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Maen Llia

Standing Stone / Menhir


The StonePages link below mentions two apparently standard folklore tales connected with Maen Llia. But are they more complex than at first sight?

One legend has it that whenever a cock crows, the stone goes to drink in the River Nedd. Look at the map and you will find this is rather perverse, because the stream that runs right near the stone isn't the Nedd Fechan at all. It would require a strenous walk up over the hill Fan Nedd, and then down the other side.

According to another story, the stone visits the River Mellte for a swim on Midsummer morning. The Mellte runs through the village of Ystradfellte to the south - it's the same watercourse as that near the stone, but up there it is surely called Afon Llia? So does the stone wander all the way down to Ystradfellte? I have read that the stone is actually visible from there. Besides, it's probably worth the trek - it's a pretty strange river. The whole area is full of caves and shake holes, and the river actually disappears into a cave (Porth yr Ogof) - to flow underground for 300 yards before reappearing at the surface in the mysterious Blue Pool!
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th April 2005ce
Edited 27th April 2005ce

Comments (8)

I dont know about taking a swim or having a drink, but at sunset on midsummers day the shadow from maen llia goes all the way down the hill toward a mound with a cairn on top( about 130deg south east)
it touches the mound where the afon llia flows around it, and so it does dip its toe in the water.
could this be the basis for the legend.
Posted by cerrig
1st July 2009ce
Well I never. That's really interesting! I take it that's based on your own visits? Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd July 2009ce
I come here quite a lot, been studying this area for some time. the shadows seem to have been important to the stone erectors, makes me wonder about stonehenge. Posted by cerrig
7th July 2009ce
a lttle more info about the drinking stone legend.
i've come across a book about welsh place names and their lists llia as being either someones name, apparently there was a person called llia in the " black book of camarthen"( not sure about camarthen) and it could also mean " to lick or to lap".
this would seem to fit with the midsummer evening shadow from maen llia going down the hill to the stream, the afon llia. the shape of the shadow does indeed look like a tongue as it lengthens with the sun going down.
it doesn't paint a good picture of the feller in the "black book" though.
Posted by cerrig
27th July 2009ce
Interesting stuff, if is to do with lapping? that would fit into your theory.

I had a look at this translation of the black book,
and Llia's mentioned briefly in the Stanzas of the Graves:
"The grave of Llia the Gwyddel is in the retreat of Ardudwy,
Under the grass and withered leaves;"
You'd think they'd have mentioned the stone if it was his grave! so maybe that's a dead end??
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th July 2009ce
Rhiannon, your researching is very impressive. did you read through the whole book to find that name, or is there a much cleverer way to do it.

as for my theory, it does look promising. a stone with a name connected to drinking, and a midsummer shadow that looks like a tongue, that goes down to the local stream for a drink.( the one time of the year when it occurs)
curiously, the bearing of the shadow is pointing the way to stonehenge.?

I liked your comment about the mention of Llia the Gwyddel's grave being a dead end, i saw what you did there.
Posted by cerrig
30th July 2009ce
heh heh no I'm afraid it was only the power of Google's advanced search and a horrible habit of spending too much time on the internet.

Who knows, with your observations you may well have hit upon the Truth (or some kind of truth anyway).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
31st July 2009ce
more revelations to come in the future. i'll keep you posted. Posted by cerrig
3rd August 2009ce
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