Ancient stones just outside Cardiff
If you fancy getting away from the bustle of the city and getting in touch with the real past of South Wales, just a few miles outside Cardiff's west side lies an impressive ancient dolmen. St Lythan's Burial Chamber stands alone in a large field down a country road near Wenvoe.
With its mighty and massive capstone this megalithic monument is easy to see from the road that passes it. It is just as easy to stop and walk across the grass to see it close up.
There is a small parking spot alongside a kissing-gate entrance to the field. Often you will find no one else there, and impressive as the St Lythan's Burial Chamber is many Cardiff residents know nothing about its lonely existence.
Visit St Lythan's Burial Chamber just outside Cardiff
Although many people in Cardiff and South Wales know nothing about them there are some ancient burial chambers just outside the city - St Lythans and Tinkinswood Burial Chambers
Ancient stones just outside Cardiff
St Lythans Burial Chamber
In a field in St Lythans
The ancient stones of St Lythans Buri...
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According to folklore the field in which the stones are standing is cursed and has also been called the "Accursed Field" because nothing will grow in it. Rock star turned author and researcher of ancient sites Julian Cope has suggested that its name derives from "Field O'Koeur." Cope's book The Modern Antiquarian is a well-researched volume of epic proportions and contains information and ideas about the ancient sites the writer visited around Britain.
One legend says that the stones will grant any wish whispered to them on the night of Halloween. Another tradition from local folklore claims that the capstone spins three times each Midsummer's Eve. This idea fits with another name for the field in which the dolmen stands which is Maes y Felin (The Mill Field.) On the same night it was believed that all the stones left the site and went bathing in a local river.
St Lythan's Burial Chamber description
Tinkinswood Burial Chambers too
St Lythans (Llwyneliddon) is a tiny village in the Vale of Glamorgan that is about midway between Wenvoe (Gwenfô) and St Nicholas (Sain Nicolas).The field that St Lythan's Burial Chamber is in is located some 500 yards (460 m) south east of Dyffryn House (Ty Dyffryn) and Dyffryn Gardens, which many people visit and where events are often staged. You can get to it either by taking the road from St Nicholas or from taking a turning off the main road to Barry from Cardiff.
Tinkinswood Burial Chamber is another ancient site well worth visiting and is in another field but on the road from Dyffryn Gardens to St Nicholas. It has the largest capstone in the UK.
St Lythan's Burial Chamber has a really massive capstone too which is 4m (14ft) long, 3m (10ft) wide, and 0.7m (2.5ft) thick. The inner surfaces of the two portal stones of the chamber have been smoothed and the back stone has a port-hole at the top of it.
The St Lythan's Burial Chamber has been found to have an East-West orientation, and it is very likely that a large mound of earth probably once covered the stones, although some authorities think it may never have been totally covered up because of its standing height. In other words that capstone might have been exposed to the sky above.
In the early 19th century, St Lythan's Burial Chamber was known as "The Greyhound-bitch's kennel", or Gwâl y Filiast in Welsh, and is believed to have been used as an animal shelter.
St Lythans Burial Chamber in South Wales
A megalithic tomb
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I will never forget the night in which King Arthur Pendragon, who is the titular head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Druid Order, had been asked to knight a director and producer from BBC Wales television at St Lythan's Burial Chamber. Pete, who worked on The Slate, a series which had done a feature about King Arthur, wanted to be knighted on top of the capstone.
I had already accompanied King Arthur the night before, which was Halloween, to another sacred site in West Wales when he had knighted the writer and author Laurence Main on the peak of Carn Ingli, a mountain overlooking Cardigan Bay.
Laurence, who was writing for Wales on Sunday and The Western Mail , was living in a tent on the mountain where a Welsh Saint called Saint Brychan had once lived and was said to have talked to angels. Laurence was a big part of the Dragon Project in which many sleepers who chose to be part of this, spent the night on Carn Ingli and when they were in REM sleep he would awaken them and get them to record their dreams on to a tape recorder.
It was his chosen site to be honoured with a knighthood into the Loyal Arthurian Warband and that was why King Arthur had had to go there. That night was a story in itself!
King Arthur had actually been injured in a road accident the day of Halloween and had his legs all bruised and bandaged up and I remember how difficult it was for him to climb up on to the capstone but he did it anyway. If King Arthur says he is going to do something then he does it!
Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.