"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).  

Carreg_nant_gadwen.JPG (96176 bytes) Carreg Nant Gadwen 5.jpg (196008 bytes)

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.

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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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