|Tall, (usually) dark, well proportioned (ish) and with a multi-faceted character suggesting hidden depths.... if you can penetrate behind a veneer of apparent couldn't-care-less-ness. But enough about me. These Cae'r-Hen-Eglwys stones are pretty good, too!
Surely few megalithic monuments can invoke such paradoxical sentiments in the visitor as these two beautiful monoliths? Hidden away in a field, to the north of the charming village of Laleston and sandwiched between the, er, somewhat less appealing urban sprawl of Bridgend to the east and the M4, the profile offered from the minor road upon arrival is achingly evocative... shades of Duddo, perhaps? The stones themselves possess exquisite grain, the resultant texture combining with the colours of the lichen, ever changing in the constantly evolving light patterns of today, to send the perceptive senses into overdrive.
Then the paradox... the downside. The piles of household rubbish littering the approach, the old trailer wheel and coke bottle defining the space between the stones, the patch of blackened earth nearby no doubt marking the location of the last rites of another stolen car, now removed, the stones looking on in mute witness at the violation. Hell, how did it come to this in a society which is only too ready to proclaim its spirituality and its supposed affinity with its ancient heritage, the 'Hen wlad fy nhadau'? Why, they even sing about it in the new cathedrals, the rugby stadia! How indeed.... it seems to me that actions certainly speak louder than words in this respect and that, following the demise of the chapels, the new South Walian 'religion' of rugby and beer has very little time for the 'Old land of my fathers'. As Karen Matheson once succinctly put it, the '..country's been wearing the emperor's clothes..'. Surely it shouldn't be up to an Englishman all the way from south-east Essex to attempt to restore some dignity to this relic of past cultures? Then again, perhaps it takes the outsider to see things as they really are?
A 'souped up' pretend rally car - you know the sort - roars past, the 'occupants' looking at me as if I'm from another planet. Although I know the area well, I feel I might as well be, if the sadness which wells up within me is any indication. But then, suddenly, the paradox inherent here provides the defining moment of the visit.... The sun streams across the defiled landscape to illuminate the two monoliths, which appear to these eyes like a shining beacon of hope for the future in their very survival against all the odds. Melodramatic? Perhaps. But then again...just maybe.... the 'chavs' won't win after all as long as there are some who realise this is not the way to treat the past. It can be different. No, it HAS to be different. So visit these stones, if you can, and perhaps we can help bring them back into the local conscience.
To reach Cae'r-Hen-Eglwys take the A473 Bridgend turning (roundabout) towards Laleston from the A48. Take the next left and, ignoring any turnings, pass the cemetery on your right. At the crossroads turn right and head east to a junction. Turn right here and, in a short distance, the stones appear silhouetted beyond a field gate to your left.
Posted by GLADMAN
10th April 2010ce
Edited 29th December 2011ce