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History: Bronze age mound at Barry Garden Suburb

Curiously for a location that has some truly ancient links, we have been a little amiss not to have included this weeks Barry and District heritage champion sooner in our weekly column.

We visit the Scheduled Ancient Monument; protected for us all to see at the Garden Suburb of Barry, at Westward Rise.

The narrative connected with this Bronze Age mound is as enlightening as the age of the monument itself. The Barry Garden Suburb, slowly developed from 1915, and bit by bit encroached onto farm land overlooking Porthkerry Park towards the North and West.

By the late 1980s, a little known monument was stopping the movement of the growing Garden Suburb forever. Richard Enos and myself with help from a local Councillor Rachel Williams, highlighted the potential loss to our heritage of the Bronze Age Burial mound now at the terminus for the end of Westward Rise.

The Bronze Age burial mound in the early 1990s had been used as a dumping ground, and the JCB diggers for the estate were parked on its boundary. If it hadn’t been for our sharp observance, the mound would have simply been lost forever.

In saving the mound from development; which is a rare victory, our heritage in the Barry and District has one piece of evidence illustrating our ‘ancient links’. The Bronze Age Burial is contained within a small area of grassland; which is well maintained, and protected by an iron fence. You can still see the obvious mound that contained the burial (s), and some of its surrounding ditch is still visible also.

At one time there would have been more such burial mounds within the vicinity, although most have long since been removed and built on. We do see one Bronze Age Burial mound at The Bulwarks Iron Age enclosure towards the West at Porthkerry.

The Bronze Age Burial mound at Westward Rise, would have been taller at one stage, and would have been seen from miles around. We do not know how many burials are under this mound, and who is buried there, but from the way it is constructed, the date is from around 3,500 years ago. There is evidence that in the 1980s, and before that excavations may have been undertaken on the mound to ascertain what it contained, but we don’t know anything more than that.

At the least it would contain a cremated burial in a small pot, that would have been placed in a pre dug hole in the ground. Then the earth was dug creating a circle, around the burial. Then the earth was thrown up over the burial, thus creating a mound. At times relatives of the buried under the mound would have visited to pay their respects, occasionally leaving offerings in the form of pottery, meat,and flowers.

There are many more monuments still to visit within the Barry and District.

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