|This was a sort of birthday concession on Louise's part (it was my birthday the day before) so despite the fact that she had a lousy cold, we went up north for the day. Having two small kids makes the whole exercise of getting out the house a bit tricky, so by the time we got to our first site it was nearly lunch time.
What with it being a short winter day, we didn't get to see everything in the area, so I plan to go back and do a mopping up exercise some time next year. I reckon on a Summer day you could easily take in Bedd y Brenin and some of the other standing stones (not yet posted on the MA) around the lakes.
The following fieldnotes were posted up over a long period of time, so they're a bit of a jumble. Make of it what you will.
PS. We ended our day looking for refreshment, which we found not too far away at Llwyngwril Gallery.
Visited 24th November 2002: This is a really enigmatic site, in a beautiful location. There are ten stones remaining, and an identifiable hole where an eleventh once stood. Even though this site is now thought to be the remains of a ring cairn, it doesn't neatly fit the bill. Six of the stones form a semi circle (this is the bit that looks like a ring cairn), and three more stand in a row (like a tail to the ring) to the east. Slightly to the north of this tail is a big quartz boulder. All in all it ends up looking like a question mark in plan, which is very appropriate!
Apparently the farmer who owns the field has reported two or more fallen stones coming to light nearby in ploughing. Also worth looking out for (difficult to miss really) are the remains of a large cairn
about 20 meters to the west of the Arthog stones.
I don't get the impression that many people visit the Arthog Standing Stones, which is a shame because they're rather splendid. I'd certainly recommend a detour if you're in the area.
The walk to the Arthog Standing Stones is pleasant, but a bit convoluted. From the road (SH648138
) head west through the white metal gate and along the track. Keep going to the point where a pretty little stone footbridge crosses the river. Cross here, and once over on the other side of the river keep heading east (diverging from the well trodden path to Pant-Phylip). Continue along the north bank of the river following a muddy rutted track. Where the track crosses back across the river at a ford, the footpath heads north through a gate (held shut with bailing twine). Go through this gate and follow the perimeter of the field north (this is pretty steep). The field perimeter curves around to the east (great views to the west), and if you keep going you'll arrive at the stones which are in the far corner of the field.
Visited 24th November 2002: Waen Bant is easy to find, but if you want to park nearby you'll have to risk putting at least two wheels on the grass (something I thought twice about because I didn't fancy getting stuck).
There's no public footpath to Waen Bant, but it's not far from the road, and there are no fences between the road and the stone. We approached from the bottom of the field, and got a good view of the stone sitting on it's little lump of land in front of us as we walked.
The stone isn't as big as it looks in photos (I'm warning you now so that you don't expect something enormous). At a guess (based on William's height) I'd say it's about 1.75 metres high. There's a distinctive undercut on it's eastern side which is about half the stone's height in length. I'm not sure that this is artificial, but I'm certain it was significant to whoever erected the stone.
The views out towards Cadair Idris are spectacular, as are the views north towards the mountains on the other side of the Mawddach Estuary. The stone seems to be orientated towards Cadair Idris (specifically the peak called Craig-las). Apparently there's another standing stone to the south east of Waun Bant called the Afon Arthog Stone, but this isn't marked on the OS map, so in the failing light we decided not to try and find it.
Visited 24th November 2002: We drove to Carreg y Big from Waen Bant
, and spotted it from the gate (one of many that cross the roads around here). The stone is very close to the road, positioned at the bottom of a small elongated lump of hill on the south west shore of the southerly of the two lakes. The only nearby parking space has a sign next to it saying "Parking for Fishermen Only". We ignored this and parked.
Carreg y Big is just over two metres high (I'm basing this on the photo of Lou standing next to it), so definitely larger than Waen Bant. We both liked it more than Waun Bant, but not just because it's larger. The surrounding countryside is spectacular, and while we were there the sun made a last attempt at shining, so the whole scene was something special.
Next to Carreg y Big is a much smaller stone which I have yet to find any reference to. It reminded me of a little stone called Castell Coch near the Buwch a'r Llo
standing stones in Ceredigion. I was tempted to name this little stone Carreg y Small, but that would be a horrible thing to do with the Welsh language. I'll have to come up with something better.
Visited 24th November 2002: Bryn Seward was the penultimate site on our trip around the Llynau Cregennen
area. We approached from the east, and I've never been on a more gated road in my life. With Alfie's baby seat in the front, I had no choice but to open and close all the gates myself (there were loads of them!). I managed to cut my hand on one of them, so beware sharp edges on the gates if you visit Bryn Seward.
The light was fading, so we passed through the forestry, leaving Bedd y Brenin
for another day. As the forestry opens up, there's the first stone on the right hand side of the road (see photos 1
). The views beyond towards the Mawddach Estuary and Abermaw (Barmouth) are amazing, with the Llyn Peninsular stretching off to the west. You can see why these stones and this sacred route run along this hillside.
The second stone
is just before the gate after the forestry (you really can't miss it). This was my favourite, because it's really quite thin in cross section, but it's face is very triangular. Standing next to the stock fence it looks really darned good. There's a possible third 'fallen' stone just west of this on the other side of the fence, but I was so unimpressed by it that I didn't photograph it (I'm not convinced it's really part of the row).
Just beyond the thin triangular stone is the ambiguous half buried boulder
. Since our visit I've read a Cadw description of the row, and apparently the stones used to be incorporated into a low dry stone wall. This wall has now collapsed and spread, which accounts for the debris along the side of the road, and the ambiguity of some of the stones.
After Bryn Seward it we headed off along more gated road, towards Waun Oer
Visited November 24th 2002: After Bryn Seward
we headed off to find Waun Oer. The stones are easy to miss as you approach them because of a tall dry stone wall running between them and the road. Luckily we spotted one of the stones
through a gateway. Even better there was no gate in the gateway, so apart from the mud there was nothing stopping me from strolling in to the field to take a closer look.
This row is much more complete than Bryn Seward, with five stones remaining, two of which are fallen. I must admit that I'm a bit confused looking back over my photos, because I can only see four stones in them. Perhaps one of them had wondered off!
The most distinctive stone is a big fallen one, with unusual elongated markings on it. There's a nearby boulder
with similar markings, and this was cited in the Cadw records as evidence that both sets of markings are probably naturally formed. In the case of the stone in the row, the patterns may have been artificially enhanced. The fallen stone also has a cup mark on it near it's pointed end, a little over an inch in diameter. Unfortunately I only discovered this after my visit.
Interestingly, the Cadw surveyor drew comparisons between Waun Oer and the West Kennett Avenue
(in his notes he put 'don't laugh' in brackets). In the same way that the Kennet stones are often identified as either male or female in shape, this chap reckoned that the Waun Oer stones also fall into two distinct types. I'll have to go back and check this out, as well as searching out the cup mark.