|Merthyr Mawr Warren is a special place in a great position overlooking the Afon Ogwr. Yeah, even when judged in relation to the superb coastline of Glamorgan, of which it forms part - a coastline with majestic cliff lines bearing numerous Iron Age hillforts - it is stunning. Not only does it consist of some of the highest sand dunes in all Europe - rising up to some 200ft - but the continuity of human settlement here is staggering. No, really, it is. From Mesolithic to Medieval, with several Bronze Age cists discovered for good measure. Not to mention the substantial ruins of a fortified manor house (Candleston Castle) and a Norman fortress at nearby Ogmore Castle, the latter guarding exquisite stepping stones across the aforementioned river.
Having said that, shifting sand doesn't make for good location/preservation of detail, so don't expect to 'see' a great deal of prehistory here in the normal sense. But if you are prepared to open your mind and walk the dunes.... I've no doubt a good day will be had.
The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (GGAT) site accessed via
possesses a lot of information regarding the prehistoric, er, prehistory of the dunes. To whet the appetite, try these two for starters (I quote GGAT records, of course):
ROBERTS'S CIST BURIAL - (PRN) : 00226m - SS85917704
"A stone cist on Merthyr Mawr Warren, uncovered by sand movement in 1948 and examined by staff of NMW who found sufficient other structural remains to postulate that it may have been part of a barrow of a type known elsewhere on the warren, composed of sand with a covering of stones. It was 0.5x0.3m and contained the skeleton of a child; to the S of it stones formed the segment of a circle 10.7m in diameter, and near them where two slabs of stone with fragments of burnt and unburnt bone (Savory 1953). Nothing is now visible at this NGR, which falls in a hollow in dunes at the foot of the high ground."
CANDLESTON CASTLE CIST - (PRN) : 00227m - SS86727726
"A cist NW of Candleston Castle near the ruined windmill. This was oriented N-S and was roughly trapezoidal in shape; the internal length was 5ft (1.5m) and the internal width ranged from 13in to 17in (0.33-0.43m). It was entirely lined with stone slabs"
There is much more where that came from..... not least a probable ploughed-out Neolithic causewayed enclosure upon the high ground to the south at Norton [SS87467578].
Posted by GLADMAN
30th December 2010ce
Edited 3rd January 2011ce