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

Carn Gwilym, Pumlumon



It's rather disorientating - odd, even - to return to a location after a prolonged absence, to stand at a spot where you last set foot nearly 20 years before. For me Carn Hyddgen is such a place, a (it has to be said ridiculous) map reading error having first drawn me to the twin cairns of Carn Gwilym in 1993. Simple arithmetic aided the conclusion that this was indeed not Pen Pumlumon Arwystli as I had planned. Yeah, three cairns into two doesn't go. No such errors today.... I think Pumlumon and I understand each other a little better now. Although 'She' still refuses to make things easy, the terms still very much 'take it or leave it', the descent from Banc Llechwedd-mawr and re-fording of the Afon Hyddgen no easy skate... in fact I would say incorporating some of the roughest grass-land in Wales.

However all that is consigned to the latest batch of 'Gladman history' as soon as I reach the summit. The sheer bulk of the cairns, albeit greatly accentuated by later 'marker' edifices constructed from the copious base material, takes my breath away. The revised profiles - although when the revision took place is anyone's guess (the miscellaneous entry refers) - are hauntingly evocative, particularly viewed against such an angry sky so full of character. In fact the vibe reminds me somewhat of Drygarn Fawr isolated, albeit to a greater degree still, in not too distant Elanydd. The vistas to be had from here are, as one would expect, similar to Banc Llechwedd-mawr across the bwlch. However the subtle differences, the variance in angle of shadow, in apparent landscape texture suggested by the play of light, in depth of colour... are all important. Perhaps the primary difference is the insight Carn Hyddgen affords the viewer of the 'forgotten corner' of Pumlumon, the north-eastern sector whence resides the monuments of Carn Fawr, Carnfachbugeilyn and Carn Biga. This evening the emptyness of the landscape is total, overwhelmingly so, populated solely by washes of sunlight dueling with shadow. Hey, I doubt if the 'dark side' ever looked so appealing? The question 'why people chose to bury their dead up here' never seemed so superfluous, so rhetorical. I mean... just... well... LOOK!

OK, perhaps it isn't as simple as that. I confess it is an easy matter to get carried away when the mountains put on their 'light show'. But surely theatrical spectacle was fundamental to the Bronze Age ritual experience, the timing of visits to these places specifically chosen to maximise the impact, to blow the mind?

Incidentally Coflein cites two further small cairns upon Carn Hyddgen as having Bronze Age associations - at SN7924290848 and SN7924390834. Bearing in mind the 'amendments' to the primary pair I must admit I'm not convinced. However, unlike during my 1993 visit, I have no need of maths this evening.
19th November 2012ce
Edited 19th November 2012ce

Comments (1)

Bloody hell you've got great at this, and along with your photo's makes it feel like we're there looking with you, Great stuff, bladup Posted by bladup
19th November 2012ce
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