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

Garn Bentyrch



Unfortunately I don't have a great deal of time to spare upon finally coming down from the warm - did I say warm?! - seductive bosom of Mynydd Carnguwch.... seeing as it appears both my car headlights have blown, bulbs 'shorted out' by some electrical surge. Yeah, although sadly I reckon the alternator's the culprit, as opposed to bombardment by magical cosmic rays. So no need for Mulder this time around .... always a need for Scully, however. Whatever, I'll still need to get back to camp before it gets too dark. Or risk the very unwelcome attentions of the black-clad, 'machine gun wielding' heddlu.

Garn Bentyrch appears on the map to be but a minor deviation from my quickly improvised route 'home' - via Porthmadog and Beddgelert.... hey, probably not much there anyway, but worth a look nonetheless. The craggy hilltop rises to the north(ish) of the small village of Llangybi, so named after a certain St. Cybi, apparently rather fond of holy wells.... funnily enough I'm getting an image of TMA's Goff here, although no doubt lacking the self-effacing humour. Ffynnon Gybi, the 'holy' water in question, is signposted from the main road and reached by way of an attractive public footpath beside a rushing river... aren't they all around here? I ascend the hillside to the right of the ancient buildings harbouring the spring which, needless to say, is incorrect.... the path actually climbs through woodland to the left, as I duly ascertain on the way down. Nevertheless it's but a short pull to the summit of Garn Bentyrch and the subsequent realisation - albeit a very welcome one - that, not for the first time, there is much more here than anticipated by the weary traveller.

In summary, the ancient fortress appears to consist of a small, very powerful, bivallate enclosure supplemented by a larger, less well fortified enclosure to the approx north-west.... the latter for general living and the protection of animals, perhaps? To be honest the innermost defence line looks out of context, a massive, collapsed dry stone wall which, judging by the 'dry stone field boundary to end all dry stone field boundaries' which bisects the site in the eastern quadrant, was once much more substantial still. Coflein quotes Frances Lynch (1995. CADW: A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales Gwynedd p197) as stating that 'The triple defences are probably of different dates. The innermost ring with its thick, high stone wall may be early medieval; the other two lines consist of walls and banks and are probably prehistoric with later alterations and additions'. I'd concur with that. Frances will no doubt be pleased....

The outer ring of the inner defences is, to my mind, worth the price of admission alone - not that there is any monetary toll to be paid in this instance - consisting of a fine, grassy bank standing favourable comparison with many an ancient enclosure feasted upon by these eyes over the past decade or so. As noted the 'fort extends its eastern arc beyond the aforementioned massive field wall, the latter no doubt plundered from its very fabric. Bearing that in mind... perhaps the dedicated may want to take a look? I couldn't possibly comment.

So, Garn Bentyrch remains a very impressive ancient fortress, possibly adapted, South Cadbury style, to serve as home for some early medieval Authurian-style warlord? And of course the views are simply stunning.... from the jaw-droppingly feminine profile of Mynydd Carnguwch (with Yr Eifl and Tre'r Ceiri as close consorts to the right) to the approx north-west.... to the isolated, fortified crag of Moel-y-Gest rising above Pothmadog to the (approx) east... the Rhinogydd standing serried across Tremadog Bay.... the Eifionydd taking it easy under the not unusual cloak of vapour...

A couple of hours here are not enough. But they are all I have and it is time well spent.
28th December 2012ce
Edited 29th December 2012ce

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