Pentre Ifan: The “Floating Stone” of Wales

In Pembrokeshire, this 5,000-year-old prehistoric monument is one of the iconic symbols of Wales.

Pentre Ifan is made from the same rock as the bluestones used at Stonehenge in southern England. (photo by Lori Erickson)

Pentre Ifan is one of my favorite spots in Wales. I love its peaceful, rural setting and the incredible gracefulness of its stones, which seem almost like a modern work of art instead of a monument created 5,000 years ago.

Pentre Ifan’s horizontal capstone, its famous “floating stone,” weighs more than 35,000 pounds. The stone is delicately—almost impossibly, one might say—perched eight feet in the air atop three tall, pointed upright stones. It boggles the mind to think of how hard it must have been to arrange the stones without the benefit of modern technology.

Equally intriguing is that the monument provides a perfect frame for the Preseli Hills in the distance. These craggy hills (which are full of other prehistoric sites) were the source of the mysterious bluestones of Stonehenge.

Bluestones from the Preseli Hills in Wales were laboriously transported to Stonehenge, where they form part of the mysterious monument. (photo by Lori Erickson)

These bluestones (so named because they have a blueish tinge when wet or freshly cut), were transported to England around 2,500 C.E. Along with sarsen, a very hard type of sandstone found across southern England, they were used to construct Stonehenge. It’s not known why the builders went to such an enormous amount of work to transport the bluestones such a long distance.

Pentre Ifan itself is also composed of bluestones. Some archaeologists think it was used as a burial site, while others see that as unlikely, especially since no human remains were found beneath it. It may have been created as some sort of marker relating to the Preseli Hills.

Pentre Ifan was one of the first ancient sites in Wales to attract the attention of scholars. It was studied and sketched from at least 1603 and has become a symbol of Welsh heritage.

According to the sign near the monument, folklore says that fairies can be seen here. I didn’t see any on my visit, but I was entranced nevertheless!


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Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of books that include Holy RoverNear the ExitThe Soul of the Family Tree, and Every Step Is HomeHer website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.


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