Spread Eagle Cursus, Aberllynfi, Breconshire

Cursus Monument:  OS Grid Reference – SO 162 376

Archaeology & History

It seems that very little remains of this site, and there is some doubt over its authenticity.  Described in Alex Gibson’s (1999b) essay on the cursus monuments of Wales, he said this ‘cursus’ consists of,

“A cropmark of two parallel ditches orientated SE-NW, 15m apart and traceable for some 130m. It runs perpendicular to the present course of the River Wye 50m to the NE.  No terminals are visible, but there is a large ring ditch across the river 450m to the NW. A closely-grouped cluster of some 8 ring ditches is visible on a gravel terrace some 150m to the E,” but adds finally that “the identification of this site is suspect and may represent a fossil field system.”

The likelihood of the site being genuine seems to come from the “cluster of eight ring ditches on the gravel terrace some 150m to the east.”  Gibson (1999) also thinks how “the parallel ditches seem to be aligned on a ninth large ring-ditch 450m to the northwest and across the river.”  Ley-hunters have been scorned by archaeo’s for making such confounded comments!   The presence of a long cairn south of the cursus was also thought to add weight to the sites veracity.

Does anyone know what the present position on this site happens to be?

References:

  1. Gibson, Alex, The Walton Basin Project, CBA: York 1999.
  2. Gibson, Alex, ‘Cursus Monuments and Possible Cursus Monuments in Wales,’ in Barclay & Harding’s Pathways and Ceremonies, Oxbow: Oxford 1999b.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Spread Eagle cursus

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Spread Eagle cursus 52.030455, -3.222902 Spread Eagle cursus

Sarn-y-Bryn-Caled, Belan, Montgomeryshire

Cursus:  OS grid reference – SJ 217 048

Also Known as:

  1. Welshpool Cursus

Archaeology & History

Much has been written about this ancient site.  Indeed, the archaeologist Alex Gibson (1999) told that, “the ritual complex at Sarn-y-bryn-caled has been extensively studied…and a development sequence based on relative and absolute chronologies, as well as site analogy, has been proposed.”  Created over a lengthy period spanning nearly 2000 years, Gibson (1999b) described this monument as a

“cropmark showing as two parallel ditches, 12m apart, running SW-NE for a distance of 370m. Causeways are visible through both side ditches. The terminals are not readily visible on the aerial photographs but have been proven with geophysical survey. The terminal ditches are straight and at right angles to the side ditches. Excavations proved the ditches to be 2m across at the gravel surface and c.0.8m deep. Charcoal from the base of the ditch provided a C14 date of 4960<>70BP. Silting patterns in both ditches and the raised profile of the gravel surface suggest external banks. Towards the NE end of the cursus is a cluster of circular ritual monuments comprising a large pit, timber circle, two ring ditches and a pennanular ring ditch. A possible second pennanular enclosure was located towards the SW end by geophysical survey.”

Less than 200 yards north of the northeast terminal is a second cursus-looking monument, ascribed in Gibson’s (1999b) survey as Sarn-y-bryn-caled II and which runs dead straight for 250 yards.  Although being nearly 40 foot across, Gibson thinks this long stretch is more likely to be the remains of an old trackway or road, telling that the very title — Sarn-y-bryn-caled — or “road by the hard hill”, may derive from this secondary linear feature.

Folklore anyone…?

References:

  1. Gibson, Alex & Simpson, Derek (eds.), Prehistoric Ritual and Religion, Sutton: Stroud 1998.
  2. Gibson, Alex, The Walton Basin Project, CBA: York 1999.
  3. Gibson, Alex, ‘Cursus Monuments and Possible Cursus Monuments in Wales,’ in Barclay & Harding’s Pathways and Ceremonies, Oxbow: Oxford 1999b.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Sarn-y-Bryn-Caled cursus

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Sarn-y-Bryn-Caled cursus 52.635278, -3.158430 Sarn-y-Bryn-Caled cursus