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

Twr Pen-cyrn cairns



St David's Day 2013. To be fair I don't know a great deal about the bloke... aside from an apparent fondness for a certain liliacaea vegetable and his vehement condemnation of Pelagian heresy. Don't get me wrong - I can deal with a nice leek soup; but both the Mam and I are firmly with Pelagius in respect of the doctrine of free will, at least to the extent human psychology will admit of such a concept. Which is why we pair of Citizens Cairn'd freely choose to visit the (apparently) great cairns which surmount Twr Pen-cyrn upon this freezing Pelagius's Day. Yeah, because we want to!

In some respects the shattered ridge of Twr Pen-cyrn could be said to mark not only a physical demarcation between the grim landscape of 'industrial South Wales' and the scenic splendour of the Black Mountains to the north, but also that of mindset, too. It goes without saying that the social realities contributing to what appears to me a fundamental division are complex... and very real. Nevertheless the contrast between the two landscapes, the two societies, the two outlooks on life, is striking - overwhelming, even - as we approach the parking area at approx SO209154 from the south, the magnificent vista of the River Usk, backed by the sculptured heights of The Black Mountains rising above Crickhowell, literally taking the breath away.

An old green quarry track heads westward from the car park beneath the soaring crags of Darren before ascending the eroded hillside, incidentally near the location of a cave where it appears the ancestors once took shelter. The usual, then. Once upon the crest the low summit ridge rises more or less due south across what - I guess - would normally be a featureless, boggy plateau. Today, however, it bears a greater resemblance to frozen arctic tundra... not that I've ever been to the Arctic, you understand? The 'going' underfoot is thus pretty firm - although the resident ponies remain resolutely static some distance away refusing us an audience - so we soon find ourselves scrambling up the left hand (eastern) end of the ridge to discover a pair of very substantial cairns gracing as brutally chaotic a landscape as you could wish to find in upland South Wales. As mentioned by TSC there is actually a third cairn, the Hen Dy-aderyn, sited immediately adjacent to the northern monument and crowned by an OS trig pillar. The parent has unfortunately suffered at the hands of the usual walker muppets; having said that, however, it remains a fine testament to the efforts of its anonymous builders millennia ago. The second major cairn, standing some way to the south-east at the ridge's terminus is - for me - a superior stone pile with a much more substantial interior than its neighbour. To be honest this is perhaps to be expected, bearing in mind the predictable summit-fixation of the average rambler. Indeed we are paid a fleeting visit by such a walker whom we duly send on his way in short order.... the Mam C is not impressed by 'know it alls'; even less so by those actually knowing bugger all and reminding us of the current Mayor of London. Cripes! Particularly when there is chocolate to be eaten. Mind you Boris himself would no doubt have been bizarrely entertaining....

Either cairn offers a fine perch to view the far horizons capped by a multitude of further monuments to Bronze Age VIPs... in fact you could say they represent the best seats in the theatre, truly 'up in the gods'. To the west the eyes are drawn toward the distant high peaks of The Brecon Beacons, beyond Garn Fawr and Cefn yr Ystrad. The dark mass of Blorenge rises to the south-east whilst, best of all, the serried ranks of The Black Mountains fill the northern aspect. Only the vista to the south would (arguably) appear totally alien to the original Bronze Age gaze. My, what have we done? The rape of the land, no less. However it is something that should not.... can not.... be ignored. We must look, no matter how painful it is. Not to mention deal with the resulting inherent issues. Easier said than done.

There is more to be seen upon this windswept - tell me about it - mountain. Firstly an alleged 'stone circle' located within a boulder field a little to the approx north-west of the main summit cairn. Hmmm. Suffice to say we agree with TSC here in that the form of the monument - if indeed it is a monument - is subject to confirmation by a member with greater expertise in the field. And secondly.... another cairn visible some way along the ridge to the approx west. Well, it would be rude not to.
24th March 2013ce
Edited 25th March 2013ce

Comments (3)

Excellent cairns and chocolate. What more could you want? thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
24th March 2013ce
Not that fond of the latter, to be honest. That's The Mam C's department. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
24th March 2013ce
Okay, "Excellent cairns and [insert snack of choice]." thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
24th March 2013ce
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