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Hillforts and heroes

Standing stones and hill forts are a striking monument to early man’s settlement of Ceredigion. There are over 170 identified hill forts and enclosures across Ceredigion, many are linked to legends and located on summits with superb views.

Hillforts and Heroes

Standing stones dating back to the Bronze Age can be found across the Cambrian Mountains.  A pair of stones known as 'Buwch a Llo' (Cow and Calf) near the hill fort of Dinas above the village of Penrhyncoch probably mark the route of a Bronze Age trackway from Clarach across the foothills of Pumlumon. Recent archaeological work has identified early metal mining - possibly one of the earliest sites in Europe - above more recent mining remains in Cwm Ystwyth.

The most iconic of our hill forts is probably Pen Dinas, on a gorse clad hilltop overlooking Aberystwyth with views  to north and south along the coast, and inland towards to Cambrian Mountains.  The tower monument (1852) to the Duke of Wellington at its centre is, at just over 160 years old, a relatively recent feature.

Many more stand out against the skyline, their ramparts easily identifiable; others are now hidden in woodland, whilst Castell Bach and Pen y Badell overlook the sea and can be easily reached on the Ceredigion Coast Path.

A burial cairn complex on the summit of Trichrug overlooks the Aeron Valley and also has superb views across to Cardigan Bay. The name literally means ‘three cairns’.  

The names of these ancient sites range from the simply descriptive, such as Y Gaer Fawr (literally ‘big fort’) and Pen y Castell ('castle top') to the intriguingly evocative, such as Castell Rhyfel (literally ‘war castle’) or Castell Nadolig ('Christmas castle'), where a pair of leaf shaped bronze spoons were found, now at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum.  Some are linked to tales and legends, such as Pencoed y Foel near Llandysul or Castell Olwen, near Lampeter which are mentioned in the medieval Welsh tales of the Mabinogion.