Brithdir Mawr Stone Ring

Near Newport

Wales, United Kingdom. (OS Ref (GB): Sheet OL39 SN072379)


"And the Elders sat on rough hewn stones
Within a sacred circle,
And held in their hands the sceptral rods
Of the loud proclaiming Heralds,
On receiving which they then rose from the seats,
And in alternate order gave good judgement"


- Homer, The Iliad, Book 18.I.585.


It was whilst climbing the eastern flank of Carningli, that most mysterious peak of the Preseli Mountains, that I noticed to the north east this ring. At first I wasn't convinced by its nature, believing the stones to be sheep, vegetation or farmyard detritus. But, as I climbed and looked back; climbed and look back, I became convinced it was a stone circle, even though it wasn't marked upon the ordnance survey map or mentioned in my guide books.

Carningli Stone Circle
Carningli Stone Circle

We descended from the slopes of Carningli late in the day and with the girlfriend refusing to take another step I set off alone in search of this vision of a circle. Leaving the car (and the girlfriend) walked quickly down the road from the car park marked on the Ordnance Survey map to a footpath that headed in the approximated direction of my goal. This footpath formed a small section of the Newport Millennium Trail and started in a pleasantly overgrown copse before forming a narrow, boggy path. The Millennium Trail soon came to a junction, it would now depart in the opposite direction of the supposed location of my phantom circle. A second less well trodden path bared of to the right, in the hoped for direction of the circle - fresh boot marks were sunk in the sticky mud, I followed the footprints!

Carningli Stone Circle & Carningli Camp beyond.
Carningli Stone Circle & Carningli Camp beyond.

I followed this path believing at any time I would be stopped by a barbed wire fence, unfordable stream or there would be livestock in the field and I would have to simply gaze at the stones from across a wall. And then, the field and the circle were revealed at the end of this path. It took some thought and a moment or two to cross the final few metres of ankle sucking swampy ground before I stood at the centre of this very beautiful stone circle. I walked about the stones, perhaps as large as twenty-five metres in diameter, and touched the sizable outliers. The site is dominated by the bulk of Carningli Camp, I strained my eyes in the direction of Castell Henllys in an effort to see smoke rising from the hearths of the reconstructed roundhouses, I gazed in the direction of Pentre Ifan wondering if the now disappeared earthen mound could be seen from here, perhaps the same could be said for little Careg Coetan amongst the houses of Newport. I scanned the horizon and the slopes of Mynydd Preseli searching for notable features. Unfortunately I was only able to spend the briefest of time at this wondrous place before returning to the car, after all I had left my girlfriend alone there with only an assortment of chocolate bars, hip-flask and soft drinks to sustain her!

Like stone circles themselves, this place remains an enigma. I was unable to find it upon any maps, there was no mention of it in the books I own or those I consulted at the library. However, an afternoon on the internet revealed that this place was unknown until a few years ago, the stones had fallen and become hidden beneath the turf. The (re)construction took place over the course of a handfull of years and was completed in the September of 2002, the stones being located and sited using dowsing, astrology, intuition and other geomantic techniques. It is a beautiful circle in a beautiful location and although there has been no archaelogical survey or work done on the site I'm (almost) convinced of its antiquity.


" seems likely that in a number of cases circles are positioned in relation to 'sacred hills'." - John Barnett, Prehistoric Cornwall.

"Practically all the holy places in the world have a circle of hills around and it makes something happen. Isn't that odd?" - Robert Graves.

An account of the (re)construction of Brithdir Mawr -
The Brithdir Mawr Community -