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

Moel ty Uchaf

Stone Circle


It's difficult to know where to start... what to attempt to relate .... following a visit to this wondrous place. Truly, this is one of those ancient sites that I would wager not even the linguistic genius of a Shakespeare could adequately describe. To my mind Treaclechops' succinct few lines are the most representative use of 'words' to date; however since this is my third visit over the years guess I need to finally make an attempt in my own gobshite way. I owe it that.

Now there are undoubtedly finer stone circles, from an architectural perspective (Swinside immediately comes to mind); there are those that are arguably better placed in the landscape, too (consider Castlerigg, Uragh, Moel Goedog?). However I reckon none of those other 'circles I've seen (be they open, embanked, circle-henge, RSC, cairn-circle, or any other variant) combines all the necessary 'components' - form, placement, vibe - to such devastating effect, to form such a unified whole, all things the cairn-circle at Moel ty Uchaf.... like the master perfumer using all his/her expertise to create a classic Chanel fragrance in lieu of Brut 33. Yeah, it all comes together here, regardless of whether or not the 'all' can ever be properly defined. Perhaps the perfect blend of megalithic attributes?

The setting is excellent, nay, exquisite, the ring crowning a well defined rise [the 'high(est), bare hill'] set upon the lower slopes of a great, grassy ridge thrusting approx north-westward from the high Berwyn summit of Cadair Bronwen toward the Afon Dyfrdwy, better known in the non-vernacular as the River Dee. Stark, rounded profiles of mountain and hill top form the skyline to south and east, the more synclastic contours of the river valley to the north. But it is the outlook to the approx west which I reckon makes the situation of Moel ty Uchaf so beguiling, so intoxicating, the view incorporating more or less the whole of Snowdonia, for me perhaps the finest (relatively) low level vista in all Wales? Burl cites forty-one stones within the stone circle's circumference, 'all about 1ft 6 ins (0.5m) tall'.... with a 'probable entrance to SSW'. I assume the learned gentleman is correct, the assertions of Aubrey being some of the few things I am prepared to accept more or less verbatim... on 'faith', if you like. Yeah, he has been right too many times in the past, to be fair. Which makes it all the more odd that, standing at the 'probable entrance to SSW', it appears to me that the landscape is beckoning me toward the high ground.... Cadair Bronwen, rising more or less to the south-east. As I said, odd, my perception, it would seem, somewhat skew-whiff. Autosuggestion, perhaps, some subconscious instinct, some desire to return to the haunts of my youth? Go on, go on.... you know you want to. Obviously it would be far easier not to. No-one would ever know. Except me. And, standing within Moel ty Uchaf, that is enough. Jeez, those ancients knew what they were doing, did they not?....

I return at sunset, perhaps the most evocative, yet difficult time to visit a stone circle.... isn't it human instinct to rush for the sanctuary of 'home' as darkness falls? The 'dying' sun illuminates the stone circle with a light that is beyond my capacity to evoke, to describe. Really, it is. Hey, I am a cynical atheist, opposed to all notions of the 'supernatural' outside those created within our human brains. And sunset at Moel ty Uchaf only re-enforces the awe - I guess that's the right word - I experience witnessing the natural cycles of this home we inhabit, this Planet Earth. To think I am literally a part of all THIS is humbling beyond words.

Is this what the erectors of this cairn-circle wanted to convey? Obviously we will never know for sure, but I have a hunch it was. Why not come and experience, come and feel for yourselves? The vibe is superb, the silence total... hell, there's even a cist in the centre.
30th December 2012ce
Edited 31st December 2012ce

Comments (2)

Cracking Fieldnotes as ever Mr G.
This is clearly a site I MUST visit.
I feel a trip to North Wales on the cards!
Thanks for the prompting!
Posted by CARL
31st December 2012ce
Probably a bit biased, but if notes help prompt a visit I can't argue with that.

Don't forget the 'circle a little way along the path at Bwlch y Fedw.... not to mention Tyfos across the river.... and the Tan-y-Coed chamber (missed out on that).... and Branas Uchaf. Quite a lot going on.
31st December 2012ce
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