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As yet another imbecilic newspaper headline emerges about where King Arthur might have been born, eaten a burger, fought against constipation and died, I find myself inspired to write about a summer visit to Coetan Arther (PRN 2623).

dsc07199Situated north of Whitesands Bay on St David’s Head, the Neolithic burial chamber is located on moorland in a landscape rich in monuments and traces, including the promontary fort Clawydd y Milwyr.

dsc07190The capstone measures c. 4m by 2m (according to Archwilio and Coflein), although the megalithic portal has it at 5.9m by 2.6m). It is partially collapsed but still supported by one surviving upright. The other big upright is now resting at the side. Two sidestones also lie prostrate beside the stone. The chamber is polygonal and there are traces of a round cairn around it.

According to Archwilio and Coflein, there is a line of stones to the west leading to the end of the cairn, which might suggest this was originally a passage grave. I confess I didn’t observe this myself in the fashion described.

Sadly, the site and its immediate environs does not appear to have been tested by excavation with published results.

dsc07203The Arthurian place-name clearly proves that Arthur played quoits here… No! Of course it doesn’t, it’s rubbish. Still, the connection to a hillfort adjacent, on a prominent location significant for medieval maritime navigation, might suggest that the headland itself, not just the chamber, had stories wrapped around it through the Middle Ages.

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What is worth observing is that, the quoit is situated in a saddle between rock outcrops, making it concealed within a prominent ridge. Still, from the coastline to the south-west, the quoit is skylined. There were not traces of modern activity on the site (which was disappointing, since I always keep a lookout for it).

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Looking out from the tomb, one gets restricted views north, although the sea is visible. This is because the monument is set south of the ridge itself. Still, there are extensive views over to Ramsey Island, Whitesands Bay, as well as inland to Carn Llidi.

I’ve previously posted about Neolithic monuments in West Wales:

dsc07148I’ve previous posted about archaeological monuments with Arthurian place-names about Carreg Coeten Arthur (ab0ve), Moel Arthur and Arthur’s Stone.

In summary, we have a striking, Arthurian monument of early Neolithic date, situated to overlook the sea lanes of western Britain and yet most prominent in its surrounding landscape from the coast itself.

Sources

Rees, S. 1992. Dyfed: A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales, Cardiff: Cadw

Archwilio

Coflein

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