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St Elmo's Summer House

Round Barrow(s)

<b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheatImage © A. Brookes (8.5.2010)
Nearest Town:Prestatyn (2km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   SJ085817 / Sheet: 116
Latitude:53° 19' 26.2" N
Longitude:   3° 22' 26.04" W

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<b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>St Elmo's Summer House</b>Posted by thesweetcheat


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Visited 8.5.2010, at the end of long circular walk taking in The Gop and a section of Offa's Dyke path. These two barrows are easily accessed from the Clwydian Way, which runs along the north side of the grassy field they stand in.

The main barrow sits on top of a conical hilltop which would be intervisible with The Gop if intervening trees were removed. It's a decent size (33m diameter) and on the face of it has a beautifully preserved bank and ditch. Unfortunately, Coflein indicates that this is part of the remnants of the summer house which gives the barrow its name.

There are loose stones scattered about and some recent footings of a now-demolished radar building. There was also a jenga-like pile of bricks piled in the centre. The barrow has a sea-view and a good hilltop position, from where it looks down the slope WNW to the other barrow in the field.

This one is a grassy mound, ploughed down but still a metre or so high. It occupies a much lower position, maybe suggesting a subservient relationship with the large barrow above.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
24th May 2010ce


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I noticed this barrow mentioned in Robert Harris's 'Walks in Ancient Wales' today. Curiously, today is St Elmo's day. He was the patron saint of sailors (and others) and met a rather unfortunate end when his guts were wound onto a windlass. Why should this barrow be named after him? Perhaps someone knows. In the meantime I could spread a completely unfounded suggestion that people have seen weird lights up here - rather like St Elmo's fire, which is seen around the top of ships' masts.

There is another barrow lower down the hill near the road, but this is very low and indistinct - the 'summerhouse' itself is a large barrow right on the summit of the hill. Dully its RCAMHW record describes that there was a summerhouse plonked on top of it at some point - so that would explain that part of the name - it was part of the Golden Grove landscaped grounds.

Harris describes the spot as follows: "The bank is constructed of loose stone, largely grassed over but with several larger stones still visible... the top of the barrow has been levelled off and has had a building erected on it [now] largely removed but still visible. [However] the barrow's position and size indicate a site that must have been of great importance in its time."

(Not far away is the village of Gwaenysgor: some may like to visit the churchyard here which has a roughly circular shape - perhaps suggesting the antiquity of its status as a sacred site? The Domesday Book records a delapidated church at the site. In the 19th century a small bronze figure of a saddled horse was found here, which was probably from the Romano-British period.)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd June 2004ce
Edited 11th June 2004ce