Maen y Bardd
Neolithic Chambered Tomb
Southeast of Tal-y-Fan, Gwynedd. Wales  OS Map Ref SH74067178
OS Maps - Landranger 115 (Snowdon), Explorer 17 (Snowdon)

Maen y Bardd - The Poet Stone.
The Neolithic chambered tomb of Maen y Bardd - 'The Poet Stone' is set into the southeast facing slopes of Tal-y-Fan, a hill towards the far northeast of the Snowdonia range. Close by are the chambered tomb of Rhiw and several standing stones, hut circles and enclosures which point to these slopes being the site of much prehistoric activity which extended round towards the west past the stone circle of Cerrig Pryfaid and along the valley of Bwlch y Ddeufaen with its standing stones and cairns. The area maintained its importance during the Roman period when the road from Caernarfon to the fort of Canovium at Caerhun on the banks of the River Conwy was built along the same route.

It is Maen y Bardd that is probably the most well known and visited site on the hillside however which is unsurprising as it is a very attractive portal tomb with an elegant capstone balanced about a metre above the small chamber on four uprights. There is little if any trace of cairn material around the stones so the shape of any mound that covered the chamber is almost impossible to figure out but it is probable the the slope of the hillside played an important role in its original form. The photograph below shows a large rock to the right of the image, presumably this is an earthfast boulder and it could be that the tomb was designed to incorporate this natural feature within its construction.

What is clear though is that the people who pulled the stones of Maen y Bardd into place took care that despite the steep slope of the hill the capstone was almost horizontal. This is curious as many of these small dolmen type tombs when built on flat ground were deliberately constructed so that the capstone was tilted backwards, achieved by using shorter supporting stones at the back of the chamber. However the builders here have followed exactly the same template but used it instead to place their capstone level with the horizon.

Clearly the views from the site were important, not only towards the hills to the south of the Afon Roe but also spectacularly southeast along the valley floor of the Conwy and it is towards this river that the bones of the ancestors placed within Maen y Bardd would have eternity to gaze across.
View looking towards the east.
Looking west in glaring sunlight. The natural boulder to the right of the image seems to have been incorporated into the design of the tomb.
Looking southeast over Maen y Bardd towards the Conwy valley
A tomb with a view. Looking southeast over Maen y Bardd towards the Conwy valley.

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