Arthur’s Quoit came as something of a surprise. The huge neolithic tomb rises from the plateau behind St David’s Head, the angle and ridge on the capstone seeming to shadow the lines of Carn Llidi beyond. The capstone is around twenty feet long and over eight feet wide, supported by a single orthostat that holds the point of the stone around five feet from the ground. At first glance, you assume that somewhere during its five thousand year history, the other two orthostats that would have supported it must have fallen and the earthen mound that covered it been eroded away. There are many such places where this has happened.
A closer look, though, makes you question that assumption. It is true that there are stones strewn broken on the ground that could have been supporting stones… but the whole thing looks right, just as it is in this place. The contours of the capstone emulate the shape of the hill above far too well for it to be accidental. If the stone were raised on other supports, the visual similarity in form would be lost and we have seen this ‘shadowing’ of the landscape too often to ignore its importance.
The oddest thing, though, is that the shadowing effect seems even more pronounced from inside the tomb. It is not the first time we have seen such ancient places arranged more for the vision of the dead than of the living. Knowing that the ancestors and their bones played such an important role in the life of the clans, perhaps this is not surprising. Were the tombs really places to bury the dead, hiding them from view… or places that were portals between the realms of life and death, gateways to an Otherworld that mirrors our own? Or perhaps they were places of initiation, where the gates of both life and death were symbolically opened?
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