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

Rhiw Afon, Elenydd

Round Cairn

Fieldnotes

Awaking to a (rare) fine dawn upon the Elenydd, the myriad green hills overlooking - not to mention channelling the area's copious rainfall into - the picturesque Elan Valley reservoirs was not what I envisaged today. But there you are, the complete closure of the Tal-y-Bont/Ponterwyd road across Pumlumon yesterday afternoon (and for much of September, as it happens) dictated otherwise. Such is life. But hey, there are much worse places to be.... particularly since, for once, I've a walk lined up on my 'list' should the opportunity arise. In retrospect, however, taking the very minor, exceedingly narrow road following the western bank of the River Wye north-west from the hamlet of Dderw was not the best of options, the road barred by four gates. Yeah, it does become tedious, so suggest the A470 in lieu. Thankfully, however, I meet no one coming the other way and duly arrive none the worse for wear at a T-junction, the road branching left to the farm of Pen-yr-Ochr, right to (eventually) join the A470. I decide to park here and am just locking up when the farmer materialises at the wheel of a massive lorry.... and, upon hearing my intended destination, rhetorically 'suggests' I would be better off parking within his yard. Don't mind if I do, my friend.

The gentleman is clearly very proud of his cairns and enthusiastically furnishes directions... which of course I inevitably make a hash of, the traveller obliged to revert to the map regardless. To cut a long story short (as Tony Hadley once crooned) I would recommend keeping with the official track shown on the map, so avoiding the very steep ascent to the summit of Cefn Bach I undertake. The mocking irony of the 'Small Ridge' translation was noted as my dodgy ribs ensured I made very hard work of these 'mere hills'. Yeah, don't listen to the muppets who delight in telling you Mid Wales is not worth the effort. What bollocks. Bronze Age humankind knew better, for a start.

The compass sorts out the confusion, the first of a quartet of monuments visible below to the approx north-east. The location is understated, yet exquisite, the cairn commanding a magnificent vista of - indeed focussed upon - the River Wye. Seems the Pumlumon connection is established after all. What's more, the monument appears more or less intact, a small, presumably modern marker cairn a minor irritation. According to Coflein:

"A well-preserved stone cairn, measuring 9.25m in diameter and up to 0.75m high.... There is a slight dish in the centre of the mound, possibly an original characteristic. It does not appear that the cairn has been disturbed to any great extent...." [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 8/9/09]

The lack of pretension is striking, the monument subservient to the surrounding hills, but all the more poignant for that. I resolve to stop and hang out for a while more upon my return... but, for now, the higher cairns call.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
11th November 2013ce
Edited 11th November 2013ce

Comments (3)

Gotta love Radnorshire haven't you? Not yet worked out how to get to this bit of it, so will content myself with your fabulous pictures in the meantime. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
12th November 2013ce
Radnorshire? I can never get used to that. Support your local Welsh kingdom, I say.

Didn't Merlin walk everywhere? Get yourself a mystic wand.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
12th November 2013ce
I suppose it only existed for 400 years! :)

A mystic wand would be great, but I suspect looking for one of those on the internet may get me something other than what I want...
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
12th November 2013ce
You must be logged in to add a comment