‘Golden Road’ prehistoric route, Preseli
The east-west footpath between Bwlch Gwynt and Foel Drygarn follows the ‘Golden Road’, an ancient upland route which passes many prehistoric monuments. The area is covered by several conservation designations – please follow the Countryside Code and avoid disturbing anything.
In the 16th century the old route was recorded as the Flemings’ Way. Its distinct earth banks then formed property boundaries. Flemish people had settled in Pembrokeshire after the Norman invasion, but a route across these mountains existed thousands of years earlier.
The Golden Road runs through the centre of the stone circle known as Bedd Arthur (meaning ‘Arthur’s Grave’) or Carn Arthur (carn = mound, cairn or tumulus). It is not clear whether this monument is prehistoric or medieval. Bedd Arthur stands on ground which was apparently levelled for the monument’s construction. Some of the stones stand, some have fallen.
To its north is the Neolithic quarry at Carn Goedog, thought to be the source of bluestones used to build Stonehenge, in Wiltshire. Click here for our page about the bluestones’ source.
Several monuments are located near Carn Menyn, an outcrop of higher ground a little to the south of the path. They include a barrow cairn, which is a mound of stones around a central chamber. The chamber roof is a giant slab of rock, 3 x 2.5 metres. It rested on upright stones, some of which have collapsed. Nearby are a large cairn, 15 metres diameter, and a standing stone which may have been a waymarker to help people follow the route in foggy conditions.
On the summit of Foel Drygarn are the remains of an Iron Age hillfort (there are paths to the top), with defensive ditches and hut foundations. People used the site for many centuries. It also features three round barrow cairns from the preceding Bronze Age, c.3000BC to c.1200BC.
The 3D model below from CUPHAT shows an Iron Age hollowed stone found at the hillfort in 1899 and now at Tenby Museum. It was thought to be a lamp, as it contained residue from burning, or it might have been a bowl or mortar.
With thanks to Dyfed Archaeological Trust
Coastal Uplands Heritage and Tourism website – more about places to visit