|This narrow fort on a promontory above Pontneddfechan is fantastically well defended by its sheer cliffs. There's a car park conveniently at the bottom, and a bridleway makes its way up to the top.
Wirt Sikes has this to say:
Especially does a certain steep and rugged crag [in the Vale of Neath] called Craig y Ddinas, bear a distinctly awful reputation as a stronghold of the fairy tribe. Its caves and crevices have been their favourite haunt for many centuries, and upon this rock was held the court of the last fairies who have ever appeared in Wales*. Needless to say there are men still living who remember the visits of the fairies to Craig y Ddinas, although they aver the little folk are no longer seen there. It is a common remark that the Methodists drove them away, indeed there are numberless stories which show the fairies to have been animated, when they were still numerous in Wales, by a cordial antipathy for all dissenting preachers. In this antipathy, it may be here observed, teetotalers were included.*Don't take this to heart as it is an obvious lie. Quote from Sykes's 'British Goblins', 1880.
Edwin Sidney Hartland, in 'The Science of Fairy Tales' (1891) explains the Arthurian connection of the site:
A Welshman, it was said, walking over London Bridge with a hazel staff in his hand, was met by an Englishman, who told him that the stick he carried grew on a spot under which were hidden vast treasures, and if the Welshman remembered the place arid would show it to him he would put him in possession of those treasures. Both books are online at the Internet Sacred Texts Archive at
After some demur the Welshman consented, and took the Englishman (who was in fact a wizard) to the Craig-y-Ddinas and showed him the spot. They dug up the hazel tree on which the staff grew and found under it a broad flat stone. This covered the entrance to a cavern in which thousands of warriors lay in a circle sleeping on their arms. In the centre of the entrance hung a bell which the conjurer begged the Welshman to beware of touching. But if at any time he did touch it and any of the warriors should ask if it were day, he was to answer without hesitation "No; sleep thou on."
The warriors' arms were so brightly polished that they illumined the whole cavern; and one of them had arms that outshone the rest, and a crown of gold lay by his side. This was Arthur; and when the Welshman had taken as much as he could carry of the gold which lay in a heap amid the warriors, both men passed out; not, however, without the Welsh-man's accidentally touching the bell. It rang; but when the inquiry: "Is it day?" came from one of the warriors, he was prompt with the reply: "No; sleep thou on."
The conjurer afterwards told him that the company he had seen lay asleep ready for the dawn of the day when the Black Eagle and the Golden Eagle should go to war, the clamour of which would make the earth tremble so much that the bell would ring loudly and the warriors would start up, seize their arms, and destroy the enemies of the Cymry, who should then repossess the island of Britain and be governed from Caerlleon with justice and peace so long as the world endured.
When the Welshman's treasure was all spent he went back to the cavern and helped himself still more liberally than before. On his way out he touched the bell again: again it rang. But this time he was not so ready with his answer, and some of the warriors rose up, took the gold from him, beat him and cast him out of the cave. He never recovered the effects of that beating, but remained a cripple and a pauper to the end of his days; and he never could find the entrance to the cavern again.
Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2005ce
Edited 4th January 2007ce