Crug Mawr

Crug Mawr (Banc y Warren) near Cardigan - Gorsedd Arberth?

The usual location assigned to Gorsedd Arberth where Pwyll encountered Rhiannon in the First Branch of Y Mabinogi and from where they witnessed the mist descend casting the enchantment on Dyfed in the Third Branch, is Camp Hill near the town of Narberth in Pembrokeshire, as discussed on the earliest post on this web log. Another location that has been suggested is Crug Mawr near the town of Aberteifi (Cardigan). Although there is a stream called Nant Arberth near Crug Mawr there are objections to this location if we are to make geographical sense of Pwyll’s progression to Glyn Cuch at the beginning of the tale. It might be objected that geography does not apply to magical mounds, but the physical locations of many places mentioned in these tales are consistent with locations that can still be identified today.

‘Crug’ often signifies a mound or tumulus of prehistoric origin. This particular tumulus is also mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis, writing at about the same time as the manuscripts of Y Mabinogi. He gives an account of passing it as his progression leaves Aberteifi for Pont Steffan (Lampeter):

A tumulus is to be seen on the summit of the aforesaid hill, and the inhabitants affirm that it will adapt itself to persons of all stature and that if any armour is left there entire in the evening, it will be found, according to vulgar tradition, broken to pieces in the morning.

This supplies an interesting extra dimension to the magical nature of the mound, though Gerald uses the name Cruc Mawr and makes no mention of Gorsedd Arberth. The sites of marvels, transforming mists and portals to the Otherworld, it seems, shift just as we get sight of them.

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