The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Miscellaneous Posts by GLADMAN

Latest Posts
Showing 1-20 of 235 miscellaneous posts. Most recent first | Next 20

Duchary Rock (Hillfort)

The ancient fortifications delimiting the c984ft by c361ft 'lost world' plateau of Duchary Rock present the visitor with fabulous vistas across Loch Brora and the surrounding landscape... in addition to some pretty substantial archaeological remains at the north-western and south-eastern extremities. Steep natural defences - particularly to the east - more-or-less negate the need for artificial defences elsewhere.

Although inevitably damaged by shepherds in search of shelter for their flocks across the ages, these collapsed dry stone walls were once apparently nearly some 13ft wide (according to "Exploring Scotland's Heritage - The Highlands' [1995]) the more impressive northern possessing an entrance lined with upright stone slabs. Incidentally there is a similar arrangement at the great Brigantes stronghold surmounting Ingleborough, way down south in The Yorkshire Dales. There would appear to be some debate regarding the ancestry of the narrow entrance currently to be seen to the south.... perhaps a proto-postern gate for light foot traffic only?

My assumption is that Duchary Rock is most easily attained by way of a rough track ascending the hillside from the south-east. However I arrived from the fabulous Carrol broch to the north; it would be a pity not to take a look at both sites whilst in the area, methinks?

Esgair Irfon (Cist)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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))

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))

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:
http://aldbourneheritage.org.uk/village-history/aldbourne-timeline/prehistory-aldbourne/aldbourne-barrows

Aldbourne 7 (Round Barrow(s))

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))

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)

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)

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:

https://www.braintree.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/758/historic_towns_in_essex_-_witham_report_1999.pdf

Banc Ystrad-Wen (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

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)

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))

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))

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))

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)

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.
Showing 1-20 of 235 miscellaneous posts. Most recent first | Next 20
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.'

Oscar Wilde - 'The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.'

Henry Kissinger - 'The American temptation is to believe that foreign policy is a subdivision of psychiatry.'

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

Winston Churchill - 'The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.'

My TMA Content: