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

Garn Fawr



According to Coflein, Royal Commission surveyors saw fit to describe Garn Fawr as '…one of the most striking of the stone forts of the United Kingdom…' upon concluding a field visit here in 1921. Quite an assertion, this... for it must be noted that competition in the category is fierce, to say the least. However, following a visit of my own, I reckon it's justified. Yeah, a classic site, this.

The sharp, bitingly cold wind - which has served all day to remind me it's still technically Winter - decides to up the ante as the day moves into late afternoon, thus making the visit to this coastal fortress a decidedly hostile affair. Walking poles are of great benefit if one wishes to avoid being blown from the collapsed drystone ramparts of this great enclosure in such conditions... that much is true. But there is something indescribably invigorating - primeval, even - about accepting the challenge and placing the body on the line. Perhaps that's it. Perhaps we actually do activate subconscious survival sub-routines we no longer need in the course of urban living. I believe so, and this is the primary reason I will continue to do this while I still can.

Having said the above, access to the site is easy, a large car park suggesting popularity with punters during the summer season. A prominent, rocky crag veers up to the west with another - Garn Fach, bearing a smaller companion hillfort - to the east. Follow the path to the right of the former and the substantial, inner rampart is soon reached. This connects a number of other crags, incorporated within the defences like numerous proto-mural wall towers, to form a powerful main enclosure... although a drystone field wall does confuse matters a little. The summit of the site is crowned by both an OS trig pillar and the remains of a WWII gun position. It seems appropriate. There is more to Garn Fawr than this, however, a walk - or more accurately, 'stagger' - revealing several, additional lines of rampart encircling the hillside below. Not to mention two satellite enclosures (Dinas Mawr to the west and Ysgubor Gaer to the south) and exquisite views of Pwll Deri and associated cliff-lines. In short Garn Fawr (the 'Fawr' must relate to the size of the hillfort in relation to the surrounding enclosures, since the crag upon which it sits is not of significant altitude) is well worth a visit, even if archaeology isn't your thang.... it's a fabulous viewpoint.

Brambles impede progress and I get the distinct impression I've gatecrashed Nature's private party. But it is worth the not inconsiderable effort, the discomfort, even. If sites can retain echoes of the past, perhaps I hear something rebounding from the crags of Garn Fawr. Or is that just the wind?
29th March 2011ce
Edited 30th March 2011ce

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