The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Mynydd Mawr

Round Cairn


One of the great things about being a megalithically-minded (and hopefully reasonably enlightened) hillwalker is that sometimes everything you hold dear in the field comes together in one glorious combination. Another is that people tend to leave you alone when they think you are mad. Bonus! Then again perhaps they know something I don't.... wibble...wibble..

Anyway, the great passage grave upon Seefin, in County Wicklow, is probably the greatest example of this 'combination' I've yet experienced, but an expedition up the 2,291ft elephantine bulk of Mynydd Mawr in Central Snowdonia isn't that far off, in my opinion. Being an isolated peak, the views from Mynydd Mawr are absolutely sensational, particularly from the vertigo inducing Craig-y-Bera to the exquisite Nantlle Ridge and across the Cwellyn Valley to Yr Wyddfa, Snowdon itself. However study the map further - particularly Coflein's annotated example - and you will see that the greater part of Central Snowdonia is one gigantic, upland Bronze Age burial cemetery. Not as immediately obvious as any of the great Irish sites, granted, but there nonetheless and mainly subject to the attentions of people who couldn't give a monkey's about it for one reason or another.

Coflein describes the huge burial cairn at Mynydd Mawr's summit thus.... 'a large sub-circular summit cairn that measures 22m in diameter by up to 2.5m high. It is constructed of small-medium angular scree stones piled together. There has been later delviing (sic) to form three drystone shelters which are built into it. Each of the shelters measure up to 3m in diameter by 1m high'.

So, more destruction of a once magnificent monument, then. What's new? Thankfully, however, the cairn is in a very real sense only a symbollic marker of the location, the sense of place at which is, well, above everything normally experienced in this day and age. Across the valley the new multi-million pound cafe upon the summit of Snowdon is clearly visible, while we're content to let the grave of some great predecessor be treated like this. Well, it is just a pile of stones, after all......... or is it?

Note that there is another substantial cairn - also 'amended' somewhat - upon the rocky promontory of Craig Cwmbychan, overlooking Nant-y-Betws roughly to the NE. Both cairns are best reached from Planwydd Farm, a little above the inflow of Llyn Cwellyn. A steep climb, but then the reward matches the effort. Ten times over.
26th September 2009ce
Edited 26th September 2009ce

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