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

Castell y Gwynt, Y Glyderau

Natural Rock Feature


Unlike the great, domed summits and whaleback ridges of Y Carneddau, rising across the Ogwen Valley to the north, the chaotic, rocky heights of Y Glyderau are - to my knowledge - bereft of Bronze Age monuments. More's the pity. Perhaps Bronze Age man did, indeed, bury his dead here, the remnants of cairn now unrecognisable, scattered within boulder fields created by the inexorable action of permafrost? Perhaps, but I think not... for what it's worth, I reckon Nature had endowed these summits with striking monuments of her own so enigmatic that our forebears simply decided not to meddle with the status quo. Proto-temples....

First amongst these natural 'monuments' is surely Tryfan itself, the 'three-peaked' dragon back crowned by two perfect monoliths, to all the world placed by supernatural forces... OK, at least 'super natural'. However there is another rock feature which is arguably even more striking, the prosaically named Castell y Gwynt.... 'Castle of the Winds'. Rising between the main summits of Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr at 3,189ft (972m) this brutal, incredible tor of shattered rock formations seems to embody the very 'essence', the true spirit of whatever metaphysically-induced emotions us humans experience when upon the high places... a potent cocktail of fear, awe, wonder, elation, alacrity, fatigue... and a myriad others.

Thomas Pennant wrote in 1781: "Numerous groupes (sic) of stones are placed almost erect, sharp-pointed in sheafs: all are weather-beaten, time eaten and honey-combed, and of a venerable grey-colour. The elements seem to have warred against this mountain: rains have washed, lightnings torn, the very earth deserted it, and the winds have made it the constant object of their fury".

The 'battlements' of Castell y Gwynt have withstood the assault to date - although the siege will, of course, be decided in favour of the inclemental elements one day - and stand overlooking a small stone circle set, half submerged, beside the shoreline of Llyn Cwmffynnon to the approx south. There are other monuments upon the floor of Dyffryn Mymbyr and gracing the surrounding hills beyond, not least a Bronze Age cairn upon Moel Siabod. It may therefore seem odd that Y Glyderau possesses such paucity. However I am inclined to think that was the whole point, the complete absence too obvious, intentional.... that this was, indeed, considered the realm of the gods.
29th January 2013ce
Edited 31st January 2013ce

Comments (3)

I wonder to what extent stone built monuments on the Glyderau would simply have not survived three or four millennia of constant battering in such a rocky range? I'm not suggesting that there was any monument on Castell YG itself, but I wonder what's vanished (if anything) from the other peaks and shoulders? thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st January 2013ce
I don't recall the summit cairns looking particularly convincing - seems GAT feels the same, too. However it would be great if this was proved incorrect. Guess there's only one way to add to our knowledge!

In addition to Tryfan's summit monoliths Glyder Fach also possesses 'The Cantilever'.... and Carnedd-y-Filiast (that name again) to the west has the most wondrous petrified sea-bed that has to be seen to be believed. The Glyders have some pretty special features, to be fair. Twll Du as well... the Devil's Kitchen.
31st January 2013ce
Yeah, you're selling it very well! thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st January 2013ce
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