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

Beddau Folau

Chambered Cairn


Despite the weather having taken a pronounced turn for the worse - or, arguably, reverting to Y Elenydd's uncompromising default position - dawn ushers in no compulsion to leave. Far from it. So, what to do upon a grey day heralding... not a lot, to be honest? Munching a (blue plastic) bowl of Coco Pops for inspiration - although apparently an 18 year old Shelley stayed nearby in 1811 (clearly not Pete from The Buzzcocks, then... but the other poet) - the answer arrives, courtesy of the old OS map. Yeah, a brace of cairns in the vicinity of Y Foel, the craggy hillside overlooking the southern extent of the Afon Elan, the river's course somewhat, er, interrupted here to form the famous reservoirs. That'll do.

Upon driving south past the uncomfortably substantial tourist facilities below Pen-y-Garreg Reservoir, the Creigiau Dolfolau immediately present a reassuringly wild 'n' rocky facade above to the left. The Nant Dolfolau breaches the cliff line midway(ish) along, so allowing a public right of way to head steeply to the approx north-east... but not prohibitively so. Parking is possible beside a roadside cascade. Which is handy.

To be fair, the path is still a tad on the 'uphill' side; but nevertheless enjoyable, traversing a quality landscape. Easily fording the aforementioned Nant Dolfolau, the route swings more or less directly east and, with the crags of Y Glog Fawr rearing to the north, in short order I literally stumble across the chambered cairn of Beddau Folau. The monument, although large, is not exactly 'in yer face', then. Although having said that it might well have been with a touch more slippery mud under foot. The big surprise is a number of large orthostats standing upon the heavily overgrown, grassy cairn. Hence Coflein citing Beddau Folau as being a 'chambered cairn', the structure clearly far too substantial to represent a cist, and to my mind, the orthostats too central to represent the remains of a kerbed cairn or cairn-circle:

"Situated below rocky outcrop. Approx. 8m diameter. Central sub-rectangular hollow approx. 3m wide.. 4 upright stones each c. 0.8m high x 0.8m width x 0.1m-0.2m depth. Stones in round flat central chamber area with 1 fallen? stone on base(RSJ 2000)."

Just goes to show that the impulsive antiquarian traveller can never really be sure what the ubiquitous 'cairn' depicted upon the OS map actually represents on the ground. What a wonderful location this is! A short distance above a major tourist location.... yet it might as well be in the middle of nowhere, such is the vibe. Furthermore, one of the orthostats is mightily impressive for an upland cairn.

Speaking of which... there's another apparently ancient cairn, Carreg Bica, located upon the summit of Y Foel to the approx south-east. Worth a look. Indeed, with the weather appearing more 'doubtful' by the minute, I decide to make the visit to the higher monument sooner rather than later to (hopefully) catch some views before they are subsumed within a mass of vapour. However I determine to return to hang out awhile at Beddau Folau in the afternoon. For once, that's how things actually pan out. Whatever next?
18th November 2013ce
Edited 19th November 2013ce

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