MB Photography | Projects | Maen Llia 2015


Maen Llia is a large, roughly hexagonal lump of old red sandstone which sits on moorland at the top of the valley between Fan Llia and Fan Nedd, near the source of the river Llia in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is just a few miles from my house (or perhaps I should say "a stone's throw"!) and a location which I have visited many times over the past 15 years. Like many such megaliths its age and original purpose are unknown, although it is thought to date from the Bronze Age.

Legend has it that the stone goes down to the river, the Afon Llia, to drink on occasion. This tale seems likely to be an allusion to the fact that its shadow is cast across the moorland as far as the river when the sun is low in the evening sky. I am not the type of person who believes in standing stones having any magical power, purpose or being sited on energy lines, however I am interested in why it was erected here in the first place and by whom, and these people may well have held such shared myths about the stone. Its position in the valley and visibility as you drive up the valley does lend credence to the stone being a route marker, but the effort involved in moving this stone into the upright position would seem disproportionate to the value of erecting it for this purpose alone. Its shape is also distinctive enough to make one believe that those who sited it here thought it a bit more special than simply a “signpost”, and some sources also claim there to be tooling marks on the stone indicating that it was not naturally this shape. Of course we will never know the true purpose of the stone, but it remains a steadfast landmark in the landscape while only the weather and light changes around it.

By photographing the stone throughout the year using different techniques I have tried to capture the varying conditions which the stone experiences, and represent it in the landscape in a way that reflects my mood and the weather at the time. I hope some of these images also reflect the stone's permanance in this wild landscape.

The images here represent an edited selection of my visits to the stone. See a video presentation of the images on Vimeo. To see more images from my visits see the twitter hashtag #maenllia2015.

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View Slideshow

All Images © Matt Botwood