The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian




<b>Powys</b>Posted by postmanTy Illtyd © Chris Bickerton
Due to the number of sites, Powys has been divided into the three historic counties of Brecknockshire, Montgomeryshire, and Radnorshire. If in doubt where to add your site, the Coflein map search
may be useful.
See individual sites for details

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Pen-y-Gorllwyn Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Links

The enigmatic Pen-y-Gorllwyn monolith

Truly, this must have been something else when erect. Not bad on its side, to be fair. Well due a rest, eh?
7th August 2022ce

Gorllwyn (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Links

Gorllwyn... summit cairns and descent

OK, took a long time to reach, but worth the wait.
7th August 2022ce

Ascent & NE Ridge of Gorllwyn

A serpentine route to Gorllwyn, Cwmdeuddwr..
7th August 2022ce

Twyn-y-Big (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

Set amongst the glorious scenery of eastern Mynydd Epynt... away from all the (unfortunately, what with Communist lunatics murdering civilians for fun in Ukraine, all too necessary) squaddie training business... south of Builth Wells, this mutilated round cairn might well draw no attention at all from those passing by upon the very minor road... even from the antiquarian-minded lacking a 1:25k OS map. Combine a visit here with the even more obscure Banc y Celyn stone circle to the north, however, and you're laughing.

Yeah, the scenery is superb, the backdrop of The Black Mountains, viewed in profile while approaching across the hilltop to the northwest, being arguably the finest The Citizen Cairn is aware of. That of The Brecon Beacons, enjoyed by diverting the gaze a tad to the south, is worth writing home about, too. If only one still did those things.

As for the monument... OK, it is very 'messed about with'. Nevertheless, several orthostats strongly suggest a 'chambered cairn' of some description to me. Coflein notes:

"A much disturbed round barrow with stone structural elements.... approximately 10m in diameter and up to 0.5m high..... Three edge-set stones are visible and appear to be part of a structure within the cairn... To the south of the barrow there is a large edge-set slab 1.05 x 0.15 x 0.6m high, aligned northeast-southwest..." [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 16/2/2009]

As it was, I happened to be in the locale for 'logistical reasons', but was more than happy to reprise my original 2016 visit and take advantage of the fabulous summer evening light to hang out for a while.
30th July 2022ce

Carn Pantmaenllwyd (Round Cairn) — Links

A walkabout to Carn Pantmaenllwyd, Hafen

Good things come to he who waits. Well, sometimes.
30th July 2022ce

Carn Pantmaenllwyd (Round Cairn) — Miscellaneous

Fantastic site, this.... in a fantastic location, too. Just too far 'down the slope' to visit following an audience with the Hafen stones/Drum Ddu cairns a couple of years back, I congratulate myself upon my untypical restraint back then. Yeah, you'll want to devote a fair bit of time to this one, such is the form and vibe.

I approached in a rather, er, roundabout way, starting from road's end below Gors-wen, at the head of the beautiful Cwm Chwefri, subsequently arcing to the right around the trees north of Little Pudding Cottage, prior to heading uphill above the eastern bank of the Nant Hafen. Pretty rough going through high fern... but there you are. It's well worth a detour in order to make the final approach from above and to the northeast to enjoy as splendid a view of a cairn as I've had the pleasure in a long time.

The first thing to strike the blissed-out traveller is "wow, this is a big one" .... some 60ft in diameter, in fact. OK, some fool might've taken a chunk out of it at some point, but nevertheless (in my experience) relatively intact... Needless to say, the Coflein description doesn't begin to do the site justice. Or convey much at all really:

"A cairn, 18.3m in diameter and 0.9m high, much disturbed." [J.Wiles 23.04.02]

The cairn is seemingly positioned by those who took such great trouble to fashion such a massive stone pile here millennia ago so Pen-y-Fan and Corn Du just grace the southern horizon... incidentally in a manner very similar to the not-so-distant Saith Maen stone row. As I hang out in the sun, Gorllwyn, with its cairn cemetery and massive prostrate monolith, graces the western aspect... and the thought occurs: isn't it about time I re-visited that brutally wild summit? Oh dear, here we go again. You know those moments when you can curse your grey matter for coming up with such hair-brained schemes? Tell me about it.
29th July 2022ce
Edited 30th July 2022ce

Gorllwyn (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Fieldnotes

Nostalgia: a yearning for times past when things were apparently more enjoyable, simpler, agreeable - in a word, 'better' - than they are nowadays. Yeah, as far as we know - since no one has yet managed to catch, say, a dolphin eulogising that golden summer of 2018 - we Homo sapiens are the only creatures to engage in such rose-tinted reminiscing. By its very nature the preserve of those of us getting on a bit, I guess it's harmless enough when one considers life is but a collection of memories... beneficial even, a bulwark against those gullible religious/political loons waiting far-from-patiently for that promised golden age always just around the corner... instead of actually getting on with making the best of the here and now.

Now with a little luck, most of us will, perhaps, treasure a few moments in our lives that (as far as we choose to recall) could not really have been bettered. You know, those perfect days Van Morrison's mama told the gruff old Belfastonian about back in the day. Yeah, funny how mums always seem to know, don't they? Well, one of mine was arguably an ascent of Gorllwyn - at 2,011ft among the highest points of the Cwmdeuddwr Hills and crowned by two massive Bronze Age cairns - upon a peerless day in October 2008. The kind of day one is sure can never be repeated, never matched, let alone surpassed... the memories best archived 'for nostalgic reference only'. Hahaha. So what is a traveller to do when, improbable as it seemed, the opportunity to potentially reprise such winders arises again? Accept the challenge and The Citizen Cairn's on a hiding to nothing, right? Decline and a man may as well file everything away in the box labelled 'Previous Life'. Accept one is 'past it'. Sure enough - the notion having popped into my head while slumbering in the sun upon the great Carn Pantmaenllwyd the previous day - a perfect dawn at the head of Cwm Ystwyth duly calls my bluff: Time to put up... or shut up, mup. So what's it gonna be? Hell, you only live once. I decide to go for it.

The early morning drive along the Elan Reservoir tourist route is refreshingly lacking in, well, tourists, for one thing. Clearly still tucking into bacon and eggs at the B&B. Another is, curiously enough, water... the reservoirs having been drained for maintenance of some description, the sight of their riven, bare flanks shining in the sun as unfamiliar as a Victorian debutante caught unawares skinny-dipping by an admirer. The car park at Pant y Gwartheg, in contrast, is far from empty and therefore not a place to linger following the application of handfuls of SPF50. Once across the rushing Afon Claerwen - a stirring sight - I follow the track to the left past Llanerch Cawr, an individual upon a tractor showing himself to be none too fond of walkers. Whatever... for the record, I'm not enamoured by people who do not display common courtesies either. Anyway, at the Nant Ddu fords, not being able to identify the route of the public footpath shown upon my 1:50k (the 1:25k is much clearer in retrospect) I head steeply upwards towards Esgair Gwar-y-cae and the uncompromisingly wild hill country above and beyond.

The heat is punishing, the topography testing in such conditions, to say the least. The extreme effort demanded of me necessitates frequent pauses to catch my breath, intervals I elect to fill with impressive retrospective views of the great Claerwen dam in its landscape, along with more rudimentary actions, such as wringing the sweat from kitchen roll inserted within my (it has to be said) disintegrating sunhat. You know, the type with the 'Foreign Legion' bit at the back worn by all fashion-conscious adventurers this year? In a forlorn attempt at mitigation, I decide to 'circle around to the left' to ease the angle of ascent somewhat and thus take the opportunity to refill an already depleted water bottle within the great chasm carved by the Nant Rhyd-goch. In so doing I neglect to take a bearing and, distracted by the majesterial, sweeping views and the sight of Y Gamriw's great cairns upon the skyline, continue across Waun Sarn instead of swinging right to ascend to Cnapiau'r Ferlen...

The penny drops when Y Gamriw's massive cairns appear dead ahead where, according to my cunning plan, they shouldn't be. Taking stock, I note Gorllwyn... er, somewhat further to the south-west than anticipated. Ah, the luxury accorded the upland walker by line of sight, something that, when denied through the occurrence of hill fog, makes these hills lethal in poor weather. As it is, glorious views down into Cwm Pistyll and Cwm Chwefri (location of yesterday's musings) compensate for the additional legwork demanded of me. I pass Llyn y Ferlen - surely one of Wales' most lonely, unfrequented upland lakes(?) - crossing desolate peat hags thankfully able to more-or-less bear my weight at this time of year (how dodgy this terrain would be in more inclement conditions is all too easy to surmise), before embarking upon the final push to Gorllwyn's summit, this, the mountain's northeastern ridge, featuring a line of boundary stones not uncommon in these parts.

As it happens the summit is several hours coming, but none the worse for that, the hiatus a happy one and not the result of further muppetry: chancing across a rather fine, neat little cairn en-route at SN92165948. Unaware of this 'bonus' beauty from my previous visit, this unexpected beneficial outcome of my earlier route-finding mishap is duly appreciated. I plonk myself down and revel in the absolutely spot-on placement of this monument, the viewer able to enjoy an 'amphitheatre' formed by the skyline profile of distant hills set almost to perfection... surely too precise to be mere accident, coincidence? Yeah, a seemingly random location is found to be anything but by something as simple as fieldwork. OK, granted, it's by no means 'simple' to get to such spots, but no academic qualifications are required, just reasonable fitness, some determination... plus an open mind. Thus the quite considerable delay.

I finally arrive at the summit, some 5 hours after leaving the car, this crowned by a very large round cairn indeed. The ancient stone pile is much, much larger than that below to the northeast, albeit a monument now sadly mutilated by the customary idiot shelter - why, oh why does the supposedly civilised hill walking fraternity view the erection and furthermore, use of these criminally moronic constructions as 'acceptable' behaviour? - together with an OS triangulation pillar set upon a concrete base. OK, the latter doesn't exactly display the most enlightened of positioning either, but at least it serves a practical, beneficial purpose. Yeah, it is high time all Citizens Cairn take a stand and call out those who we find abusing our prehistoric heritage as the ignoramuses they are. For these incredible, vibey places need and deserve all the protection they can get. As I sit and scan the horizon once again, it dawns upon me that Gorllwyn possesses, in my estimation, the finest view of South Wales' Old Red Sandstone mountain escarpment extant. No, really. Yeah, stretching all the way from The Black Mountains in the east to the western foothills of Y Mynydd Du, it is a mesmerising spectacle to behold invoking a reverence in this viewer I'm at a loss to adequately explain. Hey, but why explain? Suffice to just let it happen. Nearer to hand, Gorllwyn's southwestern cairn beckons.

The last of my stony trio was clearly also a very significant monument once upon a time. To be fair it still is, a substantial volume of material remaining within the great stone pile. As with its near neighbour, however, much damage has occured over the years to the original profile, what with a 'shelter' being carved out of the fabric and a large, conical 'marker' erected on top. Once again, quite why is anyone's guess. Stupid is as stupid does. Despite this further mindless vandalism the vibe here is intense, the views fit for eternity, perhaps? Funny, that... The twin 'beehive cairns' of Drygarn Fawr are prominent to the west while, to the immediate south, lies - literally - arguably Gorllwyn's most enigmatic secret: a prostrate monolith some 11.5ft in length, a number of apparent 'packing stones' still in situ at the eastern end strongly suggesting it once stood upright, an abstruse marker visible for miles around? What is beyond conjecture is the fact that, in my experience, few prehistoric stones in these Isles possess a better location... if any. It sure is a handsome slab of rock.

I return to the summit monument to hang out for the remainder of the time available to me before I am obliged to undertake the return journey to Llanerch Cawr, soaking up the atmosphere as if through osmosis. I remain undisturbed by other walkers, as I have been all day... this despite perfect summer conditions overlooking the prime tourist destination that is The Elan Valley. Luckily I've my voguish hat to offset such obscurity. Suffice to say this is why I continue to frequent Mid Wales' 'Green Desert' whenever I can. Compared with Gorllwyn, even Pumlumon's main ridge is overcrowded. Time to leave so, compass bearing duly taken this time (just in case), I 'cut the corner' taking a direct(ish) route heading straight for Waun Lwyd to eventually arrive once again at the bridge (in actual fact bridges, the modern road standing beside the remains of an earlier construction) over the vociferous Afon Claerwen.

Time for a brief pause to reflect upon the manner in which human error can have positive - as well as the customary negative - outcomes: the unwitting expansion of my expedition enabling me to discover another unforeseen aspect of this wondrous locale upon Gorllwyn's northeastern approach. Another piece in the jigsaw, so to speak, the scale of the puzzle revealed to be expanding - not contracting - with every element thus secured in position. Ultimately, I guess, there are no 'definitive answers' of the kind some muppet archaeologists use to proffer their personal theories... only personal experience. Making memories. Yeah, nostalgia is all well and good but, like this universe, I reckon it's best to keep expanding one's mind when opportunities occur. Am I wrong?
17th July 2022ce

Carn Pantmaenllwyd (Round Cairn) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Carn Pantmaenllwyd</b>Posted by GLADMAN<b>Carn Pantmaenllwyd</b>Posted by GLADMAN<b>Carn Pantmaenllwyd</b>Posted by GLADMAN GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
16th July 2022ce
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