Craig y Fan Ddu Stone Rows
Right: Part of the multiple stone row © CPAT 3325-0016
A programme of detailed survey and trial excavation was undertaken to investigate a group of erect stones at Craig y Fan Ddu in the Brecon Beacons with funding from Cadw. The site is located around 7.3km south-west of Talybont-on-Usk, and lies at an altitude of around 500m on the south-eastern slope of Craig y Fan Ddu, overlooking the upper reaches of the Caerfanell stream (SO 05637 18058). Craig y Fan Ddu forms a ridge extending south from the main range of the Brecon Beacons, which includes Corn Du and Pen y Fan, both of which are surmounted by Bronze Age burial cairns.
The survey confirmed the presence of three roughly parallel stone rows, each set around 4m apart and about 20m in length, together with two other standing stones and several possible recumbent slabs which suggest that the rows may have originally been more numerous.
Single, or even double stone rows are not uncommon in Wales, although there are only two other examples of multiple rows, both of which are on the western side of Mynydd Hiraethog, near Pentrefoelas. The larger, although least complete example, is at Ffridd Can Awen and originally consisted of about 450 small stones set in irregular rows. The second site, Hafod-y-dre, has recently been resurveyed by RCAHMW, and identifyied 87 small stones forming 18 rows, although earlier records suggest up to 130 stones.
The recent small-scale excavations produced no evidence for dating, a situation which is all too common in the investigation of stone rows. Although such monuments have long been assumed to date from the late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, recent excavations at Cut Hill on Dartmoor have produced radiocarbon dates from peat beneath a fallen stone which suggest that the stones were erected by between 3700 BC and 3500 BC.
Left: Plan of the stone rows © CPAT