Our last site of the day. What a great place to finish at the end of a long but highly rewarding day out in the mighty Brecon Beacons.
This is one of those sites that I had been longing to return to for a number of years - ever since my original visit in fact. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge in that time!
We parked at the end of the road / start of the track and I pointed out to Danielle the nearby cairn with the trig point on top. We then walked along the track, chatting about all things historic /prehistoric and enjoyed the views. The bright sun caused the water in the reservoir to sparkle and shine. It was only the cold breeze which stopped you from thinking it was the middle of summer.
We first headed for the Roman Camp works and then out across the moor to the stone circles. Despite having been here before it still took me a little time to re-fing the circles. The stones are only small and the ground undulating with many tufts of 'spiky grass' to block the view. But find the circles we did and soon settled down for a small picnic my sister had kindly prepared for us (thank's Lisa!).
I then noticed that one of the stones had fallen. I was able to re-errect it and temporarily pack it with a couple of stones I found. It did the job for now but a proper re-packing will be required for the long term.
As we munched out rolls (or cobs as we say in this part of the world) a couple of red kites hovered high overhead in the thermals. All was quiet except for the bleet of the nearby newly sheared sheep. As with every other place we visited today we had the place to ourselves. We sat and ate and drank and took in the fine views to the north. We sat quietly and tried to take it all in. For me at least, there is no better way to de-stress from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
It had been an excellent day's 'old stoning'. I am pleased to report that Danielle enjoyed her day as much as me and is looking forward to our next 'adventure' - as she calls it. I may have mentioned Avebury...................
It's been quite some time since my first time here, and I think it would have been another quite some time if not for Evergreen dazed insisting he had to go right away. Unfortunately his misses was ill (or he didn't like the weather reports) so it was just thesweetcheat and I.
It rained nearly all the way here, and with my sciatic leg urging me to crash the car and die, it wasn't perfect, otherwise another nice drive down the A49. It had stopped raining by the time we got there, and started to snow instead. Weather proofing donned we set off down the track, which is wholly unpassable to all except for tractors and tanks. With snow coming down sideways we struck off the track and headed for the stones, they are below the hill with the Roman forts and as such unmissable. Eventually, it's always further than you think, we arrive at the stooones, miffed with the crappy weather, but pleased to find such a wonderful site.
We wander fairly haphazardly, photographing this and that, The bigger of the two circles is pretty much intact, it's two most striking stones are a flat topped loaf like stone and the other a chair shaped stone, could these two prominent stones frame an entrance ?
The smaller ring only has four stones to it, all leaning, where Carl saw his fallen stone I don't know, perhaps Alken saw it.
Where stones are missing there are holes filled with water.
This is a great site, but it's not till now that I realised just how complex it is.
We decide to go off looking for the two nearby cairns, the one nearer to the Roman forts proved harder to find, namely due to looking in the wrong place. But from that cairn we could easily see the other cairn, the one which Carl stumbled across.
Both cairns have good distant views of the Brecon Beacons, which today have snow upon their higher reaches. From this cairn there is a big boulder nearby,we mosey on over (it's stopped snowing now).It is a big stone next to some excavated pool like area, it would serve as a good point to leave the track and head over to the stone circles via the more obvious of the two Y Pygwn cairns.
From the cairn that is No 2 we head for the fallen monolith, half way there we come across two stones,one could be the outlier that Carl found, but five yards from it is a lower stone, prehistoric goal posts or an obvious boundary between the living and the dead,(sniggers).
The big fallen stone would have marked the winter solstice sunrise from the center of the bigger circle, and it would have been the biggest stone here. But now it lies broken amid that thick horrible grass that likes to hide stones. From the fallen stone to the ring half way is another prostrate stone with a weird worn groove upon it, a line drawn through both fallen stones would also touch the western arc of the big circle.
From the smaller circle we spotted a possible stone row, possible or not it leads to cairn 2.
So.... to completely "get" this place more than one trip is advised and have a really good walk around, I cant say that all we saw was part of the plan, but I think we saw all there was to see, making it a very complex complex.
It was with much relief I actually managed to find this site!
I hadn't done as much preparation as I should have and expected to be able to drive along the track right up to the Roman camps and then a short walk to the stone circles – wrong! Instead I had to park a mile away, where the tarmac ends, and carry Dafydd the rest of the way. He is nearly three and quite a lump to have to carry that far along an ice bound, rutted track! (Apparently he will happily walk for his mother but seems to lose the use of his legs when out with me!)
Anyway, along the track we went and I decided to head straight for the Roman camps and find the stone circles from there. The O/S map show a footpath to the stones but don't be fooled, there isn't one – just open, bleak moorland.
It took me about half hour to walk/carry Dafydd to the Roman camp and I was hoping to be able to spot the stone circles from the top of the ramparts, but I couldn't. We did however see 10 (presumably wild) horses grazing along the ramparts.
Using guess work I headed across the moorland in the general direction where I thought the circles should be and as luck would have it, found them without too much problem. I first spotted a single standing stone (outliner?) and then the smaller circle with the larger stones. I counted 4 standing and 1 fallen.
From here the larger circle (25 smaller stones) is easily seen.
The smaller circle is nice enough but the larger circle is a beauty.
Although the stones are small (no doubt only survived due to the remoteness of the site) they appear to be a complete circle and have great views to the north.
I really liked it here but by now Dafydd was complaining of the cold which was fair enough (after all it is January in the Brecon Beacons!) so we headed back to Karen and Sophie who had wisely decided to stay in the warmth of the car.
It has been a long time since I have visited a stone circle and there really is something special about these types of site, particularly when they are as well preserved as these two circles are. Well worth a visit but be prepared for a long walk and I would recommend wellies in wet weather – the path would be a mud trap.
We parked by the Pant Madog barrow and walked the mile or so over the almost barren moor to the circles. First into view comes the hill called Y Pigwyn with its roman camps, and in the distance at the foot of the hill from the path we can just make out the stones. It was cold and windy but the sun was shining and with the step ladders (inspired by Cope at Ardblair)we brought some good pictures were due. The large stone circle was almost perfect, at its southern side there are two stones one a pointy chair and the other a flat topped boulder I thought male and female maybe ?
The other smaller stone circle is only thirty yards away but its remaining stones are larger than its niegbours though only numbering four, with the other stones gone the last four make it look like an intentional four poster. Fifty yards to the south west is a prostrate stone nearly eight feet long, Coflein says it could have when standing marked the winter solstice from the large stone circle.
All in all a fantastic morning out, a long walk but well worth it
Thanks for carrying the ladders Dave
Be prepared to walk across several kilometres of open moorland. If you cycle it is up and up hill on the way there.
Two stone circles.
In the hills around 4km northwest of Trecastell/Trecastle.
From Brecon take the A40 to Llandovery; turn left at the far end of Trecastell. Head up the hill for almost 1km; take the first right and keep on going for 3km until the road stops at a gate (signposted 'unsuitable for motor vehicles').
Worthy of note: on the right is a tumulus with an OS triangulation marker on it (trig point 383m OD).
Continue on the track (as far as I am aware this is a Roman road) for around 1.5km.
The reservoir to your left is the Usk Reservoir; there are two standing stones close to the end you are looking at, but not visible from the track.
The track will rise and curve to the right, at this point up ahead to the right is the highest point; a hill called Y Pigwn (with a roman fort on the top). Look carefully along Y Pigwn, most of it is open moorland, but running up along its right hand edge is a fence, beyond which is the green grass of pasture land (there are also trees on it which can be seen against the skyline).
This is what you want to walk towards, at some point leave the track and wander in that direction, you shouldn't get lost as you are headed toward the field boundaries along the edge of the moorland.
You should be walking across a gently rising saddle of land and the larger of the two circles should come into view first.
Neither circle is visible from the track.
In guide books Mynydd Bach is described as a ritual complex, because nearby are also the standing stones as previously mentioned, cairns and a round barrow.
The smaller of the circles has only four remaining stones, but it is possible to locate the empty sockets of a further four more which reveal it to be a small circular setting rather than a four poster. All the stones are leaning and less than 1m high. It is 8m in diameter.
A short distance to the northeast is the larger circle, it has 21 remaining stones, and pits suggesting 3 more. At the southeast is a jumble of larger fallen stones, which it is suggested may have been a ritual entrance (I suppose something like a small Swinside). There is a very slight rise in the centre of the circle. Like most Welsh circles, the stones are low, between 0.4 to 0.6m.
All stones, like most in this vicinity are given as being Old Red Sandstone.
There are some other stones close by: 'Prehistoric Sites of Breconshire' Children & Nash claim that the two circles are linked by 3 low stones, (which I couldn't locate), whereas 'Clwyd and Powys' CADW Guide has an illustration that the stone setting is to west of the smaller of the two circles.
The CADW guide also mentions an isolated stone 3m long lying some 100m southeast of the larger stone circle.
It also mentions that the barrow is not visible from the circles.
Coflein has the following regarding the two stone circles and associated monuments:
'Two quite irregular stone circles: at SN83353109, about 75' in diameter, composed originally of c.30 stones, at most 2' high, with those on the S, where an entrance is suggested, being the tallest; at SN83313106, about 25' in diameter, originally made up of c.10 stones, with five or six, up to 3'6" high, surviving. These circles are not considered to represent the remains of funerary mounds, but have been integrated into a general discourse of ritual circles, thus short lengths of stone alignments, adjacent or nearby (at SN83413101) can be interpreted as 'stone rows' rather than as the remains of field boundaries, and a large fallen stone to the SE (SN83393107) is seen as marking the midwinter sunrise from the larger circle.'