The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Pen-y-Gaer, Llanidloes



Pumlumon.... 'Mother of Rivers', extreme Bronze Age cemetery... and all round bloody natural marvel... dominates this area of Mid Wales, not so much in profile as by sheer, green, soggy mass. Its magnetic pull is such that the previous day's visit is extended to more or less nightfall, the traveller simply loathe to waste a moment. Consequently, too late to find a place to camp before dark, I settle down for the night at the Waun y Gadair picnic area overlooking Llyn Clywedog. Surely no man-made reservoir has a right to be so damn attractive. Surely? But credit where it's due, I guess.

The morning dawns overcast, ethereal even, with occasional shafts of sunlight piercing the gloom. Noticing a small 'fort' marked upon my (old charity shop procured) 1:50k OS map above the southern tip of the reservoir, I decide to pay a 'quick' visit... no time for another apparently ancient earthwork, Dinas (yeah, very linguistically prosaic, these Iron Age inhabitants of Wales), immediately west of the car... or yet another, due south of Bryn-y-Fan. But there you are. Needless to say things do not go to plan for, like the poverbial 'just the one' in the bar, a visit to Pen-y-Gaer intoxicates... not by way of alcoholic inebriation, the progressive dulling of the senses, the somewhat comforting sensation of retraction of self awareness... but by an euphoric explosion of thoses senses - at least today, battling high winds - each straining at the leash to experience the promise of heightened perception! Ha! Time to cut the restraints, methinks, and let the spirit fly... or something like that. I really don't have the words.

A minor road leaves the B4518 and heads towards the reservoir dam, crossing the outflow, the Afon Clywedog, en route to the remains of a lead mine. Fine, if that's your bag. However if not, stay calm and carry on, the road rising steeply, and after negotiating a sharp bend, park verge side near a cattle grid. Looking back, the hillside rising immediately to the right is Pen-y-Gaer, stone rampart clearly visible, the dam lying more or less immediately below to your left. Simples. A fence bars progress upwards, but as I recall this was in pretty poor repair.... a short, grassy ascent all that is required to reach the summit of the hill, girdled by the aforementioned single dry stone rampart, collapsed, but still pretty substantial (sadly the summit cairn is cited by Coflein - and to be honest, appears - modern).

The wind is sharp this morning, but sunshine continues to periodically light up the landscape which, it has to be said, is pretty special. Ironically it is man made Llyn Clwyedog which makes the biggest impression aesthetically speaking... but the surrounding hills... chief amongst them Pumlumon itself, are not really in need of a supporting act. As for the hillfort fabric, here and there original courses of stone work appear to have survived the millennia. But, as is often the case with such sites, it is the location, the very manner with which the visitor must interact with the landscape, that leaves the most lasting impression.

Or is it that, somehow, time has left Pen-y-Gaer to enjoy its retirement in obscurity. How come?
8th March 2012ce
Edited 9th March 2012ce

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