Visited 14.2.10. This site is difficult to find through a maze of unsignposted lanes. Eventually knew we were in the right place thanks to the lorry depot. Couldn't see an easy way past the depot and as it was a sunday there was no one about to ask. Just along the lane from the main depot / house there is what looks like a scrap yard. I parked here and looked for a way up the near vertical bank. In desperation i ended up climbing through the scrap metal, up through brambles to get to the top of the 'cliff'. Once on top of the bank the stone is easily seen, two fields away sticking up in a hedgerow. Mission accomplished! However, I would not advise anyone approaching the site the way I did as it is DANGEROUS. Please ask permission and find a safer route!!
Visited 23rd September 2003: The area around Hirfaen Gwyddog is very rural, so I was a bit surprised to find a lorry maintenance depot directly to the south east of the stone. Here I asked about access, and they invited me to park the car in the yard and walk up to the stone over the fields behind them. With Alfie on my back I headed off, expecting more of an uphill slog than I got.
As the hill leveled out we saw the stone, sitting unassumingly below the horizon on a field boundary. Two gates later we were there, and it didn't seem understated any more. The stone itself was magnificent, lit up by bright sunshine against a troubled sky. The strange diagonal markings near the tip of the stone looked like gills, and the point of the tip was sharp like a shark's nose. Not a shape I've ever seen before, and clearly chosen for the shape by the people who erected it. I was pleased to see that the barbed wire I'd seen looped around the stone in photos was gone (nice new fence as well).
Alfie played while I took photos from every angle I could. It was addictive, and I didn't want to leave. Every time the clouds moved, the light changed, and I needed to take more! What a fantastic place. Must go back soon!
I would therefore beg to call attention to what is perhaps the oldest stone in this island about which there is documentary evidence extending over thirteen centuries, and which is still standing in the identical spot where it was erected centuries earlier still.
[..] the Book of Chad [..] has the words behet hirmain guidauc = as far as the long stone of Gwyddog or Gwyddawg. Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans considers that this entry must have been made before A.D. 840..
There's also mention of the 'byrfaen' or short stone, also on the boundary of Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire and nearby. But this is supposed to be lying 'among a heap of debris, namely, in three pieces'.
WH Davey adds, 'My son has asked in the immediate neighbourhood about the stones, but could get no further particulars except that it is supposed that they are on the site of a battle which took place in that locality.'
However it seems that the short stone was never that short, because there's also a quote from Nicholson's 1813 'Cambrian Travellers' Guide, in which it was said to be '15 feet long and 4 in width and thickness'.
From 'A boundary stone with a good record' in Illustrated Archaeologist v1 (1893).
According to Cope (The Modern Antiquarian – page 296), Hirfaen Gwyddog has a written history dating back to the 8th Century CE when it was called behet hirmain in the Book of Chad. In a 12th Century CE charter it was referred to as Hyrvaen Gudauc, and in 1633 CE it was called Hirvaen gwyddoc by Edward Lhuyd.
Hirfaen Gwyddog stands on the county boundary between Ceredigion (historically known as Cardiganshire) and Carmarthenshire. It also marks the point where the land of three farms meets. In his book Mysterious Wales Chris Barber describes the stone as 'the tallest standing stone in Dyfed'. I'm not sure whether this is true or not, but at 4.8 meters it must come close.