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


Chambered Cairn


Along with the other Gwent chambered tombs (Gaer Llwyd, Heston Brake and Thornwell), this had been on my radar for a good while, but I've never made it here, despite Gladman's compelling exhortations.

So on my way back from Herefordshire (7.1.2013) I decide that it's about time I broke the train journey and had a look for this. Various Newport-Cardiff buses run past Cleppa Park industrial estate, so it's easy enough to get here.

It's a grey, overcast day, dry at present but with the threat of more rain hanging in the air. I take the bridge over the motorway mentioned in other notes, then the track. The stones are visible soon enough and access is fairly straightforward, apart from the fact that the almost persistent rain over the last couple of weeks has turned an already muddy field into something resembling a good day on the Somme, so I'm a bit splattered by the time I squelch across to the stones themselves.

There is a decent amount left of this tomb, including a dismounted but substantial capstone and four orthostats of a pebbly conglomerate, one of which lies pinned under the capstone itself, as well as some smaller stones. There is also the faint trace of a mound, a ghost of a ghost, but still there. A self-seeded bush, getting more like a tree as the years pass, has burst its way forth between the cap and its crushed supporter. In the long run, I don't think this is a great state of affairs, so if anyone happens to be passing with a saw ...

Sadly, the place lacks atmosphere for me today. It's a Monday and the traffic on the M4 below the tomb is unceasing. The muddiness doesn't encourage much sitting about either. The siting of the tomb would be very smart, looking down to the mighty Hafren/Severn making its way to the Bristol Channel, but the motorway and the sprawling industrial estate beyond have robbed the monument of even that joy, to a large degree.

I can't help but feel that this place, one of only a precariously surviving handful of such ancient tombs in this part of Wales, has been - and continues to be - done a disservice by the surroundings. So although the visit doesn't charge me with the energy and enthusiasm of many of the more remote places this obsession takes me to, I would join in Gladman's pleas to come here and see what there is (preferably with a saw).

I take my leave, feeling rather saddened. Instead of the route over the motorway, I elect to find a footpath that the map shows running along the western edge of the field. This involves a steepish descent from the tomb to a little stream, crossed by a sturdy footbridge. Unfortunately, once over the bridge, the mud of earlier pales into insignificance compared with the bog under the trees. It's a nasty, mucky business this, but eventually I emerge onto the hillside opposite, with the concrete of the motorway blocking all views south. An underpass provides the way out (so this might be a useful approach for anyone who doesn't like the vertiginous feel of crossing motorway footbridges), back onto the main road and a bus ride back to Newport.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
27th January 2013ce
Edited 27th January 2013ce

Comments (2)

Nice one. It had to be done. As you relate, conflicting emotions, but with a higher credit balance? GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
27th January 2013ce
Yeah, I reckon that's true. Especially compared to Thornwell long barrow, which really is soulless now in its suburban setting. You'll be pleased to know that there was no rubbish at the tomb on my visit (just re-read your mention of vodka bottles). thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
27th January 2013ce
You must be logged in to add a comment