So, following on from an unexpected - since it is not marked on OS maps - visit to a fine kerbed cairn at Maen Hir to the south, I head northwards towards what appears to be at least one very large cairn upon the western flank of Cistfaen. The intervening ground is very boggy and comprised of long, spongy 'ankle twister' grass. Thus, although not a great distance, this turns into a sweaty struggle, if the truth be told.
As I arrive, however, the air resonates with, I'm sorry to say, an exclaimation not fit for a family web-site. Why? Well, the 'large cairn' that had so intrigued me from down below is in fact a large outcrop of totally natural, shattered rock. What a swizz! Surely the Ordnance Survey guys couldn't have made such an error of judgement as this. Surely not?
Needless to say, they haven't. I decide to carry on up hill to the right of a large plantation of trees and... there they are! One very large and one somewhat smaller Bronze Age funerary cairn crowning the 535m summit of Cistfaen. The larger, to the south, has unfortunately been fashioned into several sheep shelters - as opposed to hillwalking muppet shelters, which is some consolation, I guess - but nevertheless remains a very substantial monument indeed. Its smaller companion sits behind it to the north, crowned by a small boundary stone. The positionning is impressive, if very bleak and brutal in the extreme, the bare, windswept high hills of Cwmdeuddwr anything but friendly looking today. Forestry is also encroaching on either side and to the north. Nonetheless I find the whole area beguiling, however, since this is not a place for tourists to come and spoil the vibe or drop litter. Not with terrain like this making even a short trek a major undertaking [please bear this in mind if perhaps planning a long walk - although it may look simple on the map, it probably isn't!]. Below me to the south-west the Nant Rhyd-y-Felin and Nant Ffos-casaf flow to meet the Afon Ystwyth, whilst the serious wet lands of Gors Lwyd to the south exemplify the water content of the area. It is no accident that the Elan Valley reservoirs are nearby.
I do not have all the time I may have wished for today since I am heading south to The Mam C's later on. But a visit to these two, lonely hilltop cairns, coupled with the splendid example upon Maen Hir... are just what the doctor ordered.
Two cairns - possibly a third, too - grace the top of Cistfaen, a hostile, windswept summit of The Cwmdeuddwr Hills. According to Coflein:-
'Remains of two burial cairns, probably dating to the Bronze Age, on the South-facing side of the summit of Cistfaen. Both are roughly circular on plan - the northernmost cairn (A) measures about 8.5m in diameter and up to 0.6m in height; the southernmost (B) measures about 13.5m in diameter and up to 1.1m in height.
Source: Cadw scheduling description. 03/08/2004 FF
It is suggested that the ruin of a third cairn, further to the N, revealed a cist, giving rise to the name 'Cistfaen'.'