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Cefn Esgair Carnau

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


Now I've been intrigued about what may lie upon this stretch of bleak, high moorland for some time now. Don't get me wrong, even my pigeon Welsh - not to mention map reading skills (ahem) - made it plain that there were cairns here. But, as any seasoned TMA'er will know, there are 'cairns', and then there are proper, Bronze Age cairns worth seriously checking out.

Anyway, I'm down to spend a few days with the Mam Cymru during a period of atrocious weather.... even for South Wales, which is saying something. Torrential rain, swollen rivers threatening to burst their banks, and wind gusting in excess of 50-60mph. Nice. Needless to say the Mam wants to go walkabout, so Cefn Esgair Carnau is a name retrieved from the memory banks as a more or less safe option in the circumstances.

North of Penderyn - the distillery of which, incidentally, produces a very fine whisky (it's true!) - the A4059 swings NE towards the distant flat summits of The Brecon Beacons. Park at the disused quarry entrance at approx 978131 and head NW (ish) across the road onto the moor, trying to avoid the bogs as you do so. Eventually the intrepid traveller arrives at an area of bleak upland defined by that peculiar 'grass' which favours - shall we say - rather wet locations. Four relatively large cairns are to be found here beyond a smaller outlier, with another some way to the NE. The 'daddy' - or should that be 'mother'? - of them, however, lies out of sight to the north at SN97521375, a great pile of stone some 1.7m high overlooking the Afon Hepste.

The siting above the river is, I believe, deliberate and significant. The mountains and hills form a more or less natural amphitheatre around the moor creating a vibe which is, if anything, heightened by the wind and horizontal, driving hail. In short this is some place and I feel stupid for having driven past so many times in ignorance. What's more, the hillside beyond the Afon Hepste leading towards the great peak of Fan Fawr (Waun Tincer) would appear to be also graced with a myriad cairns..... whether these are field clearances, or bear greater ritual significance is another intruiging question left for another day.

All in all a visit is well worth the effort, but make sure you wear your boots!
5th December 2009ce
Edited 3rd March 2016ce

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