Sunday, July 24, 2011

Warriors Dyke - St.Davids Head

Warriors Dyke
Warriors Dyke is a promontory fort, ie it is a small defended settlement built on a long jutting out rock from the mainland.  Both Porth y Rhaw and the above fort are Iron Age, though they could probably have been earlier.  I read somewhere that if you did'nt find a promontory fort every half mile along the Pembrokeshire coastline something must be wrong.

Warriors Dyke was named by Sabine Baring Gould a vicar of the 19th Century, who also wrote hymns, beside  books on antiquities, mostly of Europe.  He excavated here and found the usual bits of pottery, charcoal and faience beads, plus to my joy, spinning whorls.  Sadly any 19th C excavation messes up the site so that any future more valuable excavation has all the evidence destroyed.
Getting there involves a walk from the popular Whitesand beach, up the side of the cliffs and through the gate onto the moor.  You will be faced with a shallow valley to cross with a stream running through it.
To your right is Carn Llidi with its double cromlech, which we did'nt visit this year; the tomb is hidden, or huddles, against the rock face and in front of it is an old WW2 platform, it takes some finding.
But to return to the settlement, fort is not quite the right word, over in the distance on St.Davids Head you will see another cromlech this is Coetan Arthur, again hidden in a jumble of rocks, but its capstone stands clearly against the sky. Coetan Arthur is framed between two outcrops, the westward is the settlement, and you can find it either by taking the path that goes along the cliff edge, or by heading for the outcrops and walking along the top - a much safer option.

Coetan Arthur cromlech

Warriors Dyke -hut stone circle

another one

I photographed five but they are all very similar.

The settlement is defended by three banks of stones, two very small, whilst the inner one is massive, and tumbles down in a dramatic manner.  Go inside and you will find a small grassy enclosure covered in stones.  There are six stone hut circles here, we found five, the stones haphazardly arranged in circles, presumably the huts would have been thatched with the reeds you find in the boggy marsh valley, but trees around the coast are usually non-existent due to storms, only gorse and heather survive the weather and quite a few wild flowers of course. Sabine Gould says the huts were co-joined but in will need another trip to confirm this!

wood sage

Toadflax lots of it around

Devil's bit scabious


  1. The Dyers Greenweed? plant is Wood Sage, a relict plant showing that it was once wooded here. The blue flower looks like Devil's Bit Scabious.

    This is not an area we ever get too (Blue Moon country it is) so interesting to read about it and see the hut platforms - what wonderful views they must have had.

    I would like to see Coetan Arthur before we leave Wales, so will have to single it out for an outing when we have a spare day.

    Sabine Baring-Gould is an old friend of mine - he wrote so many books I wonder he ever had time to stand in the Pulpit on a Sunday! I have a good collection of his books.

    Thank you for this outing on-line - I DID enjoy it.

  2. Thank you for telling me about the flowers, will alter. Hut circle stones could only remain in place because it would have been too difficult to take down into the valley.

    Its a bit of a walk up by the way, Baring-Gould only worked one day a week, did'nt realise you had his books, lots of fascinating tales of his in the Gutenberg Ebooks.

    A couple of more things to write about, the little chapel in the retreat at St.Non was quite interesting as well......

  3. I've just read these three travel posts at one sitting. It looked as though there were no signs or plaques perhaps to explain the hut circles and such, so one would need to go in company with someone knowledgable. Some of those paths sound a bit daunting--I've never liked being near the edge of a cliff.


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