Its parochial history and antiquities.
By Thomas W. Hancock.
Careg-y-Big; (the stone of contention, or the Bickering stone). - This stone is surrounded by curious traditions. The following remarks respecting it, from a MS note by the Rev. Edward Edwards, Rector of Llanymynech, have been kindly furnished us by the Rev. Robert Williams, of Llangadwaladr.
"1790. About 150 years ago, Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant was remarkable for its 'Careg-y-Big,' a pyramidal stone pillar in the village. To ascend this pillar, and to say 'Captain Care-y-Big,' was a general challenge which was sure to end in mischief and bloodshed. These riots often happened on a Sunday evening, and the common enquiry on Monday was, as to how many were killed at Llanrhaiadr the evening before. Mr. Maurice of Penybont [Llanerchemrys], removed the stone and buried it in a deep pool near his own house. There is a tradition that he was drowned in that pool, and the country people believed that the misfortune was a punishment for removing Careg-y-Big."
The stone was removed doubtless at the instance of the Rev. David Parry, the vicar of Llanrhaiadr, from 1675 to 1682. The poet Huw Morris, in the following stanzas addressed to the Rev. David Parry, alludes to this stone.
"Cas wyd, coeg wyd, cegiden - cweryl,
Careg big y gydben,
Cwynaw tolciaw - can talcen;
Codiad bai yw cadw dy ben.
Lle byddai'r ffraeau rhy ffrom - gwaith rhydost,
A gweithredoedd Sodom,
Duw o'i ras a wnae drosom,
Bwyntio sant i Bant y Siom."
[Vile art thou, deceitful art thou, the elf - of quarrels,
The bickering-stone of struggles,
There are groans - the bruising of a hundred heads;
To preserve thee is to uphold sin.
Where there existed frays, very severe - shocking work,
And the deeds of Sodom,
God in his grace hath for us,
Appointed a devoted man, to this vale of discontent.] T.W. H.
Tradition says that Mr Maurice removed the stone with a team of oxen, to his residence at Penybont, and that upon its arrival there quite a grotesque scene took place among the horned and unhorned beasts of all kinds in the place. The evil genii accompanying the stone set the whole group in a ferment, and a furor possessed them; and they indulged in all sorts of wild and eccentric antics, each strove to possess the 'captaincy' of the stone, in imitation of the Llanrhaiadr frays. Gory fights among them were the result, so that the good gentleman was glad with all speed to remove the stone and cast it into the depths of the nearest pool in the river Tanat. Mr. Edwards describes the stone as 'pyramidal'; 'Big,' verily has the meaning of 'pointed' or 'pyramidal', but it also means 'spite,' 'bickering' &c. Stones called 'Careg-y-big', are still found, and not unfrequently, in Wales. It is not certain what was the exact shape, or size of the stone. Some old people state that it was used as a horseblock; if so, it probably had an ancient history.
From v19 of 'Collections Historical and Archaeological relating to Montgomeryshire and its borders' (1868).
Posted by Rhiannon
9th June 2011ce