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


Round Cairn


The Mam C and I approach the summit of Mynydd Myddfai from the twin cairns (nearly) surmounting Pen Caenewydd to the west, an intervening distance of approx a mile. It is a pleasant, albeit soggy tramp, particularly with the sun having comprehensively vanquished earlier cloud cover.... well at least until tomorrow.... the topography enlivened by the inexorable abrasive actions of the Nant Craig cwmclyd upon its parent peak. To our chagrin - shock, horror - a group of brightly attired walkers suddenly appear ahead and decamp by the OS trig pillar, the first we've seen all day. Obviously there are other routes to the top of this little mountain. Unsociable swine that we are, we take the opportunity to veer to the south and check out a rather peculiar linear earthwork noted running the length of the ridge. First impressions are that of quarrying, bearing in mind the seriously ragged nature of the feature.... although the distinct lack of width is nonetheless puzzling? Yeah, surely even the most pissed (or pissed-off) of Roman legions, based at Y Pigwn to the north-east, wouldn't have neglected quality control to this extent? It would also have been a rather shite boundary, too.

Bypassing the summit, we swing to the north and, noting a small cairn peeking above the ubiquitous reedy grass [this an inevitable 'walker's cairn perched on top], duly locate the Tomen-y-Rhos. It is hard to miss the 'Mound of the Moor' significantly sited a little below and to the east of the summit (surprise, surprise). It remains a very substantial monument (some 15.5m in diameter according to CADW), despite possessing a ravaged interior initially suggesting another ring-cairn. Or a not-very-well-made green donut. Although, to be fair, I struggle to visualise a benchmark for the latter. The historic 'mound' nomenclature is interesting for an upland cairn, suggesting the cairn has been grassed over for some considerable time, possibly something to do with the east facing position? Dunno. Also of note are a couple of substantial stones strategically located within, perhaps the remnants of a cist apparently ransacked - sorry, 'excavated' - by the know-it-all Victorians back in the day.

Luckily the occupants of the summit decline to join us at Tomen-y-Rhos ensuring - bearing in mind the cremated occupants of the cairn were reported removed back in 1825 - that we are free to hang out in solitude, if not in total peace..... no, a circling red kite looking for an easy meal sees to that. Jeez, there is never a crow air superiority patrol around when you need one, is there? Not that the presence of the former internees would've been an issue.... far from it. It was their cairn, after all. Whatever, the vibe is exquisite, relaxing in the sun and gazing across to Mynydd Bach Trecastell and its stone circles. As Rainer Maria Rilke said "The love which consists in this, that two solitudes protect and limit and greet each other." Guess I get that.

Time creeps up on us and it's all too soon necessary to retrace our squelchy steps, via the vacated summit, to Pen Caenewydd. It is a pity to have to leave Mynydd Myddfai, but our chariot awaits back on Planet Earth. OK, I know.... but that's how it feels. Incidentally, upon returning to Bridgend, Wiki has the answer to the 'linear earthwork' mystery. Seems first impressions were correct after all, the unseemly excavations apparently the residue of the industrial extraction of a narrow stratum - or perhaps strata - of 'Tilestone' upon Mynydd Myddfai. So there you are.
22nd March 2014ce
Edited 24th March 2014ce

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