This was the third dolmen we had visited in three days whose name tied it to the legendary King Arthur… and three times three is a magical number. It is certainly a magical site and quite unexpected as you walk between the gaily painted bungalows of the little coastal town of Newport. A gate opens into a green oasis, bounded and shadowed by high hedges, cool in the midday sun, where you come face to face with the oddest little dolmen. My first thought was just as odd… that it reminded me of Ani, the way she sits with the front paws together, demure and expectant, yet somehow regal and ready to pounce in joyous abandon… there was that kind of ‘feel’ to the place. Very much alive.
Like most of these sites that were once houses of the dead, the overriding impression is not one of melancholy, but of warmth and gladness. You can understand it on a bright, summer’s day, but I don’t know why it should be so in the depths of winter or in pouring rain… yet so it is. There is no sense of the macabre in walking where the bones of our ancestors once lay, no sadness or ghoulish tremor; just a sense of gentle peace and reverence, which says more about our ancestors’ attitude to death, perhaps, than anything we might deduce from the formal study of the past. It is as if they already knew that Life cannot die… only the forms that hold it for a short while can fade and pass, returning their elements to the earth to fuel the cycle of becoming.
We don’t really know how old these sites are. The scientific process of dating them takes into account both the style and method of construction, comparing them to other dated sites, along with any artefacts that are found during excavation. Anything that can be used for radiocarbon dating, or one of the other modern methods, is a bonus. Even so, such methods can only tell when the artefact dates from, not the site itself, unless its position allows archaeologists to deduce that the find must have been in place before a site was built over it. There have been finds of bone, Grooved and Beaker ware on a platform beside the cromlech and there are other, smaller boulders half buried, part of an unknown construction. Carreg Coetan Arthur has been dated to around four thousand and seven hundred years old. The nature of the finds suggest that bodies were never buried here, but that only defleshed bones were brought to the site.
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