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Bronze dagger and axe head

The Cairn Builders

By around 2,500 B.C. the first metals were being produced. First copper was manufactured and later bronze. Bronze was increasingly used to make tools and weapons such as axes and daggers. Examples of these have been discovered across the county borough, such as the dagger found in Caerphilly and the axe heads at Rudry and on Gelligaer Common. As with the stone tools before, these were probably 'mass' produced and then traded. This trade and exchange was not just confined to Wales or indeed Britain. Luxury goods such as amber and jet beads may have come into the county borough from far across the sea.

As the climate grew warmer, the clearance of the forests continued and farming and settlement pushed into the uplands. The exploitation of this land is illustrated through one of the most enduring features of that time, the Bronze Age cairns. These still litter the county borough's ridges today, such as at Cefn Gelligaer, Mynydd y Grug above Ynysddu, Twmbarlwm and on Mynydd Eglwysilan. These simple circular mounds of stone and earth are burial tombs. Unlike the communal tombs of the past, they appear to have been designed for a single burial, although were often reused. This new practice of individual burials suggests that a clear hierarchy in society was now emerging, with only the more privileged subject to these burial rights. Perhaps at the head of this new ordered society was a chieftain, with control over people, goods and land.

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