As we drag ourselves away, time is pressing on rapidly. We decide to make a final stop off at the two western Hafotty-fach cairns as the sun starts to sink. The overcast gloom that has dogged most of the afternoon has largely lifted, except on the highest slopes, and the light transforms into that beautiful evening glow that illuminates the best of winter evenings.
The cairns are in a field next to the road, access land with a ladder stile providing easy access. The field is very wet and boggy near to the gate, but relatively dry where the cairns themselves are. We make for the southwestern cairn first, as it’s the more obvious of the two on the ground. It turns out to be huge, but denuded to little more than a low ring of rubble. It may have been a ring-cairn in the first place, but equally the surrounding drystone walls may tell a tale of robbing out. The sun sinks lower, brushing the hilltops to the west and painting everything with a soft glow.
The northeastern cairn is even more robbed out than its companion, so it’s not easy to see until you’re practically on top of it. Stones protrude from the grass, but you could easily be forgiven for walking past without a glance unless you knew what to look for.
But who cares? The surrounding hills, the soft evening light, the end of a brilliant day out, all make such quibbles sound petty. I would like to think that the builders of these cairns would appreciate their purposeful, infrequent visitors, providing a continuity of interaction stretching back into the long distant past. As someone once said, “all those people, all those lives, where are they now?”
There was just enough room to pull over at the side of the road, walk back down the road to the gate enter the field and walk over to the cairns.
Only one is immediately obvious, but when you know which one your at you know where the other one is, if that makes sense.
The western one is the better of the two, a big round cairn with just loads of cairn material being taken for nearby walls, shocking isn't it.
The eastern cairn was no smaller than it's neighbours, but much more has been taken from it, on it's eastern edge it neatly and seemlessly merges with the ground, only at its northern edge is there even a curving bank of stones.
I had wanted to get over to Cerrig y Cledd for the last site of the day, but we inevitably tarry too long at places, and consequently the plan is open to changes, these cairns were that change, and a welcome one too, after all the top sites of the day, and in the last golden light of a weather changeable day, it was better than most things.
On route to this cairn we noticed there was loads of birds all around the road, it was all I could do to not hit any of them, when suddenly from behind the low wall a big brown buzzard took flight accompanied by crows and mappies, I know it's only a buzzard but theyre really big and very impressive in full flap just metres away, then it dropped it's prey, a wriggling snake, probably a grass snake after watching springwatch the other week.
As we approached down the road we spied the cairn over the wall, we audaciously parked in the fishermen only parking space (not on my watch aquatic abuse monkey) and walked back down to it, it was very boggy, but at least no trespassing this time.
It really does look like a ring cairn , even looking down from google earth, and Gladmans sensational gods eye view pictures though he hasnt pointed out the cairn but two seeminly unmapped cairns closer to the mountian.
It looks like a ring cairn because the interior has been completely excavated, half a dozen large stones seem to line the inside arc of the ring.
Just to the north east is Hafotty fach menhir, and a hundred metres north is Careeg y big next to a small hill perfect for surveying the area and looking down a bit on the cairn and stones.
And the area really needs a good survey because it's totally gorgeous, I almost forgot the other sites nearby and stayed for ages on this little hill.
Visited 15th December 2003: This is quite a large cairn, at least in terms of its diameter. What's left of it really looks like a ring cairn, with quite an obvious hollow in the middle. Access is straight-forward, as there are no fences or walls between the cairn and the road (to the north at least). Although it's a short walk from the road to the cairn, you'll have to get out of the car to see it.
This cairn is listed by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust at the grid reference SH66391355 as 'cairn' of a period 'unknown'. It looks like a ring cairn, but according to Coflein it's usually enterpretted as a damaged round cairn:
A round cairn, 22m in diameter & 1.0m high, defined by a stoy bank, thought to be a disturbed round cairn, rather than a ring cairn. Has been suggested to have been a cockpit.
The cairn isn't marked on the Ordnance Survey Landranger map, but it is marked on the Explorer (number 23).