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

Foel Offrwm, Lower Settlement



Assuming visitors will be looking to combine a visit to this exquisite little defended enclosure with its more substantial sentinel neighbour.... although, in my ignorance, I actually contemplated an abstention... I would recommend approaching from the latter, perhaps veering to the right (south-west) during the descent in order to bypass some pretty vicious gorse guarding the direct line. Then again this less painful option, whilst mitigating levels of discomfort, would unfortunately also obviate some pretty fine photo opportunities. 'Horses for courses', I guess.

The view looking across the site to the Mawddach Estuary during the latter stages of the descent of the ridge is, it has to be said, pretty special. However as I move closer, easing my way gingerly through the aforementioned gorse - paying particular attention to the 'high bits', for obvious reasons - primary focus is shifted to the enclosure itself in no uncertain manner.... hey, it's a cracker! The over-riding initial observation is of the conical, aesthetically appealing - dare I say it 'Silbury-esque' - nature of the rocky knoll chosen for this hill fort. I wonder whether this was indeed a prime factor, an earlier 'sacred hill' being subsequently occupied during the Iron Age? Indeed the relevant Coflein report [John Wiles 04.07.07] states the following:

"Observations of a possible circular structure, about 6.0m in diameter, & a cairn at the summit of the irregular interior, have not been confirmed. Excavations in 1926 recorded pockets of black soil with burnt bone fragments across the summit area. Finds included a bronze finger ring and at least one possibly Roman pottery fragment.."

So it would seem something was going on here which it would appear was above and beyond normal domestic habitation. Even bearing in mind the perceived limited nature of Iron Age assault technique.... lack of siege engines etc.... the site is, by definition, completely dominated by high ground to the north; however the significant extent of the single dry stone rampart suggests this was no mere subsidiary enclosure. Hey, it seems almost as if the site simply 'had' to be occupied, no matter what. Whatever the truth regarding foundation, this is nonetheless a powerful upland enclosure, the south-facing entrance displaying some apparently complex features. And of course there are the magnificent views, less expansive than those to be enjoyed at the main site, of course, but well worth the effort alone. Foel Faner beckons across Llyn Cynwch to the west so I've less time here that I would otherwise have liked. But there you are. Mustn't grumble. Too much is always better than too little, is it not?

I return to the 'Precipice Walk' car park via a lower level path heading north beneath the towering hillside. Here the more or less impregnability of Foel Offrwm's main site is all too obvious. Looking back into the sun the relative defensive strength of the lower settlement is open to much more debate, although no doubt its occupiers could have beaten off an impromptu raiding party without too much trouble. As I make for Foel Faner, however, I can't help thinking there is so much more to this site.......
26th December 2013ce
Edited 27th December 2013ce

Comments (0)

You must be logged in to add a comment