Cursus: OS grid reference – SJ 217 048
Also Known as:
- Welshpool Cursus
Archaeology & History
Much has been written about this ancient site. Indeed, the archaeologist Alex Gibson (1999) told that, “the ritual complex at Sarn-y-bryn-caled has been extensively studied…and a development sequence based on relative and absolute chronologies, as well as site analogy, has been proposed.” Created over a lengthy period spanning nearly 2000 years, Gibson (1999b) described this monument as a
“cropmark showing as two parallel ditches, 12m apart, running SW-NE for a distance of 370m. Causeways are visible through both side ditches. The terminals are not readily visible on the aerial photographs but have been proven with geophysical survey. The terminal ditches are straight and at right angles to the side ditches. Excavations proved the ditches to be 2m across at the gravel surface and c.0.8m deep. Charcoal from the base of the ditch provided a C14 date of 4960<>70BP. Silting patterns in both ditches and the raised profile of the gravel surface suggest external banks. Towards the NE end of the cursus is a cluster of circular ritual monuments comprising a large pit, timber circle, two ring ditches and a pennanular ring ditch. A possible second pennanular enclosure was located towards the SW end by geophysical survey.”
Less than 200 yards north of the northeast terminal is a second cursus-looking monument, ascribed in Gibson’s (1999b) survey as Sarn-y-bryn-caled II and which runs dead straight for 250 yards. Although being nearly 40 foot across, Gibson thinks this long stretch is more likely to be the remains of an old trackway or road, telling that the very title — Sarn-y-bryn-caled — or “road by the hard hill”, may derive from this secondary linear feature.
Gibson, Alex & Simpson, Derek (eds.), Prehistoric Ritual and Religion, Sutton: Stroud 1998.
Gibson, Alex, The Walton Basin Project, CBA: York 1999.
Gibson, Alex, ‘Cursus Monuments and Possible Cursus Monuments in Wales,’ in Barclay & Harding’s Pathways and Ceremonies, Oxbow: Oxford 1999b.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian