SUNDAY 3 August 2008, and like many other days this summer it was cool and breezy as I left home. Within 10 minutes it had started to rain, and when I arrived at Llyn Brenig it was pouring down.
I sat in the car for 30 or 40 minutes before the rain started to ease, and I set off for the first ancient site.
The Ring cairn dates from about 1600BC. Originally it was a low, well built stone ring surrounded by a circle of posts. The posts may have been carved but there is no surviving evidence.
When excavations were carried out two cremation urns were found, containing the cremated remains of three individuals. One of the urns also contained a few personal possessions.
Boncyn Arian – “Money Hillock”, is a bronze-age burial mound close to the ring cairn. The earth mound covers a complex series of stake circles and a dry-stone wall which surrounded a central grave.
Later six cremation burials were inserted into the mound, two of them in urns. One of the urns contained only the burnt ear-bones of an infant
Other mounds are visible from Boncyn Arian. Also near by is a large stone marking the site of a Mesolithic camp. When excavators investigated they found scoops in the ground containing the ashes of fires and surrounded by flint tools and waste. The charcoal can be dated to about 5,700BC.
The makers of these tools would have been stone-age hunters and food-gatherers and they were probably the first men to enter this valley after the ice-age.
Now I headed up the side of the valley towards the conifer woods.
Just below the tree line, and beside a small stream are the remains of the relatively recent Hafotai settlement. This probably dates from about the 16th century AD.
A number of huts here were probably built of local stone and probably thatched with heather and rushes. They were probably used in the summer (Hafotai = summer houses) as their occupants brought their sheep and cattle to graze on the moors.
Now I walked along the hillside, passing on my right another bronze-age cairn. Unfortunately this one had been badly damaged before it could be excavated.
Further along the hillside I came to the Platform cairn. here has been found evidence of bronze-age man living before the cairn was built.
This massive cairn was built to cover the burial of an adult and child, the cremated bones placed in an urn beneath a large stone. The cairn was originally built as a wide ring with an open centre. Later the centre was used for another cremation-burial and later still the centre was filled in to produce a low, flat platform.
Now I headed down a slope, across banks and ditches marking medieval field. Hen Ddinbych contains evidence of Medieval stone buildings which may have been a large farm or small village. Some say that this was the original site of old Denbigh, but that seems unlikely.
Now I cross a wide valley bottom and a little further up the valley is a small bronze-age cairn. It was built
Near to the cairn is Maen Cleddau – the Swords’ stone. This is a large boulder, probably left by a glacier at the end of the ice-age, with a broken fragment.
Legend has it that the fragment was sliced off by a giants sword.
Now I return along the valley, back to Hen Ddinbych and on up the slope. This leads me to another Bronze-age cairn. Originally, because of it’s massive boulders it was mis-identified as a stone circle. It is now know
Looking to the south west is another small bronze-age cairn.
My path now leads down the slope, back towards Llyn Brenig.
Before reaching the lake I see the deserted Hafotty Sion Llwyd nestling in a hollow.
This old farm was rebuilt in 1881-the date is carved over a window-using stone taken from Hen Ddinbych and some of the other ancient sites. It was occupied by shepherds and had been the home of the Pierce family for over 100 years.
Legends tell of fairy music and gold, and it is easy to see why legends start when you see the romantic, isolated farm.
Llyn Brenig is a huge dam, constructed between 1973 and 1976 and used to regulate the River Dee.
Before the valley was flooded over 50 sites were investigated by archeologists.
The lake is 1.25Km long and covers an area of 1,000acres. It is 45 metres deep at its deepest and holds 13,200 million gallons of water. It took four years to fill.
My walk was probably only about 4 miles, but takes in so much ancient history. I’m thankful that the rain held off, and I returned a little windswept, but dry.
This view is looking to the south west towards Snowdonia, and thats the way I headed back home.