The Gop

Just by the Gop.jpg

The Gop is a Neolithic mound in North Wales, It sits on a hill overlooking Trelawnyd to it's south, a village east of Dyserth on the road to Holywell between it and Rhuddlan. Rhuddlan is sometimes said to be traditionally the last fordable point on the Clwyd.  Perhaps this route was important even in the Neolithic and this why it was there. It sits  on a hill that is part of a groups that are the Halkyns, and to their north are Rhyl and Prestatyn. 

A great fact for it, is that it is the second highest Neolithic Mound in Britain, This site at the moment sits on a hill that is 823 feet high, and it itself is 40 feet high. Once you have walked up from the village, the mound itself is not hard to get up.  The site is a oval at 300 by 240 feet in area. 

Apparently excavations in the 19th Century only found animal bones., unlike Silbury Hill which was filled with passages. 

The mound is said to have been much higher in the 18th Century, some even say there were piles of stones atop, but these were removed for buildings. 

There is a famous tradition that Boudicca fought her last battle here, and some even say she was buried here. No evidence for that, but got to remember Silbury Hill had great figures buried there, so maybe here did also. 

About a mile to the north is a similar elevation village called Gwaenesgor that overlooks the coastal plains that Prestatyn and it's beach are laid out upon. 

The name for the Gop is a shortening of the Welsh name, which the English comes from. This was and is Cop y Goleuni, which means mound of lights, This is as it had a important beacon in recent centuries atop it.  Though the traditional Welsh name is Copafeni, Some say the name mound of beacons suggested by Pennant is likely wrong, and maybe Leni was from the name of a person. 1699 saw Lhwyd the historian suggest the term was Copperlieny. It is certain the Gop bit was Summit, though the rest is uncertain. In the 15th Century one term for the hill had the word Caer jammed in there as well. Some say the term Cop comes from Olde English as well, So all very confusing., and that then the Y etc bits were added to by local Welsh speakers. So maybe there was a name and the term Gop was added. It is very rare for a Welsh name, to have had a English name, that became Welsh, I think, if anything it is more the other way around, especially in this area and all Wales. Certainly all terms for the hill to the 18th Century were Welsh terms like I have mentioned above. The name of the summit is also recorded as early as the 15th Century, with estimations there were beacons here past to the Romans, I don't know why it is estimated at just the Romans, but the village by was even in the 11th Century, never of the same name as the summit, having the name, Trevelenau and Newmarket as well as the older Welsh name.

The area was very much Welsh territory all the way back to their forebears the ancient Britons. So why an English term would define the summit deserves speculation. There is that attempt at a dyke, from Trelawnyd or near it, all the way to near Holywell. Which was part of a Saxon attempt in the Dark Ages to demarcate this area as part of their territory. The thing is though that was not that successful as the Welsh princes and people had retaken this land way before 1066, and this area has very much been part of the land of Wales and the Welsh nation and people ever since. Plus of course looking at the age of the site, it was there way before that relatively brief Dark Ages Saxon interlude. Then again you do get Viking names in places where the Vikings were not that plentiful, so maybe it is like that, or maybe it is as of that dyke. Whatever the case, the usual name is the Gop. 

This hill like many hills can be seen far and wide, indeed the recognisable wood that surrounds it blocks the mound for some direction, but that summit can be seen from Abergele quite easily, when no buildings are in the way, and better, I even recognised the summit, when I was at the end of Llandudno Pier a time.  I do not see why we could noy imagine the beacon task to have been a task for it in Pre historic times, but then again, seeing some claim the stones atop it were noticeable maybe they would do such a job as a beacon. I mean a shining whiteness on the top of the summit. 

I myself got there, by parking in the village and walking up, but also some walk there from paths from other directions.  I have been up there on a occasion when it was not possible to get there as forestry was being done, and another time, someone had positioned a shrine to a Pagan god there, so all sorts of things happen. I myself like it as of the nice view, you can see Dyserth;s hillfort very well, and the Clwydian valley as it hits the estuary.  Also, when the trees are lower, you can see Liverpool from the summit, but for that matter you can from loads of places from here.  

The hill itself  is just one of many from afar, but it is somewhere that has some good views, so surely this site was a great landmark. 

Silbury Hill in Wiltshire meanwhile, is 40 metres or 131 feet high, and sits on the plains, so is much more noticeable, and it's manmade element is so much more striking. Though on the other hand, the Gop can be seen from the coast at some points, so it has a plus there. 

It is possible there are 2 mounds in southern England taller than the Gop, from the Neolithic, one having been turned into a motte and bailey castle, Marlborough Mound, and one totally levelled, 

The Gop therefore seems quite unique, but it could be that the site is just a surviving site, and other such sites were destroyed in other uses. 

Any pics on this site are mine and you need my permission to use them, but you could likely make better ones yourself..

I read in a local history book that the Gop used to be taller, and stones were taken away for use in house building. A pretty embarrassing fact, but it happened everywhere that. I think it would be a good idea to rebuild it to a extent.