Day 139 Mile 139: Neolithic Axe Factory Mountain Run. High on the mountains above the village of where I live, sits an outcrop of stone which I have not yet had the opportunity to visit, until now. Hidden among the outcrops that punctuate the grass above Graiglwyd Farm there is evidence of stone-working going back at least six thousand years to the late stone age.
The rock here is particularly good for tool-making, being of high density and maintaining a good cutting edge. Once fashioned these tools were clearly highly prized and examples of axes made from Graiglwyd stone have been found as far afield as the Thames Valley and Cornwall.
The rock is exposed at the surface which makes it a lot easier to get to the raw material, even if it was undoubtedly a slog getting up here and a pain to carry something so heavy back down. Over the time, waste stone flakes built up on the hillside creating the false impression of mass production, thus the site has become known as the axe “factory”.
It’s a inspiring place. Up here in the quiet with only, wind, breath, birdsong and the occasional bleat to be heard. In our current society we take so many extensions to our capacities for granted. Our nervous systems are extended by phone and TV to see and hear far beyond the horizon and outside of the present. Our ability to move has been extended by car and plane and in some cases even superseded by the web. It is doubtful that any of these extensions of ourselves (or countless others) could have happened (certainly not quite in the same way) without pivotal stepping stones such as the invention of the neolithic axe. As an object it is both humbling and inspiring in its ingenuity and while being so basic in some ways, crafting one remains a highly skilled task to this day.
The route is a beautiful but hard path up the mountain winding up through the ferns, grass, gorse and wind-sculpted lichen wreathed trees. These give way to gentler slopes towards the top where the only vegetation is sheep cropped grass and a strengthening wind. Across the damp ground where the water comes down from the higher slopes of the Carneddau range to the axe factory before turning around to reverse the process and enjoy a fast descent into the warmth of the village and breakfast.
On the way up the (not quite) dawn chorus was so beautiful I had to stop and try to record some of it on my phone. Plus it was a good excuse for a rest!
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Today’s route, brought to you in association with OS Map’s Aerial 3D project. Wow!
Distance: 2101.9 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support, it really does make a massive difference!