English

Ogofau Cefn-yr-Ogof: Creaduriaid rhyfedd a dynion cyntaf Cymru

Elizabeth Walker

Ogof Pontnewydd
Ymchwil Ogof Pontnewydd
Danedd Pontnewydd
Danedd o ogof Pontnewydd
Ogof Pontnewydd
Ogof Pontnewydd
Ogofau Cefn-yr-Ogof
Cefn-yr-Ogof edrych allan

Mae'r ogofau yn Cefn, ger Llanelwy, wedi bod yn destun cryn sylw dros y blynyddoedd. Ymwelodd nifer o enwau mawr â'r ogofau i weld yr esgyrn anifeiliaid a chartref y Neanderthaliaid cynnar, gan gynnwys Charles Darwin ym 1831.

Mae'r ogofau ym mhlwyf Cefn Meiriadog, Sir Ddinbych wedi bod yn leoliad o ddiddordeb i wyddonwyr, artistiaid, beirdd a henaduriaid ers blynyddoedd. Arferai'r ffordd rhwng Dinbych ac Abergele basio drwy'r bwa carreg ger Afon Elwy a byddai nifer yn aros yno i edmygu prydferthwch yr olygfa. Ysgrifennodd yr hynafiaethwr John Leland am Cefn yn y 1530au: 'On the farther ripe of Elwy a 3. or 4. miles above S. Asaphes is a stony rok caullid Kereg the tylluaine, i.e. the rok with hole stones, wher a great cave is, having divers romes in it hewid out of the mayne rok.' Roedd yr awduron Thomas Pennant, Richard Fenton ac Edward Pugh hefyd ymhlith yr ymwelwyr ag Ogofau Cefn cyn 1830.

Esgyrn yn y mwd

Ymwelodd Charles Darwin â Cefn yn Awst 1831 yn ystod ei daith ddaearegol gyda'r Athro Adam Sedgwick. Disgrifiodd Darwin y galchfaen yn Cefn ac yn ei lyfr nodiadau mae'n nodi bod Sedgwick wedi gweld esgyrn rhinoseros ym mwd yr ogof; mae nodiadau Sedgwick yn dangos i ddant rhinoseros gael ei ddarganfod. Yn anffodus, wnaeth yr un o'r ddau ymhelaethu ar bwysigrwydd palaeontolegol y darganfyddiad. Ym mha ogof oedd Darwin? Mwy na thebyg taw Ogof Cefn oedd hi, gan fod cofnod o ymweliad y Parchedig Edward Stanley y flwyddyn ganlynol yn nodi bod gwaith tirlunio wedi gadael 'esgyrn yn y mwd i'w cymryd' a bod llawer o esgyrn wedi'u lledu fel gwrtaith ar y tir islaw. Cofnododd Stanley iddo weld dant rhinoseros yng nghasgliad perchennog y tir – ai dyma ddant Sedgwick a Darwin? Fyddwn ni byth yn gwybod i sicrwydd.

Yr Hipo, y Rhino a'r Eliffant

Disgrifiodd Stanley y gwaith tirlunio ar Cefn a'r llwybrau cerdded a adeiladwyd yn y dyffryn, lle bu'n rhaid gwaredu rhannau o graig Cefn-yr-Ogof oedd yn ymwthio. Crëwyd cyfres o risiau graddol o waelod y dyffryn drwy Ogof Cefn. Symudwyd cyfaint anferth o rwbel o'r ogof er mwyn creu un llwybr yn cysylltu'r ddwy fynedfa. Dyma Stanley yn cloddio yn Ogof Cefn ym 1832 gan ddarganfod esgyrn eliffant ag ysgithrau syth, rhinoseros a hipopotamws o'r oes ryngrewlifol ddiwethaf (tua 125,000 o flynyddoedd oed), a gwaddodion oedd o ddiddordeb i nifer o ddaearegwyr a gwyddonwyr eraill a ymwelodd â'r ogofau.

Yng nghymdeithas ddysgedig y cyfnod, roedd y ddadl am hyd oes dyn ar y ddaear a'u perthynas ag anifeiliaid diflanedig ar ei hanterth. Felly pan ymddangosodd erthygl ym mhapur newydd The Times, ar 20 Hydref 1870 yn honni bod amffibiad rhyfedd yn byw yn Ogof Cefn, fe achosodd gryn ddiddordeb. Dyma'r erthygl yn galw ar naturiaethwyr i ymchwilio i oroesiad creadur hynafol yng Ngogledd Cymru. Mae erthygl yn The Flintshire Observer ar 4 Tachwedd 1870 yn sôn am fadfall fyw, pedair troedfedd saith modfedd o hyd, tebyg iawn i grocodeil yn cropian o ddyfnderoedd Ogof Cefn. Yn ôl y sôn, Cymro dewr a welodd yr anifail, Mr Thomas Hughes, ysgubwr simneiau o'r Rhyl. O ailadrodd yr hanes, mae'n annhebygol bod y crocodeil wedi cyrraedd Cefn o gwbl – mae'n debyg taw un o atyniadau sioe anifeiliaid a fu farw ar ymweliad â'r Rhyl oedd e. Wedi clywed yr hanes, dyma Mr Hughes yn dyfeisio'r stori am ei ddal yn yr ogof, ac wedi ei brynu, dyma ei arddangos fel madfall hynod Cefn.

Ogof Pontnewydd

Ym 1872 ymwelodd yr Athro Syr William Boyd Dawkins â Cefn a chloddio yn Ogof Pontnewydd Cave. Pan ddarganfu Stanley yr ogof ar ochr y dyffryn ychydig i'r gogledd-orllewin o Ogof Cefn, nododd ei bod yn hollol ddigyffwrdd. Wnaeth Stanley ddim cloddio yno, ond credir bod y gweinidog lleol y Parchedig Thomas, Mrs Williams Wynn (perchennog y tir), a Boyd Dawkins wedi cloddio yno. Ym 1874 cloddiodd Thomas McKenny Hughes yn helaeth yn yr ogof gan ddarganfod asgwrn dynol hynod o fawr ynghyd ag offer carreg ac esgyrn anifeiliaid.

Prin oedd y diddordeb yn Ogofau Cefn wedi hyn tan y 1940au pan trowyd Ogof Pontnewydd yn storfa ffrwydron tir a ffrwydron tanddwr, gan adeiladu'r wal galchfaen, y drysau dur a siambr y gard gyda'i stôf golosg i gadw'r gwyliwr yn gynnes. Byddai pobl yn parhau i ymweld â Cefn, gan dreulio penwythnosau a Gwyliau'r Banc yn archwilio'r ogofau.

Ym 1978 dechreuodd Amgueddfa Cymru broject ymchwil i ymchwilio i ogofau Cefn gan ddechrau drwy gloddio yn Ogof Pontnewydd cyn symud i Cefn yn ddiweddarach. Mae Pontnewydd wedi dod yn safle o bwys rhyngwladol yn cynnwys gweddillion math esblygol cynnar o Neanderthal oedd yn defnyddio'r ogof tua 230,000 o flynyddoedd yn ôl.

Heddiw mae'r ogofau ar dir preifat Plas-yn-Cefn a does dim mynediad i ymwelwyr.

sylw(17)

David Griffiths
3 Rhagfyr 2021, 14:50
I certainly visited the caves as a teenager in St Asaph in the 1950s.
If it was private land as youngsters we took no notice.
Didn't know about the history of the place.
It was just a place to lark about
Charles de la Feuilliez
25 Medi 2021, 17:51
I came across mention of Cefn caves in "The Cadfeal Companion" and my interest was immediately aroused, as I'm working on a fantasy story that begins in Bronze Age Britain. I like to include as many facts as possible, so the possibility that such extinct animals may have wandered that area was of interest to me. But, my question is: when did these creatures roam there--only in the 125,000-230,000-years-ago time period, or did some exist into the Bronze Age (500 BCE, or even later)? How much research has been done on the dating of the bones?
Carol
24 Chwefror 2021, 21:09
Most interesting to read all the comments and I can hardly believe that all these years on - 50 - that there were parties held in the caves!!!
Elizabeth Walker Staff Amgueddfa Cymru
5 Ionawr 2021, 15:04

Hi James Harrington,

Many thanks for sharing your story of your experience at Cefn in the late 1960s. The caves at Cefn are very special to many of us. Indeed they do lie on private land without a public right of way. These caves are really important and as such they are protected as sites of special scientific interest for the nature and geology as well as being scheduled ancient monuments for their archaeology. The path to Cefn Caves was especially difficult on the last occasion I visited. The Victorian walkways cut into the limestone have eroded, as is to be expected, and some stretches were quite hard to navigate, even with a guide from the estate.

Kind regards,

Elizabeth Walker
(Specialist Curator for Palaeolithic & Mesolithic Archaeology)

James Harrington
22 Rhagfyr 2020, 12:22
I have photograph of me as a child taken below the caves whilst on holiday with the country holiday fund. Inner city kids in the country. Me and my younger sister, two brothers and two sisters. Our host wrote the location and date Aug 1969. Seems such a shame that access is now denied. We now know what all the battles were about in the 1980s and Thatcherism. It was to take all the wealth for the few. It happened before. How come we could come and go as we pleased in 1969,but not in 2020
Bachgen Henllan
9 Hydref 2020, 13:22
What a joy it was back in the 1950s to make the annual Easter foot pilgrimage
from Henllan to "Cefn Caves", there to meet others from surrounding villages
and hamlets.
Picnics galore whilst some explored the caves and others visited the tiny pub
near the river Elwy.
Don't believe all the gossip about Free Access to the cave area - the Landowner
held a tight grip on the land, the tied-cottages and even the generation of
electricity powered by (his) tiny water-powered generator.
It was only sheer numbers which broke the "Trespassers will be Prosecuted"
claim on that day.
Being predominantly limestone, the whole area was riddled with small caves which
we Bachgen Henllan explored with dim torches and candle 'ends', led by the intrepid
Arthur.
christine baskett
1 Hydref 2020, 18:35
Just visited bontnewydd stasaph this weekend and was shocked to see access denied to much of the cefn estate was never like this when my grandparents lived there very sad
Jane Marsh
16 Mai 2019, 13:41
It may interest readers to know that there will be an archeological dig taking place at the Ffynnon Beuno cave in Tremeirchion this June which is being filmed by the BBC and being broadcast on “Digging for Britain” later in the Autumn. The team have kindly agreed to operate daily tours for the general public. Please check out our website and Facebook for further details nearer the date.
David Williams
4 Ionawr 2019, 22:55
Hi I visited CERN caves today with my son. I called at Cefn estate office and asked for permission. They were more than happy to give me permission providing I signed a disclaimer to say if I hurt myself I wouldn't blame them.
Moderator Staff Amgueddfa Cymru
30 Mai 2018, 10:59

Moderator's note - can we put to bed the complaints about access to the site, and stick to discussion about the finds in question, please?

At the moment, we are working hard to prepare these amazing finds from Cefn for display this Autumn at St Fagans National Museum of History - which is free to visit and open 362 days a year. We hope to see you there,

Moderator
Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

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