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Jacquetta Hawkes writing of cromlechs in this area in the 1950s says that around St. David… the plateau of the old sedentary rocks are broken by abrupt outcrops of much harder rocks spewed up by volcano, each one will be seen to have a little farm, edged up against, it is also noted that a very considerable number of dolmens have similarly been built against the volcanic outcrops, perhaps endowed with spirits and local deities“.  The St.Elvis dolmen is not built against an outcrop, but follow the farm trackway and you are well aware of the rock that lies hidden in this area.

Be that as it may, this cromlech was badly damaged by the farmer in the 18th century, he tried to blow it up, but it has survived to the present time carrying with it the remains of its stones, some of which are also said to be incorporated in a nearby wall.  Its prehistory and a later church, which is now part of the farm buildings that stand near the cromlech, add to a long history when the celtic or ‘desert’ saints roamed the land setting up early churches near to the old pagan stones.

The front chamber

It is fairly easy to find, but is about a half mile walk along a metalled farm track. Taking the A487 from Haverfordwest to Solva,  just before you reach the lower village of Solva and the steep hill into the village, there is a crossroads and the farm track is across the road on your left.  Park here, and walk to the farm itself. There is also a public footpath from the coastal path from Solva.

The farm trackway

Many cromlechs around this coastline face out to sea, but St. Elvis is further inland and both chambers at St. Elvis farm are aligned n/w – s/e with capstones dipping towards an inlet of the River Solva. Taken from George Nash and George Children in their book – Neolithic Sites of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire and they go on to say that each capstone is supported by two uprights, the largest capstone measuring 3.1m by 3.7m.

One of the capstones

Double cromlechs are unusual but the Carn Llidi cromlechs on St. David’s head are very similar.

Carn Llidi tomb

Mention should be made of the name of St. Elvis, in actual fact the saint’s name would have originally been Ailbe (Ailfwy, Elfyw, Elfeis, Elvis, Elouis),  He died between 527-531 AD and was the nephew of St. Non who was the mother of St. David. A great Irish saint, he had many churches named after him, and there is also a St. Teilo’s well on the farm, to which the pilgrims making their way to St. David would also stop at for its healing power.  There is a folktale that pilgrims who were very ill would be left by the cromlech and given holy water, and should they get visited by a raven during this time, their end was nigh.

Elvis Presley is of course also linked to this saint, by dint of his first name and that his surname is very similar to the nearby Presceli mountains, there has been a great deal of speculation on this but only family history can prove that his parents came from this part of the world and gave the name of a saint to Elvis Presley.

The Book of Welsh Saints by T.D. Breverton.
Neolithic Sites of Cards, Carms, & Pembs; by Geo. Nash & Geo. Children.


March 2011

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