Books, Prehistory, Tour Through North Wales

Tour Through North Wales is in Prehistory.

Cambria Depicta, aka Tour Through North Wales illustrated with Picturesque Views by a Native Artist [Edward Pugh] 1816.

A spot called Tre yr Dryw was the Arch - druid's abode, where the remains are yet to be seen. To enumerate and describe all the relics of druidism, now visible in this part of the island, would be endless and foreign to the purpose of this work ; and as there are but few readers unacquainted with their history, I shall only touch slightly upon them.

The circles of stones, of which many remain in North Wales, were the temples of the druids, in which they performed their religious rites ; they were generally surrounded by fine oaks. A Carnedd is a great heap of stones, sometimes encircled by upright ones. Some years since, one was discovered near Lord Uxbridge's seat [Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Mound [Map]], in which a passage was perceived, that led to a room about three feet wide, and seven feet high; in the centre was a rude stone pillar, which helped to support a roof, consisting of one immense stone, which measured ten feet in diameter: on the sides were benches of the same material, with human bones upon them, which, at the touch, dissipated into dust. These edifices were the repositories of the dead. A Cromlech is another species of druidical remains ; it consists of three, or sometimes more, upright stones, with one large stone placed upon them ; the whole being similar to those rooms found in the Carnedda. It has often been asserted, that the Cromlechs were the altars upon which the druids performed their acts of immolation, or sacrifices of human victims taken in war ; but to this opinion there are insurmountable objections. To those who can suppose the sacrifice was performed under them, it is objected, that many of these are too low to admit the officiating priest to go through the ceremony ; and if, again, as has been the opinion, it is supposed that this act could have been performed upon the top stone, another potent reason starts up, and says, that the greatest number of these stones, from their sloping and often serrated summits, could never admit either the fire, the priest, or the victim upon them1. The most rational idea respecting them is, that they were, like the Carnedd just mentioned, the sepulchral monuments of the priests and philosophers of the ancient Britons ; and no doubt were the origin of our church - yard tomb - stones.

Note 1. See also the opinion of Dr. Borlace. Antiq. Cornwall, pa. 210, $

But, to proceed in my narrative. A hundred yards behind the house are two Cromlechs [Plas Newydd Burial Chamber [Map]], the larger of which is the handsomest and most perfect of any I had seen; the perpender is thirteen feet and a half long, about eleven feet broad, and three and a half feet thick ; these dimensions give it a noble appearance. Some time before I saw it, it was supposed that some of its supporters had given way on one side, which greatly alarmed the family ; it was, in consequence, propped up with pieces of thick timber, and this has entirely destroyed the effect of that picturesque simplicity, which characterizes these ancient remains: but I really think there was not the slightest cause for this alarm ; for the whole appeared to me to be well sustained ; at all events, wood was a very injudicious auxiliary to stone.