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Brecknockshire

<b>Brecknockshire</b>Posted by ttTomY Pigwn © ttTom
Also known as:
  • Breconshire
  • Sir Frycheiniog

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Sites in this group:

14 posts
Abercriban Cairn(s)
4 posts
Afon Tawe Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
19 posts
Allt yr Esgair Hillfort
13 posts
Banc y Celyn Stone Circle
8 posts
Battle Standing Stones
9 posts
Bedd Gwyl Illtyd Ring Cairn
16 posts
Blaenau Uchaf Standing Stone / Menhir
Blaen-Nedd Isaf Cairn(s)
4 posts
Blaen-y-Cwm Uchaf Cairn(s)
1 post
Blaen Clydach Fach Cairn(s)
24 posts
Blaen Glyn Cairn(s)
11 posts
Blaneau-draw Round Cairn
1 post
Bone Cave Cave / Rock Shelter
1 post
Boughrood Court Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Bryn y Groes Chambered Tomb (Destroyed)
11 posts
Bwlch-y-Ddau-Faen Standing Stones
15 posts
Bwlch Bach a'r Grib Cairn(s)
11 posts
Bwlch Cairn Cairn(s)
11 posts
Bwlch Standing Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
4 posts
Caeau Enclosure, Cockit Hill Hillfort
9 posts
Cae'r Maen Standing Stone / Menhir
4 posts
Capel Rhos Standing Stone / Menhir
20 posts
Carnau Cefn-y-Ffordd Cairn(s)
4 posts
Carnau Cerfn y Ffordd Stone II Standing Stone / Menhir
9 posts
Carnau, Cwmdeuddwr Cairn(s)
1 post
Carnau Gwynion Cairn(s)
4 posts
Carn-y-Geifr Round Cairn
13 posts
Carn-Yr-Arian Round Barrow(s)
13 posts
Carn Gafallt Cairn(s)
13 posts
Carn Pica Cairn(s)
17 posts
Carreg Waun Llech Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Carreg Wen Fawr (Llanwrthwl) Standing Stones
18 posts
Carreg Wen Fawr Y Rugos Stone Row / Alignment
37 posts
Castell Dinas Hillfort
9 posts
Cefn-yr-Henriw recumbent stone Standing Stone / Menhir
10 posts
Cefn Crew and Cwm Crew Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
23 posts
Cefn Esgair Carnau Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
4 posts
Cefn Moel Cairn(s)
29 posts
Cefn yr Ystrad Cairn(s)
68 posts
Cerrig Duon and The Maen Mawr Stone Circle
1 post
Clawdd Brythonig Enclosure
9 posts
Coed-y-Polyn Round Barrow(s)
4 posts
Coed Fenni-fach Hillfort
1 post
Coed Pentwyn Hillfort
10 posts
Coed Ynys Faen Standing Stones
12 posts
Coed y Gaer Hillfort
39 posts
Corn Du Cairn(s)
10 posts
Craig Cerrig-gleisiad Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
6 posts
Craig Cnwch Standing Stones
Craig y Rhiwarth Hillfort
36 posts
Cribarth Cairn(s)
16 posts
Cribyn Cairn(s)
29 posts
Crugian Bach Stone Circle
11 posts
Crugian Bach Cairn(s) Cairn(s)
Crug-y-Gaer Hillfort
44 posts
Crug Hywel Camp Hillfort
10 posts
Cwalca Cairnfield Cairn(s)
9 posts
Cwm Fforch-wen Cairn(s)
13 posts
Cwm Henwen Standing Stone / Menhir
12 posts
Cwm Henwen Cairn Cairn(s)
1 post
Cwm Nant Cairn(s)
9 posts
Cwm Shelkin Cairn(s)
7 posts
Darren (Crickhowell) Ring Cairn
6 posts
Darren (Llanafanfawr) Standing Stones
8 posts
Daudreath Illtyd Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Defynnog Church Christianised Site
10 posts
Disgwylfa Cairn(s)
6 posts
Dol y Felin Standing Stone / Menhir
8 posts
Dorwen Standing Stone / Menhir
Drostre Bank Hillfort
1 post
Drum Nant y Gorlan Standing Stone / Menhir
21 posts
Drygarn Fawr Cairn(s)
10 posts
Eglwys Faen Cairn(s)
10 posts
Esgair Ceiliog Ring Cairn
9 posts
Esgair Garn, Llanddewi Abergwesyn Round Cairn
Esgair Gerwyn Cairn(s)
2 posts
Esgair Gwar-y-Cae Settlement Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
10 posts
Esgair Irfon Cist
33 posts
Fan Frynych Round Cairn
34 posts
Fan Gyhirych Round Cairn
33 posts
Fan Llia Round Cairn
35 posts
Fan Nedd (Northern summit) Round Cairn
13 posts
Fan Nedd (north east) Round Cairn
14 posts
Fan y Big
37 posts
Ffostyll Long Barrow
3 posts
Ffynnon Las I Cairn(s)
18 posts
The Fish Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
17 posts
Garn Caws Round Cairn
18 posts
Garn Fawr (Llangynidr) Cairn(s)
6 posts
Garn Felen Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
4 posts
Garn Goch Cairn(s)
19 posts
Garn Goch (Llangatwg) Long Barrow
15 posts
Garn Las Cairn(s)
1 post
Garn Wen Cairn(s)
1 post
Garreg Fawr (Llanfihangel Nant Bran) Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Gelli-Nedd Hillfort
3 posts
Gilestone Standing Stone / Menhir
25 posts
The Growing Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
12 posts
Gro Hill Cairn(s)
39 posts
Gwernvale Chambered Tomb
11 posts
Gwern Wyddog Standing Stone / Menhir
10 posts
Hafen (Drum Ddu) Cairn(s)
16 posts
Hafen stone pair Stone Row / Alignment
2 posts
Hillis Camp, Llanfilo Hillfort
26 posts
Little Lodge Long Barrow
8 posts
Llangenny Standing Stone / Menhir
9 posts
Llangenny Camp Enclosure
9 posts
Llangynidr Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Llanwrthwl Churchyard Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
13 posts
Llech Lia Enclosure
20 posts
Llorfa Stone Circle
19 posts
Llorfa Cairn(s)
7 posts
Llorfa menhir Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Llwyncelyn-Fawr Hillfort
12 posts
Lower Neuadd Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Maen Cam Standing Stone / Menhir
7 posts
Maen Hir Standing Stone / Menhir
118 posts
Maen Llia Standing Stone / Menhir
28 posts
Maen Llwyd (Twyn Du) Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Maen Richard Standing Stone / Menhir
12 posts
Moel Feity Round Cairn
15 posts
Mynydd Bychan Platform Cairn
1 post
3 sites
Mynydd Epynt (Eastern)
7 posts
Mynydd Illtyd Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Mynydd Llangatwg Cairn(s)
9 posts
Mynydd Llangorse Cairn(s)
22 posts
Mynydd Llangorse promontory fort Promontory Fort
4 posts
Mynydd Llysiau, Black Mountains Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
32 posts
Mynydd Pen-y-Fal Cairn(s)
20 posts
Mynydd Troed Chambered Cairn
16 posts
Mynydd Troed cairn Cairn(s)
21 posts
Nant-y-Llyn, Y Mynydd Du Round Cairn
1 post
Nant-y-Wern Stone Row / Alignment
3 posts
Nant Bwch Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Nant Cwm Dwfn Standing Stone / Menhir
33 posts
Nant Mawr, Fforest Fawr Cairn(s)
16 posts
Nant Tarthwyni Hillfort
72 posts
Nant Tarw Stone Circle
6 posts
Neuadd Glan-Gwy Standing Stone / Menhir
8 posts
Newbridge on Wye Standing Stone / Menhir
Odyn-fach Stone Circle
17 posts
Pant Llwyd Cairn(s)
11 posts
Pant Madog Round Cairn
1 post
Penffawyddog Enclosure
2 posts
Pen-Rhiw-Wen Hillfort
31 posts
Pen-y-Beacon Cist
45 posts
Pen-y-Beacon Stone Circle
61 posts
Pen-y-Fan Cairn(s)
8 posts
Pen-y-Gorllwyn Cairn(s)
2 posts
Pen-y-Gorllwyn Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Pen-yr-Allt Enclosure
7 posts
Pen-yr-Heol Las Cairn(s)
23 posts
Penyrwrlodd Long Cairn
26 posts
Pen-y-Wyrlod Long Cairn
30 posts
Pen Allt-Mawr Cairn(s)
17 posts
Pen Caenewydd, Mynydd Myddfai Cairn(s)
35 posts
Pen Cerrig-Calch Cairn(s)
13 posts
Pen Gloch-y-pibwr Cairn(s)
11 posts
Pen Maen Wern Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Pen Tir Round Cairn
20 posts
Pen Trumau, Black Mountains Cairn(s)
29 posts
Pen y Crug Hillfort
27 posts
Pen y Gadair Fawr Round Cairn
4 posts
Pen y Waun Dwr Round Cairn
6 posts
Pen y Waun Dwr Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
9 posts
Pipton Long Cairn
3 posts
Plas-y-Gaer, Allt Ddu Hillfort
11 posts
Pwll-yr-Wydden Fach Round Cairn
11 posts
Pwll Byfre Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
12 posts
Rhos-y-Gelynnen Stone Row / Alignment
5 posts
Rhyd-wen Fach stone setting Stone Circle
17 posts
Rhyd Uchaf Cairn(s)
1 post
Saith Maen Stone Row / Alignment
31 posts
Saith Maen Stone Row / Alignment
16 posts
Slwch Tump Hillfort
2 posts
Spread Eagle Cursus (Destroyed)
9 posts
Standard Street Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Talgarth Camp Hillfort
6 posts
Tor Glas Round Cairn
12 posts
The Tretower Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Tre Durn Wood Enclosure
15 posts
Tump Wood Camp Hillfort
5 sites
Twr Pen-cyrn Complex
49 posts
Twr y Fan Foel Round Cairn
13 posts
Twynau Gwynion Cairn(s)
2 posts
Twyn-Llechfaen Enclosure
15 posts
Twyn-y-Beddau Round Barrow(s)
12 posts
Twyn-y-Gaer (Mynydd Illtyd) Hillfort
2 posts
Twyn-y-Gaer (Trallong) Enclosure
1 post
Twyn Ceiliog Cairn(s)
12 posts
Twyn Garreg-Wen Cairn(s)
6 posts
Tyle Bychan Standing Stone / Menhir
11 posts
Tyle Mawr Cairn(s)
21 posts
Ty'n Y Graig, Craig Cnwch Cairn(s)
1 post
Tywn-Y-Gaer (near Llaneglwys) Enclosure
21 posts
Ty Illtyd Chambered Tomb
11 posts
Ty Isaf Chambered Cairn
5 posts
Ty Mawr Standing Stone / Menhir
22 posts
Upper Neuadd cairns Cairn(s)
1 post
Varlen Cairn, Traianmawr Cairn(s)
1 post
Waunewydd Standing Stone / Menhir
9 posts
Waun, Cwmdeuddwr Round Cairn
35 posts
Waun Leuci Standing Stone / Menhir
5 posts
Waun Leuci cairn Round Cairn
15 posts
Waun Leuci stone setting Stone Setting
13 posts
Waun Leuci summit Round Barrow(s)
9 posts
Waun Lydan Standing Stone / Menhir
12 posts
Waun Sarn Cairn(s)
5 posts
Wern Frank Wood Cairn(s)
15 posts
Ynys Hir Stone Circle
1 post
Ysgubor-Wen Cairn(s)
14 posts
Y Das Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Y Gaer (Defynnog) Enclosure
14 posts
Y Gamriw Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
8 posts
Y Gamriw (North) Cairn(s)
42 posts
Y Pigwn Stone Circle
14 posts
Y Pigwn Cairns Cairn(s)
Sites of disputed antiquity:
3 posts
Fennifach Standing Stone / Menhir
3 posts
Ffynnon Ishow Sacred Well
5 posts
Llanhamlach Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Maen Gweddiau Natural Rock Feature
18 posts
Maen Madoc Standing Stone / Menhir
3 posts
Nant yr Ychen Round Cairn

Latest posts for Brecknockshire

Showing 1-10 of 2,937 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Esgair Ceiliog (Ring Cairn) — Fieldnotes

It's always struck me as significant - if not telling - that (the then West) Germany led the way in redefining popular music during the final decades of the 20th Century - Kraftwerk's techno-pop influencing Bowie and thus driving the post-punk electronic explosion - since when a society's immediate past history is so horrific, one can only look to the future, right? Appropriately enough, I reckon Hamburger Peter Heppner nailed this sense of Teutonic emancipation/alienation from the past in Wolfsheim's wondrous 'Kein Zurück' in 2003: "Und was jetzt ist wird nie mehr so geschehen; Es geht kein Weg zurück (And what is now will never happen again; There is no way back)". But is this truly a healthy, progressive worldview and not one simply borne from an inability to face the past, at least for now? Is the past really irrelevant? And if so, what does that say about us 'Modern Antiquarians' so intent upon trying to understand how our pre-history moulded us into what we are today? For better or worse. Sure, we cannot physically 'go back', but is it possible to understand - or at least gain a tenuous insight into - the minds of our forebears? And then what use would that be?

On balance I reckon that, while we can take elements of such a German mindset to heart - don't dwell upon negative emotions etc - the truth should always win out if we are to have any future at all. Orlando Battista once said 'An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it', which I guess is another way of highlighting we homo sapiens' propensity to learn far more by 'ballsing things up' than by acting with the technical precision of, well... Die Mensch-Maschine. It follows, therefore, that one has to try to understand the past to enable any attempt to avoid the mistakes of our history/pre-history?

Of all the negative human emotions it is perhaps 'regret' which is, in the long run, the most damaging if left untreated, gnawing away at one's inner self like a rodent through an electrical cable... or corroding the mind like the blood of H R Giger's myopically savage beastie through a spaceship's hull. Sooner or later something's gotta give, right? Now don't get me wrong, there are many, many worse things in this life than neglecting to visit a prime archaeological site, when in any given locale, due to ignorance of its existence. Nevertheless, I'd wager you won't deny it can be galling not to have taken chances to accomplish something worthwhile, particularly regarding this 'outdoor exploration' lark, where opportunities can be fleeting, fitness not what it once was... the 'tweak' in the knee progressively more pronounced as the years pass. Yeah, none of us is getting any younger. As the gorgeously bonkers Roisin Murphy emphatically stated some years back, the time is always 'NOW'.

The thought occurs early morning as I scan the map at my wild camp above Cwm Ystwyth: do I really want to reprise a visit to Cwm Paradwys in order to see a cairn I happened to miss out on a few years back? Just the one, requiring a half-day at most... when I could experience something brand new instead. I mean let's face it, things are never as exciting the second time around, are they? Luckily, in retrospect, I conclude I should take the opportunity to correct the 'error' since ignorance, as in law, is ultimately no defence. Besides, I seem to recall that image on Coflein did appear rather tasty. The drive southwards through Cwmdeuddwr shadows the sinuous course of the Afon Elan, the artificially corralled waters of which wait patiently behind successive masterpieces of Victorian engineering prowess pending onward progress. Eventually, I reach the southern-most reservoir (Dolymynach) and park up by the 'phonebox' - remember them? - at SN901616. Crossing the Afon Claerwen (flowing from the massive reservoir collecting the copious run-off of western Elenydd at road's end), I veer right at the medieval longhouse of Llannerch-y-cawr to join the track accessing Cwm Rhiwnant, experiencing a flash of deja-vu as I do so. Nevertheless, it is pleasant to experience the walk once again, what with sunlight streaming through the cloud mantle and that special ambience of cascading water below me releasing the endorphins.

To the west(ish), the crags of Craig y Llysiau are surmounted by a standing stone which, if you are that way inclined, may be of interest (I must confess that solitary monoliths have to be in the 'Maen Llia league' for me to consider a primary visit). Continuing onwards, a fine view into Cwm Rhiwnant soon manifests itself as I begin to gain height, the topography of Dalrhiw suggestive of it being a good viewpoint. Duly noted, the track veers to the south, a headwall waterfall hinting at what lies above and beyond: Cwm Paradwys. A little before Carreg y Fedw, that is just beyond a right-hand fork, the track swings abruptly uphill to the left. I, however, maintain my approach line scrambling up the rough slope to attain the green track traversing the cwm... all the way to Bwlch y Ddau Faen and Carnau if one wishes... or even the legendary Drygarn Fawr itself! Err, not today thanks. Yeah, I've smaller 'fish to fry', albeit - as it will transpire - only in terms of overall effort, not quality.

More-or-less opposite the final cascade of the Nant Paradwys, I exit the magnificent stage left and climb steeply to the top of the crags of Esgair Ceiliog, expecting to see my goal, the ring cairn, visible below to the north-east. To be fair.... it is. But not so as I can recognise it with my hopeless peepers first time of asking. More obvious, even to the likes of me, is the great Waun cairn crowning the hillside to my right (SN897599); an essential visit for any Citizen Cairn'd who may not have had the pleasure. As for myself, it takes an uncomfortable period of (quite literally) stumbling around within the trademark tall 'tufty grass' of Cwmdeuddwr (perhaps only rivalled by Pumlumon when it comes to pitiless disregard for the traveller) before I glimpse stone upon the sloping hillside beyond.

To say it is worth the effort is akin to reluctantly conceding Mozart may have written a few 'half-decent tunes' back in the day. In short, this is, in my estimation, a truly exquisite ring cairn set in perhaps as vibey a location as one could possibly wish for, given the physical outlay required to get here. Let's face it, if any other punter was to disturb you at Esgair Ceiliog, verily, I'd eat my hat. And if you could see my hat, well.... OK, as with numerous other monuments gracing the Cwmdeuddwr Hills, the outlook is more 'aquatic' in nature than originally intended by the architects; that being said, it's certainly none too shabby with Rhos y Gelynnen (incidentally the site of a fine stone row) rising beyond Craig Llannerch-y-cawr to the immediate north, the gaze panning rightward across the Dolymynach and Caban-coch Reservoirs to rest upon the be-cairned skyline of Gro Hill, memorably blundered about upon last year.

As regards the archaeology on display... Bill and Ted's 'Excellent!' comes to mind (with a Copeian 'bass air guitar' for added emphasis), the ring cairn possessing a well-preserved - in fact more-or-less complete - circular footprint, the whole low lying construction forming a curiously grey interlude within a veritable rolling sea of various shades of green. At once distinct from, yet remaining an integral part of, this hillside. In fact, there's nothing for it but to lie back and follow suit for a few hours. For those who may want to do the Maths, Coflein notes:

"...a stony ring bank 2.5m-3.5m wide and up to 0.5m high with overall measurements of 12.5m from east to west by 11.5m from north to south. There is no entrance gap in the bank." [D.K.Leighton, RCAHMW, 8/8/2005]

With a couple of hours still in the 'bank' before I must return to the car, I reject a return to the Waun cairn in favour of a quick shufty into Cwm Rhiwarth from the top of Dalrhiw. Simple enough, right? Haha. Yeah, right. Crossing the Nant Paradwys at the waterfall I'm immediately reminded once again why it's no mean feat to venture 'off-piste' upon the Cwmdeuddwr Hills, the terrain ludicrously rough underfoot to the point of allusions to purgatory. Furthermore, the sky, relatively benign earlier in the day, is now growing progressively darker and darker. The profile of Carnau appears upon the southern skyline as I reach the 'summit', such as it is, of the hill. A few spots of rain... and suddenly I know what's coming. Nevertheless, the electrical storm hits before the waterproofs are in place, but I'm OK. For now. That is until the thunder booms out, echoing off nearby crags with a ferocity that fair short-circuits logical thought. Odin! Yeah, is it any wonder why people came to such supernatural conclusions back then when faced with such Super Natural, mind-blowing occurrences?

Lightning follows, flashes of electricity arcing across the sky uncomfortably near at hand. Hey, did that one just hit the ground? Yes, No? Whooah! This is now serious. I'm engulfed by that peculiar juxtaposition of exhilaration and genuine fear, impossible to categorise, truly alive. Let's keep it that way, eh? High on adrenalin, I throw my trekking poles as far away from me as I can and sit upon the rucksack to ride out Nature's furious onslaught. My mind resurrects vivid memories of a similar time upon The Black Mountains with the intrepid Mam C... and visions of the monument to Mike Aspain (RIP) upon Drws Bach, high up in The Arans.

The storm recedes... as Odin sees fit to lay his hammer to one side again... or whatever. The air washed - nay, scrubbed, thrashed - clean by the preceding atmospheric shenanigans, is a joy to breathe, sunshine streaming across the landscape as vivid gold as old Tut's death mask. Not that I've seen the latter first hand, you understand? Perhaps it's the sheer relief, or senses at the top of their game maybe? Take your pick. However, as Govan's finest Rab C would say, I will tell you this: even being aware of how/why such natural phenomena occur I can fully appreciate why mountain folk of times past thought what they did. Perhaps one needs the practical lesson to obtain the insight?

Distant ominous rumbles remind me that I shouldn't press my luck, so I begin the descent to the banks of the Afon Rhiwarth. Despite evidence of historic mining, Cwm Rhiwarth is an attractive environment defined by Craig y Dalrhiw to the south and Craig Rhiwarth north, the latter topped by the standing stone mentioned earlier. I follow the river eastwards until a ford allows access across the Nant y Dyrys at its confluence. It is a beautiful spot by any criterion, a nearby footbridge across the primary watercourse suggestive of other possibilities to be investigated some other time perhaps? For now I must reverse my outward steps to the car, reaching its rubber-insulated sanctuary without any further cacophonous incident.

You know, there's something to relish about voluntarily experiencing life in what might be termed its 'base' or 'raw' form... as long as nothing permanently detrimental occurs, naturally. Yeah, tell me about it! Brief interludes to offset against - to apply a critical lens to - everyday existence. If we're lucky normality, on balance, is revealed to be tolerable enough, subject to the inevitable variability of the grass hues subject to location, as they say. The key to such an insight is, in my opinion, experiencing some aspects of the way we used to live in order to obtain a different viewpoint, one based upon verifiable evidence and not some loon saying stuff 'just because. Since Mr Well's time machine is yet to be perfected, I reckon our best bet is to use the past as a yardstick for where we are... and where we might want to go. I guess that probably includes revisiting errors before they become mistakes.

Although needless to say, if I had have been fried by bolts from the heavens on Dalrhiw I might well possess a different viewpoint on that. Been inspired to write that follow up to 'Reynard The Fox', perhaps? Or it might have ended right there and then upon that hilltop... Yeah, makes a chap think, doesn't it? Always a good thing.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
4th April 2021ce

Twynau Gwynion (Cairn(s)) — Links

Waun-y-Gwair (Twynau Gwynion), Brecon Beacons


Freezing winter's day upon Waun-y-Gwair (Twynau Gwynion) SO07621198, looking to the heart of The Brecon Beacons
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
31st March 2021ce

Hafen stone pair (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

There is an extended section within Dexy's 'difficult' third album - perhaps one of the '80's lost classics? - during which frontman Kevin Rowland attempts to convey the 'essence' of his girlfriend to guitarist Billy Adams. Now, to be fair, it may appear a straightforward enough question by the latter: "What's she like?" Nevertheless, one is subsequently awestruck by the sheer stoicism exhibited by the erstwhile associate as Rowland resorts to a series of 'whoahs', trademark 'strangled yelps' and assorted guttural utterances to (finally) make himself understood by his wingman. Yeah, even with the almost infinite nuances of the English language at his disposal, clearly, where the emotional content is too intense, sometimes words are not enough. Despite being the catalyst - along with the dextrous opposable thumb - for the arrogant supposed primacy of us homo sapiens over the other non-microbial species inhabiting this crazy, spinning globe, there would appear to exist a threshold, an unseen, yet all too real barrier, beyond which the vernacular is of little, if no further use? Where we must delve into the deepest recesses of the human brain searching for reference points... for precedents from our primordial past.... in an attempt to articulate how we feel. The 'howl' of anguish, the 'whoop' of joy. To discover, beneath the thin veneer of civilisation applied by successive agricultural, industrial and information revolutions, that we differ so little from our so-called 'primitive' forebears at base level - indeed, from other coexistent life forms; the absurd Victorian notion of humankind 'created in god's image' starkly laid bare as the sham it is... when our crowning achievement - compositional language - cannot cope with the range of our experience.

Sure, it could be alleged that we know a lot about the world these days. Why, anyone with internet access can now espouse fact after fact at the click of a mouse, or swipe of a smart screen. But what IS knowledge without context? Indeed, what use are facts without the means to utilise them for the common good? Perhaps T S Eliot summed up our dilemma as well as any in 1934:

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?.."

Eliot, of course, was writing convinced of the surety of his Anglo-catholic tenets, the implication being religion is the ultimate source of wisdom, offering pre-formed 'templates' for living. For what it's worth, I agree with the entreaty but disagree with the conjecture, rather suggesting personal knowledge lies in experience... collective knowledge - or 'wisdom' - in corroborated experience. Not in uncritical acceptance of the spew of 'information' Kraftwerk warned us was a'coming in 1981 - let alone ancient so-called 'holy' texts - but in the personal journey. That, in other words, Darwin was right: there is no higher authority to defer to for clarity, life simply making it up as we go along. We are all 'winging it', so to speak. To learn, we must therefore boldly go. Yeah, any 'meaning' inherent in existence is down to us alone. And if the words do not come, improvise.

To perhaps illustrate my (no doubt rather vague) point, consider the pair of small standing stones located a little to the south-west of the highest point of Cwmdeuddwr's Hafen, an archetypally truncated hill rising to the south of the bustling Mid Walian market town of Rhayader. Not referenced upon either the current 1:50k nor 1:25k OS maps, Coflein notes the following:

"Remains of a stone alignment on the SW-facing flanks of Drum Ddu.... aligned from NE to SW along the ridge of the summit. Both stones measure c. 0.9m in height, 0.7m in width and 0.3m in thickness; they are situated 17.5m apart.." [FF/RCAHMW 09.05.2007].

So, we have the technical detail, granted. But, crucially, there is no image. Nothing to 'speak to', to communicate with the human psyche on an emotional, or what we might refer to as 'artistic' level. The prospective visitor, therefore, finds himself reprising Kev's conundrum: 'What are they like?' I mean REALLY like? Why expend serious effort to visit a couple of stones stuck on, or rather in, a hilltop? More to the point, why did people put them up there, in that inhospitable location, in the first place? Yeah, I guess it is the subsequent response to such questions which drives the Modern Antiquarian (or not, as the case may be) to attempt to define that which, perhaps, can not be defined.

I confess that I do not start quite from scratch, a dimly recalled memory of an image posted by TMA user Cerrig (noted for a predilection for fieldwork over and above the 'armchair' PC-based theorising advocated by others) surfacing from the depths of my subconscious, like a compromised submarine, as I attempt to match the prevailing weather conditions to the 'bad-but-not-that-bad' potential itinerary over the breakfast granola. Yeah, that'll do. The starting point is not exactly terra incognita, the terminus of the minor road heading approx south-west from the village of Llanwrthwl the springboard for a number of expeditions over the years. Nevertheless, I turn too early approaching from the A470 and follow the course of the River Wye for a while before realisation dawns: should've continued past the church (to its right) before swinging to the left. D'oh! The tarmac ends at the access track to Erwllyn, the route continuing as green trackway toward Cwm Chwefri, beneath the seriously be-cairned escarpment of Y Gamriw (the latter an essential visit for the dedicated Citizen Cairn'd in its own right). I manage to park - with consummate care since space is very limited for the considerate - before setting off along the aforementioned track.

In my opinion the walk is worth undertaking for no other reason than to experience the 'ambience' of the looming hills, regardless of any deviation to the extensive archaeology that surmounts them. For me, it is this unspoken, yet nevertheless subtly communicated aura of unforced existence, of things being the way they are simply by default, that represents the quintessence of the Cwmdeuddwr Hills. That's not to say it's a cosy, sugar-coated impression. Far from it. Copious evidence of recent rainfall combines with the heavy, leaden sky to portend a soaking for the unprepared; the uniform topography of the surrounding heights, devoid of what one might term traditional 'mountain' features, is somewhat bleakly disconcerting - threatening even, in a 'Dartmoor-esque' manner - alluding to navigational issues within hill fog which frequently blankets the locale. Yet, despite this - or perhaps because of this? - this visitor feels at home.

A half-mile (or so) along the track a path branches right to ascend the as-near-as-dammit 2,000ft Y Gamriw and so access its formidable array of cairns... and to the left for the somewhat lower Drum Ddu, crowned by the Bronze Age 'Carn-y-Geifr' ('Cairn of the Goats') at its north-eastern apex. I follow the latter, initially passing through the great cairn cemetery 'Carnau Cefn-y-Fordd', a primary visit if ever there was one owing to the very considerable footprint of several of the monuments, not to mention ethereal vibe. However, I've been here before.... and Cerrig's image is driving me onward. And, hopefully, upward. Yeah, just what lies upon that ridge? I mean, what is it really like? Having decided to stop off on the way back, I put my head down and make for the 'summit' of Hafen, this distinguished by a very marshy lake (or lakes, subject to the water table?). My navigational prowess, for once, proves adequate for the task in hand and I eventually spy two small orthostats beyond the crest.... ostensibly just as Coflein describes, complete with a small, associated cairn a little way to approx north-east. Needless to say, however, Coflein actually can not begin to convey what it is like to be here. What with the sun having seen fit to slip through a crack in the sullen cloud mantle and illuminate the hillside, the best I can manage is an involuntary series of exclamations more reminiscent of the anarchic pages of Viz than anything else... and certainly not appropriate for a community web-site. We'll leave Dexys Midnight Runners out of this, methinks. Such is the sublime perfection of the stone pair's placement within the landscape - sweeping vistas drawing the eye towards Gorwllyn, Drygarn Fawr and the Cwmdeuddwr heartland to the west, Builth Wells to south-west and Y Gamriw to north-west (etc) - that the visitor can be forgiven, I think, for failing in the poetry stakes.

And there's more: according to Cerrig, there is method in this aesthetically pleasing madness, the stones apparently being erected upon a summer solstice sunrise/winter solstice sunset alignment. So there you are, quite literally the implications are cosmic. 'Whoah!' Yeah, one can be told such things... but it means little, if anything, without personal context. To stand and gawp at Nature's doodling and subsequent attempt by local humankind to effect some emotional 'connection' with the planet... with existence... with notions extending beyond the mundane to consider what it means to be human. To gain some insight beyond the capacity of mere words regarding just 'who we are'. As Dave Gahan once observed, ultimately 'words are very, unnecessary'. OK, a clumsy Martin Gore-ism, granted. But true nonetheless. Once the inability to verbally articulate is noted - even to oneself, as humans are apt to do on occasion - other media must be employed, whatever they may be. Yeah, at such times one can only sit back and enjoy the silence. So I do, the waterproofs serving their purpose when the weather, inevitably, periodically changes the available palette of light. And time flies. Well, doesn't it just?

The map depicts a cairn - Pantmaenllwyd - some way to the south-west. However, I concede that the combined distance/height loss will be too much for me today. However, I'm aware there are (apparently, since again not shown upon the map) a couple of cairns gracing this wonderful landscape somewhat nearer to hand at SN95675937. Certainly worth a look.....

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/19763/hafen_drum_ddu.html

Returning a couple of hours later - I think, could be wrong... since time appears to blur up here, the visitor consumed by a paradoxical perception of stark reality (wind, rain, cold) co-existing with, well, I don't know what... a sense of transcending the here and now, as if peeking beyond a door ajar to somewhere where time has no meaning - it is clear that I am truly in thrall to this place. Yeah, a couple of small, intentionally(?) 'wonky' stones stand upon an obscure Mid Walian height. Why bother? Well, until we can learn to truly articulate what our ancestors, perhaps, were attuned to from our hunter-gatherer days... the subliminal forces which other species with more 'calibrated' senses relate to in everyday life - e.g the Earth's magnetic field - I cannot answer that. As with sexual attraction, it's a personal thing. To travel to spots such as this and experience is, perhaps, everything. To be able to say, in the words of the great South Walian comedian Max Boyce, 'I know. Cos I was there!'

Jolted out of 'the mist' - as I recall Cope once referred to this mind-set - by a glance at the watch, I realise I still have to make my way back to the car in order to camp up before dark. The ubiquitous upland ponies regard the lone figure forcing his way - occasionally stumbling, at other times sinking - through the tall summer fern and bog with an apparent fusion of fear/curiosity as I give up all pretence of remaining dry-shod. Great rock piles materialise around me as I pause to survey the scene: Carnau Cefn-y-Fordd. All is silent, save the wind acting upon my jacket and the familiar calls of (now similarly unseen) Equus caballus.. neigh, neigh and... well, not quite, Francis. As it happens I do not like to reprise previous visits to 'lowland' sites - not when there remains so much that is new to see - but the urge is inexorable. Standing in the 'bwlch' between Y Gamriw and Drum Ddu/Hafen, the landscape context of this great Bronze Age cemetery is now all too obvious, the vibe hanging in the air like overwhelming humidity before the storm. The thought occurs: why aren't places such as this and its surrounding hills venerated and cherished to even a fraction of the degree of, say, Stonehenge or Avebury? I would attempt an answer, but, as usual... I don't have the words.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
25th February 2021ce

Nant Cwm Dwfn (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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Hafen stone pair (Stone Row / Alignment) — Images

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Esgair Ceiliog (Ring Cairn) — Images

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