Merrick reckons 'there is a ragged, botched feeling to the state of this cromlech'. I concur. However, despite coming from the sublime Garnwnda a little to the approx west, this wedge tomb still presents a visually impressive aspect upon arrival, thanks to restoration between the wars, of course (thank you). The size of both the capstone and supporting orthostats ensure this is a substantial tomb indeed... if a little rough 'round the edges, so to speak. And then some. Hell, I prefer to term it 'character'. Rest assured there are no smooth surfaces here.
I park to the west beside a cemetery of rather more modern origin - one assumes - a bridleway leading past stables to Penrhiw Fach farm. To be honest I lose my bearings somewhat, so ask a passing 'horsey' person for directions to the burial chamber. 'Don't look out for those sort of things', she replies. Fair enough. Except, upon rounding the next corner, there it stands in full view in the centre of a field, a gate providing public access. No comment.
In typical wedge tomb fashion the visitor must recline somewhat to enter. However this enables me to escape the truly biting wind prevalent today. Which is a bonus. I also have the opportunity to inspect a lovely growth of orange lichen upon the rear stone.... see even here, within such an austere structure, there is exquisite beauty waiting to be discovered.
Even a thorn has a rose...... OK, perhaps that's not a very elegant paraphrase; neither is the Pen Rhiw wedge tomb, for that matter. Elegant, I mean. But to find a wedge tomb this side of the Irish Sea is a wonderful thing in itself. Unlike my sense of direction, needing a compass bearing to find my way back to the car...
My daughter and I left the car parked at the stables directly west of the chamber and beyond the rocky Pen Rhiw hilltop. A ten minute walk through wet sluggy grass brings us to this Wedge tomb, a wedge tomb in Wales, cant be many of them. Grimes Re-erected the 3m long capstone in 1936, and is still there now resting on three long stones, a large empty space where the other one was just has big rubble as if someone smashed it up or dumped field clearence. With Fishgaurd and it's ferry to Rosslare just a couple of miles away it makes perfect sense to find an Irish wedge tomb here, though it's on it's own as far as I know.
This battered and patched-up cromlech stands barely 600 metres from the treble cromlech of Carn Wen to the east and 900 metres from Carn Wnda to the west. All these monuments are clearly sited at the foot of a natural rock outcrop.
GE Daniel (1950) says the capstone was only resting on two uprights. A third upright has been put in place since then.
The capstone rests on uprights that are wider than they are tall, like menhirs lying on their side. The tooled flat end of the capstone faces the outcrop (now hidden behind a small copse).
Capstones are generally assumed to be orientated towards where the pointy end faces; but if there's the effort gone into tooling an end flat, perhaps that side is a 'facing' direction. The fact that this capstone has the possibly tooled flat end pointing toward the obviously significant outcrop certainly suggests this.
Barber & Williams (1989) report there being an 1865 photo of this cromlech in Carmarthen Museum. Anyone fancy hunting a copy and seeing what state it was in then? They also say that the Royal Commission of Ancient monuments No.458(a) of Pembroke reports the capstone of 14ft x 8 ft was overthrown. This is certainly not the stone I see in place here, which I'd guess is roughly 8ftx5ft. Has it been broken? Replaced entirely?
There is a ragged, botched feeling to the state of this cromlech. But it's an essential part of the composite picture of the fantastic array of Pen Caer cromlechs.
The three outcrops over the bay on Mynydd Dinas constantly draw the eye, with the three peaks on Mynydd Preseli right behind. The sea is just out of view.
The monument stands on organic farmland just off a public footpath. Ask permission from the farm and give them big respect for their organic status.