Sacred Places of Wales

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Llandaff (Thlan daff) Cathedral

Tinkinswood Long CairnThe sacred places of Wales are found everywhere in the principality; some of them date back a very, very long time. The huge stone monuments dotted around the landscape - the Neolithic chambered tombs -- are known in Welsh as cromlechi. Some of these are almost 5,000 years old, as old as the first pyramids of Egypt. As burial places, they were sacred to the people who built them, for it is believed that they were also centres of religion and its accompanying rituals. Two of the most well known uncovered tombs are found near Cardiff: Tinkinswood and St. Lythan's, both only a short distance from St. Fagan's.

Tinkinswood Long Cairn established as a "Cotwold-Severn type," is an impressive and quite well preserved burial chamber dating back around 6,000 years or more. In it were found the bones of some 50 people as well as pottery and flint tools. Most astonishing is the size of the capstone, about 8 yards by 3 yards, estimated to weigh about 50 tons, and thought to be the largest in Britain. The chamber is approached through a walled forecourt and slab-lined entrance.

After visiting the chamber, turn towards Dyffryn (Duffrin) Gardens (A4226) and make a left turn on a side road that leads back to St. Nicholas. Here you will find (not clearly marked) the second remarkable long cairn in the area: St. Lythan's Burial Chamber.

St. Lythan's Megalithic Long BarrowA megalithic long barrow, St. Lythan's has been long stripped of its earth covering, but the three upright stones and huge capstone remain. It is reputed to have been erected around 6200 BC. Certain magic properties have long been associated with St. Lythan's, on Midsummer Eve, the capstone is said to rotate three times; at Halloween the stones are reputed to make wishes come true. The field in which the cromlech stands is known as the "Accursed Field," reputed to be less fertile than most others in the area.

Next, you'll visit Llantwit Major (Llanilltyd Fawr: Thlanithtid Fawr), situated a few miles west of Cardiff International Airport, just beyond St. Athan. The best way to reach Llantwit is to take the A48 west from Cardiff and then south on A4222 to Cowbridge and the B4270 to the coast.

Next Stop: Llantwit Major
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