Day 243 Mile 243: Gorsedd Stones & Soggy Socks. On the banks of the Menai Straits lies a field, un-built on and crossed by footpaths leading down through the trees to the sea. Ashley Jones was a prominent Bangor solicitor before the Second World War; on his death, his executors fulfilled his wishes in making bequests to the City Council enabling them to acquire the Fields for the use of the people of the City. During the Bangor Eisteddfod in 1931 a stone circle and table were erected there as part of the celebrations.
Gorsedd Stones (Cerrig yr Orsedd in Welsh) are groups of standing stones constructed for the National Eisteddfod of Wales. They form an integral part of the druidic Gorsedd ceremonies of the Eisteddfod. The stones can be found as commemorative structures throughout Wales and are the hallmark of the National Eisteddfod having visited a community.
Each structure is arranged in a circular formation typically consisting of twelve stone pillars, sometimes from the local area although at times the stones have been brought in to represent the Welsh counties. A large, flat-topped stone, known as the Logan Stone, lies at the centre of the circle and serves as a platform.
As well as commemorating the National Eisteddfod, the Gorsedd Stones continue to provide an important ceremonial venue for the proclamation of future National Eisteddfodau which according to tradition must be completed one year and one day prior to its official opening. The ceremony is conducted by the Archdruid of the Gorsedd of Bards who formally announces the particulars of the proposed venue. During the proceedings the Archdruid stands upon the Logan Stone, facing him, to the east cardinal point, is the Stone of the Covenant where the Herald Bard stands, and behind this are the Portal Stones that are guarded by Eisteddfod officials. The portal stone to the right of the entrance points to midsummer sunrise, while that to the left indicates the midwinter sunrise.
So, while the stones are a lot more modern than they would at first appear they link back to an ancient culture and stand as a very present reminder of an unbroken line of culture which has survived in this area (against ridiculous odds) for thousands of years.
The perimeter of the field is almost exactly 1/2 a mile (although this is not particularly significant to the layout of the stones!) thus requiring two laps to make up the distance. On starting to run I was quickly reminded of that other staple of local culture, the rain. The sky opened up, and within about 20 seconds it was impossible to tell whether my feet were soaked from the water coming down from the clouds or up from the long grass, either way, inside my socks my toes were audibly squelching!
However it was not all bad, on reaching the south-west corner for the first time it was possible to hear the Curlew and Oystercatchers out on the straits obviously prospecting for crustaceans and shellfish along the edge of the sea. On reaching the top of the hill there was a rewarding arm-flapping grassy descent as the path dropped away which led to a sense of genuinely riotous fun!
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.
Distance: 1658.8 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support!