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Arfedogaed y Wrach

The Royal Commission, visiting the ‘Cefn y Bedd Cromlech’ in 1912[1], was in no doubt that within the field known as, ‘Ffedog y diawl’, the Devil’s Apron, was the cairn and cistfaen from which Cefn-y-bedd could claim its name, and by its Edward Lhuyd identified association with the giant, Gwrle, the nearby village of Caergwrle also.

 

‘Mae karnedh Lhe Cladhwyd Gwrle gawr ar Gommins a elwir arfedogaed y wrach. Mae kist vaen o vewn day ne dri ergid karreg at arfedogaed y wrach; ag mae karnedh vach wrth honno.’

Edward Lhuyd, Parochialia Pt2, p97

‘There is a cairn where Gwrle the giant was buried on the common called Apronful of the Hag. There is a cistfaen within two or three stones throw from Arffedogaid y Wrach. And there is a small cairn by it.’

Translation, Ellis Davies, The Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Flintshire, p223

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The association of cairns with myth and legend is common, of course, as the peoples of our past sought to make sense of these graves of even more ancient peoples. The size of these cairns was often attributed to giants, as the almost ubiquitous presence of a ‘Bedd y Gawr’ in the landscape suggests. But they were also invested with all manner of supernatural goings on and stories, perhaps most famously at Bryn yr Ellyllon. At Abermorddu, the tumulus seems to have had its mythological origins in an apron full of stones dropped by a witch at the site, as well as being the grave of the giant, Gwrle, who is said to have lived on the hill upon which the 13th century Caergwrle Castle now stands.

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The cairn at Abermorddu does seem, however, to have taken on something of greater importance, since in a letter to Richard Mostyn of Penbedw, dated to December 1693, Edward Lhuyd mentions, ‘a stone chest or coffin full of Urns found in ye Carnedh called Arffedogaid y wrach’[2]. It was said that coins had also been found, since in another letter, this time from Richard Mostyn to Lhuyd, dated to February 1694, the following is written,

 

‘I have sent to enquire about Arffedogaed y Wrach, but can meet with no intelligence about it. The place where it stands is, I think, called Cefn y Bedd, and there was a stone coffin I am told found by it, and as I heard ancient coins, but I could by no means meet with any account that could be relied on. I have enquired of Mr Young of Bryn Yorcyn, whose grandfather was said to have had the coins, but he said he could make nothing of the various reports nor could he learn anything of the cins ‘Tis in Hope parish.’[3].

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A visit to the field where the cairn and cisfaen are thought to have been discovered has been described by others as something of a disappointment. But in fact, the field is rather wonderful. The hillock within the field, possibly the original Cefn-y-bedd is entirely imposing and would seem to have been the site of the cairn - the curious hollows and a smattering of stones evidence, perhaps of collapsing or even the 17th century investigations which led to the discovery of the cistfaen (although the literature would suggest the stone coffin was found nearby). Within the field beside the hillock, ffedog y diawl, are a number of large stones by the hedgerows, identified by Elis Davies in 1949 as perhaps being associated with the ruins of the cairn[4]. An early to mid Bronze Age date would seem to be a reasonable identification for the cairn, and would it be too much of a leap to make a connection to the same community depositing the enormously important Caergwrle Bowl, just dwy neu dair carreg yn taflu from Abermorddu?

[1] RCAHMC, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, London, 1912 p53

[2] Quoted in, The Cambrian Quarterly Magazine, Vol 3 p216

[3] Quoted in, Elis Davies, The Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Flintshire, Cardiff, 1949 p 224

[4] Elis Davies, The Prehistoric and Roman Remains of Flintshire, Cardiff, 1949 p 225