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Cool Cromlechs and Mysterious Menhirs

The good weather we enjoyed at South Stack RSPB reserve stayed throughout Saturday night, and Sunday morning dawned with a glorious blue sky and warm sunshine. Long before the others awoke, I was on the beach at Porth Trecastell, saw the Britain's cows munching the emerald grass on the opposite headland, and then walked the cliffs to Barclodiad-y-Gawres for a third time. Ten hours after my nocturnal visit, I stood on the mound and watched the white-crested waves wash up the sands at Porth Nobla. The air was clear, and the light clean, so that the crashing waves broke into thousands of sparkling droplets against the dark Pre-Cambrian cliffs under my feet. I breathed in great lungfuls of the sea air. I knew it. Today was going to be Big Rock Day.

What better way to start a tour of some of the finest dolmens in the country than by visiting the fantastic burial chamber of Bryn Celli Ddu?

Bryn Celli Ddu — Fieldnotes

This was the other site with which Kate had seduced me, on a golden day in late October. It was just as beautiful this time round. The vibrant green mound stood out wonderfully against the cerulean blue sky, and commanded a stunning view of Eryri. The uprights and other stones at both sides of the mound were covered with the fluffy, frondy grey-green lichens seen at Trefignath. As ever, the menhir inside the mound just blew me away. I love Bryn Celli Ddu; it has the most wonderful energy and a low, thrumming magicalness. The other thing that thrummed was the back of my head, after I cracked it against the interior lintel – the type of blow to the skull that makes anyone else present want to throw up.

I noticed that some thoughtful people had left an offering to the Goddess on a stone ledge inside the chamber. Millennia ago, the Goddess was often honoured with a burnt sacrifice of a prized bull, a sheep or two, or a few goats - now she has to make do with a handful of peanuts, a wizened crab apple, and couple of torn Quality Street wrappers. Quality indeed.

I took some pics of the fake inscribed stone outside the mound, before joining the others back at the car and setting off for Bodowyr.

Bodowyr — Fieldnotes

Not unlike St. Lythans, Bodowyr stands in the middle of a field, but unlike St. Lythans, it is caged up behind a green metal fence. This prevents it being used as a shippon by cattle, or having chunks hacked out of it by farm machinery. This is a Good Thing, as it is a charming, faerie-magical dolmen, with a capstone that looks like a toadstool cap. Again, like Bryn Celli Ddu, Bodowyr enjoys a great view across to Snowdonia. Cute and charming. Bizarrely, I managed to take a photo which makes it look like an African mud hut.

The next stop was at a weird and incongruous pair of standing stones. By now, Cleo and Rupert were quite fed up with tramping across fields, and over stiles, so irrespective of how weird and incongruous these next two stones might be, all they wanted was the beach. We'd make this one snappy.

Bryn Gwyn — Fieldnotes

On reaching this pair of stones, I think we were all in awe at their sheer immensity. The first, a slender, wide, leaf-shaped monolith, stands a clear 13 feet tall – I thought it looked more like 18 feet, personally. Next to it sulks a brooding, ten foot high rectangular block of rock. Although impressive, I wasn't as keen on the energy of this place. It was in total contrast to the elegant airiness of Penrhos Feilw. There is a suggestion that they are the remains of a stone circle – that must have been one hell of a sight! I think they were a couple of try-outs for comparison, and got left in a field by the early engineers . . .

After a sunny stint on the beach at Porth Nobla in the afternoon (during which cloud formations predicted foul weather by about 8pm), dark grey clouds were packing in by teatime; so we squeezed in one last dolmen whilst out getting more Crag Rat and Hobgoblin for the evening.

Ty Newydd — Fieldnotes

Rain was swirling in the gloaming as we reached Ty Newydd, and I was also disappointed to note the utterly insensitive and ugly restoration work on this previously stunning cromlech. However, I suppose we shouldn't be ungrateful, as brickwork aside, we still see the structure erect. Best of all, the capstone offers a decidedly nautical feel; seen from below, it looks like the prow of a large ship. I remembered trips to HMS Victory.

Later that evening, at 8.05pm exactly, a heavy squall lashed into the cottage, rain straking across the picture window in rattling bursts. This continued on and off for the rest of the evening and beyond, the high winds soughing round the house, causing a loose door to tap in its lock for hours. At 4am, my thoughts were of the Holyhead Mountain Hut Group, its exposed position, and what it must have been like to try and sleep when the wind was banging around all night, the sea throwing itself madly at the rocks below, and driving rain dripping through the brush-covered roof of a Bronze Age roundhouse. . . .
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
3rd September 2006ce
Edited 3rd September 2006ce

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