I was torn between feeling a bit sad for this small, but sturdy-looking dolmen, overwhelmed by the nearby bungalows, making it look like a puppy put out in the backyard, or admiring its determination to hold its ground and ignore its neighbours.
It's a lovely, lovely dolmen, but it was hard to feel a sense of place, however much I tried to focus up towards Carn Ingli.
Park on the main road and take the short walk up a 'resident's only' small walk. The site is on your right hand side behind the houses on the main raod. A lovely little place despite being in the middle of a residential area. Still, I imagine the stones will be here longer than the houses?!
When people write about this small dolmen they talk of mushrooms and fairies, and it does indeed sit tranquilly in its own little garden surrounded by a surburban small settlement of bungalows. Coetan Arthur was excavated in 1981, there had been a build up of plough soil over the centuries and in fact, the stones would have had another metre added to their height originally, making them much taller than they are today. There are four stones theoretically supporting the capstones, but only two are in contact.
One of the marvellous things about neolithic builders, is their ability to balance a huge capstone on a fine point. Think of a stiletto heel, its fine point bringing all that excruciating pain on to someone's foot, the weight of a person concentrated on a small round five pence bit. So it is with the capstone pressing its enormous weight down, thrusting it through the upright to secure thousands of years permanency - it gives one pause for thought.
Carreg Coetan Arthur is low-lying, just eight metres above sea level, close to the Afon Nyer estuary and about half a mile from the coast. To the south is Carningli, and the usual legend has been attributed to the stones, that they were thrown from the summit of the mountain. According to George Nash, the capstone when aligned with Carningli peak seems to match it.
Turning to N.P.Figgis on the subject, he cites a recent excavation which gives Carreg Coetan Arthur a somewhat different history. It had been presumed up till recently that the tomb had a closing 'portal door' and that its corresponding upright stone had disappeared, it was in fact an 'H' shaped portal dolmen similar to Pentre Ifan. It seems though that there never was a third stone, so no portal door. An arc of small stones had been laid like a kerb to the south round the remains of the mound, and between it and the now supposed 'front' of the chamber a space had been cleared. In front of the chamber had been a platform with some pottery and 'clumps' of cremated bone.
Radio-carbon dating gives the early date of 3500 years old for the construction - middle neolithic. But also inside the chamber there had been found much later Grooved Ware and Beaker Ware, showing that it had been in use over a long period of time.
Figgis goes on to speculate that perhaps we should not fall into the easy trap of labelling these sites as chambered tombs, but that they may have had a mulitiplicity of functions, which is little understood today.
refs; Neolithic Sites of Cards.Carms.Pembs.by Geo.Children and Geo.Nash; 1997 Logaston Press.
Prehistoric Presili (a Field Guide) N.P.Figgis 2001 Atelier Production
This exquisite little dolmen sits within its own enclosure; truly a construction imbued with faerie magick . . . words really aren't enough. The mellow Andy and I visited on a sunny afternoon, the first high shadows creeping across the capstone. . . dappled light from the holly and ash trees at the rear of the cromlech was falling over the capstone, and the birds were singing vociferously. I shot a fair few photos . . . then sat on a very comfortable stone by the dolmen's uprights, and gazed towards Carn Ingli. Swifts chased each other through the air, chaffinches sang, and the peace was sublime. This place is a rare treat. Later in the week, I visited it for a third time, again with Andy and my fabulous mother, who was very impressed with it indeed.
This is curiously wonderful and though I had seen it before in 1998, I couldn't wait to see it again.
It has its own little neatly-tended lawn tucked away in its own plot between some very white, middle class holiday chalets. And yet, as soon as you see it, you realise you have entered fairyland, and the encroaching chalets cease to matter.
Enchanting, bewitching and tear-jerkingly cute, this little dolmen stands like a magic mushroom close to the Nevern river estuary, (from perhaps where the bluestones of Stonehenge were once floated down?) and points at the sacred mountain Mynydd Carningli.
I sat and looked and made a rather crappy sketch of it.
Visited 24th May 2003: While Lou and Alfie dozed in the car, the rest of us hung out at Carreg Coetan. Jane sketched the chamber from the corner of it's little enclosure, her daughter chilled out and sent some text messages, I took photos and the boys ran around making noise.
We were there for a while (at least, longer than my last visit) and it was good to have the time to explore. The chamber isn't especially complex, but watching it from different angles gave me some new perspective on the place. Mynydd Carningli is a big focus for sites in this region, and Carreg Coetan is no exception, orientated towards this sacred mountain rather than the sea.
This is my first cromlech. What a cutie. I love this place, despite its setting next to bungelows, this place feels special like something out of a fairie story, im waiting for the little people to pop out. It is small and looks like it could topple over at any point. This is the sort of place were you could sleep and dream and be inspired. Love it.
'Coetan' basically means 'quoit' - like a flat discus for throwing, presumably referring to the huge capstone: the type of thing that no doubt Arthur (in his giant form, rather than his sword-in-the-stone form) chucked about for fun.