring-marked stone has been placed in the Oriel Ynys Môn and a report on the work will be produced after more scientific study. Thanks go to the landowner, Robin Grove-White, and to the farmer, Jac Jones for support and assistance. Mr Grove-White said the re-instatement was a big moment for the community ‘It is a very important landmark in this part of Anglesey and means a great deal to everybody’. The Llanfechell area seems to have been an important centre of prehistoric activity that deserves more investigation. It contains the remains of  Neolithic chambered tomb, a unique setting of three standing stones, a group of large round barrows and a hilltop settlement of Early Neolithic and Iron Age date.

George Smith

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