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

Pen Pumlumon-Fawr



The hill-walking fraternity often refer to this great mountain massif as 'Plynlimon'. Yeah, right. But try calling it by its proper Welsh name of Pumlumon - 'Five Stacks' - however, and those after more than a quick masochistic ego trip will gain immediate insight into the true prehistoric relevance of this iconic landscape. The harsh brutality of Nature suddenly gets the human touch.......

True, there are five great Bronze Age burial cairns here - if attention is limited only upon Pen-Pumlumon Fawr (with two) and Pen Pumlumon-Arwystli (with three). But that is only part of the story, with several other large examples waiting to be visited upon satellite peaks along the main ridge.

Pen Pumlumon Fawr, at 2,467ft, is by a small margin of 39ft, the highest point of the massif. It is also the most dramatic topographically, the relatively featureless southern slopes suddenly terminating in a sheer cliff-line plunging to the source of the Afon Rheidol far below. The two burial cairns are large, if all too predictably having suffered the attentions of the aforementioned hillwalking fraternity. Sure, the landscape has altered since these monuments were first erected, the most obvious change being the Nant-y-Moch reservoir glistening to the west. But stand upon one and survey the surrounding hills and the myriad other visible cairns may convince you that, no......... up here things really haven't changed that much in the intervening millennia. In fact there are so many burial cairns concentrated around that I'd go as far as to say that here we have Wales' - indeed the UK's - Bronze Age answer to Carrowkeel.

So why here? Why upon this (arguably) not very physically striking, dare I say it not especially 'high' Mid Walian mountain range do we have perhaps the UK's greatest Bronze Age burial cemetery? A tentative answer may present itself if the traveller decides to go for a wander past Pen Pumlumon-Arwystli to distant Pumlumon Cwmbiga and Carnfachbugeilyn. For if he/she does so the source of two major rivers (in addition to the aforementioned Rheidol) will be visited upon the ridge line; namely the Wye and the Severn (Hafren). These sources are mere boggy pools, it must be said, but their significance is ..... well. Perhaps it's just the over-excited imagination of one freaked out Gladman up here. But could we refer to Bronze Age Pumlumon as a perceived place not only of death, but also a simultaneous source of life/rebirth. Too fanciful? Perhaps.

Pen Pumlumon Fawr is most easilly reached starting from the farm of Eisteddfa Gurig on the A44 to the south. However a direct ascent from the Maes Nant activity centre to the north will assure the traveller he/she is indeed climbing a true mountain.
12th October 2009ce
Edited 12th October 2009ce

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