Page images
PDF
EPUB

DRUIDICAL CIRCLES-CWM BYCHAN.

157

ber of them had been seen lying about the shores of Aberdaron, in Caernarvonshire.

EXCURSION FROM HARLECH TO CYM

BYCHAM, &c. About a mile from the town of Harlech, upon a large elevated moor, is a circle of small stones nearly thirty yards in diameter, with another at some distance, surrounding it. From its form and appearance, it is reasonable to suppose that this was one of those

DRUIDICAL CIRCLES

In which were formerly holden the Gorseddau or bardic meetings. These meetings were always in some place set apart in the open air, in a conspicuous situation, and surrounded by a circle of stones, having in the centre a larger one, by which the presiding bard or Druid stood. In this instance there is no relic of the middle stone. This kind of circle was called Cylch Cyngrair, or the circle of congress. At these meetings candidates were admitted to the different degrees of bardism; and on these occasions it was that all the oral bardic poems and traditions were recited, and their laws settled. During these ceremonies all the bards stood within the circle, with their heads and feet bare, and clad in their unicoloured robes.

About 4 miles from Harlech is

CWM BYCHAN,

A grassy dell, about half a mile in length, surrounded by scenery as black and dreary as imagination can paint. On the right of its entrance there is a small pool called Llyn y Cwm Bychan, from the edge of which, Carreg y Saeth, the Rock of the Arrow, (so called from its being the station where the ancient British sportsmen watched and killed the passing deer,) towers the blackest of all the vale.

Descending into the hollow, and ascending on the other side, there is a deep mountain hollow called

BWLCH TYDDIAD.

Here the rocks close, and oppose a series of shattered precipices, forming a scene of desolation and barrenness throughout. A few grasses, liverwort and heath, constitute all the vegetation of this place. Wandering on this rocky cleft, until the higher mountains are past, a fine open prospect appears of all the country eastward; this constitutes a pastoral landscape, bounded by high distant mountains, which form a majestic barrier around : among these, Cader Idris, and the two Arrenigs, are particularly conspicuous. From hence a path to the right leads to another deep glen called

DRWS ARDUDWY, The Pass of the Maritime Land, a place well calculated to inspire a timid mind with terror. The sides and bottom are almost covered over with loose fragments of stone, once detached by the force of frost, or the irresistible rushing of torrents, after storms and heavy rain, from the heights above.

To this dreary scene succeeds a more wide and fertile valley, called Cwm Nancoll, the Hollow of the Sunken Brook. From hence, leaving the usual track, may be visited a CROMLECH, in a farm called Gwern Einion. This Cromlech is about two miles south of Harlech. It is at present made to form the corner of a wall, and is on two sides built up with stones; the interior is converted into a pigstye. There are four supporters, one of which is about six feet, another about seven feet, and the other two about four feet

SARN BADRIG-CANTREF GWAELOD.

159

in height. The stone that rests upon these is large, flat, and slanting

Betwixt the Cromlech and the town of Harlech is another Druidical circle, somewhat smaller than the one before mentioned, but surrounded with a similar distant circle.

From near this spot, at the ebb of the tide, may be seen part of a long stone-wall, which runs out into the sea from Mochras, a point of land a few miles south of Harlech, in a west-south-west direction for nearly twenty miles. This is called

SARN BADRIG,

The Shipwrecking Causeway. It is a very wonderful work, being throughout about twenty-four feet in thickness. Sarn y Buch runs from a point north-west of Harlech, and is supposed to meet the end of this. The space betwixt these formed, some centuries ago, a habitable hundred belonging to Merionethshire, called

CANTREF GWAELOD,

The Lowland Hundred. The Welsh have yet traditions respecting several of the towns, as Caer Gwyddno, Caer Ceneder, &c. These walls were built to keep out the sea. About the year 500, when Gwyddno Garan Hîr, Gwyddno with the high Crown, was lord of this hundred, one of the men who had the care of the dams, got drunk and left open a flood-gate, in consequence of this, the sea broke through with such force as to tear down part of the wall, and overflow the whole hundred, which, since that time, has been always completely flooded. Thus is Cardigan Bay, (a principal part of which Cantref Gwaelod formerly occupied,) for many miles so full of shoals, as to render it extremely dangerous for a vessel of any burthen to venture at all near the Merionethshire coast.

CHAPTER XV.

HARLECH TO DOLGELLEY.

(20 Miles.)

Road from Harlech to BarmouthMeini Gwyr-Cromlechs— Barmouth

Beach and River-Road from Barmouth to Dolgelley-DolgelleyNannau -Howel Sele-Old Oak.

EXCURSION FROM DOLGELLEY TO KEMMER ABBEY

AND THE WATERFALLS. Y Vanner or Kemmer Abbey-History of the Abbey-Rhaiadr Du

Rhaiadr-y-MawddachPystyll-y-Cain.

The road from Harlech to Barmouth is even and good; but lying over a flat and disagreeable country, it is, with the exception of the first mile, dull and uninteresting. Towards the sea there are nothing but turfy bogs and salt marshes; and, on the other side, the mountains are low and stony, and in every respect devoid of picturesque beauty.

In a field to the right, by the road-side, near Llanbedir, are two upright stones standing near each other, the one ten, and the other about six feet in height. These are without inscriptions, and are what the Welsh call MEINI GWYR, “ stones of the heroes," or the funeral monuments of celebrated warriors slain in battle.

A few hundred yards beyond the fifth mile-stone, in a field to the left of the road, are to be seen two CROMLECHS

[blocks in formation]

near to each other; to the first of these belong four supporters, and the stone that rests upon them is in a horizontal position, and measures about nine feet by six, to the other three supporters, and the stone that rests upon them is in a slanting position, and measures about eleven feet by ten; the thickness of either of the supported stones is from two to three feet.

Passing Cors y Gedol, the ancient family seat of the Vaughans, but now the property of Lord Mostyn, and continuing his journey by Llanaven, the traveller soon after arrives at

BARMOUTH.

This town, 10 miles distant from Harlech, is situated in one of the most unpleasant places that could have been chosen for it, near the conflux of the river Maw, or Mawddach,* usually called Avon Vawr, the Great River. Some of the houses are built amongst the sand at the bottom, and others, at different heights, up the side of a huge rock, which entirely shelters the place on the east. The situations of the latter are so singular, that it is really curious for a stranger to wind up along the narrow paths among the houses, where, on one side, he may, if he please, enter the door of a dwelling, or, on the other, look down the chimney of the neighbour in front. The inhabitants might almost cure their bacon in some parts of this town by the simple process of hanging it out of their windows. Some of the houses are nearly choked up with sand, which fills every passage, and is blown into every window that is for a moment left open, and no person can possibly walk many yards towards the sea without sinking ankle deep in the sand. In rainy weather this sand renders the place very

* From this river the town is sometimes called Aber Maw, the Conflux of the Maw. This has been shortened into 'Bermaw, and corrupted to Barmouth.

M

« PreviousContinue »