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Another short article from the pen/keyboard of Myghal Map Serpren.

Trelissick House and gardens can be found at Feock near Truro in Cornwall.

Trelissick was recorded as ‘Trelesyk’ in 1275CE which translates from the Cornish ‘tre Lesyk’ as ‘Leidic’s farm’.

The property which is now managed by the National Trust incorporates the grand house which was designed in the 1750s and its surrounding grounds.

A round-headed, granite cross can be found standing approximately 300 yards to the South East of the house.

Dating from the Medieval Period (1066CE to 1539CE) and set on a steep bank in woodland, this is not the original home of the cross which is thought to have been brought from its true site of Tredrea in St. Erth where it was in the higher corner of the orchard in 1844CE.

Trelissick Cross – note the figure of Christ in relief and the damage at the top right of the cross.

As noted by Preston-Jones, Langdon and Okasha in their ‘Ancient and High Crosses of Cornwall’ (University of Exeter Press, 2021), “Many wayside crosses were ‘rescued’ by local gentry and moved to their estates and gardens to act as landscape or garden features.’” Thus it appears that the cross at Trelissick joined many others being uprooted from their original sites around Cornwall and repurposed as garden ‘ornaments’.

Now scheduled and protected, the cross which is constructed of a coarse-grained granite, has one side of the head cut off and stands at approximately 3 feet 7 inches in height.

The front of the cross bears a figure of Christ in relief. Meanwhile, the back has traces of a very defaced long shafted cross with incised outlines.


A guest article by Myghal Map Serpren.

A granite wayside cross stands at the roadside passing Gwealavellan Farm on the inland side of Reskajeage Downs, one of several such items of historical and archaeological interest in the area between Illogan Parish, Camborne Parish and the rugged North Cliffs of Cornwall.

Measuring some 5 feet 10 inches in height, it was one of 13 crosses marking the church route from Gwithian to Camborne Church although it has had something of a chequered history before coming to eventual rest during August 1999 in an ancient landscape which is also rich in the Cornish language.

Reskajeague Cross from the NE (taken by the author). Note the missing projection on the left.

This Medieval (1066CE to 1539CE) monument has a wheel head containing a broad cross below which were two projections, one on each side of the shaft. Sadly, one of these has been lost due to damage. It languished as a gatepost for many years, buried head down and defaced by having holes bored into it (and the projection removed) to allow for gate hanging.

It was again uprooted in 1995, then to rest in a field at nearby Butney Corner just north of Menadarva until 1998 at which time it was taken to Gwealavellan Farm, along the road by the farmer, Mr Ernest Bowden, who knew of the stone since 1966 but until recent times and as it was upended, was unaware of its historic significance.

Thankfully, following negotiations between Mr Bowden and Camborne Old Cornwall Society, it was on 24th August 1999, that the stone was re-erected on a new base set near the old Reskajeage, Gwealavellan, Menadarva, Kehelland to Camborne church route. Being adjacent to fields recorded in 1737CE as being named Parc an Grouse and Parken Grown, alongside the minor road between Carlenno and Gwealavellan where it is joined by the church path route, this seemed a most suitable location with toponymic precedent for the decision, although searches for the original base stone have proven fruitless.

Reskajeague Cross from the SW (taken by the author). Note the holes used for gate hinges.

‘Parc an Grouse’ and ‘Parken Grown’ both translate from the Cornish as ‘the cross field’, and join other local fields with names recorded in the 1840CE Tithe Survey and which together share fragments of ancient field systems together with the remains of an oval-shaped Iron Age round.

The farm settlement’s name of ‘Gwealavellan’ is again Cornish, derived from ‘gwel an velyn’ translating as ‘the mill field’ according to Craig Weatherhill’s research rather than the alternative ‘view of the mill’ suggested by others.

The nearby parish boundary dividing Illogan and Camborne is, in the main, delineated by field hedges which extend to the cliffs. Interestingly, in 1601CE, this boundary was recorded as  ‘Keasek Vres’ translating from the Cornish ‘ke segh uras’ or ‘great dry hedge’.

Of Reskajeage itself, recorded as  Roscadaek in 1317CE, Reskaseak Downs in 1673CE, Riskejeake Downs in 1723CE and finally Reskajeage Downs in 1888CE, the name translates from the Cornish ‘ros Cajek’ as ‘Cadoc’s hillspur’. The downs themselves are named after the settlement of Ruschedek recorded in 1235CE.

Reskajeage abounds in archaeological sites, Bronze Age (2,500 – 800BCE) barrows and there have been numerous finds of implements from the Mesolithic (8,000 – 4,000BCE) and Neolithic (4,000 – 2,500BCE) eras. The area also boasts numerous settlement names which have direct Cornish language roots.

A further Medieval cross is recorded at Callean, not far from the site of the current one. Records show that this was uprooted by the Basset family and relocated to Tehidy House where it stood between the conservatory and the nursery. It remained there until the great fire at Tehidy in 1919CE and thereafter, sadly, disappeared.

Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of Reskajeage though is the possibility that it was the site of a great battle which occurred back in the mists of time.

Indeed, in 1926CE, Dr T. F. G. Dexter B.A., B.Sc., Royal Institution of Cornwall, wrote that Reskajeage derived from ‘’Roskedek’ recorded in 1236CE as ‘heath of many battles’.

This battle is commemorated by a one-time menhir later repurposed as a Christian Cross which now stands in the churchyard of St Martin & St Meriadoc in Camborne following a rather laborious journey.

Intriguingly called ‘Meane Cadoarth’ and also ‘Meane Cadoacor‘ and ‘Maen Cadoar’, and with ‘Meane’ and others deriving from the Cornish ‘men’ meaning ‘stone’ with a descriptor, this long stone is believed to date from the Bronze Age but was subject to extensive alterations in order to convert it into a Christian Cross in the Early Medieval to Medieval period.

Maen Cadoar (Connor Downs Cross)

It was initially situated on the boundary of the Gwithian and Gwinear Parishes and recorded in the Gwinear parish bounds of 1613CE as “Maen Cadoarth” and “the Battle Stone” and in 1651CE recorded as “the long stone called Meane Cadoarth”.  By 1755CE it was said to be laying at a roadside between Camborne and Redruth and by 1896CE it had become a gate post. Finally, the landowner of the Rosewarne Estate, Mr Van Grutten allowed the stone to be moved to its current position on 1st November, 1904CE.

At the head of the former menhir, standing to a height of around six feet, Medieval alterations caused a cross to be formed by four rounded triangular sinkings. The shaft of the stone is beaded and the decoration consists of a panel with lines of shallow holes.

Local tradition now recorded informs that each hole represents the life of a man killed at the great battle at Reskajeage Downs.

Of this battle, nothing is currently known. Some have speculated that the Cadoc included in toponymical research of Reskajeage is in the Cornish Royal lineage of King Doniert and that the spur and battle were named for him. Cadoc, also known as Condor, Candorus and other names, was a legendary Cornish nobleman and 16th Century antiquarians recorded him as Earl of Cornwall during the Norman conquest.

However, as with the menhirs, ancient sites, relics and stone crosses of Reskajeage and elsewhere, history moves irrevocably on and more has been forgotten than will ever be known.


  • Cornish Names – Dr. T.F.G. Dexter B.A., B.Sc., Royal Institution of Cornwall, Longman Green and Co. Ltd. 1926 with a reprint D. Bradford Barton Ltd, Truro 1968
  • Unpublished notes of the late Craig Weatherhill

If you enjoyed this article and would like more in a similar vein, please let us know in the comments.

Amalveor is a hamlet in the parish of Towednack, West Penwith, Cornwall.

The settlement of Amalveor is first recorded as “Ammalvoir” in 1337

Amalveor is a Cornish name derived from ‘Amal vuer’ translating as ‘great Amal’. Amal is probably a river name and the word means ‘edge’ ‘boundary’ or ‘slope’ also found in the Cornish place-name Amalebra which itself means ‘lower Amal’ from the Cornish ‘Amal ebry’.

A nearby hut circle and associated field system lays just west of Amalveor, the southern part has been almost destroyed by modern cultivation. The northern section is in moorland and consists of shallow lynchets with cross banks or earth and small stones.

A sunken lane, known locally as Badger’s Lane is part of the ancient Tinner’s Way which curves around the southern edge of Amalveor Downs up onto Lady Downs from the road to Amalveor.

On the 11th December 1931, ancient gold jewellery was discovered at Amalveor Farm about one mile due west of Towednack church, concealed in an ancient stone hedge. The collection of beautiful gold objects, known as the Towednack Hoard, included two twisted neck rings, four armrings and two lengths of unfinished gold rod.

One necklet consisted of a single twisted strand of gold, and the other consisted of three strands loosely twisted together. The gold was very fine, and probably came from Ireland.

The items were dated as middle Bronze Age – about 1000BC, were declared to be treasure trove, and are now in the British Museum. Copies of the finds can be seen in the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.

This find served to illustrate the immense age of some of Penwith’s stone hedges and points to the virtual certainty that the Tinners’ Way was a well-established trade route at that time.

To the northwest of Amalveor is Sperris Quoit, one of a type of tomb unique to West Penwith, and the nearby Sperris Settlement, a collection of seven Bronze Age hut circles.

Toponymy by the late Craig Weatherhill.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren

We’re pleased to report that there is a new player in the site guardian arena. A new group has been formed to look after several sites on the Derbyshire Moors. We welcome GSSN, the Guarding Sacred Sites Network, who introduce themselves in the guest post below. We look forward to hearing good things about their work going forward.

There are many beautiful, ancient sacred sites on Stanton and Harthill Moors, in Derbyshire. Nine Ladies, Doll Tor, Rowter Rocks, Nine Stones Close, Robin Hoods Stride, to name a few. These sites are always under pressure of various kinds.

The damage at Doll Tor during lock-down didn’t go unnoticed as the images spread across social media sites. Although shared on Facebook, no one had reported it to the PDNPA, English Heritage, or the Rural Heritage Police. This is where our group began. We reported the damage and realised there was a lack of information about what to do if one witnessed or discovers damage at sites. We made a poster, set up a Facebook group, and became inundated with messages of hope and offers of help, from people across the country.

Since then we have created an adopt a site monitoring scheme which covers Stanton Moor and Harthill Moor. We have a monitoring form and some guidelines for volunteers to follow. We’ve listed the potential hotspots for rubbish and damage in the area and created a ‘How to report damage’ leaflet. Sites on the list have been monitored every weekend since we started the group.

Many of you will have seen the posts on Facebook about the recent and very busy solstice celebrations at Nine Ladies over the past weekend. Thankfully there has been a group of volunteers on the moor acting as unofficial stewards and collecting rubbish from the site, as well as educating people. At the time of writing this, I can happily say all the rubbish has been collected and taken off-site. Indeed, it may now be cleaner than many other spots in the area.

Organisations who are officially responsible for large numbers of archaeological sites, such as the National Trust and English Heritage, have recognised that one of the most productive ways to ensure their long-term survival and conservation is via a regular and systematic monitoring scheme undertaken by local volunteers. In this way, sites which might not be encountered that often by archaeological staff (e.g. due to their out of the way locations on moorland, farm fields, and cliffs) can still be visited regularly, and any actual or potential damage can be reported and acted on before it gets out of hand. This information is then fed into a database designed to record each site’s current state, including any problems and the subsequent response to them. By recording such information, the database becomes a tool with which to make informed decisions about the management of a broad range of sites, based on their type, construction, location, and so on.

Our second shared responsibility is to create interpretation material that informs visitors about the importance of the sites through an educational website, books, artworks, and so forth, that encourages a sustainable love and appreciation for our sacred sites. ‘Sacredness’ is not simply a matter of joy in experiencing a beautiful or historic place, but a component which motivates people in how they interact with places. Our network is a platform to explore ways that we can help to educate people through positive, informal, and relaxed experiences. Our goal is to help protect sacred sites in this area from any damage. Damage includes digging, rubbish, graffiti, fires within the circles or close to the stones, machinery damage, vehicle access, and other types of damage to the natural environment.

Stanton Moor, in particular Nine Ladies, is a contested space. Many people have very strong opinions about how it should be treated. How can the complexity of meanings surrounding a place, be represented, through formal management and interpretation? This question is difficult to answer. There is no easy solution, there are many. Each site has its specificity, each visitor, their preferences. Such issues are faced by environmental educators, archaeologists, heritage managers, landowners, those who provide information for others regularly.

If you would like to join us on our quest for preservation and education, please like our Facebook book, Guarding Sacred Sites Network, or email guardingsacredsites @

The various current proposals for altering the A303 around Stonehenge all share a common theme in that they will all be bad for local wildlife. The Great Bustard Group (GBG) has worked hard to try and ensure the iconic Great Bustard is at least considered during the various meetings, consultations and reviews.

It has been an uphill battle with each new team of consultants or experts having to be identified and then briefed from scratch. One expert working for Highways England confidently announced they had been told there were no Great Bustards in the area.  GBG staff took them out and showed them over 15, almost in sight of the Stones. The next meeting comes along and there is a new face, who knows nothing about the birds.

A new threat to the recently restored population of Great Bustards now exists. Ground Water & Ecological surveys are taking place in the fields around Stonehenge. These are now involving teams in hi-viz clothing and vehicles with loud reversing beepers and they will be roving the fields used by some of the rarest birds in the UK for nesting.

That this should be taking place anywhere during the bird nesting season is concerning, but in an area with nesting Great Bustards and the rare and sensitive Stone Curlew it is particularly concerning.  The birds will either be denied the places to nest, or the worse scenario is that they will abandon their eggs due to the disturbance. The GBG was told about the latest works but only days after they had started.

No Great Bustards have been released within miles of Stonehenge and the birds have moved into the area naturally, and have nested there.

The GBG works closely with local farmers and land owners to do everything possible to ensure the Great Bustard nests are successful.

David Waters
Executive Officer
Great Bustard Group

By Dr Sandy Gerrard

The present can both inform and confuse our understanding of the past and help us appreciate the limitations of what we can deduce from what we see and find. When studying the past we rely on the tangible remains left by previous generations and skilfully manipulate this data to create a narrative. The passage of time inevitable erodes both our understanding of the cultural character of the people we are studying and the amount of surviving evidence.

This is especially the case with prehistoric studies where our understanding is inevitably severely compromised. Snippets of data are analysed, hypothesis created and conclusions offered. But just how reliable are these conclusions? We really can’t be sure.

Take the modern public bench. These are scattered in ever increasing numbers through the urban and rural environment. We all know what they are for and often why they are where they are. At the basic level they are all built to sit on, but there is much more to the humble public bench than this.

Thousands represent memorials to individuals as the plaques on them testify, others are carefully positioned to permit a spectacular view, whilst others are arranged neatly around places where sporting activities occur. Many others are strategically placed at the places where people congregate to utilise public transport and others are situated helpfully outside shops to provide respite for the laden down shoppers.

So the distribution of these single function items is varied and reflects a myriad of different factors, needs and aspirations many of which would be difficult to fathom out without their social and cultural context.  If one assumes that 90% are then removed leaving no trace, then the chances of understanding them is further compromised or indeed futile. As archaeologists we would look at the surviving distribution to help us understand them but we would also look at differences in their form. When it comes to public benches the variety seems endless. Different materials, sizes, shapes and layout are normal and indeed even within a limited geographical area, considerable differences in form appears to be the norm.

Do these differences mean anything? Again, as archaeologists we would probably try and seek reasons for the considerable variety in form and distribution and seek to analyse the evidence to see if it could tell us anything about them. Are they ritual?  The memorial plaques on some of them might suggest that they are. Perhaps monuments raised to commemorate certain people or events. Perhaps the horizontal surface was formed to received votive offerings. What about those without plaques? Did they have a different function or has the plaque been lost? What about associations can this help us?  Many are directly associated with litter bins. Were these bins built to receive further offerings and therefore do they denote benches of particular significance? Were those without bins used for something else or perhaps they belong to a different period?

Of course we have answers to all of these questions in the same way that prehistoric peoples fully understood the purpose and place of their structures. With the passage of time the social context of their built environment has been completely lost and we are left only with the material vestiges from which to attempt a reconstruction. Inevitably we fail and with every answer further questions follow.

We shall never really understand the prehistoric peoples who lived in the British Isles, but this should not stop us trying our best.  Providing we remember that our conclusions are merely hypothesis and that like ourselves people in the past were individuals living within a complex social system we should not go far wrong.

Raised timber walkway leading to a platform with a pair of benches. What would archaeologists make of the adjacent hearth? This pair of benches are positioned to provide sea views and the elaborate walkway to protect the sensitive natural environment. Archaeologically this site would survive as a double curving alignment of post holes terminating in a rectangular setting adjacent to a pair of contemporary hearths. Without documentation what are the chances that archaeologists in the year 6,000 AD would be able to accurately interpret this site?


The public benches at this location are built within a purpose-built shelter. Does this mean that these benches have a different function to the open examples? The answer of course is no but what chance would archaeologists of the future have?


An alignment of benches each with a view of the sea. Most are memorial benches does this imply a ritual relationship with the sea? These benches resolutely face away from the playing fields.


Four conjoined benches and a litter bin. Why so many together and why not four separate benches? The questions are endless and even with a full understanding of function and social context the answers are not always obvious.


Benches raised on an artificial mound and provided with a bin. The mound permits views of the sea. Without it the views would be hidden behind the sea wall.


Bench positioned with its back to the sea view. All the others areas have been positioned to provide views to the sea whilst this one has not. Archaeologists could see this as evidence that the sea played no part in the siting of the benches. They would be wholly wrong. Armed with the knowledge that this is a memorial to the owner of the model railway its position makes perfect sense.


Benches sited to provide pleasing views of the picturesque duck pond and mock castle.


A bench with no view at all. When built this bench would have views across a pond to a picturesque island. Subsequent remodelling of the area means that it no longer serves the function it was built for.


This bench is an integral part of the landscaping works. A recess was formed in which the bench was placed.


The form of the benches varies considerably. This does not reflect any difference in their purpose. We need to try and remember this when studying the past.


A bench that would be more at home in a back garden than in a public space. The purpose is however clear.



A guest post from Jim Rayner, a good friend of the Heritage Journal:

Anyone attending recent solstice celebrations at Stonehenge will have noticed that the old A344 northern stock boundary fence remains in situ and now acts as a ‘new’ boundary marker for monument field. Promises to reconnect the Avenue with the stones and create a ‘permissive route’ along the line of the old road have failed to materialize. Tim Daw has been following the story on his website in some detail.


Apparently, the official position is that the down-land grass needs more time to establish and works to create a new shuttle bus turning circle are on-going. Hopefully, by the end of 2017 these changes will be complete, but it is unlikely that this will have involved the removal of the fence. In practical terms this means the Avenue will still be separated from Stonehenge and people cannot spread-out down from the stones during Managed Open Access (MOA).

An easy solution would be for English Heritage (EH) and the National Trust (NT) to install a gate. This gate would only be opened for short periods during MOA and would be staffed by security and subject to all the usual EH terms of conditions of entry. Better still there would be two gates side-by-side, one for entry and another for exiting. Not being able to walk up to the Heel Stone from the Avenue (in one single movement) detracts from the experience (see video below). It could well be argued that the current fence restricts ceremonial access, is inauthentic and even contributes to overcrowding in the centre of the circle. MOA is an on-going process and everything needs to make things better for all concerned. In this regard, a simple set of gates could really help.

So, what do you think? Would an ‘Avenue Access’ gate, only to be used for ceremonial access at very limited times and fully controlled by EH’s security team be a good idea? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

The following guest post has been supplied by the UK wing of Blue Shield:


The UK National Committee of the Blue Shield (UKBS), the British wing of a global organisation frequently referred to as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, is leading a nationwide campaign to get the UK Government to finally ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two protocols of 1954 and 1999. Professor Peter Stone OBE, Chair of the UKBS, said:

The 1954 Hague Convention is the primary piece of International Humanitarian Law concerning the protection of heritage during armed conflict. While many in the UK have reacted with justifiable horror and indignation at the recent appalling destruction of ancient sites, libraries, archives, and museums in the Middle East and Africa, few seem to realise that the UK remains the only Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council, and arguably the most significant military power (and the only one with extensive military involvements abroad), not to have ratified the 1954 Hague Convention.

After the 2003 US/UK led invasion, the then Minister for Heritage, Andrew McIntosh, announced in 2004 the Government’s intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention as soon as Parliamentary business allowed. This claim has been repeated by every relevant Minister since. In November 2011, Jeremy Hunt, then Secretary of State at DCMS, made a joint UK Government and British Red Cross Society pledge “to make every effort to facilitate the UK’s ratification… and to promote understanding of the principles and rules of the Convention within the UK”. Ratification has cross-Party support and the support of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Department for Overseas Development; and the Ministry of Defence. Professor Eleanor Robson, Chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, added:

ISIS’ current rampage across northern Iraq and Syria is drawing urgent international attention to the plight of cultural heritage in times of war. By ratifying the 1954 Hague Convention, the UK Government would send a clear signal of its commitment to protecting civilian communities and their histories if it should ever intervene in this conflict or others, and provide the armed forces a clear mandate to do so.

For its campaign to be successful, the UKBS needs everybody who values cultural heritage in all its forms to write to their local MP urging them to pursue this matter. This can be done either by email or post. For those who would like guidance or some information to help them write their letter, a template (which can be adapted as necessary) and a fact sheet on the UKBS and the 1954 Hague Convention can be downloaded here and here. If anyone does not know the name of their MP or how to contact them, that can found here.

If you are still unsure of the need for the UK to ratify the 1954 Hague Convection, the UKBS ask that you please watch this three-minute film Protecting cultural property during war.

The UKBS is an entirely voluntary run organisation comprising academics and heritage professionals from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. You can stay up-to-date with its work and the progress of its campaign by following it on Twitter and Facebook. If you require any further information or have any outstanding queries, please do not hesitate to contact Philip Deans, Campaign Assistant for the UKBS, at Finally, to help the UKBS keep track of the campaign, it is also asked that when anyone does write to their MP, would they please let the UKBS know using the email address supplied above.

by Dr Sandy Gerrard

On Mynydd Bach Trecastell, a pair of stone circles, at least one stone alignment and one cairn stand spectacularly on a gentle north facing slope offering extensive views over Mid Wales and the Brecon Beacons.  The stone circles stand close to each other and are very different in character.  The northern one measures 23m in diameter and includes 21 stones and five socket holes. The southern one is 7.9m in diameter and includes four uprights, three recumbent and a number of socket holes.

The Northern stone circle

The Northern stone circle

The site receives a mention in the Preliminary Statement for the Bancbryn stone alignment produced by Cotswold Archaeology in 2012. In this report  it is noted that: “An alignment of stones was also noted at Mynydd Bach Trecastell in proximity to a pair of prehistoric round cairns. This ‘stone alignment’ was interpreted as representing a former postmedieval field boundary. The reason for this interpretation is unclear, but appears to be due to the much smaller size of stones compared to the Saith Maen example cited above, and largely recumbent.”

The authors of this report appear to have confused the stone circles with round cairns. The stone alignment leads from the southern stone circle and is a long way from the nearest cairn. The stone alignment includes at least five stones leading directly north eastward towards the smaller stone circle. The alignment formed by the stones is also directly orientated towards the nearby cairn situated some 175m to the south west.

Detail of the five stones forming the alignment

Detail of the five stones forming the alignment

Cairn at SN 83140 30992. The line of stones leading from the southern stone circle is aligned on this cairn.

Cairn at SN 83140 30992. The line of stones leading from the southern stone circle is aligned on this cairn.

The reason for the post-medieval field boundary interpretation is certainly unclear.  All the other boundaries in the vicinity include a ditch and bank.  It is also difficult to understand why a boundary would respect the stone circle stopping as it does a few metres short.  The idea that it may have not been accepted as a stone row because the stones were small is interesting.   If one starts from the premise that all stone rows consist only of large stones then of course those with only small stones must be something else.  This blinkered approach has obvious dangers and here the result is that a line of stones leading from a stone circle in the precise direction of a cairn has been interpreted as a post-medieval boundary despite the fact that all the other boundaries on the mountain consist of a bank and ditch.

Post medieval boundaries in the vicinity consist of a bank and ditch.

Post medieval boundaries in the vicinity consist of a bank and ditch.

It makes no sense to me to imply that the post-medieval farmers on this mountain chose to devise a completely new way of building boundaries when they arrived in the vicinity of prehistoric archaeology and instead chose to place stones in a line leading from a stone circle to a cairn. Perhaps we need to embrace the idea that stone alignments can consist entirely of small stones in order to avoid further silliness. Why do archaeologists working in the South West of England not have a problem with this idea?

A line of stones

A line of stones leading towards a stone circle is usually interpreted as a stone alignment.

by Sandy Gerrard

In March last year 18 questions relating to the archaeological situation on Mynydd y Betws were asked. During May the answers provided by Cadw were published here. I also asked my local Assembly Member (Mr Rhodri Glyn Thomas) to ask the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (DAT) the same questions and he kindly did this on my behalf. Having had no response in October I asked Carmarthenshire County Council for a copy of the DAT response and this was passed to both Mr Thomas and myself shortly afterwards. A commentary on the DAT response was then produced and sent to Carmarthenshire County Council. This series of articles present DAT’s responses in black and my own comments upon them in green.

General Comments (my commentary in green)

At the outset we should explain that this Trust has had strong reservations about the interpretation of the stone alignment as given by Dr and Mrs Gerrard largely through the medium of the press.

Interesting use of the words “has had”. The Trust surely either has or had strong reservations but surely not both at the same time.

At the site meeting the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (DAT) officer first raised the possibility of the stone alignment being schedulable and offered to contact Cadw directly for an assessment to be conducted. We informed him that we would also contact Cadw. The DAT officer also said that he would get straight back to us. I only contacted the “press” after it became clear that both the DAT and Cadw were not going to engage with our concerns.

This has concerned us as the nature of this archaeological find makes it very difficult to provide immediate or clear-cut interpretations on date and function and it is regrettable that this was done in the context of a sensitive windfarm development that has clearly invoked much local opposition.

I totally agree that it is regrettable, but as the stone alignment was only identified at this very late stage in the process clearly some sensitivity was going to be needed. If the Trust had instead chosen to involve us, as they initially promised, we would have been happy to work with them. Instead they choose to first alienate and then exclude us from the process and by doing so created the regrettable situation.

The Cotswold Archaeological Trust were commissioned by the developer to provide a report on the newly discovered stone alignment, based on a recommendation made by this Trust to the planning authority. The contents of the report are self-explanatory. However, it concludes that whilst a prehistoric origin cannot wholly be dismissed, it is:More plausible that the current alignment is representative of a later boundary, perhaps demarcating grazing rights on the moorland, or marks a pathway, perhaps from Bryn Mawr to the twentieth century adit workings’. [p12].

This form of “later boundary” is unknown in Wales so if this interpretation is accepted it would make the feature unique and therefore arguably more important than a prehistoric stone alignment of which there are several examples.

The “twentieth century adit workings” are neither C20 in date or adits. This site is described as late C18 or early C19 by the Royal Commission and was described by them some 9 years before the date assigned by the Cotswold Archaeological Trust (CAT). Adits are never cut into the very top of hills and it is perhaps better to consider them as outcrop coal workings. This is important because it means the report is suggesting that an impossible explanation is more plausible than one that “cannot be wholly dismissed”.

This Trust agrees with this conclusion, though our preferred interpretation is that the stones have been taken from nearby prehistoric cairns and used as a way marker across an open and inhospitable moorland environment, where changes to weather can occur very quickly.

This explanation can and has been challenged on many grounds:

  • There is no logical need for a third route to the summit of Banc Bryn

  • None of the other paths or tracks on the moor are waymarked

  • The small size of the stones means that they are soon covered by snow

  • There is no man made path or track on the upslope side

  • There is no need to build a path to a small scale outcrop working whose focus would have been continually shifting

  • The outcrop workings are much earlier in date than suggested by the report and may therefore not even be contemporary with the farmstead

  • The route chosen is more uneven than the one currently being utilised a short distance upslope

  • There is no tradition of waymarking across moorland using large numbers of closely spaced small stones

Why is the Dyfed Archaeological Trust so eager to accept an interpretation that is completely contradicted by its own records?

However, Dr and Mrs Gerrard may not agree with these alternative interpretations and it will be for them to produce a detailed report on their find which can perhaps be published in an academic journal making their views open to professional archaeological scrutiny and judgement.

A report has been produced and copies sent to DAT and Cadw. An online version is also available at:

This report and others are now hopefully being used as part of a consultation exercise being conducted by Cadw. However, no response to the contents of the report has been received from DAT or Cadw. Indeed the officers to whom the report was initially sent did not even bother to acknowledge receipt.


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June 2023

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