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

Bryngwyn Bach

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


To my mind the best way of appreciating the layout of an upland landscape - in the absence of the personal aircraft piloted by an Honor Blackman lookalike clad in black lycra - is simply to climb a section of it and use the Mark I eyeball. Admittedly this particular observer may need to conclude his observations a bit sharpish on occasions, courtesy of hill-fog, but such frustrations literally come with the terrain..... and are a small price to pay for such insights as a distant glimpse of Carn Fflur's massive summit cairn from Carn Gron the other day. Some - myself included - may well argue that such experiences were possibly an orchestrated facet of The Bronze Age upland experience... intervisibility... an ancient, albeit no doubt much more profound predecessor of those tours of celebrities' houses we have nowadays. Maybe, maybe not. There are also completely unexpected bonuses. Yeah, while Carn Fflur is therefore today's primary destination, a group of (apparently) small cairns depicted upon the north-western flank of Bryngwyn Bach (on the 1:25K OS map, not the 1:50K) appear worth a short diversion en-route.

Heading toward Pontrhydfendigaid on the B4348 from Tregaron look for Old Abbey Farm on the right after about four(ish) miles. Duly noted, ignore the next left, instead taking the right hand turn soon after. There is currently plenty of room to park near an old chapel (I think) undergoing renovation at the approx limit of the tarmacadum. A public footpath leads from here to a footbridge across the idyllic Afon Fflur, the c1,295ft hill top of Bryngwyn Bach but a short walk to the south. Ok, the intervening landscape is a trifle boggy, but in retrospect about as dry as it gets around here! Ascending the hill to the north-east (duh!) I note what look more like rather poor clearance cairns. Never mind, the view north is worth the effort, that it is. True... but so are the half-dozen excellent Bronze Age cairns I suddenly encounter, funnily enough, just where shown on the map.

The southern trio are of most - hey, considerable - interest, two featuring cists, that within the higher (eastern) monument proving to be very well preserved, merely lacking capstone. In addition, examples of kerb orthostats, a few pretty hefty, remain in situ to further enhance structural form. These are fine upland funerary cairns indeed. In comparison the northern three monuments are less well defined, retaining less internal detail. Nevertheless the opinion is relative to the excellence of the southern grouping; taken as a whole I reckon this is a fabulous Bronze Age cemetery with reasonably straightforward access and great views to boot. Not to mention great vibe. Silence may be golden, but here it is made of stone.

Bryngwyn Bach is impressive for such a seriously obscure site and I would've liked to have stayed longer than a couple of hours... but thoughts of that massive cairn crowning Carn Fflur resurface. As Mick Jones once (sort of) sang, the question is 'Should I stay, or should I go?' I decide upon the latter, inquisitive Citizen Cairn'd that I am.
25th November 2013ce
Edited 25th November 2013ce

Comments (3)

"an orchestrated facet of The Bronze Age upland experience... intervisibility... an ancient, albeit no doubt much more profound predecessor of those tours of celebrities' houses we have nowadays"


Every time I read your notes about this area, I want to abandon work and spend the rest of my life wandering around the less-populous parts of Wales.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
26th November 2013ce
Didn't you know? Seeing as I can't read a compass I've never made it back... GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
26th November 2013ce
Ha ha ha! Well, perhaps I'll come across you one day, like Ben Gunn (perhaps I should bring some cheese). thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
26th November 2013ce
You must be logged in to add a comment