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Friday, 1 May 2015

That ain't no pingo......

I have been to take a look at that circular enclosure mentioned by Hugh, about 1 km north of Carngoedog, in the area normally referred to as Brynberian Moor.  It's difficult to find, because the pattern of vegetation has changed quite a lot since the Google Earth imagery was put online, but once you are walking about on the embankment it looks very convincing.  It's difficult to photograph too, without a drone!  The grid ref is SN126337.

Anyway, the first thing to be said is that is clearly not a pingo.  The feature lies on the northern edge of a dryish sloping platform, at c 190m altitude.  Immediately to the north of it, the slope increases, and there is a bank maybe 15m high, taking you down to the more boggy area of Brynberian Moor.  There is no way you would get a pingo developing in a position like this, on the outer (dry) edge of a sloping rock platform, since there would never be sufficient hydrostatic pressure at a time of permafrost for the creation and growth of an ice lens.

So it's a man-made feature, as suggested by Hugh.  It is actually quite well recorded in the archaeology archives: 

P 12.  Larger enclosures visited as part of this project included earthworks as well as drystone built features. One notable example is the well-preserved circular enclosure (PRN 9944) situated on the gentle north facing slopes of Carn Goedog.  This enclosure, lying within a complex of fields and features (PRN 8403), consists of a circular enclosure, c.35m in diameter, defined by an earth and stone bank c.4.0m wide and 0.6m high that forms a complete circle with no apparent entrance. In the SE quadrant of the interior is a spread of stone that appears to have some form - perhaps circular - possibly an indication of a former hut circle? Unfortunately the reed growth within the enclosure obscures any other evidence of internal features. This earthwork does not have an obvious settlement function and there are no other similar examples recorded in Pembrokeshire but neither does it fall into any known category of prehistoric funerary or ritual monument.
March 2010
By F. Murphy, M. Page, R. Ramsey and H. Wilson

The embankment is now much degraded, but I suspect that at one time it might have been 2m high, made of quite large boulders up to 1m across and many smaller stones as well.  The bank has been flattened and the centre has been partly filled with sediment.  I think there is an entrance, pointing NNW and looking directly downslope across the moorland.  In the eastern part of the interior there are a few small stone mounds which may be the remnants of a largish hut, and there seems to have been another small structure in the southern part of the enclosure as well.    So my observations pretty well match those made by Hugh.

There don't seem to be any signs of a ditch, either inside or outside the embankment, and this one seems different from the ring cairns on Carningli and elsewhere.  The bank is bigger, for a start, and those structures have no traces of huts inside them, leading to a view that they might have been designed to contain domestic animals.  The evidence points to this enclosure holding human beings -- but it is something of an enigma. 


Hugh Thomas said...

It is great you have had a chance to look at this site, it IS an enigma, a cattle pound, an early reservoir ( as a friend suggested)or other things.
It is a busy area for things to find, did you notice the ditch running from the south west to north east along the edge of the slope ? Looks a bit deep and narrow in places to be an old drovers road , not only that it disappears into known very boggy areas at both ends .There is evidence of farming down slope from this ditch also .
My cousin is an archaeologist and he was VERY puzzled by it when he visited with me, he DID though say he thought he saw a possible entrance on the southern flank but my eyes did not as I'm not experienced like him .
He did say though it is nothing like anything he has seen locally or other wise .
I will contact him and ask him if he was any other thoughts on the site..

BRIAN JOHN said...

I noticed that there are features all over the place, including a very prominent stone wall running straight down from the "village" under the crags and down to the east of the "enigmatic circle". So I agree that there are settlement traces everywhere. The question is: how old are they?

Hugh Thomas said...

The whole area is crammed with settlement traces and this concerns we over when it is scheduled to be dug and by whom.
I personally feel an independent effort should be made to establish what life was like here during the so called "Bluestone transport timescale" .
It is great this area has survived in such an unspoiled way ,as if this site had been on the southern slope it would have been lost under modern farming long ago. The only other site I know of like this is Craig Talfynnydd , there is a mysterious ring feature there too to the north . Also , burial chambers,standing stones etc in a very puzzling site low down next to the bog at Cors Tewgyll..
Message has been sent to my cousin, hopefully will be in touch soon...

Hugh Thomas said...

Last Sunday I visited this site again despite the weather. This time was with my cousin who is an archaeologist ,his thoughts on this site are quite interesting and I have requested he posts them here.
In the meantime I continued my exploration of the area this time along the edge of the bog to the west and north.
To the west I further explored the strange ditch that runs obliquely across the landscape and found three megalithic sites not marked on maps. There were two lone standing stones around four feet high ,one obviously pointing towards Carn Ingli,it is unmistakeable. Then around 150 meters from the enclosure a standing stone pair ,both stones around 3 to 4 feet high,their alignment points to Carn Goeddog in one direction and mid summer sunset in the other.
Then to the north of the enclosure where the lie of the land dips markedly there is an area of obviously modified land used for farming,low highly eroded field boundaries are visible .
There seems to be a highly eroded possible second enclosure next to the main one along with cairns ,corn dryers etc.
I intend to continue my exploration of this site before moving onto the next area but I feel there is still much to be found here and am convinced the entire area needs investigation...