September 1, 2022: Pembrokeshire, South Wales. The Floating Stones… as we surveyed them, the megaliths seemed to float over the green earth, sea and sky viewed beneath.
“There are more riddles in a stone than in a philosopher’s head.”
― Damon Knight
Winding through Wales
Jean and I wind our way north, headed from Pembrokeshire in southwest Wales into Conwy and Snowdonia. We break these long drives with interesting stops along the way. Today, that means ancient stone ruins. Most people are familiar with Stonehenge, the most famous of these sites. We visited it in 2021, and it is astounding, as old as the pyramids.
It may surprise you to learn that Stonehenge is not unique. Ancient Britons built hundreds or possibly thousands of similar megalithic (that’s “big stone”) sites throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Stone in the Sky
Our first stop today was at Carreg Samson. This was a bit our of the way, down very narrow one-lane roads hugged in by tall hedges. One lane does not mean “one way” here. When you meet an oncoming car, one of you backs to find a wide spot, and the other passes with a few inches to spare. This is not a place to drive a big SUV! The site is in a sheep pasture, overlooking the sea.
The Floating Stone
We traveled on to Pentre Ifan (literally “head-town of Evan”). The stones here were larger and more refined, and dramatically situated. The 15-ton capstone literally seems to float as it rests on three small points of rock. This site, likely used for community burial, was erected 5,500 years ago. That’s about 1,000 years before the pyramids!
The Cadfan Stone
Our final stones of the day wasn’t floating, but they were magical. Inside St. Cadfan’s Church in Tywyn is a 10th century sundial, in the left of the photo below. The stone at right is known as the Cadfan Stone, an 8th century gravestone with the oldest known writing in Welsh.
One inscription is haunting. “Tengrui beloved legal wife of Adgan. Greif Remains.”