Visited 1st August. I was lucky enough to arrive at the farm in time to catch a very nice lady in the yard. Permission was readily granted to visit before I had chance to ask ( yes, she knew why I was there before I said anything)
I took lots of pictures but Postie has it mostly already covered. Just some faintish ones of the carvings to share. They are generally quite small, being a couple of inches long at most, and some are difficult to make out. There are quite a few but faint, easily lost in the natural lumps and bumps of the stone.
A Panoramic view of the Brecon Beacons. I will be back to this one.
When I visited earlier this year I parked at the farm to ask for permission. There was no one in so I took a chance to have a 'quick look'. The 'quick look' I had planned turned out to be a lot longer than expected as the tomb took a lot longer to get to than I thought. When I got to the tomb (out of breath as I had jogged up the hill) I was delighted with the views to be had over the Brecon Beacons - which were topped with snow against a blue sky. The tomb was better preserved than I expected and I managed to return to the car before anyone returned. All in all a good place to visit.
I'm afraid I was running low on time so decided to pass on the permission and ninja scurried along the fences and hedges instead. But it was worth it, I love a burial chamber still with a capstone on and what fantastic views nearly 360 degrees. However lack of permission to view the site meant an almost embaressment, as I scuttled round taking pictures and taking in the scenery I noticed a tractor in the field below
and sat back against the long stone when the tractor sound started to get louder and nearer and almost comically I crawled in the chamber and hid, whilst I was hiding I notced how comfy it was, looking through my feet to the wide open end I decided had someone wanted to be a hermit here he could do so easily, perhaps my bum was rubbing against the same stones as Illtyds.
The tractor passed and I came out of hiding one more look around and I beat a hasty retreat. A great place for a picnic but next time i'll ask permission.
Part of the Black Mountains group of chambered tombs(Severn-Cotswold type).
Heading out from Brecon on the A40 to Abergavenny.
Just after the end of the dual carriageway is the village of Llanhamlach.
Beyond this (before reaching the pub ‘the Old Ford’) is a turning on the left for Pennorth.
Take the turning, go past the first property on the left and continue until you reach a large farm on your right (all buildings plain grey stone, approx 700m from main road turn off).
This is Manest Court, and you should ask here for permission before visiting Ty Illtyd.
Opposite the entrance to the farm on the other side of the single track road is a field gate. Beyond this, pasture rising up the hill to another field gate. Beyond is the brow of the hill with a few trees on it. Head for the trees, because infront of them is the burial mound (it can be seen from the A40 at the Pennorth turning once you know where to look).
Illtyd was a local saint, and ty translates as house.
Great view of the Usk flood plain, with views of nearby Iron Age settlements (Slwch, Pen-y-Crug and Coed Fenni-fach, all to the west).
The mound is orientated north-south, with the chamber at the northern end. It has the shape of a long oval, the west side is badly plowed but does appear to give the impression of the remains of kerbing (thin flat stones) in places. It rises to around 2m and its length is given as 23m by 15.7m across at its widest point.
There is a large stone lying half buried halfway along the east side as well as a smaller one towards the back. I am aware of the large chamber being excavated, but I do not know if all of the mound has been. I am sure that if side chambers were present someone else would have mentioned it in print, whereas all the sources I have read just refer to a single main chamber.
The rectangular chamber consists of three uprights (sides and back) surmounted by a single large capstone (2m long by 1.75m width). In front of the chamber one on either side are low standing stones and in front of them is a large long stone, suggesting the remains of a forecourt of some sort (I couldn’t make out the remains of any horns).
The chamber is cramped, CADW gives the internal dimensions as 1.6m long by 0.9m wide and 0.6m high, so be prepared to crawl in and out through the mud and sheep excrement.
Of additional interest are the carvings (if you can find them, I just about made out 3 crosses and nothing else) inside the chamber: 60+ crosses and lozenges, two sets of dates in roman numerals and a lyre.
John Aubrey perhaps visited the tomb in the 17th century, making it the earliest known reference to a megalithic tomb in Brecknockshire: ‘…The Doctor caused it to be digged; and there rose such a horrid tempest of thunder & lightening, that the workmen would work no longer; and they sayd they sawe strange apparitions; but they found a cake of gold, which was of a considerable value. This was about 1612. From Sr Tho: Williams Baronet, Chymist to K. Charles II.’
It appears.. from the ancient and authentic records, that during the time St. Elwitus led the life of a hermit at Llanhamelach, the mare that used to carry his provisions to him was covered by a stag, and produced an animal of wonderful speed, resembling a horse before and a stag behind.
Was this a deliberate intervention by St Illtyd, who felt his groceries weren't getting delivered fast enough? This is from the Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, by Giraldus Cambrensis, which was written after their journey in 1188.
In Lhan Hammwich Parish, there is an ancient Monument commonly call'd Ty Ilhtud or St. Iltut's Hermitage. It stands on the top of a hill, not far from the Church; and is composed of four large Stones somewhat of a flat form, altogether rude and unpolish'd. Three of which are so pitch'd in the ground, and the fourth laid on the top for a cover, that they make an oblong square Hut, open at the one end; about eight foot long, four wide, and near the same height. Having entered it, I found the two side Stones thus inscrib'd with variety of Crosses.
I suppose this Cell, notwithstanding the crosses and the name, to have been erected in the time of Paganism; for that I have elsewhere observ'd such Monuments plac'd in the center of circles of stones, somewhat like that at Rolrich in Oxfordshire. And though ther eis not at present such a circle about this; yet I have grounds to suspect that they may have been carried off, and applied to some use. for there has been one remov'd very lately, which stood within a few paces of this Cell, and was call'd Maen Ilhtud; and there are some Stones still remaining there.
From the third edition of Camden's Britannia (I think partly the added notes), from 1753.
I mention this for the added information about the carvings (1312 rather sounding like the 1612 in Elderford's post?) - but also because I'm sure we've all been places with whining non-believers :)
On the road home a visit was made to the Ty Illtyd, on Manest Farm. This is apparently a cist-vaen, disinterred from the incumbent earth now lying on the south-eastern side. It is remarkable as having several well defined marks on the inner surface of the slabs composing it, figures of crosses of very rude and early forms, and the date 1312; but this date has obviously no connexion with the period of the formation of the cistvaen, and throws some doubt on the genuineness of the other characters.
The above was the course marked out for the excursion, but it may be worth mentioning that some of the party, who complained of being dragged up and down a stony mountain path, at the imminent risk of their horses' knees and their own necks, only to see a big stone* and an ordinary farm-house, ventured to chalk out a separate excursion for themselves.
*Actually at Kingstone, they didn't even get to Ty Illtyd, the whingers. From an account of an excursion on Sept. 14th, in Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1853.