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Radnorshire

<b>Radnorshire</b>Posted by MothThe Four Stones © Tim Clark
Also known as:
  • Sir Faesyfed

See individual sites for details

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Web searches for Radnorshire

Sites in this group:

71 posts
Bache Hill and the Whimble Round Barrow(s)
10 posts
Banc Cynnydd, Cwmdeuddwr Cairn(s)
7 posts
1 site
Banc Trehesglog, Cwmdeuddwr Stone Row / Alignment
14 posts
Banc Ystrad-Wen Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
12 posts
Beacon Hill Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
6 posts
The Beacon (Llandrindod) Cairn(s)
17 posts
Beddau Folau Chambered Cairn
4 posts
Beggar's Bush Round Barrow(s)
17 posts
Black Mixen Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Blaen Henllan Cairn(s)
3 posts
Broomy Hill Standing Stone / Menhir
12 posts
Bryn y Maen Stone Row / Alignment
4 posts
Bryn y Maen fallen monolith Standing Stone / Menhir
27 posts
Burfa Camp Hillfort
11 posts
Carneddau Hill (Builth Wells) Round Cairn
12 posts
Carn Nant-y-Ffald Cist
Carn Ricet Cairn(s)
8 posts
Carn Wen, Cwmdeuddwr Round Cairn
9 posts
Carn Wen (Gwastedyn) Cairn(s)
7 posts
Carn Wen, Llanwrthwl Round Cairn
8 posts
Carregwiber Hillfort
7 posts
Carregwiber (stone 1) Standing Stone / Menhir
7 posts
Carreg Bica Round Cairn
24 posts
Castle Bank Hillfort
18 posts
Castle Ring Hillfort
10 posts
Cefn-y-Gaer Hillfort
9 posts
Cefn Ceidio Round Barrow(s)
6 posts
Cefn Llyn Standing Stone / Menhir
4 posts
Cefn Wylfre Stone Circle
2 posts
Church of St Michael Christianised Site
6 posts
Clap yr Arian Cairn(s)
8 posts
Clyro Court Farm Long Barrow
6 posts
Creggin Cairn(s)
5 posts
Crossfield Lane barrow Round Barrow(s)
6 posts
Crossfoot Farm Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Crossway Barrow Round Barrow(s)
12 posts
Crugyn Gwyddel Cairn(s)
6 posts
Cwmade Round Barrow(s)
14 posts
Cwm Berwyn, Carneddau (Builth Wells) Promontory Fort
30 posts
Cwm Bwch, Great Rhos Round Barrow(s)
7 posts
Cwm Maerdy Standing Stone / Menhir
5 posts
Cwm Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
9 posts
Domen-ddu Cairn(s)
11 posts
Esgair Beddau, Cwmdeuddwr Cairn(s)
7 posts
Esgair y Llwyn, Cwmdeuddwr Cairn(s)
6 posts
Fedw Stone Circle
9 posts
Fedw Llwyd Round Barrow(s)
6 posts
Ffrwd Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
59 posts
The Four Stones Stone Circle
21 posts
Gelli Hill Stone Circle
10 posts
Gelli Hill Cairn Cairn(s)
8 posts
Gelli Hill stone Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Giants Grave Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
5 posts
Gilfach Hill Enclosure
7 posts
Gilwern Hill Cairn(s)
1 post
Glascwm Mill Cottages Round Barrow(s)
11 posts
Graig Camp Hillfort
1 post
Groddwr Bank Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Gwern Dyfnant Round Barrow(s)
3 posts
Harpton Court Barrow Round Barrow(s)
3 posts
Hindwell Cursus Cursus (Destroyed)
4 posts
Hindwell Enclosure Enclosure
8 posts
Hindwell round barrow group Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
1 post
Hundred House Common Round Barrow(s)
20 posts
Kinnerton Court Stone I Standing Stone / Menhir
13 posts
Kinnerton Court Stone II Standing Stone / Menhir
8 posts
Knobley Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Knobley Brook barrow Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Lane Farm Round Barrow(s)
8 posts
Lan Fraith Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Larch Grove Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Little Hill cairn II Cairn(s)
1 post
Little Hill cairn III Cairn(s)
4 posts
Little Hill VII Round Barrow(s)
6 posts
Llandegley Rocks Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
6 posts
Llanerch Stone Cup Marked Stone
1 post
Llanfihangel Nant Melan Round Barrow(s)
9 posts
Lluest Aber Caethon, Cwmdeuddwr Round Barrow(s)
4 posts
Llyn Dwr Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Llyn Gwyn Enclosure
6 posts
Maengwyngweddw Standing Stone / Menhir
1 post
Maesgwyn Mound Round Barrow(s)
25 posts
Marteg Valley Kerbed Cairn
1 post
Milton Hill Round Barrow(s)
3 posts
Old Stone (Pant-y-Caregl) Standing Stone / Menhir
5 posts
Pawl Hir Ring Cairn
1 post
Pegwn Bach Cairn(s)
2 posts
Pennant Pound Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Pen Cae Newydd Round Barrow(s)
10 posts
Rhiw Afon, Cwmdeuddwr Round Cairn
22 posts
Rhiw Porthnant Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
1 post
Rhos-Goch Chapel Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Shepherd's Tump Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Six Stones Stone Circle
4 posts
Twyn-y-Big Cairn(s)
14 posts
Ty Lettice Round Barrow(s)
12 posts
The Van Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
2 posts
Walton Green Cursus Cursus (Destroyed)
1 post
Wern-y-Gaufron Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Windy Hall Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Womaston Causewayed Enclosure
9 posts
Y Gaer, Llanddewi Ystradenni Hillfort
Sites of disputed antiquity:
6 posts
Hindwell Pool
8 posts
Hindwell Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
18 posts
Maen Serth Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Moll Walbee's Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
6 posts
Old Radnor Church Christianised Site

Miscellaneous

Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
Maybe it's relevant, maybe it's not, but there are a number of distinctive conical hills near Old Radnor: Stanner Rocks, Worsell Wood, Hanter Hill. Apparently these contain some of the oldest rocks in Wales - Precambrian and 700 million years old. Old Radnor was called 'Pen-y-Graig': 'head of the rock'. The geology means Stanner Rocks supports some pretty strange and rare plants, and it was said: "by the common people it is called the Devil's Garden." You can't help wondering where the stones for the local monuments came from. Probably.

"The Cambrian Balnea: Or Guide to the Watering Places of Wales, Marine and Inland" by Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn Prichard (1825).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th September 2007ce

Extracted from "Betwixt & Between" by Mary Dodsworth and Iain Steele in "The Cauldron" no.115), themselves drawing on "The Folklore of Radnorshire" by Roy Palmer :-
Beguildy church, on raised site by River Teme, probably a B.A. settlement.
Bleddfa church on a B.A. mound.
Bryngwyn: The Six Stones near N boundary of village is a stone circle of ~12 stones.
Llanfihangel Cascob cut into a burial mound.
Llanfihangel Cefnllys a B.A. site. I.A. fort on Cefnllys Hill turned into mediaeval castle.
Discoed church south of a five millenium old yew - a circular site about an antient mound and a Neolithic tree.
Disserth church a circular site with a well nearby formerly dressed with mistletoe.
Kinnerton church within an earlier circular wall. By the road to Old Radnor there is a standing stone.
Llanbister church has tower behind altar, at the E end. Sulfur well overlooks church.
Llandegley church very late, healing well on Cymaron riverbank side nearby.
Llandeio Graban tower bedroom for last Welsh dragon.
Llandewi Ystradenni. Giant's burial at Tomen Beddugre nearby.
Llanelwedd church has thity tumuli within half-a-mile and a lost standing stone.
Llanfihangel Nant Melan ringed by ancient yews, with one holding solitary remnant of a stone circle.
Nantmel church has 6 two millenia old yews in precinct. 2 standing stones called the Devil's Clogs on nearby Tan-y-cefn farm.
Old Radnor church font cut from fifth stone of Four Stones group at edge of Kinnerton-Walton road. In 1994 a vast stone circle revealed from the air in the Radnor valley - probably defined by 1400 oaks, it covers 34 hectares but doesn't have a precise location !
Pilleth church has well behind that was resorted to by people with eye problems.
St. Harmon chuch first dedication in Wales, but he wasn't buried in Bedd Harmon near it. Two stone circles also near, though Cwm y Saeson only has two stones left out of 14 and that on Hendre Rhiw farm only one of 5. Dogs and people treated by sulfur spring on Temple Bar farm.
Whitton church lies in an earlier circular llan.
wideford Posted by wideford
5th March 2005ce

Latest posts for Radnorshire

Showing 1-10 of 897 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Castle Bank (Hillfort) — Links

A quick glimpse of a rather fine hillfort in exceptional countryside.


GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
1st April 2021ce

Esgair y Llwyn, Cwmdeuddwr (Cairn(s)) — Links

Looking across to Esgair y Llwyn from Esgair Rhiwlan


GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
1st April 2021ce

Crugyn Gwyddel (Cairn(s)) — Links

A bracing, 360-degree view from Crugyn Gwyddel, Esgair Pen-y-Garreg, Cwmdeuddwr Hills


GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
31st March 2021ce

Cwm Berwyn, Carneddau (Builth Wells) (Promontory Fort) — Links

Cwm Berwyn Promontory Fort


Overlooking the beautiful Cwm Berwyn within Y Carneddau, a small range of hills to the north-east of Builth Wells.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
31st March 2021ce

Carneddau Hill (Builth Wells) (Round Cairn) — Links

Glorious - if rather wobbly - panoramic views from the great cairn upon Carneddau Hill


GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
28th March 2021ce

Banc Trehesglog, Cwmdeuddwr (Stone Row / Alignment) — Fieldnotes

Back in the car following the conclusion of my morning/early afternoon sojourn upon Esgair y Llyn....

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/19837/esgair_y_llwyn_cwmdeuddwr.html

.... the rather 'noticeable' precipitation upon the roof renders thoughts of the removal of waterproofs for the short drive to Esgair Pen-y-Garreg superfluous to requirements.. as our Irish friends might well have observed, the weather 'throwing cobblers knives'. That being said, I do find it advisable to remove those clunky boots to minimise the chances of careering off the road to one's doom, however. Better 'safe' than potentially not even being accorded the opportunity to be 'sorry'. Anyway, the road, upon being joined by that ascending from the Pont ar Elan, proceeds to climb steeply up the southern shoulder of Moel Geufron to then traverse the wild hinterland, the high moor swelling up to an apogee at Pen Rhiw-wen, prior to descending sharply to the pleasant market town of Rhayader. This is one of the busiest routes upon The Cwmdeuddwr Hills catering for a wide diversity of traffic: muppet 'off-road' aficionados in shiny new 4x4s sharing tarmacadam with farmers in battered Subaru pickups towing 'Ifor Williams' livestock trailers overflowing with bleating, wide-eyed sheep; camper vans that even Scooby Doo and the gang would perhaps baulk at travelling in; local tradesman in ostensibly 'white' vans (the kind hilarious workmates are liable to inscribe 'Clean Me Please' upon with dirty fingers... if it was not for the heavy Mid Walian rain) engaged upon unknown errands; and that class of visitor everyone else cannot even begin to fathom: The Modern Antiquarian. I mean, walking around in the pouring rain gawping at old stones.... like, what's all that about?

This is the well-known face of the Elan Valley locale, the first sight of 'wilderness' encountered by the more curious tourist electing to check out the mountain road alluringly signposted from Rhayader. Yeah 'mountain road' does have an enticing 'ring' to those living in urbanity, doesn't it? I must confess, even after some thirty-odd years doing this sort of thing - careful now - it still does the trick for me, heightens the pulse somewhat above the norm... gives expression - a voice - to that 'something' deep inside the human psyche which the town and city, by definition, must suppress to maintain the veneer of civilisation. A whiff of excitement, of danger percolating down the centuries like the incessant water runoff inexorably responding to the laws of physics: the call of the wild, no less. Tales of bandits, highwaymen or, looking further back, rebellious local tribesmen liable to give the unprepared a good kicking... or worse. It would appear, judging by the presence of the remains of a 'marching camp' here upon Esgair Perfedd, that Roman patrols back in the day were well aware of this. One can perhaps speculate that a posting here was not high upon your average legionary's 'wish list'? I mean, didn't a certain Thracian gladiator and a bunch of slaves destroy a couple of legions back in the day? Hmm, best get those banks raised, lads. And keep those eyes peeled.

So, familiar country, perhaps, but nonetheless a landscape not to be taken lightly. Yeah, tell me about it? Despite being forewarned, courtesy of 'Jeeves' formidable knowledge base, it soon becomes apparent just how little I really do know. No shit, Sherlock. I park up beside the cascading Nant Gwynllyn, the impressive crags of Craig Ddu complementing the sheer, shattered flanks of Esgair Dderw to its north, the latter surmounted, incidentally, by the imposing monolith the Maen-serth. The rain continues unabated, the traveller obliged to overcome that curious - or perhaps not so curious, come to think of it? - reluctance to leave the sanctuary of shelter to brave the elements once again. Rising to that challenge, the next, occurring in swift progression, is to traverse the swollen stream cascading toward its llyn located in the valley below. Now Heraclitus may have reckoned that no man (or woman - ahem) steps in the same river - or presumably lesser water course - twice, a subtle doctrine concerning the ever-changing aspects of life, of stuff in general. I, however, would think it more of an imperative to refrain, if at all possible, from falling in even the once....

Safely across, albeit not exactly dryshod owing to a surfeit of surface water, I follow the obvious track ascending to Esgair Pen-y-Garreg beyond. Now I came this way a few months previously - en route to spending a few hours upon Crugyn Gwyddel pending the arrival of a car battery at the garage in town - and was utterly oblivious to the existence of a rather large standing stone looming at SN93226964, camouflaged in plain sight (always, it goes without saying, the most effective method, I find). Similarly, I walked straight by what may - or may not - be the remains of a megalithic tomb right beside said track at SN93256957. Fair enough, I guess, if one's peripheral vision happens to be 'switched off' when focussing upon the over-arching goal of attaining a summit... but surely inconceivable to walk right past both once again this time around? Nevertheless, that is exactly what I do.

Thankfully it would appear my megalithic radar is better attuned to spotting standing stones in multiples thereof, although, having said that, the three-stone row gracing Banc Trehesglog is not exactly staring one in the face, with even the wondrous people at Coflein having apparently required a couple of attempts at locating it correctly:

"3 upright stones in row. Orientation E-W. Both outer stones are irregular and approx. 1m x 1m. Both are leaning over to the N. The middle stone leaning to S. Previously mis-sited (RSJ 2000)."

The key, may I suggest here - assuming one isn't going to go down the route of having bloody GPS lead you unerringly to the very spot, but do it the 'organic' way - is a little homework, allied with the ability to read the topography of the landscape, so to speak. Yeah, as the track makes its way below and to the east of the summit crags of Crugyn Ci (the prominent OS trig pillar of which 'may' stand upon the remains of an ancient cairn) the traveller should note a low rock formation to his/her left prior to passing above a reasonably large 'pond', albeit one minus ducks and someone's long-missing old boot. Scrambling upon this 'outcrop' and glancing towards said 'pond' the reasonably sighted should make out the trio of orthostats below and to the right.

And indeed, there it is, the alignment's existence, given the relatively substantial dimensions of the flanking stones, pretty obvious.... once you know where it is... and begging the question: 'so why IS it so obscure?' I mean, just off a main track traversing these hills with, even today, several walkers/mountain bikers passing by. Not that I'm complaining, of course, the silence elevating the atmosphere to almost the heights experienced upon Esgair y Llyn earlier in the day. And there is just 'something' so enigmatic, so ethereal - so 'right' - about the profile of a stone row viewed upon a windswept hillside. Tears at the soul, does it not?

This, of course, would be more than enough. But wait, there's a little extra. Or rather a lot, to be honest: a short distance to the approx north-east of the row, lying submerged within tall upland grass, can be found a most fine example of a cist, lacking capstone but otherwise perfect. Needless to say that this, too, is not to be found upon the map. I tell you what, that 'Jeeves' fella certainly knows a thing or two, does he not? Unlike the alignment, the passing antiquarian-minded traveller wouldn't have a hope in hell of stumbling across this gem. Coflein notes:

"Remains of stone cist. Approx 1M x 0.80M x 0.20m depth. Orientated N-S. Mudstone. Sunken into ground, only visible by tall reed grass. Poss. stone base. No stone scatter. Poss. robbed for sheepfold to SW(RSJ 2000)."

OK, the views, in my opinion, are not as far-reaching as those to be had upon Esgair y Llyn but, nonetheless, Rhayader is visible away to the east to add some context to what is a fine upland vibe accentuated by a temporary hiatus in the downpour. Once again, the spellbound visitor sees fit to sit back, drink his coffee and savour the moment. Well, it would be rude not to, right? Inevitably perhaps, the rain duly returns.... and how! As if synchronous with the inclement weather, time begins to run away with me, heedless of trivial, mortal concerns, my thoughts turning to getting back down to the car again. Reckoning I've left it too late to locate the 'tomb' and standing stone before dark, I'm left somewhat bemused by just how obvious both actually are - in stark contrast to those higher up the hill. I practically stumble over the 'Brindell Felen Tomb' on the way down - not quite head over heels, but with a little less boot traction in the torrential downpour that would have been a distinct possibility. Sad to report that Coflein are undecided about the prehistoric pedigree of said structure:

"Poss. chambered tomb side of trackway. 1 stone upright approx. 0.5m high x 1m w. Cap stone resting on upright, triangular in shape, approx. 0.75m in length. 2 Poss. uprights collapsed. Set in oval hollow approx. 3m x 2m. May be animal shelter(RSJ 2000)."

Hmm... may be an animal shelter? Furthermore, CPAT are adamant this is a 'natural feature', which, to these eyes, didn't seem credible. Yeah, I have to say it certainly looked the real deal to me, for what it's worth. However, if so, why wasn't it noted by any earlier antiquarian passing this way? On balance I guess this latter point is arguably telling. Luckily we are, metaphorically speaking at least, upon much firmer ground when it comes to the standing stone, located just beyond the 'tomb' and (incredibly in retrospect) within clear sight of the road. Coflein notes:

"Large standing stone, approx 2m high x 1.75m wide x 0.40m thick. Mudstone. Orientated E-W. Located near trackway and at edge of peat-cutting area (RSJ 2000)"

I decide, in view of the fading light and rain liable to have Russel Crowe reaching for his copy of 'Carpentry for Beginners', to return for a follow up hang at some future date. Yeah, happy with that. I'm also more than happy with the experiences of the day. Not bad for an area I was convinced had been exhausted by this so-called 'expert'. Yeah, right. A lesson for us all, perhaps?
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
21st March 2021ce
Edited 25th March 2021ce

Esgair y Llwyn, Cwmdeuddwr (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

It could be argued that curiosity, the search for knowledge - perhaps archetypal of what it is to be human? - is, regardless of subjective merit, by no means conducive to personal happiness. Upon considering the issue in 1711, Alexander Pope famously noted: "A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring", thus seemingly committing the reader to a lifetime of academic labour in order to gain fulfilment from said fabled font of learning. Yeah, thanks for that. Another perceptive dude, Thomas Gray, took a seemingly alternate view in 1742 by suggesting avoiding the dilemma altogether: "...where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise". So, if I'm understanding the learned 18th Century gentlemen correctly, one can either be content in your stupidity, or a miserable 'Professor Fink-style' boffin? Hmm... given the ability to influence matters, neither sorry state of affairs appeals, to be honest. So perhaps a more centrist 'third way' is the answer: take what you do seriously, educate yourself... but don't beat yourself when one happens, inevitably, to fall 'a little short' at times? Sounds like a plan to me.

In retrospect, perhaps the most lamentable aspect of my wanderings across the length and breadth of these Isles during the past three decades has been my propensity to assume I have joined the ranks of the archaeological cognoscenti more-or-less as a matter of course. Aye, like a perpetually bemused antiquarian Stan Laurel - albeit comedic by default, not exquisite design - I find myself constantly surprised (if not indignant) when, having 'seen everything' in a given locale I'm proved, yet again, to be in error. Yeah, I guess the problem inherent in being a 'Modern Antiquarian' is one is induced into using this blasted Internet thingamajig, so ensuring a chap's learning curve is not only steep but oft verging upon the perpendicular, as Wodehouse might have put it. Consider, as cases in point, the grassy promontory Esgair y Llwyn [SN8961873373] and, a little under four miles to the east-south-east, Banc Trehesglog (SN93136893), these sites located within the inhospitable Cwmdeuddwr Hills rising to the west of Rhayader: a glance at either scale of OS mapping will divulge plenty of interest hereabouts, granted.... but nothing at said co-ordinates. Zero, zilch, nowt. So why bother? Indeed... except the browser of Coflein's web-site finds himself better informed - if not educated - with access to a cyberspace 'Jeeves' to correct those blasted faux-pas. Dash it all, what rot! There's nothing there! Ah, but I believe sir will find there is...

So... sporadic rain - albeit what the Irish might term ‘only spitting’ - greets another dawn at the head of Cwm Ystwyth; not one, to be honest, to inspire thoughts of grand deeds for the forthcoming day, the low cloud mantle obscuring the 'jaws' of the cwm issuing a stark challenge to the bleary-eyed engaged with mopping copious condensation from the interior of the windscreen. Reaching - or perhaps more accurately, fumbling blindly - for my tattered map, the memory is duly jogged.... Esgair y Llwyn, just a short drive in the opposite direction to the forbidding wall of opaque vapour. Which is handy. A navigational error, resulting in overshooting the access track to Cwm Nant-y-ffald, ensures the journey is a little longer than anticipated, but not overly so. I park at the entrance, opposite a sinuous loop effected by the Afon Elan, the watercourse seemingly unwilling to surrender its lithe youthfulness to the middle-aged 'conformity' of the Craig Goch Reservoir. Hmmm, luckily the surface is not able to render a simulacrum of the viewer. Anyway, a newly erected, crudely-painted bespoke sign - similar to others noted en-route - bars vehicular progress to the fastness of the cwm, this - along with the unusually high volume of litter - reminding the visitor that these COVID-19 times have drawn to the great outdoors an additional, most unwelcome class of vertebrate (think Fintan Stack in Father Ted) which clearly does not give a damn about the environment... or anyone else, for that matter. Needless to say my empathy - and, I would suggest, that of any reasonably objective thinker - is with the locals. Yeah, surely even those dogmatic activists welcoming such increased 'diversity' must concede everyone has a responsibility to act as a human being? So what's the plan then?

I follow the gravelly track to the north beside the gurgling Nant y Ffald, negotiating a ford to continue in a roughly north-easterly direction while embracing - save the sounds of my exertions and the ever-prevalent running water - the progressively increasing silence as the road fades from view. Quite why any tourist would consider driving up here is beyond me, but there you are. 'Stupid is as stupid does', eh Forrest? Anyway, the steep, grassy flanks of Esgair y Llwyn tower above to my left, the concern now to choose a line of ascent avoiding as much of the ubiquitous soaking bracken as possible while not overdoing the angle. I eventually decide upon the southern flank of the deep defile carved by the Trawsnant, overlooked by the great cairns of Carn-Wen and Carn Nant-y-ffald to the north, veering steeply upward to the west to gain the crest of the plateau above (Citizens Cairn'd wishing to visit these excellent sites should naturally improvise their own route... or approach from the north, as I did back in 2013).

Now, it's all very well to be informed of the existence of a cairn where none was thought to be.... but another thing entirely to actually locate it upon a billowing expanse of soggy, industrial-strength, tussocky grass at altitude. Or perhaps 'within'? Indeed, writers such as Peter Hermon have made the analogical connection between walking the Cwmdeuddwr Hills and being at sea, noting the relatively homogeneous height of the tops, separated by deep troughs. I get that, although I would suggest being 'all at sea' is often more appropriate in my case, such is the paucity of useful navigational features in mist to be found in these parts. Yeah, in a number of aspects I reckon these hills could be said to be homologous to the more obscure parts of Dartmoor: the traveller focussing to a great extent upon the 'vibe' inherent in negotiating a pathless wilderness where even a sheep track can be manna from heaven, so to speak. Suffice to say that you are almost guaranteed to have your hill, your chosen monument, to yourself for the duration. Assuming one's map reading is up to scratch, of course. And the sight of a red kite, seemingly suspended in space as it contemplates whether you are upon the menu, invigorates the soul rather than hastens an approximation of algor mortis.

I make my way towards where I reckon the monument should be, a rather serpentine - if not circuitous - route borne out of reliance upon a moth-eared 1:50k map rather than any symbolic affinity with the aforementioned Afon Elan. And there, eventually, it is... the traveller momentarily pausing, in vain despite the deteriorating weather conditions, for a thunderclap to engender a heightened sense of drama perhaps appropriate to the moment? Yeah, the surviving archaeology may well appear a little underwhelming to some, particularly to those not already immersed in the idiosyncrasies of Cwmdeuddwr. Nevertheless, the little cairn is pretty well defined to these eyes and, furthermore, features a couple of earth-fast uprights which might - or might not - represent the remnants of a former cist. Whatever the corporeal detail, the grassy stone pile does an effective job of marking a point in the landscape suitable for ponderings above and beyond the here and now. The more you see, the less you need to see, perhaps? Coflein reckons it represents:

"A low, grass-covered stone cairn positioned on a gently sloping terrace with clear views down the Elan valley to the south. The cairn is less than 0.25m high and approximately 5m in diameter, with only a few stones now protruding through the grass cover...." [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 8/9/2009]

As I sit and attempt a mental reconstruction, an approximation of what the scene may have appeared like to an engaged onlooker millennia past, the most obvious difference is the broad expanse of water to the south, a reservoir where once the river continued upon its way unimpeded by the castellated dams which are now such an imposing feature of the locale. And what of tree cover? The hills and elongated spurs of Cwmdeuddwr are green and bare nowadays - overwhelmingly, perhaps brutally so - but I understand this was not always the case? For me, the most important aspect to consider, however, is the ambience, the 'vibe' to be experienced here. OK, one assumes there were more people around back then, working the land below the sentinel ancestors' vantage points, the occasional shrill shout of a child briefly duelling with the cry of the bird of prey; however, it is not difficult to concede that, then as now, it is Nature which calls the shots - and it is her often inclement vagaries which determined the placement of this cairn in the first place. The focus of human thought when we wish to transcend those logical boundaries.

To emphasise the point a weather front duly arrives to lash the plateau with driving rain, a swirling cloak of opaque vapour contracting and expanding in turn as if representing some unstable portal to another, ethereal world fleetingly glimpsed beyond. To be fair, I'm more than happy with this one so settle down for lunch and... well... just to watch for a couple of hours. My curiosity eventually sated, the urge to move on finally manifests itself, my intention, having rejected notions of revisiting Banc Cynnydd above to the west, being to locate a small stone row a little below, and to the east, of Esgair Pen-y-Garreg, again not shown upon the map. And whatever other potential gems 'Jeeves' has up his immaculately attired sleeve.

Baulking at that steep descent - and not wishing to encounter any motorised idiots - I opt to follow the grassy flanks of Esgair y Llwyn downhill to the south-east, a good decision which, in retrospect, would serve as a less taxing ascent route. I reach the track at the ford, my own Ford - thankfully - waiting a short distance beyond. Hey, the day is yet young. Banc Trehesglog it is, then.

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/19835/banc_trehesglog_cwmdeuddwr.html
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
21st March 2021ce

Cwm Berwyn, Carneddau (Builth Wells) (Promontory Fort) — Fieldnotes

I approach from Carneddau Hill's great cairn at SO06625407:

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/19831/carneddau_hill_builth_wells.html

Hastily revised notions/aspirations (whatever) of circling around the 'rim' of the Carneddau to the northwest - in order to take in the other cairns depicted upon the map - are, just as quickly, discarded when it becomes obvious time is running away with me. Furthermore, the equally obvious realisation of the sheer size of the fort's inner cross-bank ensures I must focus upon one thing or another. Yeah, there can only be one, Highlander. So... the promontory fort it is, then, although it should be noted that the intervening topography is not conducive to being fast-moving, light upon one's feet. Having said that, I cannot recall being suchlike since 1994, now I come to think about it.

Heading north, my attempt to 'cut the corner' and save a little time only serves, inevitably, to bring me to the crest of the sheer face of the escarpment edge - not that this inexorable outcome wouldn't have been obvious from a proper perusal of the map, but there you are - rocky crags falling more or less vertically to the floor of the cwm below. Hmmm. I may be many things, but clearly, I ain't no mountain goat and, furthermore, have some features I quite like and wouldn't mind keeping for a while longer (to paraphrase the gorgeous Sarah Cracknell). I therefore quickly improvise yet another plan, this iteration requiring clambering/slithering down steep grass some way to the left, prior to forcing another passage through bracken to, thankfully, access a path ascending to the promontory rising above. As earlier in the day, it is worth the expended effort, the defences of the fort proving very substantial, to say the least. Far more impressive than I had supposed from the car, with a towering inner rampart supported by a lower outer rampart, together isolating the interior from the ridge to the north. A wander around the interior allows the spellbound visitor to confirm - in short order and with little likelihood of credible contradiction - that no additional artificial defences would've been necessary back in the day. Yeah, not even a 'berserker-type' warrior-loon would (surely?) have been able to get up those near perpendicular flanks in any fit state to fight. With apologies, certainly not Gary Numan in that iconic 1984 blue/white 'Iceman' get up.

All in all, the sum of the parts represents a classic inland promontory fort, if ever I did see one. It would appear that Coflein, which categorises the site as a 'defended enclosure', concurs with my perception of overwhelming majesty of scale, citing the following dimensions:

"...The inner rampart is 1.8m high on the inner side, 8m high with ditch on the outer, northern, side. The outer northern rampart is 5m wide and 1m high on the uphill, southern, side and 2m high with the ditch on the north side..." [R Hayman, H&H, 24/2/2010].

Noteworthy statistics, indeed, for such an apparently obscure 'defended enclosure'. Suffice to say, whoever built this place would appear - unlike certain visitors - to have had no tendency to 'cut corners'. Point taken, until the next time. As I've postulated at other sites, I can't help thinking that, being set within an (assumed) non-secular upland landscape, there was more to the physical attributes of the site than simply defence? Interestingly, perhaps, Coflein has only - and tentatively at that - identified one hut circle within the enclosure at SO0727754830:

"Possible hut platform, a near level terrace 4m diameter, with a 'hood' 1m high on the upper (S) end...." [R Hayman, H&H, 24/02/2010].

C'mon, surely there were more, if only to account for, to justify all the effort of construction.... unless there were other, intangible, metaphysical factors in play here? As I walk the twin cross banks in turn, the fiery orb of our local star - not so much 'rock' as 'cosmic' - yeah, Bowie... or 'Krautrock', perhaps? - breaking through the cloud base to flood all with light of almost inconceivable intensity, the splendour of this glorious place hits home like the proverbial sledgehammer, the moment the very paragon of the 'otherworldly' experience... right here in Powys, no less. I sit and gawp across the cwm to the north-east, the clearly also magnificent Castle Banks hillfort demanding I visit before the week is out.

Diverting the gaze (with difficulty), a series of medieval 'cultivation ridges' to my north emphasise the continuity of human occupation in the locale, the sense of linear time stretching way back into the past... and an uncertain future, perhaps? A subconscious affirmation that 'history' is not merely something written in 'boring books' to enable geeks 'n dorks (ahem) to pass the time.... but is somehow 'suspended', not quite fully absorbed, within air seemingly pregnant with energy transmuted from the corporeal long ago. Into just what I cannot say; however, to quote a certain Mr Churchill: "The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Indeed, illustrious sir. You know, seems to me that to understand the plot of any epic story - and it has to be said that that of 'Humanity' is pretty well up there in the Homeric stakes (tell me about it, D'oh!), demanding a Charton Heston-esque lead - best start at the beginning, right?

I pick out my poor, overworked vehicle in the distance, a familiar reference point to - if you pardon the pun - usher me back down to earth for the night from my extraordinary perch. Reluctantly I leave the cairns to the north for another day and descend steeply (and then some) to the east to pick up a path heading south to the stream, and, once across, reverse my former ascent route to Cwm-berwyn farm. A (relatively) senior woman inquires after my day and appears to 'get' my replies. It is refreshing, to be honest with you. Yeah, best keep out of that summer bracken, if you've any sense. Yes, well.... Anyhow, the gentle incline of the farm access track is, it seems to me, not proportional to the effort it takes me to negotiate the final few hundred yards, but there you are. I did say maths are not my thing.

Back at the car, there's time for one final improvised plan - where to camp tonight - before I must leave and make it so before the onset of darkness. I head for the hills above Rhayader. Cwmdeuddwr....
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
23rd January 2021ce
Edited 26th January 2021ce

Carneddau Hill (Builth Wells) (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

I must confess to never having been the most enthusiastic of travellers. Yeah, Virginia Woolf might have reckoned 'the journey is everything', but I tend to regard motion between two points as, well, a means to an end, to tell you the truth. The price one has to pay... what must be endured... to experience, first hand, the more interesting locations these Isles have to offer. And since there are no mountains gracing south-east Essex, this Citizen Cairn'd is required to venture (considerably) forth to enjoy that special 'upland vibe'. Needless to say, the opportunity for such forays has been strictly - and, to my mind, rightly - limited during the past year. Indeed, some might say that faced with such calamitous global misfortune, the pursuit of personal solace ought not to be high upon the collective agenda following temporary relaxation of restrictions. However, I would argue that it is this very focus upon the individualistic act - upon independent thought/action symbiotic with the common good - that forms the crucial bulwark holding back the implacably noxious totalitarian siblings of the far left and far right. At least for now. The finger in the dyke.

So, with the opportunity to escape the coronavirus-denying loons, lockdown-ignoring half-wits and asinine conspiracy loons temporarily raising its head, I reckon there's no time like the present. Well, as Noel Coward sardonically noted, there's no guarantee that the next life (should one believe in that sort of thing) will be 'any less exasperating than this'. As usual, I'm woefully lacking in the homework stakes. Consequently, a brief 'cramming session' is required to decide upon a characteristically vague notion of 'lower Mid Wales', starting at the attractive market town of Builth Wells (Llanfair-ym-Muallt). And take it from there... on the premise of necessity being the Mother of Invention etc (with apologies to Frank, if not Plato). Hence, following a pretty 'exasperating' early morning drive - what with closures upon the M4 and a farcically busy Storey Arms overwhelmed with tourists unintentionally complicit in the erosion of another few inches from the summits of Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du - I finally arrive below the Carneddau, a compact range of low hills to the north-east of the spa-town, the latter at the confluence of the rivers Wye (Gwy) and Irfon. Builth, incidentally, is somewhat notorious/controversial in Welsh lore, the garrison of the castle (impressive surviving earthworks will interest the medieval-heads out there) having refused sanctuary to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd prior to his death at Cilmeri, a little to the west, in December 1282... the act highlighting the lack of solidarity between Gwynedd and the 'rest of Wales' that persists to this day. Yeah, the 'Hwntws' versus the 'Gogs'. As an interested outsider - I have family in the south... and friends in the north - let's just say there are two sides to every story, each deserving to be heard, methinks. Just saying.

The approach road to Cwm Berwyn passes beneath 'Gaer' - at SO08545482, the experts, the name of the landscape feature notwithstanding, apparently none too sure of archaeological providence - before terminating at Cwmbychan farm. As I manoeuvre, with the optimum inherent lack of grace, I'm approached by a young woman who, basically, wants to know what I'm doing in these parts. I request advice as to where to leave the car since I'm heading for the Carneddau... to be informed there are no rights of way in the direction of my sweeping arm. Producing my map, I beg to differ, whereas the mood suddenly changes; it seems she's actually all in favour of archaeologist-types (even those who can't agree when a hillfort is or isn't a hillfort) and says it's fine to park at the entrance to the trackway servicing Cwm-berwyn farm. That'll do.

The landscape is classic Mid Wales, the stony access route drawing me deeper into the beckoning hinterland looming beyond - a fine study of perspective. My intended objective, the great promontory fort overlooking Cwm Berwyn, can be seen rising above the farmhouse to the west. However, my close-quarters map reading being what it is (i.e not very good) I elect to take the public footpath to the south-west, this following the southern bank of a tumbling stream, deep within its heavily eroded, wooded couloir, towards distant Carneddau Hill, before heading north. Or at least that was the plan. For a short time. Needless to say, as I break-out upon the open hillside, I duly change my mind: the cairn upon Carneddau Hill it is, then. Now a direct ascent, initially across deep bog, then through chest-high summer bracken may well have seemed a good idea at the time, but, having been dragged to my knees on a number of occasions by the all-powerful, industrial-strength vegetation, the final slog to the summit is verging upon sheer purgatory itself. The subsequent realisation that all that sweaty struggle, all that effort, could've been avoided by simply cutting up the ridge to the left... and following a clear path... was not helpful. Or at least wasn't appreciated at the time, shall we say? Then again, I guess there's the possibility, like the wondrous Mrs Doyle herself, of possessing a subconscious predilection for the hardest option? For authenticity's sake, you understand. Hmmm, 'maybe I like the misery, Father?'

Suffice to say that, if I had found the great cairn crowning the c1,417ft summit to have been rubbish, I wouldn't have been happy. However, fair play, the cairn is worth the effort. With metaphorical bells on. And, come to think of it, the locals clearly rated it enough to reference the monument - and presumably the others to the north - when naming their environs? Whatever, the people at Coflein have this to say:

"The Carneddau Hill Cairn is 19m in diameter, much robbed of stone and now only up to 0.8m high, but with depressions. The site was probably chosen for its commanding position with panoramic views. On top of the cairn are a stone shelter and a modern marker cairn, using material from the cairn." [R Hayman, H&H, 22/2/2010].

Yeah, robbed it may well be, but there is an awful lot of stone still in situ to emphasise what an important site this must have once been... hell, still is! And then there are those 'panoramic views'. Tell me about them. Although, to be fair - as the old adage goes - a picture is worth a thousand words. Not that the likes of Wordsworth would've necessarily concurred, mind. But there you are. The vistas are not only richly endowed with scenic splendour of the highest order, but also liberally 'sprinkled' with a copious array of additional prehistoric archaeology: looking south-west towards Builth there are two small hillforts; to the north, as noted above, a brace of upland cairns; to the north-east, the great promontory fort I came here to see with, visible to its right, to my mind one of Mid Wales' finest hillforts per se, Castle Bank. The penny drops (possibly 50p now, taking account of inflation) that there's no way one afternoon is going to be anywhere near enough time to explore the extended area... so probably best to simply enjoy the moment. Hey, what's not to like? The intermittent drizzle of the ascent having, rather fortuitously, been superseded by sunshine (albeit also somewhat sporadic), the cairn now sparkling - or as John Foxx might say - 'glistening' in the intensity of the light. A glittering prize, indeed.

As I gaze out across the surrounding hills, the 'place in the landscape' occupied by Builth Wells becomes clearer. Too far from the Mam C's place on the South Walian coast to feature within my usual itineraries; too far south to draw me away from Cwmdeuddwr and the wilds of Pumlumon before now... otherwise, I'm generally just a' passing through en route to somewhere else. However, I'm glad I stopped off this time around, took the time to discover what is secreted away from the general gaze. As the light plays across said landscape, illuminating the great stone pile once more as it has for millennia past, I try again to resolve the conundrum of fitting all the remaining Carneddau 'pieces' into my puzzle. However, they won't go. Not today, anyhow. Not allowing sufficient time to do them all justice. OK, maths was never my strong point, but quality over quantity is a pretty sound guiding principle, right?

So, the great promontory fort beckoning to the north-east will be my second, and final visit of this afternoon. Assuming I don't make a hash of that, too. Yeah, right...
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
23rd January 2021ce
Edited 24th January 2021ce

Crossfoot Farm (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Crossfoot Farm</b>Posted by Ivan Monckton Posted by Ivan Monckton
6th November 2020ce
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