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The biggest hill fort in South East Wales, and probably the best fort in South Wales, this one is a stunner.
Circlemaster said he couldn't believe how few posts there were of this place, and neither can I.
It's been on my list for a few years now, so, if I throw together a few separated but easy to get to sites I can have my two most wanted Welsh sites in one day, brilliant !
There is a large car park, purpose made for the site, I cant remember the last time I saw a car park for a hill fort, there cant be many, with an information board too.
There are many many good points about this ancient site, the first is, that there are two forts here, it's a two for the price of none, it's all free, as free as the air and the rain. The two forts, Y Gaer Fach and Y Gaer Fawr, are separated by a small gully and are no more than 180 meters apart, one could shout over to your mate in the other fort.
The walk up to the first and smaller of the two forts starts at a large modern standing stone, the Gwynfor Evans (Politician) memorial stone. Y Gaer Fawr is a hundred yards up the hill.
Oval in shape, we pass over two lines of old fort walls, they tend to fade out a bit as you move away from the south west corner, but in the north east corner a well defined entrance is found, it just happens to not only face gentler sloping ground but also faces the larger higher fort Y Gaer Fach. We proceed on up to the high.
The first thing we come to is the frankly massive, nay, titanic, front wall, from the outside it looks to be at least twelve feet high, on the inside half that. At the southern end of the wall is the main entrance but we don't see that until were on our way out. We enter the fort at the south west corner and head north east along the wall. Until it forks, the left wall goes down hill the right fork carries on in the same direction, we go that way.
Nearly half way along this higher wall inside the fort on the highest ground is Y Gaer Fawr's party piece, a giant cairn.
The giant cairn is 3m high 55m long and 20m wide, it's a monster cairn. Cairns this size usually have chambers in them, but then cairns like this, ie; a long cairn, aren't usually in this kind of position.
Coflein freely admits it's an anomaly, it could be neolithic, either way it's huge, and a perfect example of a later culture living along side monuments from a bygone age.
We cross from the giant cairn over to the east side of the fort, missing in the process a possible low standing stone and posterns, small entrances to the fort, a good picture of one is found on the coflein site. Oh well, i'll have to go back now wont I, perhaps on a sunnier day. From the east wall you can see annexes below, and if you look up to the hill to your east, Tricrug, then turn round and look at the giant cairn in profile, the two are a perfect match, it looks very much like the cairn builders were imitating the long bump on the hill, which has subsequently accrued some time in the bronze age it's own cairn.
The match is quite uncanny.
We then head south and to the front wall, which has a very good looking entrance in it, but coflein assure us it is not an original feature the entrance actual is buried under slippage amid the massive front wall somewhere. And then we walk away, well, Eric's been gone for some time now, some king of huff apparently, at my taking to many pictures. Me?
It's hard not to, there's so many features, I could stay here all afternoon, but we're a long way from home, and the car aint gonna drive itself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
pity about the track.
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?
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.
North west of Cerrig Cynant stone circle is the last of this hillsides ancient delights, another ring cairn. Coflein gives the same name to both ring cairns, Bryn Poeth Uchaf (or Isaf) but calls one a cairn and the other a ring cairn, this is apparently the ring cairn, but they both are really. Aren't they?
The ring cairn is not on top of the hill, it's positioning when compared with it's sibling over there is more normal. Perhaps it was meant to be seen from the south by the farm house maybe. The ring is mostly just lumpy ground surface, I had to circle it entirely to make sure it was what we were looking for, and discovered it to be much more together at it's southern end, I guess that's what you'd expect if that was the direction from which you were looking up the hill.
That horrid reedy grass has taken over the inside of the circle but amid all this precious wild life habitat I saw a bigger stone perhaps a foot and a half long ???
So that was that, it took three years but I had to see it, I had to get there, you know, I just had to. The day was now drawing to an end, the sun was low and by the time we got back to Carreg Garn Fawr it was most definitely home time.
Sciatic leg saw to it that the drive was nothing short of torture, the prices we pay sometimes far exceed money.
After having just been to Bryn Poeth Uchaf ring cairn and been partly blown away by the site and the views, we headed optimistically in a north north west kind of direction. Running across our path was a linear earthwork, an old wall or dyke or something, anyway, from on top of it I saw a stone, a standing up one.
This is it, I knew this was it, a kind of euphoria spread through me, having failed to find it last time I came, by what I could now see was a mere couple of hundred yards. Drat.
We set about uncovering all the stones, a big one lay on it's side on the eastern side, the tall pointy one I'd seen on the dyke was at the south end, smaller stones had to have grass pulled away to recover them. The ring is perhaps two thirds complete, Alken counted ten stones I think. On it's northern arc it seems to have gone completely unless that is where the smallest stone are, and are now all underground. Tony, go and get your mates, oh yes, how sad.
The views were more set back into the immediate landscape, so although the view south was long it didn't have the impact as from the first ring cairn.
One more ring cairn to find, north west of Cerrig Cynant stone circle.
There's no easy way to get to this trio of sites, you either drive or walk through the forest immediately west of the sites or walk in from the south, having just seen Carreg Garn Fawr. I've tried the forest route once before, but having got onto the hillsides cold and wet children's feet got us sent back to the car early. Very disappointed.
This time turned out to be considerably more rewarding. We leave the cairn and quartz stone behind and follow the path that skirts along the tree line, until a farm track takes us right and down towards the farm house that is I think also called Bryn Poeth Uchaf. This wasn't the right way, initially,
The man who'd seen us through his kitchen window came out and asked us something, we didn't quite catch what he said but we went over to tell him of our plan. He explained that a woman from Cadoo (Cadw) had come over not long ago, pointed across the valley and said that the bump on top of that hill was suspected by her of being something ( how she didn't know it was already on Coflein I don't know), oh, and he was from Cardiff originally.
He didn't know there was a stone circle up there somewhere, and I don't think he knew what a ring cairn was. He was however kind enough to point out the easy way over the small river and we had the run of the hillside, run being an expression obviously.
Having crossed the river we didn't run up the hill side and not knowing really where to start we headed for the pointed out hill top bump. Getting nearer we could see a few tantalising somethings poking up out of the bump.
At the bottom of the hills hill top was a small squadron of large stones, clearance most likely. Then were up and on top of the bump and the somethings are indeed stones, one of them is very much like a stone circle stone, not one you'd expect of a ring cairn.
The ring is at one point about a foot high but on it's opposite side it fades away into the ground, it is at the higher part of the ring that the two or three stones poke out of.
The ring is on a narrow north-south ridge, gentle slopes on the west but steeper on the east. An unusual place for a ring cairn, and a decent ring cairn it is too. But the view is surely what brought the cairns builders here, an uninterrupted view of the big mountains of the Brecon Beacons, those in the know will know their names but I'd only be guessing. Snow has fallen on their tops, sun shine is falling them now and some low clouds make them look like a distant heaven.
After having wondered at the ring cairn and its mesmerizing view we depart, and wander up the ridge and to the west looking for the star of this hillside Cerrig Cynant stone circle.
The cairn is easy to spot, but no stones protrude at all, it is entirely grassed over. Carl has unfortunately mistaken a small jumble of stones immediately over the fence for the cairn, the cairn is further off in to the field, seeing as his coflein description states the cairn to be about a meter high with a tail of spoil to the NE, I cant see why he was mistaken. He should probably take a Sweetcheat with him, he's very handy to have around, and then some.
Views are seriously curtailed by trees except to the east off down into the Usk valley, and the north up hill eventually to Y Pygwn.
A nice little cairn, if a little battered. What with all the other juicy sites around here I'd probably only come here if you've got time, or you've a certain level of obsession.
Just got time for one more site before we leave the area for pastures new, it's relatively straight forward to find, Carl's directions are spot on.
Coflein gives it's dimensions as 1.4m by 0.6m by 0.9m, but does not say which one of these numbers goes with it's height. As the stone is longer than it is high my guess would be 1.4m long, 0.6m wide and 0.9m high. They wont even commit to a date or even if it is a standing stone, but rather an earthfast boulder. But with all the other antiquities around here it almost certainly is a standing stone. All be it a rather tidgy one. On the other side of the fence is a small collection of large stones, which I think Carl mistook for the nearby cairn, but that is further off into the field. So what are these stones ? Coflein says nothing about them, they seem to be the same kind of stone as the mini menhir, perhaps it was all one stone but got broken up and dragged away but that was as far they got. Probably not though.
The stone enjoys good views across the Usk reservoir to the mountains of the Brecon Beacons.
Carl's directions are spot on, almost, I would just add park by the trees and hop over the fence. This cairn is bigger and less despoiled than its near neighbor to the west, Pant Madog, and there's no trig point to get in the way. According to Coflein it is a meter higher than Carl's approximation, which accords well with what we saw. But neither of them mention the wondrous views north and east over Trecastle and Sennybridge. Trees once more obscure views to the distant Brecon Beacon mountains.
A good cairn apparently undisturbed, if there were no stone circles round here this would be my sitting and pondering place
The Cairn is not visible from the road.
Parking is still easy, if a trifle muddy, and apparently it still has the same dimensions, and a trig point too.
But settling for a view from the road is never going to be enough for me, so I deftly skip over the barbed wire fence, Alken wasn't so deft, but here we are circling this neat little cairn. From here another cairn should be visible down the lane but trees obscure the view of it and the mountains.
Farming techniques have gone right up to the edge of the cairn which is grass covered leaving a square shape to it.
Good cairn, good place, crap OS.
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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.