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Capel Garmon

Chambered Cairn

<b>Capel Garmon</b>Posted by MothImage © Tim Clark
Nearest Town:Betws-Y-Coed (3km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   SH818543 / Sheet: 116
Latitude:53° 4' 20.84" N
Longitude:   3° 45' 52.13" W


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Fieldnotes

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Visited this site last summer whilst spending a few days in Bala. This is a lovely place to visit on a warm summers day. The chamber itself was larger than I expected and in better condition. It was a nice experience to sit under the capstone and admire the dry stone walling. While we were there the local farmer was using two sheep dogs to round his flock up - something we all enjoyed watching. Posted by CARL
7th May 2010ce

Seeing as we started the day with a big burial chamber it felt right to end it with one too, from one side of Snowdonia to the other.
I can see why the farmer doesnt really like having folk over to gawp at the stones, there's nowhere good to park and your made to feel like your intruding (which we are), but this is such an important site some money should be spent on parking, up by the road maybe.
Not quite the winter wonderland, more of a toenumbingarseendoftheyearland, but even in the snow and excepting the stick carrying farm dog, this is still a good place to be. The big capstone, the passage and side passage, with standing stones in the walls. Magnificent.
Not bad
postman Posted by postman
19th December 2009ce

Another effective method the arresting Kate employed to seduce me. She brought me here on a glorious blue, russet, and gold autumn day, and blew me away. This place is so beautiful, peaceful and completely breathtaking.

When Jane, Moth and I visited, a misty, slightly overcast sky greeted us, and lifted as we left – typically. Nonetheless, a superb view of Snowdonia was afforded which demonstrated beautifully why the ancestors chose this site. As ever, the placing of a Severn-Cotswold long barrow in the heart of North Wales fascinated me. Who were the builders? Were they a group of people who moved up from the south? Were they a tribe who had taken on different belief systems to the others prevalent in the vicinity? Were they traders? There are no such barrows anywhere else up here, so I assume this must be the case. Or could it have been the last one to have been built before that set of beliefs changed? Or is the only one that has survived?

Whatever the reasons, this is a fabulous structure, definitely worth a visit. The remaining capstone (on the western chamber), is awesome, and it is easy to imagine how the thing must have looked when originally built. The post and panel work inside the chambers is a joy to behold, and even though it has been extensively restored, remains of the original dry walling can be seen in the lower courses of the eastern chamber. 5,000 year old dry walling. Cool.

We enjoyed a good half hour here, joined briefly by two other visitors, and watched by many fluffy sheep.
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
8th April 2005ce

Crikey! Didn't expect to come face-to-face with a typical Cotswold-Severn tomb in North Wales.

The lovely horned forecourt and shape of the entire structure is marked out with little kerbstones placed there following an excavation in 1925. The main passageways are open to the elements now, save for one large capstone flaking like tasty French patisserie.

The interior of the open passageway has large pointy uprights used as walling materials with drystone walling in between. The construction reminded me of Orcadian stalled cairns.

Though much of the cairn material is gone, there is enough left to indicate the vast height and bulk of this place. The rolling irregular contours of the grass on the monument undulate and flow in the same way as they do on Hetty Peglar's Tump. Gorgeous.

This is an 'A-list' site in the most beautiful valley overlooked by a corking gorsedd stone. What a shame the wretched information boards are sited too high and the large metal kissing gate is just a bit too close to the monument.
Jane Posted by Jane
27th March 2005ce
Edited 28th March 2005ce

Visited 25th May 2003: After a kiddies party near Conwy I dragged everyone off to see some sites. First stop was Capel Garmon, which I last visited 20 years ago with my parents!

The chamber is heavily reconstructed, or so it appeared to me. We were all a bit tired and irritable, so it was difficult to relax and enjoy the site. Not much 'zing' was found here. The surrounding landscape is fantastic though, with excellent views of the mountains. I'd quite like to come here again on my own, without fractious kiddies, and see whether there's any 'zing' here to be had.

I had intended to recreate the 1983 photos with Lou, Will and Alfie in them, but my attempts were too crap to post. Another thing I stuffed up was forgetting to check the location of the Gorsedd before heading out to the site. As a result I totally failed to take a look.

PS. Broen - I suspect that the farmer knew exactly where this site was when he directed you elsewhere. I didn't get the feeling that he's keen on people visiting the site (crappy gates, mad sheep dogs etc.)
Kammer Posted by Kammer
18th June 2003ce
Edited 4th August 2003ce

On my first journey here the farmer was totally ignorant of this chamber in his back garden pointing us down the road instead. broen Posted by broen
5th February 2003ce
Edited 6th February 2003ce

Nestled in a very private spot, Capel Garmon has a beautiful air of tranquility. The hum of farm equipment in the distance doesn't detract from this place. The Gorsedd stone, as described in TMA, is just one part of a complex of hidden spots which must all have had there part within this sacred landscape. IronMan Posted by IronMan
25th March 2002ce

Just 1 mile south of Capel Garmon, a chambered long barrow lies in the most breathtaking scenery.
a few hundred metres from Ty'n-y-Coed Farm lies a 90 foot chambered long barrow, sadly open to the harsh elements this area experiences.

A massive 14 foot capstone is the only reminants of the roof that remains, and this covers a false entrance, where in recent times it was used as a stable. A smaller and probably the original entrance lies to the southerly point of the barrow, a number of large stones line the walls of the main burial chamber, with a small chamber, formed by three smaller upright stones, strutting out into the main chamber.

Although not as impressive as Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesea, this chamber is still well worth a visit.
Map reference SH818543
mort Posted by mort
1st June 2000ce
Edited 6th February 2003ce

Miscellaneous

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A folklorish snippet about the site's name and some other information:
The locality consists of a series of small plains or glades, chiefly turbary, interspersed with rocky hillocks covered with oak, presenting scenes of singular variety and beauty; while the panorama of the Caernarvonshire hills, which this spot exhibits, can scarcely be surpassed in magnificence.

[...] The name of the field in which the cromlech lies [is] Cae'r Ogof, (Cave-field,) and the monument is known by the name Ogof.

[...] On the under side of the great cover stone is a singular round cavity, about two feet across, closely resembling an inverted saucer, with a clean perforation in the middle right through the stone. This was produced by some one who was barbarous enough to attempt the destruction of this noble slab by blasting; but the hole being bored too deep, the underside of the stone gave way, the laminae being forced out in concentric circles, diminishing upwards, and presenting an object that, if unexplained, might well perplex an antiquary. Another attempt was made, but the hole being too shallow, the blast blew up the charge without injuring the stone. Some person has very lately been trying his pick upon the edge of the cromlech.

[...] On an eminence, a short distance off, an enormous boulder of conglomerate draws attention, but on being approached, it presents no appearances worthy of note.
From 'Carnedd enclosing a cromlech at Chapel Garmon' in the first volume of the Cambrian Journal (1857).
Some years ago the compartment under the stone was converted into a stable, by clearing out the side of the carnedd to the west, throwing down the end-stone, and fitting in a framed window. A door was also provided, and a stone manger. All these have since been removed.
From 'The Conway in the Stereoscope' by James Bridge Davidson (1860). Sadly there isn't a stereoscope photo of the site, in the book, though there are of various other scenes.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th January 2010ce
Edited 31st January 2010ce

Capel Garmon means (unsurprisingly) 'chapel of Garmon' in Welsh. As yet I've not been able to establish who Garmon was, so perhaps someone out there can tell me.

If you want to hear the name being pronounced in an authentic (north Welsh) accent, there's a WAV file available on the Betws-y-Coed Web site:

http://www.croeso-betws.org.uk/sounds/place/capgarm.wav
Kammer Posted by Kammer
20th November 2002ce
Edited 10th June 2004ce

Links

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National Museum Wales


The truly amazing Iron Age Capel Garmon firedog was found not far from here. You can visit it in person at the museum in Cardiff. The museum's website has some photos curiously hidden away on this page: click the 'media' tab to see them.

In Archaeologia Cambrensis (1863) it says:
The relic [...] was discovered in May, 1852, by a man cutting a ditch through a turbary on the farm of Carreg Goedog, near Capel Garmon, Llanrwst. It lay on the clay subsoil, flat upon its side, with a large stone at each end, and at a considerable depth. The spot is quite unfrequented, nor are there any remains of ancient buildings. It is all of iron, and the execution indicates considerable taste and skill. It is in some parts much corroded, and exposure to the air decomposed the metal considerably [...]
Although the journal suggests the firedog was found "at the foot of" Dinas Mawr, at the confluence of the Conway and Machno rivers (which would be Romantically Celtic), the farm of Carreg-coediog isn't actually at its foot at all. But it's not far away.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th January 2014ce
Edited 16th January 2014ce

George Eastman House Archive


An old photo of Capel Garmon by Alvin Langdon Coburn. There's a second and third photo of the tomb by Coburn on the same web site.

The date of these photos isn't clear but, the tomb was excavated in 1927, so that gives us a clue (so long as it wasn't restored before that). In the photos the site is neatly fenced off for public access, so it's probably not been recently excavated. Coburn died in 1966, so the photos may well have been taken between 1930 and 1966.
Kammer Posted by Kammer
10th June 2004ce
Edited 10th June 2004ce

Megalithics: Capel Garmon


This page contains a photo and a description of the cairn, and it links to more pages containing loads more photos and interactive panoramas of the site. The panoramas are really good fun!
Kammer Posted by Kammer
20th November 2002ce
Edited 10th June 2004ce

Megalithic Walks: Capel Garmon


The walk to this site from the road is only a quarter of a mile, so it's not exactly an arduous pilgrimage. This page directions to the cairn (first by car, then on foot), a description of the site and lots of photos.
Kammer Posted by Kammer
20th November 2002ce