Pentre Ifan is a Bronze-Age megalithic site dating from at least 4000 B.C. It is probably the finest Welsh hilltop megalith (mega-lith = large stones). It is said to have been originally constructed as a burial chamber, but has been denuded of earth over several thousand years.

In this photograph you can see The Hill of The Angels (Carningli) in the background. See below for more information.

The magnificent horizontal capstone is still in place and is estimated to weigh 40 tons. The hilltop site overlooks Fishguard Bay and provides a beautiful setting. The belief of the builders was that the interred soul (or souls) was closer to the Spirit World and also closer to the Sun, whose essence was worshipped as the giver of life, warmth and abundance. There is an interesting passage on Pentre Ifan written in 1911 by W.Y. Evans Wentz, author of The Tibetan book of The Dead, in his book The Fairy Faith in Celtic countries:

"The region, the little valley on whose side stands the Pentre Ifan cromlech, the finest in Britain, is believed to have been a favourite place with the ancient Drulds. And in the oak groves (Ty Canol Wood) that still exist there, tradition says there was once a flourishing school for neophytes, and that the cromlech instead of being a place for internments or sacrifices was in those days completely enclosed, forming like other cromlechs a darkened chamber in which novices when initiated were placed for a certain number of days....the interior (of Pentre Ifan) being called the womb or court of Ceridwen. "

Ty Canol Wood. Fairyland...

The origins of the builders of the megalithic sites in Celtic countries is an interesting subject. Until recently a very neatly-packaged theory, accepted by most archaeologists and historians was that the megalith-builders were fairly sophisticated tribes whose roots were in Eastern Mediterranean regions or even further East. Gradually, over a period of time they migrated Westwards through Greece, Malta, Spain, Portugal, Brittany, and finally to The British Isles and Ireland. On their long journey they left behind them fine examples of burial chambers, passage -graves, dolmens and even megalithic temples (found in Greece and Malta). So ran the theory of wandering tribesmen from the East. Recently, however, the invention of radio-carbon dating in the 1970's has provided an extremely accurate method of ascertaining when these ancient sites were built and used. Two examples of many recently dated are Pentre Ifan, and Stone Alignments at Carnac, Brittany. Both emerge to be at least 1000 years older than their Mediterranean counterparts, thus invalidating the 'migration' theory. "A continuous evolutionary process of indigenous tribes" (to quote one recent writer on the subject), seems to be the now-accepted belief. Visiting ancient megalithic sites at quiet times and opening up to their atmospheres will give readers their own intuitive ideas as to their origins. Do remember that these are sacred places to be approached with respect, and not just tourist attractions.

(Celtic Connections edition 1)


Our pilgrimage to some of the great Celtic crosses now takes us to Wales, where we have accounts of two of the most imposing of these beautiful monuments. The first is the Great Cross at Nevern, in Pembrokeshire, and here follows a description of the area in which the cross is found.

To view Celtic Crosses by contemporary artist click here

'Nevern, or Nanhyver as it was known in early Celtic times must be one of the most interesting Celtic sites in Wales. The ancient church stands in a wooded valley a few miles from Cardigan on the noorth coast of Pembrokeshire. It is dedicated to St Brynach, an Irish-born Celtic monk, who married the daughter of a Breconshire chieftain and subsequently established a number of chapels in the area, of which Nanhyver was the principal. He died in 570 AD and was thus a contemporary of St David's. There is a text in the British Library entitled 'The Life of St Brynach', written not long after his death.

As you enter the church gates, the path leads down an avenue of ancient yew trees said to date from about the 5th century AD. At the end of the avenue, sheltered close to the church wall stands Never Great Cross, pictured here. This is probably the finest High Cross in Wales, and was carved about 1000 AD.

It is very well preserved and is decorated with panels of knotwork and chevron designs. The head of the cross is carved separately and is very graceful, with an interlaced pattern surrounding it. The front and the reverse of the cross have different designs, as do the two sides, and the monument is a visual delight for those interested in Celtic carvings.

Within the church is the Maglocunus Stone, a bilingual stone of much value to those interested in the early Celts, as it is one of the few existing stones with inscriptions in both Latin and Ogham script.

There is also a very early Celtic slab cross in the church with an unusual design, probably a basic representation of the human form. It has crudely interlaced arms, head and 'legs'. This stone dates from the 6th century. Nevern was on the Pilgrim's Route to St Davids, one of the most revered places of pilgrimage in Britain. To give an idea of its sanctity in the middle ages, two pilgrimages from Canterbury to St Davids were held as being equivalent to one pilgrimage to the Holy city of Rome.

It is worth bearing in mind that we are very fortunate in having such a wealth of Celtic interest to experience at Nevern, and in the light of this we should approach the site with reverence.


We travel on to another High Cross in Wales, which is also in Pembrokeshire. This is located today close to the junction of the Saundersfoot to Pembroke Dock road and the A4075 northbound route.

The Carew Cross stands approximately 13 feet high, and dates from the 9th century. There are finely preserved panels of knotwork and key-pattering on both the east and the west face of the cross. On the west face there is an inscription to Maredudd ap Edwin, ruler of this region of Pembrokeshire from 1033 to 1035. This inscription was almost certainly added at a later date, as with the fine 'Houelt' Cross at Llantwit Major which also has a royal inscription.

The cross is close to the hauntingly atmospheric ruins of the early medieval Carew Castle, a fascinating yet somehow unnerving edifice with a very chequered history.

The Carew Cross may well have had a small adjoining chapel, but today no remains are visible. To view the east side of the cross it is necessary to stand flattened against the hedge of a very fast main road (to avoid in turn being flattened by passing lorries!)

This is a fine example of one of the few free-standing High Crosses in Wales and much worthy of a visit, bearing in mind that the fortunate medieval pilgrim would have been making his way across open countryside, without having to encounter the hazards of 20th century motor traffic.' (Celtic Connections)


Angelic presences above Carningli above and below!

If you feel like a good walk with a certain amount of climbing then to ascend Carningli is highly recommended. There are wonderful views on the way up and from the top. The hill has a special atmosphere and feel about it and it is easy to understand why it is regarded as a Sacred Place by the local people. It is said that St Brynach used to go up the hill to meditate and commune with angels...

View from the top with the sun setting beyond Dinas Head.

Celtic Pembrokeshire Home Page

*Gors Fawr Stone Circle and the Presely Hills*St Davids, St Nons and St Davids Head

*Some places of especial scenic beauty. *Credits and Links to other sites

* Accommodation in Celtic Pembrokeshire