From The Altar Burial Chamber continue along the minor road south and turn left at the crossroads. Despite the high hedgerows you will soon spot Garn Turne Rocks on your right. There is just about room to pull over in a passing place. It is only about one mile south of The Altar Burial Chamber.
There was no obvious, convenient entry point into the field but given the time of year I was just about able to squeeze through the hedge – not recommended! Garn Turne Rocks and associated Burial Chamber are only a short walk away up an incline.
This is one of those sites where it is pretty obvious to see why the location was selected for building a chamber. Garn Turne Rocks dominate the surrounding area and (presumably) this would have been a special place in times past?
On a day like today you can see for miles in every direction.
The Burial Chamber has totally collapsed and there are several large stones scattered about. The capstone is massive, one of the biggest I have seen.
The farmer who had seen me earlier at The Altar Burial chamber was now muck spreading in the field opposite (what are the chances?) so I decided against climbing on top of the Garn Turne outcrop. After all, there is (technically) no public right of way to the site/rocks. In hindsight I wish I had gone with my gut instinct and ignored him – something I intend to correct in a future re-visit.
This was site two in my trilogy visit of Burial Chambers for today and (despite the collapse) they don’t come much better than this.
Well worth a visit but try to find a more sensible point of access.
Perhaps via the drive leading to the farm?
As Postman says, the gap in the hedge is easy to find, with a short walk over strewn stones until you circle 'round to face the court and chamber. On such a beautiful day, and with it's wide open vista, it really felt very impressive. That capstone really is a biggie, isn't it.
Of all the Pembrokeshire sites I visited (including the obvious Pentre Ifan/Carreg Samson/Coetan Arthurs) on this trip, Garn Turne was my favourite.....despite nearly getting run over heading back through the hedge onto the (unbusy) road. Still, no pain no gain.
Strange things occasionally happen at megalithic sites. That's a given, I guess. Whether it's due to the state of mind of the visitor, unusual magnetic variations, or other phenomena we simply don't understand.... strange things happen.
But I guess even a completely chilled Gladman was somewhat taken aback when a lovely couple arrived at the enormously impressive Garn Turne and enquired 'hope you don't mind if we bury our horse?', or words to that effect. Er, um, OK... suppose so.
Mercifully they didn't return dragging a carcass, but a wooden casket containing the ashes of said clearly venerated beastie, which were ceremoniously and solemnly deposited within the chamber. I felt as if I'd been sucked into a wormhole and transported 5000 or so years back in time, my initial lack of enthusiasm somewhat dissipated. The engines won't take any more, captain. But pity the poor archaeologists who revisit the site after we're dead and gone! That'll confuse the blighters no end.
Anyway, but what of Garn Turne's physical attributes, then? Well, they say size isn't everything, but sometimes - as every woman will no doubt confirm - sheer size can simply leave you breathless. Hidden away in a field screened by a very high hedge below the eponymous crag, you honestly would have no idea it was here without a map. Never one to take the easy option, I approached via the green track to the east and across the adjacent fields (unlocked field gates). The chamber boasts an ENORMOUS capstone, some very substantial orthostats forming a facade of some description and that most important quality. Vibe.
After seeing the picture in Architecture of death by George Nash I was totally unprepared for Garne Turnes immense size, it's a whopper.
There is only one place to park and there's only room for two or three cars, there is a gap in the hedge and an unlocked gate, The giant capstone has it's back to us as we came towards it, and the whole affair unfolds as you approach. There aren't many burial chambers that remind me of Brownes hill dolmen near Carlow in Ireland, but because of its huge size this one certainly does, and both places are thought to have been undercut and propped up as they dug. Even the court stones are big especially one to the right as you look in. To get a good view of everywhere and the dolmen climb the outcrops just 50m away. It was too muddy to get in the chamber and I didnt remember to look for the cupmark till we'd left.
Oh well I don't suppose it's going anywhere, unlike the Alter further north.
Amongst the outcrops and close to the hedge, behind the cromlech, there are a number of other large stones which may have formed part of a larger monument.
Also in a hedge at the roadside a couple of hundred metres from the entrance to Garn Turne is the Cantref Stone, marking the place where three 'hundreds' met; those of Dewisland, Cemais and Daugleddau.
According to an entry in 'Saints and Stones' (Gomer Press), "relics of St David....were brought here on 1 March each year and that the bishop and the Lords of Cemais and Daugleddau met at this point to decide questions of mutual jurisdiction".
You can certainly see all three 'hundreds" from Garn Turne itself, attesting perhaps too, not only its great importance as a site, but also to the longevity of traditions.
Further to Rhiannon's notes, (reference later) Garn Turne is one of three megaliths clustered around the hamlet of Colston, and apparently seem to be the end of the monuments that delineate the Myndd Preseli group....
It is an enormous capstone Nash says, one of the largest in Britain(weighing more than 60 tons,) now collapsed.
It had a 'v' shaped forecourt similar to Pentre Ifan and Irish court tombs, facing north-east toward the large rocky outcrop. Apparently it has a large, pointed sandstone conglomerate block within the centre of the forecourt (think Pentre Ifan started with one singular stone).
It's 'hidden' or at least merges into the stony outcrop that surrounds it, a feature of a lot of the cromlechs round here, and of course the siting near to a distinctive outcrop; the 'gorsedd' maybe of Julian Cope fame...
ref; Neolithic Sites of Cards, Carms, and Pembs. by Geo.Children and Geo. Nash
Mr Nash says this is the only known location of a cup-and-ring on a chambered monument in SW Wales. Prior to this, only cups have been found (seven monuments in the region are known to have rock art).
He calls it the largest of all the monuments in Wales, so it seems strange that more fieldnotes haven't been left on TMA? Perhaps it is rather off the beaten track. The capstone is described as a huge 5m by 4.1m, and weighing more than 60 tonnes. It is adjacent to a rock outcrop and, to the north, 'the southern extent of Mynydd Preseli is in full view'. 50m WSW is a recumbent standing stone, a not inconsiderable 2.1m long, and 'possibly contemporary with the Garn Turne monument' (SM97904 27307). A second stone is at SM97935 27298. The monument, standing stones, rock outcropping and a marsh area are all inter-visible.
He says the 'cupule' may have been based on a natural feature of the rock, but that it shows some working. The cup is 5cm in diameter, and the ring 14cm.
Cup-and-ring petroglyph on the neolithic chambered burial monument of Garn Turne, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales.
Rock Art Research 2006 v25, no.2, pp199-206.
The article has a photo of the monument and a closeup of the cup-and-ring.