Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Collecting Words on Megaliths

This is one of my favourite stones, I call it the 'Lion Stone,' for its face of course, to be found in the  large circle at Stanton Drew Stone Circles.  credit; LS photo
The following I have taken from a book review of a book that seems no longer available, Megalith; Eleven Journeys to the Stone.  Jan Morris, who lives in Wales wrote the following in the introduction.  Just like the way she has crafted her description. I should actually title this 'Looking forward to Going to Solva', images of Wales have flashed through my mind this morning as I peruse lists for books on West Pembrokeshire!  This is what Jan Morris wrote.........

In their lichened,
faceted faces we see our lineaments; in their
solitariness, our loneliness, or our need to be
alone; in their gregariousness, our
congregational temper; in their alignment,
our deviousness; in their poised mass, our
fragility; in their rootedness, our
deracination; in their age, our ephemerality;
and in their naked outfacing of time and the
elements, a valuable lesson in patient dissent”

Pentre Ifan
Gillian Clarke writing on why she wrote the poem to be found at the end of this blog.

What set me on this stony path was working on a commission to write about a megalith which I’ve known all my life, since early childhood days spent in Pembrokeshire with my grandmother on the farm. The megalith is a massive but elegant cromlech known as Pentre Ifan, in the hills above the Irish Sea. The huge weight of the capstone seems scarcely to touch the orthostats. Within sight of the sea, under the granite outcrop of Carn Meini - source of the bluestones of Stonehenge - Pentre Ifan is a pictogram from the alphabet of stone. I read its silhouette as the very word for cromlech. Carn Meini is formed from igneous granite, as old and as hard as any rock on the planet, an outburst of molten dolerite and rhyolite from the Earth’s mantle. Under Carn Meini the fields slip downhill to the sea, the underlying sedimentary rock blown away in the wind, aeon by aeon, from Carn Meini’s bony shoulders.

And the poem by Gillian Clarke...


Near the cromlech
lies my favourite.
It’s fallen out with the others,
left out of the circle,
ditched in a damp hollow
like a huge toad
keeping its head down.

Megalith, giant stone.
Nobody knows it’s there,
hidden in long grass
cooling its bluestone bones,
asleep under the sun,
under the stars
for four thousand years.

So when I stroke it,
I’m sure it’s the first time
anyone gave it a friendly scratch
for at least four millennia.
I’m sure its stone heart
is beating under my thumb.
I’m sure it’s breathing.
Gillian Clarke


  1. LOVELY post Thelma. I think if you scratched me hard enough you would find fragments of stone in me as I have such a passion for them. Ask my kids - they can say "Oh, mum, you and your STONES" in such a doomy way it sounds like I am bonkers!!! Which I hasten to assure you I am NOT : )

    Love Pentre Ifan and the way it claims the land around it. I love the poem too.

    One of these days we will go to Stanton Drew . . .

  2. Hi BB, It is Paul that collects poems about stones but I grabbed this one as it is so good. Think stones stabilise the soul in their rootedness and that is what I like about this one.
    Stanton Drew is a bit of a disappointment but well worth the visit, the stones are scattered and live amongst young cattle and sheep most of the time ;)