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


Cliff Fort


Slowly it dawns upon me just how special this Glamorgan coastline really is.... although, to be fair, the prehistoric treasures are not exactly obvious, particularly in the absence of an OS map. And again, who in their right mind would shell out for one covering the urban sprawl of Bridgend? Indeed. Nevertheless it would be a fine investment, as even a cursory glance at my newly purchased 'library sell-off' copy confirms. Numerous round barrows apart, a whole string of cliff/promontory forts are shown crowning the coastline. Duh! Only been visiting the Mam C here for 25-odd years....

Perhaps the most accessible of these Iron Age enclosures is that which overlooks Dunraven Bay, a little south-east of the seaside town of Ogmore-by-Sea and its near neighbour Southerndown. A newly refurbished road heads southwards from the latter (according to the Mam C the original was in dire danger of falling into the sea) to its terminus at a large 'official' carpark, a magnet for the locality upon those hot summer days which sometimes occur in South Wales. Today, with a hint of drizzle hanging in the air - or is it sea mist caused by the violent pounding of the cliffline by breakers? - there are still a fair few people about, walking dogs and what not. The majority head for the remains of Dunraven Castle, the ruins of a rather dodgy mansion which defile the north-eastern flank of the much older enclosure, presumably having destroyed the defences in that area.

The Mam and I, of course, head for the cliff line and sit a-while upon the relatively upstanding northern ramparts which still bar the direct approach from the car park. OK, these aren't in themselves that particularly inspiring.... but the setting and coastal views most certainly are! A cliff-fort upon a cliff... whatever next? Pragmatic bunch, these ancient inhabitants of what was later to become Wales. The map shows additional ramparts to the south facing any approach from Trwyn y Witch (see Rhiannon's post), although these are - to my mind - nowhere near as obvious. We go for a wander down to the aforementioned Trwyn y Witch... from here the cliff line is simply magnificent, the strata comprising the vertical rock faces, compressed and buckled by primeaval forces too powerful to even contemplate, rising above a raging malestrom of water. Fishermen have apparently been swept off this coastline to their deaths, and it's not difficult to see why. Incidentally legend tells of how locals used to lure shipping onto the lethal offshore rocks, which are a prominent feature of these waters, in order to collect the resultant booty. Today surfer dudes brave the waves in search of spiritual enlightment.

The iconic coastline stretches away to the south-eastern horizon and, according to the map, bears numerous other Iron Age fortifications upon its dizzy heights - the nearest just a little along at Cwm Bach. Well there you are. Just when I thought the 'list' was diminishing....way to go, TMA's Carl. The Mam is captivated by a bird of prey which perches upon a post to keep its beady little eyes upon us. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can accord Dunraven is that such a creature does not appear at all out of place here.
9th March 2011ce
Edited 9th March 2011ce

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