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Lordenshaw (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — News

Vandals damage ancient monument in Northumberland

From The Journal online:
The damage was reported at 11am on Saturday, after names were carved into the historic rock art at Lordenshaw in Rothbury, Northumberland
Full article here
Hob Posted by Hob
9th April 2014ce

Cadair Fawr (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

The quickest - not to mention simplest - way to the summit of Cadair Fawr, a 1,591ft (485m) outlier of the Fforest Fawr, is to adhere to Carl's fieldnotes and approach from the A4059 to the north, this option also allowing the traveller easy access to the substantial cairns located upon the south-western flanks of Cefn Esgair-carnau should he/she so wish. Easy.... but no doubt wet. OK, no so easy, then.

A more 'intimate' route, however, is to start from the minor road traversing Cwm Cadlan to the south, the valley presenting a veritable cornucopia of archaeology that - in my opinion - matches its northern counterpart with ease. I also find there is a somewhat logical symmetry to achieving the zenith at the extremity of a walk. Something Phil Oakey and Little Boots would no doubt also appreciate should they ever go walking together. Now there's a thought. Hence I approach the summit today from the excellent cairn upon Twyn Bryn Glas, set some way below to the south-east. Now assuming one doesn't stumble down a shake hole into some mystical, otherworldly, parallel dimension.... careful now.... the short moorland stomp, followed by a brief 'pull' to the summit, should prove relatively straightforward, assuming the absence of low cloud. The perennial caveat.

As I gain height the landscape begins to assume a more brutal, primeval character, shattered limestone outcropping now vying for space with the ubiquitous long upland grass.... before finally superseding it altogether in places. Yeah, despite its relative lack of height, clearly Cadair Fawr so wants to be a proper mountain, just like the big ones nearer Brecon. And you know what, I reckon it almost succeeds. It certainly possesses a substantial cairn, comprised of the aforementioned limestone slabs, which is truly synonymous with its location, almost blending into the uncompromising landscape. Takes some doing, that. The signature mark of a proper warrior's final resting place. To be honest I reckon it would look out of place most anywhere else.

As with that at Twyn Bryn Glas, the monument is not set upon the summit to benefit from some outstanding views of Fforest Fawr and The Brecon Beacons, instead residing some distance to the approx south-west, such specific location surely an act of inherent significance? As a result the northern apex of the mountain obscures all but the Fforest Fawr summits rising above the escarpment edge. The Afon Hepste down below doesn't even get a look in..... Sadly the centre of the cairn has been 'excavated' in the usual manner, although I (perhaps) detect traces of what might have once formed a cist, stones which seem to suggest internal structure.

Cadair Fawr possesses a vibe that I find difficult to define today. Perhaps that is what is so appealing, the atmosphere it invokes defying categorisation. It seems awkward, unique. Neither hill nor mountain, occupying a 'middle ground', a no-man's land, perhaps, between the soaring, wild splendour of The Great Escarpment and the ravaged valleys of industrial South Wales. An adolescent mountain which never grew up? Yeah, it is rather appealing. The Citizen Cairn'd wonders if there is a hint of self analysis in there?

After the passing of several hours watching the sky do its thang it is time to move on. The map shows two further cairns located below to the approx south. Hey what do you know? Right on my route.
8th April 2014ce

Mortlich (Hillfort) — Links

RCAHMS archive

Site record for Mortlich hill fort. Nice diagrams of the layout.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
8th April 2014ce

Mortlich (Hillfort) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Mortlich</b>Posted by thelonious<b>Mortlich</b>Posted by thelonious thelonious Posted by thelonious
8th April 2014ce

Mortlich (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

05/04/2014 - Fort situated on summit of Mortlich hill overlooking Deeside. I couldn't make out any features of the fort as the heather is quite deep on the top. Still it's a nice walk with easy access from Aboyne Loch. thelonious Posted by thelonious
8th April 2014ce

Northumberland (County) — News

National recognition for Northumberland ancient history

From The Journal online:

Seventeen of the mysterious cup and ring carvings in Northumberland have been scheduled as Ancient Monuments by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport following advice from English Heritage.

Examples in the North East of some of the earliest art in Britain have won national recognition.
Seventeen of the mysterious cup and ring carvings in Northumberland have been scheduled as Ancient Monuments by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport following advice from English Heritage, drawing on the work of volunteers in the region.
At Ketley Crag, near Chatton, the stone base of a rock shelter has been extensively carved with a complex and fluid range of motifs, complete with well preserved pick marks made by the instrument used to make the carvings.
Some of the other rock art sites added to the National Heritage List for England are a panel at Whitsunbank and a group of panels in Buttony, near Doddington Moor, displaying a variety of carvings ranging from cups and rings to the more unusual circular grooves and rosette forms.

The artivle also displays also a top notch photo of Ketley Crag by TMA's Rockartwolf and a shot of Stan The Man to whom the vast majority of the credit for this good news must go.

Full article here
Hob Posted by Hob
8th April 2014ce

Castle Howe (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Images

<b>Castle Howe</b>Posted by wideford wideford Posted by wideford
8th April 2014ce

Carn Goch Hill Fort (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

The biggest hill fort in South East Wales, and probably the best fort in South Wales, this one is a stunner.
Circlemaster said he couldn't believe how few posts there were of this place, and neither can I.
It's been on my list for a few years now, so, if I throw together a few separated but easy to get to sites I can have my two most wanted Welsh sites in one day, brilliant !
There is a large car park, purpose made for the site, I cant remember the last time I saw a car park for a hill fort, there cant be many, with an information board too.
There are many many good points about this ancient site, the first is, that there are two forts here, it's a two for the price of none, it's all free, as free as the air and the rain. The two forts, Y Gaer Fach and Y Gaer Fawr, are separated by a small gully and are no more than 180 meters apart, one could shout over to your mate in the other fort.
The walk up to the first and smaller of the two forts starts at a large modern standing stone, the Gwynfor Evans (Politician) memorial stone. Y Gaer Fawr is a hundred yards up the hill.
Oval in shape, we pass over two lines of old fort walls, they tend to fade out a bit as you move away from the south west corner, but in the north east corner a well defined entrance is found, it just happens to not only face gentler sloping ground but also faces the larger higher fort Y Gaer Fach. We proceed on up to the high.

The first thing we come to is the frankly massive, nay, titanic, front wall, from the outside it looks to be at least twelve feet high, on the inside half that. At the southern end of the wall is the main entrance but we don't see that until were on our way out. We enter the fort at the south west corner and head north east along the wall. Until it forks, the left wall goes down hill the right fork carries on in the same direction, we go that way.
Nearly half way along this higher wall inside the fort on the highest ground is Y Gaer Fawr's party piece, a giant cairn.
The giant cairn is 3m high 55m long and 20m wide, it's a monster cairn. Cairns this size usually have chambers in them, but then cairns like this, ie; a long cairn, aren't usually in this kind of position.
Coflein freely admits it's an anomaly, it could be neolithic, either way it's huge, and a perfect example of a later culture living along side monuments from a bygone age.
We cross from the giant cairn over to the east side of the fort, missing in the process a possible low standing stone and posterns, small entrances to the fort, a good picture of one is found on the coflein site ( ) oh well, i'll have to back now wont I, perhaps on a sunnier day. From the east wall you can see annexes below, and if you look up to the hill to your east, Tricrug, then turn round and look at the giant cairn in profile, the two are a perfect match, it looks very much like the cairn builders were imitating the long bump on the hill, which has subsequently accrued some time in the bronze age it's own cairn.
The match is quite uncanny.
We then head south and to the front wall, which has a very good looking entrance in it, but coflein assure us it is not an original feature the entrance actual is buried under slippage amid the massive front wall somewhere. And then we walk away, well, Eric's been gone for some time now, some king of huff apparently, at my taking to many pictures. Me?
It's hard not to, there's so many features, I could stay here all afternoon, but we're a long way from home, and the car aint gonna drive itself.
postman Posted by postman
8th April 2014ce

England (Country) — Links

Ancient Craft

Ancient craft is dedicated to the archaeology of primitive crafts and technologies that encompass the three prehistoric ages: STONE; BRONZE and IRON. This includes working with materials such as stone (also known as "flintknapping"), wood, bone, horn, leather, metals and cloth (plant fibres, and wools).

Follow Ancient Craft on Facebook
Chance Posted by Chance
8th April 2014ce

Stonehenge and its Environs — News

Stonehenge Neolithic Houses Latest

The Stonehenge Neolithic Houses - Latest pictures and background links

An English Heritage experimental archaeology project to build houses from 2500 BC at Stonehenge.

Follow their blog on twitter for updates! -

and get the whole story on wordpress -
Chance Posted by Chance
8th April 2014ce

Twyn Bryn Glas (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

I've never been to Cwm Cadlan before. OK, it's not an admission to induce involuntary muscle spasms in any reader, to require the immediate live saving application of the Heimlich maneuver, even..... Nonetheless, having driven about South Wales for not far off 30 years - hey, I started young - I must confess to feeling like a prize muppet now I'm (finally) aware what archaeological treasures can be found here. Better late than never, I suppose.

The small village of Penderyn, encountered when heading north upon the A4059 from Hirwaun, is probably best known nowadays for its whisky distillery, the finished product, by all accounts, rather good.... not that I'm qualified to comment upon such things myself, you understand? Also of note is the Lamb Hotel standing beside a cross-roads, the right hand turning (assuming we are indeed travelling north) indicating 'Cwm Cadlan' upon a signpost that Russell Crowe might well have earmarked for the ark in his forthcoming film, had he passed this way earlier looking for locations. Well, bearing in mind the recent rain..... True to form the minor road snakes through a valley immediately at odds with the industrial landscape a few miles to the south. The 1:25K map depicts numerous cairns and burnt mounds - how they got 'em to 'burn' in Wales I'll never know - upon the flanks of Mynydd-y-glog and Cefn Sychnant to my right; however I'm here to check out some of TMA-er Carl's recent observations near the head of the cwm. I also intend to return to the summit the ridge Cefn Cadlan, forming the left hand flank of the valley as I approach.

A little prior to the cattle grid where the road begins to descend through forestry to the Llwyn-on Reservoir, there is a small, disused quarry where it is possible to park a car. Not only possible but desirable, too, since immediately opposite stands a rather fine cairn gracing the near flank of Cefn Sychant. Yeah, as bold as you like. Blimey. One for later, that. Chill out in the evening, so to speak. Presently, however, I set off up the shallow hillside to the north, that is more-or-less parallel with the aforementioned treeline and, following an initial false alarm (loose rocky strata), soon arrive at Twyn Bryn Glas a little to the right (east) of a minor summit. The location of the monument is precise - almost pedantically so - the substantial cairn set just below a plateau of eroded limestone 'pavement' outcropping, the latter according wonderful views of the snow-capped peaks of The Brecon Beacons to north-east and Fan Fawr to the north, not to mention the similarly be-cairned Cefn Cil-Sanws to approx south-east(ish). All, save a hint of this scenic beauty, is summarily denied the traveller upon the cairn, arguably with authentic Bronze Age intent? Perhaps this was to ensure primary focus was upon Cadair Fawr, rising to the north-west? Perhaps.

Whatever the idiosyncratic placement determined by the Bronze Age mind signified - guess we'll only ever be able to theorise - I'm glad, from a purely selfish viewpoint, that they saw fit to bury their VIPs in locations such as Twyn Bryn Glas. Yeah, this is an ideal spot for the Citizen Cairn'd who fancies a bit of peace and quiet for a muse - away from the comical rally boys below - without a significant outlay of energy. Somewhere to enjoy the silence. I move on after a while to subsequently clamber up to the summit of Cadair Fawr. However I was impressed by both archaeology and vibe at Twyn Bryn Glas. I'd like to come back some day for an extended stop.
7th April 2014ce
Edited 8th April 2014ce

Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Links

English Heritage list entry and description

tjj Posted by tjj
7th April 2014ce

Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

Site is on the edge of what is now a housing development on the southern side of Swindon, also close to the river Ray. Although not a lot to see, a green circular area enclosed by wooden posts, and a scheduled ancient monument plaque with the description "Rushy Platt Bowl barrow is sealed under a layer of modern landfill. Archaeological investigations reveal it consists of a mound 11m in diameter and about .75m high. There is a large flat slab sealing a deep pit containing worked flint".

It is unusual in as much it is not on Wiltshire down land but on a low lying ancient fen area, now a designated nature reserve 'Rushy Platt Nature Reserve'. Anyone wishing to visit can access the site via a pleasant walk along the Berks and Wilts Canal known locally as Kingshill Canal. The barrow is on the right across a small river and bridge. Walk into the housing development and it is just in front of you. (See English Heritage link for map).
tjj Posted by tjj
7th April 2014ce

Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Images

<b>Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow</b>Posted by tjj<b>Rushy Platt Bowl Barrow</b>Posted by tjj tjj Posted by tjj
7th April 2014ce

Pen-yr-Orsedd (North) (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Pen-yr-Orsedd (North)</b>Posted by johntynycoed Posted by johntynycoed
7th April 2014ce

Bartlow Hills (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

Without any fieldnotes or a map these monsters took a bit of finding. I eventually parked at the south end of the village and walked back along a footpath through woods before branching off to the right deeper into the woods where the 'hills' suddenly appear in front of you. Wht are they not known better? possibly because there are very few other sites in the area?
Visiting in early April there is very little greenery around, though more than in Cornwall at the moment. Even so there is no view from the top of the tallest mound because of the trees all around, which is a shame.
I would love to know more about the excavations here, how they were carried out and where the story of the light being left burning inside came from.
Mr Hamhead Posted by Mr Hamhead
6th April 2014ce

Carn Goch Hill Fort (Hillfort) — Images

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6th April 2014ce

Sythfaen Llwyn Ddu (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

I had a go at finding this one eight years ago and failed miserably, not having nearly a clue as to it's whereabouts I had to give up, maybe I'd never get to see it, it's a shame too, as its three meters high.
But, in the last eight years i have done much snooping about on the Portal, Coflein, Google earth,
etc and now I'm pretty sure where to look.
I parked on a grass verge near a gate into a field, the stone is several fields east from here, in a hedge nearer to the farm.
I had decided upon a no nonsense go see the stone strategy, walk there, walk back, in and out.
The first field had sheep and lambs in, we tried to skirt round the edge of the field but a couple of the lambs came over to us, bleating, cute, the idea of never eating one ever again did cross my mind, but only fleetingly, sure your cute, but you taste sooo yummy.
Leaving the sheep behind we climb over two gates and end up on a farm track, we turn right. Follow it up hill then turn left again in the far left corner is a gap in the hedge this is where the stone is hidden in an adjoining hedge.
But we cant get a good look at it from this side we need to be on the other side of the hedge, there's a gate fifty feet away, but it lets you into the field that is right next to the farm house. We could be easily seen from here, so I scurry up to the stone say "hi, i'm Chris, I'll be your TMA'er for the day, what do you mean i'm the first?"
I give the stone a light fondling, take some pictures and were off. Returning uneventfully back the same way we came.
As a mission it was a complete success, We saw and touched the stone, got photos and all without having to bother the lord of the land.
However, the stone is so very close to the farm that if I'd have just driven to the house and asked I could maybe have saved over a quarter of an hour, we wouldn't have been so on our guard, and maybe I'd have been able to cut back a few out of place hedge branches.
I did feel a bit guilty, but only fleetingly.
postman Posted by postman
6th April 2014ce

Church Lawton (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Links

Excavation reports (on page46) - Cheshire Archaeological Bulletin vol 8

A short report of what was found upon excavation in 1980 by Robina McNeil.
juamei Posted by juamei
5th April 2014ce

Church Lawton (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

2 out of 3 barrows are currently extant, the third disappeared under a road then the BP petrol station.

Church Lawton North is two phase, the first was a sand mound containing a central boat shaped pit, all surrounded by a ditch. The second phase enlarging the mound considerably.

Church Lawton South is a small sand mound surrounded by a 20 metre ish stone circle made up of large glacial erratics. The whole lot then covered with a larger mound again.
juamei Posted by juamei
5th April 2014ce

Carreg Cennen (Sacred Well) — Fieldnotes

We first came here to Carreg Cennen castle at least eight years ago, but strangely I have no photos of the place, good excuse to come back then, plus were on our way to a simply splendid hill fort, so, no excuses.
Adults:- 4.00 quid, Children 3.50, Family 12.00
Open 364 Days of the year.
Summer Opening 9.30 - last admission 17.30
Winter Opening 9.30 - last admission 16.00
The whole site is closed and the car park is locked at 18.30 daily.

It's not a bit on the cheap side, and it's not exactly the kind of place you can sneak into ( though I have sneaked into castles before), but if you only see one castle in South Wales make it this one (or maybe Pembroke). Perched right on the edge of the very epitome of precipitous cliffs Carreg Cennen has a secret, in fact it has nine.
Nine caves, an ennead of tight twisting slippy caves.
But as far as I know only one is visible or accessible.
As you enter the castle, right in front of you is a stone doorway tucked away in a corner, go through this doorway and down some steps, beware they are slippery and steep, and whilst there is a wall separating you from a long drop to certain death, vertigo will pop it's head round the corner, ignore it and pass through another stone doorway. Don't know why I'm pointing out the stoniness of the doorway, it's a castle.
There is now a long walkway, punctuated with openings out into the world, it feels like a perambulatory in an old abbey or something. Imagine what it would be like if the castle wasnt there, I'm sure it would be a right bugger to get to. At the end of the corridor, there are modern steps that go down, they will take you into the cave. The original entrance is blocked up, and turned into a Dovecote, sans Doves.

Bones of two adults and a child, and a perforated horse tooth were found in the cave's stalagmite deposits. Three human teeth were found, the remains are dated to the Upper Palaeolithic, now that's ancient.
The caves entrance is quite large but it doesn't take long for it to get tighter and smaller. The walls of the cave are in places seemingly worn smooth, perhaps by the fumbling hands of stumbling pin depositors. For at the end of the cave is the sacred well, or at least it used to be, and it is here that people would deposit pins into the collecting waters, perhaps in hope of the invention of the nappy ? Who can fathom the mind of the superstitious.
Eric me and the dogs went about as far as we could before we had to get down on hands and knees, that is usually far enough for me , but one day i'd really like to go really far into a cave. They are a place of a very singular nature, no two are the same but they always illicit the same feelings with in me, the feeling of being somewhere very special, deep within our great mother, hidden from the fiery ball in the sky, does one really exist when one is safely ensconced with in the earth, presumably so, but I couldn't swear to it.
I love ancient places, I love castles and caves, this is a good one.
postman Posted by postman
4th April 2014ce

Arran — News

Cremated bones of Bronze Age tumour sufferer found hanging from Scottish cliff

A cist burial spotted hanging from a cliff on the edge of Scotland came from the ceremony of a Bronze Age adult cremated swiftly after their death, say archaeologists investigating the bones of a body whose skull carried a tumour.

Cracks and warping of the remains, which belonged to someone of indeterminate gender, suggest the body was still fleshed when it was cremated in a service accompanied by a tonne of burning wood.

The bones were secured in a daring rescue mission on the eroding face of a sand cliff at Sannox, on the Isle of Arran, where experts used a mechanical cherry picker and balanced on harnesses to remove two cists.

“All the bone was uniformly white and in a similar condition, which is evidence for a hot cremation pyre reaching temperatures in the order of 650 to 950 degrees,” says Iraia Arabaolaza, who led the team responsible for the excavation.

“It is likely that the cremation occurred soon after death.

“The smaller average weight of the bones in this cist, as well as the absence of axial [head and trunk] bones, is a common trait in some Bronze Age cremations.

“The lack of remains such as substantial amounts of charcoal associated with a pyre also reinforces the idea of a selected burial.”

Some of the bones may have been kept back or lost to erosion on the cliff.

Arabaolaza says a mysterious green stain, examined once the team had moved the remains to Glasgow, could be copper – demonstrating poor preservation conditions.

A food vessel and a sharp knife, made with Yorkshire flint and found with the body, served both as tools and grave goods.

“Although the burial customs of the Scottish early Bronze Age varied greatly, across the period as well as from region to region, scale-flaked and plano-convex knives clearly represent an important tool,” says Torben Bjarke Ballin, a lithic expert from the University of Bradford.

“Flint knives frequently formed part of the period’s burial goods.

“The Scottish scale-flaked and plano-convex knives are most likely to also be sickles, and they probably carried out the same work as the crescent-shaped sickles of southern Britain.

“Although the piece from Sannox Quarry does not have any gloss, small flat chips were detached along its edge, indicating that it had been used prior to deposition in the cist.”

Beverley Ballin Smith, an archaeology researcher who works with National Museums Scotland, says the water-damaged vessel is unusual.

“In the suite of Bronze Age funeral ceramics, food vessels are not as common as beakers and urns and are less well known,” she explains.

“In mainland Scotland, they are frequently associated with cists with cremations.

“Although the Sannox pot follows some of the decorative motifs of Scottish food vessels, such as its bevelled rim and the slightly uncommon herring bone design, its decoration is in character comparable to those from the east coast.”

This symbolism from the other side of the land may prove that the objects were used in material exchanges.

“The paired and single incised half-circle motives can be mirrored in many places – not least York, Northumberland, Angus, Fife, and Kinross,” says Ballin Smith.

“In spite of its cracks, the pot is intact but there are significant areas of damage. These are mainly around the base, the body of the vessel just above it, and the bottom of the pot internally.

“The damage is partly due to a loss of surface caused by spalling and erosion of the fabric, partly because the vessel may have lain on the floor of the cist, and possibly because of how it was used and fired.

“The appearance of the vessel suggests that it may have stood in a hot fire. There is no sooting from flames, but the base of the pot indicates heat erosion.

“One interpretation could be that the vessel was positioned on the edge of the funeral pyre, perhaps in order to fire it during the cremation of the body.

“In doing so, it received damage as it was not protected from direct flames or very hot ashes.”

One of the bones from the burial – radiocarbon dated to between 2154 and 2026 B – was rounded into a button shape, suggesting an osteoma benign tumour which may not have caused its bearer “distress or symptoms” during their life.

At a time when wood was a scarce resource in Scotland, the size of the pyre shows the importance given to funerals by Bronze Age society. A “good ceremony” could have enhanced the status of the individual or their community.

Read the full report (opens in PDF).
moss Posted by moss
4th April 2014ce

The Stonehenge Cursus — Images

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4th April 2014ce

Durrington Down Group (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Durrington Down Group</b>Posted by Chance<b>Durrington Down Group</b>Posted by Chance<b>Durrington Down Group</b>Posted by Chance<b>Durrington Down Group</b>Posted by Chance Chance Posted by Chance
4th April 2014ce

Durrington Down Group (Round Barrow(s)) — Fieldnotes

The area around this barrow group is not public access and the day I went to look around, there was a tractor working in the opposite field. I was a foot and worked my way down the wooded area which leads to the barrow cemetery. Until recently the whole cemetery had been covered by a plantation.

Although I could make out some of the barrows in the rough grassland that has now replaced the woodland, I couldn't get close enough for a good investigation. There seemed to be one big barrow on the crest of the ridge and several smaller ones running in a line, down from it. You would get a much clearer picture in the winter months when the grass has died down.

Not a public assess area but try parking on the hard standing at SU 11673 44455, just off the Packway.

Best day to visit any MOD area on the Salisbury Plain training area, is Sunday, after church.
Chance Posted by Chance
4th April 2014ce

Churn Knob (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Images

<b>Churn Knob</b>Posted by Chance Chance Posted by Chance
4th April 2014ce

Churn Knob (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Links

Birinus and Royal Berkshire History

Chance Posted by Chance
4th April 2014ce

Birinus on Wikipedia

Chance Posted by Chance
4th April 2014ce

Paviland Cave (Cave / Rock Shelter) — Fieldnotes

Perhaps it is an inherent fear of death - a tragic irony when born into a monotheistic society nurturing an implacable rejection of life, of the here and now - that has resulted in me not being particularly fond of caves... with the notable exceptions of a rather, er, idiosyncratic gentleman named Nick.... and that overwhelming pitch black fissure within the Carreg Cennen. Guess I'd rather be afflicted by a dose of 'no pussy blues' (tell me about it) than entombed with a terminal case of the subterranean variety. Consequently I opted to heed the siren's call of the high places, a brutal environment offering no succour to the physical self, but arguably unlimited scope for that most human of traits, introspection. Like a moth unto the flame, a limited secular intellect, lacking the analgesic 'safety net' of religious faith, contemplating the most cosmic of questions with all the cutting insight of Rodney Trotter. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong? Suffice to say the project remains a work in progress.

So why come to Paviland, to the limestone cliffs of the Gower's shattered southern coastline... to the very aptly named 'Goat's Hole', if harbouring such a distinct reticence for entering holes in the earth to my doom? Well, the catalyst was as mundane as a ridiculously poor next day forecast for The Brecon Beacons upon returning from a sojourn upon Mynydd Epynt. What to do? Having recently re-read the hirsute Scottish dude's 'History of Ancient Britain' the insidious thought popped into the head. Oh dear. Not possessing the flowing locks and rugged, granite-hewn athleticism to contemplate abseiling, I conscientiously checked out TSC's tidal times link and... well what do you know? That's handy. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The specific archaeological allure of sites such as Paviland Cave is, to my mind, hard to define, if equally difficult to refute. Others may disagree. Perhaps an appropriate analogy might be visiting a now vanished stone circle, a completely ploughed-out long barrow, a henge only discernable as crop marks from the sky? Yeah, nothing now remains in situ within this deep gash perched overlooking the Bristol Channel. At least nothing tangible. But there is so much more to be experienced that must remain unique to each individual. So much more. Now I would assume most TMA'ers are well aware of what the Rev William Buckland excavated here in 1823.... the skeleton of, as far as I'm aware, the oldest anatomically-modern human to have lived and died upon this landscape we now call Wales - or Cymru, of course - that we know of. There were associated grave goods including a mammoth skull, ivory rods and periwinkle shells assumed to have formed necklaces. The most enigmatic detail, needless to say, was a coating of crimson ochre. Whatever the intended symbolism, to my mind there can be no doubt that the death .... and by definition the life... of this apparently young bloke some 33,000 years ago (at the last count) deeply affected those who knew him. OK, the gentleman resides here no more... at least in a corporeal sense. But the knowledge of the incredibly 'modern' emotional response seemingly evoked by his passing back then generates corresponding thoughts in this traveller, thoughts amplified manyfold - for whatever psychological reason - by physical association with place. In short the passing of this man matters to me, if only for the selfish opportunity proffered to 'gaze' with wide-eyed curiosity, albeit perhaps touched with a degree of morbid curiosity, through a window at my own species. Hey, myself. Arguably a treasure of much more intrinsic value than others reluctantly given up by the earth.

Needless to say I was oblivious to all the above as I struggle to park upon the verge of Pilton Green Farm access track, the sodden grass, courtesy of months of seemingly unrelenting rain, a far cry from last Easter. As previously I head - or rather slither - coastward upon a public footpath across the B4247. In about a mile I resist the temptation to break right for the superb cliff fort and instead descend to the rocky foreshore below, as of course it would be. The path ends abruptly at strata of jagged rock, thankfully arranged in a very roughly horizontal plane, so clambering down to the current(!!) sea level is not too intimidating (those in search of more perpendicularity need only glance up to left or right, the latter concealing the cave within, no less). I notice, by default, that the tide is most certainly out, so there is no impediment to undertaking what is actually a less strenuous scramble than I anticipated. As TSC relates, however, the rock is far from smooth rendering a fall potentially catastrophic. Fatal, even. I'm therefore glad I elected to wear 'soft' boots with plenty of grip. Then, suddenly, there it is.

The cave entrance could be said to resemble a pear.... or, if looking for potential symbolism, perhaps the most intimate area of a woman. Let's go with the latter. No doubt Mr Cope would have an appropriate phrase which I find I clearly lack. My mind, instead, reels. Give me a break... what could be so wondrous, so life-affirming, so natural, so welcoming? A surrogate womb, maybe? Aside from this observation, what strikes me most is the sheer height of the gash in the cliff face, water dripping from the towering roof onto my camera lens as I venture inside. Doh! I'm not used to being underground. Especially not when half way up a rocky crag. The next surprise is the length of the cavity, another, following in quick succession, the abundance of natural light, even under today's overcast conditions. The only sound is that of the breakers thundering upon rock outside, sending me periodically scuttling without to check the current position. Hey, what's the big deal? Looks fine. The cave possesses an additional 'chamber'- hey, a 'cavelet' - set high up to the right, near the entrance. I agree with TSC, however. There was no way I was going up there. You would need to be one of the proverbial goats of lore. Or Neil Olliver. I stand and look at the cavity within the outer left hand flank of the cave. One presumes this was where the 'Red Laddie' once lay? Again, just the crash of wave upon rock down below. I sit at the inner extremity of the cave and eat lunch, gazing out of the gash in the rock to water that was apparently once many miles distant, an unfathomably long time ago for people like us - well, at least physically - to have been around. I try to imagine what it would have been like. But I can't. It is enough to try, perhaps?

Another 'crash' of waves shakes me violently back to the 'present day'. I undertake yet one more tidal status check and decide the water is probably close enough to warrant leaving. Er, possibly...... As I prepare to do so I approach the left hand flank (looking seaward, that is) and duly freak out. Seems I've seriously underestimated the velocity of the incoming tide which is now surging between me and the near shore. I look for an alternative way out, climbing above and across the rock... but it looks suicidal. No matter, since this has happened to me before, as I recall, cut off by the tide asleep on a Ring of Kerry beach. Hey, I'll just wade across. How deep can it be? The answer comes as a severe shock, the water reaching my belly button as I jump in and decide to make a splash for it. Not that wise, to be honest. It would have been approaching the Mam C's neck.... which is a very disconcerting thought indeed. Particularly concerning the subsequent fate of my neck. Yeah, for the only time I can recall I'm glad she is not here. A few more minutes and I would've had to have abandoned my rucksack, camera etc. Or stayed the night. However as the delectable Ms Harry sang 'the tide is high but I'm holding on' and I duly make the sanctuary of the far rocks to sit, soaking wet, finish my coffee and gaze up at the enigmatic Goat's Hole I've just vacated with such excess muppetry. I almost expect a young bloke to walk past, dyed red and leading a mammoth by a piece of string, pointing at me with his free hand whilst exclaiming "ha! ha!" Such is the surreal nature of the moment. But there you are. Thankfully it's only a mile back to the car and fresh clothes. And all is well. But only just. Not for nothing do I gravitate toward the high places, since I've clearly a lot to learn when it comes to the coast. But hell, what an experience.

SAFETY NOTE: In retrospect - as TSC has shown - a perfectly safe visit to this impossibly enigmatic site is possible as long as you know what you are doing. Clearly I did not. If I was to attempt it again I would arrive before low tide, watch the water recede, set my watch alarm for 60 minutes.... and then leave. No ifs, no buts. PLEASE LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES AND DO NOT MAKE THE SAME ERRORS I DID. KEEP A BEADY EYE ON THE INCOMING TIDE AND STAY SAFE.
4th April 2014ce
Edited 6th April 2014ce

Avebury (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Avebury</b>Posted by thesweetcheat thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
3rd April 2014ce
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