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Carn Gafallt



Nennius wrote in c800 of one of the marvels of Wales:
There is [in the region which is called Buelt] a heap of stones, and one stone superposed on the pile with the footprint of a dog on it. When he hunted the boar Troynt, Cabal, who was the dog of Arthur the soldier, impressed his footprint on the stone, and Arthur afterwards collected a pile of stones under the stone [...] and it is called Carn Cabal. And men come and carry the stone in their hands for a day and a night, and on the morrow it is found upon its pile.
The hunt is described in Culhwch and Olwen. Culhwch is determined to catch the boar because it is the only way he can win permission from Olwen's father to marry her. The boar, Twrch Trwyth and his seven piglets are pretty wily and it's supposed to be an impossible task, but with help from Arthur and his men he manages to accomplish it. At some cost though, as Arthur's sons were killed in the process. You can see the monument to their bravery at Cerrig Meibion Arthur.

In the 1840s, Lady Charlotte Guest, a translator of the Mabinogion, realised where Nennius's cairn existed. She 'prevailed upon a gentlemen' to go and check it out. He wrote the following account, which I found on the Clwyd and Powys Archaeological Trust website.
"Carn Cavall, or, as it is generally pronounced, Corn Cavall, is a lofty and rugged mountain, in the upper part of the district anciently called Buellt, now written Builth, in Breconshire. Scattered over this mountain are several cairns of various dimensions, some of which are of very considerable magnitude, being at least a hundred and fifty feet in circumference. On one of these carns may still be seen a stone, so nearly corresponding with the description in Nennius, as to furnish strong presumption that it is the identical as to furnish strong presumption that it is the identical object referred to. It is near two feet in length, and not quite a foot wide, and such as a man might, without any great exertion, carry away in his hands. On the one side is an oval indentation, rounded at the bottom, nearly four inches long by three wide, about two inches deep, and altogether presenting such an appearance as might, without any great strain of imagination, be thought to resemble the print of a dog's foot . . . As the stone is a species of conglomerate, it is possible that some unimaginative geologist may persist in maintaining that this footprint is nothing more than the cavity, left by the removal of a rounded pebble, which was once embedded in the stone."
To confuse matters, 'caballus' in Latin (the language Nennius was writing in) is actually a horse. So perhaps it's Arthur's horse's footprint you should be looking for.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd April 2004ce
Edited 23rd April 2004ce

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