Monday, April 6, 2009

Welsh Cromlechs

Wales has that marvellous air of melancholia, its greyness rising from misty rain and impregnable grey rocks. White foam crests the green-grey of the waves as they hassle the rocks of the cliffs, a quiet gnawing away of the land by the sea.

Above this sea stands one cromlech, Samson Carreg facing the curving coastline, the ground is not high, softly sloping to the small bay beneath and the tiny island offset against the beach. Was this the reason the burial mound was placed here? It is an elegant statement of large standing stones that balance a chunky capstone. Julian Cope says of its stones that they are shot through with amber quartzite, it has become sculptured on the landscape like an "ancient stone rhinoceros, caught mid-charge in one instant and destined to remain here forever".

This angle is looking away from Carreg Samson to the sea and a small island called Ynys Deullyn

However much we interpret in the present what we see from the past, the imagination is fired by the creative force of such places, the knowledge that minds not so far removed from ours, thousands of years ago undertook this massive attempt at monument building with the materials to hand and crafted on the land stone shapes that have an elegance of thought and creativity today.

Take another cromlech, not so far away from Carreg Samson, and marvel at Pentre Ifan with its beautiful flying capstone. Almost like a a wing of a bird it sits atop the stones, allowing the mind to fly to the sky above, as they wandered amongst the rocky landscape, did someone visualise this stone as a great stone wing ready to transport the dead to another place.

The car must wander down hidden lanes to find Pentre Ifan, park, and it is but a short walk along a grass path edged with great stones to the longbarrow itself. All that remains of the long barrow are these upright stones sitting on a slight bank, there is a 'closing door' stone signalling the end, a closing down of the religion perhaps, or of the last ancestor maybe.

Just two of the many cromlechs that cluster round this part of the south-west of Wales, protected by a harsh landscape that has not allowed farmers to remove these stones, they stand as a magnificent reminder, every bit as grand in their undertaking as a Stonehenge or an Avebury, of a desire to render into the landscape and the consciousness the reminder that man does not wish to be forgotten, that the flesh is soon gone but that something else, whatever you may choose to call it still lingers in the air.

1 comment:

  1. The cromlech at Samson Careg is really beautiful - it has real elegance and symmetry. In a way they have more impact than places like Stonehenge and Avebury because they are still alone in the landscape with no National Trust car parks, fences or gift shops.