Wow, has it really been 6 years since my last visit? Where has the time gone? Needless to say, the stones are aging better than me! :)
The field where the stones live has been left to go fallow and the grass and nettles were knee height. The stones felt warm to the touch and I sat upon the smallest stone, which is half-fallen. The clouds had cleared and the sun shone. Despite being close to a country lane and being overlooked by a farmhouse, all was quiet. This is a nice place to sit and ponder. The stones are off a decent size (5 to 6ft tall) and are well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.
Then I’m back at Four Stones, in my Dad’s countryside. Last time, I was hit with a wave of emotion I hadn’t foreseen, but this time I’m prepared and enjoy the site for itself more. It would have been his birthday in two days’ time though, so it seems more than fitting to be here and raise a metaphorical toast.
It is a wonderful site. The proximity of the house, road and telegraph wires perhaps just enough to keep it from the front rank of circles for the modern visitor, but otherwise the setting, and the stones themselves, are exquisite, the cupmarks on the south-western stone a little bit of icing on the cake. A site to be savoured. Time passes as it often does.
Arriving at Four Stones provides an emotional punch in the guts. The last visit here was with my Dad, on one of our last days out together in 1999. Coming back here is nearly overwhelming and I find myself in tears, thinking of all the things we never said and all the things we never had time to do. I will experience something similar at Mitchell's Fold the following spring, showing that the healing we think time brings isn't either as complete or as secure as it seems. These sites bring such thoughts into sharp relief.
But although Four Stones has the power to open me up, it also has the power to bring a stupid grin. The four boulders, so closely spaced as to enclose the visitor in a tight embrace, exert a strong pull on the senses. The proximity of a nearby house and occasional passing car, the recently cut hay in the field, all fade out of mind as I sit here. The views of the now-revealed Radnor mountains, that I was so recently stumbling across in the mist, add to the overall feeling that this circle is a small part of a grand landscape. And we sit in it, briefly, then we're gone and it endures, for the next visitors. Long may that continue.
I'm thinking about it all and I'm sorry and I'm not sorry - our time was made up of confused emotions and little whirlwinds and all those things we couldn't really talk about but, most of all, it was sealed in sacred moments like these and then it was gone.
Visited on 13.2.10. Easy to access in field next to crossroads - approximately 20 metres from gate into field. Can be easily seen over hedge from lane which runs past the stones (on right) with farm a bit further on (on left).
An old and dear friend was very fond of an expression that I still remember to this day.
'Words fail me. Please see sketch.'
Such is the impression that Old Radnor leaves you with.
Upon arrival, you find yourself saying 'Is that it?', but hours later, on the drive home, you find yourself mulling over what you actually saw. It is true that first impressions are underwhelming. The geography of the landscape, and the immensity of the plain on which the stones are situated, tend to detract from the scale of the construct. Approached through mountains, then hills, the visitors field of view remains on the horizon, and the stones, magnificent as they are, cannot compete with the surroundings.
And yet, and yet...
Turn your gaze inwards and puzzle. Exactly how deep are these beasts? What do they feel?
Struck deep into a soil that has fed generations for thousands of years, these monsters know all there is to know about the seasons and their cycle. Empires have come and gone, farmers born and died, but they have remained constant.
I felt humbled.
The pure depth intrigues me. Try stamping around the bases and listen to the acoustics. Are there chambers below? Trace the cupmarks with a finger. I struggled but then found them, and their gentle bowls and furrows made perfect sense when traced in tandem with a survey of the distant mountains.
It was a strange feeling leaving the stones, but their attraction increases as you draw distant. Next time, I will approach with a far more inward looking mind, and greater subtlety.
But until then, substituting the word 'sketch' for the remarkable photographs found here on this site...
Visited 21st June 2003: My first visit to the Four Stones left me under-impressed. I got the feeling that the stones were standing in isolation from their surroundings.
Second time round it all felt like it made a bit more sense (whatever that means). I took greater care to look at the hills framing the plateau where the Four Stones stand, and spotted a distinctive distant hill that is obscured by a large tree near the stones (I think this is Burfa Camp).
I also found the three cupmarks that I'd failed to look for on my first visit.
Visited 11th May 2003: The Radnor Four Stones were my penultimate stop off on the way home from Oxford. It was my first visit to the site, and I was travelling 'sans map'. I overshot on the A44, turning off too far west. After asking directions from a friendly farmer I doubled back, and eventually ended up in the right place.
The four stones are enormous, but sat as they are in a big flat field, it all seemed a bit of an anticlimax when I got there. The stones are so squat and rounded that they could almost be sat on the surface rather than embedded in the ground (obviously this isn't the case). They don't seem to be orientated in any obvious way. I didn't feel my eye being drawn to anything specific. I'm new to the 'four poster' thing, so perhaps it takes a while to tune into. After all that driving I was probably in the 'wrong place' for the Four Stones.
It goes without saying that this is a truly megalithic site, probably pivotal in a landscape of smaller sites, so it that respect 'je ne regret rein'. The visit left me wondering what a four poster is doing in mid Wales!
- Visited jubilee w/e -
I visited this site the same w/e as Arthur's stone (near Dorstone) and Harold's Stones, and I have to say this was my clear favourite.
The stones are indeed massive, being over 4ft in width at their base, which my meager maths tells me is over 12ft in circumference. They sit by the edge of a field in a plain surrounded on all sides by hills, which provide a beautiful setting.
I checked all the stones for markings, but I wasn't able to discern any, unfortunately :-/ Also someone appears to have dug underneath the fallen stone (presumably why it fell...)
This site is the sort of place one could lose oneself for several hours, just sitting peacefully reflecting the insolubles of life.
These stones are huge! The few photographs I had seen prior to coming here didn't do justice to the bulk of these stones - my photographs seem to make these stones look small too. The compact size of the circle, coupled with the size of the stones has to be seen.
The setting is good - a flat plain hemmed in by the surrounding peaks. Old Radnor is in clear view in the distance.
The notion of [another writer], that the stones once formed some of the supports of a covering stone of a large sepulchral chamber, appears probable. The prevalent local tradition which he and the author of the History of Radnorshire record, that the font in Old Radnor Church was hewn out of one of the missing stones, shows that the supposed removal took place at a remote period, and is so far valuable; but an examination of the four stones does not support the tradition of the use which was made of one of their missing fellows, for they are clearly erratic boulders from the adjacent volcanic rocks of Hanter or Stanner, of which a very truthful and picturesque sketch is given in Murchison's Silurian System. Any local stone mason would, on examination, at once say the four stones could not be dressed or hewn into a regular form, as they would shatter into irregular fragments when broken or dressed.
In WH Howse's 'Radnorshire' of 1949, the author mentions that at the time of writing many farmers still felt in awe of the stones. The hay was left unmown around them and some people avoided going near them after dark. Well you wouldn't want to risk it - they'll be lumbering off to the Hindwell pool when they hear the Old Radnor bells.
Mentioned by Simpson in her 'Folklore of the Welsh Border' (1976).