Sunday, 9 November 2008

In the shadow of Carningli

Newport Castle below:

When I finished my degree course, nearly 10 years ago now, us mature students decided to celebrate by going away for a long weekend and stopping at converted barns at Brithdir Mawr, Newport in Pembrokeshire (not too far to travel). We walked to the top of Carn Ingli with a picnic, and drank champagne as we nestled in amongst the rocks to keep out of a keen wind. We could see for miles around, and out to sea, and it was a wonderful afternoon. This link will tell you a lot about the community farm as it is now. This year I shall be ordering as many of my vegetable seeds as possible from their Real Seed company: - check them out.

Anyway, on Friday we had a day out starting with lunch in Newport, Pembrokeshire, a little coastal town I know well and always enjoy going back to. We started off with lunch and then visited the wonderful butchers across the road, for the meat ingredient for this weekend's birthday meal - the local wild venison (Fallow) and local Wild Boar steaks we bought look superb. If you are in the area, I recommend you pay the butcher a visit.

We had a wander around the town, and I told Keith what I recalled from an Archaeology Field Trip there, about the Norman castle Motte down by the river; about the Medieval burghage plots still being commemorated in the current cottages and plots; about one cottage paying a "Rose Rent"; about the ancient ford where the bridge is now and the Lime Kilns on the far side, and how we hunted for Mesolithic flints in the bases of the reed clumps on the river bank, which had acted like filters for the debris washed down by the river.

We visited Carreg Coetan Arthur, a (possibly portal) dolman with a monumental capstone, which is one of six burial chambers comprising the Newport Group of monuments. Back in the Neolithic, this would have been a very favourable area for hunting, as analysis of wood samples from the river silt has shown that the fertile area beside the Afon Nyfer was lightly wooded and a good habitat for Red and Fallow deer, whilst the sea and river would have provided fish, molluscs and wild fowl. I have always considered that the position of this low-lying tomb (barely 8 feet above sea-level) and close by the river and the ford, suggests a territorial strategy in its location. It rests in the shadow of Carningli ("Angel Mountain" and site of an Iron Age hillfort and associated with St Brychan,to whom nearby Nevern Church is dedicated), but is sadly now in one corner of a small housing estate of bungalows.

Entrance to the dolman is through the little wooden gate set in the hedge on the right.

You can just see how close this dolman is to the river.

Archaeological excavations have shown traces of 'powdery, cremated bone, two sherds of corded Beaker ware, and three rim-sherds of Grooved Ware.' These were probably the remains of the cremation pots. Beneath an upright socket charcoal dating to 2700BC was discovered. The current understanding of this site has suggested that as both cremated bone and charcoal were present in the chamber, bodies underwent excarnation (by being exposed to the elements much in the fashion of the plains Indians of North America) before being burnt. In the surrounding area, "a considerable amount of Neolithic pottery of a burnished brown corky fabric" was found, as well as "a fragment of polished axe, flint knives and scrapers." (Sian Rees: Dyfed) A number of radiocarbon analyses date the tomb to around 3500 BC.

In Chris Barber and John Godfrey Williams' book, 'The Ancient Stones of Wales', there are a number of enigmatic photographs of Coetan Arthur with light anomalies, which I have scanned:

A stunning picture showing John G Williams dowsing the 7th Waveband - taken just as his fingers touched the top of the stone (not Coetan Arthur though). Negatives of photos taken either side of this frame were completely normal . . . You may choose to believe it or not, but remember the crystal radio sets of the 1920s? Cat's whisker I think they were called . . .

My own "light anomaly"! - photographing into the sun behind Carreg Coetan.

I will be back later to finish writing this - thunderstorms and torrential rain are playing havoc with my internet connection . . .


Greentwinsmummy said...

How lovely to see where the Real Seed company are based!I had seen their seed website but not that oe so thanks for putting that up,

that looks like paradise on earth there :o) I got some from them in the summer & was very impressed,like oyu I will be doing the bullk of our order from there,its so hard choosing arggg! need more room more room lol!!

The photo of the man dowsing the stone is incredible!
GTM x x x

Bovey Belle said...

JenC )or should that be Jenm?) Thanks for your comment and have got in touch. I can't seperate the comment from the private bit though, so can't post it on here. Would love for you to post again though.