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




The hills to the north of the Rhayader, lacking the tourist foci of the Elan Valley Reservoirs to the Mid Walian market town's west, may fairly be described nowadays as being 'somewhat off the beaten track'. Nevertheless, rising to as near-as-dammit 2,000ft (1,923ft at Pegwn Mawr) and crowned by numerous Bronze Age cairns, not to mention those enigmatic 'tumuli', this lack of popularity is a veritable blessing for those Citizens Cairn'd willing and able to satiate their curiosity by donning boots. Hey, no incoherent, clueless tourist sightseers to shatter that all important upland vibe with mindless jibber jabber... as Mr T might observe with characteristically unconcealed distain: "Hey crazy fools! This ain't no 'old pile of stones' but the dawn of civilisation! I pity the fool who thinks otherwise!"

However I must confess to knowing nothing of this pleasant state of affairs prior to blundering north upon the B4518, upon experiencing my (hitherto rock solid) resolve to set foot upon the large round barrow at Ty Lettice (SN99026866) blown asunder by ludicrously heavy rain on site. Yeah, 'ludicrous' even for Mid Wales, that is. That'll be bad, then. But here even clouds without silver linings can have beneficial consequences.

So, riding along in my automobile.... with no particular place to go, the day is fast disintegrating into a big, fat nothingness when I'm struck by the impressive escarpment profile to my right as I pass through Pant-y-dwr. Noticing the downpour seemingly having abated I pull over and check the map.... whereupon Crugyn-Llwyd appears to offer a potential solution to Chuck's perennial, not to mention best selling conundrum. But in these conditions? What new lunacy is this? The meteorological ceasefire is maintained as I tentatively navigate the minor roads eastward to park a little south of farm buildings at Garth (where the straight road beyond Bryn Hafod turns sharply to the right to eventually lose its tarmacadam in apparent homage to Owain Glyndwr, near Esgair Fedw). I opt to forgo following in the former Tywysog Cymru's boot steps - if, indeed, yer man ever came this way - instead heading steeply uphill through trees to the south-east... to be seduced, in short order, by a nice, green track to the right of a fence line... retrospectively determined to be heading roughly east instead of the planned north-east. Spying a substantial cairn crowning the high ground some considerable distance across the Rhyd y Clwydau Brook to the south I realise I've gone wrong. As is often the case with my lamentable map reading. However opportunity knocks. Why not visit Domen-ddu and loop around to Crugyn-Llwyd later. If I've got enough puff? It'd be rude not to try, to be fair.

The intervening ground is rough, the monument - in actual fact there are two - occupying the 1,814ft summit of a southern spur, bounded to the east by the forestry-clad flank of Cwm Llygod and to the west by the abrupt line of the escarpment edge. The cairn noted earlier (at SO01697826) is indeed impressive, Coflein citing dimensions of "...23m by 13.1m and 2.3m high..." [J.Wiles 02.08.02]. Furthermore, a little to the north at SO01687828 there is a "..circular, flat-topped mound.... 18.6m in diameter and 1.0m high". Two for the price of one, then.

So, the archaeology here upon Domen-ddu is worth writing home about.... should you happen to have relatives who give a monkey's about old piles of stones and earth set upon obscure Mid Walian hills lashed by the inclement elements of September, that is? OK, not very likely, is it? But technically feasible, I guess. However, as is often the case with these upland monuments, it's where they decided to erect them that truly matters, the real reason to put oneself out to come here. Hey, perhaps some metaphysical force told the Bronze Age architect "Build it and they will come. Albeit it not very many of them." Yeah, the topography is truly special, the sweeping vista westward quite exceptional in my opinion, the vibe equally so. Whether Pumlumon (Herself) is looming upon the far north-western horizon is a moot point since, with temporary cease fire rescinded, multiple weather fronts sweep along the Wye Valley to give me the proverbial periodical pasting. Potential visitors might be interested to learn that, somewhat bizarrely, there is currently a little wooden seat set overlooking the drop to the west. Carpentry? Is there no end to Kevin Costner's talents? Aside from trying to play Robin Hood.

As I sit and contemplate 'stuff' - as I confess I'm apt to do when in these uncompromising environments liable to banish common place notions of everyday existence from my head - Crugyn-Llwyd beckons ever more emphatically to the north. I duly assess the situation... hmm... a small deviation from my return route back to the car. Yeah, guess I don't really have a choice.
4th March 2018ce
Edited 6th March 2018ce

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