Brecon Beacons

Saith Maen NW is visually the most impressive of the Brecon Beacons stone rows.

A cluster of stone rows survive in and around the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. At least 12 stone rows and a single stone setting are currently known and most have survived to the present day. The character of the rows varies considerably, but all consist of at least three stones aligned along a common axis. The setting (Waun Leuci) is of particular interest because it is identical in appearance to the quincunx’s found across the Bristol Channel on Exmoor.  Further evidence for strong links between South Wales and South West England is provided by the alignment at Bancbryn, which has powerful visual links with the Devon coast and is very similar in character to several rows on Exmoor and Dartmoor. Various sources have been consulted to create the gazetteer entries and amongst these are: the Megalithic Portal; Coflein (RCAHMW); Archwilio (Welsh Archaeological Trusts) and Aubrey Burl’s book “From Carnac to Callanish”. The Gazetteer data forms the basis for many of the research articles.

 

Map showing location of Brecon Beacons

Interactive map showing the distribution of Brecon Beacons stone rows. Click on top right symbol to open a larger version. 

Brecon Beacons stone rows at a glimpse

Brecon Beacons stone row plans

Simplified plans of the Brecon Beacons stone rows. Scale for sites in lower two rows is in bottom right hand box. 

Brecon Beacons stone rows in charts

Pie charts showing the proportions of different types of stone row in the Brecon Beacons and Great Britain. Click on image to see a higher resolution version.

A greater proportion of the rows in the Brecon Beacons are of the single type but solitary examples of a double row at Cerrig Duon and a triple row at Craig y Fan Ddu indicate that the variety found in most regions is also found here.

Pie charts showing the proportions of different lengths of Brecon Beacons and British stone rows. Click on image to see a higher resolution version.

The proportions of different lengths are remarkably similar to Great Britain as a whole with the exception of the longest rows where there are half as many in this region as opposed to the country as a whole. There is a fairly even spread of row lengths in the Brecon Beacons.

Pie charts showing the proportions of different numbers of stones recorded at Brecon Beacons and British stone rows. Click on image to see a higher resolution version.

The proportions of stone numbers in the Brecon Beacons is almost identical to Great Britain as a whole. In both, rows including between 7 and 19 stones are the most common.

Pie charts showing the proportions of different stone sizes recorded at Brecon Beacons and British stone rows. Click on image to see a higher resolution version.

Most stone rows in the Brecon Beacons are formed by small and medium stones but the proportion formed by large stones only in very similar to the national picture. Rows formed by medium stones only and small and large stones are rare in Great Britain as a whole, but are entirely abscent from the Brecon Beacons.

Radar graphs showing the orientation of Brecon Beacons and British stone rows.

The predominant orientation of the Brecon Beacons stone row is NNE to SSW with no rows being orientated to the east, ESE and south east. The significance of this observation is currently not clear, but further work looking at orientations as a whole may provide an insight.

Brecon Beacons stone rows in numbers
No. of alignments 12
Number of single alignments 10
Number of double alignments 1
Number of triple alignments 1
Number of multiple alignments 0
Maximum length 717m
Minimum length 3.8m
Average length 104m
Median length 31m
Longest row Bancbryn
Shortest row Nant Tarw
Total number of recorded stones 335
Average number of stones in each row 28
Median number of stones in each row 8
Alignments including small stones 9
Alignments including medium stones 6
Alignments including large stones 6
Average orientation 41°
Average altitude 420m
Highest row Craig y Fan Ddu  (500m)
Lowest row Bancbryn (311m)
Cairn at the top of alignment 1
Cairn at the bottom of alignment 0
Scheduled alignments 6
Individual Rows

A summary of information for the individual stone rows can be viewed by clicking on the site names below. Whilst it is believed that the existing information is accurate, mistakes inevitably occur and should you spot any your help in improving this resource would be much appreciated. Your help will of course be fully acknowledged. Please use the contact button to get in touch.

Bancbryn

A single stone row measuring 717m long, including at least 173 mainly small stones situated on a south facing slope with sea and landscape visual links and reveals. The row leads from a small cairn, terminates at the largest stone, is orientated north east to south west and stands between two cairn cemeteries. The visual links with Hartland Point and Exmoor are noteworthy. Excavation failed to provide a date but confirmed a lack of historic activity.

 

 


Careg Lwyd 1

A single stone row measuring 265m long, including 9 large-sized rocks situated on a south facing slope with extremely restricted views of the sea and Hartland Point.  One of the stones has been propped into position. The row is orientated NNE to SSW. There is another stone row in the vicinity.

 

 

 

 


Careg Lwyd 2

A probable single stone row measuring at least 42m long, including 60 mainly small and some medium-sized recumbent stones situated on a gentle west facing slope with extremely restricted views of the sea and Hartland Point.  The northern length of the row has been exposed by peat erosion and a shift in orientation coincides with an adjacent rock outcrop which blocks views from parts of the row. The row is orientated NNW to SSE and there is another stone row in the vicinity.

 

 


Carreg Cadno

A probable single stone row measuring 18.5m long, including seven large-sized boulders situated on a south facing millstone grit pavement. The row is orientated NNE to SSW and some of the stones have been propped in position indicating that this is an artificial construction. A stone row seems the most likely explanation and there are at least two other stone rows and a cairn in the vicinity.

 


Carreg Wen Fawr y Rugos

A single stone row measuring 58.3, including at least 12 small, medium and large-sized stones situated on a gentle east facing slope. The largest stone, which is now recumbent, would have stood over 2.5m tall at the upper western end. The row is orientated ENE to WSW and stands in an area with several broadly contemporary cairns.

 

 

 


Cerrig Duon

A double stone row (or avenue) measuring 42m long, including at least 29 small-sized stones leading up a gentle north facing slope close to a stone circle, another stone row and a cairn. Many of the stones barely protrude through the surface. The row is orientated NNE to SSW and is aligned towards the south eastern side of the nearby stone circle.

 

 


Craig y Fan Ddu

A probable triple or possibly multiple stone row measuring at least 27.71m long, including 21 small and medium-sized stones situated on an east facing slope. The row is orientated NNE to SSW and was partly excavated in 2011. Stone sockets were found but no dating evidence was recovered.

 


Maen Mawr

A single stone row measuring 5.8m long, including three unevenly sized stones situated on a small terrace close to a stone circle, another stone row and a cairn. The stones are arranged in height order with the tallest (1.85m high) at the south and the shortest (0.2m high) at the north. The middle stone is 0.4m high and the row is orientated north to south.

 

 


Nant Tarw

A single stone row measuring 3.8m long, including three unevenly sized stones situated on a small knoll close to a pair of stone circles and a cairn. The largest stone is now recumbent and denotes the eastern end. The row is orientated ENE to WSW and commands dramatic views of the Brecon Becons. A restricted view of Pen y Fan may be of significance.

 

 


Nant y Wern (Pant Serthfa)

A single stone row measuring at least 5.95m and possibly 29m long, including at least four or six small and medium-sized stones situated on a gentle south facing slope. The row is orientated north to south and is built across the limit of visibility to Cefn yr Ystrad.  The row is also at the limit of visibility to Pen y Fan.

 

 


Saith Maen NW

A probable single stone row measuring 13.7m long, including seven large-sized orthostats situated on a small east facing terrace. Five of the stones are upright, one is of Old Red Sandstone and the tallest is 1.7m high. The row is orientated NNE to SSW and stands close to a substantial shake hole. Doubts regarding identity hinge around its documented use as a sheepfold, a lack of prehistoric context and the fresh appearance of the stones.

 


Trecastle Mountain

A single stone row measuring 33m long, including five small stones leading from a stone circle. Originally the row may have extended further to a nearby cairn. The row is situated on a gentle north east facing slope, is orientated ENE to WSW and stands close to two stone circles and cairns.

 

 

 


Typology

Despite only 11 stone rows being recorded in this region there are eight different categories.  This illustrates the varied form of the rows in this region.

S2   Short single row composed of less than 10 large sized stones (3)

S3.  Short single row composed of less than 10 different sized stones (1)

S7.  Long single row composed of less than 10 small and medium sized stones (2)

S8.  Long single row composed of less than 10 large sized stones (1)

S9.  Long single row composed of less than 10 different sized stones (2)

S10.  Long single row composed of more than 10 small and medium sized stones (2)

D10.  Long double row composed of more than 10 small and medium sized stones (1)

T10.  Long triple row composed of more than 10 small and medium sized stones (1)


Identification

The enigmatic nature of stone rows makes their identification often less than certain.  Indeed without dating evidence the archaeologist has to rely on what is visible to help interpret sites. In this region 7 of the rows are considered to be plausible, whilst a further 4 are probable and one is a possible example. The individual sites within these categories are listed below:

Plausible

Bancbryn; Carreg Wen Fawr Y Rugos; Cerrig Duon; Maen Mawr; Nant Tarw; Nant-Y-Wern; Trecastle Mountain

Probable

Careg Lwyd 2; Carreg Cadno; Craig-Y-Fan Ddu; Saith Maen NW

Possible

Careg Lwyd 1

Stone Setting

 

LAST UPDATED: 28th November 2018

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