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


Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


A 2003 visit to the stone circle at Ynys Hir notwithstanding - and what a palaver that was - I've never ventured upon Mynydd Epynt before. Not that surprising a state of affairs, to be honest, bearing in mind a significant proportion of these Mid Walian uplands is used by the British Army as an artillery range and general training area. Suffice to say that, in my opinion, Bronze Age monuments and the burnt-out hulks of Sexton self propelled guns do not good bed fellows make. However until the dawning of a day when humankind is finally able to settle its differences without resorting to violence - quite possibly an illusory premise - there will always be a requirement for somewhere to train our soldiers. Yeah, it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. I just wish we'd reserve deployment to protecting these Isles from the many dangerous psychopaths, secular and religious, which infest this world like a cancer.... and not facilitating the likes of Dubya and Blair's lunatic holy crusades.

So why venture to Mynydd Epynt again? Just on a whim, nothing more. A spur of the moment decision made whilst idly scanning the map - something I like to do in my idle moments - having noticed a grouping of cairns east of the small village of Upper Chapel, apparently outside the 'Danger Area'. Hey, what's the worst that can happen? Apart from being blown 20ft into the air by an unexploded shell, that is? The village sits astride the B4520 which, heading north from Brecon, accompanies the Afon Honddu (not to be confused with the other such within The Vale of Ewyas) back toward its source upon Mynydd Epynt. I park beside the 'phone box, as appears accepted local practice, although there is some kind of village hall (I think) across the road, complete with car park. A little to the north a 'dead end' road heads to the right (east), veering left soon after to service Cwm-egli, whilst an increasingly rough track continues the climb. The route, although not steep, proves a bit of a slog; nevertheless in just over a mile I emerge upon the bare uplands of eastern Mynydd Epynt, The Brecon Beacons shining in serried array upon the southern skyline. Very nice.

Although lacking the dominating height, the enigmatic topography of that famous horizon, Twyn-y-Post (1,381ft / 421m) nevertheless possesses that priceless upland vibe, that impossible to define feeling of 'wide open skies' and... well.... space. OK, the harsh staccato reports of machine gun fire, combined with the dull 'crump' of impacting artillery rounds, may occasionally drift upon the breeze from the direction of Sennybridge... but there are no chattering voices to otherwise disturb the peace here, save the loony tune antics of the skylark. Bless 'em.

There would appear to be a trio of monuments located at what, for want of a better term, passes for the summit. The most prominent is a pretty substantial grassy cairn at SO0280440909 measuring "c.10m in diameter and up to 0.4m high" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 9/2/09)]. Although somewhat trashed, the possible remains of a cist still reside upon the north-western sector featuring some larger stones. A little to the approx south-east (SO0281140899) lies a further cairn - or perhaps ring cairn - which is unfortunately much less well defined. Having said that there remains quite a volume of material in situ, the lack of structural form perhaps resulting from the excavation of a 'geotechnical test pit' during 1993 [Coflein NPRN 247429]. Err.... anyone know what a 'geotechnical test pit' is? Seems to have slipped my mind.

For me the most intriguing of the three sites is located immediately to the approx south at SO0282040886. To be honest first appearances are of a completely grassed-over ring cairn to this layman's eyes, although why that (the grass cover) should be so did seem rather odd, given the exposed upland location. Such misgivings are given retrospective credence by J.J. Hall: "... [it] essentially appears to be an earthwork site, the overall dimensions of which are c.12.5m x 12.5m... It is characterised by a low earth bank, grassed-over and no more than 0.3m high by up to 2m wide at base. The outer bank encloses a hollow, the centre of which is occupied by an earthwork mound.... similarities with the Tir yr Onnen Barrow at Ystradfellte are striking". So, maybe even a small henge, then? As I said, intriguing. So why I neglect to take any images is anybody's guess. Muppet.

Twyn-y-Post has one further cairn to detain the traveller, this located at SO0290040787 and passed en-route to Cefn Clawdd. This is a small affair in comparison with the other monuments I visited, but nevertheless it'd be rude to to stop and have a look. J.J Hall reckons it measures "3m x 2m and up to 0.2m high" with a cist perhaps still residing within? Moving on, there appears to be no sign of the apparent cairn upon Cefn Clawdd at SO0321140542 from distance. However it is depicted upon my 1:50k map... so there's only one way to find out for certain.
29th March 2014ce
Edited 31st March 2014ce

Comments (1)

Having spent part of the last few days negotiating my way between spent shell cases on the Castlemartin range, I can relate to the palaver-y-ness. An account of your Ynys Hir experience would be gratefully received as well.

Anyway, these look/sound like a very decent group of cairns, definitely on the list.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st March 2014ce
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