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Y Meini Hirion

Stone Circle

<b>Y Meini Hirion</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Also known as:
  • The Druid's Circle

Nearest Town:Penmaenmawr (1km NNW)
OS Ref (GB):   SH723746 / Sheet: 115
Latitude:53° 15' 9.58" N
Longitude:   3° 54' 51.53" W


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Fieldnotes

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It’s not much more of a pull upwards to reach the circle. There’s no-one else about so I can savour this beauty properly. The setting is as good as any stone circle I’ve been to, particularly on such a wondrous summer’s day. The sea to the north, the high peaks of the Carneddau mountains to the south. It’s a bit special this.

The stones are big, certainly bigger than you’d find in many Welsh circles. Each has character and there are veins of quartz here and there. Although some of the stones have fallen, it doesn’t detract from the overall impression.

Mountains, stones, silence, sea and sky.

I could write a few pages of superlatives, but really you should come and see for yourself. In the meantime, we have some lunch and take it all in.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
5th April 2015ce

Now it may appear somewhat obsequent for what is surely the most substantial stone circle to still grace this land of Wales (in the absence of more than the pair at Brwyn Gwyn) to not be the primary focus of any trip upon the rocky headland of Penmaenmawr, overlooking what today is actually an unfeasibly blue Conwy Bay... however such is the plethora of prehistoric sites to be found here, where the northern slopes of Y Carneddau literally plunge into the sea, that I assure you nothing was further from my mind this wondrous morning. Except, perhaps, the daily travail. Oh no, as it happens I've had a hankering to return for a day out (that is proper 'out, out', in the Micky Flanagan sense) since being inspired by posts of the great Cors y Carneddau cairn some time back. Inspiration eh? Yeah, what a priceless gift to bestow upon any other individual.

It would appear from the map that the shortest approach to Y Meini Hirion - the tall stones - is also that requiring the most physical effort from the would-be punter (funny that), a public footpath from Graig Lwyd farm ascending steeply southward across the eastern shoulder of the prehistoric 'axe factory' site of Graig Lwyd itself. Guess that although I'm packing plenty of inspiration in my pocket, I'm somewhat lacking in imagination since this is the same route I took twelve years ago upon my only previous visit... however the retrospective, coastal views are excellent, looking across Dwygyfylchi to the Bronze Age copper mines of The Great Orme. Industrious lot, these prehistoric forebears. Well worth the effort every decade or so, then. The path eventually labours up to the crest to bisect the eroded scar that is The North Wales Path, the latter no doubt a prehistoric route along the headwall.

Cefn Coch (Red Ridge) and the Druid's Circle - well, Anglesey is just across the water, so perhaps some of that enigmatic caste did come here - rises to the immediate south, although visitors wishing to approach via the lovely little 'Circle 275' will need to divert a little to the left. Upon arrival I'm instantly glad that I came back, the stones justifying their prosaic name by appearing much more substantial than I recall, particularly when compared with the diminutive orthostats of the archetypal upland Welsh stone circle. The location, however, appears to have been chosen so the monument remains pretty incognito to all except passers-by upon the track below. Burl hypothesises, rightly I think, that stone circle and track are inextricably linked, perhaps in association with Graig Lwyd, too. Well, I reckon it's a good bet anyway. Bog borders the site to the east, the serrated profile of Tal y Fan looming upon the southern horizon with, nearer to hand, a couple more enigmatic prehistoric structures. Northward lies the sea and the former Druid heartland of Ynys Mona.

I rush about trying to capture something of the magical aura generated by the golden light 'on film' before the vibe will inevitably be shattered by the inexorable arrival of the first long distance walkers deviating from the track below. Half an hour later they are here, a group of noisy young ramblers stopping off for lunch accompanied by an adult guide. Sadly, for me, this is Y Meini Hirion's achilles heel, its proximity to a major rambling route. Time to move on toward Moelfre to the west. Not a great hardship, to be fair.

Executing a crafty plan... I return early evening, at the end of a long day, to find the ancient ring once again at its spellbinding best, thankfully minus the barely interested juveniles. At times like this it may well be a contender for Wales' finest stone circle per se. A place to sit and think amongst hoary old stones of seemingly unfathomable symbolism and meaning. If only they could speak and relate some of what has occurred here over the course of millennia. Then again, perhaps they do....
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
21st January 2014ce
Edited 22nd January 2014ce

I came up here a few months ago in the snow and the fog, and though I found everything I was looking for I have since found out about a four metre high cairn with cist in the locality, I then decided that another visit would be necessary.
But this time would be almost the opposite of my last trip, in 1953 or thereabouts my Grandad whom I never met took his two daughters to see the Druids circle, my mother told me this after my first visit here ten years ago, it was then that I decided when my children were older I too would bring them here, so , I decided to take my kids one at a time to make it more personal and for more of an impact, I asked my Daughter if she would like to go " is it up hill" she asked I confirmed that it was and her face fell a bit, I decided a deal sweetener was needed, "we could go the beach first", and the deal was struck. But then she asked if her brother Eric could come so I said ok, but then somehow their two friends got invited too, deal sweetener indeed.

After a cold and windy three hours on Penmaenmawr beach from where you get a good view of where your'e going, we drove up to the same parking place I used last time, what I usually do is just drive as high as I can then leave the car where I can, sometimes it takes me up to the two pillars carpark sometimes it doesn't. We hit the uphill footpath in high spirits, throwing a ball to each other to keep their minds off how far we had to go, it worked for a while too but we were barely half way there when the first "how much further" came, ten minutes later the first "I cant go any more" and another ten minutes saw me giving piggy back rides up a mountain, talk about not ideal.
Eeeeventually we arrived on the main footpath that takes you directly to circle 275, we all collapsed in an untidy heap inside the circle and stayed that way untill we saw people walking past. The view is fantastic up here and it wasn't long for the kids to become interested in their surroundings, I pointed out Llandudno, Anglesey, Graig Llwyd, and above us the Druids circle, our circle, I wonder if Grandad Collins knew of this little circle from S.W Ireland, for that is where his family originated also.

We drifted up the slope to the big circle, the two girls collapsed in a more tidy heap and the boys took to swearing at all the stones daring the oath stone to smite them, when it didnt they went off sliding down grassy slopes, although this wasn't what I had envisaged, it was good enough, the sun was shining and the birds were singing on the wing, the sound of laughter on the wind and as I circled the stones trying to capture the mood on camera, I soon realised this wasnt a camera day it was a lost in the moment day. I tried halfheartedly to locate the cairn with cist but deduced by its absence that it wasn't as close to the Druids circle as it looks on the map, forcing me to start planning my next trip up here, an all dayer maybe. After a quick hello to the dishevelled monument 280, we held hands and ran down the hill to Cors y Carneddau, they pulled hard downhill and I pulled hard uphill, and an uneasy equilibrium was struck.
More quick photoes followed by much sitting around, questions and pointing at things and dodgy explanations, the two extra children had never been anywhere like this before, and I felt a certain privalage in being able to show them something cool that isnt plugged in.
We ran and laughed all the way down, passing two young teenage girls on the way, I cant think of any reason they would be taking the long way up to see some stone circles, but then theres no street corners up there either, so perhaps the hills mountains and history really is for everyone.
postman Posted by postman
14th April 2010ce
Edited 15th April 2010ce

We arrived at the Druid's Circle to find Jane looking cold and fed up, sheltering next to the largest stone. The walk had pushed her to the limits of her endurance, so she sucked on a Camel to recover, and be better able to take in the magnificent setting. Moth was blown away by the place, and I was a little disappointed the weather was so overcast; I had very much wanted to see it in sunshine. Just as we left, my wish was granted – sunshine broke warmly through, transforming the setting, and helpfully illuminating Great Orme into the bargain. By this time, Jane had steeled herself for the ramble back to the car, so didn't return, as Moth and I did, to make use of the precious sunlight. That was a shame, because when the sun lights the whole of the coastline and the stones, it's an inspiring sight.

We also took a swift peek at Circle 278 and ?Monument 280.
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
8th April 2005ce

The Druid's circle is gorgeous and perfectly proportioned - not too big to overwhelm, not to small to underwhelm - and the stones are the 'right' height for its diameter. Many big tall ones still stand, including an anthropomorph of a be-robed monk. Nearby are a stone 'something' (perhaps a trashed stone circle, who can tell?) and a collapsed cairn ring of tiny stones. This is the remaining 'A-list' monument forming part of a vast sacred landscape behind Penmanmawr of which there is much to see round the back of the mountains at Tal-Y-Fan.

The ghastly hike would have been worthwhile if we'd had more time to spend up there. I didn't even a chance to paint. If you can walk and look at the same time I'm sure the hike might be quiet enjoyable.
Jane Posted by Jane
28th March 2005ce
Edited 1st June 2007ce

A splendid place. Certainly one to sit and contemplate in for a while, enveloped by the sea, sky, and land which entirely surround the observer on all sides. A large ring, with some significant stones; most spooky being the one that has the form of a white-robed druid.

The location of this circle is intriguing; despite stunning views over Conwy Bay to the north, it has been sited behind a steep mound, thus blocking the view of the sea. Or has the mound been built in front of the circle? There is no doubt that the mound, whatever its origins, is an excellent observation post for anything that might be taking place in the sacred space below.

Also interesting is the proximity of Circle 275 and Circle 278, which flank this larger circle a few hundred yards away on either side. Were they used in conjunction with ceremonies inside the Druid's Circle?
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
28th April 2004ce
Edited 28th April 2004ce

I visited the stones was when I was lost up on the moors to the south, coming from Drum, in thick mist, no visibility, I followed my compass north, across the moors, and from out of the mist came the stones, I was taken back at how they stood there, almost waiting for my arrival, and how I'd walked right into them, really atmospheric stuff.
Another time in strong rain and wind, I noticed, when I put my hand on the north westerly stone, (the one that's a bit square) I'm sure it was vibrating. Could it be the ground it stands on?
The cist was excavated I think in the sixties and I read they found the remains of two people, one a child, so the site may have been used for sacrificial purposes. Michael Seniors book on the stones of North wales covers this area quiet well.
It's a great area, rich in antiquities, and resonates the past perfectly, especially when you're lost!
skins Posted by skins
22nd May 2003ce
Edited 8th August 2003ce

If you follow Burl's directions and drive up Mountain Road to the two pillars, the stones of the Druid's Circle can just be made out on the horizon. stubob Posted by stubob
11th January 2003ce

A great end to a day spent visiting a lot of sites in the area. The lashing rain and howling wind didn't put us off at all but made photography a very rushed affair. A lovely site with fantastic views, the small Irish Five-Stone ring (Circle 275) on the track leading up offers a great view of the Druid's Circle and is lovely itself. Another on the summer visit list I think. IronMan Posted by IronMan
18th March 2002ce

This place is amazing, not just for the circle itself, but because I believe it is part of a huge ritual landscape which has not been properly documented. The area consists of the tops around Tal Y Fan, and the circumference is dotted with monuments. The various structures in the vicinity of Meini Hirion are the most well known, but there are also circles, huge megaliths and a dolmen above Rowen in Bwlch Y Ddeufaen (Valley of the two stones), and a very old church with a traditionally sacred well in the churchyard at Llanbedr y Cennin. On the tops directly above this I believe there are the remains of another massive megalithic monument, although not being an archaeologist I can't be certain of this. This is a fascinating area which is deserving of much more archaeological interest. Posted by iaing
8th November 2001ce
Edited 18th December 2002ce

Took a walk up here on 7-9-01. A friend who lives locally knew the way, ( if you are driving there is a small carparking area about 1/2 way up from the village. This leaves about a 40 minute climb.) this was helpfull as it was not particularilly well signposted.

A glorious sunny morning, however you turn a corner and the wind coming from the sea hits you. Take a hat.

The walk is more than worthwhile, an excellent circle with stunning views. We sat around for 1/2 hour taking it in before the wind got too much. It makes you think as to how much effort went into creating these works.
Posted by Killer
27th September 2001ce

When I set off from Llanfairfechan the weather was glorious....... the climb was long and steady and I was in a bit of a sweat by the time I reached the North Wales Path!
Looking back across the stunning view of the Lavan Sands (Traeth Lavan) to Beaumaris the rain clouds were sweeping in.
It is really wild up here....... and so is the weather! Had to shelter from the rain under the walls. If I hadn't met this couple returning from the Druid's Circle who pointed out the direction, I would have missed the circle. It is up and over the brow of a slope. When the low clouds passed, the view was overwhelming. From this vantage point above Penmaenmawr, you look down on the Great Orme. I took loads of photos........hope they all turn out OK!
Posted by davina
25th August 2000ce

Folklore

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About a mile from Braich-y-Ddinas is Y Meini Hirion, one of the most remarkable relics of Druidical times. It is a circle, eighty feet in diameter, consisting of ten erect stones, enclosed by a stone wall; and there are, besides, several smaller circles, one of which surrounds the remains of a cromlech.

This tract has certainly, at some period, been much inhabited, for in all directions may be discerned the remains of small rude buildings in great numbers. Tradition says that a sanguinary battle was fought here between the Romans and the Britons, and that the cairns were raised over the bodies of the Britons who were slain.
p501 in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1860.
The Cambrian Archaeological Association held their fourteenth annual meeting in Bangor and got up to a whole week of archaeological field-tripping.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th July 2007ce

The stone at the east is called the 'Stone of Sacrifice' - how traditional this is is debatable (it does rather smack of Victorian ideas of druidism): certainly the other folklore associated with it is more upbeat in tone! It has a depression in it, and if you pop your newborn baby there for a few minutes (it has to be less than a month old, mind) then this will bring it excellent luck. Another custom is to sprinkle water from the dip around the threshold of your house - and this will protect your home from witches.

Mary Trevelyan also collected the story that a group of witches were holding their strange rituals at the circle one night. Suddenly 'stern maledictions' were heard from the Stone of Sacrifice. They were so scared two of them died and another went mad! Sometimes terrible cries were heard issuing from it, and frequently moanings, sobbings, and wailings could be heard above the wind on stormy nights. Maybe they still can.

She also has a version of the fatal incident with the Deity Stone:
A man from South Wales played cards with some friends beside this stone on a Sunday, and when the men returned to the village with cuts about their heads, the people knew the Deity Stone had smitten them, though they would not admit having had punishment. A notorious blasphemer who came from Merionethshire laughed to scorn the story of this stone. One night he went to the Druids' Circle alone and at a very late hour, and shouted words of blasphemy so loud that his voice could be heard ringing down the Green Gorge. People shuddered as they heard him. The sounds ceased, and the listeners ran away in sheer fright. In the morning the blasphemer's corpse was found in a terribly battered condition at the base of the Deity Stone.
(In 'Folklore and Folkstories from Wales' 1909 - available online at http://www.red4.co.uk/Folklore/trevelyan.htm)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th July 2004ce
Edited 16th July 2004ce

The Deity stone opposite the entrance is supposed to smack anyone who swears near it. As usual not everyone believed it, and one man who went up there one night to "f and blind" at the stone was found dead the following morning. stubob Posted by stubob
12th January 2003ce

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Killers World Wide Wanderings


Some more of my pictures of Druids Circle can be found here
Posted by Killer
27th March 2002ce
Edited 27th August 2007ce