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




Following a somewhat illuminating time - in the metaphysical sense, you understand - at the Nant-y-Llys and Pen-y-Gwryd cairns, Bryn-y-Castell hillfort beckons... well, there are several hours to spare before darkness... and it's been on the 'list' for a long time now. Too long, in fact, despite a very dodgy evening weather forecast. Unlike Postman, I approach via Betws-y-coed and the Machno Valley, the drive up Cwm Hafodyredwydd (take care) and across the brutal Migneint a perennial favourite shortcut, what with the funerary cairn-topped Arenigs crowning the south-eastern horizon... a real sense of 'I don't know what' pervading through the open car window. Joining the B4391 to Ffestiniog, a short, if exceptionally vertiginious drive above Cwm Cynfal (nice waterfall, by the way... but stop before you look!!) leads past a car park to a minor road on the left. Wishing to approach on foot, I park upon the verge just before this and take the public footpath (signposted) across the road.

Passing through a gate, a track leads towards a copse of trees and walled courtyard, beyond which a craggy hill rises. I climb this for a great initial view of the hillfort I've come to see to the north-east... and my first indication that the forecast of 'deteriorating conditions' was no fallacy. In a short while I attain the ramparts of a nicely compact little fortress, the walls - except where apparently somewhat reconstructed - little more that footings, but the siting is such that this is of small consequence. Yeah, the attuned psyche can easilly add the missing pieces of the jigsaw in a place such as this and visualise what once stood here. Not just gaunt, drystone walls, but the human element which built and occupied them, too. What a place to live on one of those glorious Snowdonian days when the light is the match of any Shakespearian sonnet, what with Manod Mawr presenting an exquisite facade to the north, and Moelwyns Mawr and Bach offsetting a glorious coastal view to the approx south-west!

But on a day like today.... with sudden weather fronts sweeping in from the aforementioned coast to literally blow me off my feet? Thoughts turn to how hardy the inhabitants must really have been and how humble I feel (trying to stand) here against the onslaught. Eventually it is too much, even properly equipped for such conditions, and I seek the lee of the north-eastern walls to ponder awhile. Perhaps it is at times like this when the door of the past can be coaxed ajar... if only a little. Dunno.... are there distant, repressed folk memories which are released only in such situations? Perhaps, perhaps not. Whatever the truth, I cannot leave until darkness leaves me no choice.
2nd December 2010ce
Edited 2nd December 2010ce

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