|Looking for somewhere to get something to eat we enter Trefdraeth/Newport from the east on the A487 and pass a sign saying Burial chamber, for a second or two i'm thrown a bit and wonder which one it is, then I recall that the last time I was here it was at half past two in the morning, it's Carreg Coetan Arthur. After a healthy and nutritious sausage butty we head off for the dolmen.
A couple dressed exclusively for the outdoors are inspecting the cromlech so we park round the corner slip into our wellies and give them a minute, as expected a minute were all they were willing to give to this curious pile of stones. As we entered the cromlech's private space I could see that some trees have come down, clean cut tree stumps exposing Newport sands, which on my previous three visits was totally invisible due to utter darkness or flora, it was nice to have some placement perspective for it, something I'd thought impossible for it as it's in a housing estate. I reminded myself that even though the dolmen has four uprights under it only two are actually supporting the hefty, shapely and attractively coloured capstone. Eric and me chattered together under the capstone and I pointed out that our new dog (not that new) Arthur is named after this and a few other ancient sites, he looked at me and stated that i've got stones on the brain, something I'm inclined to agree with.
Eric was itching to get the bikes out of the car so we exited Newport from the west and headed for Cerrig y Gof, a rather unsung megalithic wonder of Wales.
We parked west of the chambers in a small rough lay by, then rode our bikes back down the hill to the site.(weeee!!!)
And what a brilliant site it is, last time I came here the bracken was high and in full obscuring mode, but it was much better this time, no bracken growth at all, it was midday and all the dew and slugs had gone, and I had my inquisitive and questioning son with me. Couldn't be better.
I wish i'd read Carl's fieldnotes on this place as I now need to go back and find the big stone he describes a hundred paces away on the other side of the field. But I have read Moss's comment on the Needle rock lookalike stone and tried to recreate Robin Heath's photo without actually seeing it.
The two are remarkably similar and it can only be intentional, but when the capstone is in place and the I suppose there would have been a backstone to the chamber also in place and then a covering mound, the stone would be hidden. But I don't think that would matter, the builders would know it was there and the magic would carry on working. Any alignment between the two and the midsummer sun would have to be remembered and passed on verbally as it would be lost from view, and easily forgotten.
The ride back up the hill was a bit arduous but it didn't take long, next along the road was Parc Cerrig Hirion, a hidden stone that one previous aborted visit had proved is difficult to get to. This visit was no better, I was too far to the east and compounding that I hadn't read anyone's field notes so hadn't even heard of Mercury garage. blast and double blast, oh well perhaps the third time will prove the charm. On down the road is Ty Meini or more charmingly named the Lady stone, it's much more easily found as it's only six feet from the roadside.
I parked to one side in the farm entrance, there's plenty of room it's a wide entrance. Eric elected to stay in the car as my visit wouldn't take long because there are railings hampering a close inspection, I felt sorry for this stone it's a good one but the roadside fumes aren't nice, nor are the railings, if I were to win the lottery I would ask the farmer if I could make a more visitor friendly enclosure for it. other peoples excuses for not getting closer also get on my nerves slightly, if your not going to try and get close why bother at all ? More antiquarian friendly are the burial chambers on Pen Caer the large headland north west of Wdig/Goodwick, our next destination.
This was the only one out of the four I hadn't been to, Garn Wen trio....yes, Pen Rhiw wedge tomb....yes, even Carn Gilfach proved not difficult to find, but it took this my third visit to the area to find time enough for Garnwnda and it's shy outlying menhir.
It was well worth the wait. Finding this last one wasn't hard, once the proper place was found to leave the car, I left it next to the phone box more or less directly south of the chamber and the rocks it hides amongst. Once more upon the bikes it's fifty yards back down the road, turn north/right up the footpath that looks like it's going through someones back yard. The path is muddy, but it would be after all it chucked it down most of the way here, standing on tip toes looking over the wall to your right you can see the standing stone of Parc Hen. At the end of the muddy path a gate is reached, once on the other side the footpath diverges into a starburst of desire lines, the one that is in line with the footpath just traversed is the one you want, after a hundred yards look up to the rocks, a tall pointy rock on the highest part has the burial chamber under it. That said I didn't go that way I went straight to the top and just scrambled around until I came across the chamber. When ever I find something for the first time it is impossible not to emit some sort of jubilatory sound, this one was a cross between Yaaay, and woohoo, a Yaaywhoo.
The four chambers strung along the headland from Carn Gilfach to Garn Wen are within two hundred yards at most of the same latitude, hard to do if your trying, extremely difficult to do by accident. But the thing that struck me about another similarity between this one and Carn Gilach is that they are both very very close to the rock outcrop and both have a standing stone less than two hundred yards away. I love the mystery, that tantalising hint of something close to an explanation to what was going through the minds of these ancient ancestors, there has to be answer, and here it is close to the surface, luckily I didnt visit Garn Fawr hillfort or it's littler siblings so a return visit is assured.
Was the capstone moved to it's current position ? or was it always there and they just jacked up one side and then propped it up on a single stone, either way the single stone looks wholly inadequate for the job, all that weight pressing down on just one small stone, carefully we entered the chamber. Cosy, if you like creepy crawlies, I don't mind most of them, except the slimey ones, in the summer when it's been dry for ages I could imagine staying here all night, yeah all night long. Come to Pen Caer headland and see these four chambers, but clear your mind first
and put in some effort.
From the southern end of Garnwnda rocky outcrop the standing stone of Parc Hen can be seen, as with the burial chamber it demands some effort in getting to it.
From the path to the burial chamber you can see the stone in the corner of the field , but the field is covered in brambles, and I mean covered, but there is a gate behind it so I hoped to come at it from that direction, we went back to the car parked at the phone box, then rode the bikes down the road north east. The first gate we came to a stone was in the field but it isn't the one we wanted, whether or not it's ancient I do not know it isn't on the map so must be a rubbing stone I guess set up by farmer.
We entered the field and rode over to it, then past it and left the bikes by a knackered old wall, then over that field to the gate, the one I could see from the path to the burial chamber, the stone is about twenty yards from the gate.
Tis a really good stone this one, as Merrick informs it is mainly triangular, changing shape as you walk round it and about seven feet tall.
A long haired kind of moss clings to it's upper parts, making it look proper ancient. A small stone gathering is apparent under it's northern face, presumably chock stones but they're not chocking, is that even a word.
Visited on Monday 9th April and by that I mean right up close and I touched it with my hands.
My first visit was hampered by deep impenetrable fog, thankfully I'd left Garnwnda and the Lady gate stone out so this was the return visit eighteen months in the making.
I parked in the same place as before, and walked through the same farm , barked at by the same dogs probably and walked up the same path, the sign pointing out the cromlech is still there but the abundant plant growth and slugs were absent, glee !
The giant capstone was easier to define from the ground without the high grasses, and the strange triangles on the upper surface of the capstone still look freaky, are they man made or natural, I don't know but they are stained reddish as though from iron or something. Once more I climb the rocks just a few feet from the chamber and look down upon the mighty stone, held only just aloft by its small orthostats. Then I let my gaze wander around, I can't see the Lady gate standing stone from here the crest of the hill hides it from view, just like Garnwnda does with Parc Hen standing stone, the rocks of Garn Folch hides Garnwnda and it's chamber from me too, a complicated game of hide and seek are afoot, but i'm not sure of it's rules or it's meaning, if there is one. But the forts around and on Garn Fawr are highly visible, but they're not playing the same game.
I bid the chamber adieu and set off for the elusive Lady stone, but i'll be back soon enough.
The path from Garn gifach burial chamber starts off easy to follow but when it crosses over a low old wall the gorse rather chokes the path impeding progress and the brambles arch over trying it's hardest to trip over the unwary walker, I got this far before, but turned back when the path just stops at a large boulder with fencing running off in two diections, knowing all this we stride forward using brute strength, what little I have, and steely determination which I have by the bucket load, Eric found it hard going so he sat on the big boulder and watched me descend onto the gorse ridden plateau, from the big boulder only one stone can be seen in more or less the right place, not knowing whether or not this was it I just gave it a go, and hey presto Lady gate standing stone revealed her self to me.
Though standing stone is a real misnomer, it's not totally prostrate, it still clings on to verticallity by it's finger tips. This almost fallen menhir gave me great joy, the usual triumphant sound was absent, just a quiet immense feeling of satisfaction, accompanied by goose bumps, I'd had the words Lady gate floating around my mind for ages, we would be together one day I knew for certain, very strange I know but this was one stone that would not escape my attentions.
I waited patiently for the other-wordly lady to make an appearance, but to no avail, I even poked around under the stone, in imitation of treasure seeking, but she must of known that her riches were not in peril from me, probably too much information but I could really do with an other-wordly lady right about now.
Eric reminds me of my other respsonsabilities with a shout, I wonder if that was his first call out to me, I bid her a fond farewell and take my leave.
After chips on the sea front we head down to Llawhaden castle, i'm not only megalithically inclined but also have a passion for castles, then a couple of beers from a small pub in Tufton, with echoes of An American Werewolf in London, then sleeping in the car at Pontfaen in a sheltered and lovely valley on the edge of the Preselli mountains.
Posted by postman
15th April 2012ce
Edited 15th April 2012ce
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