In 2010 I stayed for a while by the Welsh seaside in Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wales. I loved the wild waves and sea air, dramatic black cliffs and bright green hillside dotted with sleepy sheep. But most of all I loved the hill walks there, particularly Myndd Carningli, a splendid 347 meter tall mountain that holds a lot of ancient secrets in its earthy bosom.
On my ascent up Carningli, which wasn’t at all difficult, it’s a gradual incline with rocks and scree to guide the way, I witnessed some of the most breathtaking and peaceful views in Britain. The blustering and bracing Atlantic wind reaches in through your clothes and stabs you in the heart.
From up on Carningli I felt that anything and everything was possible for me. It was very personally liberating, after a very challenging chapter in my personal life. But enough about me, let’s talk about Carningli!
Mynydd Carningli: Iron Age Hill Fort
Mynydd Carningli is one of the largest hillforts in west Wales. It dates to circa 1,000BC. The lower flatter areas of Carningli were once home to a Bronze Age settlement. Around 25 hut circles and rectangles have been found here in amongst the stone and scree slopes.
The area of the settlement is believed to be about 400 metres x 150 metres. The mountain was harnessed by the original Bronze Age settlers for its natural strengths, and some of the embankments were used for defensive sentries.
Archaeologists think that up to 150 people called this settlement a home at any one time, based on the sheer amount of evidence they have found, The summit was once an active volcano half a billion years ago.
Although there’s also some evidence of the destruction of these embankments later on by Roman invaders, when they conquered Wales.
More recently, 4th century Celtic missionary St Brynach called this place home for a time and came here to chill and meditate. Hence the name Carningli in English, which means the Hill of Angels.
The views from up here are pretty epic and on this clear day I could see as far as Ireland in the distance.
Poking around up there, I didn’t know quite what I was looking at or looking for, but everything felt and seemed to be sacred in an incredibly ancient way. In a quiet contemplative way I observed standing stones, cromlechs, carins and hill forts The benemoth stones seemed to emanate genuinely ancient spirituality and power. There is a beautiful, sacred loneliness up here.
Other than St Brynach in the 4th Century, the mountain has entertained few guests, other than the occasional grazing sheep or adventurous pony.
The mystery of exactly what went on at Carningli during the Bronze Age still remains unresolved, because there has been no comprehensive excavation of the Carningli hillfort to date.
For all anyone knows, Carningli may hold treasures from the Bronze Age or earlier this could include jewelry, armour or weapons. The below gold cape was found in Wales dating from the same period. The mind boggles, how exciting!