Twmbarlwm (ST242926), height 419 metres, is a landmark for miles around and has much legend attached to it. It is rumoured to be the burial site of a giant and at the end of the last century tradition in Newport, claimed the motte was the burial mound of the horse Lord Tredegar rode at the Charge of the Light Brigade. On a clear day the panorama makes the ascent worthwhile. You can see the whole of the Severn Estuary from Devon up to the Severn Bridge, and around through Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire. To the north the Brecon Beacons are prominent.
It was the view from Twmbarlwm which stimulated W.H.Davies, the Newport born poet author of "Autobiography of a Supertramp", He wrote
" Can I forget the sweet days that have gone.
When poetry first began to stir my blood
And from the hills of Gwent I saw
The earth torn in two by Severn's silver flood ".
The top of Twmbarlwm is crowned by a hill fort which may be Iron Age, though the current feeling is that some hill forts have their origin in the Late Bronze Age. This may be true for at Twmbarlwm, there is a small Bronze Age Tumulus, on the outer lip of the ditch around the motte.
Occupation of the area may even predate the Bronze Age. About twenty years ago a flint arrowhead was found "near Twmbarlwm" . It may have come from the hill just to the north. Mynydd Maen, has yielded several worked flint items over many years.
As mentioned earlier, at the eastern end of the hill fort is a motte of possibly the 12th century. There have been suggestions that the hill fort is a large bailey to the motte. Examination of the bank and ditch indicate a style more common to the Iron Age. It is doubtful if the fort was completed. The location is very exposed and would not have been attractive in the deteriorating climate of the Iron Age. The motte is also open to question. At the time of the Doomsday book Caerleon was under Norman control, but by 1150 the native Welsh had reoccupied the area.
Some authorities suggest that the motte is a 13th century build, dating from the time Gilbert de Clare was in conflict with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in the 1270's.A motte at this period, and in this location would be anachronistic. The motte can easily be seen from the lowland to the south and east, which would have been Norman controlled and a this suggests that Twmbarlwm is a Welsh motte, which would have been a constant reminder of their presence to the dwellers in the lowland.
More info from Wikipedia website - click here
Items found at Twmbarlwm ? More info from Gathering the Jewels website - click here
Do you have a memory of Twmbarlwm, the Tump or the Pimple you would like to share? if so click here ..
Lee Gingell relates: I spent many hours days up the `tump`, as we called it, my self Lee Gingell with Neil and Nigel Gough later with David and Alan Richards ,Brett weeks ,and Helen Kerr, walking then when the Twmbarlwm trek started I was up there with my brother in law Adrian Powell, or `Pow` as most people knew him. When we first started the trek it took us about 9 hours to walk the 26 mile course but we eventually got it down to 6 hours.
Graham Jenkins relates: I lived at Abercarn but as my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather and various aunts and uncles lived at Cwmcarn , Pontywain, Crosskeys, Risca and Pontymister I often climbed the mountain to Twm Barlwm with my friends when visiting various relatives. This would be in the mid 1930’s. We played there and I often wondered what the mound was. I do feel that it should be properly excavated and examined by archaeologists to determine exactly what it is. One of my aunts, who was very superstitious told me that whenever someone tried to make excavations at the site, a violent storm broke out which prevented them from continuing. She was very superstitious. Whenever I explored Twm Barlwm the days were sunny and bright and my memories of my visits there are happy ones.
Brian Downes relates: From Cwmcarn the walk or almost a run up to the tump past the pit was a regular affair. Our gang used to spend many hours all over the mountains walking and camping even catching small trout? in the stream that ran down past Cwmcarn pit, and I felt a bit disappointed when the first time I drove the Forestry drive when we used to do it for nothing, but then we could walk it! My father, who recently passed away at 90, told me many times of when he, his brother and friends from Risca would spend the summer camping up the tump and living off the land, as he started work at 14 in Risca colliery he must have been a bit younger then – you could not let your children do that now! He continued his walks there from Cwmcarn certainly into his 70’s.
I would like to take my grandchildren up there when they are home from America next time as they see the tump when travelling down the motorway to see the family back in Cwmcarn and Risca.
Does anyone have what I am calling an “angina” route to the tump from any direction.?
Karen Hughes relates: I grew up in Malpas during the 1970's and remember with affection the many times myself and my friends would cycle to twmbarlwm following the canal as far as we could. The last section of the climb would mean pushing our bikes up a really steep hill. It would take hours to complete our journey to the top. We would then freewheel back home at such a speed - I'm sure it only took about half an hour to complete the 7 mile journey back!
Peter Meredith relates: Twyn Barllwm was visited by many people on Good Friday, many walking from all areas of Newport, although I cannot remember Sunday Schools organising the walks. Some say it was the resting place of a Silurian King and a local poet wrote:"And when Barllwm died, with scarce a pause, they bore his corpse to the Hill of Laws;they set him again in the judgement seat,with his crown on his head and his shield at his feet,they dug the rock from the stony ground and raised o'er his head a mighty mound,which the people could see for miles around,they gave it his name and we call it still,Twyn Barllwm - the tomb on the Judge's Hill".From various books I have I still believe the origins were from the days of the Druids and that trials were held on the hill the bodies of those found guilty of serious crimes were cast over the side towards, what is now known as Cwmcarn.I can verify that Witchcraft was carried out in the locality in the 1960's and I had taken various items to protect myself and a friend from any probable trouble, luckily we did see activity, but went down a different route, that night was Walpugisnacht !
Adrian Jones relates: As a teenager in the 1950s and 60s, then living in Newport, my ‘Hatherleigh’ school friends and I often pedalled as far as we could up the mountain and walked the rest of the way to the top leaving our ‘Holdsworths’, ‘Vikings, and ’Claud Butler’ racing bikes unattended for hours at a time, with never a thought of losing them. I also braved a lull in the snow of 1963, when I was 19, and made it to the top. There were many footsteps ahead of mine, such was the magnetism of that mysterious, mystical, mound. It was a fine place for teenage imaginations to run wild. One of our school-teachers, Bill Hockey, introduced us to the poetry of WH Davies, who had been a friend of his, and to the stories of Fred Hando who also had a regular column in the ‘South Wales Argus’ describing his walks in ‘This Pleasant Land of Gwent’. Twm Barlwm often featured both in Fred Hando’s stories and Bill Hockey’s reminiscences. Half a century on, now living in Wallasey, I still sometimes visit ‘home’ – and my three children and some of their cousins have all accompanied me back to that haunted hill-top’s summit on summer days to experience its breathtaking views.
Mike Williams relates: I lived in Pen y parc Pontnewydd and went to school at Upper Cwmbran Infants, one year our school trip for end of summer was a walk to Twmbarlwm (this was mid - late 1950's), this was my first experience and back then the "tump" was magical.I married and moved to Coed-Eva in 1970, I enjoy running and my all time favourite run is, up to the "pimple" I still go now in my 60's, it takes longer but what a place.I stand on the top and look around and feel quite insignificant when I think of all this place has seen, it certainly has a magic that makes me so happy and free.I enjoy caravanning and when coming home from the Bristol direction as you come over the hill between Coldra & Caerleon junctions of the M4 there it is the "PIMPLE" and you know you are home.
Sue relates: I lived very close to this fabulous mountain. At the age from 2 to 13 I lived in Risca. I can remember going up the mountain lane, it seemed like a day to get there. As myself and friends made our way up I remember seeing a reservoir and then getting to the entrance of the mountain. I had tremendous fun up there, running around and going onto the top of the Tump. Even then at that young age I remember the stunning views. Sometimes we would take a picnic there. One of the best views and best mountains I can remember. Loved every minute. I plan to go back very soon.
Shaun McGuire relates: I have spent many a happy hour or I should say days on the top of Twmbarlwm flying radio controlled gliders and practicing for competitions that I used to enter in the 1980’s. In fact I was flying the models from about 1971 until the 1990’s there and on Mynydd Machen and some other hill tops in Monmouthshire and Glamorgan.
The competitions that I entered were usually over at the Mendip Hills or the Malverns and occasionally down to the Bournemouth area.
On one occasion over on Twmbarlwm I watched a thunderstorm working its way towards me and as I did not want to be on top of the mountain during that kind of storm, especially holding a metal transmitter in my hand, I packed up and started to head home. As I got near the downward slope by the pimple, my hair suddenly stood on end and I had a tingling feeling but I wasn’t go hang around and wait to see what happened next, I legged it down that slope as fast as my little pins would take me!
About 18 months ago I took some of grandchildren up there and luckily I managed to reach the top with little difficulty after all these years. Much to my surprise as I walked up the steps in the side of the pimple, I was greeted by a Spanish student moving all around me and taking photographs of myself and my grandchildren.
He told me that he was on some kind of project and myself and my grandchildren on top of mountain was exactly what he wanted. I wonder what happened to those photo’s?
The myth about Lord Tredegar’s horse I have never heard of before, because that horse is buried along with one or two of Lord Tredegar’s dogs in the garden alongside Tredegar House. There used to be a small canon from the Crimea war which was also part of this memorial and that disappeared years ago and was probably melted down by someone.
In the 1950’s and 60’s I was very fortunate enough along with a number of other boys, about 8 of us I think, that had the run of all the grounds on weekends including use of the boats on the lakes. We spent most of the day doing chores like gardening and painting or other similar jobs for the nuns that used to run the house and St. Josephs school and convent but they kept us far away from the girl borders they took in!! They treated us well and during the day kept us well fed with sandwiches and huge pots of tea.
Edwin Lockhart relates: When I was a young man I used stroll up the beautiful, luxurious walkways of Twmbarlwm. Reading this webpage brought many fantastic memories flooding back into my head. Seeing the picture made me realise the sheer beauty that this mountain possesses. I too was once caught in storm on that mountain, I managed to shelter myself in the nearby woods lower down the mountain, Luckily the storm was not too heavy and I soon returned home to my wife Johanna. If I wasn't disabled, I would walk up it once more.
Trevor Wigmore relates: I used to live in Malpas in the 1950s and 60s and can vividly remember a sort of pilgrimage many of us used to make to the "tump" via Bettws on a Good Friday. If I remember correctly this was organised by the local `Sunday Schools`.