05 Mar Carningli Mountain Walk – Newport, Pembrokeshire
A short but steep walk from Newport can take you to the wishing well on Carningli’s lower slopes. There is a rocky outcrop with a good climbing slab, just below sits the wishing well with its capstone. Carved steps allow you to climb up on to the capstone and the reward is a great view too the North. The Nevern Estuary can be viewed in all its splendour from this capstone, winding its way along the valley from the Coast alongside a wooded valley to where it disappears into the distance towards Eglwyswrw in the East.
Some good circular walks can be made from Newport up on to the Mountain of Carningli. Walking West out of Newport towards Fishguard, take a left, signposted Cwm Gwaun (Gwaun Valley) and continue on taking the left fork in the road a mile or so on. Continue upwards along a winding mountain road until you reach a small gravelled car park on your left. Looking East at the car park you will see a low stone wall heading off to the East, alongside the wall is a good path that will take you along to the Summit of Carningli. There are many paths leading down from the Summit and to return to Newport you can take anyone that point in the general direction of the Town. Just remember one simple rule on your descent – if you start going back uphill, chances are that you have taken a wrong turn, backtrack and take a downhill route.
Take care to ensure that you have adequate footwear, some warm clothes (just in case the weather turns) and please leave everything as you found it. Fenced fields are usually not public domain unless there are signposts clearly marking footpaths through them.
– Newport Pembs
The summit features a large and prominent archaeological site; one of the largest hillforts in west Wales. This hillfort, generally dated to the Iron Age and assumed to be from the first millennium BC. The lower slopes of Carningli are covered with traces of Bronze Age settlement (Pearson 2001) and so some features of the hillfort maybe even older. Although not one of the largest fortified sites in Wales, it is certainly one of the most complex, incorporating a series of substantial stone embankments, natural rock cliffs and scree slopes which may have been used as natural defences. Inside and outside the embankments are terraced enclosures, hut circles, and rectangles. Approximately 25 hut circles are at the northeast end of the site. On the other side are three enclosures separated by embankments. Beneath the scree slope on the eastern flank of the mountain is two further massive defensive embankments. The only plan is that of Hogg 1973 – it has been modified by Figgis, and again in recent research by Brian John. According to Hogg, there are signs that some of the defensive embankments and walls had been intentionally demolished, which he attributed as “evidence for systematic destruction by Roman invaders in the aftermath of the conquest of Wales”. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales noted in 2009 that “Such a dramatic interpretation, placing the Roman legions on the slopes of Carningli in an attack on its inhabitants, might be questioned today”.
There are records of the intermittent occupation of the site in the Age of the Saints, and as recently as the Middle Ages. No comprehensive excavations of the hillfort have been made.
As with other upland defended sites, the economy of the tribe which inhabited Carningli was probably a pastoral one. The site is incredibly exposed, and it is quite possible that it was only seasonally inhabited.