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It's been so long since my last time here I haven't a clue which way I came from, all I remember is it was across lots of fields and we eventually came at it from the east.
That was the wrong way, approach from the south, much easier, comparatively.
My daughter Phil and me attempted to follow the footpath to it, for there is one, but it is never used and so overgrown as to be invisible. It was too overgrown for my girls soft girly legs, she went back to the car, whilst I battled on. A big machete would be very handy here.
Eventually I came out of the trees and there are the big stones. They are very big, and very white, and with no farm park I was free to clamber up on to the top of them. It was now that I received a phone call asking if we wanted to go out to the Plough for tea, grumbles, and no Trefignath, but ok.
I walked all around looking at the stones from near and far, I scrambled on the stones and crawled underneath them, I had a good look at them close up too, I doubted that they were entirely made of quartz, but on closer inspection it looks like they are.
Imagine if this was next door to Duloe stone circle, quartzite heaven.
It's generally accepted that they are a fortuitous arrangements of rocks, evidence of an ancient burial remaining unsubstantiated, but I see no reason why the large flat stone could not have been moved into it's current position, I cant think how else it got where it is.
This place is not on the map, I found it through luck (or not) whilst blue dot thumping on Coflein, the best way I've found to flush out new and interesting sites.
I parked to the south and could see my quarry sat atop its rocky Gorsedd, it was no further away than the walk to my mum'n dads house round the corner, 400 yards tops.
But, and the size of the but can not be understated, a sea of Gorse seemed to completely surround the site.
At first I thought Id just get to the outcrop next to it and sit there a while, time was going to constrict my playtime here, sadly. But the rogue in me thought screw it c'mon how hard can it be?
I found a path through the gorse, bramble and bracken.
The path, it is not an actual footpath but rather a critter worn path, I saw some wee ponies earlier perhaps it was them, took me almost right next to the site, only a twelve foot vertical cliff to scale and I'm there.
Arriving at the top was an exhilarating moment, the view was phenomenal, distant Snowdonia wreathed in thick white clouds, the sea is east and west and Holyhead mountain big and white was the northern horizon, and that famous hut circle group somewhere over there (I'm pointing can you see me)
Only three stones remain upright, there no taller than three feet, and they curve, as if describing an arc of the chamber, Coflein say they might be part of a large cist. I also fancied a couple of long stones as curb stones.
But the best thing is the view, sure Holyhead is a bit of an eyesore, after Port Talbot it's, for me, the worst town in Wales.
Like I said, time was against me, somewhere to go, but like always I tried to go in a straight line back to the car, biiig big mistake, from now on gorse will always be spelt with a small G.
Sign my petition to get it's name changed to M****r F****r, that's a bad swear word there.
There is no easy way to get here, there can be no drive by action photo, not even a leisurely sunny picnic, you cant even, if you get there, point at the ancient site and say there it is. This is about as far from civilisation as you can get in Wales, but it is not off the beaten track, it is right on it, it is not far from the maddening crowd, you'd think it would be, until 40 odd runners jog by.
My walk started in the full car park at Bwlch y Dduefaen, after a quick shufty round Barclodiad Y Gawres, and the standing stones it was follow the old grey wall up the hill. After much turning round and staring off wistfully into the distance I got up on top of the first summit, Carnedd y Ddelw, it has a very good cairn. Then up to Carnedd Penyborth-Goch on top of Drum, it too, as the name suggests is a cairn, it's not quite as good as the last one but it occupies a superior position.
The plan was get up Llwytmor mountain, but as my memories fade into soft middle age I realise that I cant get to Llwytmor without going up Foel Fras. So I just go up there, and decide to see what is what when I get there.
The incredible landscape up on Foel Fras should have been enough to keep me seated here until it was time to go, but a couple of race marshals are just a few meters away and the runners are passing by closely, did I mention there is some kind of cross country race going on, these fruit cakes are actually trying to run up a mountain, they fail quite entertainingly, it does me good to see people more knackered than me, one plonker had his shirt off and asked me for sun cream, your kidding right, expose my skin to the angry sun?. I watched them pass me by and wondered how you would go about getting up a mountain quickly, apparently you bend over double, grab your knees and push, wringing every last drop of energy from those poor abused legs.
Like I said, this new to me summit should have been enough, but the newly laid path isn't too steep up to the next summit, which looks like it's got a killer view of Yr Elen and if i'm not mistaken is Garnedd Uchaf, I absolutely refuse to call it by that new fangled name, what ever it is.
So I gird my loins, I lied there sorry, I don't even know what girding is, and head off for what surely must be my final destination.
Coflein says very little about the summit of Garnedd Uchaf, it only assumes there was a cairn here because of the mountains name, Carnedd is a cairn. But it also, just to add to the TMA'ers confusion, says there are some piles of stones that delineate the county border, it was I think one of these that I've photographed and put up on here.
There may well be a ruined cairn up here somewhere, but there is so much stone up here that you could probably point at ten collections of stone and say is that it? or maybe none at all. There is enough stone up here to build half a dozen Castleriggs and still have enough left over for a Long Meg or two. Perhaps the most conspicuous of prominent rocks up here is what earned this peak the name of Carnedd, it certainly looked like a big cairn from Foel Fras. I take a seat among these highest rocks as much out of the wind as possible which is not at all because it's coming from the direction I want to face. The direction you want, no, the only way to look is southish, the view is stunning, possibly the best view in Wales, shoot, I may have said that before. Immediate and centre is yr Elen, to it's left is Foel Grach, Carnedds Llewelyn and Dafydd, to it's right Carnedd y Filiast, Elidir Fawr and maybe Y Garn, and many more as the saying goes. With no cairn to inspect there is much time to admire the view, and it is admirable. But mountain watching, brilliant as it is, always has an end and I'm reaching my end of the day, the good thing about the route I've taken is I get to see the whole thing again, all four or five miles of it.
By the time I get back to the car my feet aren't just sore, they're positively throbbing, and the battery in my camera died too soon, and I didn't have anyone to say "hey, that looks good doesn't it" to, I felt a bit guilty not having Alken with me, I know he'd have loved it.
The Chipping Norton triangle, a triangle whose sides are 4,5,and 6 miles long, the north point is at the Rollright stones, the south west point is at the Churchill stones, and the south east point is at the Hoar stone burial chamber near Enstone. Along the south line of the triangle is Knollbury hill fort and the Hawk stone. All completely meaningless of course but it's broadly true.
Not been here for ages, I liked it then, and I like it now, you don't have to share this site with any long views, it's just you and the stones. A very private place, despite the crossroads, I even like the fact that it's at the crossroads, many strange things occur at crossroads, I imagine.
What is it with Hoar stones round here, there must be half a dozen, and that's not including the Thor stone and the Hawk stone both surely deriving from Hoar, and what is a Hoar, and do they moan?
What a brilliant standing stone this one is, gnarled, pitted and worn beyond belief, but that's not all it's got going for it. With long agricultural views east and south, the many wild flowers everywhere there aren't crops, the skylark giving it some high above, the stones size, over seven feet, and the early morning sunshine, but that's not the stones doing, that's probably Sod's law, the sun was late coming out at the Rollright's on this summer solstice morning.
I drove past it once, then had to go back, then move up a bit further, there's no clue as to where the stone is, but a bit of perseverance will pay off, it's not a long road.
What a brilliant stone.
I parked in the wee lay by to the south west of the fort, from here the south bank of the fort is a mere ten feet away. Over a very flat topped wall that's made to look inviting to climb over and up the bank to the top, inside the fort a large brown Doe spots me and bounds away to the far bank and up onto it, it turns to watch me for a minute then it's gone over the other side.
I set off on the obligatory walk around, clockwise. The grasses are very long and it doesn't take long to get soaked from the knees down, I plod on. Turning the north west corner to where the deer was, I can see where it was sat in the grass, but no tracks because of the way it bounds over the grass.
The east end is very disturbingly open, ploughed down to get into the fort is my thought, but I don't know.
The fort is very rectangular for the Iron age.
This would be an amazing place to lie in the grass of an evening and watch the clouds float by, and perhaps get up to some shenanigans below the grass line, but not in the morning though, that would be weird, and wet.
This site has been languishing in my to do list for years, so after a solstice sunrise at the Rollright stones I'm looking for a few other places to get to, Churchill......oh yesss!
The remembrance bench is too close, the stones are said to be this, that and the other but no one knows from whence they came.
It's still very early, there is no one out besides a determined jogger a squirrel and me, and the jogger is gone, leaving the squirrel and me, it's a funny word squirrel the more you say it the less meaning the word has.
A very slow stroll round the church later and still all is quiet so I sit on the aforementioned bench and lap up the peace and stillness.
Phil said the place looked like something out of Midsomer
murders, I kept my back to the church.
For reasons beyond my control I had to choose somewhere easy to get to and on a main road for this years summer solstice sojourn, definitely not Stonehenge, Avebury is too hard to park at, the weather dissuaded me from going to Castlerigg, Anglesey didn't interest me somehow. So I decided on a trip to Oxfordshire, the mountain man in me just laughed and scoffed at my far too flat idea, Oxfordshire ? surely you jest.
But, it's been a while since my last time, and I wanted to see how the stones are faring eleven years after their yellow paint attack, there's also some other sites I'd like to see again, and some for the first time.
We got there with some time to spare, but the other people had all got here early, parking was now in a field next door to the King stone field, there was lots of cars, that's never good.
Phil saw all the people and decided to stay in the car, I didn't blame her, it was 4.30am, and there must have been 150 people at the Kings stone and the circle, not my ideal way to see some stones, scuse me.
I completely ignore the King stone and stroll down the lane to the Kings men, for a minute I wonder why they are all gathered here rather than at the stones, then I realise that the suns coming up in the wrong place, or rather my memory of the place has got turned round, like a compass that doesn't know which way is north the stones have messed with my mind and the suns coming up in the wrong place. Oh well, who am I to argue with where the sun comes from.
There was a lot of people here, it wasn't to my liking, I made my way to an empty corner and stood under a tree and took in the scene, there was much to take in. Many conflicting thoughts chased each other round my head, if there was something happening here on the summer solstice in prehistory, is this what it would be like, to see a stone circle being used is a strange thing, usually we hope for solitude and peace, but then you only get quiet stones. Today the stones were singing.
The first thing I did was check the stones for yellow paint, but it seems to have all gone, has it naturally weathered off, or did they clean it off?, with what? Either way it's nice to see them back on top form
I stand behind the tallest stone, a natural magnet for solstice offerings. Then a god awful racket started blaring out, it was like a cross between a strangled cat, and ghost that's getting busted, but it was, after all, only some bagpipes. The piper was now walking clockwise just inside the circle, towing behind him duckling like some other people, I could see on their faces that some took it all very seriously, whilst others obviously felt a bit silly. Then after two or three circuits they gathered in the middle and called out "blessings upon the land", I couldn't help giggling a bit. Of course I want the land to be blessed, but I can't help feeling it's all far too little far too late. Honestly, if you want to honour this land, get out as often as you can to as many different place as you can, climb high, walk far, delve deep, not walk round a stone circle a few times a year.
As if to make my point, as soon as the sun had risen, invisibly behind low cloud and thick trees, more than half of the other people left, is that it I thought, I wondered how far they had come, my house as the giant throws is 89 miles away.
I decided to leave the other hangers on and sloped off to the Whispering Knights. I prefer to have the stones to myself, but I'm warming to the idea of sharing them with folk who appreciate them as much as I do, though maybe not in the same way.
After the portal dolmen had further expanded my mind, I went back over to the circle and it was just then that the sun made an appearance round the trees between clouds, silently I bidded the luminary welcome to the day, then someone called out " hello suuuuun" same thing I suppose, but only one of us looked daft.
Parking is almost non existent, I left Phil in the car with instructions that should someone want entry into the field beep the horn, i'll come running, and move the car from in front of the gate. The fort is only a hundred yards from the road, and strangely for a hill fort, not on a hill, a nice level stroll through a field and you're there.
Anyway, technically its a promontory fort. The two banks and ditches cut off the area above the river llyfni and are still very tall and deep, walking along the bottom of the ditch the top of the bank is at least fifteen feet above me. At the end of the ditch I climb up onto the first tall bank and walk half way along, from here I can see the Dinas Dinlle seaside fort.
Down into the next ditch and back along to the south end of the fort and there is a morass of fort material, and a possible southern entrance.
Now i'm in the fort proper, there is a large Coflein certified artificial mound. At the eastern extreme of the fort there are no defences, there isn't much need, the ground falls sharply down to the aforementioned river. I go down to the river and sit on a knoll looking over the up and down of the fast flowing torrent.
Then I go back into the fort and out through the northern entrance, it's a weird entrance, it just sort of bypasses the earthworks, almost making them unnecessary, perhaps they were after all, just for show.
A very good and interesting fort in a beautiful area with fabulous views.
A rather strange set of circumstances surround my visit with this stone, I was at home going through some of Cofleins blue dots and found a standing stone that I'd never heard of, it was not far from the road so I had a look on Google streetview, I could see it clear as day, it looks quite tall as well, taller than me. Coflein confidently ascribe it to the bronze age with a ritual or funerary purpose. How could that one pass us by completely unknown, i'll get to it shortly.
And here we are, it's just after tea time and the sun is getting low, far from setting, but low enough to shower us with that beautiful golden glow.
The lanes round here are thin, the stone is not on the map, so some competent map reading is required.
I parked in front of the gate that leads into the field, the stone is twenty yards distant. It stands atop a small slight slope, take away the trees and you've got good all round views. The stone is nearly 8 feet tall and appears to be a grey slate with green lichen growing upon it, my petrochemical analysis was then interrupted by the lady at the house next door to the field. She was put out by our ad hoc visit to the site and said she would have been pleased to have been asked, my meek face reserved specially for irate landowners and misdelivered mail slid seamlessly across my visage. Many sorry's and "the face" quickly placated her and then she freely divulged some information about the stone, local knowledge according to Aston's rules of archaeology is invariably wrong, yet right at the same time, we'll see.
The stones not old she says, well, it is old but not very old.
Oh yes ? The Royal commission of ancient and historical monuments of Wales doesn't agree, I offered.
She replied that it was put up to commemorate the Boer war, there's maybe 7 others in the vicinity.
Really ? where are they can you point me in the direction of the nearest other.
She duly pointed, and we said goodbye. I took a few pictures and we left, we had a half hearted look for the stone she pointed us towards but couldn't find it.
Perhaps this was why no one else had bothered with this stone, it's only just over a hundred years old, but why do Coflein say Bronze age. I decided to go to a nearby hill fort, where we know were on firmer footing.
Later at home and back on the computer I looked into the matter, there are indeed other standing stones in the very close vicinity, four in a half mile long rectangle. So she was half right there.
Also on Cofleins site description of the stone we went to see, it says it was recorded on the 1st edition OS map of 1889, seeing as the Boer war wasn't till ten years later, she was all wrong there. Also, a quick look at Boer war commemorative stones brings nothing like the stone we saw.
Was she just trying to stop people coming to see the stone by saying it wasn't all that old, that's my feeling, but why aren't these stones better known.
Someone with more resources and time should look into it.
There is free parking for nigh on a dozen cars by the church, south of the fort, as parking spots go it's a good one, on one side is Carn Fadryn itself and on the other is the rest of the Lleyn peninsula, for those who elect to stay in the car it at least has a good view.
On the other side of the church go up a lane that goes up to the covered reservoir, go through a gate turn right and follow the thin but well worn path, it goes all the way (baby) to the top.
Near the top we go through the southern entrance, the wall goes off to the right and round a corner and left it continues up hill towards the rocky summit. The childrens guide to climbing mountains expressly forbids any dallying with ancient remains, but insists that you proceed straight to the top with gusto and intrepidity. So, straining against the strong wind I'm led up a mountain by two thirteen year olds, one of whom has never been up a mountain, and the other has seen too many Bear Grylls.
I turn to photograph some of the huts and pounds that huddle out of the wind under the cliffs, from here I can see Mynydd Tir-y-Cwmwd, where we've just seen a very sorry dismantled dolmen, below me is the fort interior, coflein assures us that the entire place is covered in hut circles, but they've all gone from there, but not gone is a cairn, we'll see that shortly though. There is also a cairn further up the rocks behind me closer to the top, so I return to following the kids, who have now somewhat disconcertingly, disappeared.
I catch up with them huddled behind some rocks, the wind is very strong, not cold, but strong. They have also inadvertently stopped right by the cairn, so I give it a good inspection whilst they sit and look on.
Right up at the top is the trig point, 371 meters high, doesn't sound much does it, it's not even once round the running track, but 1217 feet does sound a lot. Apparently if a hill is over a thousand feet its a mountain, perhaps explaining why we consider Wales to be very mountainous.
Up at the top, the ground seems not wholly natural, I found that was probably because there was once a Norman tower castle up here, nothing too big, just big enough to make the downtrodden locals feel oppressed.
From up at the top the view is teasingly not over expansive, behind Garn Boduan The Rivals struggle to be seen through the haze, and the whole of Snowdonia just isn't there at all.
We start the walk along the great north wall, the night watch are long gone now, the dozens and dozens of huts and pounds are getting swallowed by high heather and much greenyness. I even stumble across the north entrance, it too is choked with undergrowth. But even better hidden than the entrance will be something I've not heard of before. If it's not unique let me know, this is cofleins description..........A robbed and ruined cist or ancient burial vault, 2.4m by 1.2m, is overlain by the inner rampart of Carn Fadrun. It is suggested that the cist was originally covered by a cairn, of which a scatter of loose boulders remain. Such a monument would conventionally be ascribed to the Bronze Age...........
How on earth am I supposed to discern a cairn with a wall over it, a wall that fell centuries ago and has spread twenty yards in either direction, this one will stretch my stone finding skills to be sure. A needle in a haystack, and a haystack made of needles.
We continue to the end of the north wall to the north east corner of the fort, on another rocky outcrop. Ive already seen half a dozen contenders for being ex cists. But then I find what I thought to be hut circle attached to the inner side of the inner wall, but the interior of the hut is very small, this could be the cairn, the inner scoop of the cairn is chokka block full of plant growth, at the time, I was still unsure so we carried on. At the south east corner, I decided that that was it after all, maybe, probably.
I detour into the forts interior to see the big cairn, it has been added to by Joe public, massively. So much so that I wonder if its bronze age at all, the very lowest section looks to be it, even a couple of kerb stones?
Back to the kids and we finish off the mountaineering part of the day by returning to the path via a path of our own choosing, over and among massive rocks, short cliffs and small caves, quite dangerous, stick to the path.
A superb hill fort with loads to see, epic views, easy to get to, but, still not as good as Tre'r Cieri.
The first time I tried to come here we got hopelessly turned round coming from the wrong direction, I lost my way and about 85% of my grip on reality, gave up and went somewhere easier to find, ie; home.
Better equipped, we returned for another crack at the whip, another stroke of the goose, another push at the rod accentuater, another.... well, again.
From Llanbedrog head south on the A499, for those eagle eyed among us they may notice the pair of hill forts either side of the road, turn left after here at a brown sign saying Bolmynydd. Follow this single file lane, it turns 90 degrees right, then hairpins back on itself, follow this till you get to a small car park next to the Bolmynydd caravan and campsite. From the car park head up the lane with no end, you can get up there by car but there probably wont be anywhere to park, and it's only a five minute walk. At the blue Peugeot, it's on street view, keep going on the footpath and out onto the heath, when the footpath branches, go left for 10. 65 meters then strike out into the grasses, the big stone is there and visible in low undergrowth, from car to stone about 8 or 9 minutes.
We had another of Eric's school mates with us today, Jack, clearly he had no idea about what a trip out into Wales is comprised of. Eric and me immediately laid into the brown ferns and the ready to strangle brambles, peeling back the undergrowth so as to reveal as much of the big stone as possible, Jack looked on bemused, I then realised that we hadn't explained what we were about, I'd taken it for granted that this was normal and everyday, the look on Jacks face was priceless, clearly we were suffering from some kind of neurological impairment. It's just a rock he suggests, I explain that it's a stone, not a rock, I can tell this is not washing, so I explain further, but this takes us into territory that I often wrestle with myself, why, how, when and what does it all mean, if anything, any way it's a stone, ok?
Coflein says the big stone is 3.58m by 1.42m and about 0.5m thick, and that it's the capstone of a megalithic chamber, 'thrown down' c.1850, and possibly obscured subsequently. So they destroyed a dolmen and then tried to bury or hide the one big stone they couldn't remove. The Bounders.
After revealing almost all the stone, some of it obstinately refused to come out of the ground, I photographed it and with not a small amount of.....something, I agreed with Jack and said it is just a stone, mainly, lets go and climb a mountain.
Everyone understands the worth of climbing a mountain, Jack certainly did, back on firm ground, Terra Normality.
After a most rewarding afternoon on the Lleyn I decided it was high time for round two with Penbryn Mawr, for an idea on how round one went refer to my field notes of December 2009.
Suffice to say, I didn't find the stone last time, but after much snooping about on the portal and google earth, I knew exactly where it was, and I knew why there was so much confusion the first time.
The grid reference numbers given on this site page and the Penbryn Mawr page on Coflein are out by over five hundred metres. The actual grid reference is SH45355391. To also throw into the confusion, Cofleins description of the stone describes to a T the stone in the driveway of Penbryn Mawr house, but not the stone by the road on a hump at the grid ref given here.
So, the bronze age standing stone is by the road 530 meters (app) west of Penbryn Mawr farm house, however, for those of us blessed by a comprehension of the Welsh tongue a knock on the door at Penbryn mawr could be more rewarding than the actual standing stone itself. Read previous notes.
Parking in the layby next to The Manor House, Ravensheugh crags are the small range of cliffs opposite. Follow the yellow stone track with whatever company your keeping at the time up to the top, looking for a left hand grassed over track and footpath, the tops of the stones are visible from the track.
I can only imagine how Carl failed to find this delightful little four poster, there are no ferns up on the hill, so he must've been in the wrong place, did he go past the left turn, or not go far enough?
There is a trig point on the highest crag, but it's not on the map, seeing as i'm only here for the stones it has no impact upon my visit.
The sky is big, blue and peppered with fluffy white clouds, the stones are small, four in number and peppered with cup marks, well, one of them is. Handily the cup marked stone sits in it's own little pond so wetting the stone so as to better appreciate the cups was not a problem.
The big sky is accompanied by distant horizons, it's a beautiful day and the views are long. I sat down in the circle with my back to a stone, there's a couple of walkers over on the crags, but they don't seem to be walking anywhere, perhaps they were coming here and are waiting for me too push off.
I love four posters , they're just so intimate, the five of us sitting round an imaginary campfire, swapping ghost stories and lieing about our female conquests, you can tell a four poster anything they never doubt you.
I couldn't see "The Wall" from here, but it has an almost tangible presence, it's just over there a couple of miles to the south, the end of one world and the beginning of another. I'm going over there next to try and find another stone circle , but it looks like were running out of time so only a preliminary snoop around in preparation for the next time.
I've been desperately wanting to come here for years, It was a toss up between the Lleyn peninsula and Northumberland, seeing as this year has been labelled the year of the stone circle and because of Hafodygorswen I've taken on a bit of a quest for the four poster. So here we are, Phil the daughter and I, well, I parked in the little car park at Blakehopeburnheugh, same as Hob ten years ago.
The walk starts going up the toll road (£3) forest drive, but we take the first right turn and follow the track parallel to the river Rede. The track heads up hill slightly then branches into two, turn left. Then almost immediately right, up a grassed over track. Almost immediately again turn left, this left turn is a pretty vague path but is marked by a 3 kings sign. Steeper up hill now, with a slippy algae covered hand rail to steady ones self, or not.
Daughter Phil usually has the get up and go of the average 15 year old, but today she is really impressing me, no moaning at all, perhaps taking archaeology at collage has had an impact.
Up ahead there is a sun filled clearing and my spidey senses start to tingle, the stones must be just up there, and so they were.
Three bright stones shining in the sunshine, a smile challenges my calm demeanor, beats it over the head with a heavy stick, and takes over my face completely. I just love arriving at a difficult to get to high on the list site, I imagine it's how Rory Mcilroy feels when the last ball goes down the hole and the championship is won, probably is.
Some armholes have had a campfire in the circle, I cleared as much of it away as I could, then we sat down on the fallen stone. Three kings? not four? obviously if you fall down you don't count, at all.
Since Greywether and Hob came, the trees have really grown, tall and thick, all the view is gone, but I recently bought a big box of matches so it wont be long now. This little clearing is acting as a sun trap this morning, and with the stones mooning at me, this is a terrific place to be.
I'm on a bit of a quest concerning four posters, Hafodygorswen, in far off North Wales is in my opinion a bona fide northern fourposter, I was a bit concerned with it being associated with a cairn, but as i'm finding, four posters are more usually than not, associated with a cairn.
Whilst I was walking about photographing the stones, I saw a little brown vole scurry from one big tuft of grass to another, then two seconds later and one foot away a little green lizard, an out of place sand lizard, or just a green common lizard, either way, nice.
The information board, wasn't expecting one of those up here, is a bit different than most, the left side is all very normal, saxon kings, bronze age, burial etc etc. But the right hand side has three poems all by local school children one of which I would like to perform for you now........
Tall stones standing spotted, grey, looking out
across the trees.
Lonely peaceful in the clearing.
Your lichen patterns change colour in the shadows.
Ancient people left you here guarding the grave of their loved one.
Only the buzzing of the bees and the song of the birds can be heard.
And the smell of the fresh green grass stays with you forever.
Apart from the smelling bit I'm totally on board.
I first came here thirty odd years ago on a school trip to what we called the Menai centre, all week I'd spied the curious stones outside the art room window, so I made sure I took a closer look before we left, needless to say I went on my own. I didn't appreciate all it's complexities, uses, age and so on, back then, and soon forgot all about it. But when I saw it again much later I
knew Id been there before and know now that it is possibly the first ancient place I ever went to.
The second time I came here I bought a family ticket to the gardens only, this allowed me access to not only Plas Newydd burial chamber but also Bryn yr Hen Bobl burial chamber, well..... I say access, but that's not strictly true.
Last Sunday, with sunshine being all the rage right now, my daughter and I went for my third meet and greet with Plas Newydd burial chamber.
We drove strait into the large car park and parked as far from the road as we could, from here the top of the biggest dolmen can be seen, just.
From the car park you can either jump brazenly over the fence and leg it down to the chambers before they drag you away kicking and screaming, oops, wrong place and time. Or you can walk nonchalantly over to the gate that leads to where you want to go, find it locked and have to climb over anyway, then continue with extreme nonchalance down to the stones. Or walk back to the road, and go in the other entrance, then you can walk straight to it, no climbing no sneaking, nonchalance is the key, act entitled, that's what they say.
The big dolmens capstone is a whopper, from a certain angle both capstones look to be part of a single bigger stone, broken in two for their present purpose. The ivy that has so choked the stones in the past are gone, Phil and me sit in the shade under the big stone and talk of silly things, like the negatives encountered whilst canoeing.
The stones are great, they take me back to Brittany, the land of big dolmens. But my attention is forever being dragged away, partly by the carpet of flowers under our feet, which philli is loathe to tread on, but mostly to the panoramic display across the Menai Straits, Snowdonia. I can pick out individual peaks of the Carneddau, Foel Grach, Yr Elen, Carnedd llewelyn and Dafydd, Pen Yr Ole Wen and down into the Ogwen valley. Further along is the massive bulk of Snowdon and near neighbours, further still Mynnydd Mawr the Nantle ridge and off in the far hazy distance are The Rivals.
A very good first site of the day, beauty and nostalgia, I must be getting old.
Coflein says this about the larger southern ring cairn.........
An oval penannular grassy ring bank measures overall 19.5m (N-S) by c.14m, open on the E where there is a gap 6m wide. The stony turfed-over bank has a maximum width of about 6m and an average height of c.0.5m. On the N part of the ring bank are set two small boulders, 2.5m apart, which appear to flank another gap though, in fact, the bank between them is only slightly lower than elsewhere. The interior is uneven.
and this about the smaller one.......
A slightly oval ring bank surrounding a sunken interior lies adjacent to a farm track.
The overall dimensions of the feature are 13m (N-S) by 12.2m, the interior 6.5m (N-S) by 6m. The crest of the stony turf-grown bank is 0.2m high above the exterior but 0.75m above the sunken interior. A small stony mound lies adjacent to the bank, on the NW.
Coflein also calls them possibles, but that they are bronze age funerary monuments.
Easier to find than I anticipated, though their not on any map but you'll still need an OS map though.
They are wildly different in size, the larger one is like many other ring cairns I've seen but the smaller one is, well, its very small, and that sunken interior. There are stones poking out of the grass where the smaller one abuts the farm track, weather they are part of the cairn or part of the road I couldn't say. This may be private property but I encountered no people and no barriers.
Parking was obtained on the B5121 to the north west of the cairn by the overgrown entrance to a footpath. But ignore the footpath and walk south down the road, then enter a field through the gate and walk across it, the cairn is in the next field. Its easy enough to get to with an OS map.
This is a good cairn, at least six feet high, made of white limestone like stones. Coflein says it has two trees growing on it, and there is a large boulder on it as well. Typically there are now more than two trees, and the boulder count has grown to three, though the other two are much smaller.
I was really impressed with this cairn, I was expecting it to be much flatter, and the biggest boulder must have taken some great effort to get it up there, effort taken by a tractor or something I presume.
En route back to the car I took a different route across a recently ploughed field, I found a stone that is too flat and smooth on one side and a stoneware jar, it is now on the kitchen window with some small Naffodils in it.
150 meters east are two ring cairns, to where I'm off to next.
With your shiny Ordnance survey map these two barrows should be very easy to find despite the densely packed trees, they are only ten yards from the side of the road and one of the barrows is helpfully massive, three meters high.
The larger of a pair of barrows (see also Nprn306939), 23m NW-SE - 26m in diameter and 3.0m high, truncated by a modern field boundary on the SE.
Upon opening, in 1908, the mound revealed a central collection of calcined human and animal bones, a possibly secondary in-urned cremation and a further deposit of animal bones and sherds.
the lesser of a pair of barrows (see also Nprn306938), greatly mutilated, 16-17m in diameter and c.1.0m high. A NW-SE trench has been driven through the mound.
I would only add, oh the trees, the god damn trees.
A round barrow, 14m in diameter and 1.3m high, excavated 1899, producing a possibly disturbed cremation.
I will add just a few things. South east a few hundred yards is Coed Bron Fawr barrow, 3 meters high.
A couple hundred yards west is what looks like another barrow, but Coflein assures us it is a garden feature, nudge, nudge.
If not for the trees on the west side of the road the barrow would enjoy a good view if the Clwydian range.
Grassy mound in field.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website seven years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.
My favourite places are:
Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.