Saturday, 1 July 2000

Pen y Fan

The immense north face of Pen y Fan
Height: 886m (2,907ft)
Prominence: 671m (2,201ft)
Region: Brecon Beacons
Classifications: Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall
Summit feature: Large cairn and National Trust plaque
Times climbed: 1
Related trip report: 
A large burial cairn marks the summit
Pen y Fan (Pen a Van - Top of the Beacon) is the highest peak in south Wales, situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. At 886 metres (2,907 ft) above sea-level, it is and the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris. The twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du were formerly referred to as Cadair Arthur or 'Arthur's Seat'.

The name Pen y Fan consists of the Welsh words pen ('top, head, peak, summit', etc.), y ('the') and fan, a form of ban ('summit, crest, peak, beacon, hill, mountain', etc.). There is no one standard translation of Pen y Fan, but 'the mountain's peak' or 'the beacon's summit' are both possible translations.

The summit is marked by a well preserved and structured Bronze Age cairn with a central stone cist, similar to that on the nearby summit of Corn Du. The grave is fitted with a series of concentric stone kerbs to protect the central mound from slippage. The cist is a box formed by vertical stone slabs near the centre of the barrow, and it is currently occupied by the National Trust sign, but will have originally held the ashes or other remnants of a dead person or persons since multiple burials together are common in the British Bronze Age.

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