Friday, 22 April 2011

Another burial site on Carningli?

This is a boulder I have often walked past before, on the south side of the mountain and not far from Carningli Lodge.  It's easy to find because it's on the slope beneath a prominent holly tree.   I was walking past it again yesterday when I noticed that it has a slight ridge made of smaller stones running round it.  The ridge is about 3m across.  It's most obvious on the downslope side, and of course it's invisible at the height of summer when the bracken is high.  There is a substantial cavity beneath the boulder, and although it appears to be in its "natural" position it might have been levered up and then partly supported on smaller stones.  Could it have held the cremated remains of one or more local inhabitants?  It reminds me of some of the other "sub-megalithic" burial chambers in Pembrokeshire -- and of the simple burial sites in the Garn Wen "cemetery" above Goodwick.  These are sometimes called "earthfast" chambered tombs -- very different from the hugely impressive  Pentre Ifan or Carreg Samson near Mathry which are dated to the Neolithic.  These are classic megalithic sites.

As I understand it, these "lazy" tombs (made with a minimum of effort and ceremonial) date from some time after the "high point" of Neolithic tomb building, when traditions were changing.  So could this feature date from the Neolithic / Bronze age transition, and could it be associated with the relics of round houses and other features found both on this side of Carningli and on the Newport side?

Captured on film.....

There I was, sitting in the sun on top of the mountain, chomping on my breakfast sandwich and looking down on a world that was just waking up, and all of a sudden along comes this hulking great military transport plane (a Hercules?) flying very low, and following the Gwaun Valley.  Is there nowhere peaceful left in this world?

Monday, 18 April 2011

On hearing the first cuckoo

Yes, the cuckoo was there when I went up the mountain this morning, and enjoyed breakfast on the summit.  It was a perfect spring morning -- just a gentle breeze, and hazy sunshine.  High tide in the estuary too.  A seagull chased the male hen harrier across the southern flank of the mountain -- very aggressive it was.  A pair of rather agitated ravens -- they must have a nest not far away.  Skylarks up above, as ever.

Strange that one sets such store by the first hearing of the cuckoo in spring.  Are we taught to think that this is really the first sign of spring?  Or is it something instinctive?  Status is involved too -- one always feels a glow of pride, when talking to others, if one has heard the first cuckoo before they have.  On the other hand  one feels a tinge of disappointment when somebody says:  "Oh,  I heard the cuckoo three days ago!"

Strange to have such romantic feelings about a bird that is a parasite and a seriously nasty piece of work.....