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

Bwlch Bach a'r Grib



Lingering, swirling mist ensures thoughts of guiding the Mam C all the way up the wonderful Y Grib from Castell Dinas remain just that. Abstract thoughts. I mean, you wouldn't visit a fine art exhibition during a power cut, would you? Nevertheless the presence of the Bwlch Bach a'r Grib cairn crowning the next section of the ridge is felt a little too strongly to be ignored. The call is unspoken, never unheard...

We slither - great word, that - down from Castell Dinas's entrance into a morass of mud, the distinctive hue of which leaves us in no doubt we are in Old Red Sandstone country, regardless of visibility. From here a rather steep climb to the north-east brings us to a small drystone walker's shelter. NO! They haven't got this one as well? Thankfully, however, the mist swirls and the ridge is seen to continue to rise for a short distance more. Yeah, false alarm. Since here, crowning this minor summit, sits the deceptively substantial remains of a grassy Bronze Age funerary cairn. Funerary? Well, yes, particularly since Coflein cites a possible cist buried within the structure. Closer inspection reveals that, just like the similar monument upon Pen-y-Beacon (Hay Bluff), virtually straddling the English border to the east, our friends are on the money. I concur.

Slowly the mist rises and the sun breaks through to illuminate the landscape. And what a landscape this is! Behind us to the south west rises Mynydd Troed, beyond Castell Dinas itself. The siting of several of the Neolithic monuments in the locality suggest the former may possibly have been viewed as a 'mother hill' by the long cairn builders? Perhaps the architects of the rounder variety of cairn viewed it as 'special', too? To the south/south-east the beautiful Rhiangoll valley is worth the price of admission in itself, whilst the western/northern arc is that of pastoral beauty, the gliders which soar above the northern escarpment of the Black Mountains on clear days remaining firmly upon terra firma today. Which just leaves the north-east, the twisting grassy ridge of Y Grib leading the eye to the desolate peat bog summit of Waun Fach upon the right hand skyline. Incidentally a further Bronze Age round barrow is to be found upon Y Das, the far left hand peak.

As we sit and take it all in the only sound - aside from the call of an 'interceptor' crow, dispatched from the collective to engage and comprehensively 'shoot down' a bird of prey (of some description) foolish enough to approach the colony - is that of the nascent Rhiangoll cascading into the valley from its source just below, and to the north-west, of the aforementioned Waun Fach. Small eight 'person' teams of army cadets are visible labouring up Y Grib, their positions betrayed by orange rucksack covers. They are by no means the first, of course, finds of flint arrowheads instructing us that men bearing arms have roamed these high ridges for millennia. Perhaps one of them was interned in this very cairn which still crowns this summit? What an inspiring thought.
20th March 2011ce
Edited 21st March 2011ce

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