So far, the best part is when I came across this modern description of the very place where we stayed for a week searching for records of our ancestors. The night view is from the ridge from "Pen y Beacon [Hay Bluff] to Gospel Pass":
He could see the close foothills, above the short steep valley of the Digedi. There were isolated yard lights at the farms, spaced at regular intervals along the closest high pastures. Spaced in much the same way, along this northern scarp, were the places of the neolithic shepherds. On the broad flat grassland of Twyn y Beddau, towards Dan y Capel, there were scores of hollows of their circular huts. Immediately below, overlapped by the car park on the mountain road, was a marked watchstone within what had survived of a later stone circle. Beyond it, now heavily shadowed, was the rough edge of exposed rock, running along the scarp, which marked the highest point of the great glacier which had pushed against these mountains. (Williams at 116-17.)Oh my heck! Everyone of those features we came to know in our week up on the mountain! We stayed in the "short steep valley of the Digedi" at Blaendigeddi Fawr! And finally, I understand the name a little better - digeddi being the stream name - "geddi" I think being a variation of "beddau" meaning the graves. But this author explains that the barrow mounds are not just graves, but the former homes of the people who lived there along with the traces of dugout, stone and earth dwellings in so many little dips and mounds in the otherwise flat pasture land.
OK, we'll see if this video works to explain what I'm talking about from when I was there in 2010:
All those little undulations in the turf are the indications of the neolithic structures. I probably pronounced all the Welsh names wrong. "Twyn y Beddau" should be more like "tow-on ah beth-eye." I've got a long way to go with my Welsh, but it means "the Twin Burials." Actually, it may be remnants of long houses turned into burial mounds by later peoples. Here's a scan of my working map, just south of Hay-on-Wye, from British Ordnance Survey (available online at OpenData - a great resource!):
In those days, the Midwinter celebration was the affair of the women, the Midsummer of the men. The women knew that when the sun set behind a certain peak to the southwest, it was Midwinter. They would have the young men light a great fire on the summit of Pen y Beacon and see the fires spring up on the surrounding peaks, some far in the distance. The Measurer told them that they could be missing the midwinter by a few days either way and taught them a precise way to measure. He had the women stand in a line each evening at sunset. They were to look at a particular notch in the southwest mountains. The woman who saw the sun set in that notch had a wooden marker set at that place. The Measurer told them that when the line of sticks began to curve back, that was the true midwinter. The women tolerated this for a few nights but called the midwinter on their own reckoning and the young boy helped the aged Measurer complete the measuring each night with sticks. The boy placed a stone at the bend in the line of sticks.
|The standing stone at Stone Circle on the north side of Gospel Pass|
|The stone at night.|