Boxing Day morning dawns with a heavily overcast sky... in stark contrast to yesterday's pristine, cloudless blue. Typical. No snow, though, a state of affairs which, despite the Mam C's assertions to the contrary, I'm pretty happy with, to tell you the truth. So, leaving the Mam to look after little Evelyn - wild horses wouldn't drag her away, not even her favourite, incomparable Welsh cobs - I head towards Nant-y-moel and the round barrow upon Werfa... only to find the A4061 blocked by snow. Bugger. What now? Help me Rhondda, to paraphrase the Beach Boys badly out of context. Although they do appear on just about every Christmas compilation I've heard, to be fair.
Tythegston pops into the head. Aye, that'll do. Back towards Bridgend we go, then. However, upon arrival at the parking area mentioned in previous posts, I notice a brand new 'private' sign in situ upon the now chained gate. I therefore decide to check out the approach from the village itself, the map showing a public right of way across the intervening field of shimmering white. Right on! No problem parking, although I very nearly sprawl headfirst upon the icy road before the stone 'stile' across the wall. Almost, but not quite. I think the Russian judge gave a 4. Anyway, a couple of magnificently gaunt trees in winter raiment lead the eye towards the distant long cairn... the monument - as you would expect - profiled upon the skyline to the left of a prominent area of woodland [see image]. Further stiles allow access across a cross-track [the one now officially 'private'], the right of way traversing the following field to the right of another iconic tree. At the far boundary the long cairn once again becomes visible, remnants of the usual covering of undergrowth all that escapes the overwise overwhelming mantle of snow.
There's something about deep snow, isn't there? To be honest I wouldn't choose such conditions for a first visit to a complex site since, as with mountain landscapes, deep snow obscures form, camouflages detail.... I suppose you could say remakes a site in its own image? But there's no denying it adds a special 'something' to the vibe. For me, Tythegston has two salient details..... firstly and not surprisingly, the large capstone which still surmounts the mounument, today bearing the tracks of an unknown creature (fox?) no doubt looking for a vantage point, in its covering of snow. And secondly, the view of the Mynydd Herbert round barrow, which is perfectly profiled upon the (approx) north-western skyline when seen from the capstone. Coincidence? Yeah, right.
This is a fairly upstanding long cairn which Coflein describes as "A disturbed oval stony mound, 29m WSW-ENE by about 20m and 1.2m high, the capstone being the only visible structural feature; a number of loose small boulders along the northern side of the mound are thought to result from recent field clearance. Source: RCAHMW AP955221/59". I'd concur with that.
In lieu of visible detail I consequently sit/lie upon the capstone, drink my coffee, open a chocolate orange upon said capstone [how many people can claim that?] and ponder..... and ponder. As you do at places such as this. Finally, following a somewhat confusing attempt to check out an 'enclosure' shown upon the 1:25K OS map within the nearby trees, I return to the car just before dark, having made an unholy mess of the previously virgin snow lying round about this Christmas time. Hell, someone's gotta!
Just to add to the posts below. As you turn into the lane heading towards the farm there is a place to park on the left - rough, rubble ground. When I visited the fields had just been ploughed and I was covered in mud - lucky I have my wellies! As I got back to the car I was given the 'evil eye' by a farmer but he didn't say anything. I was surprised how big the barrow was and how much there was to see. Worth a vistit although the public right of way doesn't actually pass the barrow so a little bit of trespassing is required.
Another of those denuded, battered old South Walian long barrows which seem to exist in some sort of semi-urban time vacuum detached from reality, but are paradoxically as real as real can be........
Sited upon rising ground between the villages of Laleston and Tythegston, outliers of the great urban sprawl that is Bridgend, the monument is overgrown and defaced by what appears to be a waterlogged quarry at its eastern end. Nevertheless the earthworks are still quite substantial and there's a pretty hefty capstone in situ, too. Always a good thing to have surmounting a long barrow, I find. Good for the soul.
And it is the satiation of this 'soul', whatever that might be, the appreciation of the intangible elements of a site - I guess you could call it 'vibe' - that is far more important for me these days than the number of orthostats and the like. Little details, initially seemingly irrelevant, that take on great significance as you sit and ponder... the fact that this, a monument built by the first farmers to work this area, overlooks the allotments of Laleston to the north east... serious agricultural continuity emphasising the fertile nature of this small sector of Glamorgan; the Bronze Age 'tumulus' - love that word - crowning a rise to the approx north-west. Was this sited specifically to be seen from the older long barrow and if so, does this imply a continued reverence for previous sacred places or just a cynical power play by the new elites?
Depeche Mode's 'Wrong' periodically enters my head, perhaps my subconscious trying to remind me of one of many wrong courses of action I've no doubt taken recently. However, as cars speed along the A48, as I have many times previously, some swinging down the A4106 to Porthcawl, I'm quite satisfied there is nothing 'wrong' with Tythegston long barrow on this grey day. Quite the opposite.
Hamish's directions, as usual, will get you here. If you come, don't forget your thinking cap.......
This is off the A4106 road to Porthcawl just after the village of Laleston.At the second roundabout after the village take the first left exit and look for a farm lane on the left, here you can park and walk up the lane untill you see on the left a public footpath,follow this up the hill to the small wood skirt the wood on the left and you will see the barrow and the capstone.