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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Carn Briw Folk Conspiracy


I was up on Carningli yesterday (and delightful it was too) -- and when I visited the Bronze Age (?) burial cairn called Carn Briw I was struck by the fact that although the cairn is somewhat battered around its flanks, there is a sort of folk conspiracy to keep it as a conical mound.

The damage on the flanks -- various pits and rearrangements -- is reputed to have been done for the most part by the Home Guard during WW2, when there was an observation post here, with some poor fellows stuck up here with their binoculars and radio sets, constantly scanning the skies and the waters of Cardigan Bay for signs of enemy activity.  It's very exposed, and I suppose one can't blame them for building windbreaks out of all those handy stones, and making pits in which to shelter from the rain.  Since the end of the war, small boys and young people doing their Duke of Edinburgh award schemes have camped out here, probably freshening up the holes and the windbreaks........

But if you look at the photo (click to enlarge) you'll see that the stones on the gentler slopes of the mound are lichen-covered (which means they have not been moved for very many years) whereas the stones on the conical summit look "fresher" and cleaner.  Many of them have been moved about over recent years.  This means there is a sort of "folk conspiracy" to maintain this conical cairn top so that it keeps its "proper" shape.  Sometimes some people knock stones off the top of the cone (children cannot resist standing on top of it), and then people rebuild them back up again.

Somehow I find that reassuring......

2 comments:

Davey said...

I tend to pick up odd stones and add them to marker cairns when out walking in the hills. I want to think im following an ages old tradition and perhaps helping to aid some poor soul who stumbles across it in the mist.

Can't say whether i would purposely add to a burial mound though.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Yes, I dare say most people who pass by the cairn don't know its a burial site and therefore sacred..... maybe most just think of it as a waymark. I wonder if the fact of people putting stones onto the top of the cone is an instinct thing? Or just a male thing, maybe since men like to build things and potter with stones? I must say I have never noticed women doing this...