|Notes from the stones, 26 August 00
Maen Mawr is a really unusual standing stone, having no 'edge-on' aspect, the sides being of pretty much equal size. It's also not much taller than it is wide, reminding me of pictures of Calanais stones before the peat was cut away. The odd dimensions also apply when it's compared to the circle; this outlier is bigger than all the circle stones combined! ('Maen Mawr' is Welsh for 'Big Stone').
The OS map marks this as a 'stone circle and avenue'. There are the tiny stones of the circle with the enormous almost cuboid lump of Maen Mawr beside it; beyond Maen Mawr there are two tiny stones like the ones that form the circle. This is stretching the definition of 'avenue' somewhat. There are grey boulders that suggest an avenue, but there are similar stones all around.
The standing stones in the circle are the smallest I've ever seen, some not even above ground level (presumably eroded/broken off, although they can't have been very big to start with). The tallest only come up to my knees. The ground is very boggy, and one stone stands so wobbily in the ground that I'm sure it could be just lifted out.
One stone is clearly very recently added in the circle; it stands at the north western side, and is very thin (5cm or so), no weathering or lichens, and lozenge shaped.
This is a really magical place, on a flat plateau halfway up the side of the valley. Looking around me now I can't see anywhere else in the valley with a level spot like this. The view looks down amzingly to the south, layer upon layer of hills for what on a clear day must be 15 miles. It is an extraordinary site, giving a sense of being isolated in the centre of the landscape.
According to the OS map there's a single standing stone about half a mile north, but we didn't check it out.
Maen Mawr can be reached without an OS map. From Abercraf/Abercrave take the A4067 north. Three or four miles north you see a pub called Tafarn Y Garreg (literally 'Stones Inn') on your right (with its car park on your left). Take the left hand road towards Trecastell/Trecastle opposite the pub. After two miles-ish the river runs right next to you on the left and you see a dark lump on the level promontary halfway up the valley on your left; that's Maen Mawr. The river's easily crossed right now (although it gets faster and wider in the winter so you'll need wellies).
Posted by Merrick
5th September 2000ce