It's difficult to know where to start... what to attempt to relate .... following a visit to this wondrous place. Truly, this is one of those ancient sites that I would wager not even the linguistic genius of a Shakespeare could adequately describe. To my mind Treaclechops' succinct few lines are the most representative use of 'words' to date; however since this is my third visit over the years guess I need to finally make an attempt in my own gobshite way. I owe it that.
Now there are undoubtedly finer stone circles, from an architectural perspective (Swinside immediately comes to mind); there are those that are arguably better placed in the landscape, too (consider Castlerigg, Uragh, Moel Goedog?). However I reckon none of those other 'circles I've seen (be they open, embanked, circle-henge, RSC, cairn-circle, or any other variant) combines all the necessary 'components' - form, placement, vibe - to such devastating effect, to form such a unified whole, all things considered....as the cairn-circle at Moel ty Uchaf.... like the master perfumer using all his/her expertise to create a classic Chanel fragrance in lieu of Brut 33. Yeah, it all comes together here, regardless of whether or not the 'all' can ever be properly defined. Perhaps the perfect blend of megalithic attributes?
The setting is excellent, nay, exquisite, the ring crowning a well defined rise [the 'high(est), bare hill'] set upon the lower slopes of a great, grassy ridge thrusting approx north-westward from the high Berwyn summit of Cadair Bronwen toward the Afon Dyfrdwy, better known in the non-vernacular as the River Dee. Stark, rounded profiles of mountain and hill top form the skyline to south and east, the more synclastic contours of the river valley to the north. But it is the outlook to the approx west which I reckon makes the situation of Moel ty Uchaf so beguiling, so intoxicating, the view incorporating more or less the whole of Snowdonia, for me perhaps the finest (relatively) low level vista in all Wales? Burl cites forty-one stones within the stone circle's circumference, 'all about 1ft 6 ins (0.5m) tall'.... with a 'probable entrance to SSW'. I assume the learned gentleman is correct, the assertions of Aubrey being some of the few things I am prepared to accept more or less verbatim... on 'faith', if you like. Yeah, he has been right too many times in the past, to be fair. Which makes it all the more odd that, standing at the 'probable entrance to SSW', it appears to me that the landscape is beckoning me toward the high ground.... Cadair Bronwen, rising more or less to the south-east. As I said, odd, my perception, it would seem, somewhat skew-whiff. Autosuggestion, perhaps, some subconscious instinct, some desire to return to the haunts of my youth? Go on, go on.... you know you want to. Obviously it would be far easier not to. No-one would ever know. Except me. And, standing within Moel ty Uchaf, that is enough. Jeez, those ancients knew what they were doing, did they not?....
I return at sunset, perhaps the most evocative, yet difficult time to visit a stone circle.... isn't it human instinct to rush for the sanctuary of 'home' as darkness falls? The 'dying' sun illuminates the stone circle with a light that is beyond my capacity to evoke, to describe. Really, it is. Hey, I am a cynical atheist, opposed to all notions of the 'supernatural' outside those created within our human brains. And sunset at Moel ty Uchaf only re-enforces the awe - I guess that's the right word - I experience witnessing the natural cycles of this home we inhabit, this Planet Earth. To think I am literally a part of all THIS is humbling beyond words.
Is this what the erectors of this cairn-circle wanted to convey? Obviously we will never know for sure, but I have a hunch it was. Why not come and experience, come and feel for yourselves? The vibe is superb, the silence total... hell, there's even a cist in the centre.
On directions to the place I will only add that the phone box that flagged the turn off is now gone, only the post box remains (yaaaaay).
I parked the car at the usual wide area before the houses, got out my bike and started the long walk up the lane, through the gate, then up the footpath with the circle on the hill to my left, then the even harder slog of pushing the bike up the grassy slope, it was worth it in the end because i'd like to suggest that i'm the first to ride their bike round inside this circle, which made me smile widely.
But not as widely as the way back down, every hill top circle or cairn should have a bike there, for the ripping down a hill side is very invigorating, ever overtaken a sheep in full flight ? youve never lived.
Every time I come here the stones seem to have got a little bigger, first it was theyre a bit small, then they were medium but theyre really quite large. Or... ive seen too many diminutive stones.
For the first time I spotted Tyfos circle down in the valley below, well the farm anyway ,the stones are too small to work out.
Take note.... there is another stone circle further along the footpath into the hills, and close to that a small standing stone, theyre both going crazy after some attention specially the circle, if you have an hour to spare they'd really like the company.
I don't think we could have picked a better day for our first visit to this beautiful place. Late February brought snowfall that was in places knee-deep and when we reached the circle itself was drifted right up Eastern-most stones. I've attached a wraparound photo of the snow-covered hill.
The walk up was not too challenging, there is a handy parking area where the road splits in two, quite low down the hill. Best to park here and enjoy the walk up the road through the (open already) gate that's on the right fork, and enjoy all the wildlife scurrying about, from rabbits to birds of prey. When the road ends there's another gate, then head up the nearest highest hill (high up,on your left), the circle comes into tantalizing view just before you reach it.
The cold weather and time of day meant we had the place to ourselves, sharing it only with the sheep, biting wind and dramatic views in between the storm clouds.
This is a stunning site; set in magnificent scenery, relatively diminutive, yet equally as magnificent for its completeness. It is quite easy to believe that the original builders abandoned it a few hundred years ago, let alone 4,000 years ago.
We visited on a classically beautiful late winter afternoon, and were bewitched. The peace of this cosy circle is deeply regenerating; its effect has continued on in me for days. Do visit, and prepare to be transported.
Yesterday we visited Moel ty Uchaf and although we were expecting something much bigger we were not dissapointed this is truly a wonderful place the views from this circle just blow you away what I particulary noticed about this place as opposed to many other circles I have visited is the complete tranquility here, there are no major roads nearby and no motorways buzzing in the background fantastic.
We decided to take the trusty kite out today and fly it from the top of the hill. Whilst flying the kite we noticed some anomolies at the bottom of the hill in the opposite direction to which we'd walked up the hill (see my photos). A jumble of huge stones, more boulders, a peculiar slate arrangement and the remains of a cairn similliar to the size of glassonby in Cumbria, but this one was made up almost entirely of white quartz! The grass is so thick here it must hide so many secrets and all round the circle you can find stones hidden under the turf if you look hard enough theres so much to see here if you just look. Also on the track on the way up, if you look in the field before the first farmhouse, I'm sure there're the remains of another stone circle(?). We also found the chambered cairn on the way up to here but failed to gain access. Our bellies were calling us but its halfway in between Moel ty Uchaf and Cynwyd on your right hand side just next to a farmhouse in a small enclosed field.
This place is quite easy to find once youve got directions! As you don't see it until your right upon it! Anyway take B4401 off the A5. Pass through Cynwyd and about half a mile down you'll see a red telephone box and postbox on the corner of a lane on your left hand side. Go up that lane 'til you come to a gate leading up to a hill. We parked our car just behind this gate in a field. We asked the farmer who said it was fine as it is still a public place. Then follow the path up the hill and on the top you will find the circle and over the other side of the hill the ruined/overgrown cairn (and other structures). Enjoy!
Stayed with friends in Denbigh this weekend and managed to sneak off for a few hours on Sunday morning to find Moel ty Uchaf.. a little haven on the hill! a clear blue day with big white fluffs scudding across the sky.. this place is like sitting in your cosy parlour up in the middle of the mountains.. I was lucky enough to have the place to myself for a couple of hours.. a neat, tidy circle which although low seems to get bigger when you're sat down in it! The light and colours are incredible up here, the lichens on the stones shining irridescent silver, green and grey, brown green forests, purple heathery quilts, creamy lambs,turquoise skies.. the circle is central to all this and so much more.. peaceful, still and warm.. I walked barefoot on the springy grass with the sun on my face.. what more could you ask for?! You won't want to leave this place!
Took the 50 minute or so walk up from Llandrillo on Saturday 13/4/02. Wrapped up well following warnings from other contributers that it was always cold at the top. How wrong could they have been, it was glorious up there, sun was shining and there was virtually no wind.
A breathtaking view over to the mountains, where we could see a huge fire burning on a hillside.
The circle itself is magnificent, more than worth the walk. There was an incredible stillness in the air and we rested (or rather slept) for a good 1/2 hour before making the decent. Killed me knees on the way down.
This is another site so remote that you just wonder how the materials were brought up and what inspired them to built it there ?
Moel Ty Uchaf (highest house on the bare hill? feel free to disagree) sits on the slopes of Cader Berwyn. In 1974 this mountain was the scene of a UFO 'incident'. A unknown light had been seen moving low over the area at night for a number of months. In January white lights were seen up in the mountains; some said they saw streaks of light across the sky, accompanied by a loud explosion (registering 4/5 on the Richter scale). The army cordoned off roads. UFO or army plane?? Or earthlights?
The earnest Paul Devereux reports that a geiger counter used at Moel ty Uchaf gave anomalously high readings. But am I right in thinking that granite might well be in this area - even used for the stones? and granite is naturally radioactive? Mr Devereux also (with his typical manner of relating anecdote as containing deeply significant information) recounts an encounter with a walker at the site who explained the skylarks hovered overhead 'because of the ultrasound'. I didn't even realise skylarks had a particular interest in ultrasound - I thought they just liked hovering :)
There are rectangular cists at the site, which Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust says may be Iron Age or even medieaval.