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Twyn Bryn Glas (Cairn(s))

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)

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

Bartlow Hills (Round Barrow(s))

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

Sythfaen Llwyn Ddu (Standing Stone / Menhir)

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

Carreg Cennen (Sacred Well)

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

Durrington Down Group (Round Barrow(s))

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

Paviland Cave (Cave / Rock Shelter)

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

Maen-y-Parc 'A' (Standing Stone / Menhir)

I couldn't see the stone from the road, the hedge is on top of an earthen bank, like what they get in Cornwall, but some nifty map reading took me to the gate mentioned elsewhere, and thar she blows.

She is as lovely a standing stone as you could hope to wish for, she never gets in trouble, always home on time, erm, I mean she's tall and shapely, and very colourfully attired, and like most women there is two sides to her, why do I mostly see them as female. They're not are they ? it must be me.

Very very sadly my 1:50,000 map does not show the other two stones down the road, B and C, so I did not know of their existence. Next time.
Also, I've heard it said that these stones are part of an avenue between two now long gone stone circles. Any information anyone.
postman Posted by postman
3rd April 2014ce

Cerrig Meibion Arthur (Standing Stones)

This is such a megalith drenched area that the occasional drizzle and misty conditions did nothing to dampen my ardor for the place, big hills, rocky summits, no people, and more stones than you can shake a 1:50,000 map at. This is my kind of place no matter what the weather, some sun would be nice for sure, but right now i'm just happy to be here.

From the Rhos Fach stone pair, near the Waldo stone (modern) and the Cystic Fibrosis stone (I kid you not, modern) go west. It's probably best to park on the actual car park on the left hand corner, no more than a minute from the two unlikely named stones. Then walk further down the road and then turn right onto an uneven farm track, signed as "Access only Cwm Garw". Well we want access, access to the stones, the stone pair are off to the left of the track, unmissable.

What a fine pair of standing stones these are, the stones of the sons of Arthur, the bigger of the two is rectangular in section whilst the smaller one is thin on edge. Both stones are copiously covered in lichens and mosses, as would be expected from stones that don't roll, ever.
Ease of access, the size of the stones, and their amiable surroundings all make this a terrific site to sit and play in the mud for a while, or maybe pondering life's mysteries is more your cup of tea, either way you can do them both here.
postman Posted by postman
3rd April 2014ce

The Stone River (Natural Rock Feature)

Kammer said that this feature was sadly unsung and i'm inclined to agree, but whilst this is not a song, feel free to add some music of your own choice, nothing pretentious mind.
Carn Menyn chambered cairn has been at the top of my Welsh hit list for a while now, it isn't too dissimilar from many other cairns, though being able to see and squeeze under the capstone is in my opinion a big bonus for a cairn. But the thing that sets it apart from any other, the thing that really makes it a must see is..... The stone river.

The stone river is made of small to medium sized boulders, stretching in an unbroken line for over half a mile, it does look like a river, winding it's way down hill, only it's made of stone.
Following the river up hill will inevitably bring one to the cairn, the river seems to erupt from under the cairn, spring like.
Or perhaps the river is a dragon with the cairn as it's head.
Maybe not.
But this is certainly a feature of a certain oneness, ive not heard of one before, how is it made ? what did the cairn raisers think of it ?
To find such a good cairn, in such lovely surroundings, with such a mad feature attached, how can this place remain unsung.
postman Posted by postman
3rd April 2014ce

Carreg Maen Taro (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Visited 1.4.14

From Blaenavon take the B4246 north towards Abergavenny. When you reach the top of the mountain you will see a lake and car park on your right. Directly opposite there is a road to the left – turn here. Drive down the road and after about 1 mile you will see a pub on your right (Lamb and Fox) and a rough car park opposite – park here. From the car park walk up the track until it splits into several ‘tracks’. The track leading to the highest ground (above the workings) and the stone can be seen in the distance to your right. The walk only takes about 15 minutes.

It was a quiet day in work and the chance was to be had for an early finish.
I would have been a ‘fool’ not to take advantage of the opportunity!

It was a warm, sunny day as I drove up through the World Heritage Site of Blaenavon and out onto the open mountainside. There were a couple of ‘likely lads’ hanging around the car park so I made sure the car was locked as I headed out onto the hillside. Judging by the amount of fresh lorry tyre tracks I saw this area is still being used for some reason or other?

Now, I often refer to these moorland sites as bleak. But there are two types of bleak; bleak in a nice way i.e. the Brecon Beacons or bleak in a horrible way i.e. old industrial area (South Wales Valleys). Unfortunately this site falls into the latter category – unless industrial history happens to be your thing of course.

Carreg Maen Taro is about 1 metre tall and the ‘M’ + ‘B’ markings are obvious. The stone is covered in lichen of various shades of green. There are many large stones scattered around the base of the stone.

I then walked over to the nearby fallen stone which made a handy place to sit and write these notes. Oddly enough this stone was covered in white lichen.

All was quiet here except for birdsong – which is always nice. The only company I had were a few scraggy sheep and a lone horse in the distance. The sun was warm with only a slight breeze. The views would have been very good had it not been for the haze, although the Sugar Loaf and the Blorenge were easy to make out. I sat a while and was well with the world. It was certainly better than being in work!

On the way back to the car I managed to collect a bag of horse manure for the vegetable patch – always a bonus!

This is an easy site to visit and worth the effort if you happen to be in Blaenavon visiting the famous iron works.
Posted by CARL
2nd April 2014ce

Carn Menyn Chambered Cairn

If I dont think about it too much then this site is probably #1 on my most wanted list.
Everything came together at the right time so Eric me and the dogs were leaving for the stones at 2am, it's a long way and I wanted to be on site early, hence our ridiculously early start.
Five hours later.
We parked by the telephone box on the road south east of the cairn. We should have walked up the road a bit and entered the wilds just after the house called Glanrhyd, but we didn't, we went up through the forestry place. It was hard going, especially when we left the track, trees had fallen down and now and then our way was blocked by ten foot high root balls, a solid wall of earth, root, rock and small bits of crashed UFO's.

On the lower slopes, below the outcrops, the ground can get very boggy off the path (on the path too for that matter), progress was all right, only it went on too long, as Mr Thurber say.
Eventually we let the dogs pull us up to the top, mush, and once more I stand a top a Preseli Carn. But which is it, there's quite a few clustered together and they've all got there own names.
Carn Gwr has two cairns by it, but today I only have eyes for chambered cairns, I could easily spend the whole sunlit part of the day exploring these hills, there is much to see.
But I must stick to the plan or I wont be able to see #2 on my must see list, just a couple of standing stones more and then were outta there.
We hop from rock to rock, I knew the cairn was next to a big rock stack, we'd gone through them
all and were down to our last one, there's a lot of stone around here it has to be said, it took some time to find it, but in the end it was right where I thought it would be. With my usual alacrity I took us up the long way.

It was a touch on the misty drizzly side when we got on site, but it didn't detract from the place at all, it lent an ethereal beauty to the place, we couldn't see down to the road, the only distant places we could see was the other hill tops.
It is mostly like any other cairn, it's round-ish, and is a stony hump in the landscape. But right in the middle of the stony mass is a whopper capstone nigh on three meters square, it isn't square.
Under the capstone can be seen the fallen orthostats of the collapsed chamber, coflein suggests a Neolithic or maybe early bronze age date.
But most freaky of all is the stone river, a long curving line of boulders and assorted rubble maybe a mile long, I thought it was near or maybe next to the chambered cairn , but it's much better than that the stone river erupts right out of the side of the cairn. What a place to put your cairn, genius, absolute genius, on Dartmoor they erect stone rows for the same purpose, what ever that is. But here the earth itself, time or glaciers does the work for you. Sublime.
Cant recommend the place enough, i'm extremely perplexed as to why only Kammer has posted on it.
postman Posted by postman
1st April 2014ce

Caer' Bryn (Hillfort)

New boots, new car, new hill fort.
I saw this on the map once but all it was described as was enclosure, I secretly hoped it was a henge, it looked very circular on google earth, it was still a long shot for sure, coflein crushed my hopes and gave me something to go for at the same time, it wasn't a henge, but it was a defended enclosure or hill fort. I like hill forts, especially ones in North Wales.
Coflein describe it thus.....Remains of a large Iron Age defended enclosure, comprising a double banked sub-circular enclosure, c.76m in diameter, c.114m overall diameter. Probably ploughed-out on the east side leaving the semicircular earthworks which survive today.
We parked at the south west of the fort, by a T junction. The first of four stiles takes us from the road to the first field, the fourth stile takes you to a bridge over a stream in a gorge, where courting Buzzards circle overhead. Then take the overgrowing path up the other side of the gorge, until you com,e next to a wide green field, jump the fence and go up the hill, the fort is inevitably at the top.
Upon reaching the top the first part of the fort we get to is the southern end of the great C, I call it the great C in effigy of The U of Stemster, the fort is ploughed out and away on the east side leaving the large C shaped earthworks we have with us today. The Great C of Bontuchel, will it catch on do you think.
We enter the ditch, over a very low earthwork that shores up this end of the fort, is it original or just part of the destruction, it's a nasty term destruction, but if they laid a bypass through your kitchen it would feel pretty destroyed.
But what is left is a pleasure to behold, two banks and ditches, both high and low, best preserved at the south west. The trees lend an airy atmosphere, and hide you from prying farmers eyes, for they all have such eyes, and they shout too much.
At the west end of the great C is a very slight entrance, cant tell if it's modern or not though. Also an old low wall runs right by right up against the fort, making it look like an additional bank of the fort.
Reaching the end of the fort, at the top, it just runs out and is replaced by a hedge, fade to grey.
I quickly march over to the other end of the field for a wider shot of the whole place, it looks good framed against the Clwydian range and all it's hill forts.

Fab place.
postman Posted by postman
31st March 2014ce

Gwaun Ymryson (Cairn(s))

Located some way to the (very) approx north-east of Twyn-y-Post, the cairn at SO0322941117 is the last I manage to see today, or at least positively identify. Once again it is a substantial monument, one well worth the effort in tracking down.

I approach from the great round cairn positioned upon the north-western tip of Cefn Clawdd to the south, my progress monitored somewhat warily by a small group of wild ponies. Inquisitive, at any rate. Guess they don't see many people up here, aside from the quad bike ridin' farmer.... who, incidentally, sees fit to completely blank my acknowledgement of his presence. Bad day, I guess? Whatever.

Two cairns are depicted upon the map set in a rough north/south alignment. As I approach what I assume to be the southern I'm initially a little disappointed. OK, it definitely appears to be a structured cairn... but a little small, don't you think? Jeez, talk about hard to please. In retrospect my assessment is probably a little unfair and, regardless, the cairn certainly looks the part when viewed beneath a fine cloudscape. Unfortunately I can't relate the monument to Coflein records, however.

The northern monument is much more substantial, at least in its surviving form. According to Coflein it is a "low stone cairn, 10m east-west by 8m and 0.3m high on a gentle north-facing slope" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 13/3/09]. Once again the cairn is surmounted by a smaller stone pile raising suspicions of a former cist, perhaps? There is certainly a distinct paucity of walkers in the area. Then again what odds the local ponies have taken to cairn building? OK, I know. But looking into the eyes of those wondrous creatures the intelligence shines through, does it not? The northern outlook is one of undulating hills, that immediately across the cwm forming the bogland of Cefn Gledwen, beyond which, incidentally, is the famous Griffin Inn. So, a fine upland cairn in a great location. Can't say fairer than that.

I return to Upper Chapel via an ultimately unsuccessful 'walkabout' attempt to locate the most north-westerly cairn shown upon the map. However there is much reedy grass in evidence, so don't be too hard on me. Might have found it, might not have .... nothing seemed particularly credible, shall we say? And hey, at least I managed to find the north-western Cefn Clawdd monument. No matter, for as I begin the descent a rainbow arcs above the landscape I've just traversed. It is a spellbinding sight, rooting me to the spot. Lacking the appropriate words, here are some prepared earlier by Mr Wordsworth (but then you knew that) in lieu:

'My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is the father of Man.'

Yeah, not bad. But some things really are too magnificent to be evoked by even such as he.
29th March 2014ce
Edited 30th March 2014ce

Cefn Clawdd (Round Cairn)

Blimey. This must be one of the most reclusive major cairns I've come across to date... set in a conspicuous position at the north-western apex of Cefn Clawdd.... yet more-or-less invisible when viewed from Twyn-y-Post owing to a text book application of natural camouflage. Assuming there is a text book specifying 'how to hide a Bronze Age cairn utilising found resources'? Or something similar. Couldn't see it toppling Clive Cussler from the best selling lists myself, but there you are. Then again... anyone know his agent's number? I've an idea...

Nevertheless the great cairn is certainly at the given co-ordinates, sitting upon the low ridge rising beyond the small lake, the latter a handy feature with which the visitor can self-orientate in relation to this somewhat uncompromising landscape. Despite this I'm still not convinced I haven't somehow gone astray until I literally stumble over the outer arc of stonework hidden within the reedy grass (yeah, that again). Ah, there it is. What took us so long to find each other, my unobtrusive friend? In fairness my difficulty in locating the monument appears justifiable since the cairn does not seem - as far as I can determine beneath the vegetation - to have suffered the damaging effects of excavation, no doubt protected from stone-hungry eyes by its organic shield.

Although of no great height, the cairn possesses a significant diameter... "12m..[and].. up to 0.3m high" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 10/2/2009]. There appear to be a number of dishevelled concentric lines of kerbing incorporated within the fabric, perhaps suggestive of a ring cairn? Or then again, perhaps not. Whatever, it is the sheer 'lost world' vibe of the site that makes this, for me, a very special place indeed. Indeed, how can something like this survive, in this day and age, a little over a mile from 'civilisation'? I lie back, drink my coffee and watch a towering cloudscape engaged in a stately, majestic - hey, awe-inspiring - procession across the sky, seeing fit to occasionally deposit some of its content upon the landscape below. Now that's what I call 'atmosphere'.

Time passes by, seemingly imperceptibly, although such a notion is countermanded by the cold data supplied by my watch. A further cairn is said to lie near the 'summit' of Cefn Clawdd some way to the east. I, however, elect to head north past the lake toward Gwaun Ymryson. Some more cairns there, apparently. It is a drag to leave, but there you are.
29th March 2014ce

Twyn-y-Post (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

A 2003 visit to the stone circle at Ynys Hir notwithstanding - and what a palaver that was - I've never ventured upon Mynydd Epynt before. Not that surprising a state of affairs, to be honest, bearing in mind a significant proportion of these Mid Walian uplands is used by the British Army as an artillery range and general training area. Suffice to say that, in my opinion, Bronze Age monuments and the burnt-out hulks of Sexton self propelled guns do not good bed fellows make. However until the dawning of a day when humankind is finally able to settle its differences without resorting to violence - quite possibly an illusory premise - there will always be a requirement for somewhere to train our soldiers. Yeah, it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. I just wish we'd reserve deployment to protecting these Isles from the many dangerous psychopaths, secular and religious, which infest this world like a cancer.... and not facilitating the likes of Dubya and Blair's lunatic holy crusades.

So why venture to Mynydd Epynt again? Just on a whim, nothing more. A spur of the moment decision made whilst idly scanning the map - something I like to do in my idle moments - having noticed a grouping of cairns east of the small village of Upper Chapel, apparently outside the 'Danger Area'. Hey, what's the worst that can happen? Apart from being blown 20ft into the air by an unexploded shell, that is? The village sits astride the B4520 which, heading north from Brecon, accompanies the Afon Honddu (not to be confused with the other such within The Vale of Ewyas) back toward its source upon Mynydd Epynt. I park beside the 'phone box, as appears accepted local practice, although there is some kind of village hall (I think) across the road, complete with car park. A little to the north a 'dead end' road heads to the right (east), veering left soon after to service Cwm-egli, whilst an increasingly rough track continues the climb. The route, although not steep, proves a bit of a slog; nevertheless in just over a mile I emerge upon the bare uplands of eastern Mynydd Epynt, The Brecon Beacons shining in serried array upon the southern skyline. Very nice.

Although lacking the dominating height, the enigmatic topography of that famous horizon, Twyn-y-Post (1,381ft / 421m) nevertheless possesses that priceless upland vibe, that impossible to define feeling of 'wide open skies' and... well.... space. OK, the harsh staccato reports of machine gun fire, combined with the dull 'crump' of impacting artillery rounds, may occasionally drift upon the breeze from the direction of Sennybridge... but there are no chattering voices to otherwise disturb the peace here, save the loony tune antics of the skylark. Bless 'em.

There would appear to be a trio of monuments located at what, for want of a better term, passes for the summit. The most prominent is a pretty substantial grassy cairn at SO0280440909 measuring "c.10m in diameter and up to 0.4m high" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 9/2/09)]. Although somewhat trashed, the possible remains of a cist still reside upon the north-western sector featuring some larger stones. A little to the approx south-east (SO0281140899) lies a further cairn - or perhaps ring cairn - which is unfortunately much less well defined. Having said that there remains quite a volume of material in situ, the lack of structural form perhaps resulting from the excavation of a 'geotechnical test pit' during 1993 [Coflein NPRN 247429]. Err.... anyone know what a 'geotechnical test pit' is? Seems to have slipped my mind.

For me the most intriguing of the three sites is located immediately to the approx south at SO0282040886. To be honest first appearances are of a completely grassed-over ring cairn to this layman's eyes, although why that (the grass cover) should be so did seem rather odd, given the exposed upland location. Such misgivings are given retrospective credence by J.J. Hall: "... [it] essentially appears to be an earthwork site, the overall dimensions of which are c.12.5m x 12.5m... It is characterised by a low earth bank, grassed-over and no more than 0.3m high by up to 2m wide at base. The outer bank encloses a hollow, the centre of which is occupied by an earthwork mound.... similarities with the Tir yr Onnen Barrow at Ystradfellte are striking". So, maybe even a small henge, then? As I said, intriguing. So why I neglect to take any images is anybody's guess. Muppet.

Twyn-y-Post has one further cairn to detain the traveller, this located at SO0290040787 and passed en-route to Cefn Clawdd. This is a small affair in comparison with the other monuments I visited, but nevertheless it'd be rude to to stop and have a look. J.J Hall reckons it measures "3m x 2m and up to 0.2m high" with a cist perhaps still residing within? Moving on, there appears to be no sign of the apparent cairn upon Cefn Clawdd at SO0321140542 from distance. However it is depicted upon my 1:50k map... so there's only one way to find out for certain.
29th March 2014ce

Trippet Stones (Stone Circle)

Visited 9th March 2014

Another session of Google Earth scrying along with Ocifants excellent directions, led me to believe this site would be easily to visit on the way home from our holiday in Cornwall. So with the sun blazing down from a clear sky, and with the car packed and ready for home, we started our journey north with at least the promise of a stone circle on the way to keep our spirits up.

Heading north we took a left turn off the A30 signposted ‘St Breward 4’, which I recognised from my earlier Google reconnaissance, and heading across the small moorland road, we first saw what appeared to be several small standing stones dotted about, along with a variety of other interesting looking lumps and bumps.

Soon we spotted the circle itself off to our right, the telegraph pole right next to it providing an unmissable landmark. I’d intended to turn right at the first crossroads up the farm track towards the circle and park near Hawkstor farm, but on arrival the track looked in a poor state, a huge gouge out of the surface leaving a nasty dip to be negotiated in order to pass. Fearing for the car’s suspension, and with still another 250 miles to drive before getting home, I decided not to risk it and instead turned left towards Treswigga, and taking the example of another couple of cars, pulled up on the spacious verge.

No maps were needed today, the visibility perfect, the stones of the circle beckoning to us across the moor. The pull of a previously unvisited site causes me to hurry past what looks like a small stone row, but I vow to investigate on the way back, and soon I’m here in the centre of the stones, looking out over the empty moorland and soaking up the atmosphere. As Postie says, there is a feeling of ‘bigness’ here far out of scale with the actual size of the stones or circle, probably the wide skies and open moorland give it a sense of a larger landscape.

The circle of eleven remaining stones (or is it twelve, we seemed to get different results each time we counted!) looks as if it’s had a battering over the ages, but I’m pleased to see that currently there are no signs of erosion by livestock around the stones themselves. A small central stone, and two further outliers which line up to it intrigue, but on closer investigation it’s clear that they don’t fit with the rest of the circle, the carvings of ‘M’ and ‘C’ on them pretty much confirming their use as boundary stones across the moor. Normally this sort of interference with a site would annoy me, particularly when it’s a result of the imposition of artificial fences or boundaries that impact on things (I’ll stop there before I start on a rant about the ‘ownership’ of land!), but here it just sort of fits in. In fact there is an absolute air of relaxation about the whole visit. Maybe it’s the unseasonable warmth of the sun, maybe it’s just the vibe of the place but I’m feeling particularly laid back, and just suffused with an aura of happiness and wellbeing. Ellen feels it too, so it’s not just me coming over all hippyish, and we sit in the circle with a flask of coffee and some very lovely chocolate muffins from the bakers in St. Just, and just chill out. On a day like this people will be flocking to the Cornish beaches, but nice as it is to be beside the seaside, I’d rather be here on a lonely moor, away from the crowds at this lovely ancient place. A couple of dog walkers are visible in the distance, but no-one else seems to pay the circle any mind, or intrude on our blissful solitude.

While Ellen goes off to take photographs I recline on a recumbent stone and feel so completely relaxed I’m almost drifting off to sleep, the gentle susurrations of the traffic from the nearby A30 and the tweeting of birds providing a soothing soundtrack, and from my prone position looking around it’s almost as if the circle sits within a natural amphitheatre of hills, with the rocky outcrops of Carbilly and Hawk’s Tor looming large on the horizon, and the moon visible in the sky hanging over the circle only enhancing the numinous atmosphere.

I’d love to have visited the nearby Stipple stones while we were here, but we’d already spent nearly two hours at the circle, and with a pint at the Jamaica Inn calling, and a further four hours of driving ahead of us before reaching home, we had to drag ourselves away.

This place has been a revelation though, probably the perfect combination of fine weather, the endpoint of a great holiday and the giddy excitement of going to a site for the first time, means it’s exceeded all expectations. Knowing now how easy it is to get to, I can see this being a regular stop off when we come down to Cornwall again.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
28th March 2014ce

Broomrigg (Stone Circle)

This place is one of the oldest voices in my head, mental ? me ? maybe, the name Broomrigg has been in the old noggin for well over a decade, places I haven't been too, things I haven't seen, press on me, they play on my mind, the only way to quell the clamour of sites demanding my attention is to go there. To find a site, requires many things to come together all at once, this was that day, this equinox day out ticks many boxes, and butters many parsnips. Start with sunrise at Mayburgh henge, the entrance faces east, then King Arthur's round table, then north to here, Broomrigg, and then on to Grey Yauds. A three in one (Holme head standing stone being a bonus site) day out, calm please, I'll get round to you all eventually, I wonder if the ancients, or anyone nowadays feels they have a one to one relationship with a site, it's like finding a long lost relative, you'd go a long way to get there, and be sad to leave, and it might even be just a once in a lifetime event. You've still got to go.

I parked in the wide entrance to the forest, leaving my eldest on her i wotsit, Eric, his mate Luke and myself entered the Broomrigg plantation. We followed the path until we could see the wall, immediately before it is a small kerb circle, Burls Broomrigg B. One large stone coerces three smaller stones into a curve, only half the circle survives.
Then following the wall north, Broomrigg A appears amid the trees on our left, well I say our, the kids are off exploring this new playground and i'm left to find, count and photograph the five or six stones, , it's all part of the ritual of meeting new kin. Photography was hard all day though, I might have got the camera a tad wet when I went Wales earlier in the week now it wont auto focus.
But miraculously it's now fixed itself so I'm a happy bunny again.
Back to where the path and wall meet, and on the other side of the wall, south of the path, I was looking for Burls Broomrigg D, The Wallmoor ring. I did find some stones, large and vaguely circular, I wasn't totally convinced until rereading Burls description when I got home.
Back to the path once more, back to Broomrigg B. Across the path from B and on a bit is a fallen standing stone, apparently. But further south into the trees brings one to a clearing, within it is the remains of a large cairn circle, Broomrigg C, in my mind a very ruinous version of Glassonby.
This was my favorite site in the forest, the sun shone down, the noisy boys had returned to the car, the stones, oooh, could be as many as ten, were large and obvious and it was altogether more to with it than the other circles.
The only thing I didn't find was the henge, I didn't bring Burls "indispensable" guide book, nor did I bring my compass even if I did know which way to go. One is often ill prepared to meet long lost ageing family. Bless.

I liked it here, it is a good place, despite forest interiors having no views.
postman Posted by postman
27th March 2014ce

Whiteleas (Stone Circle)

And so to Whiteleas. Sometimes I wonder why we do this: what is it that pulls us through muddy fields, over barbed wire fences, calls us to tread and traipse across land that's unwelcoming, ungracious, bitter. East of here are the Wicklow hills, free and unfettered, peat-covered, wild and uneasy. But down here is order; straight lines and permissions. Well excuse me to all that. There was a stone circle here once and I'm going to find out what, if anything, remains. Lorg na gcloch indeed.

I parked at Ballysize, Bealach Saghas, the road to god knows where. About face and back across the N81, up the road towards Broadleas and Ballymore Eustace, over the first field gate on the left and back into Kildare. The ground is marshy, reedy and there are two streams to ford.

This is a search for traces. The heroes of the various archaeological surveys have kept at it, pulling together a disparate range of sources, from folklore to old maps, aerial archives and fieldwork. 50 years of the Archaeological Survey of Ireland was recently celebrated with, amongst other things, a supplement in Archaeology Ireland magazine. It contains a short piece about he NMS public viewer, a highly addictive resource for the likes of us here, and I would never have been able to investigate this ruin without it.

Go to the red dot that marks the site and what does remain is a slightly raised platform and two pillar-like stones, one embedded flat into the turf, beside a gate in a large pasture field. It has probably been used as a tillage field in the past. Beyond the platform to the south-east the ground starts to slope quite rapidly down, ending in a boggy swamp over the field wall that is bordered by massive and, in their own way, ancient beech and birch trees.

Face south-east from the platform, for the views in any other direction are flat and obscure, and the eye is pulled towards the cleavage-like display of Sleivecorragh and Church Mountains. Slievecorragh is 418 metres high, Church Mountain is 544 metres high, but the illusion created from our viewing place shows them to be of equal height. Both have cairns. I've been to the top of Sleivecorragh and have seen that its cairn has been robbed out and mostly denuded, so its nipple is less prominent than its neighbour.

Broughills Hill, visible further east may well have been the mother's head, placed as it is in the landscape, but I think we can leave that speculation aside and definitively say why the circle was built here.

When Walshe visited the site in 1931 it was already in ruins. Today it's nothing but a memory, a trace, with 2 possible circle stones left (why?). What happened? I don't really know, but sometime between 1931 and 1985 the circle was destroyed. That is the deliberately neutral view. The biased view is that some ignoramus of a landowner, either maliciously or thoughtlessly rode over this place of heritage, smashed all traces of the old (I hesitate to use the word) temple and nearly erased the memory of a people that worshipped the land, the very land from which he sought to wring a few more dollars or shekels or beads. But sure who am I to judge his actions? Isn't there always hunger? But Slievecorragh remains, and so does Church Mountain, testament enough.

1.  hallmark(m1)
2.  imprint(n m1)(impression, mark)
3.  impression(m1)(of stamp, seal)
4.  print(n m1)(mark)
5.  seek(vt)
6.  scent(m1)(track)
7.  trace(n m1)
8.  trail(n m1)(tracks)
9.  track(m1)(mark, of suspect, animal)
ryaner Posted by ryaner
27th March 2014ce

Grey Yauds (Stone Circle)

From Newbiggin, head west on a dead straight road and park at the T junction, there's enough room for a couple of cars to squeeze onto a grass verge.
From this vantage point you cant see the stone, but if you can see the field with a small quarry at the bottom of it, then this is the field you want to be in as you get to the top of the hill.
As I climb the hill, i'm acutely aware that this isn't following a footpath, so I try and get out of plain site as quick as I can, At the top of the hill a field wall bars the way a gate in the left corner is open so here is my point of entry. The stone and myself are now in the same field but because of it's being in the far corner I still cant see it. I'm almost on top of it now, but still nowt, I begin to wonder if ive got my wires crossed somehow. Then right there before me, in the bottom of a natural dip in the landscape is the stone, King Harry's stone.

Cows from the next field come over for a bit of a moo at me over the wall, I sit down on the other side of the stone and they soon lose interest.
A bit of a strange place this, the land is lifted in the air so it cant be seen from below, but further east and the ground rises further still, Thack moor has a sprinkle of snow upon its crown. But why in this dip here, almost invisible from just twenty yards away. But then this is no solitary standing stone, it's an outlier to a now lost stone circle, not one stone remains, except this outlying stone, King Harry's stone. One wonders where exactly in relation to this remainder was the circle, my guess would be south of it, there's a big open space, but so to is there one to the north, just not east or west.

What a shame it's all gone, but then this one remainder is still worth the fifteen minute walk up hill. Come, and feel sorry for it, but, applaud it's survival.
postman Posted by postman
27th March 2014ce

Holme Head (Standing Stone / Menhir)

This standing stone is very close to the road, there's just enough room between the road and stone to squeeze a railway track in, so they did. How rude.
So I had to turn round and park near the bend in the road by Kitchenhill bridge. Fifty yards back up the road and there is an antenna/aerial/substation type thingy. Through the gate into the enclosure and over the barbed wire topped fence, we're now in the same field as the stone and forty odd sheep.
The stone is a hundred yards away by a tall tree on the side of a mound next to the railway track.

The stone is tall, over seven feet, and wide in girth, no slender loris this one, no hidden by grasses or gorse, big bright and beautiful. A stone of many colours, lichens of white, yellow and bright green cover a surface grey with tinges of orange and brown. The tall gnarled tree next to it isn't too close and sets the old stone off well, the tree looks old, but the stone is older.

Good stone,
pity about the track.
postman Posted by postman
27th March 2014ce

Cerrig Gwynion (Hillfort)

I don't know how this little blighter passed me by, I first saw it on Coflein and then found that Rhiannon had already added it as a site here. Good isn't she.
It's been on the list for about three months.

When travelling west on the B4500 you come into Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog ( or Llanarmon DC for short ) a sharp left hand turn takes you over an old bridge, just before the road takes you left turn right up a steep narrow lane.
Pass Penybryn farm house, and keep going until the road leaves tarmac behind, I parked on a grass verge well out of the way and the fort visible on the hill top. Walk up the track til your just about east of the fort and a large boundary (?) stone is by a fence. Go through/over the gate and walk up hill to the trees, aptly or not called Roman camp wood. Apt or not coflein assures us the fort is definitely iron age.
I skirt along the south side of the trees and shortly arrive at the eastern extreme of the fort, it's in the trees to my right as well but i'll look in there on my way out.
I start the obligatory circumambulation round the fort, at its south east corner the ramparts are fairly slight and mellow. Oddly there are many large boulders in and next to the ditch, some are in lines and may be instructive in how to build an iron age fort, a chunk of the bank has eroded away exposing the interior, definitely instructive.

Walking west along the southern ramparts i'm sure I came across the worn down entrance, then twenty yards on another one. Then a fence cuts the fort in two, on this side of the fence it's all farmy and agricultered, but on the other side it's more wild, rough and more Welsh, I skip the fence with glee (I wasn't singing).
The banks here are higher, the ditch is deeper and there's no boulders in the ditch, I follow the rampart north. The rain is now coming at me sideways, blown into a near explosive force.
I make for the quartz outcrops on top of the hill but outside the fort, they make an adequate windbreak and the position affords a great view of the fort and all the quartz running across its summit, i haven't seen anything like this much quartz since Duloe or Henblas, there is more here.
I cross back over the well preserved western ramparts and make for the quartz crown at the top of the fort, it's still raining, so I sit among the giant white boulders and regard the northern aspect, the ramparts run by in front of me from left to right, and the hills beyond rise up to Vivod mountain. Back out into the stingy sideways rain (ably deflected by my new coat 'n boots) I follow the earthworks east, they are still high and defendable here. But now ive come back to the trees, so it's over the fence once more and a short snoop later and ive detected a good section of ramparts, though coflein says there is another entrance nearby. I think it must have been back near where I started, about twenty yards from where I finished.

So this was a little gem of a fort, and i'm non plussed as to its obscurity, even without all the tons of quartz it would still be high on your list of North Walean hill forts.
Come on a warm summers eve though ay?
postman Posted by postman
24th March 2014ce
Edited 26th March 2014ce

Pen-Plaenau (Cairn(s))

I parked right at the end of the thinning road near the farm Swch-Cae-rhiw, there is room for maybe two cars. The footpath starts here, going north up hill through the farm. It was steep and tiring, I wondered whether anyone at the farm saw me struggling to get up, new boots, that's my excuse.
The path follows the river on its western side, map says there are water falls but they are further up, and the path is taking us away from them, up and over the top of the first hill, it is here that Coflein says are two cairns and an associated standing stone.
The Berwyn mountains supply the high ground that takes up all the western horizon, south east looks down the Ceiriog valley, it's high ground all round really except for the river valley, and in that direction I can see the hill with a fort Cerrig Gwynion. In fact the whole placement of the cairn, the position of the fort, it's almost identical to Craig ty Glas and Craig Rhiwarth.
The cairn, Coflein says, is nine meters across, it is very easy to find. A small walkers cairn has grown upon it, whilst elsewhere large stones betray the vestiges of the cist, especially one long on edge stone.
But there are two cairns here, however, I don't know which one i'm at, the northern one or the southern one, so in case it's the former I have a look around down hill until the ground falls away too steeply to seriously expect a cairn to be there. Then back up hill scrubbing around in all the bunches of thick reedy grass, but nothing, no other cairn. I couldn't fathom it, so I just kept on going until I found what must be the standing stone that Coflein says is associated with the TWO cairns.
It was in the right direction from the cairn, compass agreed, it was also the right size, 0.8 meters. But then they fail to mention the smaller stone next to it, this other stone is almost certainly part of the same, now, broken stone. They even neglect to mention the thick quartz whiter than white stripes running through it. Tsk.
The crosses on my map said that the still to find cairn should be smack on line in the middle of this stone and the other cairn, so off I stride confident that if it's there I couldn't but help to at least stumble across it.
Nope, nothing, its not there. 5 x 0.3 meters across and high. Couldn't find it.
Great views though, nice place.
postman Posted by postman
24th March 2014ce

Tomen-y-Rhos (Round Cairn)

The Mam C and I approach the summit of Mynydd Myddfai from the twin cairns (nearly) surmounting Pen Caenewydd to the west, an intervening distance of approx a mile. It is a pleasant, albeit soggy tramp, particularly with the sun having comprehensively vanquished earlier cloud cover.... well at least until tomorrow.... the topography enlivened by the inexorable abrasive actions of the Nant Craig cwmclyd upon its parent peak. To our chagrin - shock, horror - a group of brightly attired walkers suddenly appear ahead and decamp by the OS trig pillar, the first we've seen all day. Obviously there are other routes to the top of this little mountain. Unsociable swine that we are, we take the opportunity to veer to the south and check out a rather peculiar linear earthwork noted running the length of the ridge. First impressions are that of quarrying, bearing in mind the seriously ragged nature of the feature.... although the distinct lack of width is nonetheless puzzling? Yeah, surely even the most pissed (or pissed-off) of Roman legions, based at Y Pigwn to the north-east, wouldn't have neglected quality control to this extent? It would also have been a rather shite boundary, too.

Bypassing the summit, we swing to the north and, noting a small cairn peeking above the ubiquitous reedy grass [this an inevitable 'walker's cairn perched on top], duly locate the Tomen-y-Rhos. It is hard to miss the 'Mound of the Moor' significantly sited a little below and to the east of the summit (surprise, surprise). It remains a very substantial monument (some 15.5m in diameter according to CADW), despite possessing a ravaged interior initially suggesting another ring-cairn. Or a not-very-well-made green donut. Although, to be fair, I struggle to visualise a benchmark for the latter. The historic 'mound' nomenclature is interesting for an upland cairn, suggesting the cairn has been grassed over for some considerable time, possibly something to do with the east facing position? Dunno. Also of note are a couple of substantial stones strategically located within, perhaps the remnants of a cist apparently ransacked - sorry, 'excavated' - by the know-it-all Victorians back in the day.

Luckily the occupants of the summit decline to join us at Tomen-y-Rhos ensuring - bearing in mind the cremated occupants of the cairn were reported removed back in 1825 - that we are free to hang out in solitude, if not in total peace..... no, a circling red kite looking for an easy meal sees to that. Jeez, there is never a crow air superiority patrol around when you need one, is there? Not that the presence of the former internees would've been an issue.... far from it. It was their cairn, after all. Whatever, the vibe is exquisite, relaxing in the sun and gazing across to Mynydd Bach Trecastell and its stone circles. As Rainer Maria Rilke said "The love which consists in this, that two solitudes protect and limit and greet each other." Guess I get that.

Time creeps up on us and it's all too soon necessary to retrace our squelchy steps, via the vacated summit, to Pen Caenewydd. It is a pity to have to leave Mynydd Myddfai, but our chariot awaits back on Planet Earth. OK, I know.... but that's how it feels. Incidentally, upon returning to Bridgend, Wiki has the answer to the 'linear earthwork' mystery. Seems first impressions were correct after all, the unseemly excavations apparently the residue of the industrial extraction of a narrow stratum - or perhaps strata - of 'Tilestone' upon Mynydd Myddfai. So there you are.
22nd March 2014ce

Pen Caenewydd, Mynydd Myddfai (Cairn(s))

Mynydd Myddfai forms a relatively low lying ridge (rising to a max 1,444ft / 440m) located to the north of Y Mynydd Du, a postscript, if you like, to the mountainous drama of South Wales' 'Great Escarpment' prior to encountering the more homogeneous upland landscape forming the enigmatic 'Green Desert' of Mid Wales. Never having previously captured my imagination... more fool me ... curiosity was finally, eventually, aroused whilst revelling in Nature's full-on assault upon Carn Glas yesterday. What's that over there? Sure enough a glance at the map duly revealed the magic word 'cairn' depicted numerous times in that fabulous antiquarian typeface... not to mention a similarly represented 'Tomen-y-Rhos'. What's not to like?

The small village of Myddfai is a welcoming sight following a somewhat 'rollercoaster' approach from the Trecastell-Llanddeusant road to the south. Yeah, guess the OS people must have used up a year's quota of those 'steep gradient' arrows upon that one 'single-track-without-passing-places'. Nevertheless it is a wondrous ride... in hindsight. A short onward climb to the south-east sees the Mam C and I locate the bridleway near the dwellings at Sarnau [c289783]. It is possible to park a car at the rather soggy entrance, an equally insalubrious, not to mention badly overgrown onward route leading us to the bwlch between Twyn Rhyblid and Pen Caenewydd to the east.

Here a ferocious shower clatters into us with all the unbridled gusto of kids fleeing school at home time, forcing the impromptu donning of waterproofs prior to clambering up to the crest of Pen Caenewydd's western spur near an isolated, rather enigmatic copse of trees. As we begin to move up the ridge it is immediately apparent that Mynydd Myddfai is a quality viewpoint, the far reaching vistas belying its relatively modest height. Northward a patchwork of fields within the fertile Twyi valley lead the eye toward the bare Mid Walian uplands cradling Llyn Brianne and the reservoirs of Y Elanydd - and perhaps, on an exceptionally clear day, even Pumlumon herself? The southern aspect is possessed by Y Mynydd Du... lock, stock and (Jamesie Cotter's) two 'leafy twigs'. So, worth the excursion for the 'mere' aesthetics alone, but what of the archaeology? The location of the first cairn is soon attained.

SN78932885: although well positioned to take full advantage of the aforementioned views, the cairn is a little difficult to make out initially... until the Citizen Cairn'd radar has been duly calibrated, so to speak. Yeah, these things can take time, following which the form of the monument is obvious. According to David Leighton [RCAHMW, 9/1/01] "The stony mound measures 9m in diameter and 0.3m high and it has a generally disturbed appearance." Guess that's a succinct enough appraisal of the current situation.

SN79172898: located further up the ridge beyond a stile this ring cairn - "a stony ring bank averaging 1.5m wide and 0.2m high enclosing an area 13.5m (E-W) by 11.8m [DL, RCAHMW, 02/92]" - is of much greater interest having been set just south of the ridge crest, apparently intentionally upon sloping ground, so as to present its interior to the south. As such views to the north are obscured. It is a great spot, the vibe intensified courtesy of sunlight streaming from a fracture in the cloud base. Interestingly there is a small cairn set a little to the north of unknown origin....

SN79492888 / SN79482891: we move on, 'walking serpentine' in belated solidarity with the memory of the Silures, the tribe who caused the bloody Romans so much trouble in these parts, to the summit of Pen Caenewydd. Two nice upland cairns - apparently also ring-cairns - still stand just below the highest point in true Bronze Age style, the northern, the more substantial and well defined of the pair, located a little below its neighbour. The northern measures "9m (E-W) by 7.6m and 0.3m high", the southern "about 5m in diameter within a stony ring bank about 1.5m in thickness and up to 0.2m in height [DL, RCAHMW, 9/11/04]. Both monuments are superb viewpoints, except to the east where the mountain's bulk negates such, the southern possessing perhaps the finest linear view of Y Mynydd Du extant, cairns visible crowning its summits all the way from Tair Carn Uchaf (I think) in the west to Fan Foel across the way. To re-enforce the fact, a partial rainbow arcs to the north. Yeah, this is a very good place to be, despite conditions which can obviously not decide whether they are coming nor going. I joke to the Mam C that Nature is so clearly self-evidentially female. But wisely, I think, decide not to pursue the matter....

Following a megalthic picnic it becomes difficult to even contemplate overcoming the inertia to leave this modest, yet utterly beguiling hill top. Yeah, the true summit of Mynydd Myddfai.... and Tomen-y-Rhos.... looks a long way to the east. However, for once, time is on our side.
22nd March 2014ce
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