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Quoit Arthur
St. David's Head, Wales

[Thursday - 05/06/99] Driving a little further towards the Caerfi Bay, we came to the furthest Western point of Wales, St. David's Head in search of the most elegant of all the prehistoric burial sites to bear the name of Arthur. The cromlech Arthur's Quoit (or Coetan Arthur) is situated dramatically on St. David's Head, a rocky promontory overlooking the storm-tossed Atlantic. This is a Stone Age burial chamber perhaps 5,000 years old. The cap stone is about four meters by three meters and other standing stones support it. Dry stone walling would have once filled in between the supporting stones and then the whole structure covered with earth forming a 'barrow' where the dead were laid to rest.

This turned out to be something of an adventure as we had to walk some 3km over rocky terrain, up and down hills, to reach the Head. It's no wonder that St. David's Head (Penmaen Dewi) is also called the Promontory of the Eight Perils. The cliff paths (1 foot goat paths) are unfenced and the cliff edges sometimes dropped off with dizzying drops to rocks of the Porthmelgan shore. In several places, the path had broken away to reveal that soil erosion often cut underneath the paths we were on!

Reaching the summit, we could spy the massive rampart of stone called the Warrior's Dyke (Clawdd y Milwyr). Stretching some 70 meters from cliff to cliff, the Warrior's Dyke was an effective means of isolating the headland from attackers. The original defensive system was probably some 25 meters wide with ditches and an outer breastwork of large stones. Inside the wall is an Iron Age village and the hut foundations can still be seen in the naturally sheltered areas.

We spent an hour searching the Head, but could never find Arthur's Quoit. Despite the spectacular views and rugged beauty, we couldn't help but be disappointed. Eventually, we decided we needed to move on and leave. Tracing our steps back down into the valley, we paused to drink from a natural spring from a shell that Lady Sine found. Upon reaching the summit of the next peak Stephanie looked back and said, "Hey, what's that?" After having drunk from the local water, we all could plainly see Arthur's Quoit sitting on top of St. David's Head. It was nowhere near where we had looked while up there, but stood in plain site (i.e. you couldn't miss it) and we had to have stared right at it for over thirty minutes of hiking! Undaunted, well, okay, pretty exhausted, Lady Medb and I hiked the hill again and visited the Quoit!

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