No field notes for eleven years, that's not right.
When approaching by car head for the dead end lane that takes you to Meddiant and Bryn-popty, round about here you'll come across a field gate on the right side of the lane with a footpath, leaving annoying children in the car by the gate, strike off into the field beyond. Follow the car tracks through the field into the field further up the hill, left and across the next field through the gate in the hedge, and the burial chamber is across this field in the trees.
Easy, even with cows, which kept a respectful distance of about two feet.
This is a very good place, even without the ancient site this would be a good place to sit and watch the world unfold, as I approached the stones I interrupted a pair of Buzzards, which called loudly as they flew off. My only little niggles are the state of preservation of the chamber and the trees that cover the view of the mountains. The trees I can forgive, but I would really rather the chamber stood up a bit more, its quite difficult working out which way is the front and back. But these are very minor niggles, easily overlooked when compared to the fact that you can still get into the chamber, under the capstone you can see the size of the supporting stones, and whats more no red paint.
The two tall pillars that look like they are behind the monument but aren't are good, if a little choked by barbed wire, and the capstone is a big one, very impressive big, a big stone with two smaller ones, humph, i'm reminded of the two obnoxious kids in the car and remember they couldn't be trusted with an angels innocence and start the short but cow barred walk back, the cows were good, perhaps they recognised another put upon soul and commiserated with me, and I them.
Follow the footpath up to the right from the gate hole, turn right into a brambly snicket, then left, and stay against the hedgerow until passing into a small wood. There are footpath markers to assist. You will be able to see this intriguing chamber silhouetted against the sky-line. In your eagerness to get up close to the monument, which forms the edge of two raggedy barbed-wire fences, take two seconds to locate the kissing gate 50 feet up to the right at the edge of the wood; using it is infinitely easier than scrabbling through tetanus-loaded wire.
This secret, compact dolmen – the only one of the Conwy valley's portal dolmens sporting the customary high portal stones – looks down a tranquil bend in the Conwy valley, towards Llandudno and Great Orme. Although compact, it is deceptively huge from a distance, resulting in the viewer feeling a little surprised on arrival. What is most certainly huge, however, is the capstone. It is utterly gigantic. Despite the fact it has slipped down on the northern side, enough space remains to see the interior of the chamber. It is possible to wriggle inside, which I thought of doing until noticing how the capstone is held in place. (See pictures). Frances Lynch in CADW's publication Gwynedd says this is not for the squeamish. Quite right she is too – I didn't fancy the idea of being crushed by a ten-ton capstone, albeit an appropriate way for a Modern Antiquarian to perish. With my wide beam-end, the dislodging of rocks one way or another was sure to occur. When the arresting Kate saw the pictures the next day, she said "Well, at least it would give you an idea of how it feels to be a grain of wheat under a quern stone."
Although I was initially a tad disappointed in this site, it has stuck in my mind, and on reflection, I enjoyed it very much. It does have something about it which lingers in the psyche. I liked the remaining portal uprights, and the solidity of the site. I imagine if there are bluebells in the wood, it will look most agreeable throughout May. We would have stayed longer – Jane could have made a fab painting of the river vista – but a chilly wind chased us away to the next site.
Hendre Waelod, also known as Allor Morloch, is in a lovely position overlooking the river Conwy on the edge of the valley on a gentle slope 300ms from the river. But it has suffered from neglect and screams to be cared for or it will be lost.
But you don't have to look too closely to see the power and the glory of this monument. It mostly consists of a giant capstone, perhaps two and half metres in diametre and certainly three feet thick. I'll repeat that in case you missed it, because it forced me to do a double take. A giant capstone... three feet THICK! WOW! The supporting stones are small and appear to have buckled or melted under the weight. But they are still there, in pretty poor condition, granted, but they still hold the capstone up.
Festooned around with rusty barbed wire, it now forms part of an evil fence on which I almost tore off some highly sensitive parts of my anatomy. (Warning, don't try to 'scissor' over the fence, use the kissing gate further up the hill). It is largely this sense of it being rudely used as part of a fence and a sheep shelter that contributes to its forgetten, abused unkemptness.
This site sits in an excellent location above the mouth of the Conwy. Two large standing stones, which may have marked the entrance, now double up as fence posts, unnecessary amounts of rusted barbed wire surround them. The chamber itself is partially collapsed, and there have been no attempts at the usual brick and cement repair - a major plus point. The capstone is a massive bulk, much thicker than many I've seen. It is still possible to climb inside the chamber (just) and the bulk of the capstone, from this position, is overwhelming. Off the beaten track, and presumably rarely visited, this site is well worth the effort.
The high road regained, the party was met by Mr. Pochin, who piloted the visitors to a Cromlech on the side of the hill overhanging the Conway river. Here, again, it was found that the relic of the past was in danger of destruction, and at the evening meeting it was resolved to appeal (through Mr. Pochin) to the owner to get it properly fenced.
This Cromlech is known by the name of Allor Moloch, and a local guide-book refers to a tradition which connects it with Edred, duke of Mercia, and Anarawd, prince of Wales, who fought in a bloody battle in the district in 880.
"As soon as Edred, the Saxon chieftain, was taken, a fire was kindled under the altar, and between the two upright stones, or arms of the God Moloch as some call them, until all the stones became intensely hot, when Edred was placed there by means of tongs or pincers specially prepared for the purpose; the heat being so great that his body was turned into ashes and scattered to the winds."
Pennant further informs us that "Anarawd styled the battle Dial Rodri, or the Revenge of Roderic, for his father, Roderic the Great, had the year before been slain by the Saxons."
From the visit of the Cambrian Archaeological Society, August 1882, recorded in The Antiquary volume 6.
Allor Moloch means the Altar of Moloch. Moloch is Canaanite god mentioned in the bible. He was supposedly cast as a bronze statue which was fired up before sacrificial victims were chucked inside. Nice. Still you know what the Romans used to say about the Druids, probably fibs. Anyway, a good pagan name for a non-Christian monument.
I've looked really closely at Kammer's old photographs below and in the 2nd photo it looks very much as though there was another tall stone flanking the Northern Portal stone. There is a stone probably cut down on the southern side.
Frances Lynch says of this site.
"This is he only one of the Conwy Valley portal dolmens with the traditional high portal stones- in this case, originally 3m high and probably covered by a separate lintel, now lost. The chamber behind is large but rather low, covered by an enormous capstone which has slipped to the North. Access from the portal to the chamber is blocked by a low slab which can be seen by crawling under the capstone.
The tomb stands on a sloping site and the soil has engulfed the bottom of the portal stones and filled the forecourt area. One stone of a possible facade flanking the entrance is visible on the south. The remains of a long cairn can be traced by the line of stones in the footing of the fence."
Michael Senior in his book Cromlechs and Cairns of northern Wales says that the capstone is estimated to weigh some 22 tons.
An old photo identified as 'Bodnant Cromlech' by Alvin Langdon Coburn (there's also a second photo of the site). Sadly it's undated, but was probably taken in the first half of the 20th Century. As an interesting point of contrast compare Coburn's photo to this one by IronMan: