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Ceredigion

County

<b>Ceredigion</b>Posted by KammerBedd Taliesin © Simon Marshall
Also known as:
  • Cardiganshire
  • Sir Aberteifi

See individual sites for details

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Web searches for Ceredigion

Sites/Groups in this region:

8 posts
Banc-y-Geufron Kerbed Cairn
3 posts
Banc Blaenegnant Round Cairn
3 posts
Banc Rhosgoch Fach Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech
1 post
Banc y Warren Enclosure
32 posts
Bedd Taliesin Chambered Cairn
20 posts
Bryngwyn Bach Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
1 post
Bryn Dafydd Cairn(s)
5 posts
Bryn Goleu Round Cairn
11 posts
Bryn Rhosau Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Bryn Rhudd Cairn(s)
20 posts
Bryn y Gorlan Stone Circle
1 post
Bwlch-y-Crwys Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Caer Allt-Goch Hillfort
4 posts
Cae'r Arglwyddes I Round Cairn
4 posts
Caer Lletty-Llwyd Hillfort
4 posts
Caer Penrhos Hillfort
17 posts
Cantre'r Gwaelod Mesolithic site
3 posts
Capel Bangor Camp Hillfort
10 posts
Carn-y-Rhyrddod Round Cairn
16 posts
Carn Blaen Glasffrwd Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
9 posts
Carn Dolgau Round Cairn
24 posts
Carn Fflur Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
10 posts
Carn Nant-y-Llys Cairn(s)
8 posts
Carn Penrhiwllwydog Cairn(s)
13 posts
Carn Saith-Wraig Cairn(s)
1 post
Carreg Samson Standing Stone / Menhir
3 posts
Carreg Samson (Llethr) Standing Stone / Menhir
15 posts
Castell Bach and Castell Mawr Hillfort
10 posts
Castell Bach, Cwmtydu Cliff Fort
7 posts
Castell Bach (Penbryn) Cliff Fort
12 posts
Castell Bwa-Drain Hillfort
9 posts
Castell Disgwylfa Hillfort
13 posts
Castell Flemish Hillfort
1 post
Castell Moeddyn Hillfort
13 posts
Castell Rhyfel Hillfort
12 posts
Castle Grogwynion Hillfort
14 posts
Cefn Cerrig Cairn(s)
21 posts
Cerrig yr Wyn Standing Stones
10 posts
Cnwch Eithinog Cairn(s)
9 posts
Cnwch Eithinog Standing Stone / Menhir
9 posts
Cnwc y Bugail Hillfort
6 posts
Copa Hill Ancient Mine / Quarry
8 posts
Craig Ysradmeurig Round Barrow(s)
2 posts
Crug Cou Round Barrow(s)
7 posts
Cwmere Farm Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
10 posts
Cylch Derwyddol Stone Circle
1 post
Darren Camp Hillfort
6 posts
Devil's Punch Bowl Natural Rock Feature
20 posts
Dolgamfa Circle Kerbed Cairn
10 posts
Esgair Nant-yr-Arian Promontory Fort
1 post
Ffynnon-Wen (Llangybi) Sacred Well
6 posts
Foel y Mwnt Promontory Fort
3 posts
Fron Ddu Round Cairn
11 posts
Fron Goch Camp Hillfort
11 posts
Gaer Fawr, Trawsgoed Hillfort
9 posts
Garn Fawr (Tregaron) Cairn(s)
17 posts
Garn Gron Barrow / Cairn Cemetery
3 posts
Gelli Round Barrow Round Barrow(s)
1 post
Gilfach-Hafel Camp Hillfort
6 posts
Groes Fawr Cist
2 posts
Hen Gaer Hillfort
11 posts
Llan Ddu Fawr Round Cairn
5 posts
Llech Bron Standing Stone / Menhir
10 posts
Llethr Brith Round Cairn
1 post
Llwyn Crwyn Round Barrow(s)
20 posts
Moel y Llyn, Ceulanamaesmawr Megalithic Cemetery
7 posts
Nant-y-Maen Standing Stone / Menhir
13 posts
Old Warren Hillfort Hillfort
49 posts
Pendinas Hillfort Hillfort
14 posts
Pendinas Lochtyn Hillfort
Penrhyncoch Camp Hillfort
5 posts
Penrhyncoch Camp Hillfort
25 posts
Pen-y-Bannau Hillfort
7 posts
1 site
Pen-y-Bwlch (Ystrad Fflur) Cairn(s)
3 posts
2 sites
Pen-y-Castell
4 posts
Pen-y-Felin Wynt Hillfort
14 posts
Pen-y-Ffrwyd Llwyd Camp Hillfort
3 posts
Pen-y-Graig (Llanarth) Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork
10 posts
Pen-y-Gurnos Round Barrow(s)
Pen Banc Cairn(s)
16 posts
Pen Dinas (Banc Mynydd Gorddu) Hillfort
7 posts
Pen Glog Round Cairn
21 posts
Pen y Foel Goch Cairn(s)
3 posts
2 sites
Plas Gogerddan
4 posts
33 sites
Pumlumon and its Environs
2 posts
Tan-y-Ffordd Hillfort
1 post
Trawsallt Cairn(s)
2 posts
Trichrug Sacred Hill
1 post
Whilgarn Cairn(s)
21 posts
Ysbyty Cynfyn Christianised Site
11 posts
Y Garn (Garn Gron) Round Cairn
Sites of disputed antiquity:
10 posts
Llwyn-on-Fach Standing Stone / Menhir
4 posts
Nant-y-Ffrwd Standing Stone / Menhir
2 posts
Penbryn Pillar Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
5 posts
Penmaen-Gwyn Standing Stone / Menhir
4 posts
Penrhyn-Coch War Memorial Standing Stone / Menhir
7 posts
Pond Nant y Cagal Stones Standing Stones
4 posts
St Tyssilio's Churchyard Stone Standing Stone / Menhir
10 posts
Y Garreg Fawr Burial Chamber

News

Add news Add news

Prehistoric forest arises in Cardigan Bay


Skeletal trees of Borth forest, last alive 4,500 years ago and linked to lost kingdom of Cantre'r Gwaelod, appear at shoreline... continues...
moss Posted by moss
21st February 2014ce

Prehistoric landscape uncovered at Borth


From the RCAHMW blog at
http://heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.com/2012/03/prehistoric-landscape-uncovered-at.html

"It’s a race against tide this week at Borth in Ceredigion... continues...
blossom Posted by blossom
13th March 2012ce
Edited 14th March 2012ce

1,000-year-old fishing trap found on Google Earth


Britain's most ancient fishing trap has been discovered off the coastline of Wales after research carried out on Google Earth.

The 853ft (260m) long construction is thought to have been built 1,000 years ago, around the time of the Domesday Book, using large rocks placed on a river bed... continues...
Pilgrim Posted by Pilgrim
16th March 2009ce
Edited 17th March 2009ce

Iron Age Site Dig Open to Public


From an article published on the BBC News web site on 6th August 2006:
Archaeologists excavating an Iron Age farmstead in west Wales say the site may have been home to "several families" as early as 200 BC... continues...
Kammer Posted by Kammer
6th August 2006ce
Edited 10th August 2006ce

Ceredigion Archaeology Day School

A day school aimed at anyone who is interested in the history and archaeology of Ceredigion is running on Saturday 4th March between 10.50 a.m. and 4.30 p.m.

The event is taking place at the Hugh Owen Lecture Theatre, Aberystwyth University [sic].

Cambria Archaeology
Kammer Posted by Kammer
24th February 2006ce

Roman [sic] lead industry found in bog


From an article published on the BBC News web site on 29th July 2005:
Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Roman lead smelting site in a peat bog in Ceredigion... continues...
Kammer Posted by Kammer
3rd August 2005ce
Edited 7th February 2006ce

Bronze Age Farms Discovered In Ceredigion Field


Archaeologists were called in to investigate the site near Llandysul after workmen clearing farmland for a new Welsh Development Agency industrial estate noticed dark circles in the soil.

Cambria Archaeology workers then identified several large circular graves from the Bronze Age... continues...
Posted by BrigantesNation
22nd August 2003ce
Edited 7th February 2006ce

Latest posts for Ceredigion

Showing 1-10 of 1,410 posts. Most recent first | Next 10

Carn Nant-y-Llys (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Cwm Ystwyth is pretty quiet these days... even during the height of a Ceredigion summer, with punters enjoying a brief respite from the all too necessary COVID-19 restrictions. Traffic making use of the single track road traversing the valley is 'sporadic', at worst, the scene primed for the shrill cry of a bird of prey - the magnificent red kite, perhaps? - to emphasise the silence by glorious exception. However, by all accounts, it was not always thus. Yeah, if a landscape can be said to be evoked by the universal language of music - and, to my mind, the gruff old 'punk' maestro made a pretty good case for this with the premiere of his 'Pastorale in F major' in 1808 - Cwm Ystwyth would surely require nothing less than a symphony to interpret its complex diversity. For me, the best place for a prospective composer to seek initial inspiration is upon the summit of Craig y Lluest at SN84997587, at the cwm's eastern extremity, a small Bronze Age cairn cemetery assisting no end with the all-important vibe. Here, the cwm stretches away to the west, arguably as sublime a representation of scenic splendour as Mid Wales has to offer.

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/19436/craig_y_lluest_cwmdeuddwr.html

The Afon Ystwyth - sourced from a series of contributory watercourses, including the Afon Diliw - begins its journey westward with alacrity... our composer considering an allegro con brio, perhaps?... the pace abating to, say, moderato as the cwm widens and dissipates some of the initial constrictive foreboding of the chasm formed by Esgair Elan and the aforementioned Craig y Lluest. Beyond this, however, the sight of the shattered flanks of Bryn Copa invokes apocalyptic notions of a bonkers Wagnerian prelude... or, at the very least, portentous Yamaha CS-80 synth chords (I'd go with the former unless Vangelis happens to be a mate). Not that it helps the ecology, granted - what's gone is gone and it ain't never coming back - but this industrial devastation has form. A lot of form, in fact, with silver, lead and zinc having been mined here stretching way back to Roman times, the apparent average life expectancy of miners (32) indicative of the savage disregard for human life by your progressive entrepreneur back in the day. True, time is a great healer, but nevertheless, the heart is sometimes torn asunder at the injustice of it all, isn't it? There is more, however: evidence of copper mining by Bronze Age locals upon Bryn Copa itself and, perhaps best of all, the discovery of the fantastic golden Banc Ty'nddôl sun-disc in 2002 (cue those Vox Humana Polymoog strings, methinks).

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/5072/copa_hill.html

It, therefore, comes as blessed relief to travel through the eponymous hamlet to enter the lushly wooded - including beech, so I understand - Hafod Uchtryd, ragged senses soothed by... an allegretto? Here, the B4574 to Devil's Bridge nowadays bypasses a curious, somewhat ragged arch erected in 1810 to celebrate George III's Golden Jubilee. Since the Hanoverian is now generally considered not to have been 'mad' - but rather a victim of bi-polar syndrome - it could be said, bearing in mind the extremes of the landscape itself, that the siting, a couple of years after the chaotic birth of Beethoven's masterpiece, is actually rather apt. 'What, what?' Anyway, the arch stands in a 'picnic spot which is, coincidentally, the starting point of several forestry walks... one of which happens to lead to the sentinel peak of the locale: Pen-y-Garn. Needless to say, contrary as ever, I decide, having made my way here from a wild camp upon the wondrous Pumlumon, to forgo the obvious in order to reprise a visit to the same made way back in 1999.

About a mile(ish) south-east of 'The Arch', just before the B4574 loops back towards Pont-rhyd-y-groes, a mountain road heads steeply to the left, arcing to the east, above Cwmystwyth village, to a prominent 'plantation' of trees on the right (south). Here there is plenty of space to park the car before, plastered with 'Factor 60' to combat the unfeasibly 'seasonal' Mid Walian weather, I continue on foot to where, at approx SN793754, a heavily overgrown 'sunken track' heads north beside a copse. Passing a ruined dwelling, ducking and diving under the impeding branches of trees as I do so, the green track continues through lush pasture to, eventually, meet converging tracks sweeping in from the right and left. The route, 'stony' underfoot, now begins the ascent proper, fording the cascades of the nascent Nant Perfedd, prior to cutting through a further copse and zig-zagging up Banc Myheryn. Increasingly expansive retrospective views alleviate some of the - it has to be said - relative monotony of the climb, the track making its serpentine way (one assumes those bloody Romans never ventured up here, then?) in a generally north-easterly direction to, in due course and not before time, arrive at the 2,005ft summit of the mountain.

That Pen-y-Garn (incidentally, you might also find it referred to as 'Bryn Garw' upon some older maps - assuming there are any pre-dating mine still extant in this digital age) is, despite being one of only three peaks exceeding 2,000ft within Cwmdeuddwr, in my estimation not exactly one of Wales' premier mountains... one can assume to be a 'given'. Nevertheless, there is a very good reason why I would recommend a visit to the dedicated Citizen Cairn'd, not to mention the incurably curious: it possess another small piece of the Bronze Age jigsaw of this land in the form of the shattered, but considerable remains of a funerary cairn. Not to mention a fine upland vibe... with sweeping views to the south across Cwm Ystwyth to the wilderness of 'The Green Desert', the watery heart of Mid Wales; west to Aberystwyth and the coast; east across brutal upland moor studded with small lakes, water sparkling in the sunshine... and, last but certainly not least, northward, the great crags of Craig Dolwen, towering above the deep, afforested defile Cwm Rhuddnant, leading the eye to Pumlumon. Herself. Hang on, that's more than one good reason, isn't it? Suggest you do the maths to save further confusion. As for the technical detail, Coflein notes the following:

"A ruinous Bronze Age round cairn, 15m in diameter & 0.4m high, is set on the summit of Pen y Garn. Only the base of the cairn has survived, the rest of it used to create a shelter which now occupies most of its interior. Towards its north edge, between shelter and cairn edge, is set a triangulation pilar." [D. Leighton & T. Driver, RCAHMW, 17 June 2013]

Hmm. If I may be permitted to raise a point of order, I would dispute the assertion that the shelter occupies 'most' of the cairn's interior, such is the extensive circumference of the circular footprint (making the arguable assumption that subsequent slippage across millennia has not inflated dimensions somewhat). That being said, the vertical profile of the monument is certainly minimal, at best, the considerable size of the parasitical shelter clearly indicative of heinous redistribution of material. The alternative name quoted for the monument - Carn Nant-y-Llys - suggests an association with a former 'law court' somewhere in the locale (unless my Welsh is even worse than my maths), although where the remains may be sited I couldn't say at this point. One assumes - indeed, would hope - that, what with such evidence of wanton destruction to a scheduled ancient monument extant, it is not current? Perish the thought.

Silence - for the most part, anyway - reigns supreme upon Pen-y-Garn. A decent composer might be thinking 'andante'... or not. However, obviously, this was not always the case with, as noted earlier, mining taking place on and around Bryn Copa for more-or-less the monument's full tenure as stony sentinel of Cwm Ystwyth. To tell you the truth, it is a difficult concept to take in, such is the unfettered tranquillity. Yeah, only the eolian tones of the wind acting upon the radio antenna 'stuck' within the OS trig pillar (a notice states the benefit to the local community in these COVID-19 impacted times of said 'aerial' aerial) - combined with the rather more inhomogeneous 'notes' caused by my good self simply being in Nature's way - are audible prior to the sudden arrival of two very poorly attired 'student-types from the direction of 'The Arch'. What they make of me, sun-bathing in full kit upon the footprint, is not evident since they immediately disappear within the 'muppet shelter' like, well... muppets, to hastily consume whatever it is such people eat before buggering off to once again leave me in utter peace. I mean, who would've foreseen it being cold upon a mountain top when it's hot down below? I ask you?

As it happens the great cairn - or at least what's left of it - is not the only iconic construction for the visitor to contemplate up here since, some way to the north, stands an extensive wind farm stretching across Rhestr Cerrig and Cefn Groes, like something out of that dystopian sci-fi novel Windy Miller so wanted to write after being evicted from Camberwick Green in '66. The sheer scale of these structures is emphasised when I spy a figure arrive at the base of one unfortunately skewed out of alignment with the others. Hey, is that a retro-styled hat and cider flagon in hand.. no, surely not? Funny thing is I've actually grown rather used to these wind turbines now... as long as I'm not directly beneath them... or they are located upon 'classic peaks', why not? Perhaps it should be up to the locals to have the final say in such circumstances, methinks?

With the continuance of such excellent weather into the early evening, I'm even more loathe to depart than usual, but there you are... in the final reckoning there really is no choice. Back at the car, following a leisurely descent, I elect to camp up for the night below Craig y Lluest. It is a wondrous spot, the Afon Ystwyth fading from sight through the entrance 'jaws' of the cwm, Highland 'coos' adding the occasional distinctive 'vocal embellishment' to the proceedings, harsh bovine utterances rising above the persistent 'gurgle' of the fast-flowing water. Once again, it is hard to reconcile what used to occur a little to the west: all the trials, tribulations, triumphs, failures.... danger, exploitation and death. Nevertheless, it is a story well worth recounting for its intrinsic human interest. All the time overseen by that pile of stones upon Pen-y-Garn...
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
28th February 2021ce

Copa Hill (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Links

Banc Ty'nddôl sun-disc


Found among the mining devastation of Bryn Copa, Cwm Ystwyth, 2002. Here, that industrial cloud had a golden lining.....
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
27th February 2021ce

Garn Fawr (Tregaron) (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

I'm occasionally asked why - for what possible reason - I continue to brave the inclemencies of the UK's uplands... merely to look at 'heaps of old stones and earth'? I mean, I'm not getting any younger, right? So what's the deal: a misplaced sense of solidarity with 'spaced-out hippy-types' looking for cosmic significance in the mundane; a penchant for masochism, perhaps; or simply feeblemindedness brought on by the advancing years? Surely no-one in their right mind could cope with the boredom of all that silence without the ubiquitous 'electronic device'? Hmmm. So just how does one respond to such a sweeping question in a reasonably succinct manner? I guess "Zoinks!" - in homage to that wondrous, Olympic-grade slacker from Scooby Doo - followed by a quick exit would suffice. However consider this sure-fire winner guaranteed to bring any such tiresome ordeal to an expeditious close: "Evelyn Waugh makes me do it".

OK, that's not strictly true, of course. For one thing, I'm not that widely read. Nevertheless, there is a germ of inherent truth since the celebrated author did state: "The pagan soul is like a bird fluttering about in the gloom, beating against the windows when all the time the doors are open to the air and sun". Now don't get me wrong... I'm all for free speech; however, to quote one half of contemporary P G Wodehouse's classic double act: “I don't mind people talking rot in my presence, but it must not be utter rot." While it seems to me Mr Waugh's political opinions might be excused, in retrospect, as naive representations of his tragi-comedic outlook on life (after all, Orwell waited until 1937 to experience his own epiphany regarding the sheer evil of Bolshevik totalitarianism), when an educated Catholic proffers utterly unsubstantiated religious credos as 'fact' it really does get my goat. I prefer to eschew all collectivist dogma - be they fascist, communist or monotheistic - in lieu of the individualistic act of seeing things first hand with mine own eyes. To experience reality, the world as it really is... or at least how it appears to us Homo sapiens... and then make up my own mind. Yeah, to 'beat myself against the window' of my own Socratic ignorance, rather than sitting safely within the cocoon of self-righteous religious - or political - assurance. To add a little more to my already incalculable canon of 'don't knows'.

Funny though, isn't it, how such grandiose ruminations can fade to (almost) nothing when one is suddenly required to 'walk the talk', so to speak? That moment when the indolent devil upon the shoulder would clearly much rather take the easy option than launch the aching body up another bloody mountain. After all, when fundamental precedents have been set by two of life's pre-requisites - water and electricity - who are we to argue? Whatever, it's probably not stretching the point to say that a grey dawn overlooking the Llynnoedd Teifi ('Teifi Pools') in bleakest Ceredigion does not represent the optimal environment to resolve such an inner conflict. Furthermore, Mother Nature sees fit to deny me any easy way out of my dilemma... the sullen cloud base, mirroring my mood this morning, keeping resolutely above the hilltops. Consequently - and before I can change my mind - I head south towards Tregaron, veering to the east within the town to follow the initial stages of the glorious single track road which traverses the backbone of Mid Wales, prior to snaking through majestic Cwm Irfon to Abergwesyn.

That journey is reserved for later, however. For now, I park up within the wide entrance to the track servicing Llwyngaru farm (approx SN705587), receiving an unexpected, cheery wave from the occupant of the dwelling across the road. I follow the track to the south, veering left in short order to follow a right of way, littered with farm detritus and seemingly untrodden in years, through woodland to access open hillside near Cefn-yr-esgair-fawr. The summit of Garn Fawr, my objective, rises more-or-less south: only c1,591ft high, granted, but since there is not even a hint of a path to mitigate the rough terrain encountered during the ascent, I make predictably hard work of it, stumbling into several industrial-strength bogs as I go. Garn Fawr roughly translates as 'Big Cairn', emphasising the inordinately prosaic, localised nature of nomenclature in these parts... say what you see, right? Sure enough, the stone-pile crowning the highest point of the ridge certainly has a significant, grassy footprint with much-embedded material. Unfortunately, however, the passage of time has not been overly kind to this monument, the profile not that upstanding owing to an absence of naked rock, although whether this is the result of slippage or subsequent robbing I couldn't say with any conviction. Perhaps both? For the record Coflein states the following:

" A spread and denuded cairn, 20 metres east-west by 16 metres, 0.5 metres high, on the ridge, more visible on the northwest side, topped by a small later cairn and triangulation pillar enclosed by wall" [J. J. Hall, Trysor, 16/2/2013].

Unsurprisingly the 'spread' is most evident upon the north/north-western arc where the topography dictates this should be so, suggestive of some natural slippage. So, granted, there's nothing here to rival the magnificent cairns crowning Garn Gron and Carn Fflur, rising beyond the deep defile of Cwm Berwyn to the north-east. Nevertheless, the placement, with sweeping views toward Tregaron and the surrounding green hills, is first class, as is the isolated, windswept vibe. Ah, yes, evidently none but the farmer ever comes up here to interrupt the magisterial sovereignty of silence. If only to judge by the (mercifully) pathetic marker cairn plonked upon the monument... presumably by some... plonker. As noted by Coflein, the OS trig pillar is enclosed by a collapsed, circular wall. Suffice to say, if this is supposed to represent a 'muppet shelter', it is among the most farcical of that farcical genre. No, it must be something else. Surely?

As I sit and take in that indefinable 'nothing'/'everything' I'm (once again) fully aware that this 'upland ambience' - for want of a better term - is the reason I continue to haul myself up to such places as this. While I still can. In fact, I don't feel I'm drifting into hyperbole when stating that the Garn Fawr and similar monuments are, in my opinion, only located where they are because our ancestors also tapped into the emanations of the high places. Now don't get me wrong here: I'm not suggesting there is actually anything tangible (if that's not paradoxical?) at work - no metaphysical agency - but merely ('merely', huh!) a peculiarity - an idiosyncrasy, if you will - of the human brain that causes it to auto-execute an innate algorithm... a program... upon input of the necessary stimuli, generating a feeling of inner peace, of wellbeing. The realisation that - contrary to millennia of accumulated group knowledge, memes and what-not - when subjected to a suitably 'raw' environment we remain fundamentally the same as all the other fauna when relating to this crazy, spinning globe. Is this what we call 'spirituality'? That is to say the realisation of undiluted emotion, perhaps on a par with a salmon's inexorable yearning to return to its place of birth, rather than Mr Waugh's pre-packaged 'faith'? Hmmm. For what it's worth, I reckon 'spirituality' is too nebulous a concept to be neatly defined, let alone readily attained by climbing a mountain.. and certainly not to be experienced by simply reading the 'right' religious book. Ah, the recurring 'easy option'. As regards the latter, in my opinion, Nietzsche put it far more succinctly than I ever could: "Faith is the path of least resistance."

Garn Fawr is, as one might expect in Mid Wales, not the only Bronze Age funerary cairn within the immediate locale, there being another marked upon the map - Garn Felen (Yellow Cairn) - some way to the approx south-west at SN70105696. I feel the compulsion to explore further and, after all, one's gotta move on sometime... and it's about time. So, neglecting to take the essential compass bearing, I venture forth... from the sublime to the ridiculous. The subsequent realisation that the forestry cladding the hillside beyond has been somewhat 'tinkered with' in recent times accounts for discovering the 'obvious' monument actually consists of twisted tree residue and assorted detritus. I rectify my error, but still cannot locate the cairn within the tightly-packed, regimented conifers, despite Coflein reckoning it remains quite substantial:

"A round cairn, 15m in diameter & 1.6m high, set on the summit of a ridge, the S part of which has been cleared to ground level" [J.Wiles 23.07.04].

Damn it! I will not be that easily beaten - stumbling up and down various forestry rides over fallen trees, decomposing trunks collapsing upon the imprint of my boots, abrasive spicula occasionally drawing pin-pricks of blood from my exposed hands, sweat running down my back, the cold notwithstanding - yet beaten I eventually am. Vanquished by elapsed time, by the awareness of that dwindling reserve of energy within the 'tank'; and by that infamous 'one last look around that final corner' not bearing fruit this time. Hey, perhaps I clambered right over a moss-covered stone pile without even clocking it? Perhaps... but I think not. Whatever, I decide to return to Garn Fawr and dwell a while longer before making the descent. To flush the frustration away into the ether and focus upon the moment. Yeah, this is a great spot alright.

I make my way back to the car via Craig y Fintan to the approx north-north-west, thus prolonging the walk and claiming a bonus reward of an excellent view down into Cwm Berwyn, early evening sunlight momentarily illuminating the great crag face with a golden iridescence. In retrospect, this should be the ascent route, too, methinks? Upon negotiating the covered track to the north of Cefn-yr-esgair-fawr, I reach the sanctuary of the car with enough time to attain my overnight camp spot, overlooking the Afon Tywi, before dark. Always a good idea upon these roads, I find.

As is often the case nowadays, I am left to ponder more additional questions than answers as a result of the day's wanderings. OK, I readily admit I don't like not finding what I set out to locate. However, to put things in perspective by paraphrasing a certain Michael Lee Aday (and actually use my 'loaf'): 'One out of two ain't bad'. I suppose one could always settle for the 'certainty' of faith, of belief without reason, and leave it at that. Nothing further to know. Hey, perhaps there are things we really SHOULDN'T know? But nah, don't think so. That's not for me. To explore, to be curious, to try, fail, yet get up and do it again regardless - Chumbawamba style - is, in my opinion, to exhibit the best of what it is to be human. Truly a joie de vivre in this age of AI, of the onward march of the machine. This, Kraftwerk's 'Computerwelt' writ large. So yes, in a way you could say Evelyn Waugh inspires me to do what I do. Since I wish to be - and remain - contrary to such a mindset. For better or worse.

But what of Norville 'Shaggy' Rogers world-view? Like, man, why can't TMA'ers ever investigate a Burger King, or something? You know, now I come to think of it, perhaps a little misplaced solidarity can have its benefits, too?
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
10th January 2021ce

Pen-y-Bwlch (Ystrad Fflur) (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

I guess it's a sure sign of advancing years when one notices a progressive tendency for retrospection. OK, scholars may well debate the relative merits - or otherwise - of the human brain's ability to store seemingly countless memories until the proverbial cows come home; however, on balance, I tend to agree with Saul Bellow that memories help 'keep the wolf of insignificance from the door' and are worth the price of alienation from our mammalian brethren. Nevertheless, despite the penchant to 'sugar coat' with lashings of nostalgia, some years really don't have a lot going for them, do they: Callaghan's 'Winter of Discontent'; the Twin Towers atrocity and Foot and Mouth calamity of 2001; the Financial Crash of 2008; Dave's Brexit Referendum and the looming spectre of Corbyn's antisemitic Stalinists in 2016.... which brings us to 2020 - not yet concluded, but already probably the worst global annus horriblis in recent living memory?

Now don't get me wrong; I'm not in the habit of opposing the views of legendary poets. However, when W H Auden saw fit to state 'Put the car away; when life fails, what's the good of going to Wales?', I can only disagree; take the contrary view (although, for balance, note that references to 'Spender' do tend to conjure up visions of Jimmy Nail's sardonic Geordie detective... as opposed to Golden PEN awardees). Consequently, upon (temporary) relaxation of lockdown, I find myself seeking sanctuary upon the relatively untrodden hills of Ceredigion, experiencing another dawn beneath the brutal, yet reassuringly familiar mass of Pumlumon prior to shadowing the alacritous Rheidol as far as an unfeasibly deserted 'Devil's Bridge'. Further south, beyond Pontrhydfendigaid and its superb hill fort Pen-y-Bannau, a prosaically named 'Abbey Road' guides the curious traveller to the Abaty Ystrad Fflur, aka Strata Florida. Yeah, established by Cistercian monks in the 12th Century and later buggered to oblivion by Henry VIII, no less than Dafydd ap Gwilym (himself) is said to be interred under a yew within the grounds. Nevertheless - for me - the finest poetry still lingering here is that inherent within the exquisite Romanesque archway which, as Indian philosophers would no doubt agree, can surely never sleep, regardless of the tranquillity of setting? (presumably, the monks here didn't generate, albeit by proxy, any more 'earthy' verse through the production of Holy Swally, a la Buckfast?). OK, so not 'ancient, ancient' (as Micky Flanaghan might observe) but worth a look in passing before taking the left fork past waterworks to park up just before road's end near a chapel refurbished for better ends than the spouting of dogma: for living. Here it is possible to follow a public path to check out the Llynnoedd Teifi ('Teifi Pools') from the south... another time, perhaps?

My route continues along the road to the south-east, tarmac soon giving way to rough, stony track as it shadows the little Afon Mwyro back towards its source at Blaen Mwyro... or wherever else one might wish to venture within the great green yonder. The track swings to the east, whereby, at the confluence of a plunging stream with the river, the map depicts a right of way ascending the hills to the south accessing the bwlch (col) a little west of my intended destination: Pen-y-bwlch. Unfortunately, the OS's genius for converting topographical detail to the planar... is not matched by my ability to reverse the process. So I miss my cue and walk right by. All is not lost, however, my route-finding shortcomings mitigated by an ability to improvise somewhat after the penny drops. Luckily for my socks, the Afon Mwyro is 'step-over-able' here, enabling me to head across the verdant, soggy pasture to begin a full-frontal assault of Pen-y-bwlch to the left (east) of the stream. Although reasonably short, it is nonetheless a steep, taxing climb to gain the escarpment edge, time enough to ponder why on earth I didn't decide to approach through the forestry to the west? The answer is forthcoming as I finally reach the crest: the retrospective panorama truly a boon for the soul. Looking the other way, the summit of the hill can be seen some not insignificant distance south (more-or-less) across a rough plateau demarcated by the aforementioned forestry.

As I draw nearer, it becomes apparent that the right-hand extremis of the ridge possesses a rather large cairn. Nevertheless, first things first: the summit, approx a third of a mile to the east. Now it has to be said that the monument to be found here isn't, like the c1,650ft hilltop itself, exactly overwhelming in stature, initially corresponding to the brief Coflein entry:

"Described as 'a scatter of stones', but considered ancient." (J.Wiles 31.01.02)

Upon closer inspection, however, more material can be discerned beneath the turf and, furthermore, within slippage to the west, this stone spread including that magical embedded quartzite. More of this wondrous 'non-foliated metamorphic rock' (well, everyone believes the Wiki, right?) is incorporated within a rather wobbly marker cairn - I won't call it a 'walker's cairn' since, clearly, few see fit to venture this way - surmounting the whole; and it is a fair assumption that the remainder of this modern parasite is but remodelled monument. Yeah, as is often the case in this game, the beauty is in the detail, assuming the eyes and ears of the beholder are receptive enough, naturally. Such as the panoramic 180-degree vista (the other arc curtailed by the forestry) taking in most of the Cwmdeuddwr wilderness, prior to sweeping north to Pumlumon herself; or the 'tumultuous silence' which, while sparing the ears, can almost be said to assault the psyche with its ferocious intensity. Indeed, I'm soon accorded a consummate example of the 'exception proving the rule' when a distant 'whirr' to the east in due course reveals itself to be an RAF Chinook roaring past just above my head in a cacophony of rotary discord before receding, hugging the terrain, making very light work of my ascent route (incidentally I read with alarm reports of a Chinook crashing into power lines in Carmarthenshire a few days later... thankfully with no fatalities).

With silence once more restored to the hills, I sit and attempt to 'take in' the vastness of the sky, the endeavour a summation of seemingly mutually exclusive emotions... the fleeting exuberance of alpha male physical achievement tempered by a very real awareness of being Cope's "Pitiful, microscopic nobody" in the grand scheme of things, fading to nothing when considering the sheer scale of Nature. Hey, perhaps it was these conflicting keynotes which were integral to the Bronze Age locals choosing to intern their VIP dead up here - and in so many similar locations across these isles - in the first place? The subordination of mortal concerns to the immortal: the very earth itself. As if to emphasise the point, the existing expanse of cerulean stratosphere is rapidly obscured by an unforecasted gathering of cumulus congestus discharging yet more water upon this already, er, moist landscape. Just so as this traveller knows where he stands. Or sits, as the case may be.

Waterproofs donned - please, don't ever go without them - I decide to finally make my way to the larger cairn overlooking the bwlch to the west, a possible unmarked 'cist' noted en-route probably nothing of the sort (in retrospect) since Coflein also cites a medieval settlement below at SN77686398. Hey, who knows what the inhabitants of that got up to? A medieval historian, probably. Anyway, the topography here allows for a much larger, stable stone-pile, albeit with an inevitable truncation of view vis à vis the summit monument. Although nowadays largely hollow, there is enough detail still remaining in situ to postulate a former cist with greater certainty than for the feature noted above. There is also clear evidence for a former kerb, which, together with the substantial volume of stone, makes for a pretty pleasing site. The main focus would appear to be looking across the bwlch towards the distant abbey to approx northwest, an association which might be considered appropriate enough, come to think of it.

A perusal of the map while finishing my remaining coffee reminds the wide-eyed traveller of the existence of further cairns overlooking the isolated farm of Blaen-Glasffrwd to the south-west, one apparently featuring arguably Wales's finest cist. However, I reason I have neither the time nor - OK, I admit it - the 'puff' to visit today, let alone do any vibe justice; indeed, my descent now beckons. Baulking at the prospect of reversing the rather 'steep' ascent I decide, in lieu, to follow the forestry line beyond the bwlch and then swing northward, heading for what appears to be an abandoned farm building overlooking the left hand (western) bank of the stream cascading to join the Afon Mwyro far below. OK, not that far below. But far enough. This route follows the public footpath missed on the way up, so how hard can it be? Yeah, right.....

You know, there is something about derelict dwellings - particularly in a rural, upland setting - that I find difficult to elucidate.... as if humanity itself has seeped into the very walls... all the triumphs, disasters, love, fear... hey, life itself, perhaps? I find I have a very real sense of 'intruding' upon something that is private, not my concern, so consequently hurry on by, blundering into head high fern as I do so. Er, OK. Not this way, then? Reversing my steps, I find the path actually descends, very steeply, through slightly less formidable vegetation to the left of the buildings to eventually ford the Afon Mwyro and reach the main track traversing the valley. I glance back at where I have come from and reckon this wouldn't be much easier as an ascent route, to be fair.

The car beckons, bringing the day's walkabout to a close, together with that most English of all elixirs: the cup of tea. Or rather, mug of the same. As I pass Strata Florida Abbey once more, bound for the night's camp at the head of Cwm Ystwyth, I'm more certain than ever that Mr Auden must've had his metrical tongue very firmly within cheek back then. Having a laugh. No poet, surely, could walk a landscape such as this and not be moved by the song inherent within the rushing water; not appreciate the timbres emitted by the natural orchestra of vegetation conducted by the wind... or within the call of the buzzard and kite circling overhead? Surely? Yeah, as Spender might've said: "Give ower, y'a kiddin."
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
13th December 2020ce
Edited 16th December 2020ce

Llan Ddu Fawr (Round Cairn) — Fieldnotes

Of all the rivers draining Wales' extensive uplands - ad infinitum - of their copious rainfall, irrigating valley floor and flood plain prior to 'going 'round again' upon reaching the coast, it was perhaps somewhat ironic that it was the arguably lesser-known Afon Teifi which captured the imagination (if not heart) of a certain JMW Turner. Yeah, the other 'Mr T' made some half-dozen interpretations of Cilgerran Castle, in various media, towering above the gorge cut by the river not far from its confluence with Cardigan Bay at Aberteifi (Cardigan). Now the chances are if you've ever glanced at an old sepia image of a traditional Welsh 'coracle' boat, it was taken here.... a familiar scene which might verge upon 'chocolate box' sentimentality if not for the brutally austere aesthetic of William Marshall's massive drum towers. Beauty and beast writ large upon the master's canvas.

But what of the Teifi's beginnings? Well, rising upon the inhospitable (one might venture so far as 'bleak') fastness of the Cwmdeuddwr Hills - that incongruously wet 'Green Desert' between Rhayader and Aberystwyth seemingly populated by none but sheep - it's probably fair to note the river's birthplace lacks the ethereal upland vibe of Pumlumon's Hafren or Gwy, let alone the Wagnerian topography of, say, the Dyfi or Rheidol. That being said, the shores of Llyn Teifi and its satellite Llynnoedd Teifi ('Teifi Pools') are no stranger to the tourist picnic during those heady days of high summer which everyone seems to recall were much more frequent in childhood. Out of season, however, it is a different story, a landscape where even a master hillwalker such as the late, great raconteur (and war correspondent) Wynford Vaughan-Thomas (Welsh, apparently) once floundered 10 miles adrift in mist. Furthermore, a glance at the 1:50k map shows.... well, not a lot, to be honest... to interest the casual Modern Antiquarian, anyway. For the Citizen Cairn'd, however, the 1:25k variant is more forthcoming.

An occasionally 'sinuous' minor road heads east from the B4343 at Ffair-Rhos (signposted 'Teifi Pools') which, albeit minus tarmacadam, will in due course lead the curious traveller deep into the heart of the Elan Valley reservoirs. East of Bwlch Graig-fawr [incidentally note the excellent cist at SN77606795] this road eventually crosses a cattle grid (at very approx SN784683) north of Llyn Teifi where it's possible to verge park a little beyond. Note the stream and fence line heading north into the hills... the latter an umbilical cord to guide the wary traveller toward what lies, unseen, beyond. I accept the challenge - tentatively, I admit, with my beady eye upon the cloud base - and, like Bowie's (semi-autobiographical?) astronaut, it's time to leave my capsule. If I dare. Well, life's not a rehearsal, right? But even so....

It soon becomes apparent that, far from becoming overly cautious in my advancing years, my reading of the map was, if anything, too optimistic, an attempt to follow the aforementioned fence line at close proximity immediately rendered a non-starter by deep, industrial-strength bog worthy of Pumlumon herself. So, improvising a Plan B, I veer to the left (west) to ascend the rough flanks of Craig Pydolfa, prior to advancing along Meincyn. The going is tough, the terrain underfoot challenging, to say the least, with not even a sheep track to ease onward progress. What's more, I do not even have the incentive of a visible goal, the prominent cairn looming upon the skyline being Trawsallt to the north-west... the monument said to crown Llan Ddu Fawr conspicuous by its absence. But there you are. So, checking the compass (yet) again, I leave the peripheral safety of the fence and strike out northwards across open ground - if eroded peat hag and bog may be described as such - to ascend to the apparently featureless 1,949ft summit.

Eventually, upon cresting the rise, the profile of a large, circular shelter obscuring an OS trig pillar signifies my physical struggle is at an end. For now. However, it's what lies beneath which blows me away... a massive circular footprint, the scale out of all proportion to what one would expect upon such an obscure Mid Walian top. The silence is all-pervading, seemingly seeping into every pore; the 360-degree view is, although expansive, hard to define: a panorama of what, exactly? The absence of sunlight, excluded by the leaden sky, accords an almost monochromatic wash to an uncompromisingly harsh landscape of earth, wind... and water. Lots of water. But then this is Cwmdeuddwr. Yeah, I swear if you were to live here for any significant length of time webbed feet would result. If not gills. The feeling of isolation from the modern world, from civilisation itself - despite being not an excessive distance from my 'tin-can' - is overpoweringly sublime... as intoxicating in its primaeval intensity as the clean air I breathe, seemingly floating high above the world. An - albeit temporary - panacea for one's ills far more potent than that chosen by poor old Major Tom. Clearly, I will never stand upon the surface of my planet's satellite, either. But perhaps regarding moments such as this as my own 'moonwalk' is not quite to push the analogy to breaking point? To the north-east I can see another Bronze Age cairn, Carn-y-Rhyrddod, crowning the highest point of Llethr Tirion. It is nearer than I had, for some reason, anticipated and just a tad higher.

The bwlch between the two monuments is occupied by another area of serious bog complete with towering peat hags. Once negotiated, I find Carn-y-Rhyrddod to be not as immediately impressive as its wondrous neighbour due to rather haphazard modern alterations. The perception is misguided, however, since much of the significant footprint of the monument is covered by a grassy mantle, requiring the viewer to step back and tune the 'megalithic radar' before ultimately grasping what's what. Furthermore, the views are more cohesive, particularly to the north where Bryn Dafydd (also apparently featuring the remains of a funerary cairn) leads the gaze down to the more pastoral landscape of Cwm Ystwyth and the wooded Hafod estate, before rising again to settle upon Pumlumon sat purposely astride the horizon. The contrast with the unyieldingly bleak uplands cradling the llynnau Fyrddon to the east is all too evident. It is a fine place to be.

A couple of hours grace are all too soon exhausted. Brought back to 'earth', as if by hypnogogic jerk, I find, as is often the case 'up here', that I am reluctant to leave. Cutting it fine, I decide to compensate - ha! - by taking a more 'direct' route south for the return to the car... only to regret my folly in short order, being forced to retreat and circle around upon the western flank of Llan Ddu Fawr after stumbling blindly into impassable bog. Well, impassable for me, anyway. Probably not for a duck. Or water rat. The most inconsiderately rough terrain begins to exert its toll upon my dodgy knees and consequently, it is upon very wobbly legs - indeed - that I feel tarmac beneath my feet once again and finally clamber back into my command module. Exhausted, I decide to spend the night right here above Llyn Teifi. The thought occurs as to whether the venerable JMWT would have approved of the scenery at this end - the start - of the river's journey. Whether the old paint dabbler might have considered it worth capturing for posterity? Needless to say we'll never know. However, I rather think he would've, myself. Call it a hunch.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
29th November 2020ce
Edited 2nd December 2020ce

Craig-y-Dullfan (Pumlumon) (Cairn(s)) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Craig-y-Dullfan (Pumlumon)</b>Posted by GLADMAN GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
30th September 2020ce

Banc Lluest Newydd (Pumlumon) (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Banc Lluest Newydd (Pumlumon)</b>Posted by GLADMAN GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
30th September 2020ce

Pen Pumlumon-Fawr (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Pen Pumlumon-Fawr</b>Posted by GLADMAN<b>Pen Pumlumon-Fawr</b>Posted by GLADMAN<b>Pen Pumlumon-Fawr</b>Posted by GLADMAN GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
30th September 2020ce
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