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General Roy, the great military authority in the north, bestowed no small care and attention upon a similar work in Strathmore, the construction and details of which will be best understood by a reference to the plans and sections in the General's Military Antiquities. It is also engraved and described by King in his Munimenta Antiqua, and by Pennant, in his Tour through Scotland, while Car n Goch has been unnoticed alike by antiquarians and tourists. Mr. Wilson, in reference to Catherthun, thus writes:—
"But the most remarkable British fort to the north of the Tweed, if not, indeed, of the whole island, is that which crowns the summit of Catherthun, looking across the valley of Strathmore. It is an elaborate, skilfully constructed stronghold, which must have formed a place of great strength, when held by a hardy and well armed native garrison. It is an oval form, inclosing an inner area of 436 feet in length, by 200 feet in breadth. But this constitutes only what may be regarded as the citadel. Beyond it, a succession of ramparts and ditches, surrounds the height at lower elevations, including a much larger area, and affording scope for a more numerous body of defenders. The hollow is still visible, though now nearly filled up, which was once the well of the fort, and probably this strength was maintained as a rendezvous and place of temporary retreat for the entire population of the surrounding districts. These military works have been constructed with immense labour. The astonishing dimensions of the ramparts, composed of an accumulation of loose stones, upwards of a hundred feet thick at the base, and fully twenty-five thick at the top, excite surprise and wonder in the mind of every observer."
General Roy remarks after a careful survey of it:—
"The vast labour it must have cost to amass so incredible a quantity of stones, and carry them to such a height, surpasses all description."
I boldly affirm that what General Roy has thus expressed respecting the British stronghold in Scotland, is equally applicable to the cognate fortress in Stratywy.
They both belong to a prehistoric period, and are, as I believe, cotemporary with the megalithic structures which are to be found in their vicinity. Triliths, on a small scale, are still visible on Car n Goch. But conquerors of time, as these ancient structures are, have they no moral lessons committed to their trust, no religious feelings to suggest?
If the construction of the stone hammer, the flint knife, of the bow and arrow, and other weapons offensive and defensive, is generally accepted as the earliest evidence afforded by man of his superiority, in his most helpless state, to the beasts over whom he thus exercises dominion, must we not necessarily infer that works of this magnitude, evidently constructed for defensive, rather than offensive, purposes, must have originated among people who had as strong convictions as we have, that social union depends for its support upon some compact, expressed or understood, for the establishment of a system of mutual defence, whether the disturbers be refractory and disorderly members of the community, such as are to be found in all new settlements, or foreign aggressors from without? All such constructions speak of families and homes, of social union, political ties, and of religious duties; and it maybe safely affirmed that the communities which made Carn Goch and Catherthun their strongholds, were as superior to those tribes whom Julius Caesar found in the vicinity of the Thames, and who made fallen timber and woody intricacies their cities of refuge, as the respective materials used by both parties differed in facility of original construction, and in durability when constructed.
Perhaps I may also suggest another line of thought, along which my own mind willingly travels, and compels me to contrast the monuments of Assyrian and Egyptian antiquities, full of foul shapes and monstrous figments, devoted to idolatrous and God-degrading inventions, with our own megalithic structures and gigantic cairns, from which no material proofs have been extracted, that their builders had ever fallen into the practical errors of the great historical nations of the eastern world, or ever changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
ARCH. CAMB., NEW SERIES, VOL. IV. 2 N
And we, the nation who are supposed to have the strongest claim to be regarded as the lineal descendants of those ancient workmen who erected, in the northern parts of the island, such structures as the stones of Stennis and the Catherthuns, and in the southern, Stonehenge and Car n Goch, not to mention the Hirvaens, cromlech, and rocking stones common to both parts, have been specially favoured by Providence, inasmuch as we have been privileged to conserve as a living tongue that language with which those same ancestors used to describe not only what they thought and felt, but also to name what their hands wrought and their eyes perceived.
To solve this problem, to apply this still living tongue to the still existing memorials of the past, and to bring them into mutual harmony, and from this harmony to elicit many new phases of important truths, is the especial province of the Cymro. The materials are daily accumulating for enabling us safely to reconstruct the edifice of historical truth respecting the origin of man, and the descent of nations.
I myself have laboured diligently, if hitherto not successfully, in this field, as far as it is known to the public; but lately new links have been discovered; and, as I trust no long time will now elapse before I shall be enabled to connect the present with the past, and make patent to all who are not blinded by invincible prejudices, the great truths which may be extracted from the careful investigation of the remains, monumental, traditionary and literary, of the ancient race of the Cymry.
So much for the present respecting the structures which are still visible on the detached and isolated mountain of the prehistorical Car n Goch.
127, King's Road, Brighton, 10th Sept., 1853.
NOTES OF CERTAIN DESIDERATA IN THE STUDY AND PRESERVATION OF WELSH ANTIQUITIES.
(Read at Brecon.)
I.—Early British Remains.—The only extensive and systematic examination of early inscribed stones in Wales has been made, and is still going on, by J. 0. Westwood, Esq., who has formed a very large collection of rubbings and drawings from as many of the monuments of this class as have come within his observation. This valuable collection, which is in the finest condition, and which he has arranged and classified, is destined, I believe and hope, for the British Museum. It is too extensive and too precious for any local museum, and, if placed in the metropolitan one, will there be more readily accessible to the antiquarian world, than if kept in any provincial museum, however good and comprehensive, even such as that of the Royal Institution of South Wales, at Swansea.
Notwithstanding Mr. Westwood's labours, there is a considerable number of early inscribed stones, still unvisited and uncopied, extant in the Principality. During the present summer I have myself found two, at Llandyssel and Llanfawr, and I have reason to believe that many more might be found, if any intelligent observer could be met with in each parish who would be at the trouble of making the search. Whenever any such are discovered, they should be copied carefully by one of the methods now so well known, and all possible means should be taken of rescuing them from destruction. There is commonly a sort of superstitious feeling against them on the part of the peasantry; and it may be taken for granted that they are always in imminent danger of being destroyed. In Brecknockshire, for example, an early inscription is still in the hedge, by the roadside, a few miles from Brecon, liable to be destroyed by the first cart wheel that may run up against it. On the sea shore, at Barmouth, an early inscribed stone is still allowed to remain as a stepping-block over a little watercourse, with the inscription uppermost. In Anglesey, one of the earliest inscriptions still serves as the gate-post to a field, and is in fresh danger with each succeeding harvest.
Two things therefore ought to be done with regard to these early monuments—some of the most valuable extant within the Principality :—
(1.) That means should be adopted for effecting their general preservation.
(2.) That they should all be engraved and published.
After considering many plans for the former of these objects, I confine my recommendations to two. Either these stones should all be removed to the churchyards of their respective parishes, and there embodied in the church wall; or, they should be removed to local county museums, the constitution of which I hope to see effected.
The objections to the first of these plans are that future builders, architects, and clergymen may be still more incurious about monuments of this kind than they are now. The objections to the second plan are the delay in the formation of local museums, and the uncertainty as to the amount of secure custody which they would afford, unless invested with some public and legal title of existence.
Whichever of the two plans may be adopted, it appears to me that the danger of leaving these early and easily destroyed monuments in their present precarious condition, warrants all the efforts that can be made for their removal and preservation. In a healthy state of the national mind it would be better perhaps to leave the monuments in question at the spots where they now stand, because they nearly always indicate the burial places of the persons whom they commemorate, or they illustrate certain local events of greater or smaller historical importance. But I do not know that such a tone of opinion is ever likely to exist in this nation; and it is our duty to try and hand down these monuments to future generations, "unhurt amidst the wreck of empires," long after our name and history may have become