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St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire

No place could ever be more suited to retirement, contemplation or Druidical mysteries, surrounded by inaccessible rock and open to a wide expanse of ocean. Nothing seems wanting but the thick impenetrable groves of oaks which have been thought concomitant to places of Druidical worship and which,  from the exposed nature of this situation, would never, I think, have existed here even in former days.

Quoted from Wikipedia and said by Sir Richard Cold Hoare in 1793  in his Journal of a Tour of South Wales.

St David’s Head still holds that air of mystery, though popular with the tourists at Whitesands Bay who enjoy the beach  below. But take the little footpath to the right of the car park that follows the coastline, until you reach the gate that encloses an area of gorse and stone. To your right rising above you is the bulk of Carn Llidi, footpaths meander upwards, and if you manage to find the right one you will espy an old second world war concrete base, hidden behind in a jumble of rocks is a two-chambered tomb (SM 7352 2789) though both chambers are separately spaced.

Carn Llidi west chamber

The most westerly capstone is supported by two stones, the back of the capstone resting on the ground, and is probably what you would describe as ‘earthfast’, a term invented by Glyn Daniels to account for this subspecies of tombs. The other tomb also has its capstone resting on the ground but it looks like that in actual fact it was resting on the ledge of the rock face behind; this is what Daniels believed as well.

Burial chamber butted against rock face

Take an hour or two to wander round this rather bleak landscape, for it still holds its prehistoric past on the ground. A Celtic field scape; large boulders that seem to define field boundaries, water trickles in the peaty moss ridden ground and there is an air of melancholy in the bleak brown and grey colours.

St. David’s Camp

At the tip of the headland, is a promontory fort bounded by three banks of stones, Baring Gould called it Warrior’s Dyke when he excavated there in 1900, we now call it St. David’s Camp. Barry Cunliffe says of Baring Gould’s excavation …a complex rampart protected a small group of 6 conjoined stone wall huts 5-20 ft in dia., excavated in 1900. Sparse finds;- whetstones, spindle whorls, hammer stones and fragments of iron, plus a few glass beads.

Coetan Arthur

 Of course there is another tomb, Coetan Arthur (SM 7253 2805) near to the promontory fort, it lies hidden amongst the rocks. Again it is an earthfast tomb its triangular pointed capstone facing away from the sea and pointing upward to the valley. Baring Gould also excavated here in 1898 but found nothing except traces of a drystone lining, and to the south-east a small revetment wall (George Nash and George Children). Though there is a counter argument that it could be a conventional tomb and that the third orthostat had collapsed. The capstone is said to resemble the rocky ridge of Carn Llidi, and this is why it faces up the valley in the same direction as the ridge.

St. David’s headland has a special magic, its prehistory is still to be found in its rocky aspects

Ref: Neolithic Sites of Cards. Carms. & Pembs. George Children & George Nash.

Iron Age Communities in Britain by Barry Cunliffe.

Article by Moss.


May 2011

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