On Saturday at 2pm David Browne and Toby Driver, authors of the excellent RCAHMW publication on Pendinas, will be leading a tour of the hillfort. If you are interested in coming along, it all kicks off at 2pm by the monument on the top... continues...
I had an overnight stay in Aberystwyth but due to an allready full itinerary I didn't have time to climb to the top. I did however view the hillfort from the top of the opposite headland (the one where the electric train takes you to the top) and a very fine view I had indeed. You could see what appeared to be the remains of ramparts amongst the fields and trees. I will have to find the time the climb the hill next time I visit Aberystwyth and give a proper report.
Visited 13th June 2003: It was a spectacularly sunny day, so I thought I'd peg it up Pendinas during my lunch hour. My objectives were to find and photograph the round barrow and hut circles within the defences of the fort, then find my mate who was working somewhere on the hill clearing bracken.
I parked at the end of the footpath that approaches the fort from the north, and got to the top in less than 20 minutes. Once I'd caught my breath in the shadow of the Wellington Monument, I headed off to the south west to try and find my barrow and hut circles. The latter were easy to spot, but it turns out they're not easy to photograph (nothing I took was worth posting up). Then I spotted what I'm pretty sure is the round barrow.
By this time I was running out of lunch hour, so I headed back down the hill, and with some help from a local woman who was walking her dog, managed to track down my mate. He'd hidden away at he top of the Rope Walk Fields, and was wielding a scythe very professionally. We had a few minutes to chat, then both of us had to get back to work.
Not a terribly cheerful story, actually it's quite ghastly. I imagine the giants used to live in the hillfort at Aberystwyth? And Penparcau is just outside the ramparts. Perhaps you know the location of the other places mentioned in the tale??
(p47) Some fifty years ago, a headless dog was said to be seen near Pen Parcau, Aberystwyth. A MS. collection of giant stories made in the sixteenth century tells how a giant, going to his father's rescue, rode at such a rate that his dog could not keep up with him and its head came off in the leash, at a spot between the two places where the headless dog was visible fifty years ago.
(p78) Maelor, [a] Cardiganshire giant, with his three sons, Cornipyn, Grugyn and Bwba, lived near Aberystwyth. One day, Maelor was caught by his enemies at Kyfeliog, some twelve miles from his stronghold. Being over-come, his request to be allowed to blow his horn thrice before being put to death was granted him. The first time he blew until his hair and his beard fell off, the second until the nails fell off his fingers and toes, and the third until the horn was shattered. Cornipyn, hearing the sound of the horn, understood what was happening, and sorrow for his father came upon him at a place still known as Cefn Hiraethog (hiraeth, longing). As he rode to the rescue, his dog failed to keep pace with him, and its head came off in the leash, at Bwlch Safn y Ci, 'the Pas of the Hound's Mouth.' Cornipyn made his horse leap the valley, landing at a spot named Ol Carn y March, 'the Steed's Hoofmark.' Coming to his father, he was also killed. The two other brothers were afterwards killed though cunning.
From 'Welsh Folklore and Folk Custom' by T. Gwynn Jones (1930).
On Pen Dinas, a very high and steep hill, near the bridge over the Rheidiol, is a large entrenchment, still in a good state of preservation, and where, Caradoc informs us, Rhys ap Grufydd, in 1113, encamped his forces, which, by a manoeuvre of the English, were enticed from the hill over the bridge, to besiege Aberystwyth castle, where they were surrounded and cut off almost to a man.
The tradition of the town attributes this entrenchment to the forces employed by Cromwell to beseige the castle.
p16 of 'Excursions in North Wales', ed. by John Hicklin, 1847. Online at google books.
The Wheel of Fire. -- (Informant, W.). Near the bottom of Bridge St., Aberystwyth, stands a very old house, which was tenanted 150 years ago by a butcher and his son, who sometimes let rooms. Among their guests was a pedlar and Bible colporteur, who was reputed to carry his money with him. This man disappeared and his pack was afterwards found in the river. Suspicion attached to the butcher and his son, but nothing could be proved, nor could the pedlar be found, dead or alive.
One night, however, a wheel of fire was seen to appear at the top of Pendinas*, where the Waterloo monument now stands; it rolled down hill and paused by a large tree about half-way down. This was taken as a sign from heaven; digging operations were conducted near the tree, and the body of the pedlar was found; the butcher and his son were convicted and hanged.
*A steep, conical hill just outside Aberystwyth, to the south. It is crowned with an ancient earthwork, not yet properly explored. The hill, especially the earthwork, is reputed to be haunted by the Tylwyth Teg or fairies.
p 162 in
Scraps of Welsh Folklore, I. Cardiganshire; Pembrokeshire
L. Winstanley; H. J. Rose
Folklore, Vol. 37, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1926), pp. 154-174.