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Llanymynech Hill

Ancient Mine / Quarry

<b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheatImage © A. Brookes (14.5.2011)
Also known as:
  • Giant's Grave (Llanymynech)
  • Bedd y Cawr

Nearest Town:Oswestry (8km N)
OS Ref (GB):   SJ264221 / Sheet: 126
Latitude:52° 47' 27.73" N
Longitude:   3° 5' 29.62" W

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Llanymynech Hill</b>Posted by thesweetcheat


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No sooner have we left the wooded cover of Blodwel Rock than we’re across the Welsh border and into Llanymynech hillfort. Sadly our emergence from the trees takes us slap into the middle of a golf course. Immediately we’re scowled at by plus-foured types and the visit becomes an exercise in avoiding plummeting golf balls rather than looking for the remains of the fort’s earthworks. The whole interior has been moon-scaped by older quarrying superimposed by bunkers and hazards. Bah.

When we get a moment to look anywhere but heavenward, it turns out that there’s a decent view of the whaleback of The Wrekin, a very fine hillfort that dominates the north Shropshire plain.

Our route ducks back into the trees and alongside Offa’s Dyke, a.k.a. the northwest rampart of the fort. As at Blodwel Rock, the tree-cover makes it difficult to really get a sense of the site. We follow the edge of the escarpment and the earthwork round to the southern tip of the hill. Here the gentle terrain gives way to the towering cliffs of Asterley Rocks, much quarried and mined over the centuries. There is a very fine view south featuring a number of neighbouring hillforts on The Breiddins, Beacon Ring on Long Mountain, and the lowland sites of Bryn Mawr and Gaer Fawr but overall the feeling from the visit to Llanymyech Hill is one of frustration, both from the general destruction caused by industry and from the irritating placement of a golf course across the interior.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
22nd January 2014ce
Edited 26th April 2023ce


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I tracked down 'The Cambrian Register'. The mention of the cromlech so-called is in 'A statistical account of the parish of Llanymyneich' by Walter Davies. He mentions the Ogo:
One vestige of [the Romans'] mining, is an immense level branching out in different directions, as they were led by the veins of copper ore. Its windings are so numerous and intricate, that some years back, two men of this parish, endeavouring to explore its mazes, were so bewildered in its labyrinths, that when they were found by some miners who were sent in search of them, they had lain themselves down, in despair of ever seeing any more the light of day. It is now called the Ogo, about which the neighbouring peasantry abound with fairy legends, too ridiculous to enumerate.
He mentions various skeletons found in the caves, including one wearing 'a golden bracelet, clasping about the wrist', but "the selfishness and ignorance of the master-miners have deprived us at present, of a view of those curious relicks." He goes on:
This hill, lest it should all be made subservient to Roman avarice, had one spot of it consecrated to religion. On its eastern brow once stood a Cromlech, measuring seven feet by six, and about eighteen inches thick. It is called by the vulgar bedd y cawr; and it was the voice of immemorial tradition, that a giant had buried his wife under this stone, with a golden torque about her neck. This report caused three brothers, who lived in the neighbourhood, some years back, to overturn the stone from its pedestals in search for the treasure; in which position it now lies. Thus we see how avarice stimulates men to deeds of villainy, not even to spare, but sacrilegiously to overturn the altars of the Gods. The neighbours will tell you, how this vile act did not escape the vengeance of heaven, but ended in the destruction of its perpetrators.
From the Cambrian Register for the year 1795, p298.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th January 2014ce
Edited 15th January 2014ce

Another version:
Some eighteen years ago, while exploring the limestone caves at Llanamynech, on the English border of Montgomeryshire, I met with [this] story. A man playing the bagpipes is said to have entered one of the caves, well provisioned with Welsh mutton, and after he had been in for some time his bagpipes were heard two miles from the entrance, underneath the small town of Llanamynech. He never returned to tell his tale. The few bones found in the cave are supposed to be those which he had picked on the way.
From p34 of 'Cave Hunting' by W. Boyd Dawkins (1874).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd December 2010ce
Edited 22nd December 2010ce

In England, most of the peasantry swallow with credulous avidity any ridiculous stories of ghosts, hobgoblins and fairies. There certainly is, however, in the Welsh, a greater inclination to credulity than an Englishman can discover among his own people. There are but few of the mountaineers of Wales, who have not by heart a string of legendary stories of disembodied beings.

The cavern in Llanymynech hill, not far from Oswestry, has been long noted as the residence of a clan of fairies, to whom the neighbouring villages attribute many surprising and mischievous pranks. Whilst they have stopped to listen at the mouth of the cave, the people state that they have sometimes even heard the little elves in converstation, but this was always in such low whispers, that the words which were reverberated along the sides and roof of the cavern could not be distinguished. The stream that runs across a distant part of this cavern is celebrated as the place where the fairy washerwomen and labourers have been heard frequently at work.
p323 of 'Excursions in North Wales' by William Bingley (third edition, 1839).

.. the fairies are still believed.. to keep possession of the deserted mines of the Romans in the hill of Llanymynech, from which place the benighted miner sometimes imagines that he sees them coming forth to perform their gambols on the grassy slopes of the mountain. p64 in 'On the Local Legends of Shropshire' by Thomas Wright. p56 in 'Collectanea Archaeologica' v1, 1862. Online at Google Books.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th September 2007ce
Edited 17th October 2007ce

Llanymynech Hill is topped by a huge Iron Age fort - it is, afterall at a rather strategic spot near the confluence of two rivers. But probably more importantly, the hill has been the site of mining for a Very Long Time, at least since 200BC (and maybe longer - you know how new mining obscures older mineworkings). The metal here is copper (plus some lead and zinc) - which would have been invaluable for making bronze tools and weapons. The Romans certainly made use of the site when they arrived here.

The hill is swathed in metal/mine-related folklore. For example, this from Burne and Jackson's 'Shropshire Folklore' of the 1880s:
'The Giant's Grave' is the name giveen to a mound on the Shropshire side of Llanymynech Hill, where once was a cromlech, now destroyed. The story goes that a giant buried his wife there, with a golden circlet round her neck, and many a vain attempt has been made by covetous persons to find it, undeterred by the fate which tradition says overtook three brothers, who overturned the capstone of the cromlech, and were visited by sudden death immediately afterwards."

There is also the underworld/cave-related folklore which you might expect (this from"Mines of Llanymynech Hill", by David Adams & Adrian Pearce, SCMC Account No.14)
It was explored by Dovaston in the early 19th century and he relates "... Superstition, ever prone to people in darkness with the progeny of imagination, has assigned inhabitants here, such as Knockers, Goblins and Ghosts; and the surrounding peasantry aver, with inflexible credulity that the aerial harmonies of Fairies are frequently heard in the deep recesses. ... Tradition says this labyrinth communicated by subterraneous paths with Carreghova Castle; and some persons aver that they have gone so far as to hear the rivers Vyrnwy and Tanat rolling over their heads, and that it leads down to Fairyland".

"... A writer in Brayley's 1878 'Graphic and Historical Illustrator' .. claimed of the Ogof Cave on Llanymynech Hill "...the main passage is said to extend beneath the village, passing near the Cross Keys {Guns} Hotel cellar. An old blind fiddler is said to have penetrated thus far, and was heard from the cellar, performing upon the violin".


The final written record of legends appears in 1896 and refers to Ned Pugh "... Ned then asserted that he could walk from the Ogo to the Lion Inn at Llanymynech. He was not believed, and then he made a wager that he would on the following Sunday, play a tune, at the usual time that the choir sang, that he should be heard by all the congregation in church. His boasting challenge was taken up. On the following Sunday Ned went to the entrance of the Ogo on the hill carrying with him his harp and he disappeared into the Ogo. As the time came on for the choir to sing, everyone was intently listening for the sound of the harp, and sure enough out of the earth proceeded it's sounds. The people distinctly heard a tune, which the singers took up and when they had finished the harpist too ceased. The poor man though never emerged out of the Ogo. The tune in consequence was called 'Farewell Ned Pugh'.
(Ogof - or 'ogo' as is put here, is Welsh for cave). These latter quotes are part of a long article about the mines and the artefacts that have been found there. This is on The British Mining Database, at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st March 2005ce
Edited 8th May 2011ce


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On the eastern brow of Llanymynech hill "once stood a cromlech measuring 7 feet by 6, and about 18 inches thick," styled Bedd y Cawr. No trace of it is said to have been discoverable at a later period. Mont. Coll., 1870, iii, 205, note, quoting Camb. Register, 1796, i, 275.

"On the south-western part of the hill stood two rows of flat stones, parallel, 6 feet asunder, and 36 in length. A tradition exists which states that in digging near this place a Druid's cell was discovered, but of what shape or size it does not relate. There were a number of human bones and teeth in a state of good preservation also discovered. In digging between the parallel rows a stratum of red earth was found, about an inch thick" (Mont. Coll., 1878, xi, 182).
It's difficult to know what to make of all that, collected in 'An inventory of the ancient and historical monuments of the county of Montgomery' (1911). 'Bedd y Cawr' means the giant's grave, though.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th January 2010ce
Edited 14th January 2010ce


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Gathering the Jewels

Aerial photograph of the hill.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st March 2005ce