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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Waun Mawn -- other stone settings

We  know a certain amount about the four standing stones on Waun Mawn, and the recumbent ones in the putative stone circle as well, but after exploring the neighbourhood the other day I am more than ever convinced that there were other standing stones and other stone settings too, largely in the area of the "dolerite blockfield" to the west of the hill summit.

First, there are a number of suspicious pits in the turf, too small to be quarrying excavations and generally about  2m across and up to 50 cms deep.  To me, they look like stone extraction pits from which suitable dolerite boulders or stumpy pillars might have been removed for use elsewhere.  Some of these pits might actually be standing stone sockets; and in two or three cases there are "leaning stones" with pits around them.  On previous visits these pits have been full of water, but after a spell of dryish weather I noticed that they are full of rounded and sub-rounded cobbles and stones -- varying in size from fist-size up to skull-size.  These are mostly made of dolerite, and they look as if they have been picked out from glacial deposits and maybe used as packing stones.  Interestingly enough, in the pits there are relatively few fragments or shards of the "meta-mudstone" or rhyolite found on the hill summits of Banc Du and Cnwc yr Hydd.

Carefully-selected  (?) packing stones (mostly dolerite) adjacent to two fallen monoliths in the dolerite blockfield.

Second, there are a number of traces of more elaborate stone settings, sometimes associated with slight pits and sometimes not.  Here are three examples:

Three boulders set side by side, with their flattish faces on the inside, where there is a slight depression.  There are several other boulders too, and what appears to be a flattish slab sticking out of the turf.  The remains of a ruined cromlech or "sub-megalithoic" burial chamber?

Clear signs of a stone wall made of small boulders, connecting one prominent stone and another deeply embedded in the turf.  The stone at the top of the photo is a massive piece of quartz. Left of centre, there is a clear hollow.  Another ruined cromlech?

Another stone setting with three large aligned boulders on one flank of a pit, and a pile of smaller boulders to the left.  Yet another burial site from which the largest stones have been removed?

There are more things to be discovered here -- I am sure of that.  Waun Mawn looks like a continuation of what we have already noted on Banc Llwydlos -- a landscape full of stone settings.  Neolithic or Bronze Age?  Most likely, I think, to be the latter -- and as I recall, this was the conclusion of the Dyfed Archaeological Trust field workers who spent time in the area some years ago.

I'll hazard a guess and say that when the archaeologists start intensive work in this area in September, they will find recumbent stones and stone sockets all over the place, and a number of burial sites into the bargain.............  and then there are the ring cairns and the quarries.........

And by the way, the old maps show a "hut circle" to the right of the track leading up to Gernos Fach, not far from the biggest standing stone.  I haven't found that one yet.

PS.  Found it!  Here is in on Bing images -- grid ref approx 081342:

I wonder how many hut circles there may be, hidden in the gorse?   The fact that there is domestic architecture around may increase the chances that the quarrying activity was related to building and roofing supplies.......

This is another more obvious ring cairn, about 40m to the SE of the hill summit and its pile of stones. It;s somewhat irregular and incomplete / damaged?  The embankment is about 50 cm high, and the circle diameter is about 10 m.  There are hollows, about 4m across, on its northern flank -- might they have been hut sites, or just sites from which stones have been robbed?


Dave Maynard said...

Sounds like a multi-disciplinary team is needed to go from rock to rock giving their impressions of what led the rock to be there and any particular issues about it. Then put it all in a big GIS and see what answer comes out.

I've seen these collections of smaller stones around a large block before. My feeling has usually been that they are in a hollow formed by sheep sheltering beside the rock, into which the smaller stones have fallen from the soil above displaced by sheep. Doesn't mean that all such examples are natural though, I've looked in sufficient detail at them.


BRIAN JOHN said...

Ha! I like it! Somebody else arguing that things might be natural, and me arguing that they are probably man-made! Never thought that would happen........