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Carreg Cennen

Sacred Well


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.
17th October 2014ce
Edited 18th December 2014ce

Comments (8)

And my comment has been deleted because?? Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th October 2014ce
So you're not going respond, Gladman? But now you've deleted and reposted your fieldnote, no one can decide if they agree with my comment or not. Clearly you don't find it an issue but I don't think it's appropriate for TMA. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd October 2014ce
Sorry, coming in late here, but what comment are you referring to that you don't feel is appropriate for TMA Rhiannon only I missed it?

Is it...

the complete bollocks of organised religion...


Not so the very attractive lady - with idiosyncratic canine companion and perfect breasts?

We've seen far worse here and never commented on. Gladman is known for his excellent Fieldnotes and these are no different and while 'some' people may take offence at the religious comment, I can't see how his appreciation of the female form is offensive. I'm sure the lady referred to would have been delighted to be told she was 'perfect' in his eyes! In someone else's maybe not, but hardly a crime to say so surely?
Posted by Sanctuary
22nd October 2014ce
If someone I was standing next to was describing somewhere they'd visited, and thought they'd tell me there was a very attractive lady there and she had perfect breasts, I'd be surprised. I'm not saying I'm objecting to him thinking it in the first place, it's the relaying of the information to a public audience, some of which are female themselves.

So I find it surprising to read it on here. And I genuinely don't think the "lady" referred to (lady in itself is not exactly a word of the 21st century) would be delighted to hear a total stranger had summed her up by describing her "perfect breasts". I think she'd be thoroughly creeped out. Really. If you genuinely think she'd be delighted... crumbs.

There are few enough women on this website and if casual female visitors read stuff like that, what do you think they think? "Ooh how lovely" or "What is this, the 1970s?"

You say "we've seen far worse here" but I don't know what you're referring to. All I know is I've been buttoning my lip for a long time because references to female anatomy have been cropping up for ages. I just think it's creepy and I love this website and I don't think it belongs on here.

It's certainly not essential to the fieldnote. So deleting the initial post which had my comment raising the issue, and then reposting it intact, what's that supposed to imply? Is it not better to air the subject? Clearly you and Gladman don't find it an issue, but others may also feel uncomfortable like me.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd October 2014ce
Well political correctness of course is the name of the game here, but to be quite honest I'm on the side of Rhiannon for the most part , though I do believe it could have been quietly forgotten. Gladman writes an excellent blog/fieldnotes, but somehow he has strayed into the world of feminists ;). My daughter has raised four breast fed grandchildren, sometimes meeting aggression on the way, so lets not forget the primary use of the breast is to raise children, not always to titillate.... I agree with Rhiannon wholeheartedly that we need more women to write on TMA and to be part of the conversation without being judged by their female anatomy, who can also be equal partners in debate.
The problem of course in all this is we have different ways of looking at things, and I do equally respect Gladman as I do Rhiannon, and Sanctuary viewpoints, of course you are all colliding or dancing on that head of a pin where social mores are highly debated...

There again the human form is highly respected in the art world, so who am I to have a viewpoint.....
moss Posted by moss
22nd October 2014ce

Like Sanctuary I had to re-read since I thought at first it was the religious reference you objected to - no apologies there whatsoever since I despise organised religion as a cancer that must be eliminated if humankind is ever to progress - but then recalled you had an equally, er, personal issue with my Beinn an Cailleach notes from Skye last year. Who could ever think that rounded profile may have equated - in Bronze Age eyes - to the life-giving affirmity of the breast of a Mother Goddess. Er, who indeed? That perhaps that was why people struggled to erect an immense cairn upon that great rock that took ALL I HAD just to climb.... without lugging a bloody great big boulder up it. Over and over and over and over etc again. I really don't think people understand how significant these upland cairns are? Out of sight, out of mind. The symbolism speaks so much for me I am in absolute awe of the sheer effort. Try for yourself if possible. Or leave it to others who might not be so fit as you assume, but possess the burning desire.

To think it 'creepy' to refer to the female form in such an innocent, idolised way - and I take great offence at the insinuation of sexism - does not accord with the opinion of several professional female - they would certainly refer to themselves as feminist - friends I've canvassed since I was concerned... one of whom is a neurologist, one a senior financial manager, another an artist... a fair spectrum... so clearly you speak but for 'a certain section' of women, if not just yourself. There are other opinions out there to which you seem out of synch. Those of vibrant, successful, sexual women not fazed by the word 'breast' in the context of a man about to spend a couple of hours in complete darkness where an ancient family was laid to rest by a natural spring where numerous lovers have carved their names in the living rock. Jeez, TMA is not the Daily Mail.

Since your negative retort - the cave was actually wonderful, by the way - came on the eve of a trip to North Wales - and I'd had a bottle of wine when I read it - I decided to 'hope it might go away' rather than reply and say something I might regret. No such luck. The intention at the time was to imply a correlation between (what I perceived as) physical human female perfection and the extraordinary feminine landscape perfection of Carreg Cennen. The former perhaps manifesting as part of the latter in some halucinatory manner, if you like? The final part of the triumvirate was also present, but I decided to refrain from negative comments since that might prove offensive. Guess that didn't work, then. Although the neurologist 'got it'.

To be honest I was surprised you even actually read my notes since your feedback has been.. er... less than minimal over the years. Perhaps that is the best way as you obviously don't respect what I do. . however I feel you add much to TMA and have learned a lot from your research. Best keep apart, eh?

On the principle of opposing censorship - in Orwellian tradition - I will not edit this fieldnote (unless of course the Eds feel it violates the TMA guidelines to which I am bound) since, as far as I am competent to judge:

1) the subject of the remark is unidentifiable as an individual.
2) yours is but one of many possible female views. Yes. There are others. And they head up companies.
3) I have found in a brief canvass of number of professional women that they can discern no issue whatsoever and find the whole thing ridiculously overblown.
26th October 2014ce
You're missing my point when you defend your fieldnotes by saying "the subject of the remark is unidentifiable as an individual". It's that very depersonalisation I was commenting on. It's not so many fieldnotes ago that you wrote of "no pussy blues" which implies a similar sort of view of women. My remark had no beef with archaeological theories about symbolism of cairns and caves. More to do with how you were coming across in the 21st century, albeit to a woman who doesn't head up a company.

I guess we may as well leave it there then since neither of our viewpoints are likely to shift.

Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th October 2014ce
No. You are missing the the point. 'No pussy blues' was a reference to a song by Nick Cave and I happened to be in a cave that time. As simple and silly as that. Period. These are amateur fieldnotes where I am experiencing emotions flowing from who-knows-where in the subconscious. Clearly you infer things that are not there based upon your own prejudices, which is how we humans generally tend to do things. Doesn't mean they are correct.

If you can not see by my notes over the years that I have an overwhelmingly deep respect for women... hence my canvassing of opinion from those I particularly rate since what you implied worried me (and I'm not arrogant enough to assume I'm right - are you?) .... then I'm at a loss to know what further to say to you since you appear to see what you have conditioned yourself to see. I want to encourage women to take to the hills, help reclaim the mountainous areas of the UK from the macho route marching bullshit mentality that still exists... to stop, look and think. Perhaps that makes me some kind of feminist? Although you obviously do not think so, a number of other women, having read my notes, most certainly do and get what I'm doing. Give me a break.

So please don't read if content is likely to offend. Whereas I rather like the challenge when presented since I have changed a number of opinions over the years that I thought were entrenched simply because I realised I did not know enough.
28th October 2014ce
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