Maen Llia Standing Stone
Maen Llia Standing Stone

Maen Llia is a standing stone in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park, a few miles north of Ystradfellte. The stone stands in open moorland a short distance east of a minor road from Ystradfellte to Heol Senni.

Maen Llia stands 3.7m high and 2.8m wide at its widest part (roughly 12 feet by 9 feet) and is 0.6m thick (2 feet). It is slightly rounded at the base and tapers to a point at the top. It is sobering to think that there is probably another 4-6 feet of the stone below ground, suggesting that the total height of Maen Llia is around 5.5m (as much as 16 feet).

The stone is a conglomerate of Old Red Sandstone from the Devonian Age and probably dates to the Bronze Age (3300 BCE - 1200 BCE). CADW, the official Welsh heritage organisation, estimates that the stone was erected between 2300-800 BCE.

The stone's name is a combination of 'mean', meaning stone, and 'llia', which refers to the nearby Afon Llia, or River Llia. The term may derive from the local dialect for 'smallest'.

Maen Llia from the west
Maen Llia from the west

Ancient Legends

According to legend, the stone sometimes moves down to the river to drink. This tale may come from the fact that when the sun is low on the horizon, it strikes Maen Llia in a way that makes the stone cast a long shadow that reaches the river.

Another version of the story says that on Midsummer morning the stone goes down to the River Mellte, and yet another version says that whenever a cock crows the stone travels to the River Nedd for a drink.

Maen Llia from the south
Maen Llia from the south

An account written in the 1940s mentions faintly carved Roman and Ogham letters on the stone's surface, but no trace of this carving can be found today. The official CADW listing also mentions traces of 19th-century graffiti on the stone's west face, but we didn't see any evidence of this when we visited.

Two miles away is Maen Madoc, a standing stone that features distinct carvings.

Approaching the stone
Approaching the stone

Getting There

From Ystradfellte take the minor road leading north to Haol Senni and (eventually) Brecon. The rote follows the course of Afon Llia past a car park for the Sarn Helen Roman road, then goes over a cattle grid. The road emerges into open moorland and follows the course of Afon Llia north. A lane branches off to the right, but you want to take the left (main) road.

You will pass the ancient earthwork of Llech Llia Henge on your left and then almost immediately see Maen Llia come into view in the field to your right. There is a small layby with room for 2-3 vehicles on the right (east) side of the road, with a stile and a short path of about 30 yards to the stone. Near the stile is an information panel in the shape of a standing stone with details about the site.

About Maen Llia Standing Stone
Address: Sarn Helen, Ystradfellte, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales, LD3 8SU
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: Just off the Sarn Helen road from Ystradfellte to Heol Senni.
Location map
OS: SN924191
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

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Sarn Helen Roman Road - 2.2 miles (Roman Site) Heritage Rating

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Camlais Castle  - 4.7 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Defynnog, St Cynog Church - 5.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Craig-y-Nos Castle and Country Park - 5.6 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Castell Du (Sennybridge Castle) - 5.7 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Penderyn, St Cynog Church - 6.7 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

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