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I've wanted to come here to Garn Boduan for so long that I cant tell how long I've been waiting, nor do I know how I first learned about it, it seems like we've been waiting for ever to get to meet each other, and when we met (it was murder) the pleasure was all mine, seeing as Garn Boduan is an inanimate object, not alive, or is it. No its not, or is it.
This is the third peak of the day and not the last, and to tell you honestly i'm really quite crackered, things just aint what they used to be. I parked on the B4354 where I presume Gladman did, and started the long walk, hopefully there would be no explosion at the end, unless it's an explosion of enlightenment.
Despite my exhaustion the walk up the switchback path wasn't unpleasant, the trees are nice, the views are nice and the weather is still uncharacteristically nice.
Eventually I reach the fort, my first sight of the forts entrance brought a cry of relief from me, "that's an entrance" I gasped, just as a bloke and his son emerged from god knows where, I presume they didn't hear me and nod sagely as I pass them. I'm in the fort.
Once through the entrance I'm confronted with a superabundance of large hut circles, but I turn my back on them all momentarily and continue up the hill, there's a "Citadel" at the top of the hill and that is where I shall start my exploration of the fort. En route to the citadel a couple with a barking dog barr my way, the dog is barking at me of course, I must ooze postie from every pore by now, but I do what I must and I stride through the heather to confront my noisy assailant, why do some people seem to have no control over their animals, they never told it to shut up once, I still smile at them as I pass, but shoot the dog an unsympathetic glare.
They tell me its windy up there, talk about superfluous information.
When I hear the word citadel, I cant help thinking of The Lord of the rings, Minas Tirith mostly. But here on Garn Boduan a citadel apparently is nowt more than a broken wall on top of a hill, no knights, no ale quaffing, and no needy princess, lots of wind though.
I'm not disappointed though, far from it, sat out of the wind in what I presume is a walkers shelter built into one end of the wall, I've got a good view of the Rivals and my sexy hill, and much more besides. After a good long rest I get my camera out and set to having a good look round the cit, nope I cant do it, it's just the top of the hill, ok, so I'm looking round the top of the hill and it's a bit confusing really. The top of the hill isn't a big place, at either end of the hilltop is a pile of rubble with scooped out interiors and inbetween them a wall, the wall is still very together and good looking in places. The piles of rubble could be cairns, I hear, and that kind of makes sense, but why have a wall join them, confusing.
From on top, I should be able to see lots hut circles all round me, the information board has them all over the place, but the heather is quite high, and though the huts are without doubt there theyre walls are all quite low, unlike those at Tre'r Ceiri.
So I start the walk back to the south west corner of the fort where all the visible hut circles are. On route another dog starts barking at me, I shall call him Barky, Barky the stupid dog, his mistress to be fair told him to stop it and shut up but he refused and barked at me constantly, I sat and watched and waited for them to go, here theres a cliff type thing where you can stand above the hut circles and take them all in, they do look really good, one of them has walls five times higher than the rest, Im guessing, but I think this one is the one folk sit and eat butties out of the wind in or someone likes to do a spot of wild camping in, i'll just build that wall up a little bit.
Even here though on the lowest terraces only those huts in the south end of the fort are visible, why cant we see more? has there been some clearing or restoration work done.
Passing by several well defined but low circles I get to the wall, but it's too overgrown to have the prescribed circuit of the fort,
so I concentrate on the houses.
They're walls are not as tall as those at Tre'r Ceiri, but better than those at Carn Fadryn, so the middle fort has the middle best hut circles, if that makes any sense at all, I congratulate you.
Then lastly it's back to the entrance, there is now nobody round to bark at me or overhear me talking to myself, so I have a good look round, I try and follow the wall through the trees round the corner, but it's all too dense, so I sit for a while on the entrance, it's all very well defined and the stonework is good, and that's about it, how much can one say about a long big pile of stones with a gap in it, it's old and it looks good, and i'm betting much much more, if you reeeally try.
That's it for round here now, it's time for a long drive down near Barmouth for the last fort of the day, I'm not sure I have the energy or the time but I'm going for it anyway.
This is not the best hill fort in North Wales, it's not even the best hill fort within site of Cader Idris, bit it is a North Walean hill fort within site of Cader Idris and that alone gets it on to my list.
Leaving Barmouth east alongside the Mawddach estuary on the A496, turn left at Bontddu, and follow this road all the way, one gate has to be opened and shut, a large parking place soon presents itself, avail yourself of it's services, and walk. It's a gentle up hill walk for about a half mile, the fort is soon in view.
It's only a small settlement, large enough for a single house with family, but they still felt the need to build a large wall round it. Perhaps the other fort across the river had some impact on them.
The highest point of this little fort has a large pile of rubble on it, I don't know what it is or was, I like to think it is the site of the house, surely it must be.
The stone rubble that was the wall round it does not now go all the way round it, on the west side it's all grassed over, to the extent that I could not discern an entrance to the site.
It was the mountain view that drew me here, and had the sky remained the same all day it would have been a fine view. But sadly the day has turned, the mountains hidden in cloud and now i'm being snowed on, so it must be time to go, but not before I up my thumbs to the Mawddach estuary and Pared-y-Cefn-Hir hill fort across the way, always great in any weather.
Cor my blimey it's been ten years since I was last here, time passes far too quickly, in the end there may not be time to do everything one wants, so this spring equinox provides me with the drive to get out and see a few hill forts. Leaving the house at 4am, the plan is to get to Tre'r Ceiri before the sun rises. I very nearly made it too, after parking in the wrong layby, and following the wrong path, which then vanishes whilst I'm checking on the suns progress, forcing me to pick a route, any route, and go up, I'm getting too old for this shite, clearly. The sun approved of my star watching position, sat amid big stone scree two thirds of the way up and granted me a quick glimpse of it's starry magnificence, before it clothed itself in low clouds hanging over the Moelwyns. It was a quickie sunrise, the sun was as it always is at daybreak, the golden glow wrapped the land in beauty and I smiled my sunrise smile, then it was over, it was like the sun knew I had a few things to do today so it let me get on my way, which I did. I knew early on that I was going up the wrong way, nay, the very wrong way, but it didn't take me by surprise when upon reaching the very top right next to the cairn, it wasn't just the wrong way up, it is by far the hardest.
But, easy or steep, hard or soft, I had reached the top. It was windy, really very quite windy, but it was sunny and the countryside was looking good, the sun came back out and after a sit upon the cairn, which was lots bigger than I remembered, I set off down the north west wall. Until I came into the hole in the wall, is it an entrance, a secret exit, is it originally original, post Roman, or what, I sat here too, relishing the stones humble gift of wind blocking. Follow the wall south to the big posh entrance, wonder in silence for a minute or three, then dive into the interior of the fort to get lost among the houses.
There's maybe a dozen places in the whole of Britain where you can see and touch the past in such a satisfying manner as this, I love the closeness of the houses to each other, I love the size of the walls and the perfect corners, surely there must be some restoration at work here, but it doesn't matter at all, I am far too blown away to dig up such minor trifles. Now over at the east wall north of the entrance where I should have come in. I sit at the battlements, the rocky outcrop that grows out of the wall, from here Mynydd Carngwch has it's most evocative side to me, it has the desired effect once more, bending myself back into the upright position I walk over to some hut circles packed in right up to the wall. Then after a bit more hutting I'm back at the main west entrance facing Yr Eifl. It is now that I must decide whether or not to put into action part two of my plan, climb up there and have a meet with the big cairn, I'm cold and a bit knackered, hungry, thirsty, but whilst thinking these thoughts my feet decide for me and i'm off, striding across the wilderness like a man with a plan, which I aint.
It has to be said that though Tre'r Ceiri is a brilliant place to be, the place you want to see it from is on top of Yr Eifl, god what an eyeful.
Directions - Do as Carl says.
It's just over a hundred miles from my house, at the far end of another country, but I've just had my malfunctioning car fixed so I had to go and see some stones. I'm sure you understand.
I didn't have an OS map and that worried me greatly, but after reading Carls notes twice, looking on street map and Google Earth I was confident I could find it.
After slowly slipping and tripping up the steep sandy path I reach the summit cairn, all but unrecognisable now, I pause only long enough to acknowledge the ethereal beauty of the fast moving swirling mists and take the Carl path to the stones, my daughter is waiting for me in the carpark at Wentwood reservoir so no time for sitting around.
Some major forestry? work has occurred up on the common, all the trees have been cut down leaving meter high stumps as far as the eye can see, with massive piles of said cut down trees here and there, it was a bit unpleasant. But I suppose it did help me to spot the tall outlying stone, so it's not all bad.
The tall furthest out outlying stone is rather a good one, if it was nearer to home I'd have come just for that alone, but from here I can see the other outlier, which stands right next to the stone circle, and I've been waiting an age to make it's acquaintance so I go straight over and introduce myself.
The right next to it outlying stone is another impressive tall stone, a small tree with nice clumps of bushy lichen on it stands by the stone, I sent monkey boy up it and another to get a looking down photo of the stones but branches get in the way, I should've brought the drone, but frankly I'm a bit scared of it. The sun is beginning to get through now and the mists are lifting, I'm warm so I disrobe slightly and set to tidying up the place prior to photographing the site thoroughly. That can be hard work for my poor back, and if anyone were to see me pruning and whatnot I might get a bit embarrassed, so I keep an eye out for other people. Once, I looked up at a nearby thud and two ponies were being led back home by a grey haired woman, escapees she explains. Right, ok, that's normal I suppose.
After a tidy up, the sun hits us with it's full winter force, well, it was bright and sunny, so I dashed round taking pictures, it looked really very nice, the colours seemed to leap out at me, and now the bridges are visible it adds a new dimension to the scene, I don't like what people do to the planet, but for some reason I do like these big bridges.
Time has run out sadly, the time which I suggested to daughter has been and gone, so I thank the stones, tell them they were good, (they like that sort of thing) and they are good, and take my leave.
Gray hill stone circle is a good one.
I parked to the immediate east of Windmill hill, just off the A4361, opposite East farm, leaving my weary daughter on car protection duties, then made my way up the white horse trail. You only have to follow the path across two or three fields and already it has taken me unseeingly close by three barrows, I did see a lady who looked like she spends a lot of time sitting around ancient places. I could slip into her shoes or wellies as they may be, quite easily. In short time I reach the top, a National trust sign informs me I am at Windmill hill, tell me something I don't know, another more faded sign shows me there are more barrows up here than I had anticipated, something I didn't know.
Once through the gate the first barrow is almost on top of you, naturally, I got on top of it and had a look around. Oh dear, there's much more up here than I had thought. Close to me are more barrows, with ditches winding around and through and off away around the hill. I thought there may have been a couple of barrows at best, I'm not going to have enough time.
Then I make for a barrow shape, only to find it's one of them funny reservoir thingies. Humph!
From there I make for the big barrow at the top of the hill, only to get beaten to it by a whole family, first on the scene was a little girl who had as much energy and enthusiasm as a football team made of modern antiquarians, she was dancing and spinning round, rolling down the barrow, poking her nose into rabbity holes and everything. Don't see that very often.
Most of the family left quickly, leaving one adult overseeing the exuberant child, who was playing in the deep ditch of the barrow, I don't think I've ever seen such a good ditch around a barrow before, reminds me places like Bryn Celli Ddu and Maes Howe.
Time had passed by like I was stuck in a time warp, making it time to get going, I left the hill top to the next generation of barrow rollers, and passed out of view. Then we went home, the motorway was crap.
I've been wanting to come here for simply years, it wasn't until I finally decided upon a return to Avebury that I had a look exactly where it is, and well, blow me down, but I've only driven past it about a dozen times. Heaping upon the feeling of my inadequateness I spotted the stone from the road, it was there all the time, practically yelling at passers by to come over and have a look, but oh no, eyes are always well and truly glued upon the avenue stones.
Parking in the aforementioned layby by the avenue stones, cross over and follow the hedge to the site of the circle. As easy as the peasy.
Passing on the way, as you do, the hedge stone, a hefty stone that looks large enough to have once belonged to the very nearby circle, but it is part of an old wall, and is a completely different colour to all the Avebury stones, which are a decidedly pale white, the hedge stone is brown. What this means I can only guess at in an uneducated kind of way.
I can see how someone might just be a touch disappointed with Faulkner's circle, there is after all only one stone, which may not be in it's correct position. But not me though, I liked it a lot.
Firstly I was taken a back as to where it actually was, hardly equidistant, but between Ridgeway and the Avenue of stones, barrows crown the horizon on the Ridgeway. Secondly, why did they put a stone circle here, so close to the Avebury whopper, it doesn't make much sense, it's like building a church in a cathedral porch. But then nothing round here makes much sense, it's a sensory overload, stoney saturation point was reached some time ago, about another dozen trips to Avebury and I might get to see it all.
Still haven't walked along the Ridgeway to have a closer gander at them big barrows, nor have I been to East Kennett long barrow, the polisher or the spring. But there's still time today to take in one more never been to, and it's up hill.
I haven't been here for years, it was even before I had a digital camera, my memories of the site are kind of dulled by time but I distinctly remember being underwhelmed. Seeing as we've taken lunch from Greggs of Marlborough this would be the optimum moment to revisit and see if my memories are reliable.
Parking is a problem, there is no where to do it.
I tried on the main road, but that didn't feel safe at all, so I opted to park in the same place as Carl despite the sign saying park here and we'll tow you away, like Carl I left backup in the car in case of emergency.
The walk up the track is very muddy, but the sun was shining, the birds were flying and I was ready for some stones. As you get to the barn you can see the dolmen, I pause a while here and ponder the barns use as viewing platform up the valley, decide i'm being silly and keep on splashing through the mud.
I enter the enclosure of the Den and approach the stones, much is made of the fact that you're allowed to go to the stones any time you like, permission is already given. But, if there's no where to park your motor it's just a bit of a laugh isn't it, probably best to get Scotty to beam you straight to the site, walking? who needs it.
A big chunk of concrete helps support the stones, no one seems to mention it much, but there you go. They also call it a dolmen, is it really a dolmen? a portal dolmen maybe? I don't think it is, yes it's a stone lifted upwards by other stones, but that doesn't make it a dolmen does it?
If you like dolmens go to Wales.
But none of this means I don't like it, I do, very much, what it does mean is that a place as famous as this should have a little car park, just a simple one will do, one without fear of being towed away. And I'd like to know exactly what it is that remains of what, is it really a dolmen, is it all that remains of another big chambered cairn, or is it a mad folly, were any burials found, what do we really know about it.
My ponderings were then rudely broken by my daughter in the car saying that a tractor with a big spikey thing on the back was there, so I said I was on my way, waved cheerfully to the stones and left readying myself for yet another confrontation with the farming fraternity. But it didn't happen, he just passed me by on the track.
Still, not hard to understand my slight disappointment with the place last time. Stones, it's not you, it's me.
I first came across this defended settlement whilst blue spotting on Coflein some years ago, always keen to find somewhere new to observe I spied it through the looking glass that is google earth, and it looked good.
But it can take me a while to get there, sometimes it can take years, as it did here. During my journeys elsewhere, esteemed TMA'er Gladman came over and had a look and provided much picturey goodness, it does look good. I'm on my way Craig.
Two dolmens, a cairn circle, five standing stones, and a cairn have seen us through most of the day, but Ive seen them all before so as far as I'm concerned I've saved the best til last.
Dark skies are brooding over the mountains, there is no threat of rain from them, this afternoon they are for aesthetic appearance only. But Thesweatcheat and I are basking in the late golden glow of a beautiful December day, the light right now is just sweet, you could bottle it up and sell it for a million pounds a bottle. Bloody cold though, the biting winds are searching out gaps in my umpteen layers of clothing, there are no gaps, but it's still cold.
Leaving the Pont Scethin stones behind us we head south walking the more or less level ridgeway up to the fort, the ground is littered profusely with rocks, I note like Gladman the small pointy ones that remind us of those black and white horses, whilst noting them I cracked my knee on a big rock, cor strewth that hurt, still does several days later, heroically I said nothing .
As anticipated we reached the fort, as this is the easiest route to the fort I was kind of expecting the entrance to be here, but it weirdly is just left around the corner on the forts east side, but we didn't know that until we had already climbed up and over the high rampart, instead of the expected entrance there are two extra lines of ramparts at the north end.
Once in the fort I follow Alken on an anticlockwise peripheral walk, but I soon get distracted by the large chunk of sloping bedrock with a small boulder resting upon it's very top, I park my arse on the slope and take in the scene, it is very lovely. The sea view is a good one, that's where the blue sky and sunshine are coming from, the far off Lleyn peninsula succeeds in looking further away than it is, the Afon Ysgethin is a river of lava, lit up perfectly by the soon to be setting sun.
The mountain view is better still, dark clouds keep the peaks mostly in shadow whilst the sun does it's thing lighting up the mountain sides, the way light hits something at this time of day is, well, it's special, it shouldn't be, it's just the ground interacting with light that's spent longer in the Earths atmosphere, but, my it makes you take a deep breath and stare longingly for this kind feeling all the time.
Three of us have been here now but the other two both said it was better than they were expecting, do they not do there homework, tsk, for me it was just what I was expecting, I knew it would be a good one, and the good weather was a true bonus, Voodoo priestess I love you.
The walls, in places, are in what looks like still genuine iron age build, true I wouldn't know if there's a difference between their walling techniques and those from other time periods, but it's there, and it looks good. Presently we have worked our way round to the entrance, it's a bit small, and curly, and someone has shifted rocks around to make a throne, are you seeing this Fowler, i'm looking your direction. Out of the entrance and down hill fifty yards are hut circles, I think I saw four, one of them is in very good condition, very good for almost gone anyway.
Back up to the fort and it's time for the sun to sink into a low bank of cloud that hugs the far horizon, once more I totally and inadequately manage to photograph the moment. A few deep breaths later and it is sadly time to go, there will not be time to search out the cairnfield almost right next to the fort, it is going dark and we've a long drive home, nothing more to look forward to today except the drive home with lovely Lisa Tarbuck, but I will most assuredly be back soon, well, relatively soon.
Oh God, is that Dale Farkin Winton?
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.
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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.