As far as tombs go Bryn Cader Faner, a Bronze Age cairn, is the least gloomy one I’ve ever seen. It is set in a circle pattern, about 30 feet in diameter; its array of 20 slender stones, a few feet in height, point outward and upward. The assemblage brings to mind images of the sun, a star, a sunflower, or something like one of the radio antennas from Very Large Array. On this hot, cloudless, piercingly blue day, it does feel like the New Mexico desert standing here; making the radio astronomy observatory comparison feel all the more real.
The naked tops of the hills of North Wales are an alien landscape. They are close to anywhere in Great Britain as the crow flies (and especially as the fighter jets-in-training fly), yet are marvelously remote, reserving themselves for the determined hiker. We were so fortunate to be given a golden day like this in a land legendary for rain. Not that it was easy getting here, there was much slogging through marshy grassland, and even backtracking when the grassland suddenly gave way to cold pools with very compressible bottoms. Sheep and baby lambs bellowed and called out in the distance. Some Canada Geese floated calmly on a pond.
The bare wilderness we finally achieved is the top of Moel Ysgyfarnogod. It is over Talsarnau and west of huge Lake Trawsfynydd. Portmeirion is opposite to the west, only you cannot see it. But you can recognize the mighty pylons that seem so fragile when viewed from the Portmeirion-side bank of Afon Dwyryd.
Back down to earth again, at some time it would appear tomb raiders had exploited this burial place, since it seems broken into and some inner stones are scattered around on the ground. Also, there is no canopy or cap stone. It could be that there once was a canopy, but fashioned of wood so it is long gone — decomposed or carried away. Or perhaps the design’s unique stellar shape was meant to be forever open to the golden sun and twinkling stars.
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