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The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone Circle

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone Circle

With its dramatic coastlines and mountains Wales is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Besides its natural beauty Wales is also a land of ghosts, dark legends and unexplained phenomena. Now its time to shed light on the remarkable prehistoric site shrouded in mystery.

There are few well known stone circles in Wales, they are much smaller than in England, but they are just as mysterious. I have already mentioned one of those significant sites Y Meini Hirion (The ‘Druids’ Circle) above the town of Penmaenmawr. Moel Ty Uchaf north of Llanrillo, Denbighshire is another fantastic site and has to be a ‘must see’ when in the area.

Bronze Age archaeological site on the slopes of Cader Berwyn is a famously ‘perfect’ cairn-circle, this is the area where so called “Welsh Roswell” incident took place on 23 January 1974. Anomalous lights were seen both in the sky and on the mountain side on that night and high radiation reading were later obtained at the ancient stone circle. Well, we’ll get back to this story later, now I want to tell about ancient stone circle and its beautiful location.

How to get there

I should say it is not the most easily accessed of prehistoric sites, perhaps, but Moel Ty Uchaf is certainly set in one of the most scenic locations. The circle is set on the summit of a hill overlooking the valley of the Dee, just south of Cynwyd on the B4401 to Llandrillo. Parking available in free car park in village.

The site is not signposted, so you need turn left from car park and walk until you see the War Memorial, there will be the footpath sign. Keep left up a narrow lane past some houses. 

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleA cross monument that stands at the northern point of Llandrillo.

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleThe road towards the first gate

Take the road until you pass through a gate, from there you have about a mile to walk up the road, which passes through woodland before emerging into open fields, where sheep graze. Go though a gate – remembering to shut it firmly behind you – and keep going up the farm track. There’s a fork, stay to the right, it’ll take you to another closed gate which had a warning notice attached stating this is a SSI (Special Scientific Interest) area and that motor vehicles are prohibited beyond this point.

Travel Tips: It takes about 2 hours to get the site from the car park in Llandrillo. This environments is known for its changeable conditions, so windproof/waterproof jacket will be very useful.

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleCrossways of routes where you need to turn right
The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleSSI (Special Scientific Interest) area

You’re heading for the summit of the hill ahead of you. The circle isn’t obvious until you’ve emerged right onto the crown of the hill, and there it is. 

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleMoel Ty Uchaf stone circle
The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleA cairn circle measuring 39 feet across, composed of 41 standing stones

Location of the stone circle

Moel Ty Uchaf (highest house on the bare hill) is a stone circle roughly 12 metres in diameter, consisting of approximately 40 stones, all around one metre in height. It is situated atop a hill along the edge of the Berwyn mountains, with spectacular views stretching out towards Llandrillo and over the River Dee.

The Berwyn Mountains run south west to north east across central North Wales, separating Shropshire from the Snowdonia National Park. It is very beautiful, unspoilt and relatively unknown area of upland. The isolation this area has to offer is unforgettable in that when you access out onto the main ridge or summits on most days you will meet very little people. 

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleSteep walk up towards the circle creates a dramatic sense of pilgrimage
The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleBreathtaking views unfold to the right, capturing the spectacular panorama of the Welsh countryside below.

Moel Ty Uchaf is an unusual site which may have had a burial and ritual function. As I mentioned earlier there are numerous reports of paranormal activities happened in the area, which attracts UFO enthusiasts to visit the place.

Interesting facts: Berwyn Mountains have a long history of human habitation. Prehistoric men lived and worshipped on the mountains, leaving behind a dramatic ritual landscape to which many strange beliefs have become attached. Local folklore tells us that these peaks have been haunted by a multitude of aerial phenomena, including the spectral Hounds of Hell whilst to the south, at Llanrhaedr-y-Mochnant, the villagers were once plagued by ‘flying dragons’. Contemporary paranormal puzzles abound too and besides UFOs include ‘phantom bombers’, ghosts and lake monsters. The region is also the lair of that most modern of mysteries the ‘alien big cat’.

The Ancient Sacred Sites Of Wales: Moel Ty Uchaf Stone CircleG&K traditional selfie

Welsh Roswell

UFO believers claimed aliens crash-landed in the Berwyn mountain range and and the government secretly removed dead extraterrestrial bodies. The Government is said to have covered up 1974’s event, when scores of residents reported a massive tremor, strange lights in the sky and secret-service-style ‘men in black’ scouring the area. It has been dubbed the ‘Welsh Roswell’ after the famous U.S. case in which aliens were allegedly found by authorities in New Mexico.

In 2010, official Ministry of Defence documents were released that many news outlets claimed disproved any claims of UFO sightings. The official explanation: a meteorite burning up in the atmosphere happening, coincidentally, at the exact same time as a probable earthquake or landslide. That’s a doozy of a coincidence. Also, the “large fire” was actually just the flashlights of poachers in the mountains. The events spawned a cascade of rumours of course, however the strange thing about the “Welsh Roswell” UFO sighting is the sheer number of inconsistencies between the official report and witness reports, including the official logs of the Gwynedd police. According to the Ministry of Defence, the RAF search and rescue team that was scrambled in response found no sign of wreckage and concluded that no impact ever occurred. Strange then, that multiple witnesses and a police log reported a ‘strange object’ hovered above the mountains, then a fire, big explosion and massive tremor on the mountainside at the exact time and location of the nonexistent impact.

It could easily have been a crashed military plane and not necessarily an alien spacecraft—we never know, that despite the best efforts to curb public speculation, the Berwyn Mountains incident remains a mystery 44 years later.

Photography © Gurcan Sarisoy

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