Taking the minor road south through Gwaenysgor there is just about room to squeeze in a car in at the junction where the private track to the farm starts. Over the gate and take the tractor tyre 'path' to your left – NOT up the private track to the farm. You will then come to a metal field gate on the right. Over the gate and a 20 minute, fairly steep walk takes you up to the Gop (behind farm buildings – including an odd 'tower like' structure). It's a hard slog up the hill but someone has kindly put up a bench where you can admire the views, just at the point where the cairn starts. The cairn is HUGE. It takes a bit of working out to establish where the hill stops and the cairn starts! Good views in all directions. Worth the effort but one for the fairly fit only.
We came here on 8.5.2010, towards the end of a walk from Dyserth to Rhuallt along Offa's Dyke path and then back to Prestayn, the base for the weekend, along the Clwydian Way. This one is a must-visit, an enormous, enigmatic Silbury-esque mound of mysterious origin. Steep-sided, the top has partly caved in due to various bits of poking and prodding over the years. Nice views to the south, towards Moel y Parc and the Clwydian Hills, with Moel Hiraddug prominent to the south-west.
Tired legs and few more miles still to go ruled the cave out, so we'll have to come back for a more leisurely explore some time.
I've been looking at the Gop recently, and I believe that it was a complex site of major ritual importance, going far beyond the cairn itself.
First, the entrance to the cave on the south side of the hill. It seems to have been cut away to form a limestone backdrop and platform reminiscent of the entrance to the chambered tomb at Newgrange.
Second, there is another excavated area, rather larger but similar in shape, near the bottom of the hill just on the outskirts of Trelawnyd.
Third, the Gop itself and six tumuli form a ring which very closely mimics the ring of stars in the Pleiades, but in mirror form (as they would be if the stars were to "fall to Earth"). The Pleiades cluster actually contains 13 stars, nine of which are represented on the ground. The missing four would have been close the present day roads and may have been destroyed. There are a lot of other tumuli in the area, of course, but these make a remarkably accurate fit.
Fourth, Gop Hill itself is the head of a recumbent figure. Viewed from the Clwyd valley near Abergele, Gop Hill is her head, Moel Hirradug ot the right of it is her pregnant belly, and the hill to the right of that is her knees.
I am sure there is a lot more to be discovered about this site.
Having fallen in love with Gop Hill and moved there with my young family, I have been trying my best to research the site and its caves.
Unfortunately Boyd Dawkins excavated a shaft from the top to ground level which may have made irreporable damage to any of its interior structures. If it is believed to be a cairn - should there not be an entrance on the south west of the hill? Most similar cairns in ireland, scotland and cumbria have. As there is zero budget for archaeology in Wales it seems that this hill will remain a mystery for years to come.
The surrounding area indeed has a dense concentration of barrows and tumili, i don't know of any other few square miles in the country that has so many, it is a small piece of our country that we know little or nothing about despite continuous human habitation there since prehistory.
I believe that Boyd Dawkins did also investigate parts of the caves, which found human as well as wooly mammoth, wooly rhino, hyena bones. The caves really are an enigma as they seem to have small shafts running all over. More investigation is required to map the caves. I will make an attempt over the next year or so. It will take time - and my hope is that the caves may run under the cairn itself - and perhaps into it.
A beauty of a cairn in the style of Silbury Hill and the Marlborough Mound. Stunning views in all directions and the site is in the highest concentrations of round barrows in North Wales. In her new book "Prehistoric Wales", Frances Lynch thinks there may be a large passage grave lurking beneath the mound.
According to Chris Barber in his 'Mysterious Wales' the hill the cairn sits on is also known as 'Bryn-y-Saethau' - or the Hill of the Arrows, maybe from the stone arrowheads that have been found on its slopes.
The cairn itself is rumoured to be the grave of Boudicca (surely a bit out of the way for a girl from Essex?) or perhaps the resting place of a Roman general. Barber relates a referenceless anecdote (as he likes to do) about a local man walking past in 1938 who saw a field full of Roman soldiers and on the Gop the ghost of a Roman general on a white horse, brandishing a sword. Then 'a cloud passed over the moon and the apparition vanished'. Personally I think I might have done the vanishing first if it had happened to me. Why do ghosts appear at night I wonder. And was this man on his way home from a local hostelry. We can only speculate.
About a mile to the North West of the Gop there is a field that was going to be used as the site for a new school but when digging started they uncovered a mass grave that held the victims of a battle between the Celts and the Romans. There are also caves underneath the mound that are said to run in tunnels all the way to a hill about two miles to the East that was once used as a Roman army camp and the Celts used these tunnels to mount geurilla attacks on the Roman army.
The largest prehistoric monument in Wales is Gop Cairn, near Trelawnyd, Flintshire. The site measures 100m x 68m and is 12m high, and is of mostly stone construction. The cairn was partially excavated by Boyd Dawkins in 1886-7, when a shaft was dug in the centre down to the original ground level. However, despite these efforts no burials or finds were recovered.