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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Big Welsh Walk— Gelligaer Common: An Archaeological Treasure House 14 May, 11am—3pm

Gelligaer Common is one of the most remarkable archaeological landscapes in Wales and features in the Royal Commission’s forthcoming bi-lingual publication, Archaeoleg Ucheldir Gwent/Archaeology of the Gwent Uplands by Frank Olding. On Saturday 14 May, senior archaeologist David Leighton will lead an informative and fascinating guided walk over this bleak but beautiful moorland. As part of Ramblers Cymru Big Welsh Walk, held annually throughout May, this 5-mile walk will take visitors to sites dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. This fairly easy walk should take about four hours to complete, including a break for lunch, and will offer a microcosm of the archaeology of the south Wales valleys before the Industrial Revolution.

Along the way, particular sites of interest will include a visit to the Early Christian Cefn Gelligaer Inscribed Stone which is over 2.5m long. This once bore an inscription near the base of its northern face that read NEFROIHI – “the stone of Nía-Froích”, apparently commemorating an Irish warrior, and dating to the late sixth to early seventh centuries. The stone was first noted by Edward Lhuyd in 1693, but the inscription is no longer visible. Following this, we will visit the deserted medieval settlement known as Dinas Noddfa, which was excavated in the 1930s by the archaeologist Lady Aileen Fox. We will also visit several Bronze Age ring-cairns, including the splendid Carn y Bugail ring-cairn measuring 19.5m (east by west) by 15.8m set within a partly visible kerb of massive outward-leaning slabs and capped by an OS triangulation pillar. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, diggers here reported finds of "bones and urns" and three parallel cists.

Accompanied by Royal Commission staff, including architectural historian Richard Suggett, David Leighton will offer his historical expertise along the way sharing a wealth of knowledge gained through his many years as coordinator of the Royal Commission’s successful long-running Upland’s Project. The walk promises to be a great day out for walkers of all ages and a rare opportunity to discover more about the heritage which surrounds us!

The meeting place for the walk is the carpark of the Visitor Centre, Parc Cwm Darran: NGR SO11360345.

Many of the sites visited in the walk will appear in the Royal Commission’s forthcoming bi-lingual publication Archaeoleg Ucheldir Gwent/Archaeology of the Gwent Uplands by Frank Olding. This will be launched at this year’s National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny on Thursday 4 August in Pabell Lle Hanes at 2 pm.

Places for the walk are still available, although limited. For further details and booking please contact

View of the Cefn Gelligaer Inscribed Stone from the south east
NPRN: 305944, DS2015_143_001
Aerial photograph showing medieval house platform on Gelligaer Common
NPRN: 15319, DD2015_009_132
Carn y Bugail: Capstone
NPRN: 301283, DS2016_005_003

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