|Carreg Cennen. An evocative name to the (somewhat protruding) ears of an Englishman first brought here by his father during 1983 (Cestyll '83, as I recall), a boy with a head filled with incoherent images of 'something' that perhaps existed before what was quickly becoming, to him, the complete bollocks of organised religion... the hymns we were forced to sing at school.... but took subconscious delight in defying. Even then. Something burning within, something subsumed deep in the folk memory. Ancient Britains. Not desert people. Christianity irrelevant.
I arrive today, in pouring rain, with more than an eye on re-visiting the not so distant (incredibly undervalued) hill fort of Garn Goch. Do so if you can. Parking in the rather busy car park, I wonder if it is actually a good idea to revisit times past? Would the somewhat cynical mind of the 45 year old render the magical experience of the initiate superfluous? In short, er, no. I purchase my ticket and ascend the track to the fortress perched upon its eyrie. The medieval fortifications are easily retrieved from my psyche... their imprint seared upon my impressionable mind years ago. Not so the very attractive lady - with idiosyncratic canine companion and perfect figure - engaged with capturing the vibe for posterity upon her DSLR. Pure class. Superlatives come as standard at Carreg Cennen, the mind thrown into overdrive, with carnal base thoughts vying for attention with those upon an altogether higher plane. Unfortunately the words do not flow from my brain to the tongue in any coherent manner.... as usual.
So... a rather steep flight of steps descend to a dark passage - lit by loop holes - to access the entrance to (one of) the caves which permeate this carboniferous limestone crag. This is something special, however. Really special indeed. The rough-hewn steps vanish into a more-or-less unfathomable gloom below.... so careful now. The eyes adjust a little, revealing a medieval outer wall, fashioned into 'pigeon holes' to accommodate, well, pigeons - funnily enough - to supplement the castle food supply. Within, a naked gash within the cliff face represents the threshold beyond which a torch will be required. To be fair I've been here before, feeling my way to the cave's terminus in utter darkness during the early 90's. Forgot a torch. And humans so need to appreciate where they are going, do they not? Ok, appreciate, if not necessarily understand.
I've borrowed the Mam C's torch today..... and advance down the narrow, undulating passage toward the very underworld itself. The thought that pre-Ice Age people were laid to rest within here, a proto-chambered tomb if ever there was one, blows my mind, the floor of the cave suddenly descending to afflict a stumble, walls as luminescent as marble, as apparently hydrated as a cascade, yet ironically dry to the touch. I reach the end point of the cave, my heart pounding as if in homage to New Order's iconic Oberheim DMX drum machine, my breath clouding my vision as upon a sub-zero December morning, my camera lens overwhelmed with vapour. Here, upon the right hand flank, has been fashioned a small pool of water, inexorably replenished from water dripping from the roof. I extinguish the torch and eat my lunch in utter darkness, struggling to comprehend how such sensual deprivation can have such an opposite effect?
The flanks of the cave are engraved with graffiti, some inspiringly celebrating love, some utter moronic bollocks. The human experience, then? The instinctive base line and the sublime. I refrain from recording my passage, of course, leaving behind merely a trace of my exhaled carbon dioxide and spilled coffee. Well, distant ancestors were laid to rest here, it has to be said. I ponder for a while and suppose I can see the reason why. Yeah, this place is not really that different from the Pavilland Cave visited earlier this year. If I'm anything to go by, the perceptive visitor's brain appears able to retrieve a fragment of what went before.... sorry, but I can't articulate any more than that. So come and experience for yourself.
Posted by GLADMAN
17th October 2014ce
Edited 18th December 2014ce