Carreg Samson

Constructed of particularly massive stones, the dolmen of Carreg Samson is situated at SM 848335, a few miles northwards along the coast from St David’s Head at the extreme southwestern point of Wales. The dolmen’s quartz-riven capstone angles towards the sea and the peaks on the Strumble Head peninsula forming the skyline across a bay (see static picture). It is thought to have been a portal dolmen, and was built over a pit. It was probably once partially covered with a stone mound. The inner chamber is aligned east-west, and little was discovered during excavations there, the most important find being a hemispherical bowl of a kind usually associated with the early Neolithic era.

We visited this monument, well outside our main study area (being several miles to the southwest of the Preseli area), to compare with Preseli sites like Pentre Ifan. A preliminary acoustic check indicated that none of the stones comprising the monument had any resonant or ringing qualities whatsoever. Nevertheless, there was the interesting visual mapping element of the capstone seemingly indicating Strumble Head. The interest here is that it has recently been found that a set of Neolithic monuments show a pattern of locational characteristics, forming a kind of Stone Age “sacred geography” (George Nash, “Encoding a Neolithic landscape: The linearity of burial monuments along Strumble Head, South-west Wales”. Time & Mind 1:3, November 2008). Not only does Carreg Samson “nod” in the direction of the location of these monuments, it also shows some of the same siting characteristics.

The main visual mapping feature of Carreg Samson, though, was totally unexpected. When we closely examined the photographic panorama of imagery we took of the eastern horizon from the dolmen and compared that with 1:25,000 scale maps, we found that Carn Menyn (or at the very least Mynydd Preseli) was visible far away, at the limits of visibility. Even a minor change of location for Carreg Samson would have rendered the sightline impossible. This is an impressive piece of evidence to suggest that sighting to Mynydd Preseli was an intentional feature of dolmens across a wide area of Pembrokeshire.

fig.1 – Carreg Samson with the Strumble Head upland on the skyline beyond


fig.2 - In and around Carreg Samson


fig.3 - A walk round Carreg Samson