A Sleeping Stone

Image from Jill Young's book
Richard Fenton (1747=1821)

On page 26 of his book, A Historical Tour Through Pembrokeshire published in 1811, Richard Fenton of Plas Glynymel in Fishguard, mentions his encounter with two standing stones (Meini hirion) near Lady’s Gate in Pencaer. He writes “In order, if possible, to ascertain the intention of raising those stones, I dug deeply around one of them, but found nothing that could any way throw a light on their history”. Fenton then rode on to explore Trefasser and St Nicholas.

In October 2011 the author was searching the area south of Lady’s Gate (on a route half a mile from Trenewydd) for a ruin where Timothy George and family had lived in 1851. Amongst the gorse and bracken at OS ref SM9082-3920 and 165m elevation he came across a recumbent stone 2.7m long and weighing an estimated 5 tonnes. He suspected that Fenton’s action had precipitated the stone’s collapse.

An image of this stone, from 1981, is dramatically portrayed on page 75 of Jill Young’s book Pembrokeshire Standing Stones. She painted over fifty such stones in her exploration of the county.
Dyfed Archaeological Trust refers to this stone thus: PRN2496, Lady’s Gate Standing Stone, Bronze Age, semi-recumbent, with east end earthfast and west end 0.6m above ground. There is animal tread erosion all around the stone which has exposed many small stones especially on the north side. At the earthfast end two large stones are exposed which may have acted as packing stones for the monolith.
Upon the author enquiring recently if the Trust had reservations about the stone being restored to its original upright position, they wrote that “re-erecting the stone could cause damage to buried archaeology and was therefore unadvisable”. The landowner’s views would also have to be considered.

We do not know for certain why these enigmatic monoliths were erected but respect the skill and effort involved. Were they waymarks? Territorial boundary stones? Religious totems? Sentinels or guardians of some kind for early farming communities? Many have been removed in the past century. Was our stone erected on open heathland or in woodland? Pollen analysis by the CCW suggests that the Preseli Hills were once forested, but steadily cleared of trees by the late Bronze Age.

Should our sleeping stone be raised up . or left to chance?


With thanks to Dyfed Archaeological Trust for their information and advice.

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