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Ysgyryd Fawr

The Ysgyryd Fawr is a hill 486 metres in height, found ten miles from the English border. It is the most easterly of the Black Mountains, and is situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The name Ysgyryd Fawr pertains to the shape of the hill, indicating that it has been ‘shattered’ and it has often been anglicised from the Welsh to ‘The Skirrid’ in English. Other names for the hill are recorded as ‘Holy Mountain’ and ‘Sacred Hill’.

Ysgyryd Fawr has a long ridge in a north – south orientation, and its western slope is jagged in appearance due to landslips that occurred during the Ice Age.

Local legend states that part of the hill broke off at the exact time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is also said that the soil of Ysgryd Fawr is Holy and exceptionally fertile. It was often taken to be spread on fields, coffins and church foundations. Pilgrimages’ were also made to the summit of the hill, particularly on Michaelmas Eve (28th September). There is also a rather distinctive stone on the hill known as the Devil’s Table.

On the summit of Ysgryd Fawr are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort and a mediaeval church dedicated to Saint Michael.

Simon Topham

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