Prehistoric stone circles


Prehistoric stone circles, Cefn Coch, Penmaenmawr

The uplands south of Penmaenmawr are scattered with prehistoric remains including stone circles. Druid’s Circle, one of the finest, can be viewed by making a short penmaenmawr_stone_circle_18th_centurydetour south from the Wales Coast Path. The name Druid’s Circle is misleading because the stones pre-date the arrival of druids by many centuries. The Welsh name is Meini Hirion (“long stones”). Excavations in the 1950s revealed the cremated remains of children, stored in urns of a type which fell out of use c.1400BC.

The drawing (courtesy of the National Library of Wales) shows one of the stone circles in the 18th century and was included in Thomas Pennant’s books about his travels in Wales in the 1770s. He noted that the largest circle had 10 upright stones, unequally spaced, of which the largest stood 2.5 metres (8.25ft) tall.

The stone circle and various other features whose remains we can see today were beside a roadway which was important in prehistoric times. Traces of the road remain between Bryn Derwydd farm and Cors y Carneddau.

penmaenmawr_stone_circleThis area was important c.3000BC  because the type of rock at Penmaenmawr, augite granophyre, was ideal for making stone axes, which were vital to humans’ development. The stone flakes easily into sharp-edged shapes while also being hard enough for durability as axe heads. The stone could also be polished. Axe heads from Penmaenmawr have been discovered around Britain including in Scotland, Yorkshire and the Thames Valley. One was found at Rhyl in 1926.

Much later quarrying, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, destroyed the remains of a large prehistoric settlement on the mountaintop west of Penmaenmawr, although some archaeological studies were undertaken before the evidence was lost.

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Other PREHISTORIC HiPoints in this area:
IIron Age hill fort, Conwy Mountain - remains of a fort within a fort

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