Monday, June 30, 2008

Caer Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey, Wales (photos)

Caer Bryn Celli Ddu, (the mound in the dark grove) was hard to find, it's a few miles south-east of the village of Llandaniel Fab, on the isle of Ynys Môn, (Anglesey, North, Wales) Cymru.

Bryn Celli Ddu is a chambered barrow that marks the summer solstice. It's linked to Maes Howe and Newgrange—that mark the winter solstice).

The mound's stone passage points to the midsummer rising sun. The rays light up a quartz-rich stone at the back of the tomb—like at Newgrange. An outer ring of postholes have been dated to over 6,000 years ago. A Welsh Stonehenge.

Caer Bryn Celli Ddu, (the mound in the dark grove)—a Stonehenge-like chambered barrow with a lightbox similar to that of Newgrange, that marked the summer solstice—making it linked to Maes Howe and Newgrange—that mark the winter solstice), near Llanddaniel Fab, on the isle of Ynys Môn, (Anglesey, North, Wales) Cymru.

The mound's stone passage points to the midsummer rising sun. An outer ring of postholes have been dated to over 6,000 years ago. A Welsh Stonehenge. The rays light up a quartz-rich stone at the back of the tomb.

In the early 5th century, Irish seafarers (OK, pirate) colonized Anglesey & were driven out 470 AD (or so they say), but Gwynedd has had a long history of Irish settlement. And many of those Welsh-Irish seafarers returned to Ireland with Strongbow's "Norman" invasion. Probably our Walsh ancestors.

The mound's stone passage points at the midsummer rising sun. Postholes outside, previously thought to be contemporary with the tomb (c3000BC), have been dated to over 6,000 years old. A row of five postholes in front of the barrow appears to be much older. A Welsh mini Stonehenge. The rays light up a quartz-rich stone at the back of the tomb. More 

Afternoon light striking the menhir inside the passage tomb just after the summer solstice. Not much light so I resorted to B&W. Photo below this one is a flash—it washed out detail, but also revealed the modern red ochre ogham on the cement lintel. Top of stone is also covered in red ochre.

The freestanding menhir inside the barrow is an oddity—there is no other example anywhere. There was a fire pit at the center of the henge (probably about where I'm standing to take this photo), covered by a stone slab with a human ear-bone beneath. (Stirrupbone?) Ear to the ground! Thought to be a re-dedication offering. 

Also found inside the barrow was a stone with wave and spiral designs across its surface—a replica is at east entrance. The much older standing stones were deliberately damaged when the tomb was constructed. Also nearby, there was an ox burial inside a three-sided shelter, with quartz pebbles (pavement?) like Newgrnge, but this is a summer solstice passage grave, not a winter one. The reconstructed mound is one quarter of the size of the original chamber.

©Maureen Hurley 2008

Nota bene: Newgrange, Grianstad inniu, The winter solstice date is normally considered to fall on the 21st of December in the northern hemisphere, however during the winter solstice, the position of the sun remains the same for three days. At Newgrange, the passage and chamber of the 5000-year-old monument are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber. The dramatic event lasts for 17 minutes at dawn from the 19th to the 23rd of December.  More

12/2013: After being MIA for years, my lost Scotland/Wales pix showed up on an old hard drive—so thrilled to see them again. I only had the one I posted (above) earlier. Now I have a choice, oh my!

added 2/2017

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wifi woes continued

6/26 We have very little web access and it's crochety when I can get online...I can load an email and even if I'm bumped off the net, at least I can read it later.

6/30 Don't always get a signal here!!! At least the sky's not spitting. We were on Byers Street, Glasgow, old barber shops...took pix for Joe.

We're off to Wales tomorrow, NON and David are off to the retreat and me to the slopes of Snodonia...

I will write as much as I can before signal drops out...lucky I can read fast. Summer here is like winter in SF!!! sitting in a field waving my laptop around for a signal between showers is not my idea fo summer so I'm green with envy over the idea of warm beaches.

I will send this before signal drops.

I'm in GB until July 23 if we don't extend our stay.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Solstice

6/22 Today we discovered that the nuns at Neil's parish, St. Aiden's, are Irish! So we're all getting along smashingly, Neil gave Sr. Breda a CD and now we're kissing cousins!

6/ 23 We'll be in Wales sometime next week...there's an ashram that Neil and David will go to and we'll be hanging out...somewhere near the village where The Prisoner was
filmed. Remember Patrick McGoohan...I am not a number....

So weird to see the sun up at 10 PM, eh?

We hiked into Elderslie to the Wallace Monument, then across the rail tracks to the graveyard where Neil ran into a cousin Anna (her mother, his auntie Kathy just died)...Anna and Neil hadn't seen each other in decades!!

Then we went to Paisley and after circling the abbey we explored the town...I kept insisting that I wanted to get to the top of the hill...fabulous buildings! and all the streets were named Oak something...don't tell me it wasn't a druidic site!...we could see Ben Lomond, the Campsies, etc.

It was crystal clear...but the best part was when I pet a dog and the woman who owned it took a shine to us and let us into the secret garden that she's restored, behind the Thomas Coates memorial church...a very secret garden...many alleys and closes...and it's not on the tourist path. The observatory is up there too...looking back, it's
a rounded hill leveled at the top...if there were archaeological ruins, they're long buried under massive stone edifices.

Anyway, bits and snatches of the past emerge despite progress..

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scotland notes, seeking WiFi on the Solstice

6/20 I can't believe I am in Scotland, sitting in a meadow near the ruins of Johnstone Castle, where Chopin once's nearly 9 PM and the sun still hasn't set, the sky is spitting, I'm freezing but it's the only place where I can get wifi reception!

If the council houses weren't in the way, I could look right across the Clyde Valley & Clyde River and see Ben Lomond. I bet there's snow on it.

There's an Arctic wind blowing. Good thing I brought my fleece jacket! Alas, I didn't bring my longjohns or cords, and I will regret it I think...jeans not as warm.

When we flew over Tahoe, the sky was thick with smoke, is California burning??? We left in the midst of a record heat wave and arrived to near winter conditions.

People here are very gossipy I've noted...they are eyeing me susppiciously as I communicate on my laptop from the field, literally... I have to send this now just in case transmission ends. (Neil’s mum is scandalized that I choose to sit outside and write on my laptop. It doesn’t bode well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Desperately Seeking Wifi

6/19 Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland: Below the Hazel Arms (wifi reception).

I'm still trying to recover from Friday the Thirteenth, actually this whole week before we left for Scotland has been one vast Friday the 13th or like the movie, Groundhog Day...replete with lost passport, plus a hefty SF parking ticket ($50!!) all because of a slow lline at passport agency.

My iMac thinks it's a blank screen with an Apple logo and a fan is running like a 747 and it's allergic to its own startup/repair disk, all my school billing was on it... If I was Jewish, I would be pulling my hair out, saying oy, oy, oy, why me, oh God?

OmiGawd! there's a ring neck pheasant, or a partridge? It looks more like a grouse...sorta like being in Victoria BC here, same plants and latitude. Saw a fox last night...under a sodium light.

It was Neil's and his nephew David's birthday yesterday... we're definitely time confused circadian wise, or witless.

My wifi near the castle has fizzled. I'm looking for an internet signal in a field between showers, bundled up as if for winter... This small rock in the football (soccer) park is the only convenient place where I can pick up a signal.

Maybe Wales will have more consistent wifi.

We joined the Johnstone Library, and the Renfrewshire Library so we could have internet access but navigating Windows under pressure (we're only allowed 15-minute intervals on the PCs) has me stymied for lots of web stuff...too many gates/ it's a long walk down to the town centre.

I'm writing this in a library, it's raining cats and dogs. Trying to find a signal on the laptop with a 'brolly in the playing field was way too much of a challenge! even with two people!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Utah has left the stage

Some say Utah has caught the westbound
Some say that train never stops
it never pulls in at the station

they say the night Utah died
there was a huge freak thunderstorm
in the foothills of Nevada City
Some say they saw him ride out on a bolt of lightning

Utah was always ever the alchemist
he didn't die of congestive heart failure
his heart was too big for such trivial nonsense
There was room enough for all
in that great flophouse
of a heart that held the struggle forth
the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest spoke for all humanity.
No one went homeless in Utah's heart.

Ever the ecologist farmer,
when his heart failed he didn't ask for another
One heart was enough for him and the world
Utah has not left the stage
he is telling stories and unionizing the clouds in the skies above.

Go to sleep you weary hobos.
Can't you hear that whistle blowin'?
When the steel tracks hum like a wild harmonica
Utah is riding the ghost rails and
he is bound for glory on that Hallelujah Train.

I don't recall when I first met Utah, but I was young, still in my teens, I loved folk music and met all kinds of musicians like Mike Seeger, Peggy Seeger and Ewan McColl, Ramblin' Jack Ellliot, new Lost City Ramblers, Hoyt Axton. we called him "Uter." Don't know why, but we'd always sing "Beans, Bacon and Gravy" with gusto whenever Uter came to town. I learned "Joe Hill" and "Bread and Roses" at his feet. In those days, I worked for Mimi Fariña, many the festivals at the Greek Theater, so it became a blur as to when I met who...but there was a lot of backstage down time....

I remember in the 1980s, when Kate Wolf couldn't fill the whole stage, Utah stepped in at the River Theater in Guerneville, Sonoma County. Utah told stories. We sang until we were hoarse and continued on in the diner next door.

It became a tradition for Utah to come to the River each year. I ran a reading series, The Russian River Writers' Guild at Garbo's Bar, and every year we commemorated the Spanish Civil War vetrans, Ed Balchowski and Utah would tell stories and sing. Ed was a one-armed pianist and Utah wasn't particularly good on the guitar but by God, they could hold a crowd at bay.

Sometimes Rosalie Sorrels and Bobbie Louise Hawkins would join Utah. We paid half the door. Lord knows it wasn't much, but Utah never turned down an offer to play or tell a story.

Last time I saw him was at the 2006 Kate Wolf Festival. We were all suffering from the 114* heat, sitting in the creek. Utah was looking florid and peaked, he said his heart wasn't good. I thought it was the heat. I had heat exhaustion. I didn't know he was playing his exit song for us all. God Bless You Bruce Duncan "U. Utah" Phillips. Heaven is a better place, now that you're there. Just lay off the Moose Turd Pie, will ya?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jacarandas in bloom (photo)

The Jacarandas in bloom were visible from 10,000 feet in the air! Entire blocks of Long Beach were clouded in purple.