Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber

Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, near Nevern in North Pembrokeshire, is an iconic prehistoric monument: the finest of the Megalithic tombs in Wales.

A massive cromlech, its scale takes the first time viewer by surprise, and it has been used as a symbol by innumerable academic, cultural and even commercial bodies over the years.

Pevsner describes it as “a burial chamber of extraordinary - and presumably accidental - elegance, as its capstone would have been under the earth of the covering mound.” Indeed, if it were still in its original form, it would simply be a large green tump in a remote field, and would never have become the iconic relic it is: a Mecca for antiquarians, artists and photographers down the last few centuries.

The enormous capstone, delicately poised on the points of three tapering upright stones, covered a sunken chamber with a southern entrance, the portal framed by pairs of stones, forming a semi-circular forecourt. The massive scale of the fixed portal stone suggests that the chamber was sealed after a single burial, which would indicate that it was the tomb of a very important person, or possibly a site of several simultaneous burials. The Elizabethan historian and chronicler George Owen referred to the presence of four side stones, but two no longer survive on the east side.

Half a mile to the north-west of the cromlech is a large barn, on the site of the former mansion of the Bowen family of Pentre Ifan. It is all that remains of the mansion of the Bowens whose later residence was Llwyngwair, a mile west of Nevern, and the antiquarian Major Francis Jones says in his book, ‘Historic Pembrokeshire Homes and their Families’ that the Bowens could boast that Pentre Ifan was the home of a family which survived in the male line within its bounds for 800 years. Pentre Ifan was the home of Sir James ap Owen (1518), whose name evolved to Bowen, and the family is said to have sprung from the 11th century Welsh nobleman Gwynfardd Dyfed. This is a district rich in history and dotted with ancient monuments and mansions. Nevern Castle is an Iron Age hill fort a quarter of a mile west of the village, possibly an important seat of the Cantref (Hundred) of Cemais, The Pilgrim’s Cross is a Latin cross roughly hewn in high relief on the rock face to mark the Pilgrim’s Way to St Davids. Llwynygoras, half a mile south-east is a late 16th century house built by the Bowens with 19th century additions. Berry Hill, a mile north-east is another Bowen property of 1810 and Trewern is one of the best surviving gentry houses in the region, built in the 16th century by William Warren and remodelled in the early 18th century. There are also two other burial chambers,Trellyffaint two miles north and Llech-y-Dribedd two miles north-east. The Bowens lived at Llwyngwair until 1957 and it is now a hotel.

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