Some of the world’s most impressive ancient burial chambers – dolmens, stand in the green fields and copses of Wales. My wife and I visited some of these prehistoric sites, and each time I felt the eery sense of an ancient past brought into the present. The dolmens, which date from Neolithic times, have been thoroughly investigated by archeologists and are protected as national monuments, and some of them are popular touristic destinations. Yet most of the time we were the only human presences there, gazing at those immense standing stones, pondering how and why they were built and what stories they could tell.
What were dolmens constructed for?
Just like in the case of pyramids, conventional history suggests dolmens original purpose was for burial. It definitely makes sense since in some dolmens human remains have been found, however, there are lots of other hypotheses of the dolmen’s purpose, here are few of them.
Russian scientist Rostislav Furdui hypothesized that, based on the properties of dolmens, they could be complex technical devices, namely generators of acoustic, and possibly electromagnetic, oscillations. He considered dolmens as large acoustic cavities.
Due to high concentration of the energy inside of dolmen it was considered as a healing chamber. Ancients believed if the sick person was placed into the dolmen with his/her head directed to the exit could be healed within very short time.
The dolmens served as spiritual centers for the ancients who once lived in Wales. Their religious leaders recharged their spiritual energy inside by meditating through the solstice and equinox illumination.
There is a theory that dolmens may have been used as a storage facilities 5000 years ago. The long harsh winters in which it was very hard to gather food to survive made dolmens very resourceful which resulted on the storage of necessary supplies as food, water and seeds for several groups of people for a longer period of time. The dolmen’s solid structure served as a good protection from all kind of animals, forest or steppe fires and earthquakes, and at the same time always visible over a long distances.
Shelters for dwarves
Some old legends say there were dwarves who once settled in the area; people who were so tiny that they used hares for riding. And, just like in fairy tales, they lived alongside giants who built stone dwellings for their feeble neighbours so that they could take shelter in bad weather. However, the giants were not repaid for their kindness. In order to tame the giants, the little people blinded them and gave them mind-altering herbs. The giants began to lose their minds and unleashed war and carnage, resulting in mass extinction of both the dwarves and the giants, with only the stone houses remaining.
Cromlech Bach Wen
Location: It’s accessed by a public footpath from St Beuno Church (Clynnog Fawr, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 5PE), is beautiful positioned between the hills and the sea.
What is fascinating that the capstone is literally covered in cupmarks, not something I’ve seen very often on dolmens. Someone must have counted them because there are reported to be 110 cupmarks and 2 shallow grooves on the top of the capstone, plus 8 more on the eastern edge.
Despite the iron railings around the dolmen, it’s still a lovely location, with the sea on one side and the hills of the Llyn Peninsula on the other. With such views, it’s easy to sea why the dolmen was built here.
At dolmens, almost everyone experiences unusual, non-trivial, extraordinary things. People claim they feel and encounter events, sensations and thoughts. Everyone feels differently. Physical well-being is changed sharply and often both ways. Some people at dolmens feel boosts of energy, a comfortable state or relief from pain. Others say they feel “squeezed,” or fatigued like myself after visiting Cromlech Bach Wen. I believe it just depends on the person’s preliminary state, preparation, spiritual and inner psychological condition.⠀
There are few places related to 7th-
St Beuno’s Church
was built in the 16th century, but it stands on top of much earlier foundations laid down by St Bueno in the 7th century. ⠀
To this day important artefacts are to be found at St Beuno’s Church including this ancient wooden chest hollowed out of a single piece of ash (Cyff Beuno), and used to keep alms donated by the pilgrims. Local tradition says that it was fashioned by Bueno himself.
It is believed St Beuno has special gift of discernment and was able to penetrate into the depths and mysteries of the spiritual world. Throughout his life, Beuno worked numerous miracles of healing.
St Beuno’s Well
The well dedicated to St Beuno at Clynnog Fawr is amongst the finest of a considerable number of wells dedicated to the saint across Wales. ⠀
The well was traditionally resorted to for the treatment of sick children, in particular those suffering from epilepsy and rickets. It was also claimed to cure impotence. After bathing the patient was carried to St Beuno’s chapel and laid on rushes overnight on Beuno’s tomb, a plain altar like structure that stood in the centre of the chapel before Beuno’s shrine. If they slept then the cure would be effective.⠀⠀
Location: Pentre Ifan is well signposted off the A487 from Newport, Pembrokeshire. 5 miles south east of Newport, off the A487. Nearest postcode SA41 3TZ
Pentre Ifan is probably the most well known and most easily recognisable prehistoric monument in Wales. Constructed about 6,000 years ago, it stands aloof on a ridge in Pembrokeshire in southwestern Wales, overlooking the Nevern Valley.
The most obvious feature of the site is the large capstone measuring 5 metres in length and estimated to weigh around 17 tons that is delicately balanced 2.5 metres above the ground by three tapering uprights.
Various legends are attached to the site including those that say it was a Druidic college or the temple of Keridwen. There are even tales of fairies with red caps have been seen at Pentre Ifan. Sadly, we saw no fairies – but they may have seen us.
Llety’r Filiast Dolmen
Location: This burial chamber is located on the Great Orme in a field at the end of Cromlech Road, Llandudno.
The covering cairn has been extensively robbed away and much of what apparently remains is a natural hillock. When the cairn was intact, is thought to have measured about 30m x 10m and seems to have been vaguely egg shaped. The chamber stands at the SE end of the cairn remains and comprises several orthostats of equal height, and a broken capstone.
Originally the capstone probably measured about 2.5m square, but only three pieces remain today, one still in place on the surviving orthostats, one lying on the chamber floor, and one propped against the northern side slabs.
Coetan Arthur Dolmen
Location: St Davids, Haverfordwest SA62 6PS. Post code is a guide only. This Arthur’s Quoit is located on St David’s Head, where there is also the remains of a small prehistoric hut settlement, and can only be reached on foot. Park in Whitesands Bay and follow the coast path.
The megalithic tomb dating from between 4000 to 3000 BC is one of the best-preserved of a number of burial sites clustered along the slopes of the Nevern Valley. A large wedge-shaped capstone balances on two of its four original stone uprights. Excavations of the site have uncovered artefacts including Neolithic pottery, stone tools and cremated human bones.
The ‘coetan’ part of its name is a reference to the game of quoits, often associated with monument of this type. According to legend, King Arthur himself played the game with the stone of this tomb.
There are many more dolmens across Wales, some of them are badly damaged, but all inspire the imagination. They convey a mysterious, haunting sense of times and traditions long past, with their mute evidence still standing.
- Caucasus Dolmens – Ancient Wisdom
- The Mysterious Dolmens of the Caucasus – Ancient Origins
- Dolmens – Point of View
- The Megalithic Portal