I’ve frequently visited Castell Dinas Brân in the Vale of Llangollen, noting contemporary material cultures and ash-scattering as well as the prehistoric hillfort and medieval castle itself. I’ve also recorded perspectives on the castle from its environs, as here and here. Yet only very recently have I walked along the Eglwyseg Rocks and Trevor Rocks north-east of the castle, affording views down over the Vale of Llangollen and specifically vistas down onto the isolated outcrop of Castell Dinas Brân from the north, north-north-east and north-east. I wanted to share some photographs from my walk of the castle and the town of Llangollen behind it.

From this perspective, the discrete and detached nature of the hill is exaggerated, and the striking limestone wall of these rocks is eerily invisible to those walking along its top! Almost everywhere else in this landscape, this area is the principle and striking feature, but not once upon it. Having said that, the lines of outcropping limestone are still distinctive features, including clusters of larch trees.

At the end of the walk, I encountered a prominent Bronze Age funerary monument: a cairn set in a prominent position above the Creigiau Eglwyseg. This is one of four recorded on Archwilio, Creigiau Eglwyseg cairns A-D, described as ‘three barrows and a ring cairn’, although I only noticed this largest grass-covered cairn: CreigiauEglwyseg A. At 20m in diameter and 1.7m high, it was excavated in 1879 when an urn and a cremation burial was found. However, no further details and no modern excavations have taken place!

This isolated and beautiful location was populated by only a few other walkers, a few mountain bikers, and a farmer with his daughter and dog on a quad bike rounding up the sheep. Otherwise, the hills were to me, my daughter, the sheep and the wind.

Back beside the road, however, was some contemporary graffiti of note with explicit Welsh nationalist slogans and the symbol of the Free Wales Army. The natural outcrop speaks of Welsh defiance against England in the contemporary world, as well as a landscape shrouded in Arthurian legend and connected to stories of Bran and Gogmagog.

Coffwch Dryweryn text and Free Wales Army flag