Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pentre Ifan & Carreg Coetan Arthur

If one were going to highlight every Neolithic stone in Wales, let alone Europe they would need even less of a social life than we have here at The History of Europe Podcast. But, we have friends and they both would like us to hang out more so we're just going to aim for 30-35% of all the Neolithic Knowledge out there. We figure that batting .300 - .350 will get you into Cooperstown so if we can tag somewhere along those lines we'll be inducted into some sort of Prehistoric Shrine ourselves. In case you're wondering what cap we'll be forever enshrined in bronze in we haven't yet decided. I'm partial to my Brooklyn Dodgers cap though.

Pentre Ifan or Arthur's Quoit.

In our quest to be given a seat of honor at some fictitious Historical Hall of Fame though we'll continue touching on Neolithic Wales and look at a couple of Megalithic constructions, Pentre Ifan & Carreg Coetan Arthur. Pentre Ifan is located in the West of Wales in the county of Pembrokeshire. Pentre Ifan is a the Welsh's largest neolithic dolmen. It's quite stunning to look at. If you remember a dolmen is fancy speech for a portal grave and quite popular in Western Europe among the Megalithic Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age cultures. This particular dolmen dates from around 3500 BC and was probably a communal burial site. The table slab that sits atop the other stones is roughly 5 meters long and is almost 2.5 meters off the ground. It's estimated to way over 16 tonnes. That's tonnes (2,204.6 lbs) not the measly ton (2000 lbs). These prehistoric Welsh were out to put the Mega in the Megalithic when they built Pentre Ifan.

Carreg Coetan Arthur
Carreg Coetan Arthur is another dolmen located in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It's basically, the little brother of Pentre Ifan. It was constructed sometime around 3300 BC and is a bit smaller. It's table capstone is only about 4 meters long. Like, Pentre Ifan, the Carreg Coetan Arthur was origanally buried under a mound of earth and rock, but time has eroded these barriers away. Now these slabs of Megalithic construction sit in the countryside to remind us that men have been building elaborate graves for thousands upon thousands of years. Another cool little anecdote about these two dolmens is the name Arthur. Arthur is a mainstay of Welsh folklore. The name Arthur is still connected to Carreg Coetan, but Pentre Ifan (meaning the village of Ivan in Welsh) has also been called Arthur's Quoit. (Quoit is just another colloquial name for Dolmen or passage grave). So, while the legend of Arthur might not be Neolithic, his fame casts a shadow that dates back to a time before he was even conceived. Not bad for a shadow, though I'm sure Plato still wouldn't have been impressed...

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