I felt bit intimidated by the organisation of the National Trust on the Sunday morning we visited Plas Newydd - we didn't particularly want to go into the house a it was shaping up to be a pleasant day weather-wise so viewed the dolmen from the top of the slope is has restricted access to the public. At that time we didn't realise that unless you view Plas Newydd Burial Chamber from fairly close up it is not easy to see how splendid it is, certainly not from the path at the top of the slope where you can only see the top of it.
We went back the next day as the weather had turned wet and windy, it seemed like a good opportunity to have a look around the house. This time we asked to use the little motorised buggy that ferries less mobile people down to the house around the restricted access area. Nothing wrong with our mobility but it was a way of getting closer to the burial chamber. The driver of the buggy told us that the NT doesn't encourage people to get close to it but will allow if you specifically ask. He kindly pulled up in front of the dolmen so I could take a photograph. By this time the rain was lashing down and I had rain on the lens - so my photos are not brilliant but they do show there are actually two dolmens - a large on and a small one. The smaller one is virtually hidden from view if you look from the top of the slope. Obviously, they were there a few thousand years before the house and would have looked out over the Menai Straights towards Snowdonia.
In spite of the rain, we didn't stay long in the house ... that wasn't what I come for.
I first came here thirty odd years ago on a school trip to what we called the Menai centre, all week I'd spied the curious stones outside the art room window, so I made sure I took a closer look before we left, needless to say I went on my own. I didn't appreciate all it's complexities, uses, age and so on, back then, and soon forgot all about it. But when I saw it again much later I
knew Id been there before and know now that it is possibly the first ancient place I ever went to.
The second time I came here I bought a family ticket to the gardens only, this allowed me access to not only Plas Newydd burial chamber but also Bryn yr Hen Bobl burial chamber, well..... I say access, but that's not strictly true.
Last Sunday, with sunshine being all the rage right now, my daughter and I went for my third meet and greet with Plas Newydd burial chamber.
We drove strait into the large car park and parked as far from the road as we could, from here the top of the biggest dolmen can be seen, just.
From the car park you can either jump brazenly over the fence and leg it down to the chambers before they drag you away kicking and screaming, oops, wrong place and time. Or you can walk nonchalantly over to the gate that leads to where you want to go, find it locked and have to climb over anyway, then continue with extreme nonchalance down to the stones. Or walk back to the road, and go in the other entrance, then you can walk straight to it, no climbing no sneaking, nonchalance is the key, act entitled, that's what they say.
The big dolmens capstone is a whopper, from a certain angle both capstones look to be part of a single bigger stone, broken in two for their present purpose. The ivy that has so choked the stones in the past are gone, Phil and me sit in the shade under the big stone and talk of silly things, like the negatives encountered whilst canoeing.
The stones are great, they take me back to Brittany, the land of big dolmens. But my attention is forever being dragged away, partly by the carpet of flowers under our feet, which philli is loathe to tread on, but mostly to the panoramic display across the Menai Straits, Snowdonia. I can pick out individual peaks of the Carneddau, Foel Grach, Yr Elen, Carnedd llewelyn and Dafydd, Pen Yr Ole Wen and down into the Ogwen valley. Further along is the massive bulk of Snowdon and near neighbours, further still Mynnydd Mawr the Nantle ridge and off in the far hazy distance are The Rivals.
A very good first site of the day, beauty and nostalgia, I must be getting old.
Visited 2nd August 2003: Based on my experiences working on another estate, I decided we could just brazen it out, so long as we were confident and polite. We drove up the drive in our clapped out Fiat Uno, and parked behind the trees near the house. I left the others in the car (Lou doesn't share my taste for this sort of thing) and strolled up to the chamber.
The chamber is beautifully proportioned. You can really see why some people mistook it for a folly. I didn't go inside, because that would have looked a bit weird (not in keeping with my "I'm supposed to be here" persona). I did my best to look academic, and strolled around the taking it all in.
On my way back to he car I nodded and smiled to a National Trust bloke in a minibus. He looked at me a bit strangely, then grinned back and waved. All the cloak and dagger stuff is fun, but there really should be better access to this site. It's a darned sight more important than the house. Even carefully controlled access on a regular basis would be better than the current situation.
We visited Plas Newydd this weekend, only to be met by an obstrucive, nay obnoxious, National Trust representative.
Not only is it £3.00 for the archaeological tour - (only on certain dates!) you must ALSO pay the usual admission fee to the grounds. This will amount to £5.60 each.
The NT rep suggested we write and ask permission from Lord Anglesey if we really want access to the two sites on his land. I think we will. Watch this space.
Do not pay to visit this site!
As already mentioned, entry to the grounds of Plas Newydd, does not allow access to the site. Park up on the visitors car park, ignore the ticket office, and walk down to the picnic bench beside the fence. The site is visible over the fence. To gain access, I presume it's a case of ringing/writing for permission OR going on one of the guided archaeological tours. It's £3.00 and takes two hours, so some of the walk probably takes in the gardens, which may or may not be of much interest!
This one is on private land in the Plas Newydd country Park. I paid to get in but couldn't get close enough to the stones to get a decent picture. On the way out I realised I could have got a better view from the free car-park. Oh well, we live and learn. A longer lens woulda been useful though...
I rang the National Trust today to ask if it might be possible to visit the chamber. I was told that the land around it is used by Chesire County Council for childrens' outdoor activities, and is therefor out of bounds for National Trust Visitors. The argument is that it's unsafe for members of the public to be given free access to an area where children are playing!
I gather that it doesn't matter whether schools are using the land at the time of a proposed visit or not. The agreement has been entered into between the National Trust and Chesire County Council, and it is apparently inflexible. What has the world come to?!