I regularly drive to Moel Famau and Loggerheads across the historic Flintshire/Denbighsire border west of Gwernymynydd and Cadole on the A494, passing by the site of Carreg Carn March Arthur. Yet only recently for the first time I parked up and explored this strange recumbent stone situated beneath a post-medieval (undated, but presumably 18th-century) arch on the north side of the road. It bears a memorial plaque stating that it was adjudged to mark the boundary between the parish and lordship of Mold and that of Llanverres in 1763:
The stone underneath this Arch Carreg Carn March Arthur was adjudged to be the boundary of the Parish and Lordship of Mold in the county of Flint and of Llanverres in the County of Denbigh by the High Court of Exchequer at Westminster 10th November 1763
One might presume the arch dates to commemorate this act, and thus might date from the 1760s, although the plaque has clearly been replaced during the 20th century. The Megalithic Portal gives it a height of merely 90cm; even if erect this needn’t have been a particularly prominent stone. Meanwhile, Coflein states that:
Legend has it that the stone bears the hoofprint of King Arthur’s horse as he leapt from a nearby cliff to escape the invading Saxons.
The plaque, courtesy of Wikimedia commons
The recent Land of Legends website repeats the same information, making the point that it is one of two Clwydian Arthurian attributions, the other being Moel Arthur hillfort. It is speculated that it might have originally been a Bronze Age standing stone and adds that Arthur’s horse was called ‘Lamrai’.
I have 3 points to make about this stone:
- The arch is represented in 1796 and might well have been constructed soon after 1763, making this monument likely broadly contemporaneous with the re-erection of the Pillar of Eliseg to the south in Llantysilio parish. Marking a route and a border, and commemorating a legend, this can be regarded as an antiquarian response to myths and legends of Welsh origins in this borderland region.
- More intriguing than the association with Moel Arthur, is the parallel with Craig Arthur east of the Nant Eglwyseg just north of the Vale of Llangollen. Both are steep west-facing limestone cliff, very much mirroring the large Arthurian association with the dramatic monumental cliffs at Craig Arthur . The stark similarity deserves further consideration.
- My photographs are particularly poor due to morning sunlight, but a curved groove, presumably considered a horseshoe shape, can be seen on the stone. Did the shape alone foster the story, or is this landscape replete with long-lost Arthurian stories linking the stone to the dramatic west-facing limestone cliffs overlooking the narrow, wooded valley of the Alyn?
Addendum – February 2020
I’ve been back and now I have some photographs in diffused light: I hope these help to discern the monument and the stone itself, with its groove.