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

Merlin's Hill



After almost (but not quite) making it to Dinas Emrys last October - actually ending up on the hill opposite, like a prize muppet... must do better next time - an opportunity to visit another site associated with the legendary sorcerer is some recompense. To be fair the name does give prospective visitors a hint of sorts...

Merlin's Hill is (very) prominently sited a little to the approx east of the busy former Roman port of Carmarthen, the latter cited by Gerald of Wales, in 1188, as being nothing less than the wizard's birthplace. Needless to say yer man Emrys wasn't around to contradict such tomfoolery, allowing Gerald to no doubt dine out on the local innkeepers' generosity for months.

The locals are still in touch with the Arthurian vibe, the Alltyfyrddin Farm playing host to the 'Merlin's Hill Centre' offering activities (presumably) for those with children - B&B as well if you like, something which would certainly get you in the little blighters' good books... for a while, anyway. Of course some of the more traditional heads out there (he says) may well tremble at the prospect, like I did... but there is no need to fret... a public footpath ascending the hill from the approx west through woodland. In short everyone's a winner. The centre is signposted from the A40, those not visiting the farm currently able to park at a left hand junction some way beyond and walk back, the hillfort towering above to the south.

Upon arrival at the summit, following a somewhat steep clamber up the aforementioned public footpath, this visitor initially doesn't see a lot of 'hillfort', to be honest. The site is more subtle than that. What is immediately apparent, however, is the inspired setting, the enclosure completely dominating the Dyffryn Tywi to the south, the Afon Tywi executing a series of wondrous, lazy loops as it meanders its way to Carmarthen Bay to the south-west, incidentally beneath the watchful gaze of another Iron Age enclosure (surmounted by later medieval castle) at Llansteffan. Perhaps the best view, however, is that beside the main entrance to the east looking toward another distant castle at Dryslwyn. Unfortunately the defences of said entrance - pretty substantial, it should be noted - are located behind a barbed wire fence, as are what transpire to be equally formidable (if disintegrating) univallate earthworks upon the southern and western flanks, the terrain here sloping away sharply. Arguably there is a case for some serious conservation activity here? Happily, however, the northern bank - again, apparently univallate - is accessible to everyone and remains very powerful indeed, facing the direction of probable attack in times past.

So, clearly Merlin's Hill was an Iron Age enclosure of some stature, well worth the diversion if you happen to be in the area. And of course we're all suckers for legendary tomes of sorcery permeating our past like the wreathes of mist clinging to our mountain tops. Here is a place to linger a while and appreciate why this is so. Hey, why not follow the Twyi's example and let the mind 'go serpentine' for a few hours? And if you do happen to discover the old dude imprisoned up here, kindly inform the local police. Oh, and needless to say keep him away from that J.K Rowling woman... he would no doubt have suffered enough across the centuries as it is.
25th March 2013ce
Edited 27th March 2013ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment