|In search of beaches and stones, and a place to take the kids in the summer holidays, we went to Anglesey. Quite by chance I managed to rent the cottage closest in the world to Barclodiad-y-Gawres. Which was nice...
A fiver deposit got us the key from the Wayside stores in Llanfaelog, just one mile north from the chamber. And then with a stiff westerly blowing, we walked up the headland from our cottage to Barclodiad-y-Gawres. Right on a headland sticking out between two gorgeous beaches this chamber has much to recommend it.
I zipped inside quickly not least because it offered blessed relief from the wind. A couple of stones have swirls and zigzags carved onto the rocks reminding me a little of Gavrinis. I even liked the concrete dome protecting the internal chamber from the weather and allowing vistiors to view the entire construction. However, this was the only instance of Welsh restoration that I liked. But more on that story later.
If you get the chance, walk round on the cliffs to the south of Barclodiad and Cable Bay. The views of Barclodiad are wonderful and while you're here look out for the merlins, wagtails, oystercatchers and whinchats!
A stunning grassy mound within a small henge, in all but proportion, just like the green sombrero of Maeshowe. Even my kids fell for its charms, not least because you can get inside and grub around. There's an intriguing standing stone inside the chamber, which must have been built around it. There are also two really nasty, ugly concrete lintels shoved in during restoration, which made me a bit cross. The ditch of the henge is, unusually, lined with large stones.
I'm a sucker for a neat little dolmen, so I was always going to love Bodowyr, for it is as pretty as something as sweet and fluffy in Faeryland. It's caged in behind a nasty fence you can easily climb over. I suspect the railings are to protect the dolmen from the resident herd of cattle in the field. The herd including large mean-looking bull were completely disinterested in us. For those who are a cattle-shy, you could always leg it the 50 metres across the field and retreat behind the fence surrounding the dolmen if they approached.
Today we also had the protection of a 12-year-old son equipped with very loud cap gun.
This pair of weird whoppers stand strangely straddling a rusty gate. They are enormous! One's quite flat and perhaps 18 feet tall and the other is dumpy, but make no mistake, they're Big Mothers! The notes say they may be what remains of a stone circle, but I'm not sure I buy this theory. These are just too goddamned gigantic for that and too close together for the proportions to make sense. A burial chamber perhaps, but not a circle surely. Check 'em out for yourself. They're ace!
Argh! Another example of hideous restoration! Whichever pricks decided to use pillars of bricks to hold up capstones need their brains concreted. I suppose I should be thankful that the capstone is still up but this beautiful chamber has been very badly damaged by it's repairs. You can get a view of it where the brick pillars are not visible and that is certainly worth enjoying.
On a wild hillside covered in gorse, brambles and blackthorn lurks this beauty. Like Mulfra Quoit in Cornwall, the capstone has fallen back dramatically. It's constructed of the same puddingy type local stone as Lligwy, which isn't very beautiful, but it is very white and looks good. It was fairly tight in there, but Rupert and I had to squeeze in. That's the law with dolmens, isn't it?
Jane's Law of Dolmen Visiting states: "Thou shalt make every effort to enter the chamber and grub about in it". Lligwy is especially good for this although at first glance you wonder how the hell you're going to get in. The entrance is small and requires a hands and knees approach. But once beneath the gigantic capstone weighing 25 tons it feels light and spacious as if it's hovering above. It's not. It's held aloft by lots of uprights and once you're in, the ground sinks down below you. There's even a comfy megalithic bunk to lie down on to avoid the mud. We loved it despite being caged in by yet another set of ugly, pointy railings.
Hadn't seen anything like this before: three gorgeous pointy stones, arranged quite close together in an triangular ground plan. They looked like three characters just hanging out having a conversation. It was almost impossible for me and my sprogs not to get in among them and lurk around them, moving from stone to stone. This pissed the hell out of the two photographers in our party.One stone looks extremely phallic. This cannot just be my smutty mind as it is very cock-like indeed. Don't bring your god-fearing maiden-aunt here! Some beautiful views over towards the elegant wind turbines from here. So much nicer than the hideous aluminum smelting plant on Holy Island.
Approaching the tomb, past the cricket pitch we disturbed perhaps 25 pheasants - cannon fodder for the local shooting club. And then you see it! What a fabulous tomb, but once again sadly screwed by thoughtless restoration. Jesus-H-Christ-on-bike, what do they think they're doing lobbing in some ugly timber pitprops to hold up the capstone? Indeed, does it really need holding up? I think not. Surely a clean single metal bar lurking behind the portal stone would have done the trick. Instead we get enough timber to build a new cricket pavilion. Great stones. Great spaces. Lovely looking thing. Great atmosphere. Crap rafters.