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

Bwrdd Arthur

Round Cairn


T'was a clear night last night (27th October)... the light reflected by the - for once - unobscured moon appearing unusually bright from within the sanctuary of my frozen tent at Fferm y 'Rynys, a little below the great tomb at Capel Garmon. Conditions not condusive to sleep although, to be fair, the shrill cry of an unidentified bird of prey (apparently) perched in the tree just above my head, may have had an impact, too. Dawn resolves Madame de la Luna's little conundrum.... a great tear rent in the fabric of my tent roof. Cause unknown.... but nevertheless I entertain suspicions of 'fowl' play (sorry!). The tent's a 'write off' so, resigned to spending the next night in the car, I decide to break for the border and head for Y Berwyn, following the course of the great Afon Dyfrdwy (River Dee) as it winds its way toward Llangollen. Yeah, reckon I might try and find the small stone circle - according to Postie - to be found at Bwlch y Fedw below Moel Pearce.

A little way north of Llandrillo the B4401 crosses the Afon Llynor, by way of a bridge you'll be glad to hear, a caravan park located upon the bank of the Dee opposite. Looking the other way, to the (approx) east, a 'dead end' road ascends into the foothills of Y Berwyn. It is - in theory - possible to park beyond the field gate at its terminus. Note, however, that there are numerous additional gates to potentially block in the close vicinity, the farms hereabouts possessing some pretty hefty tractors.... I'll leave you to do the maths. As for myself, I park lower down where a bridleway veers left beyond Ty'n-y-parc, settling for an unwelcome uphill slog to start the day. Beyond the tarmac the minor road morphs into a green public bridleway - contrary to the rather disgraceful barbed wire 'garlanding' the upper bar of the gate - heading for the distant high peaks of Y Berwyn. Nearer to hand a short, albeit rather steep, scramble up to the crest of the high ground to the left affords an audience with arguably one of the finest stone circles these Isles have to offer.... Moel ty Uchaf. Now I've had the pleasure before, but nevertheless the diversion is too much to resist.

Respects duly paid, wonder re-affirmed, I head further along the track toward Bwlch y Fedw. However it transpires I've left Postie's directions in the car... was the circle east or west of the track? Uphill or downhill? I come to a snap decision. Yeah, I'll have a proper look.... on the way back from Cadair Bronwen. What! How did that happen? In retrospect I guess it was probably the (apparent) alignment of Moel ty Uchaf's 'entrance' upon the peak that did it. Whatever, here we go again.... the call is unspoken, never unheard. Tell me about it. As I gain height, a pair of 'fell runners' in short order leaving me (thankfully) in their odd wake, the conditions underfoot begin to progressively solidify, a sort of 'permafrost' aiding motion across what would otherwise be notorious Berwyn bog. I traverse Moel Pearce, an apparent 'prehistoric' standing stone found upon its north-west flank (not sure about this myself), hence Trawsnant, capped by a cairn (again I'm not absolutely convinced by the ancient origin - but it would be nice if it was 'kosher') before the final struggle to the 2,572ft summit of Cadair Bronwen.

Standing at the northern apex of the main ridge of Y Berwyn - an approx three mile round walk from its neighbour Cadair Berwyn - Cadair Bronwen is consequently isolated from its peers across Bwlch Maen Gwynedd and thus a magnificent viewpoint Yeah, the vistas to be enjoyed from the summit of the mountain are of truly epic proportions.... that to the approx west possibly the finest, most expansive view of Snowdonia extant. Therefore it is not really a great surprise to discover that our Bronze Age forebears chose this location to - presumably - intern one of their VIPs. There are arguably few places more worthy in all Wales. What is a surpise to these eyes is the sheer size of the round cairn - a 'platform cairn' if you will - they erected. Much more substantial than I appreciated back in 1994, the last time I stood here. In my defence appearances are deceptive up here, a significant, unusually well built modern 'effort' drawing this freaking out walker's attention away from what lies beneath. Postie's post, appropriately enough, gives the dimensions of this very large circular, well, disc, its grassy mantle acting as natural camouflage, monument merging with mountain top. Step away, however, walk around and perceive the cairn from different angles... and the deception is revealed for what it is.

There is apparently some doubt as to whether the epithet 'Bwrdd Arthur' - 'Arthur's Table' (yeah, him again) - relates to the cairn or to a large erratic boulder resting nearby? For what it's worth I reckon it has to be the platform cairn.... a gigantic, flat, not to mention circular...hey, round... table. Despite the bitter, bitter cold I try it out for size, and 'do' lunch. Yeah, reckon a dozen mythical warriors could hang out here, no problem. Despite its isolation the summit is far from deserted today; however there is, thankfully, no storm shelter... so people keep their distance as I lose myself in the melodrama, sheltering from the wind behind rocky outcrops. At least I think that's the reason? Conversely, I have no choice, no option but to sit/lie transfixed by the ever changing light, my kit just about sufficient to take the onslaught. It is worth it just to look at those colours! 'Epic' doesn't even come close to being a suitable adjective, the sky at times Wagnerian as opposed to Authurian. If there is such a thing as the latter.

The hours fly, as usual... and of course I still want to try and locate that fabled stone circle at Bwlch y Fedw....
29th December 2012ce
Edited 30th December 2012ce

Comments (3)

One of my highlights of this year, this site (even though I completely missed Bwlch y Fedw). I thought the cairn at Trawsnant was very nicely situated, especially with the quartz vein running beneath it. Great notes, I really must try to catch up. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
29th December 2012ce
Nor am I 100% sure of the Moel Pearce stone, It's not very menhiry, but as ever i'm just following Cofleins lead, Hallowed are the Coflein. postman Posted by postman
30th December 2012ce

To be fair my judgements were more or less in passing so I reckon yours carry more weight. And of course the context is certainly there.
30th December 2012ce
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