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FOURTH SERIES.No. XXX.
EARLY REMAINS IN CARMARTHENSHIRE.
CYNWYL ELFED, or Elvet, a portion of the parish of Abernant, lies about seven miles from Carmarthen, on the main road to Newcastle Emlyn, and is a wild and thinly inhabited district. Its name is said to have been derived from a Roman officer, Helvetius, as Cynwyl Caio, in the same county, is from Caius, another Roman official. There is little of interest to be seen except the long embankment surmounting the crest of the hill on the left hand side as one goes towards Newcastle, for nearly a mile and a quarter. It is called in the Ordnance Map“Clawdd Mawr”, but was more usually known as “ The Line” in the early part of the present century, if not at the present time. According to the Rev. Ď. Lewis, the correspondent of Nicholas Carlisle, the well known Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the compiler of the Topographical Dictionary of the Dominion of Wales (published in 1811), this line is said to have been thrown up by the Earl of Richmond on his way from Milford Haven to Bosworth; but his route is stated in the account given.in the Cambrian Register to have been by Cardigan and Brecon, while his friend Sir Rhys ap Thomas took that by Carmarthen and Llandovery. But whether Henry followed this latter road or not, his object in raising such a work is not evident or even intelligible ; for considering of what immense
4TH SER., VOL. VIII.
importance it was to traverse the route with as little delay as possible, he could not have spared the time, even if he could have afforded to detach any portion of his little army, for such a work. The object of those who did form the mound was evidently that of defence from attack from the opposite heights, or to command the road in the valley below; and neither of these motives could have acted on a leader whose great end was to get over the ground as soon as he could.
The work, whoever was its author, is certainly of a much earlier period, and may be possibly the work of the Roman commander Helvetius. But it is more probably connected with the adjoining megalithic remains, formerly of much more extensive and important character than they are at present.
At the time Mr. Carlisle was obtaining particulars for his Topographical Dictionary, the Rev. D. Lewis was the vicar, and "a most worthy and intelligent one” in the opinion of Mr. Carlisle. His account, of whatever small value in some respects, is not without interest as being the earliest, if not the only one, recorded. Not even an allusion is made to the stones in Gough's Camden. It has, however, been transferred word by word by Richard Llwyd to his Topographical Notices. Mr. T. Rees, in his account of the county, also gives a short summary of it. The vicar mentions that the monument remained unnoticed up to his time, although it was a remarkable one, as it certainly would have been had it been what he termed it, “a Druidical temple or observatory". Since his time the larger portions have been carried away, but he describes the remains as follows: “On the summit facing the south is a centre stone of huge magnitude, from ten to fifteen tons, horizontal oblong, 2 feet thick, supported by four uprights, one of which has declined from its original position, and sunk deeper in the ground. Four other similar, but smaller, stones
, of about four or five tons, surrounded it; but these have all slipt from their respective fulcra, and lie now in a shelving position. Scattered about, at various and