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Twlc y Filiast

Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech


Languishing in the 'visit some day on the way back from Pembrokeshire' file, a visit to this fine, little cromlech was never gonna happen without some external influence. Not worth the journey alone, I thought..... how wrong can you be?

It therefore took a visit to the Gwal-y-Filiast (Dolwilym) chamber - with similar canine associations and not dissimilar siting - to up the ante, so to speak. Consequently Mam Cymru and I arrive in sleepy Llangynog on an overcast morning and park by the village hall for a brew, an English prerequisite before any exploration, you understand. Initial perceptions of a place can be deceptive, however, the image of a blind man 'power walking' down the road leaving us, frankly, in awe - and I not a little ashamed of the way I sometimes tackle my own 'issues'.

Although there is parking nearer the site, we decide to walk from here since the hedgerows are alive with all kinds of 'stuff' the Mam knows by heart... unlike her somewhat limited brother who'd probably poison himself in a flash. A public footpath veers left as we approach houses and descends to the river whereby, upon crossing a bridge, notices warn the traveller there is no access (due to deep excavations, as I recall). The fence, however, is not a problem, passers by on the main path completely unperturbed.

The chamber looms through the woodland a little above the gurgling stream/river, but far below road level, the substantial, slipped capstone and orthostats covered with moss. If ever there's a 'Dingley Dell', this is it... so close to civilisation, yet a million miles away in terms of vibe and sense of place. The chamber is completely subservient - in a landscape context - to the stream, which fills the air with sound, for once not seeping from someone's poxy I-pod. How refreshing, how unusual. So that's the siting settled, then. I'm puzzled by the 'greyhound' connotations, however. Unlike the aforementioned Dolwilym (or Donegal's Kilclooney More, for that matter), no mystic mutt guides the visitor to this site, so did this refer to a 'grey hound', as in wolf? Dunno.

In accordance with Postie's observations there are indications of recent ritual activity here. However - unlike other sites I've visited - it is unobtrusive and doesn't have an impact, to be honest. True, I'd rather have nothing, but stuff such as this is less damaging than used condoms, for example.

All in all another fine site.
26th September 2009ce
Edited 26th September 2009ce

Comments (1)

"I'm puzzled by the 'greyhound' connotations ... did this refer to a 'grey hound', as in wolf? Dunno."

Do you like mysteries - the Celts were fond of riddles and puns and so forth and so it is fitting that this place name seems altogether quite baffling. To begin with the English word 'greyhound' has nothing to do with grey hounds as such, the grey element in the name stretches backwards in time thousands of years to an archaic word meaning shining 'gher', a word much older than the English language itself.

In Welsh greyhound 'milgi' seems to be a kenning for wolf in the sense of 'wild dog' [milain+gi]. Why the Welsh language chose the greyhound for the wolf kenning is unknown to me, but if Anglo-Saxon culture and similar had morphed 'gher' to 'grig' then the pejorative connotations might have suited farming communities who loathed and feared wolves, just like today in fact

Perhaps also the prehistoric hunting dogs of the Celts resembled wolves albeit generally on a slightly smaller scale? The 'gher' etymology for greyhound remains elusive to me in terms of Anglo-Saxon culture unless it was wholly unaware of its meaning, in which case the choice of greyhound for 'milgi' is a coincidence in terms of 'shining' but possibly intentional in terms of 'grig' [for "*g'her-" see Pokorny below]

The word 'filiast' is composed of two elements, the first element 'fil-' is a mutation of 'mil-'; 'm' can change to 'f' (and sounding like English 'v') for grammatical reasons in the Welsh language.

Posted by megalith6
10th February 2011ce
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