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Pentre Ifan

Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech

<b>Pentre Ifan</b>Posted by mossImage © moss
Also known as:
  • Pentre Ivan
  • Pentre Evan

Nearest Town:Cardigan (12km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   SN099370 / Sheet: 145
Latitude:51° 59' 54.1" N
Longitude:   4° 46' 10.29" W

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Visited 8.6.14

Although I know some people have had trouble finding the mighty Pentre Ifan I found it easy enough. I did have my O/S map with me but it wasn’t needed as the site is signposted all the way from the A487.

Dafydd had recently made a model of Pentre Ifan for school and I was keen for him to visit the site in person. This was something that he was also eager to do. Karen stayed in the car with Sophie who was sound asleep after playing on the beach.

Even though I had been here before it was with a sense of excitement that I walked from the parking area, along the path, towards the dolmen.

It was whilst walking along the path that I noticed how many large stones there are scattered about. This was something I hadn’t paid much attention to on my previous visit although I am a bit more experienced in these things now so I guess I am more likely to take notice of such things.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this site? It is quite exceptional.
It was just as I remembered it. In saying that this is one of those places that you are never likely to forget visiting!

Dafydd was also impressed. I took photos of him stood in front of the stones. Something he can take to school to show his teacher and later keep next to his model which takes pride of place in his bedroom!

Pentre Ifan is one of the outstanding prehistoric site in Wales and should be on everyone’s ‘must do’ list. If you are planning a trip ‘way out west’ make sure to also visit nearby Castell Henllys – it makes for a good day out.
Posted by CARL
12th June 2014ce

Despite a slight feeling of 'too-perfectness' of one of those 'show' sites, you still can't help feeling in awe of such a great monument. As others have said, Pentre Ifan does have great views from here, but the thing itself is the great view!

Apologies to the new age old guy, with the 2 ladies (one seemingly just come from a wedding - nice hat!), for the not-great view of myself in Bermuda shorts and almost day-glo t-shirt, straight from Newport beach. Not exactly TMA garb, I suspect, but at least I drew the line at flip-flops....
Posted by ruskus
26th August 2010ce

With the aid of an O/S map I found this site easy enough. Park in the layby and it's only a short walk to the stones. This is the 'perfect looking' tomb - stunning - with great views all around. I would highly recommend a visit if at all possible. Posted by CARL
19th March 2010ce

Eric and myself slept in the car again after another four hour midnight drive, I was so tired when we pulled up in the parking place next to the dolmen that I forgot how uncomfortable cars are for sleeping in and after marvelling at all the stars for a minute fell straight to sleep.
The alarm went off at 7.30am, Eric elected to stay and watch the car which left me and the stones alone waiting for the sun to rise, well one of us was waiting the other didnt really seem to care.
I havent been to Pentre Ifan for ten years, I know its that long because my kids havent been here, infact I think my eldest was concieved whilst on a camping trip down here. ( sorry, too much information?)
It was as awsome as I remember it, how did they get that capstone up there and how does it stay there, it sits on the sharpest point of three stones which look like they might crumble at any minute from the weight.
I wonder what happened to the two facade stone on the west of the chamber, only two stumps remain but presumably they would have been as tall as the two on the other side, theres quite a few big stones lying around perhaps one or two are these missing stones.
The sunrise was a magical moment, I circled the chamber like a predator circling its prey, or maybe a photographer getting the most from his muse. Every now and then a huge flock of noisy starlings went over, heading back to the coast for a days foraging.
Why didnt I put this place in my top three, curse you only top threeeeeee.
postman Posted by postman
18th February 2010ce
Edited 18th February 2010ce

Visited in May 2009, a very long time coming! Been trying to get to here for years, funny being in Wales, but sometimes you never look or visit some things nearer to you.

I found the site relatively easy to find considering I visited alone with no map reader. Parking is good for a few cars, and nice path with good gates down to the Monument itself. Seeing this in books over the years I had an image it was much bigger than it was, but the only gripe I have is that its fenced in, crap for us photographers not wanting posts and fence wire in the frame!

Do take the time to visit, I will be returning soon.
mort Posted by mort
2nd December 2009ce

This is a chambered long cairn and the remains of its mound can still be seen. Set high on a hill, with, at the moment,(which must have been in March 2007) hundreds of sheep and lambs cavorting around, this is one of those spectacularly rocky places, with stones protruding from the ground everywhere. Soft turf and chunky stone walls add to the charm of the surrounding rather deserted countryside. The capstone looks rather like a flying saucer, elegant with two shaped orthostats framing the stone portal door, this is seen as a sophisticated design, but perhaps we are looking with modern eyes, given the chunkiness of Coetan Arthur and Carreg Samson's capstones, the ideal of beauty is in the beholders eye. Who is to say; maybe the neolithic builders felt that the erection of great heavy capstones was a work of great physical strength and prowess and deemed far worthier than puffs of the wind sailing capstones that Pentre Ifan represents.
Its capstone is tilted towards the Afon Nyer Valley to the north, the chamber being about 3 metres long by 2 metres wide. It was originally cut into the ground about 40 cms and lined with drystone walling, but has recently been infilled.
There is a blocking stone(doorway) in the forecourt area. Apparently there is supposed to be a cupmark on its outer face, but have stared long and hard could'nt find it- so I shall put it down to wishful thinking on someones part.
According to Nash it is a terminally chambered long cairn with a semicircular forecourt set in the southern end of the barrow - a Closed Portal Tomb. Glyn Daniels compared it to the so-called "horned cairns" of Carlingford in Ireland. Not surprising really its just a short hop over on the ferry to Ireland. Interestingly he also suggests that our more easterly Severn-Cotswold tomb group is derived from the Pentre Ifan type, perhaps that is why I am always drawn to this part of Wales - the sense of the familiar.
Grimes, another archaeologists who trod the ground round Somerset as well, excavated in 1936 and 1958, and he described the forecourt where ritual feasts may have been held, it consisting of two orthostats placed either side of an entrance, itself blocked by the massive 'closing' door. This door is of course speculated upon wildly by archaeologists, maybe it was open on occasions to bring in bodies that had been stored elsewhere. Maybe, it was a great chieftans tomb, with his retainers being sacrificed with him (bit dubious). Or in fact was a false door, the bones of the dead being inserted from the side of the mound, similar of course to the Rodmarton 'porthole entrance' or the Lanhill longbarrow.
The mound does not survive, but could have measured about 40 metres long by 17 metres wide. There are traces of kerbing stones, but they do not always align with the mound, and it could be linked with possible ritual pits.
Nash points to the dip in the capstone and the slope of Carningli, both point to the sea and the Afon Nyer Valley. This I could'nt see, being misty and very cold but I did find one of the fallen stones rather beautifully white with lichen and, a bit like a 'jewel 'stone, a rather rounded female stone

p.s.N.P.Figgis in Prehistoric Preseli gives another theory; there is a fallen stone, that remained in situ as the stones of the burial chamber were put up. This may have been a first phase, a single standing stone with a fire pit near to it, making this a dual mortuary site, or at least, a site that was in use over a long period but again all conjecture, with the stone being part of the first chamber building and single unembellished facade, with short mound. "The latest elongated tapering mound, and the elaborate facade covered the whole of the earlier structure".

ref; Prehistoric Preseli N.P.Figgis
Neolithic Sites - Geo.Children and Geo.Nash
moss Posted by moss
27th May 2007ce
Edited 28th May 2007ce

It's worth getting an OS map for this area of the Welsh country side, I did because it was part of my research for my archaeology course. It is worth owning one because there are other significant contemporary monuments in the area such as Meini Gwyr and Gors Fawr stone circles a mile or two away with other standing stones, stone cirlces, 6 ring barrows and 11 barrows aswell as Iron age features scattered in this area of the country side. Many features are scattered close to the main road from Crymmych heading south. p0ds Posted by p0ds
14th March 2007ce

We changed our plans to try and take in Pentre Ifan before the light went totally. We failed. By the time we got there, all the modelling light had gone, and a thin veil of haze began to fill the valley. This, however, didn't detract from the stunning location of this huge monument. It's not just Pentre Ifan itself – that's just part of it. The rest is the utterly amazing view it commands over a gorgeous valley.

To be honest, the view really did more for me than the dolmen itself. Granted, the dolmen is a phenomenal piece of engineering, but there's something about this place that needs it to be viewed as a whole. The sense of calmness was palpable, and there was a strange cathedral-like quality to the structure. . . you start thinking about its choice of location and placement, and begin imagining what it would have looked like in situ. Totally awe-inspiring. I'm definitely becoming more interested in the beliefs and engineering of these places, almost over the stones themselves, and would dearly like to be able to travel back 7,000 years to find out more . . .

I crawled about in the freshly-strimmed grass, and took some pictures, but fear that the lack of light will not imbue these shots with the required drama. Heigh-ho. :o(
treaclechops Posted by treaclechops
31st August 2003ce
Edited 25th April 2004ce

The views from here are wonderful.

The capstone sits, looking like some futuristic airship briefly docked on the uprights. My imagination was playing overtime just standing staring at it...
ocifant Posted by ocifant
6th July 2003ce

Late May, and after wading through a sea of bluebells, there it was. Talk about mindblown!! It is truly remarkable. Even my hard-to-please son liked it. My daughter adored it.

The capstone appears to hover over only three of its uprights, looking for all the world like some gigantic aerodynamic cuttlefish with Mynydd Carningli lurking just beyond and away in the distance, the Nevern estuary and Newport Sands. PHWOAAR! I sat and made four quick sketches from various angles just to try to make sense of this magnificent beast and capture the deepening shadows that moved around the uprights.

During the week I had in Newport, I returned here five times.
Jane Posted by Jane
31st May 2003ce
Edited 29th July 2003ce

This is a fabulous site. It is another where you follow the map and think you have missed the plot only to find this Welsh wonder.

I bumped into Robin Williamson locally and I told him I had been the previous week to see these stones, he casually replied that the Incredible String band used to live near here. Of course I knew that they had made a film and part of it was here (Be Glad etc)
Big Al Posted by Big Al
3rd September 2002ce


Amazing site! This is one special place, the setting with views over cardigan bay and an acient oak forest is something else.
This Cromlech seems to change radically from which ever angle it is viewed from, you could take photos from all directions and you would not think it was the same place. I would love to come here at different times of the year/seasons. Very atmosptheric.
Posted by mushroom si
25th July 2002ce

I just want to say - this site has absolutely spellbound me. It's not just the size, the location, the sheep, the views ... it's the whole experience. It's just soooo huge and delicate looking, it took me 10 minutes to dare stand under it! I know it's been there for thousands of years, but believe me, when you're there it looks like it may fall at any minute, which would be an absolute tragedy. This is one site everyone MUST see. Posted by Gazza
26th June 2000ce


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About sixty years ago a respectable man declared that he was cutting a hedge between Trefas and Pant y Groes when a grey-headed old man came to him and told him that there was an underground way from Caerau to Pentre-Evan ; and that if he excavated a certain place he would find two hundred " murk " (? marks).
That's quite a long tunnel but who cares.

From 'The History of St Dogmael's Abbey' by Emily Pritchard (1907), who was actually quoting the Rev. Henry Vincent in Archaeologia Cambrensis, Oct. 1864.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th February 2010ce

From The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries by W. Y. Evans-Wentz (1911).
Our Pembrokeshire witness is a maiden Welshwoman, sixty years old.. she was born and has lived all her life within sight of the famous Pentre Evan Cromlech, in the home of her ancestors, which is so ancient that after six centuries of its known existence further record of it is lost.

[..she explained that:]..Spirits and fairies exist all round us, invisible. Fairies have no solid bodily substance. Their forms are of matter like ghostly bodies, and on this account they cannot be caught. In the twilight they are often seen, and on moonlight nights in summer. Only certain people can see fairies, and such people hold communication with them and have dealings with them, but it is difficult to get them to talk about fairies. My mother used to tell about seeing the "fair-folk" dancing in the fields near Cardigan; and other people have seen them round the cromlech up there on the hill (the Pentre Evan Cromlech). They appeared as little children in clothes like soldiers' clothes, and with red caps, according to some accounts.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd February 2005ce
Edited 23rd February 2005ce


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Rising from ruins: Pentre Ifan - Ailgodi adfeilion:

Cadw CGI reconstruction......

Like a tortoise's carapace, new technology reconstructs Pentre Ifan.
moss Posted by moss
30th September 2014ce

British Library Images Online

George Owen's drawing of 1603 depicting the stone burial chamber at Pentrelfan; the earliest known illustrative record of the site.
stubob Posted by stubob
5th January 2006ce

Gathering the Jewels

An aerial photo of Pentre Ifan and its environs. An unusual way of looking at such a familiar tomb. Note the earthworks - barely visible from the ground.

The same site also contains a photograph of a screen print of Pentre Ifan by Jonathan Owen.
Kammer Posted by Kammer
28th June 2004ce
Edited 28th June 2004ce

Killers World Wide Wanderings

Some more images of Pentre Ifan are to be found hidden amongst my site
Posted by Killer
27th March 2002ce