“And the tyrant rose up, all flesh seared from his body. In his hand was Methuzula, the living head staff, its eyes searching the army before it, its gaze striking terror in all that met it. ‘Die’, spoke the tyrant, and they did.”
So says the writing on the wall beside this rather strange cave painting, presumably of Tythamus, the mythical druidic tyrant who held Britain under a rule of terror, some 10,000 years ago.
The cave can be found not far outside the town of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, set high into a hillside. Though no evidence of a grave or tomb has been found as of yet, it is believed to be final resting place of Tythamus. This is attested to in the writing which accompanies the painting. Of course, the body may have been moved or pillaged since, though archeologists currently searching the huge caves are confident they are close to unearthing it. Whether they should however, is the real question. Duh Duh Duuuuh.
What we know of Tythamus paints a grim picture. Abandoned at birth as an abomination, he was raised by wild dogs, not coming into contact with another human until he was nearly grown. This human was Methuzula, a wandering, powerful druid, who had long been searching for Thythamus, drawn by his wild, uncontrolled power.
Upon finding him, Methuzula aimed to teach him the ways of sorcery, in order that he could control his power, which unrestrained, threatened to destroy all around it. Unfortunately, the creature he met was more beast than man. A savage battle ensued, Tythamus emerging the victor after beheading Methuzula with a glass sword, magically forged from the sand they fought upon. Methuzula, drawing upon his great power, survived by trapping his soul in his detatched head. Speaking to Tythamus in a language beyond sound, he convinced him to keep him, that he might yet teach him. Consenting to the arrangement, Methuzula found himself mounted on a staff, to accompany Thythamus evermore. However, once Tythamus had learnt all he could from Methuzula, of humanity, sorcery, and other things besides, he bent him to his dark will, turning him into a weapon he could wield against the world he now sought to enslave.
What followed was decades of bloody, horrific war as Tythamus forged the first unified Britain, forcefully unifying its tribes under one banner. Having achieved this, he sought to take over the continent, and all other lands besides. Before this could happen however, there was a revolt, led by 60 rebel druids. The battle was fierce to a degree that is hard to imagine, with magic tearing up the landscape, forming mountains and forging valleys. Finally Tythamus went down, burnt alive by a rain of lightning. He wasn’t dead however, and rising up as nothing more than a charred skeleton held together by sorcery, he destroyed the rebel army entirely. The attack that had been unleashed upon him had a curious side effect, in that it released Methuzula from the bonds holding him. Biding his time until after the fight, when Thythamus was at his weakest, he turned upon him, unleashing everything he possessed in a wave of power that turned the skeletal tyrant to lead, driving the magic from his bones and killing Methuzula in the process. When the dust had settled, a lone remaining druid apparently recovered the bones from the battlefield alongside the head of Methuzula, burying them both in a magic tomb, which would seal in their power for eternity, lest they somehow return to the mortal world. The words, written on the cave wall, were thus placed there as a warning and lesson to the future, or so the story goes.
Now, if you believe any of that, digging the fuckers up would strike me as a bad idea, not that I do, but I’m just saying. As for the point of this review, visiting the cave itself, do it! It’s a cool story, and there are all kinds of ancient cave paintings of weird stuff to look at, such as the image attached, as well as the full translation of the cave writing. Though not the oldest cave paintings, they certainly are the most interesting, and some of them are incredibly realised. I particularly loved an image of armoured fox riding a horse with a bearded goats head, which looks like it could have come straight from The Renaissance. If you stay in Merthyr Tydfil, you can trek to the cave with a guide in about five hours, where you will be given a really good tour, all for £20, which is pretty reasonable. You need to bring your own lunch though, so be warned.
Subjective Rating: 10/10. It’s a pretty unique experience
Objective Rating: 9/10, because there is always one twat who refuses to like stuff.