Been doing a lot of walking on Carningli lately, and am now convinced that there are at least 12 Bronze Age dwellings there, mostly on the north flank, but with one small cluster (3 huts?) on the southern slope of the mountain. There is fantastic new imagery on Google (satellite images) with 2007 imagery -- much more detailed that what was there before. Most of the hut circles show up very clearly. in addition to the dwelling huts there are abundant stone takes, clearance cairns, trackways, entrenched tracks, standing stones, stone walls, ring cairns, paddocks etc -- and one burial cairn at Carn Briw. This was clearly a key Bronze Age settlement site -- probably much more important than the eastern end of Mynydd Preseli around Carn Meini and Foeldrygarn. Proximity to the sea and to a good fishing river might have had something to do with it?
The Iron Age community that lived in the Carningli "village" within the hillfort was much larger, and lived in a defended clustered settlement. I have posted a new map of the hillfort here:
I had wanted to climb this vast and imposing mountain during our holiday, but the road to relaxation is paved with good intentions (or something like that). Looking up at its towering bulk, and its relationship to the surrounding countryside, it's easy to see why the mantle of sacred hill would be bestowed on it, and probably a very long time before St. Brynach hove into view.
The translation of 'Carn Ingli' is literally 'The Mountain of Angels', after the Celtic St. Brynach experienced visions and conversations with angels there. This extinct volcano, sporting a huge and wonderful craggy outcrop, is home to an Iron Age hillfort, and various settlements and enclosures.
A truly holy place, I climbed it twice while on holiday in Wales, once in the daytime and once at night. The steady climb gets steep at the top, ending in a scramble to the summit. Just before the very top there's an amazing circle of grass providing shelter from the prevailing wind... this must be where St Brynach slept. It's a fantastic view, over there at the bottom of the mount is Newport, the river, the mudflats and the sea. Up the river there's the Gwaun valley and right over there are the twin mounts (can't remember what they're called now) just near White Sands (nr. St Davids).
It's very strange, almost eerie if it wasn't so calming, a little like being in a beautiful cathedral. All is calm, which was the case also when I climbed it at night. The mists rose and nothing was visible, just a shining sea of moonlit cloud hanging in the valley below.
This site has a mass of folklore attached to it. I've tried to capture the "magic" of the mountain in the six novels of the Angel Mountain Saga (published 2001-2007) in which the heroine, Martha Morgan, has frequent encounters with the supernatural and has a very special relationship with the mountain. The mountain is, in effect, a character in the story.
In the book Saints and Stones (ISBN 1-84323-124-7) Davies and Eastham give an account of the life of the St Brynach, a Celtic Christian who lived during the 6th Century and became a victim of his own success:
Eventually, so many people became disciples of the saint that he sought refuge in a cave on Carn Ingli - the Mount of Angels - above Nevern, where he would converse with divine messengers.
Carn Ingli is actually an extinct volcano and utterly dominates the landscape around Newport and beyond. Traces of its violent, landscape-sculpting past are evident on the beaches at Parrog and Newport Sands, in the form of dark sand… surely a combination of both the fine weathering of the local slate and from lava floes?
On it there are hut circles, enclosures and relics left by our ancestors, now only inhabited by sheep.
Carn Ingli looms over the Nevern river estuary from perhaps where the bluestones of Stonehenge were once floated down towards the sea on their journey to Wiltshire?
Previously unrecorded Bronze Age (?) roundhouse on the flank of Carningli, discovered Spring 2008. Other traces in the immediate vicinity suggest it was the centre of a farmstead, with storage huts, paddocks, trackways etc associated.