Carreg Coetan Arthur: Newport’s Neolithic surprise

It has happened to us on a few occasions in Pembrokeshire and never anywhere else ever. You are minding your own business, strolling through nondescript suburbia and wham, out of the bungalows and industrial estates materialises an archaeological site from several thousand years ago like a masterwork of Neolithic necromancy.

You would be unlikely to chance upon the burial chamber of Carreg Coetan Arthur on your normal jaunt to Newport, when focus is invariably on either getting down to the wide wonderful sandy beach of Parrog or wandering around the mellow, hipsterish shops, cafes and restaurants.

In our case it was getting cut off by the tide that led us there. As you (normally don’t) do when you go to the seaside, you stay out on the sand as long as possible, not really thinking about the incoming seawaters rapidly rising over the only simple route back, right? Well, so it was with us. We did have a back-up plan though. Along the far (northern) side of the broad River Nevern estuary you can follow the sand back behind the bobbing vessels to reach a narrow path at some houses. Which takes you inland a muddy mile or so to a bridge. Which conveys you back to the Newport side of the river and soon thereafter Newport (you emerge centrally by the Llys Meddyg hotel). Just as you reach an industrial estate entrance on one side and a group of bungalows on the other, you spy a brown sign which you imagine must be a joke because you are in a pretty lacklustre part of town. Follow the sign and voila, two bungalows back is the burial chamber, a striking piece of construction harking from around 3000 BC sitting all aloof and alone in a green hedged enclave.