The Path rejoins the Dyke south of Orsedd Wen. The next section of the earthwork is once again particularly fine. Just after it passes through a little wood, a footpath heads off eastwards and will take us to the second Bronze Age treat of the day, which can be seen from the Dyke.
Standing 2m tall, Carreg-y-Big is probably Shropshire’s tallest standing stone, just topping the large pillar at Mitchell’s Fold to the south. The name looks like it should mean “The Big Stone”*. Damn accurate with their names, these Welsh folk (I know, it’s not in Wales). I was mainly aware of this one from Postie’s lovely snow-bound pictures from a year and a bit earlier, but it looks equally impressive in watery Spring sunlight.
I’m particularly taken with the quartz vein running through the stone, being a sucker for a bit of quartz. There is also evidence of packing at the stone’s base. The positioning is slightly obscured from the east due to a hedge, but otherwise the stone would be prominent and just the kind of thing that could be used as a way marker, perhaps pointing the way to nearby Selattyn Hill ring cairn. Cynynion, a further, very similar, stone lies a mile and a half SSW.
My last trip here was in foot deep snow and thick fog, this time it was easy going, the trees were in their last gasp of colour before it's all over for another year, the fog was still in attendance though. Not too thick mind, the sun tried to shine through it, leaving me, the trees, the stone and the staring sheep in that beautiful natural filtered light, not the light at the end of the tunnel, or the light that brightens the darkest place, just the light that reminds one why its good to be alive.
Without the treacherous icy roads I could get a lot nearer with the car, a five minute road walk and over the same gate as before, up the field and over the rambler improved stile, the stone is fifty yards further up hill, off the path but not out of reach.
Going on for seven feet tall, this is a big thick stone, one that changes shape as you move round it, which isn't easy as its very close to the fence. In fact its at the junction of three tree lined field fences. Without its covering of snow and ice I could clearly see the quartz veins running through it as reported by Thesweetcheat on his epic retreading of the Offas dyke path (hats off mate). As I sat with my back to the fence, the stone a few yards away, a Post van went up the lane and stopped at the house on the road, I often see these red vans when stone hunting and a wry smile passes by, how I wish I could deliver around here or some other such megalith rich place, I wonder if these other posties realise how much more luckier than I they are.... Probably not.
After the kindly gent dropped me off at the racehorse common, I proceeded north at as brisk a pace as I could manage. In better weather I might have followed the Offas dyke path as its only in the field next to the road, but its so hard walking in the deep snow I had to save my strength for the field with the stone.
After passing through the "not even a hamlet" Carreg-y-big, the stone came in to view in the field but one from the road, even from several hundred metres away the stones lean to the west could be seen.
Over the gate, wading through the foot deep snow make for the tree on the fence line, from the tree the stones but 50yards in the corner of the field. Offas dyke and the path runs through the field so theres no tresspassing needed.
Carreg-y-big is bigger,chunkier and heavier than its nearest neighbour Cynynion a mile and a half south but they're similarly squareish in shape and both roughly lean in the same direction, and theres no snow at the stones feet again, i'm beginning to wonder if the stone itself melts the snow.
Both stones are so close to the Welsh border they must have had a hand in the decision to place the border here, Offas dyke on the map seems to swerve west a bit just to be near the two stones.
A long and tiring walk in a winter wonderland with two big stones. Well worth it.