Secrets of mysterious Welsh ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ stone starting to be unravelled
Excavation work by Cardiff University is starting to reveal some of the mysteries behind the ancient Maen Ceti style burial mounds.
The cairn, known as Arthur’s Stone in English, is found on the northern ridge of Cefn Bryn on the Gower peninsula and is believed to date back around 3,700BC.
The megalithic tomb features a massive 25-ton quartz capstone perched on top of a series of smaller pointed rocks.
It’s similar to another formation that’s found on Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire, also known as Arthur’s Stone.
The distinctive burial structures are believed to have been the inspiration for the ‘stone table’ that features in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series.
Excavation work by Cardiff and Manchester universities at the Dorstone site is now shedding more light on the background to the strange structures.
They believe that the stone formations are only the remnants of much larger and longer burial mounds that were once covered in compressed turf and held in place by a series of posts.
They also believe that Maen Ceti may have been part of an ‘intergrated Neolothic ceremonial landscape’, based on the similar structures and time periods of the cairns found in Herefordshire and the Wye Valley.
Julian Thomas, an archaeologist from the University of Manchester, said: “Although Arthur’s Stone is an iconic Megalithic monument of international importance, its origins had been unclear until now.
“Being able to shine a light on this astonishing 5,700-year-old tomb is exciting, and helps to tell the story of our origins.”
Archaeologists believe the structures were not created by stacking the stone but by digging away the ground beneath the main stone and sliding rocks to support it.
One legend surrounding Maen Ceti is that 6th-century Welsh bishop Saint David broke the stone with his sword after being angered by a druid ceremony. Another is that it was a pebble cast from the shoe of King Arthur.
It was one of the first sites to be protected under the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882.
The finding from the Dorstone excavation site are only initial observations and the research has not yet been peer-tested.