Lligwy, Anglesey

A Neolithic burial chamber carved out of limestone, a spectacular Iron-Age farmstead and an ancient ruined church overlooking the sea

In a little corner of N.E. Anglesey are three ancient sites that are very close to each other but a walk here feels like walking through time, all the way from the Neolithic to the medieval.

On the day we set off to explore Lligwy, North Wales was having a spell of unseasonably cold and windy weather. The morning started off so cold and damp that when we arrived at Moelfre, the nearest village, our first stop was at the wonderful Ann’s Pantry. After warming ourselves up by the wood burning stove and having some delicious coffee and scones the weather had improved and we drove out of Moelfre and turned down the narrow road that took us to the first prehistoric site of the day.

Lligwy Burial Chamber

Lligwy Burial Chamber (1)

The geology of this part of Anglesey is limestone and the dolmen-like burial chamber has a massive 25 ton capstone and a chamber that was hollowed out from a natural fissure in the rock. The uprights are half below ground and half above, giving it a very squat appearance.

The capstone was hewn out of the limestone pavement and cut marks can still be seen on the side of the stone.

The capstone rests on some of the uprights and in other places smaller stones have been wedged in to support it, or possibly just to fill in the wall of the chamber.

The tomb was excavated in the early 20th century and the bones of up to 30 men, women and children were found.

The human remains, plus animal bones and two kinds of pottery were found in 2 separate layers and would suggest that the tomb was built in the late Neolithic but also in use 1000 years later in the early Bronze Age.

Lligwy Burial Chamber (3)

Like other such tombs, it would have been covered with a mound of stones and had a short entrance passage into the chamber.

Lligwy Burial Chamber (5)
The capstone with the partly submerged chamber underneath.

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Din Lligwy – an Iron-Age Farmstead

Path to Lligwy Iron-Age Farmstead.

Further along the road from the dolmen you come to a lay-by and a footpath to the other two historical sites at Lligwy. After a walk through fields there’s a little gate and a path up through the trees to the remains of a very significant Iron-Age farmstead.

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These remains are an awesome sight! Covering half an acre, Din Lligwy was built sometime during the Iron-Age and contains the remains of 2 roundhouses and numerous other rectangular structures.

Lligwy Iron-Age Farmstead (8)

They are all enclosed by a thick defensive wall which was probably built around the 4th century AD when the Roman occupation was coming to an end and raids on villages became common (Din is Welsh for fort). Excavations in the early 20th century found many pot sherds and coins dating from this period but there was also evidence of earlier structures.

Lligwy Iron-Age Farmstead (6)
Remains of one of the roundhouses

The roundhouses would have been dwellings but the rectangular buildings would have had different purposes from iron working to housing animals.

Lligwy Iron-Age Farmstead

A hearth and evidence of iron working was found in the rectangular building above, which was probably a workshop.

Below- photos from around the farmstead

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Hen Capel Lligwy  (Old Lligwy Chapel)

Lligwy Chapel

Walking back from Din Lligwy, you pass by Lligwy Chapel. It stands on its own in a lonely spot overlooking the sea.

Little is known of its origins or the saint it was dedicated to. It was built in the 12th century, with some reconstruction of the walls in the 14th and had a small chapel with a crypt added on in the 16th century.

By the 18th century it was falling into ruin.Perhaps the chapel is all that remains of a community who lived around here in medieval times.

Lligwy Chapel (1)

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Our day out started in a cosy tea room, followed by a real walk through history and finished with a bracing walk on nearby Lligwy beach where we found some interesting geology.

Ann’s Pantry in Moelfre where we could have sat in the garden or summer house, had it been warmer. Fleecy blankets were supplied!

Traeth Lligwy, less than a mile north of the 3 historical sites we visited.

Below- interesting geology at the north end of the beach.  1.Old red sandstone cliffs

2. Mudcracks formed when ancient mudflats dried in the sun, often forming hexagonal shapes as they shrank

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