Maen Madoc Standing Stone
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: late Roman Latin inscription
Maen Madoc (sometimes called Maen Madog) is a standing stone in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park, about one mile north of Ystradfellte. It stands immediately beside the old Roman road known as Sarn Helen, just outside the Blaen Llia forestry plantation. A mile to the north is Maen Llia, a Bronze Age standing stone.
The stone is a slender pillar, about 2.7m high, 0.7m wide, and 0.3m thick (9' x 2.3' x 1').
Why was it erected?
Unlike earlier Bronze Age or Neolithic standing stones, Maen Madoc is believed to have been erected in the late Roman period, possibly to mark the site of an early Christian burial. The southwest edge of the stone is inscribed with very worn Latin text reading 'DERVAC(IVS) FILIVS IVSTI (H)IC IACIT'. This translates loosely as 'Dervacus, Son of Justus lies here'.
The stone is not in its original location, and no grave has been found. Historians theorise that the burial remains were destroyed by the extremely acid soil. When Maen Madoc was recorded in 1805 it was recumbent. It was re-erected at some point in the 19th century and again in 1940.
One theory says that Maen Madoc was a pre-existing Bronze Age standing stone that was simply re-used to mark a late-Roman burial site.
From Ystradfellte take the minor road north towards Heol Senni. After about two miles you will come to a signpost on the right for the Blaen Llia Forest car park. There are interpretation panels and a forest map at the car park.
From the car park, follow signs for the Beacons Way long-distance trail back to the road and turn right (north towards Haol Senni). After 100 yards you come to a steep track leading uphill to your left (in a roughly southwesterly direction),
You are now following the course of Sarn Helen, an early Roman Road linking the outposts of Coelbren and Brecon Gaer. The track is roughly cobbled for most of its route as it climbs through the forest, past the site of a 1st-century Roman military camp, until it emerges into open ground at the southwestern edge of the forest. Immediately after the track leaves the forest you will see Maen Madoc in the field to your left.
The stone is behind a wire fence, with no obvious means of access, but it is so close to the fence that it is easy to examine closely.
Our family visited on a wet, foggy day, as evidenced by the photos accompanying this article, but we still enjoyed the trek up Sarn Helen to the standing stone.
About Maen Madoc Standing Stone
Address: Sarn Helen, Blaen Llia Forest, Ystradfellte, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales
Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site
Location: On the Beacons Way long-distance path, reached from the Blaen Llia Forest car park one mile north of Ystradfellte.
Website: Maen Madoc Standing Stone
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Sarn Helen Roman Road - 0 miles (Roman Site)
Maen Llia Standing Stone - 2.2 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Penderyn, St Cynog Church - 4.7 miles (Historic Church)
Craig-y-Nos Castle and Country Park - 4.7 miles (Historic House)
Cerrig Duon Stone Circle & Maen Mawr - 5.1 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Camlais Castle - 6.8 miles (Castle)
Defynnog, St Cynog Church - 7.5 miles (Historic Church)
Castell Du (Sennybridge Castle) - 7.8 miles (Castle)
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