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


Burial Chamber


Boxing Day morning dawns with a heavily overcast sky... in stark contrast to yesterday's pristine, cloudless blue. Typical. No snow, though, a state of affairs which, despite the Mam C's assertions to the contrary, I'm pretty happy with, to tell you the truth. So, leaving the Mam to look after little Evelyn - wild horses wouldn't drag her away, not even her favourite, incomparable Welsh cobs - I head towards Nant-y-moel and the round barrow upon Werfa... only to find the A4061 blocked by snow. Bugger. What now? Help me Rhondda, to paraphrase the Beach Boys badly out of context. Although they do appear on just about every Christmas compilation I've heard, to be fair.

Tythegston pops into the head. Aye, that'll do. Back towards Bridgend we go, then. However, upon arrival at the parking area mentioned in previous posts, I notice a brand new 'private' sign in situ upon the now chained gate. I therefore decide to check out the approach from the village itself, the map showing a public right of way across the intervening field of shimmering white. Right on! No problem parking, although I very nearly sprawl headfirst upon the icy road before the stone 'stile' across the wall. Almost, but not quite. I think the Russian judge gave a 4. Anyway, a couple of magnificently gaunt trees in winter raiment lead the eye towards the distant long cairn... the monument - as you would expect - profiled upon the skyline to the left of a prominent area of woodland [see image]. Further stiles allow access across a cross-track [the one now officially 'private'], the right of way traversing the following field to the right of another iconic tree. At the far boundary the long cairn once again becomes visible, remnants of the usual covering of undergrowth all that escapes the overwise overwhelming mantle of snow.

There's something about deep snow, isn't there? To be honest I wouldn't choose such conditions for a first visit to a complex site since, as with mountain landscapes, deep snow obscures form, camouflages detail.... I suppose you could say remakes a site in its own image? But there's no denying it adds a special 'something' to the vibe. For me, Tythegston has two salient details..... firstly and not surprisingly, the large capstone which still surmounts the mounument, today bearing the tracks of an unknown creature (fox?) no doubt looking for a vantage point, in its covering of snow. And secondly, the view of the Mynydd Herbert round barrow, which is perfectly profiled upon the (approx) north-western skyline when seen from the capstone. Coincidence? Yeah, right.

This is a fairly upstanding long cairn which Coflein describes as "A disturbed oval stony mound, 29m WSW-ENE by about 20m and 1.2m high, the capstone being the only visible structural feature; a number of loose small boulders along the northern side of the mound are thought to result from recent field clearance. Source: RCAHMW AP955221/59". I'd concur with that.

In lieu of visible detail I consequently sit/lie upon the capstone, drink my coffee, open a chocolate orange upon said capstone [how many people can claim that?] and ponder..... and ponder. As you do at places such as this. Finally, following a somewhat confusing attempt to check out an 'enclosure' shown upon the 1:25K OS map within the nearby trees, I return to the car just before dark, having made an unholy mess of the previously virgin snow lying round about this Christmas time. Hell, someone's gotta!
3rd January 2011ce
Edited 3rd January 2011ce

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