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Trum Gelli (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

I don't read too much into symbolism. Generally speaking. However perhaps there is a degree inherent in citing Wales' glory as her abundance of mountains, rivers and coastline. Interdependent components of the hydrologic cycle. A triumvirate, if you will, one pretty much responsible for life on Earth when one stops to think about such things; as I'm pretty sure we should all more often do so. Yeah, intrinsic to existence, utilitarian, yet nevertheless infused with an aesthetic that has long haunted the susceptible such as I. Maybe you, too?

I think it's fair to say that Wales' rivers and mountains share a fundamentally closer infinity (as coastline is obviously not always 'within scope'), the latter channelling precipitate run off to define the former. From the iconic Afon Glaslyn, cascading from its legendary source beneath Yr Wyddfa to a conflux with the Afon Mawddach within its sublime estuary... to the River Dee (the Brythonic "River of the Goddess") flowing to Chester, via Llyn Tegid, from an obscure inception upon the slopes of Dduallt... Wales possesses its fair share of iconic rivers. Primus inter pares, as scholars would say, is probably the River Severn (Afon Hafren), the UK's longest watercourse, rising upon the incomparable 'Mother of Rivers' that is Pumlumon, close by the birthplace of the Wye (Afon Gwy), the latter arguably our most serpentine? Nonetheless it is the Afon Dyfi which gets my vote, all things considered. Sourced and nurtured within the epic, primordial bosom of Aran Fawddwy, the tumultuous birth of the nascent water course perfectly complemented by the final, stately procession to merge with Cardigan Bay 23 miles hence.

Which - finally - brings me to Trum Gelli following a morning drive from an overnight sojourn - as you do - upon said Pumlumon. Set at the south-western extremity of Y Tarrenau overlooking the Afon Dyfi's exquisite journey's end at Aberdyfi, the 1,754ft 'Ridge of the Grove' is, to be fair, not where the thoroughly modern mind would expect to find the locale's premier Bronze Age funerary monuments. Granted, I don't consider myself to be of this ilk; but then again, despite all the bollocks spouted by archaeologists proffering pet theories, what does the thoroughly modern mind really know of the Bronze Age mindset? It would appear there is a conundrum to be considered here. Hey, could it be that my preamble has a bearing and that the view from the summit was all important, an attempt to cement an association between life/death/rebirth... as symbolised by the nurturing waters of the Afon Dyfi merging with the sea prior to repeating the cycle, the process - to go 'round again'? OK, mere supposition, but intriguing nonetheless; and given credence by the location of a similar disposition of monuments upon Allt-llwyd, overlooking the end game of the Afon Dysynni to the north-west? Perhaps placement in relation to water really did have great symbolic meaning back in the day? The mountain/river duology or... even better, as here... the mountain/river/sea sacred trilogy?

Now I first became aware of the potential significance of Trum Gelli's archaeology through a '3m cairns' reference in Dave Ing's 'Hill Walks in Mid Wales' (ISBN 1-85058-433-8). Checking the veracity of this has, to be fair, taken quite a while. But there you are. Although I would, in retrospect, recommend that interested travellers start from the (now 'retired'?) chapel within Cwm Maethlon (Happy Valley) to the south-west and make their ascent via Bryn Dinas, I end up coming from the east. It is possible (even for me) to park a car upon the hairpin bend at Pant-yr-or, west of Cwrt, whence a by-way climbs away to the north-west, accessing the excellent little cairn circle of Eglwys Gwyddelod before heading off west toward Bryn Dinas. This track is unfortunately also the legal preserve of those odd, noisy people whom appear to enjoy the mad adrenaline rush of riding a motor bike at 1mph. But there you are. Whooah! Crazy, far out dudes! It takes all sorts, doesn't it? Anyway, the track is an enjoyable stomp in its own right according excellent, sweeping views across Cwm Maethlon and Mynydd-y-Llyn (the lake in question being the curious 'Bearded Lake', Llyn Barfog) to the wondrous Aberdyfi and, beyond again, Pumlumon.

At the col before Bryn Dinas the track swings to the northwest. I therefore leave it here at the fence junction and head for the southern slopes of Allt Gwyddgwion rising above, the route just to the left of an overgrown cairn featuring remnants of a possible - nay, surely probable? - cist. The path, such as it is, heads straight for Trum Gelli so Citizens Cairn'd wishing to check out Allt Gwyddgwion's two cairns are advised to following the ascending fence line instead. The first, over to the left, is a small yet tidy monument. However that upon the crest [SH65150123] at a further fence intersection is, aside from a concrete 'capstone', actually rather good, complete with what I take to be the remains of a kerb still in situ. According to Coflein [RCAHMW, 14/11/2007] it measures "approximately 10 metres square and 1.5 metres high", the concrete slab perhaps the base of a former temporary OS trig pillar? Curiously they clearly don't seem to know for sure. Whatever, the watery vistas to be enjoyed from here are, quite frankly, majestic. Perhaps unsurprisingly.

The ridge continues approx north-east to finally grant an audience with Trum Gelli's brace of summit monuments. These are in a different league altogether, the southern, just beyond a stile, surmounted by a (presumably) modern beehive very much in the style of Drygarn Fawr topping the Cwmdeuddwr Hills not that far to the south. The underlying footprint is substantial - very much so - and, furthermore, embedded with strategically placed blocks of quartzite. I get the impression some degree of reconstruction has taken place, but nevertheless the effect is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

The northern [SH6561801554], at the actual summit (or so it would appear) is more 'ragged', yet - or perhaps because of this - my favourite of the quartet. Once again the footprint is very substantial, more so than its southern neighbour, perhaps since it possesses a smaller beehive. The onward view across Cwm Ffernol toward Tarrenhendre is excellent, the cwm itself featuring woodland.... although I couldn't decide if this represented forestry or perhaps the vestiges of the original namechecked 'grove'? Coflein gives dimensions as "5m wide, 2.5m in height" [S.D. Lowden, Archaeophysica, 1/6/2006] although their records do appear a little confused at the present time.

As I sit and contemplate H2O-related stuff - fortunately none sees fit to fall upon my head - I elect to enjoy an extra 30 mins up here by not reprising my ascent route in reverse, so to speak, instead descending steeply southwards more-or-less straight down to the byway far below. Suffice to say it is a mistake, the latter regions of this, er, route proving to be malevolent, deep bog. Schoolboy error and most certainly not the water association I was looking for, but there you are. Guess that's one way to retain the child inside. Albeit a rather soggy, smelly one. Whatever, I decide to undertake my own symbolic gesture, my personal homage to the principles of hydrology... by 'closing the loop' and following the Afon Dyfi back into its nursery upon The Arans. I spend the night at Bwlch-y-Groes.

Cader Berwyn (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Dawn arrives at Bwlch-y-Groes without due fanfare, the elevated 'Pass of the Cross' (presumably another nod to the influence of that Tydecho?) separating the upper reaches of the exquisite Cwm Dyfi from Cwm Cynllwyd too exposed to offer shelter to any of the usual feathery suspects generally contributing to an avian chorus. In lieu, within the pregnant silence, I perceive a sense of heightened possibilities, of unspecified opportunities to be grasped whilst the relatively high cloud base lingers. So, what to do then? Fortunately the answer is forthcoming upon administering a Coco Pops catalyst, my gaze being drawn north across the aforementioned Cwm Cynllwyd to the rounded summits of Y Berwyn. In keeping with the all pervading silence, the call is unspoken. But nevertheless it registers loud and clear. Just need to do something about it, then. Damn. I am aware there are easier hobbies.

So.... following a splendidly scenic drive toward Y Bala, I take the B4391 across the high moors to descend Cwm Rhiwarth to Llangynog and, henceforth, Dyffryn Tanat. Samuel Coleridge came here in July 1794 and noted that the mountains were 'sublimely terrible', which is a pretty classy description, to be fair. One assumes - being a poet and that - that, like I, he made it to Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, whereupon a single track road heads NW to Tan-y-Pistyll... and the magnificent c250ft cascade of Pistyll Rhaeadr, the 'Spout Waterfall', traditionally one of the Seven Wonders of Wales. The little café serves alcohol to tourist punters who flock here to gaze at the awesome aqueous spectacle. The Citizen Cairn'd, however, may well wish to drink his/her fill of the landscape beforehand. If so, rocky steps ascend to the right of the wondrous waterfall to access Trum Felen, the southern ridge of Moel Sych ('Dry Hill', appropriately enough in this context, but very much not so in nearly any other!).

To be honest this direct route to the main ridge of Y Berwyn is, in my opinion, better suited to a descent (an ascent through the valley of the Nant y Llyn further to the east is recommended) but there you are. One is compelled to seek out new experiences. Nevertheless as I slowly.... very slowly... gain height I begin to doubt the wisdom of this selection, particularly since this morning's cloud base is high no longer, the summit of the mountain conspicuous by its absence, subsumed within a mass of opaque vapour. In due course I must venture into this surreal environment of curtailed vision and apparent swirling wraiths.... a sensation of mild claustrophobia countered by having (with apologies to Andy Partridge) one, two, three, four senses working overtime to compensate. Navigation, however, is not an issue, the fence line leading unerringly to the 2,713ft summit crowned by the profile of a Bronze Age funerary cairn slowly materialising through the gloom. Although of no significant elevation, the embedded footprint of the monument is much more extensive than I recall from my previous visit here.... some 21 years ago. Hey, it is quite something to return almost half a lifetime hence. What's more, this time around I reckon I can even discern a trace of former kerb.

As I sit in my own private little spirit world pondering imponderables, wondering what to do next, Nature castes a final, emphatic deciding vote by sweeping away the cloud mantle in an instant to reveal Cadair Berwyn standing angular and proud to the north, its form in complete contrast to Moel Sych's broad, rounded dome. Recognising a sign from the heavens when I see one I cross the fence line (via a stile) and head east to Craig-y-Llyn, the escarpment edge towering above Llyn Lluncaws cradled far below. The lake is suitably idiosyncratic featuring a curious surface covering of weed that is quite unique in my experience. A kamikaze sheep track now engenders a somewhat 'airy' onward route toward the castellated, rocky pinnacles of Cadair Berwyn's 2,722ft summit, the cliff line, progressively fragmented in nature, displaying quite literally 'another side' to Y Berwyn, one completely at odds with the gently rolling profile seen to the west. But there you are; Y Berwyn are secretive hills... and all the better for that, in my opinion.

Anyway, cresting the craggy summit the first of a brace of cairns gracing the mountain is seen a little below and beyond. The location is classic, albeit taking great pains to avoid any view of the wondrous Llyn Lluncaws in true Bronze Age style. Yeah, I'm not saying this is pedantic, but what were these people like? There is good news and bad news to relate here. Firstly, the bad: the stone pile is defaced by a large 'shelter' clearly constructed from the original monument fabric; although whether this is to cater for sheep of the Ovis aires variety or homo sapiens is open to debate. I suspect the latter, but happy to be corrected. The good, however, more than compensates: the circumference of the footprint is very impressive indeed. Far more so than vague visions from my youth had led me to earlier surmise. Clearly this was the last resting place of a major personality back in the day. The second cairn lies a little further on, beyond a diminutive little tarn - or lakelet, if you prefer (which, as it happens, I do) - and surmounts Cadair Berwyn's northern summit. This is a much more subtle monument consisting of a very large, grassy (apparent) mound topped by an OS trig pillar. Stonework protruding from the surface confirms that this is indeed a cairn, however. Again, the views are superb, and not without archaeological foci. Looking east, the distant summit of Mynydd Tarw ("Bull Mountain") is crowned by another, massive funerary cairn as is, looking north across Bwlch Maen Gwynedd, Cadair Bronwen, the last of Y Berwyn's big trio. This, a significant 'platform cairn' known as Brwdd Arthur (Arthur's Table - yes, Himself again) is unfortunately about a mile and a half distant. Consequently unless you are superfit - or, as I was back in 1994, somewhat on a mission and only beginning to appreciate the overpowering significance of these cairns - a separate ascent from the north-west, via the wondrous cairn circle of Moel ty Uchaf, not to mention the 'circle at Bwlch y Fedw, is highly recommended.

It is fair to say that Cadair Berwyn is not a spot to leave in a hurry. Exquisite vistas and copious archaeology to boot, er, sort of make that a 'no brainer'. Consequently I linger, let the aura, the atmosphere, the ambience... whatever you want to call that peculiar 'upland vibe' enhanced with the human element.... slowly seep into my consciousness. Although far from unique in this respect, Y Berwyn has nevertheless witnessed its fair share of legendary, historic events to complement whatever 'metaphysical stuff' may or may not have occurred back in those days of yore when the cairns were in use. For it was here in 1165 - well upon Ffordd Saeson, apparently a little east of Moel ty Uchaf at SJ091369 - that the forces of Henry II feverishly engaged in the pursuit of Owain Gwynedd were routed. Given a sound thrashing, so to speak. Not by the then Prince of North Wales... but by the ferociously inclement weather these mountains are able to conjure up on a whim. One can just imagine the poor old Plantagenet dude retreating in soggy shame citing witchcraft and sorcery by the fiendish Welsh as reasons for failure; anything but arrogant incompetence.

With time marching forever onwards - tell me about it - I reluctantly retrace my steps to Moel Sych and begin the descent to the car. However, prior to the obligatory, not to mention essential final gawp at the Pistyll Rhaeadr, I stop off within the glacial 'hanging valley' of the Afon Disgynfa, specifically to take an all-too-brief look at yet another mighty cairn at SJ070297. Citizens Cairn'd may be interested to be reminded that this valley is also graced by a stone circle at Rhos y Beddau (SJ058302). Is there no end to the attractions of this wondrous area? Overtaken by darkness I spend the night upon Coleridge's 'sublimely terrible' mountains... assuming he was heading for Y Bala... below the summit of Foel y Geifr (at the head of the Hirnant Pass). The rain lashes down and, unlike Henry II, I think I get the point.

Aran Fawddwy (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Aran Fawddwy (2,969ft) is one of Wales' classic mountains, its volcanic crags deeply scoured and crafted by the unimaginably powerful forces of glaciation to form a towering cathedral of igneous rock. Together with its slightly lower northern neighbour, Aran Benllyn (2,901ft), the landscape might be considered by some - such as I - the archetypal hybrid of North/Mid Walian upland topography: the stark, uncompromising brutality of unforgiving cliff faces offset, tempered, by the softer green of subsidiary ridges and rounded hills overlooking sylvan cwms; valleys where farmers ply their trade much as they have done so for centuries past. Beast and beauty writ large upon the southern extremity of Snowdonia.

It is this (relative) geographical isolation from the traditional mountain heartland of Gwynedd that, in my opinion, accords The Arans their sense of singularity, a perceived notion of uniqueness perhaps only approximated by the equally sublime heights of not-too-distant Cadair Idris. Local history suggests that this 'aloofness' may not merely reside in the cognition of the modern traveller, the sentinel peaks namechecking the medieval cymydau (commotes) of Penllyn and Mawddwy... by all accounts, judging by the violent antics of the notorious 'Red Robbers' said to reside in and around Cwm Cywarch during the 1500's, pretty volatile areas back in the day. Furthermore, walkers wishing to visit both main summits will need to set foot upon Erw y Ddafad Ddu... 'Acre of the Black Sheep'. Hmm.. is there something we should know, Mr Cope? It is therefore fitting that Aran Fawddwy should be crowned by what is - in my opinion, all things considered - Wales' finest upland Bronze Age cairn. Coflein has this to say:

"Remains of a large cairn located on the summit of Aran Fawddwy. The cairn is stone built and measures up to 16m in diameter and up to 4m in height. An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar has been erected on the E side of the cairn"

OK, so the dimensions of the stone pile are impressive, although nowadays perhaps not to the degree suggested by the professionals; however, for me, it is the sheer sublimity of placement, the overpowering exquisiteness of location which sets this monument apart. Perched upon the eastern flank of the summit crags, the cairn quite literally stands upon the edge of the abyss, overlooking a vertiginous, perpendicular drop to Creiglyn Dyfi cradled over 1,000ft below. Now I'm well aware words can only convey so much. So imagine, if you will, the late, great Stuart Adamson standing atop this cairn performing an guitar solo (with E-bow, naturally) expressing all the joy, pain, love, sorrow, exhilaration, frustration, altruism, anger, fear, hope.. that, collectively, we call 'being human'. Hey, that's what I mean.

Needless to say this dark lake Creiglyn Dyfi has form, being none other than the source of the Afon Dyfi (Dovey), the river undertaking a majestic procession south-westward to Cardigan Bay following a suitably tumultuous birth, erupting from the tarn as Llaethnant or 'Milk Brook'. Legend has it that St. Tydecho was responsible for this moniker after, er, somewhat miraculously turning the nascent, cascading stream into nutritious dairy produce to assist impoverished locals during times of famine... wondrous chap that he was. However those who have approached Creiglyn Dyfi via Foel Hafod-fynydd - incidentally a fine walk - may well wish to contest the veracity of this incredulous claim. Or not. Nevertheless it is telling, perhaps, that such transcendental occurrences are attributed to the locale; although whether Bronze Age priests were the initiators of such a metaphysical vibe or merely drawn here by pre-existing spiritual memes kept alive by Neolithic locals is no doubt a moot point. Whatever the truth, there is in my view no denying the 'special relationship' formed between landscape and human psyche in the vicinity, particularly when looking from above seated in the abode of the gods. Just the spot for a people to set their VIP upon the path to eternity, one might say?

The views are inspiring looking upon a more horizontal - albeit elevated - plane, too, with the long escarpments of Cadair Idris and Y Rhinogydd to the approx west, Snowdonia to the north beyond Aran Benllyn, Y Berwyn to the east... and the green hills of Mid Wales stretching away to the southern horizon. Given clear skies, of course. Although, to be fair, swirling cloud does add an additional, ethereal dimension to proceedings if countered by accurate compass bearings facilitating the way down. Note that the unnamed former occupant(s) of the great cairn are not the only legendary VIPs to be commemorated up hereabouts... as a memorial to SAC Michael 'Mike' Aspain upon nearby Drws Bach makes abundantly clear, the RAF St Athan Mountain Rescue gentleman having been killed by lightning whilst on duty during June 1960. There really are no words one can say, so perhaps a brief, silent salute in passing is appropriate. Oh, incidentally two men had to be airlifted off the mountain in January 2014 (just a year before my last ascent) after being paralysed - I kid you not - by another lightning strike. Yeah, Aran Fawddwy can be a dangerous, foreboding place.... primeval forces created it and are at still at work here. Natural forces of a magnitude beyond our limited comprehension. Is it any wonder priests attempted to fill the void?

Arguably the classic route to Aran Fawddwy is the linear traverse of the main ridge starting from Llanuwchllyn at the southern end of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake). However my three ascents to the summit ridge over the years have, for logistical reasons, all commenced within the dramatic environs of Cwm Cywarch, as mentioned above the former haunt of the Red Robbers. It is to the credit of the Snowdonia National Park Authority to note that, in addition to managing the very militant local land owners, a (relatively) new car park now alleviates parking issues of yore. I speak from experience, having found myself bogged down to my axle whilst parking upon grass prior to an ascent of Glasgwm back in 2008. Surrounded by towering buttresses of rock, it is a suitably epic spot to begin a foray into these wondrous mountains crowned by quite possibly Wales finest upland cairn. All things considered....

Glan Hafon cairn (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

What is it about me and high places? For a man with vertigo to be consistently drawn to hill and mountain tops over the entire course of my adult life could be considered somewhat paradoxical, perhaps? It's a valid point. Furthermore, any attempt to resolve such a personal conundrum is surely doomed to failure, if only due to lack of objectivity. However, for what it's worth.... let's start with punk. As, naturally, you would expect.

Although too young to appreciate the cultural, not to mention social impact of punk as it was happening - in retrospect I much prefer the insubordinate political potency of SLF than the comically naïve pseudo-Marxist bollocks of first wavers, The Clash - it was the 'don't believe them, question everything you're told' mentality which has had a fundamental impact upon my worldview. To deploy 'Why?' at the vanguard of the fight against blaggers and hypocrites. A pretty simple philosophy consistent with the DIY ethic of punk: to always see both sides of an argument by actively seeking an alternative viewpoint. Or at least try to. No-one's perfect. Needless to say putting competing 'stuff' into context can be difficult, requiring a suitable environment to allow the best use of whatever brain matter Nature has blindly accorded me, somewhere mercifully free from the seemingly endemic noise pollution all too prevalent today. Such as the high places of Britain, perhaps?

Yeah, the aerial viewpoint, by its intrinsically 'detached' nature, challenges one's perception of this crazy, spinning globe and, more importantly, of the antics of the human beings that depend upon it, a temporary stage for chasing passing visions. At least until we all bugger off to Mars with Matt Damon, that is. Hey, what a laugh that'll be. Party hats all round! In practice I've found the results to be instructive, the head full of human anxiety and contractions upon the approach to the parking area suddenly of no more consequence, by proxy - in the grand scheme of things - than the concerns of the inhabitants of a nearby ant colony. So, if there is such a thing as 'human spirit'.... a soul... that can (eventually) be determined from electricity flowing across synapses, arguably it is the primeval uplands than best meet the criteria for a 'spiritual domain'. If so, wouldn't it be ironic to note that our Bronze Age forebears appear to already have had that sussed millennia ago?

Anyway, aside from facilitating incoherent musings upon the most fundamental subjects, aerial viewpoints possess other, more tangible benefits... such as the ability to see detail in the landscape that can't be seen from below. No shit, Sherlock? Indeed it was during a visit to the fabulous hill fort surmounting Craig Rhiwarth last year that I first truly appreciated the form of Mynydd Glan-hafon rising across the cwm. Although falling a few feet short of the hallowed 2,000ft mark (1,994ft/608m) - and thus discounted from almost every 'serious' Y Berwyn walking itinerary you will come across - I guess the evidence of my own eyes heard the siren call. So, a hill must be a certain height to be worthy of my boots? Why? Ah, it's that punk ethic again.

Consequently I find myself reprising the ... it has to be said ... rather fine approach to Cwm Glan-hafon upon the green track skirting the south-eastern foot of the overwhelmingly sheer Craig Rhiwarth, one beady eye upon the threatening cloud base. The track forks right beyond some rather delectable woodland to descend to, and subsequently cross, the Nant Sebon. Continuing north, it soon becomes apparent that Mynydd Glan-hafon will offer no easy ride; the ludicrously steep gradient of the path encountered just beyond the deep gash carved by the Nant Ddial makes that as crystal clear as the cascading waters of the latter. The siren's call is strong, however - as Bernard Sumner will no doubt concur - and I eventually arrive at the col between Y Clogydd and Mynydd Glan-hafon itself.

According to Postman, not to mention the lesser authority of Coflein, there are a couple of cairns hereabouts upon this saddle. However I haven't done my homework so press on riding my little pony, so to speak, toward the summit. Despite having used all my vast (and ultimately useless) experience of these things and delayed leaving the path to avoid nasty occurrences of stamina sapping bog... I inevitably encounter an awful lot of the stuff. Too much. But there you are. Nevertheless I reach the summit ridge, taking a bearing from the fence line to the top of the Nant Ddial gulley. Just in case things deteriorate, you understand? As it happens the fence is a useful prompt leading travellers to the actual summit and, beyond a traverse fence to the east, the slightly lower trig pillar. As it is I ignore the latter being more intrigued by a small cairn surmounting a rocky outcrop near the junction.

Mynydd Glan-hafon is a wondrous viewpoint, arguably the best perch to appreciate this fact being the aforementioned cairn. This is not marked upon either the 1:25k or 1:50k map nor, indeed, cited by Coflein. However beneath the obviously modern 'marker cairn' resides a substantial, earth fast footprint. Now to judge by the paths - or rather, the paucity of them - up here upon this deeply unfashionable hill, the possibility of the cairn being erected by walkers is, in my opinion, pretty slim. Furthermore the cairn does not occupy either of the twin summits. So why construct a marker? Just saying. In my opinion this looks kosher. Other opinions most welcome.

As I sit and admire unfamiliar perspectives of the familiar... such as the main ridge of Y Berwyn rising to the immediate north, beyond the natural aquatic wonder that is Pistyll Rhaeadr, the sylvan beauty of the Tanat Valley, the mighty ancient fortress of Craig Rhiwarth etc.... the erstwhile reasonably clement conditions begin to falter as Moel Sych intercepts and subsequently grasps an incoming low cloud base to its not inconsiderable breast. Yeah, in very quick order visibility is reduced to more-or-less zero. For me, it is at times like this that upland cairns invoke the optimum 'spiritual' (here we go again) vibes, the opaque vapour inducing a very localised, almost claustrophobic intensity shutting out the outside world from any deliberations. Perhaps this idiosyncrasy was an integral facet of the Bronze Age plan, the Bronze Age experience? Assuming there ever was one and these monuments were not simply erected by ancient punks disavowing the 'rules'.

Time moves on and, despite having a fence line as my personal guide, not to mention preset compass bearing, the disorienting nature of walking in hill fog never abates. For me. Learning to trust one's judgement when all the senses are saying "Are you sure, you muppet?" has proved a major challenge across the years, one I doubt I will ever meet. But then again, so what? Leaving the sanctuary of the wire - and having opted to place self preservation before additional cairns - I manage to locate the Nant Ddial. Following a very steep, rough descent, the towering flank of Craig Rhiwarth slowly materialises through the dissipating gloom like a cosmic hand operating a rather dodgy natural cloaking device. Bit unpredictable, apparently. The return to the car is joyous, a feeling prevalent of being allowed brief inclusion within a spectacle outside of the normal human remit. Bit like hearing the opening bars to New Rose for the first time.

So... not at all sure I've managed to answer my autobiographical question posed at the start: why do I seek out the high places? Hey, maybe to some degree, perhaps? Although simply pointing at Mynydd Glan-hafon and uttering 'Why not?' might sum it up nicely enough. But then again, if Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible taught me anything growing up it's not to be afraid to challenge my preconceptions, to continually push my limitations. But primarily to try not lose the child inside... that sense of inherent curiosity and wonderment. That alternative 'aerial' viewpoint. Don't let the Ed Sheerans and Adeles of this bloody autotuned computer world we now find ourselves in drag you down. Yeah, who's to say what can and can't be done? Have a go and see. Just try not to kill yourself in the process should you choose to stumble in my footsteps. For me that's the true legacy of the punk ethic, my friends. The freedom to choose.

Bryn Castell (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

Ah, hill forts.... of all the myriad monument types featured within - or should that be on? - TMA I would have thought the hill fort would be the simplest to define? A fort built upon a hill, right? What could be easier? Hmmm. For starters, how does one define a hill? My Oxford English Dictionary reckons a hill is "A naturally raised area of land, not as high or craggy as a mountain", whereas a mountain is "A large natural elevation of the earth's surface rising abruptly from the surrounding level; a large steep hill". Pretty woolly explanations, to be fair. Open to interpretation, particularly when, for example, the locals upon The Isle of Skye refer to the peerless, 3,000ft plus naked rock of The Black Cuillin as 'hills'. Depends on your point of view.

Herein, then, lies my dilemma when attempting to categorise the superb little fortress of Bryn Castell. As we human are wont to do. In my estimation a 'mountain' imparts a certain mind set upon the visitor, irrespective of height above ordnance datum. An (apparent) appreciation that primeval forces - represented, perhaps, by the extreme application of adverse conditions such as cold, wind, precipitation etc - are acting upon the human cognitive process, somehow accessing seemingly forgotten memes (or other ancestral 'group knowledge' cascaded down the millennia - hey, clearly I'm no expert here) long since subsumed beneath an accumulation of modern behaviours and values which, I guess, only time will reveal may or may not represent an incremental advancement of our species. A feeling that, just perhaps, the landscape may actually be 'speaking' to us, unlocking that door in the psyche behind which a lot of interesting 'stuff' lies in cold storage. Reminding us that we should really be taking a lot more notice of the base forces which shape our environment. That we should show more respect to the Nature of Darwin and Hawking, venture forth from the geodesic dome on a more regular basis. Like Michael York who, upon finding that his 'life clock' is now blinking, decides to do make a break for reality in Logan's Run. Making sure not to forget Jenny Agutter as he does so, naturally. Or something like that. Whatever the truth... for me, Bryn Castell is a 'mountain fort' since it causes me to think of such things.

The current 1:25K OS map depicts Bryn Castell as a 'Settlement'. Not something to raise the antiquarian pulse, to be honest. However, needs must, the site featuring upon my 'bad weather list', invoked upon those unfortunately all-too-frequent days (such as today) when cloud sits upon the North Walian uplands like a gigantic mothership piloted by intergalactic beings having much to learn in the parking department. As if maintaining solidarity with said cloud base, my mood is not lifted by the presence of one of those pathetic, black-clad 'heddlu', er, individuals avoiding doing any worthwhile police work by pointing his little laser at me, so ensuring I miss the turning at Bontddu first time around. Look for the massive blue (I think) 'chapel' and follow the very steep, very minor road to its eventual terminus at a parking area beyond a gate (at SH657202).

I ignore the rough track heading left, instead venturing forth straight ahead through a gate to ascend a green track... the old London to Harlech 'road', no less, travelled when 'horse power' was quite literally just that. And employed by all. At a (presumably relatively modern) marker stone a track veers to the left (west) while the main, walled route continues to ascend the excellent, grassy Y Braich - or 'The Arm' - reaching down from the heights of the southern Rhinogydd above and beyond. Now since Bryn Castell is located upon the southern-most extremity of Y Braich sticking to the main route will do; however I veer to the west to enjoy what, in my opinion, is a much more memorable approach, the site towering dramatically above to my right.

So... a short climb finally brings me to the fine, univallate 'fort. As Postman says, the view southwards across Aber Mawddach toward Cadair Idris is absolutely stunning, even when viewed under somewhat less than ideal conditions. However it is that to the north, looking up the aforementioned Y Braich to the high summits of Y Rhinogydd, the latter obscured by swirling vapour, that seems to awaken the hunter-gatherer in me. The 2,462ft Diffwys periodically beckons through the gloom, the brutal landscape occasionally illuminated by washes of sunlight all too quickly extinguished, as if by the silent admonition of a cosmic Warden Hodges: 'Put that bloody light out you ruddy 'ooligan!'. The path appears tempting, the foreshortened scene promising an memorable afternoon... if only the cloud would break. I wait in vain, deciding to return and make the climb some other time. As it is the weather provides an opportunity just two days hence. The route is a lot steeper than it appears.....

Suffice to say, then, that Bryn Castell occupies a damn fine spot. But what of the archaeology? Well, for such a small site the defensive wall is pretty strong (albeit clearly robbed to the east to build a dry stone field wall). Furthermore, the northern high point of the enclosure features the remains of an enigmatic round structure which could, I guess, be variously interpreted as 'round house', proto-donjon or round cairn. Or none of the above. For what it's worth, the feature is perfectly profiled upon the skyline when viewed from the valley below, a characteristic suggestive of a cairn. But then again... Guess only excavation will confirm. Yeah, right. A retrospective perusal of Coflein suggests that, as with a number of other upland defensive enclosures clustered around Cadair Idris, the small size of Bryn Castell might suggest use as a temporary citadel rather than permanently occupied home?

Despite the impressive, nay, intriguing remains, for me the primary reason to come here is to enjoy that (obviously) indefinable 'mountain vibe'. As with Crug Hywel upon the southern slopes of Pen Cerrig-calch far to the south, Bryn Castell belongs to the uplands, as if a small, wild bird cupped in the grasping hand of Y Rhinogydd. To call it a mere hill fort is to do it an injustice.

Craig y Castell North (Hillfort) — Fieldnotes

It is - I would assume - one of the lesser debated imponderables of relatively recent Welsh history to contemplate whether or not, when faced with a barrage of questions from inquisitive Ordnance Surveyors, the rural peasant simply 'made stuff up'. And, if so, was there mischievous intent? Consider a theoretical example: OS man (pointing fervently): 'I say, you, peasant. What is the name of that big, round hill over there?' Exasperated Peasant: 'Oh, that'll be 'The Big Round Hill', sir'. OS Man (scribbling into his notebook): 'Jolly good. Carry on, doing whatever it is you peasants do'. Smirking Peasant (tugging his cap, then muttering under his breath): 'Heh, heh. You muppet.'

OK, a fanciful scenario, perhaps... but it would certainly explain why here, in the quiet, green foothills between the summit peaks of Cadair Idris and the wondrous Aber Mawddach, we have two Craig y Castells depicted upon the current 1:25K map within a mile of each other. Surely some mistake? For what it's worth I don't buy the alternative to local wind up... that a people steeped in the lore of giants and fairies would apply such rigidly pragmatic, localised nomenclature. Not when hoodwinking gullible officials can be so much fun, methinks. Incidentally Coflein namechecks the northern of the pair as Craig-y-Waun. Yeah, you do the maths.

But enough of such facetious, unsubstantiated conjecture! Like Thomas Dolby, way back in 1982, it's time to defer to a more, er, scientific approach, in my case that of logical deliberation (hopefully) informed by personal observation. Or, to put it another way, time to blunder up another Welsh hillside in the teeming rain and 'see what happens'. Hey, whether such action is more demonstrative of lunacy than the wildly exaggerated antics of the former synth boffin's eccentric associate, Magnus Pike, is perhaps a moot point. But there you are. Anyway.... travellers approaching from Dolgellau (Love Lane, as I recall. Nice touch) should keep their eyes peeled for an obscure right turn servicing the farms of Gellilwyd Fach and Fawr. Continue beyond the latter and park up at Tal y Waen, whereupon a track heads north through the farm yard of Tyn-y-llwyn. This, now a green 'path', of sorts, crosses a stream and sweeps to the left under the inquisitive gaze of grazing ponies seemingly oblivious to the downpour. Or perhaps scornful of the approaching creature so woefully adapted for such conditions? Surely not?

After a short while Craig y Castell/Craig-y-Waun (tack your pick) looms above to the left. The towering profile of the ancient fortress is somewhat disconcerting viewed from below, it has to be said, the steepness of attack putting a noticeable damper upon the previous alacrity of my approach. Hmm. Nevertheless, I follow the left flank of a rather splendid dry stone wall and - eventually - arrive upon the small, craggy summit. As one might have expected from the vernacular. The 'front door' is approached by looping around from the south and is defended by a quite substantial drystone wall... or at least the remains of one... this continuing along the eastern flank in the ubiquitous 'fill in the gaps' style of such upland defensive enclosures. The western flank falls sheer to the cwm below and, together with the northern aspect (supporting a modern wall) would appear to have required little artificial protection back in the day.

The position is wild and inspiring, particularly when the low cloud base, which has been prevalent all week, caresses the hillside with swirling, grey tendrils of opaque moisture. Once again I'm a little overawed until, having ensured I know my way back down again by compass should the clammy embrace becomes more than temporary, I can afford to relax and, basically, do bugger all. As it is the conditions remain in a state of flux, glimpses of the exquisite Mawddach to the north periodically rescinded, only for views toward mighty Cadair Idris to open to the north. To be fair to locals past it is easy to imagine such a landscape being the haunt of otherworldly creatures at times such as this. Woaah! Mind where you're placing those big feet, Mr Idris.

As I ponder 'stuff' (e.g. are giants all in the mind, to be feared, or merely misunderstood gigantic.. sorry, 'size challenged'... creatures possibly taking The Human League a little too seriously?) I decide a visit to the trio of cairns shown on the map below to the south is in order. However I duly abort a direct approach - too many walls - in lieu of returning to the car and heading west at Gellilwyd Fawr. But that's another story.

As for my observations of Craig y Castell? Well... guess it's fair to relate that I was not so much blinded with science as seduced, held in thrall, if you will, by the stark, ethereal beauty of this landscape under such inclement conditions. Poetry? Well, yes, but the more brutal King Lear as opposed to wandering lonely as a cloud, perhaps? Although wandering lonely in a cloud might be more apt, come to think of it. But none the worse for that. And should a nameless rural peasant have, perchance, taken the piss out of a wandering map maker once upon a time.. thanks for the prompt, my friend.

Crugyn-Llwyd (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Approaching from Domen-ddu, a mile (ish) to the approx south, I find the large, grassy cairn crowning the 1,873ft summit of Crugyn-Llwyd to be far less obvious - topographically speaking - than I had envisaged. Indeed, upon arrival, I'm not at all convinced that Coflein haven't got this one badly wrong (the shame if it - oh me of little faith]. Yeah, all hill and no cairn. Please move along. Nothing to see here. However.... persevere, since, as it happens, this is very far from the case. For although Crugyn-Llwyd has reclaimed its eponymous Bronze Age monument as if clutching it close to its evergreen breast (so to speak) for safe keeping, it is nevertheless very much still here. As it has been for millennia. Hidden in plain sight, one might say. Without doubt the most effective camouflage.

So, following my own advice (for once) I go walkabout around the summit and, upon viewing the apparent monument from various angles, find that the artificial intent underscoring what we have here soon becomes all too obvious, the grass mantle no longer sufficient to deny the insight of a somewhat wonky prehistoric antennae now tuned to more-or-less the correct band width. Hey, just needed warming up a bit. Furthermore, albeit with some not inconsiderable effort, I manage to identify some stone subsumed beneath the turf and thus satisfy any lingering doubts. This one is a 'grower', as they might say. If 'they' were ever to venture up here, of course.

Note that not everything is rosy here. The cairn is unfortunately bisected by a boundary fence. Furthermore, the summit area to the east isn't exactly the most aesthetically pleasing in all Wales. Nevertheless this is a memorable place to be, even when lashed by periodic weather fronts, alternating with washes of golden light. A wild, uncompromising location seemingly divorced from everyday life 'down there' by some currently unquantifiable, additional dimension yet to trouble the scientists. Although to be fair Mr Hawking has probably already considered it. Whatever it is. As if to emphasise this sense of apparent 'other worldliness' a fox comes ambling by... sees the intruder.... tarries a while to check him out... then duly buggers off on his way again with a carefree 'skip' worthy of Father Dougal McGuire. Ha! Nothing to fear from that muppet, methinks...

As with neighbouring Domen-ddu, the west facing vista is quite superb; haunting, even, when perused at length under an ethereal September sky. A suitably expansive panorama for contemplating the sheer nebulosity of any notions of the passing of time, even those within scope of human comprehension. Or something like that. Maybe, on a much baser level, it's just damn beautiful. Inspiring, even?

Pegwn Bach rises to the approx north-north-west surmounted by an obvious - therefore presumably significant - 'Tumulus'. Further 'Cairns', not to mention serried ranks of wind turbines, are visible upon Pegwn Mawr beyond to the north. What with the Fowler's Arm Chair monuments located about a mile to the east it is clear quite a few homo sapiens called hereabouts 'home' back in the day. Yeah, word on the hill is a lot was goin' down back a few mill. Consequently strong walkers, or perhaps those content to spend less time sitting about than I, might consider expanding their itinerary to include the whole lot in one fell swoop?

But then again, in my opinion at least, there is a lot to be said for 'sitting about' upon hill/mountain tops.

Domen-ddu (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

The hills to the north of the Rhayader, lacking the tourist foci of the Elan Valley Reservoirs to the Mid Walian market town's west, may fairly be described nowadays as being 'somewhat off the beaten track'. Nevertheless, rising to as near-as-dammit 2,000ft (1,923ft at Pegwn Mawr) and crowned by numerous Bronze Age cairns, not to mention those enigmatic 'tumuli', this lack of popularity is a veritable blessing for those Citizens Cairn'd willing and able to satiate their curiosity by donning boots. Hey, no incoherent, clueless tourist sightseers to shatter that all important upland vibe with mindless jibber jabber... as Mr T might observe with characteristically unconcealed distain: "Hey crazy fools! This ain't no 'old pile of stones' but the dawn of civilisation! I pity the fool who thinks otherwise!"

However I must confess to knowing nothing of this pleasant state of affairs prior to blundering north upon the B4518, upon experiencing my (hitherto rock solid) resolve to set foot upon the large round barrow at Ty Lettice (SN99026866) blown asunder by ludicrously heavy rain on site. Yeah, 'ludicrous' even for Mid Wales, that is. That'll be bad, then. But here even clouds without silver linings can have beneficial consequences.

So, riding along in my automobile.... with no particular place to go, the day is fast disintegrating into a big, fat nothingness when I'm struck by the impressive escarpment profile to my right as I pass through Pant-y-dwr. Noticing the downpour seemingly having abated I pull over and check the map.... whereupon Crugyn-Llwyd appears to offer a potential solution to Chuck's perennial, not to mention best selling conundrum. But in these conditions? What new lunacy is this? The meteorological ceasefire is maintained as I tentatively navigate the minor roads eastward to park a little south of farm buildings at Garth (where the straight road beyond Bryn Hafod turns sharply to the right to eventually lose its tarmacadam in apparent homage to Owain Glyndwr, near Esgair Fedw). I opt to forgo following in the former Tywysog Cymru's boot steps - if, indeed, yer man ever came this way - instead heading steeply uphill through trees to the south-east... to be seduced, in short order, by a nice, green track to the right of a fence line... retrospectively determined to be heading roughly east instead of the planned north-east. Spying a substantial cairn crowning the high ground some considerable distance across the Rhyd y Clwydau Brook to the south I realise I've gone wrong. As is often the case with my lamentable map reading. However opportunity knocks. Why not visit Domen-ddu and loop around to Crugyn-Llwyd later. If I've got enough puff? It'd be rude not to try, to be fair.

The intervening ground is rough, the monument - in actual fact there are two - occupying the 1,814ft summit of a southern spur, bounded to the east by the forestry-clad flank of Cwm Llygod and to the west by the abrupt line of the escarpment edge. The cairn noted earlier (at SO01697826) is indeed impressive, Coflein citing dimensions of "...23m by 13.1m and 2.3m high..." [J.Wiles 02.08.02]. Furthermore, a little to the north at SO01687828 there is a "..circular, flat-topped mound.... 18.6m in diameter and 1.0m high". Two for the price of one, then.

So, the archaeology here upon Domen-ddu is worth writing home about.... should you happen to have relatives who give a monkey's about old piles of stones and earth set upon obscure Mid Walian hills lashed by the inclement elements of September, that is? OK, not very likely, is it? But technically feasible, I guess. However, as is often the case with these upland monuments, it's where they decided to erect them that truly matters, the real reason to put oneself out to come here. Hey, perhaps some metaphysical force told the Bronze Age architect "Build it and they will come. Albeit it not very many of them." Yeah, the topography is truly special, the sweeping vista westward quite exceptional in my opinion, the vibe equally so. Whether Pumlumon (Herself) is looming upon the far north-western horizon is a moot point since, with temporary cease fire rescinded, multiple weather fronts sweep along the Wye Valley to give me the proverbial periodical pasting. Potential visitors might be interested to learn that, somewhat bizarrely, there is currently a little wooden seat set overlooking the drop to the west. Carpentry? Is there no end to Kevin Costner's talents? Aside from trying to play Robin Hood.

As I sit and contemplate 'stuff' - as I confess I'm apt to do when in these uncompromising environments liable to banish common place notions of everyday existence from my head - Crugyn-Llwyd beckons ever more emphatically to the north. I duly assess the situation... hmm... a small deviation from my return route back to the car. Yeah, guess I don't really have a choice.

Esgair Irfon (Cist) — Miscellaneous

This exquisite little cist, set within the remains of a grassy cairn, is not mentioned upon the current 1:50k OS map. Consequently it came as a surprise to discover that Esgair Irfon, the rocky, eastern flank of the wondrous Irfon valley, possessed an ancient monument when perusing the 1:25k version obtained from a library sell off. A pleasant surprise, it has to be said. According to the RCAHMW:

"..Bronze Age Cist Cairn. Central cist exposed in centre of a slight mound. Four hewn slabs (0.18m thick) line the sides of the cist, the base is overgrown with grass. Mound Diameter 4m, Cist Length 1m, Width 0.5m, Depth 0.5m." [J.BONSALL, NT, 20/07/2002].

To my mind this excellent site is one of the obscure prehistoric gems of Mid Wales. The surrounding scenery is first class, the monument set back from the escarpment edge (in true Bronze Age style) so it can not be seen from below, the sentinel peak of Cwmdeuddwr, Drygarn Fawr, crowning the horizon to the approx north-east. Prospective visitors should, however, note that such visual splendour comes at the price of a very steep ascent from the road traversing the Irfon valley below. But there you are. Well worth the effort. For what it's worth I approached from the direction of Abergwesyn, parking in the layby near the National Trust sign and heading uphill to the left (north) of the treeline.

Esgair Garn, Llanddewi Abergwesyn (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

This enigmatically located cairn sits upon Esgair Garn overlooking the extreme eastern limit of Llyn Brianne. The monument is liberally 'sprinkled' with quartz....

According to Coflein (OS 1977) it is:

"..15.9 m in diameter and 0.9 m high at the centre, where a modern cairn adds 0.6 m of height. It is noteworthy that the majority of the stones forming the cairn appear to have originally been particularly selected for their varying quartz content. An obvious outcrop of this material was not observed in the immediate area around the cairn".

It is possible to park upon the verge of the minor road forced to make a major loop around the reservoir, where upon a short scramble to the east will allow the traveller to contemplate the significance of quartz at close quarters. Intriguing.

Mynydd-y-glog (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

Guess it's somewhat of a cliché to state that those with the loudest voices very often have the least to say. Nevertheless - in my opinion - it's true. Suffice to note I'm therefore not a fan of Noel Gallagher's little brother. Or, as it happens, rappers spouting platitudes which merely highlight perceived moral and intellectual shortcomings. Yeah, class will speak for itself. A bit like, from an archaeological perspective at least, the silence which pervades the sprawling mass of Mynydd-y-glog.

Situated in the transitional 'no man's land' between the seriously compromised industrial valleys and the beautiful, wild uplands of Fforest Fawr and, furthermore, rising to a perfunctory 1,277ft, Mynydd-y-glog must've sacked its tourist liaison officer years ago. Nothing to do. In fact one may well be tempted to ask why anyone would want to come here? It is a question well worth asking, however, particularly should one have an interest in the human story of what is now South Wales. For here, upon these unassuming slopes, sits a quite magnificent collection of Bronze Age upland cairns. According to RCAHMW [David Leighton, 2/9/2011]:

"...Eight round cairns lie in positions locally elevated to a greater or lesser degree. All have been disturbed... Around these lie a further eight round cairns, likewise disturbed.. A ‘simple’ ring cairn lies on a terrace on the north-west, and on the south... is a low circular mound, only faintly visible, with a gently dished interior suggesting perhaps a more elaborate ring is concealed here. Both are undisturbed... On the north side of the mountain are cairnfields and traces of settlements and field systems which extend across Pant Sychbant and Cwm Cadlan, areas which also contain sepulchral monuments. Cairnfields can also be found on the west side of the mountain..."

So, 18 monuments... with more potentially subsumed within the peat? Whatever, far too many to list individual characteristics here. Instead I'd recommend the curious Citizen Cairn'd contemplates a field visit. Take the Cwm Cadlan road exiting the A4059 at Penderyn and, shortly after a sharp right, follow a public footpath heading beyond the farm of Wernlas to ascend toward the summit of the hill, the latter crowned by an OS trig pillar. And quite a bit else.

Black Hill (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

Black Hill was never high on my list of 'must visit soon' sites upon Dartmoor. In retrospect.. and with the unforgiving clarity of hindsight... that statement is rather odd, to say the least. But there you are. Seeing is believing, as they say. In fact it was the only the mention of 'stone row' - that genre of monument archetypal of these bleak, windswept uplands - upon the map that, eventually, brought me within striking distance. That old devil called Curiosity did the rest, bless it to bits. Never been much of a fan of the felis catus anyway.

Arguably the easiest approach to the summit plateau is from the minor road traversing Trendlebere Down to the north-east.. hey, from the stone row itself, perhaps? If so, a pair of cairns will be encountered upon the initial spur [detail from Field Investigators Comments F1 NVQ 19-APR-60]:

SX 76277895 - a 'tumulus' which "is a cairn 0.4 m. high, mutilated in the top."

SX 76297898 - "another cairn with a maximum height at the rim of 0.5m with a probable retaining stone in the west. The centre of the cairn has been dug out "

The summit of Black Hill lies some way to the approx south and is crowned by a further trio (count 'em) of substantial cairns:

SX 76157872 - "This is a cairn 0.6 m. high, mutilated by a hollow, 12.0 m. wide and 0.5 m. deep, in the top"

SX 76167862 - "A cairn, badly mutilated, particularly in the north west quadrant. It has an average height of 0.7 m."

SX 76217859 - "with a few retaining stones visible in the circumference"

Eylesbarrow South West (Cist) — Miscellaneous

Hey, I liked it here.... a nice, if somewhat dishevelled monument located some way off the main track for a little privacy to chill out... and with expansive, sweeping views toward Yellowmead and north to Down Tor. According to Pastscape:

"...the stony mound is 5.9m in diameter and about 0.4m high with some kerb slabs and boulders in situ. The apparently off-centre cist measures 1.8m by 0.9m internally and 0.4m deep; one large, leaning slab, probably the displaced coverstone measures 1.1m by 0.8m." [Fletcher M 03-JUL-1999 English Heritage Field Investigation]

And apparently:

"An attempt was made to restore the cist shortly before 1929 ... Stone cutters were responsible (sic) for at least part of the damage as one of the loose slabs bears the marks of the masons' tools.... The structure may be one of those rare burial cairns covering two cists. Around the base of the mound a few stones remain of an outer ring." [Butler, J. 1994. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Vol. 3, p. 70 3 Page(s)70]

Ditsworthy Warren (Cist) — Miscellaneous

This is an excellent cist - although unfortunately without the cap stone - located to the north of, but as far as I can recall without a view of, the great Drizzlecombe Complex.

Now, given that travellers to the latter may well be tempted to push on to Langcombe Brook - and perhaps even the wondrous Grim's Grave? - I'd suggest, for what it's worth, leaving this beauty for a much more leisurely little horseshoe walk also taking in the Eylesbarrow South West cist at SX58696784?

According to Pastscape:

"A well preserved cist with two sidestones and two end stones.... Internally it measures 0.9m by 0.6m and a maximum 0.65m deep. It is oriented north-west/south-east and its top is 0.25m above g.s.l.;there is no trace of a coverstone. A vague stoney spread around the structure, some 4.0m in diameter, may represent vestiges of a cairn." [Fletcher M 13-AUG-1999 English Heritage Field Investigation]

Corndon Tor (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

Corndon Tor is an elongated north-south ridge rising to a summit at either end, that to the south - the higher at c1,453ft (443m) - crowned by a small granite tor girdled by the probable remains of a large cairn... a 'tor cairn' if you will. According to Pastscape [Newman, P 14-MAR-2008 EH Archaeological Field Investigation]:

"SX 6859 7415 - Stones Piled around the base of the outcrop may be remains of cairn which has been much disturbed...very spread and fragmentary The cairn overlies a reave which runs up to the tor.....Maximum diameter 27.2m."

A little to the north sits a massive round cairn:

"SX 6858 7422 - ...constructed from moorstone with a truncated cone profile and no turf cover. The top of the cairn has suffered some interference and is uneven and hollows have been dug into the south-east side fairly recently. Max height 2m and the cairn has a maximum diameter of 27.5m."

Some distance beyond two further massive round cairns surmount the northern summit. Hey, I defy any Citizen Cairn'd to resist the temptation to wander over to have a closer look. Again, according to Newman:

The eastern of the pair [SX 6867 7476] is "... over 2m high with a flattish top surface which has been badly disturbed by recent building of shelters... A reave, part of the Dartmeet system, touches the cairn tangentially on the west side but is not covered by it."

The western [SX 6857 7472] represents "A mound of loose stone over 2m high in places. Upper surface extensively disturbed and undulating cuased (sic) by interference, including recent shelter building."

So... unfortunately these great cairns appear to have suffered greatly at the hands of idiot criminals creating 'muppet shelters' out of the fabric for no defensible reason - let's face it, we are not exactly miles from the nearest road here - so vandalism it is, plain and simple. However my understanding is that conservation work has been undertaken (following Newman's observations) by the combined talents of the Dartmoor National Park Authority, the Dartmoor Preservation Association and English Heritage. So keep an eye out for the criminal element and send them packing. Well, if you really need to shelter from the elements upon Corndon Tor I'd suggest it's high time you stopped letting mummy dress you.

Yar Tor summit cairn (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

At c1,364ft the summit of Yar Tor is an excellent viewpoint, particularly looking approx south-westward to Dartmeet.... although it has to be said that the vista to the east across the stone row to the massive cairns gracing Corndon Tor is not without interest either.

Furthermore, the summit is crowned by a rather substantial cairn, albeit one that has clearly been rather buggered about with by all and sundry over the years. Damn them to blazes!

According to Pastscape:

"Standing up to 2.0m high this cairn stands on the southern outcrop of Yar Tor and comprises a large irregular stony mound now spread and much altered by recent interference. The cairn has a footprint of over 23m. The central area has been hollowed and re-modelled". [Newman, P 14-MAR-2008 EH Archaeological Field Investigation]

Sugar Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

According to the Aldbourne Heritage Centre this, in my opinion, quite superb example of a bowl barrow... complete with enigmatic little tree upon the summit... is:

"..set below the crest of a steep west- facing slope in an area of undulating chalk downland. The barrow mound is 3m high and 23m in diameter. Surrounding the mound is a ditch c.3m wide from which material for the mound was quarried. This has filled in over the years and now survives as a buried feature visible as a ring of darker earth on the east and north sides of the mound. The site was partially excavated by Canon Greenwell, a prolific excavator of barrows, between 1885 and 1890. Finds included the cremated remains of an adult set in a cist, or stone-lined box, and covered by a cairn. The cremation was accompanied by a bronze dagger and bone pin."

Located a little under a mile to the approx north-west of the justly celebrated 'Four Barrows', I reckon this massive monument, with sweeping views across to the 'Giant's Grave', is due a lot more celebration in it's own right.

More from the Aldbourne Heritage Centre here:

Aldbourne 7 (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

Pastscape has this:

"A Bronze Age bowl barrow.... was excavated by Greenwell in the 1880's who found a cremation and a flint flake. The mound is visible standing to a height of 1.8m and the ditch of 20m in diameter is of 0.3m in depth."

Cae'r Mynach (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

Grassy cairn below and to the approx south-west of much more upstanding cairns gracing Allt-Lwyd, outlier of Idris's domain. The monument is passed by visitors approaching the hill from the terminus of the minor road at Cae'r Mynach.

Unfortunately Coflein currently has no detail aside from assigning a Bronze Age ancestry.

Cairn above Ffridd Ddu (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

Extract from Cadw Schedule descripton:

"Burial cairn probably Bronze Age, situated within open moorland below and to the N. of the Cras ridge of crags on the north-facing slopes of Moel Wnion. Stone built and circular in plan, measuring c. 10m in diameter and up to 0.6m in height. There are several hollows visible in its centre. F.F. 10/02/2004".

OK, the dominating power lines are a little, ahem, distracting... however as a bonus site for those making a pilgrimage to Cras and/or Moel Wnion, the site is nevertheless of interest.

Chipping Hill Camp (Hillfort) — Miscellaneous

Chipping Hill is the site of a bivallate earthwork, traces of which remain (apparently, since I could not locate them in accessible areas) beneath the modern buildings which now occupy the area.

An English Heritage/Essex County Council report detailing current thinking relating to Whitham's past - a primary facet of which relates to the occupation of Chipping Hill - can be seen here:

Banc Ystrad-Wen (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

There are four cairns collectively forming a cemetery upon Banc Ystrad-Wen, the finest of which (in my opinion) is the western-most at SN97956147. According to Coflein it represents the remains of a "Cairn, 13.1m in diameter and 0.75m high, at which a kerbing of boulders about the W and SW sides have been observed." J.Wiles 23.04.02. So, although not that upstanding in profile, this is nevertheless a significant stone pile mirroring similar monuments upon the north-eastern ridge of Y Gamriw across the cwm.

The next in stature, located at SN98236156, has been vandalised by an internal 'shelter' which (as with Carn-y-Geifr crowning Drum Ddu to the approx north-west) I reckon may be for sheep.. at least those of Ovis aries, as opposed to the human variety. Again, J Wiles reckons it is a "Mutilated cairn, 10.4m in diameter and 0.6m high, having had a shelter constructed in, and of it, to the NW of centre."

The remaining two monuments of the group are much smaller, located at SN98136150 "4.9m in diameter and 0.3m high" and SN98156153 "A partly scattered cairn, 4.3m in diameter and 0.45m high".

Although - needless to say - I didn't heed my own advice (approaching, via Carn Wen, having made a ludicrously tiring, vertical ascent of Trembyd from the north) I would suggest the best way to reach these cairns is via the Rhiw Llanwrthl, accessed at the terminus of the minor road heading south from the village following the Wye.

Carn Wen, Llanwrthwl (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

I approached this, another of Mid Wales' numerous 'White Cairns', heading south from Banc Ystrad-wen following a retrospectively ill advised direct northern ascent of Trembyd. Furthermore chancing my luck that the ominously low cloud base was going to give me a break and, well... break. It didn't, the hitherto pale white ambience of swirling mist not what I had in mind. But there you are, that's why compasses were invented.

Despite the deteriorating conditions I enjoyed my time here, the cairn a substantial monument, the vibe (arguably) enhanced by the claustrophobic reduction in visibility. As for the cairn itself, Coflein reckons:

"A cairn, 23.8m in diameter and 0.8m high, having three projecting stone platforms about its E perimeter. Two small recent cairns and a double shelter have taken their place upon the cairn." J.Wiles 23.04.02

Incidentally there are further cairns marked upon the map in the immediate environs; I made a foray toward those sited upon Garth.... but lost my nerve in the opaque vapour and retreated back to the Mother Cairn. These hills are not to be trifled with in bad weather.

Bryn-cyplau, Nebo (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

Not too sure what to make of this, to be fair. Lured by the promise of 'Cairn Circles' upon the 1:25k map, I first had to negotiate the rather bizarre, 'banjo duelling' antics of the local farmer and helpers who appeared to wish to stare me down, for some reason or other... which needless to say only made me determined not to be intimidated. Bring it on. There is no excuse for a lack of basic courtesy.

Anyway, as for 'Cairn Circles', I found none, the Coflein record reflecting more-or-less what I did encounter:

"A distinct semi-circular ditch runs from the boundary wall enclosing an area approximately 30m in diameter. The ditch is about 1m wide by up to 0.2m- 0.4m deep. It may be all that is left of the outer bank and ditch. Along the arc of the ditch are at least two cairns seen as exposed earthfast stones. The central area contains numerous low earthfast stone mounds and banks." OAN Site Visit 2002/05/24/NW

Cwm Shelkin (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

A visit to this otherwise unremarkable cairn - if the final resting place of a forebear can ever be described as such, of course - is enlivened by what appeared to me to be clear remnants of a former cist and kerb. It would seem the OS people tentatively concur:

"A denuded cairn, 6.0m in diameter and 0.5m high, with possible cist elements and kerbing." J.Wiles 15.08.02

Situated upon the southern end of Mynydd Llangorse's whaleback summit ridge there are some fine views to be had of surrounding peaks, not to mention the excellent hill fort occupying Allt Yr Esgair across the way.

Mynydd Llangorse (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

This is a deceptively substantial upland cairn which, to my mind, should be taken as a pair with the splendidly sited 'Blaneau-draw' monument a little way to the ENE. Indeed, an approach from Cwm Sorgwm, via the latter, makes for a grand hill walk with some excellent views. I was able to park upon the verge just south-east of the farm access road's junction with the 'main road' through the cwm (which, incidentally, is a good starting point for an ascent of Mynydd Troed's cairn).

Anyway, according to Coflein what we have here is:

"A mutilated cairn, 23m in diameter and 1.8m high, surmounted by a modern cairn. Set on the crest of a mountain ridge, on the boundary between two communities". [J.Wiles 15.08.02]

Blaneau-draw (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

I more-or-less quite literally stumbled across this cairn, exquisitely perched upon the very edge of the escarpment overlooking the farm of Blaneau-draw, Cwm Sorgwm, whilst heading for the cairn at SO16562612. Indeed, since it is not annotated upon either the current 1:50k or 1:25k OS map, I assumed the larger monument had been mis-represented. Suffice to say it has not.

CPAT offers a little clarity:

"About 350 m W.S.W. from.." [SO16562612].. "410 m above O.D. on a terrace 15 m below the ridge top is a small Old Red Sandstone, badly disturbed, flat mound about 7 m in diameter 0.6 m high". [Roese, Thesis, no. 166. RCAHMW, 1995]

So, structurally speaking, not the finest Bronze Age upland cairn you'll ever encounter. But I hereby challenge anyone with a passion for the way the ever-changing light plays upon our uplands to not be moved by the placement of this beguiling pile of old stones.

Borgie (Chambered Cairn) — Miscellaneous

The heavily overgrown remains of this chambered cairn lie in a roadside field opposite the little hamlet of Borgie - near a hotel catering for the sort of people seeking 'Highland experiences' whilst driving pristine 4x4s. You know the type. Judging by the extreme inertia of the field gate to movement it would appear few wish to view this monument any more. Which, in my view, is a pity since there is a real sense of the past co-existing easily with the present here, with the comings and goings of the folk occupying the houses opposite.

According to Canmore:

"At NC 6737 5940 situated prominently on the S side of a rocky out-crop is a severely robbed, chambered cairn. It is about 15.0m in diameter, with a maximum height of 0.6m in the centre; elsewhere the cairn is reduced to a stony rim and scattered stones. In the centre a chamber is indicated by two opposing earthfast boulders 1.1m apart and protruding up to 0.6m through the cairn material. OS (J B) 16/9/77"

Loedebest Wood (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

This cairn (or cairns?) lies to the immediate left of the stony track from Dunbeath when approaching the buildings at Loedebest... and is therefore a 'bonus site' for travellers seeking a personal audience with the great chambered cairns upon/around Cnoc Na Maranaich. The situation is fine, overlooking the deep defile of Dunbeath Water, so well worth tarrying a short while.

To be honest I only positively identified one cairn here, which did not appear to have any internal structure... at least nothing surviving in situ. Consequently the following Canmore record is intriguing:

"A: At ND 1394 3171 is a small cairn, some 5.0m in diameter and 0.6m high. A cist formed by three stone slabs is exposed in the centre.
B: At ND 1397 3174, cut by the road, a circular, turf-covered mound, approximately 13.0m in diameter and 1.0m high, composed of stone, is possibly a cairn. OS (R L) 14/3/68.

Cairn 'A' is as described. The cist is exposed to 0.9m long E-W by 0.4m wide and 0.2m deep. The cairn has an edging slab in the N. Mound 'B' is also as described. It is unquestionably a cairn." OS (J M) 17/8/82.

In retrospect the cairn images I've posted perhaps represent 'Cairn B'. But what of the other?

Kylestrome (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

This is an unassuming, seemingly inviolate cairn set upon a craggy hill side a little to the north-west of the Kylesku bridge, the latter carrying the A894 across the meeting of Loch a' Chairn Bhain with Loch Glencoul to the north and, to my mind, a rather graceful, aesthetically pleasing structure in its own right. The scenery is archetypal west coast, the fine peaks of Quinag applying the pièce de résistance to the approx south.

According to Canmore: "A well-preserved cairn, 15.5m in diameter, maximum height 1.7m. It is considerably mutilated, but otherwise undisturbed; there is no evidence of a chamber." OS (W D J) 21/4/61 and (N K B) 22/80.

Incidentally don't forget to visit the nearby broch (just the other - southern - side of the road) and, if time and circumstances permit, take a boat trip along Loch Glencoul to gawp at Eas a' Chual Aluinn, Scotland's highest waterfall. No less.

Loch a' Chairn Bhain, Kylestrome (Broch) — Miscellaneous

In my opinion this is a particularly well - nay, evocatively - sited monument boasting some quite exquisite views across the loch to the peaks of Quinag.

Canmore reckons what we have here represents the remains of a "Probable solid-based broch".. [as opposed to galleried dun as previously thought]... "situated near the end of a rocky promontory or islet in the large sea loch Loch a' Chairn Bhain; the site is connected to the shore by a causeway made of boulders about 21m (70ft) long, 3m (10ft) wide and 60cm (2ft) high. The islet is now only cut off at high tide" (E W MacKie 2007).

Well worth stopping off upon the drive up/down the north-western coast in conjunction with the nearby Kylestrome cairn at NC21883426.

Llethr Brith (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

At c1,722ft Llethr Brith is a reasonably hefty hill for Mid Wales and, in my opinion, well worth a visit in its own right simply for some excellent views toward Teifi Pools, Cwmdeuddwr and, as it happens, Pen y Bannau hill fort. That it is crowned by a substantial, if somewhat vandalised Bronze Age is, as they say, a bonus.

A dead end minor road heads east from the B4343 at Ffair-Rhos allowing punters access to the shores of the aforementioned Teifi Pools. Just after some enclosed fields to one's left a path can be discerned ascending the hillside... follow this and 'up' is the only real direction needed, to be fair.

According to the OS the cairn, sharing the summit with a lonely little tarn, is:

"A round cairn, 14m in diameterb & 0.5m high, having a modern marker cairn set upon its E side." J.Wiles 26.07.04

Hill of Shebster (Chambered Cairn) — Miscellaneous

According to the wondrous Audrey Henshall (1963) this represents "The heavily-robbed remains of this round, stalled cairn of Orkney-Cromarty type are 80ft in diameter"

Whereas the (equally great doing their thang) Ordnance Survey reckoned the following one year later:

"This turf-covered chambered cairn, 1.6m maximum height and approximately 26.0m in diameter, has been mutilated by an excavation trench in the NE. The top has been robbed revealing seven stone slabs forming the stalls of a gallery grave and two portal stones are in the SE corner of the cairn." (N K B) 13/11/64

Worth a wander over when visiting the mighty long cairns upon nearby Cnoc Freiceadain.

Hascombe Hill (Promontory Fort) — Miscellaneous

This pleasingly wooded promontory fort is, according to Surrey Archaeological Society,"a roughly trapezoidal enclosure with the long axis lying north-east/south-west. The position of the earthworks is governed by the shape of the end of the ridge except where their north-eastern leg cuts perpendicularly across the length of the ridge. This north-eastern leg of the ramparts contains the entrance which is set off-centre towards the north-west, and has short out-turned banks on either side".

Details of a 2008/2009 survey undertaken by the Society can be seen online at:

Cwm Bach and Whitmore Stairs (Cliff Fort) — Miscellaneous

Excellent little cliff fort - one of a linear chain gracing this Glamorgan coastline - overlooking Traeth Bach and most easily reached by a footpath from the minor road to the approx east. Note that it's possible to park a car near the junction with the Tre-pit Road (a little west of Wick).

Protected by the steep defile of Cwm Bach to the north and vertiginous cliffs to the west, artificial defences are only really required elsewhere.

According to Coflein:

"Two discrete lengths of bank, ditched on the SE, the northernmost c.40m NE-SW by 10m and 2.0m high, the other c.33.5m NE-SW by 8.5m and 1.5-2.6m high, truncated on the SW, together appear to define the SE side of a roughly triangular enclosure, resting on an eroding cliff-line on the SW and defined by scarps above the Cwm Bach on the N. Air photos suggest that the southern rampart segment continues N of entrance gap, behind line of the north rampart." J.Wiles 26.01.04

Ffridd Bryn Dinas (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Miscellaneous

Ffridd Bryn Dinas ('Ffridd' might be described as being the transitional zone between traditional Welsh upland and lowland) is an interesting, relatively minor ridge overlooking Cwm Maethlon - 'Happy Valley' - boasting some excellent, sweeping views across the Dyfi for (arguably) limited effort. Not to mention the opportunity to gawp at a certain bearded lake. I ask you?

It also possesses two Bronze Age monuments. According to Coflein:

"Originally (1921) this site was reported as two tumuli, with another reported near-by, all three having cists. Subsequently they were differentiated as a round barrow (SN63989969) and a cairn (SN63869959), with the third not located." J.Wiles 30.01.02

For what it's worth I agree with the above succinct statement. To a point. The north-eastern 'tumulus' is, for me, the finer of the pair, a steep sided mound just north of a traverse wire fence bearing the clear remains of a cist upon, or rather within, the summit. A great spot to recline for awhile with the low autumn sun playing upon the nearby llyn. The other, to the approx south-west, has much less 'tumulus', but much more cist still in situ.

But what of 'the third not located'? Could that not be what I took to be a cairn with remains of cist upon the bwlch between Bryn Dinas and Allt Gwyddgwion?

Cairn between Bryn Dinas and Allt Gwyddgwion (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

This cairn... featuring what I took to be remnants of a cist within... sits between Bryn Dinas and Allt Gwyddgwion ('No shit, Sherlock!' I hear you exclaim), the latter the elongated south-western ridge of the wondrously be-cairned Trum Gelli. As such, be sure to pay a visit if heading for the western Tarrens, the monument a little to the right of the path - such as it is - when approaching from the main green track traversing these parts.

Coflein gives the dimensions thus:

"The cairn is 2 metres in diameter and 0.6 metres high. See survey report Tywyn Dolgoch, by M.J. Roseveare, ArchaeoPhysica Ltd." RCAHMW, 14/12/2007

Barone Hill (Hillfort) — Miscellaneous

This fort, crowning the summit of Barone Hill, possesses a fabulous overview of Bute and must have been of great strategic importance back in the day.

According to Canmore:

"..It comprises the remains of an oval stone wall (enclosing an area 62.0m NE-SW by 42.0m) with an outer stone wall on the W and S whilst rocky precipitopus (sic) slopes form an additional defence on the E.

The oval wall survives on the W and S where it is 3.0m wide and up to 1.0m high with many facing stones in situ but there are only faint traces of it on the E. The entrance, though not apparent, was most probably at the 4.0m gap on the S side, which is now utilized by the modern wall. There is no evidence of the vitrification mentioned by Hewison....." OS (TRG) 23/11/76

Ardvannie (Chambered Cairn) — Miscellaneous

This is a pretty substantial chambered cairn hidden away, in light woodland, to the left of a driveway/track accessing equestrian buildings from the A836. Not wishing to look around incognito in such an environment, I duly announced myself at the - to judge by the voices - clearly occupied house... but to no avail. I therefore checked out the monument anyway.

Although overgrown and sylvan, the large cairn possesses a clear chamber... not to mention an evocative, wistful vibe.

According to Canmore: "This Orkney-Cromarty Cairn measures 21m in diameter and 0.9m in height. A polygonal chamber lies to the E of the centre of the cairn." RCAHMS November 1977.

There is at least another cairn sited a little north, not to mention what, to my mind, are the remains of a fantastically sited hill fort upon Struie Hill to the south. Great views from that 'un.

Asheldham Camp (Plateau Fort) — Links

Asheldham Camp - Essex Family History

Tongue Wood (Chambered Cairn) — Miscellaneous

Canmore reckons the evocative remains of this chambered cairn located within Tongue Wood are:

"...about 15m in diameter. The kerb of boulders survives intermittently, best preserved in the east and south. Several boulders within the kerb form no intelligible pattern." OS (JD) 26/4/60 and (ISS) 1/7/71

This is a great place to chill out for a while... but surprisingly difficult to locate (perhaps it was just me) if approaching steeply downhill from the A865, such has been the reclamation by Nature. In retrospect keep the tumbling stream to your left and the monument occupies a rise a little before Tongue House.

Achcheargary Burn (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

Yet another monument with remains of cist (most probably) still in situ. The cairn occupies a superb position overlooking the serpentine River Naver.... including an aerial view of the Achcheargary chambered cairn on the other side of the B871. Canmore has this to say:

"This cairn, at the edge of a natural shelf overlooking the plain of the River Naver, measures about 13.0m diameter and 1.2m maximum height, but the west part has been robbed to build adjoining walls. Where the cairn rubble has been cleared north of the centre, a slab edge 0.6m long and aligned NE-SW is exposed; it is probably the remains of a cist". OS (J M) 25/6/77

Allt Ach Coille Na Borgie (Cairn(s)) — Miscellaneous

Canmore has this to say about this trio of excellently sited cairns easily overlooked in the company of the great Skelpick Long and Coille Na Borgie monuments; easily, but, in my opinion, unfairly so:

"Three closely grouped cairns ('A'-'C') centred at NC 718 598 on the summit of a ridge overlooking the mouth of Strathnaver.

'A' the most southerly.. is about 10.5m in diameter and due to the slope is 2.0m high in the west, but of negligible height on the upper east side. The interior has been disturbed in places, but no cist or chamber is apparent. In common with the other cairns there is no evidence of a kerb.

'B' is situated above a small rocky slope. It measures approximately 17.0m east-west by 12.0m and stands to 2.1m high. War-time work has seriously mutilated the cairn on the east side and especially in the centre, where a wall face 2.1m high has been constructed.

'C' ... measures approximately 9.0m east-west by 8.0m and stands up to 1.4m high on the west side. Three slabs protruding up to 0.4m through the cairn material suggests this is possibly chambered; their poitions may indicate they are the back slab and possibly two portal stones of an Orkney-Cromarty chamber". OS (JB) 18/12/78

Visitors to the Achcoillenaborgie broch might, therefore, consider a visit... if so, the cairns grace the hillside to the left when facing away from the road.

Loch Caladail (Kerbed Cairn) — Miscellaneous

Canmore has this to say about this unexpectedly captivating kerbed cairn, set near the beguiling Loch Caladail:

"On a rise, a cairn 10.7m overall diameter and 0.8m high, partly robbed but not deep enough to expose a cist. Six boulders (two displaced) of the kerb survive in the SE arc. The rest of the kerb has been removed, leaving a trench 0.7m wide by 0.3m deep in which the boulders were embedded." [OS (W D J) 5/4/60 and (I S S) 22/7/71]

The monument can be seen from the summit stone grouping of Cnoc na Moine...

Ach A' Chorrain (Chambered Cairn) — Miscellaneous

Wondrously located overlooking the Kyle of Durness, I had the good fortune to visit - albeit at the end of a long, packed day - under superb evening conditions. Contrary to usual procedure I've taken the liberty of listing successive Canmore entries to highlight how the fabric of our cairns are changing in the course of a few decades:

"A prominent round cairn, 15.5m in diameter and 2.1m in maximum height, which has been robbed to build an adjacent sheepfold. No chamber or cist has been exposed, nor is there any indication of a ditch or retaining circle". RCAHMS 1911; Visited by OS (F D C) 2 May 1957.

"A disturbed passage of which two pairs of uprights and one capstone are exposed". Information contained in letters from T C Welsh 24 July and 10 August 1972.

"A bare stone, chambered cairn approximately 14.0m in diameter and 1.6m high; early modern structures built of cairn material intrude on the NE periphery. The passage, in the SE, and the chamber have been partially cleared exposing in the former two sets of slightly displaced uprights, one with lintel slab in situ and the latter a single orthostat". Visited by OS (J M) 16 November 1978.

Mynydd-y-Castell (Hillfort) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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Hi, I'm Robert ... aka Citizen Cairn'd. I've a passion for attempting to understand the lives of the pioneering prehistoric inhabitants of these British Isles, seeking out the remains they left behind in order to ask myself "why here ... why did it matter so... why such commitment?". Needless to say I'm still pondering such intangibles. Just as an empty house appears to retain echoes of past humanity... so does the stone circle, the chambered cairn, the long barrow and the mountain top funerary cairn. Visiting them, I think, helps engender a certain 'connection' with this land of ours, with ourselves - our past, our present and our future; a reference point for those of us perhaps struggling to make sense of this so-called 'computer world' Kraftwerk warned us was a'coming in 1981.... danke, mein herren.

George Orwell - '...during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act'....

Martin Gore - 'Like a pawn
On the eternal board
Who’s never quite sure
What he’s moved towards
I walk blindly on'

Truman Capote - 'Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour'.

John Lydon - 'It is a reward to be chastised by the ignorant'.

Winston Churchill - 'KBO'.

My TMA Content: