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28 September 2011
New discoveries at Trefael Stone

The second excavation season at Trefael Stone in South West Wales has just finished and the results are very interesting. Last year a team of archaeologists, led by Dr George Nash, Adam Stanford and Tom Wellicome uncovered the probable remains of a portal dolmen, one of Western Britain's oldest monument types. This excavation revealed a significant cairn deposit that was first identified through geophysical survey. In addition to this tightly compacted cairn material, a clear Neolithic surface was exposed.
     Artefacts were limited to a few sherds of historical pottery, but found within the cairn deposit were two perforated shale beads, probably Mesolithic in date. The presence of such artefacts reflects the importance of this site several thousand years before the portal dolmen was constructed. What is more, the Trefael Stone appears to have formed the capstone for the portal dolmen and this was probably reused as a standing stone (or menhir) during the Early/Middle Bronze Age.
     During the 2011 season a geophysics team led by Les Dodd, Phil Dell and Bryan Moore geo-prospected 26 x 20 metre sectors in which a number of clear anomalies were detected. Two such areas were located a few metres to the north and west of the monument and were subsequently excavated by the Welsh Rock-art Organisation (WRAO) team. Uncovered in a trench immediately west of the Trefael Stone were several sherds of Neolithic pottery, probably Grooved Ware, along with human bone. This material along with a few pieces of flint appears to have been dispersed amongst probable disturbed (ploughed-out) cairn material.
     Discovered within the second trench was a stone linear alignment, originally thought to be a prehistoric field boundary. Further excavation, supervised by archaeologist Catherine Rees, revealed this curious feature to be part of a burial cist, probably Bronze Age in date. Directly associated with this feature was a large quantity of charcoal.
     In addition to the excavation programme, geophysical survey also revealed in a field to the south and east of the monument further anomalies suggesting that the Trefael monument is not alone and is in fact part of a much larger ritualised landscape. Evidence is further endorsed by the 'excavation' from a nearby hedge boundary of a missing standing stone which disappeared some 30 years ago. This single monolith which once stood in the adjacent field measures around 2m in length.
     Work to record the 75 cupmarks on the Trefeal Stone was completed by the team at the 11th hour. Initial reports suggest that cupmarks numbered only 40+. In the 2012 season the team hopes to continue the investigations within the two trenches and also undertake further trenching in and around the immediate area.
     
Edited from Dr George Nash PR (28 September 2011)

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