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

Ty Isaf

Chambered Cairn


Black Mountains group of chambered long cairns.

A 479 Up over the Black Mountains, from Talgarth to Crickhowell.
Not far from the hamlet: Pengenffordd.
Views of Castell Dinas hillfort from the road (access possible but a steep 100m climb).

From Talgarth heading to Crickhowell:
Take the first ‘real’ road on the left after Pengenffordd.
100m or so on right over fence in field you can see the grass covered cairn.
The field drops away and the building you can see is Tyisha farm, where you need to ask permission.
Several dogs running around loose, but farmer nice enough.

I was a bit disappointed with this because I have an illustrated copy of the excavations that were carried here, and I was aware that the back of the cairn has an unusual circular setting. Of course it was all filled in and left for the next 60 or so years. So it was another undulating lumpy mound with a stone here and there.

The impression of the site was also disappointing: two rusting farm trailers loaded with scrap wood next a large area of bare soil. The area of bare soil was where an earth mover had been used to clear a large area of ground either very close to or into the back end of the monument itself. Next to the cleared area was several pieces of Old Red Sandstone lying on the field (hopefully not from the monument).

The mound is 30m long by around 18m and less than 2m high. No visible kerbing. I couldn’t make out any horns, but these were found during excavation in 1938.

Close to a north-south alignment, with the false entrance to the north. Two protruding stones side by side indicate the false portal. Infront of these stones on the eastern side are two stones set one infront of the other at right angles to the portal stones, probably indicating a forecourt.

Proceeding along the top of the mound about 4m is another visible setting of stones, which appear to be a central chamber with no capstone, but referring to a plan of the site there was not one. So it has to be one of the side chambers. There is a further jumble of stones towards the back on the west side, but it is difficult to imagine their location according to the plan.

All in all, it is argued that it was a multi-phase monument, with possibly three phases of construction and use. It would have had horns in the Cotswold-Severn tradition, a false doorway or portal, two side chambers with passages, and most interestingly (though not visible now) a circular setting at the back. The circular setting was an oval cairn with a south-east facing passage and southwest-northeast orientated chamber (so the whole internal settings make a T shape).
Posted by elderford
9th August 2003ce

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