"The Nant Gadwen stone"
In September of 2003, we invited Nina Steele and Kate
Gearey of The Gwynedd Archaeological Trust to come and see the Stone at Nant
Gadwen, as we were very intrigued to find out whether the indentations were man
made or naturally occurring faults .On their return to Bangor Nina circulated
the photographs amongst colleagues and studied relevant literature. Here is a
summary of her conclusions:-
The majority of the views of my colleagues were that
the stone is probably a natural feature. From the picture we have, some of my
colleagues think that the stone looks like it has angular faults along at least
three different planes. These lines would be the result of natural selective
weathering of the faults. If you look closely at the pictures you can see
another fault running vertically and a faint line along the top of the edge of
the stone. Triangular faulting is typical of serpentine rock on The Lizard
Cornwall. It would probably be a good idea to examine the faults on other rocks
in the local area to see whether similar lines can be seen on these – this
should help to establish whether this is the case or not. Alternatively, you
could contact a geologist they may be able to tell you instantly!
My colleague Kate thought that it was possible the
stone may be a way marker of some description, possibly of an early medieval
date, as this was the period during which many early Christian pilgrims would
have been travelling to Ynys Enlli. As such it was the view of the Director of
the Trust (who has studied Early Christian Monuments in this area.) that
although he would instinctively say that the stone was natural, he thought that
it was indeed possible that one of the lines could have been made by people,
making use of the fault already visible on the stone to make a simple cross.
The arguments against the stone being of early
Christian origin are largely related to the form of the (possible) decoration on
the stone. The most simple decorated stones often seem to be conventionally
horizontal and vertical in design (+ shape), not diagonal like the stone at Nant
Gadwen (X shape). It does not however, bear similarities to the cross incised
stone at Maen-y- Bardd Rowen, it is in a similar location, i.e. at the side of a
thoroughfare; and also the patterns on both stones are only visible when the sun
is at a particular angle (although I would assume this could be simply be
attributed to the depth of the markings).
Nina also referred us to Nash Williams study of early Christian monuments in Wales, an article regarding cross-incised stones in Llyn plus photocopies of simple cross- incised stones, from which we could see that the decoration depicted in them does seem very different to the Nant Gadwen stone, despite similarities with the location of some of the other stones.
We are very grateful to Nina and Kate for taking the
time to come to see the stone, and to Nina especially for compiling this
explanation. Thank you very much.
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