The adjective 'obscure' could well have been devised for the location of this long cairn, although, to be fair, much of the 'secret garden' vibe is no doubt due to the wooded environs.... and the fact that the monument is conspicuous by its absence from both the 1:50K and 1:25K OS maps. This is not a site to accidentally stumble across on walkabout (although stumble the visitor will, believe me) but instead a temporary haven from the more annoying manifestations of what we term the 'modern world'. Yeah, I would rate the chance of an undisturbed hang here close to 100%, since I reckon even the Coflein people must've sourced local knowledge to find it. Surely? As for myself... I simply asked the Postman.
It is true to say that the locality does not exactly display a paucity of Bronze Age and Iron Age sites. Oh no. A little to the approx NE a cluster of round barrows duly, well, cluster around the small village of Staylittle, whilst the looming, soggy heights of Pumlumon - Itself - are crowned with perhaps the finest extended concentration of upland cairns in the UK. There are hill forts and lesser enclosures, too. But what of the Neolithic, you may ask? Well....the long cairn is set in a classic location for the type, a short distance east of Cwmbiga Farm overlooking the Afon Biga, one of the lesser rivers sourced upon the aforementioned 'Mother of Rivers'. There are, er, others. Only a couple of hundred yards from the road it may be, but to all intents and purposes it might as well be on the moon for all the likelihood of a casual visitor venturing here. Needless to say Michael Stipe won't be coming, then. Pity.
Speaking of REM, assuming you manage to cross the ridiculously mossy 'lost world' landscape eloquently described by Postman and actually locate the monument, the vibe here is so ethereal the scope for day dreaming is extensive, to say the least. I've no idea how long the Hafren Forest has hidden the long cairn from prying eyes, but assume such a state of affairs was not the original builders' collective intention, something the visitor should take into account. Nevertheless the cairn's grassy 'crust' suggests it's been a while; in fact only a couple of (excavation?) pits and a small area of stone breaking the green mantle confirm that this is indeed a cairn. Definitely a long one, too.
So.... visitors in search of high drama should look elsewhere. Hey, venture up to one of Pumlumon's great round cairns, why don't you? But if an understated, slumbering woodland vibe appeals, make your way to Cwmbiga Farm and follow the southern bank of the Afon Biga - very, very rough going - to the approx east. The monument is not obvious, but isn't that all part of the appeal?
It's not an easy one to find, it is a long way from any main road, best reached either from the north at Staylittle or south from perhaps the prettiest reservoir ever seen llyn Clywedog. Parking was had under some conifers about 150 meters east of Cwmbiga farm. Not having the relevant map didn't start the day off optimistically, but thankfully the first petrol station I got to had the right one.
From the car jump the fence and follow a small tree lined stream down to the corner of the field, climb the fence again, now there is a more substantial stream to cross. Arthur my three year old Jack Russell wouldn't go near the water, so i picked him up, toyed with the idea of doing a balancing act crossing on a fallen tree, then just ran through on tip toes, and entered another world.
I thought the llyn Clywedog road side drive here was very easy on the eye, most agreeable. But the feast of thick, verdant, lush, damp loveliness that greeted me caught me completely off guard.
I had to turn around and look back the way I'd come incase i'd been transported to some far off fairy land. I put Arthur down and he sank up to his knees in moss, I picked him up and sought some more solid ground to put him on, there wasn't much to choose from. Moving through this Jurassic paradise would be hard going, fallen trees abound, small black creeks crisscrossed the forest floor and the odd random deep hole waiting for an unsuspecting leg to break , all covered with a dozen kind off mosses, ferns and grasses. The air was thick with life too, flies, bugs and butterflies and their avian predators.
We sort of blundered around directionless, I started thinking that I'd be really lucky to find it under this thick carpet of life, so I did what I always do and headed for higher ground, better to see further and it's usually drier and easier traversed. But brilliantly the higher ground turned out to be the long cairn. At the south east end of the cairn some stone work still shows above the mosses, right next to this cairn material is a large rectangular hole, I jumped in and had a grope about for any stone work, but the under growth was too thick. Moving north west along the length of the cairn is another deep rectangular hole, I jump in again and find lots off stone work, with only minimal furtling. After a long sit and stare about, a Jay shot through the small clearing not seeing Arthur and me till it was almost too late, it passed by about two feet from in front of our eyes. Brilliant !!!
After a much belabored circuit of the long cairn it was sadly time to go, passing back over the river again proved once more to be like a portal through worlds, from Jurassica back to Farmtopia. Swallows swooped all about us as we crossed the field, calling their shrill summer call, and not far away the almost obligatory Red Kite, this was a good one.
Remains of a probable long cairn, dating from the Neolithic period (c. 4,400 BC - 2,900 BC), situated upon a wide terrace in the centre of a sheltered valley. The stone built cairn is wedge shaped and measures 17m from NW to SE by about 10.5m transversely (at the SE end) and about 5 m transversely (at the NW end) The cairn has been disturbed in the past, presumably the result of antiquarian investigation. The cairn measures about 0.8m in height, raising slightly towards the SE end.
Source: Cadw scheduling description of August 2006.