Chambered tombs

Long Barrows


Passage Graves

Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites in Southeast Wales

The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

For a technical description of how the work for this project was carried out click on the link below. Technical Report

Download a pdf version of the Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites in Southeast Wales report.




The Neolithic period is usually seen to represent a new and dynamic era in human history, very different from the one that prevailed for the last half a million years. The domestication of plants and animals represents a vast social upheaval in the way people interacted and understood the world around them. People began to embrace novel ideas concerning the relationship between themselves and plants and animals, subsistence through hunting and gathering gradually gave way to a more sedentary way of life. New forms of material culture were embraced such as pottery and textile production, with the introduction of novel lithic technologies. New ideologies were reflected in the way people treated the dead and living alike. Monumentality was adopted, involving the investment of vast human resources to erect great earthworks and megaliths, such as long barrows, chambered cairns and causewayed enclosures.

The origins of causewayed enclosures in Britain can be found in the Linear Bandkeramic culture (LBK) of continental Europe during the 6th millennium BC. The first enclosures in Britain date from the later part of the early Neolithic, around the mid-4th millennium BC. They vary considerably in their design, from stone-walled enclosures in Cornwall, to earthwork constructions of single or multiple concentric circuits of ditches, with or without interruptions formed by unexcavated sections of earth. Some have continuous or discontinuous banks formed from material quarried from the ditches. Until recently, the presence of this type of enclosure was thought to be completely absent from southeast Wales but the identification of several examples in the Vale of Glamorgan from aerial photography and their subsequent excavation has revised our understanding of the distribution of this type of monument and relative Neolithic and Bronze Age chronologies.

The Ewenny, Corntown and Norton causewayed enclosures were all identified from aerial photographs by the RCAHMW; all are located in the western area of the Vale of Glamorgan. The enclosures are situated on carboniferous limestone, with Ewenny, Corntown and Norton lying on a roughly east-west trajectory south of the Ewenny and Ogmore rivers. A distance of some 4.5km separates the enclosures at Norton and Corntown, with that at Ewenny lying approximately in between. A recent fly-over by the RCAHMW in 2006 has identified a further concentric enclosure at Flemingston, St Athan. The form of the monument from the aerial photographic plot appears to be synonymous with the original plots from Ewenny, Norton and Corntown indicating that this enigmatic monument may be more numerous than first thought. These enclosures are not just restricted to the Vale of Glamorgan; an enclosure at Womaston, near Walton, Radnorshire was identified through aerial photography by the RCAHMW and has striking similarities to the enclosures in the Vale of Glamorgan.