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

Cefn Sychbant

Ring Cairn


Well I say... Ding, dong! As Leslie Phillips - that, ahem, 'old school' connoisseur of feminine beauty - might have said.... if he had've been a stone head. Hey who knows, perhaps he is? It would have been an appropriate exclamation, too, since in my opinion, this slumbering monument really is something special. Now, having trudged around these Isles for over a decade actively searching out remnants of our prehistoric past.... for some reason or other.... I kinda thought those jaw dropping moments - such as I experience upon encountering this (apparent) ring cairn - were more or less confined to those 'hard to get to' sites located in the middle of nowhere. Not there for the taking, just a short distance from the road. But there you are.

Funnily enough, bearing in mind its considerable circumference, the monument is not shown on the current OS maps (1:50 or 1:25K) so should not be confused with the pair of cairns actually depicted a little to the east. Easily done, however, with only the 'aerial' view from high ground to the north proving conclusive (Carl's notes appear to refer to the cairn at SN98921108 and not this). Yeah, matters are not helped by the fact that, from my experience anyway, its very low profile renders it very difficult to spot from roadside. Consequently, upon stumbling down from Cadair Fawr (touch of shin splits, unfortunately) I'm utterly unprepared for the sheer size of this great stone polo. OK, there are other ring cairns in South Wales.... but, to my recollection (or lack of knowledge, perhaps), none of such dimensions, none hidden away in such plain sight. Why have I not been here sooner?

According to RCAHMW's David Leighton (Jan '83) the site is an "...annular oval bank of mixed grade rubble and boulders without an entrance. It measures 20.7m internally (E-W) by 18.3m and is 2.5m-4.3m wide and 0.7m high. A small recumbent boulder near the centre is perhaps the remains of a cist".

I wish I had much more time... but unfortunately the light is beginning to fade as the day draws to its inexorable conclusion. Hey, perhaps the sole logical reference point I'm aware of at this moment. A pastel pink glow illuminates the skyline to the west, the high escarpment of Craig-y-Llyn highlighting the location of The Llyn Fawr.... another sacred facet of this South Walian landscape back in the day. Once again a shake hole stands - if a hole can be said to stand? - fractionally outside the western arc of the ring cairn, so close, in fact, that a small section of said stonework has partially fallen into the enigmatic cavity in the limestone. The question inevitably presents itself: 'why erect the ring so close?' A reasonably sized recumbent stone lies within the centre of the monument suggesting the remnants of a former cist, whilst rising to the east, a massive round cairn stands at SN98551095. I am parked nearby.

Mr Leighton concedes that there is a possibility this massive masonry ring residing upon Cefn Sychnant is a trashed round cairn; however I agree, if only due to the conspicuous absence of internal cairn material, that a ring cairn is much more plausible, more probable. And what a glorious example it is, too. After half an hour I have to leave to catch that eastern monument before dark. But I know the Mam C will love this, so intend to return. As I prepare to vacate the site a boy racer trundles by staring at the day-glo clad individual sitting in the middle of the moor for no apparent reason. 'What is he doing?' Ah, bless. Guess I could've reciprocated and asked the same (presumed) question in return. Mind how you go, my muppet friend.
10th April 2014ce
Edited 12th April 2014ce

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