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The map just says cairn, and I think we found a cairn, well, it was a slight bump with several stones protruding, if it's where maps says a cairn is then it must be a cairn. But for some reason know it all smarty pants Coflein says it's a double cairn, whatever one of them is. It gives no more information at all, there is only one cairn, and even that one is easily ignored, as it is almost flush with the ground.
About this double cairn at Pont Scethin, I believe you have been grossly mislead, so I submit myself for employment at your soonest convenience, presumably when you have laid off your current, erm...fool?
New and improved fool proof directions.
Presuming you've gone past Bron y Foel Isaf, turned right into the fields by the footpath sign, and arrived easily at the ruined buildings with two pine trees. Now follow the wall from the ruins south, climbing unsteadily over two low loose walls, look right for an alcove in the field wall, pass it by and in the corner of this field is a gate. The east/west wall by the gate is actually aligned on the cairn circle. Go through the gate into the field towards a small circular group of bushes, the stones encircle the bushes.
Moving through the field towards the stones is harder than it sounds, the grass is very long, the ground very uneven and riddled with tiny streams.
The bushes within the ring are much more grown than my first time here, nine years ago, I couldn't find it second time round, but I didn't have fool proof directions like this time. Found it very easily, went straight to it.
The undergrowth, even in December, is covering the stones far too much, part of me wants to spend all day there cleaning up, chopping back, revealing stones, perhaps on a warm day in March, maybe I will, but I probably wont.
The cairn circle is in places several courses high, I find it hard to believe the kerb stones of a cairn circle would be on top of each other. Some fiddling seems to have gone on here, some large stones stand slightly off the circumference, a group of stones off the circles south west corner, suggest, something, Alken reckoned it might be another circle or something, maybe, they are very suggestive.
Some of the stones are very large, some are standing edge on to the cairn. It really does need clearing up.
The light was just amazing, the sun poured down upon us, blue skies over the sea, but cloudy darkness over the mountains. The weather and the light can make or break a site, I cant even imagine how gloomy and depressing the place would be in fog and rain, am I turning into a fair weather stoner?
It's been nearly four years since my last confession to Bron y Foel Isaf.
I am now fully prepared to accept Moelfre as a sacred hill, or at least a mother hill, a focal point, I think all the sites seen today have had a view of cairn topped Moelfre.
In the opposite direction to mother hill is the far away looking Lleyn peninsula, floating mysteriously in the air, itself dotted with lots of burial chambers.
The wall is very unsteady around the dolmen, stones moving under every movement, be careful, or don't, even push the confounded wall over maybe.
Haven't been here for seven years, the stones are as lovely as ever, the shorter stone is still half white with what I presume is lichen, and it has a small notch in its western edge, it aligns with a young ladies bedroom on the road a hundred yards away, it could, you don't know.
The taller stone does have some white lichen but not much, it does have a quartzy shine to its side, and it does have a good shape.
The tree is still there and looming large over the stoney pair, I like trees, I once stopped visiting stones for a while and took up visiting heritage and remarkable trees, one thing trees have over stones? they're alive.
But most radical and astounding of all, the god awful fence has gone, it was all the way round the stones and the tree, it was too close to the stones, sure you could climb over but that's not point, it was ugly and in the way. But now it's gone and it looks like it was never there, I wonder what prompted them to remove it. Other sites that could benifit from a good defencing, Bodowyr, Lligwy, Kits Koty, come on every one get your fences off.
The first time I came to Gwern Einion portal Dolmen I had no clue this was here, even though I'd climbed the gate in the second picture, right next to the stone. But farmer told me off for not using the footpath, that I also didn't know was there, so I didn't come back this way and kept on not knowing it was there.
But Rhiannon added the site page and a misc post and I saw it on Coflein so I couldn't miss it again could I.
A somewhat oddly shaped standing stone, it cant be seen from the other side of the wall as it goes round the stone rather than just upto it. That's all really.
The nearby gate now has barbed wire on it to stop itinerant townies wandering at will, well he should get out of the bloody way, should Will.
Thesweatcheat asked me how long it had been since I last came here, I wasn't confident I knew precisely so I guessed, five years maybe, ha! I was miles out, the answer surprised me, it was just over one year, September last year ? What could this mean, anything? am I not paying attention and just wandering willy nilly and not taking any of it in? Am I seeing stones so much that it all melds into one long stoning day? Or do I always live in the now, the impact of my last trip here is undeniable, is it important when I was here? Nah.
What I like most about this Dolmen is that it's amid old and ruined farm buildings, it would not be good at all if the buildings were in use, you'd have to don the meek face and ask permission, pah, not into that.
The dolmen is old, the buildings are not, but they are, if you get me. I like seeing it peeking over the old walls, I like seeing it through the old roof space of the big building, of course you have to climb onto the wall to see it like this, there's so many ways to see this dolmen. I've seen a few dolmens in different surroundings, some in woods, some on hill sides, some in field banks, but mostly just sitting in an empty farmers field, but Gwern Einion is in a pretty singular situation, and I like that. How boring would it be if they were all in a grassy field, well, not boring, but variety is the spice of life , is it not?
Follow the directions for the cairn next door, or even better get a Sweatcheat to navigate for you, cant go wrong.
You'll see the cairn first and you'll see the Arm chair before you see the circle. Fowler was a Giant, and giants like people like to lounge around and ponder the universe whilst watching the clouds drift by, perhaps he had his mate Dicky round, though where he would have sat I couldn't say, and that's if you could get him off his stool, they're a strange bunch Giants.
The Arm chair is unfortunately of the extremely uncomfortable variety, a block of sandstone, two foot tall by three feet long by a foot and a half wide, approximately. It lies within the circle, not central.
Kammer noted only three stones to the circle but Coflein said there's four, so I had a poke round with my boot tip on what looked to be the circumference of the circle, and as if by magic a stone uncovered itself before us, Alken seemed impressed, sadly my boot detected nothing more, except the usual countryside fouling.
Ordnance survey seem quite confident that this is a stone circle, but Coflein only goes as far as possible, I'm very confident of it's reality, sure, there's only four stones left, but it's placement, and it's view, especially the long one towards the winter sunset, I'm sold.
Presuming you've got to the insignificant no-where that is Davids Well, head west on the only turning and go as far as you can, park.
Up hill following a track, at the top turn right, walk straight on passing a quarry, the cairn may soon be made out below you, between the slight hill your on and the next one.
We arrived just before sunset, just in time, which is good seeing as this was the seventh site of the day, it doesn't often go according to plan, but today it did, which was good, as I've said.
Coflein says of this cairn........ A much disturbed disturbed cairn, 13m in diameter and 0.4m high, showing kerb stones to the NE....... So it's in an actual class of cairns called disturbed and it's then been disturbed, further? disturbing grammar aside, the cairn is very disturbed, only the north east kerbing is possibly original, but it still goes all the way round, disturbed.
Some stones of the cairn are neatly piled, disturbed, and in the middle where one might expect a cist, only a jumble of cairn, with one possible stone that looks like it might come from a cist. Disturbed.
The large rock right next to the cairn is The Arm chair of the Giant Fowler, and encompassing it is the still discernible stone circle.
One very good thing about the site is the view down the valley, perhaps aligning the stone circle with the cairn and the mid winter sunset.
En route to Folwers Armchair from Caer Caradoc in southern Shropshire a fiddle of small roads must be dithered through, no road went straight there, it was this way and that, up and down, and along, quite suddenly we found ourselves on a lonely road over the hills passing a trio of barrows, we stopped for a look.
Barrows 1, 2 and 3, the first two are on the north side of the road. the western most of the two had sheep and a metal farm related wotsit on top, bit rude, but the barrow is large and the sunlit grass bright. The eastern of the pair is again quite large, but curtailed by the minor road on it's south side.
The lonely barrow on the south side of the road is perhaps the largest, and is also called Dicky's stool, Perhaps he was a giant and he left this little message, a sample, for our bemusement, colour me bemused, and brown.
Like Carl, both Alken and myself commented on the niceness of the place, the low sun shone sporadically on the substantial barrows and distant hill tops.
Very nice, but it's not a stone circle, so we carry on our way.
There is a high risk of repeating Carl here, word for word, so I will try to dodge words like wonderful, fabulous, and idyllic. But it will not be easy, because he is absolutely spot on.
We parked near Wax Hall west of the fort, blocking an unused gate by the road, then walked to the first foot path leading to the east and passes the fort on it's north side, I think that still left one fence to jump though, maybe.
We entered the fort through the eastern entrance, shades of iron age peasants applauded our arrival, or it might have been a strong wind, which might also have been rather cold.
Neither of us were expecting such deep ditches and high banks, there's at least two Caer Caradoc's in Shropshire, I've been to the other one two or three times, it's not anyway near as good as this one, I really should have been here years ago.
So with a mixture of incredulity and awe upon our faces we followed the lower rampart west on the forts south side. A small Hawthorn tree still bearing bright red berries autumned its way by us as we moved west, Jim of the doors was right the west is the best. Soon enough we arrive at the western entrance, like Carl we were reminded heavily of Maiden Castle, no not that one, the big one. The west gate is a complex of deep ditches running away from the central walkway, high banks in between, it really is quite fab, aah I mean amazing, that was close.
I spotted a pair of shadows following us, so I photoed them, I waved but got no return. Entering the fort through the massively impressive west gate we walked round the interior, passing a shake hole? or abandoned mine shaft or ritual area or hole, yes, it was definitely a hole, and on to look out through the eastern entrance where we first came in. Then it was back to the super entrance and then follow the rampart back east along the northern side. Along this northern rampart we spotted at least three house platforms, I think that's the proper speak, if not, then they were the site of some kind of building, cannily hidden out of the wind. The sun began to come out from it's cloudy hiding place, when it shone upon the trees across the valley illuminating the yellows, browns, and reds of autumn, shining upon the wet grassy fields, it was better than good. Almost said idyllic then.
After walking along the triple set of banks we were back at the eastern entrance, we had performed the obligatory circuit of the fort, the very least a visitor should do at a hill fort. But it was getting later in the day and there is a site with a name that burns a deep hole in my obsessive mind, he has an armchair you know.
Much has changed in the last almost fourteen years on the modern antiquarian, people come and people go, theories get aired then discarded, and apparently you used to be able to add a spurious site without any disputed antiquity tag being applied.
Great Hagley is one of those sites.
I've been a TMA'er for quite a while now and during this time I've clicked on just about every site contained therein, including this large standing stone, it immediately went onto my list of places to see, just like the Murder stone and Minninglow. But even though the stone is not marked on any map, and it's not listed on any monument record, here it is parading around like an actual menhir, if it had a disputed antiquity tag I might not have come, indeed it is not very easy to get to either.
And, the fact that there is no granite anywhere near here, throws more doubt into the mix. Ok, a more famous place than this imported lots of stones from some far away place. But would you bother with it for a solitary standing stone?
If it is hard to imagine why ancient man would go so far for a piece of granite then it's even harder to imagine why some one in more modern times would go so far for it. Besides, I find it a touch difficult to believe that mindless rock diligently sticks to geology maps, or that geology maps are 100% infallible.
Marks in it's favour are few, it isn't a scratching post, (if such things exist at all) unless cows round here are as tall as elephants, never saw any cows near here anyway. It's in a good position for a stone like this, with the immaculate Caer Caradoc hill fort across the valley, and many becairned hill tops on the horizon. But maybe that suggests it was put here after the fort was built.
Quite annoying isn't it.
But having had my whine and whinge, it's always good to scratch that itch, it is now crossed off the list, and slowly fading from the obsessive side of my mind. Now it is time to go some where that is definitely, certainly and prominently ancient.
This east west aligned late Iron age settlement is a rectangle with slightly rounded corners, in a green grassy field on a slight ridge, sitting as it does, above Ferny Dingle and Darky Dale. Not much reason to come all this way for, indeed, we only stopped because we were passing.
Barely more than a week after my first failure here, I'm back for another go at this elusive cairn and cist. Once more I drive up through the forest on a very rough track, hairpin right turn, then a long looping left bend, the map shows a footpath running through here, couldn't see it last time and I couldn't find it this time, it has, most regrettably, gone.
So I end up having to park in the same place as I did last time, but I now know where the stream is, and to turn left there. The cairn is, map says, in between the stream and the footpath, I've already verified that the footpath has now gone, so I follow the mountain biking path to said stream , turn left and make my appearance on the large clearing seen on maps and google earth.
What an unpleasant place this is, absolutely dreadful, just awful, let me explain. It's not Wales' fault, that's to be sure, they put up a forest here, and then reaped it completely, I've seen what the earth looks like after they've taken all the trees, like a hundred bombs went off, like the Somme without the bodies, sorry, but it's just that bad, with tall grass all over it, at times chest height, holes that are leg deep, streams pass by heard but unseen, it is very slow going, nay it is a dangerous place to walk/wade.
Needless to say, that after two hours of solid swearing at the ground I failed to find it again, it's not big to start with, only ten feet wide and zero feet high, but the cist in the middle should be visible, V.P.Williams or maybe F.Foster from Coflein was there in March 2006, so I'm a bit stumped. I found a couple of likely looking maybe cairns, but both were too high and no cist. I looked under trees, I looked at all the grassy bits, all the stones, anything that peaked my curiosity got a good staring at, but, in the end I had to admit defeat. So I slumped onto the ground on what wasn't a cairn, and stared intently at the Snowdonian view north and west, it is a very good vantage point to see all the big mountains, on that ground alone I am still convinced there is a cairn with a cist up here somewhere. But in the back of my mind I remember that were all human and prone to making mistakes now and then.
Back down by the stream I start looking in a place I know the cairn not to be, but the hillock had short grass and some stones were visible, so I had a look, and found a low wall, with a horseshoe shaped open enclosure built into the lower end, I dont know what it is , but it's not a cairn with a cist in it, I decide to ask coflein when I get home, perhaps I can pin down the cairn if I know exactly where this "thing" is. I did, it's not on there.
If someone else finds this cairn before me I'll drop me pants on Burton's corner on Saturday afternoon.
No field notes for eleven years, that's not right.
When approaching by car head for the dead end lane that takes you to Meddiant and Bryn-popty, round about here you'll come across a field gate on the right side of the lane with a footpath, leaving annoying children in the car by the gate, strike off into the field beyond. Follow the car tracks through the field into the field further up the hill, left and across the next field through the gate in the hedge, and the burial chamber is across this field in the trees.
Easy, even with cows, which kept a respectful distance of about two feet.
This is a very good place, even without the ancient site this would be a good place to sit and watch the world unfold, as I approached the stones I interrupted a pair of Buzzards, which called loudly as they flew off. My only little niggles are the state of preservation of the chamber and the trees that cover the view of the mountains. The trees I can forgive, but I would really rather the chamber stood up a bit more, its quite difficult working out which way is the front and back. But these are very minor niggles, easily overlooked when compared to the fact that you can still get into the chamber, under the capstone you can see the size of the supporting stones, and whats more no red paint.
The two tall pillars that look like they are behind the monument but aren't are good, if a little choked by barbed wire, and the capstone is a big one, very impressive big, a big stone with two smaller ones, humph, i'm reminded of the two obnoxious kids in the car and remember they couldn't be trusted with an angels innocence and start the short but cow barred walk back, the cows were good, perhaps they recognised another put upon soul and commiserated with me, and I them.
The 1:25000 map confidently states there is a cairn circle here, Coflein says there was once a cairn here but is now mostly destroyed, precisely they say.....A vague, turf-covered rise, c.12m in diameter & 0.2m high, showing a few scattered stones, remains of a mound levelled in 1951.
I couldn't even see that, there's nowt left of it at all, please don't turn up expecting to see something cool, it has gone, I've been so you don't have to.
When I first started looking at Snowdonia with an eye for ancient things, naturally my eyes turned to the areas around Betws Y Coed and the Fairy Glen my favourite places from childhood holidays, with the right map you'll notice a pair of cairn circles not far from Rhydlydan, just south of the A5.
So it was quite a while since I last came here, quite a while since I last failed to find it, so after an aborted attempt to find Iwerddon cist I thought I'd give this place another go, a well overdue another attempt.
I probably parked in the same place, by some large black bin bag barrels, I probably jumped the fence in the same place too, but unlike last time I came alone, leaving negative nay sayers in the car.
Two, small, barely wet streams need to be crossed, the cairn circle is right next to the stream furthest from the road, ive been doing this for a number of years now and was quite confident of finding it this time round, but, I just couldn't see it. It was difficult to discern stream from ditch or dyke or what ever, I could feel the site slipping away from me again, so I note that on the map the stream the Cairn circle is next to runs down across the hill side from the very corner of the field, so I go up to the corner grab the stream by the tail and doggedly follow it down the hill.
A supremely fantastic idea which paid off handsomely, on the way down the stream I noted a few groups of stones which I though might be it, then I saw it standing there brazenly winking at me, it was right there all the time, I must have walked within feet of it several times.
No wonder I couldn't find, what I usually do is go to high ground and look round from there, but from this angle it just melts away into the hillside, it's even more invisible from below it, only stood right next to it can it be seen.
A low doughnut half buried in the grass with a few stones passing them selves off as kerb stones.
This site wont get your groin fizzing, but is maybe worth a look if your going along the A5 before you get to Snowdonia proper.
After my earlier failure it was good to find something so elusive, thumbs up? nay, a fist in the air.
Three or four miles south of Betws Y Coed is the small but nice village of Penmachno, and about a mile east of Penmachno amid a profusion of footpaths and low walls is a duo, or trio of cairns, one with a cist.
I parked on the road south of the cairns and followed the path through the back yard of Foel house, where a nice old man pointed out the way the path went, but beyond that he couldn't help, we went off the way he'd pointed.
The 1:25000 map says there are three cairns, but one is represented on the map only as a dot, it's not mentioned on Coflein, and we couldn't find it, so either it's not ancient, or it's not there.
So ignoring the dot cairn we rove and roam in what I hope is the direction of the other two, but I'm struggling to orient myself in this maze of paths, farm tracks and low hill tops.
It doesn't help that I did not re look over Coflein to make sure I know what i'm looking for, I just know there is a cist here somewhere.
Whilst i'm looking over towards Snowdonia and pointing out Moel Siabod to anyone who'll listen, ie: talking to myself again, I turn around and there, plain as day is a good large cist, I giggled slightly but no one noticed, a cist with a view of a well known becairned mountain, I'd hoped Id be able to see it but you never know till you get there. There are more cists in cairns much closer to Moel Siabod, I wondered if there was a link, further than the rocky mount.
The good large cist has all four sides, but one end has fallen outwards a bit, and all contained in what we must presume to be cairn, there are no stones, no cairn material showing, just a few lumps and bumps that are scarcely any higher than the cist.
Looking for the other cairn was a futile and fruitless concern, how far from the other cairn is it? don't know, in what direction precisely? don't know, What does it look like? don't know.
There are several low knoll's between the cist and a farm track, one of them must be it, but then, who's interested in maybe cairns, cairns are definitely one thing where size matters.
The entrance to this cave is getting a bit overgrown, there's lots of dead wood and a fire pit mar the extreme beauty within, so after a bit of a tidy up I take to photographing this apparently small cave.
The cave has a smaller cave at the back, but it is a short dead end. Another smaller grotto goes into the right wall, but it is an even shorter dead end. The left wall of the main chamber kind of resembles elephant teeth, between one of the teeth is a small passage, crouching low I waddle inwards, as the passage turns right it goes over a step and I'm able to stand up. The walls have red stuff running down them, the bleeding heart of Elderbush cave it's like i'm in a living beast. Then the battery went in my camera and I'm entombed in darkness, after a short but intense freak out I put my clothes back on and wriggle free of the small tight space, blinking in the bright light in the main chamber, I try to coax my camera into a few more pictures but it's well and truly dead, not pining for the Fjords, just dead.
I'd need about a dozen pictures to convey the wonderful loveliness in this cave, it is everything Tolkien would have liked, as well as the elves themselves, I can imagine sitting in this cave, fully clothed, just as the sinking sun poured it's magical embrace all over us, I'd really like that I think.
Ps, I never take my clothes off at ancient places, I've thought about it, but never have, don't be scared.
From the entrance of Thors cave follow the path up round the back and up to the top of the Tor, so the cave is directly below you, after admiring the view up and down the wooded Manifold valley, go left, right on the edge of the cliff is this fast getting overgrown cave.
A rather odd name, don't you think? seven ways what, into the cave or steaming fish?
The entrance to the cave today is through the large collapsed wide open area, once your in there, theres three arches through which to observe the sun not doing anything in particular. 180 degrees from the three arches the cave continues to go back for a while, it's not a big one, compared to Thor's cave it is but a slight depression.
Dont stay too long or you might not have enough time to explore Elderbush cave, one of the best places in all of England.
It wasn't easy getting to the car park South of the caves, a diversion took me round Alstonefield, I got all turned round and my mind seemed to melt, getting there was a fairly hit and miss episode, but get there I did, eventually.
I followed the river Manifold for about a mile during one of it's disappearing underground tricks, there's one quite cool thing to see already, then the huge rocky tor comes into view and ones gaze is thrust upwards, it's a long way up.
Crossing a now rather defunct bridge the path goes upwards through the woods, taking a right hand turn I am only guessing which way to go, it's been at least decade since I was last here. Suddenly I realise I'm getting very close, and then I'm there, thankfully I was the only one present.
I carefully scramble up the entrance to the cave and learn early on how slippy it is in there, imagine a cartoon character suddenly finding themselves on ice, how I remained vertical I'll never know, perhaps it's 'cause I'm a big fan of everything Asgardian.
First I go over to the big crack in the right hand wall, it is apparently a serviceable entrance/exit to the cave but you need to have the skills of a snow leopard mountain goat, my skills barely approach those of a long legged bird, or something else totally without balance. I call this crack the suicide exit. Turning 180 degrees the cave splits in two, Thors nostrils Stubob called them, I see no reason not carry on this simile. So I slip and skip off up the left nostril, the simile carries on once inside, the floor is covered in a lubricious muddy clay.
There are gaps in the cave wall where you can see into the other nostril, the feeling is one of being in a cathedral, so I did what I always do in a cathedral, I took all my clothes off and writhed around on the floor speaking in tongues.
No, of course not.
The right nostril was just as slick, but it goes further back and it's got puddles, I really must invest in a big torch, it was most unseemly getting about in the dark using only the flash on my camera.
I find a dry spot on what would be Thor's philtrum and sit round for a while, marveling at all the colours in the cave, reds, greens, browns and all in between, the trees out side the entrance going up the Manifold valley are perfection.
I'm snapped back into reality by voices, I build up the fire rouse my family grab the spears and run off into action, yelling like madmen.
Could have happened, once.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website ten years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.
My favourite places are:
Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.