Road Trip Part I – Pembrokeshire…Ogham, yews and neolithic tombs

Instead of heading north to Northumberland or the Highlands as usual, this year we travelled to Pembrokeshire, an area I haven’t visited since I was a child and then on to Dartmoor, more familiar to me as I used to live close to the moor.

We stayed in Newport between Cardigan and St David’s on the stunning Pembrokeshire coast, with Mynydd Carningli (Carn Ingli mountain) and the atmospheric Preseli Hills as a backdrop. The Preseli Hills are of course famous for being the source of the Preseli bluestones in Stonehenge and current digs are taking place to identify the source quarry and more about the mechanism of  ‘transport’ by which the stones were moved to Salisbury Plain…human endeavour or glaciation are hotly debated!

Pembrokeshire itself has numerous neolithic remains and we explored many of these including roundhouses, chambered tombs, stone circles etc.

Pentre Ifan (dated to approx 3500 BCE) in the hills behind Newport is probably the most famous and spectacular Neolithic portal dolmen chambered tomb in the area,

DSC06202   Pentre Ifan

but many more abound including Carreg Coetan (dated to 3700-3000 BCE) in Newport itself, a smaller portal dolmen in which the capstone now remains spectacularly balanced on only two points.

DSC06130  Carreg Coetan

And thanks to Cymro Ap Arthan’s recommendation we also explored the Neolithic hillfort and burial chamber remains at St David’s head, a stunning location.

Such remains I expected to see in the area, but the picturesque village of Nevern, revealed some unexpected treasures in the local church of St Brynach on the old pilgrimage route to St Davids, which were particularly relevant to my Ovate studies with a magnificent yew lined avenue approaching the church, one of which is the famous ‘bleeding’ yew exuding a pungent blood red sap with many local legends associated with it.

Also a standing stone dated to around C5th immediately outside the church entrance inscribed in both Ogham and Latin (though the script is now quite indistinct) which reportedly says Vitaliani meaning (the monument of) Vitalianus;

DSC06146

and a stone ‘shelf’ now inside the church but not assumed to be in its original location, also inscribed in Ogham and Latin also dated to around C5th. The Ogham inscription reportedly says: Maglicunas Maqi Clutar meaning (the monument) of Maglocunus (Melgwyn) Son of Clutorious and translates in Irish Goidelic, (not Welsh), which was apparently widely used in the area at the time, Maqi being the singular of Mac (Welsh (M)ab or ap).

DSC06161

Close to the entrance of the church there is also a magnificent Celtic cross.

So much to explore in the area, as well as excellent walking on the coast and hills. We’ll be returning to explore more, as we couldn’t fit it all in to a week.

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