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

Merthyr Mawr Warren


There are times, particularly during high summer, when this otherwise superb stretch of South Walian coastline can seem somewhat.... how can I put it?... 'Gavin and Stacey-like', I guess. What with the amusement arcades and rides of Porthcawl to the immediate west and local punters packing out the beaches of Ogmore-on-sea and Southerndown, it is best avoided. At other times, such as was the case upon Christmas Day 2010, it can be enchanting.

It's difficult - if not impossible - to succinctly define what ensures a prehistoric site/location is 'enchanting' or 'evocative'. There are many contributary factors, usually involving an complex interplay of physical remains and landscape setting, together with prevailing weather conditions, lighting etc. Merthyr Mawr Warren relies exclusively upon the latter since there is very little, if any - from my experience anyway - physical remains of prehistoric structures to be seen amongst the great sand dunes. However the lack of people and, primarily, the exquisite colours generated by the low mid winter sun contrasting with a white mantle of snow, make the Warren appear postively 'otherwordly' this Christmas afternoon. Forget the gaudy seasonal decorations, this is artistic embellishment of the highest possible calibre. Nature knows best, methinks. According to the GGAT website (see miscellaneous) humankind has occupied this landscape since, well, forever. This is - in the most literal sense - 'The Sands of Time' personified. On occasions like this the landscape itself is overwhelming, short circuiting the human psyche with the sheer contrast in light. The Exmoor coast looms beyond little Tusker Rock as clear as I've ever seen it... but all too soon we must leave to further participate in that ritual we call 'Christmas'.........

Merthyr Mawr Warren is most easily accessed by following signs for Merthyr Mawr village from the A48, there being a parking area at the terminus of Merthyr Mawr Road, near Candleston Castle. A much better alternative - for those with time - is to park at the Norman fortress of Ogmore Castle and cross the Afon Ogwr, via some wonderful stepping stones, followed by suspension bridge to the chocolate box village of thatched cottages; hence follow the road to the left (west), past the church.

If you decide to visit keep your eyes peeled. Who knows? You may be perceptive enough - or lucky enough - to uncover the sand dunes' more tangible secrets that have eluded me to date? If not, the intangible attributes should see you alright regardless...
2nd January 2011ce
Edited 2nd January 2011ce

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