NEWSLETTER FOR 2019
NEWSLETTER FOR 2019
Our President-elect for 2019 is Prof Nancy Edwards FBA who, like Mark Redknap, is an
expert on the Early Mediaeval archaeology and history of Wales and Ireland. After taking
her first degree at Liverpool University Nancy studied Early Mediaeval sculpture under Prof
Rosemary Cramp at Durham. She came to Bangor in 1979 and inaugurated a period of
considerable research in the history of early Wales, at first in the field of church history and
inscribed stones, and more recently in more secular areas. Alongside her study of Wales she
has worked on the complementary period in Ireland.
This year has seen changes in the Trustee body with the retirement of Professor Muriel
Chamberlain as Chairman. Professor Chamberlain has been chairman for almost twenty
years and has been a very wise and at times formidable manager of the affairs of the
Association, and a devoted worker, not only attending nearly all meetings, but also
organising several very notable gatherings – the most recent, our very successful autumn
weekend at Swansea last year. We marked her retirement at the Llandrindod meeting with
a party and presentation after the AGM. We are very lucky that Dr Sian Rees has agreed to
take her place as Chairman of Trustees. As a very experienced higher Civil Servant we know
that she will guide the Association with wisdom and tact.
This year we have lost through death the following members, Miss Oonagh Michaeliones of
Stratford-upon-Avon, Dr J.R. Hughes of Southport, W.P.Day, of Oswestry, Dr Margaret Hunt
of Peterston-super-Ely, Gareth Wyn Evans of Cardiff, Peter Mason of the Wirral who died
very suddenly just as he and his wife were planning to join us at Llandrindod, and Mrs
Elizabeth Walters, better known as the architectural historian Elizabeth Beasley, who died in
September this year.
MEETINGS HELD IN 2018
This year our pattern of meetings was slightly changed in that we converted our Spring
Conference into a beautiful week in Gascony in order to avoid the heat of full summer –
how wise we were in this blazing year! We had a wonderful week under the care of our
good friend Marie-Thérèse Castay, who was in August this year, inducted as a member of
the Gorsedd of Bards. So we had a shorter Summer Meeting with the AGM in Llandrindod
Wells, organised by Heather James. Heather also organised our Autumn Weekend at
Llandeilo which looked at the Physicians of Myddfai and their world.
SPRING MEETING IN LECTOURE, GASCONY
Our base in Lomagne, the southern-eastern part of Gascony was the hilltop town of
Lectoure, the Iron Age capital of the Lactorates tribe. The Romans established a town at the
foot of the hill and a temple to Cybele on the summit which was later occupied by the
cathedral which overlooked the rather fine 18th century town house – the Hotel de Bastard
– where we were staying for the week. All 46 of us arrived, via Toulouse, on the afternoon
of Saturday 21st of April and settled ourselves in before our gourmet dinner.
On Sunday morning some rose early for Mass, some for coffee but we all set out by midmorning for a tour of the town defences whose outer ring was still complete. We examined
the north tower and the statue of Marshall Lannes (one of Napoleon's Marshalls who was
the most notable son of Lectoure), the Royal Tannery (now in need of a new role) the
mediaeval well (strangely sited to be only accessible from outside the walls) and the ruined
castle of the Counts of Armagnac at the far end of the rock. After lunch we tackled the
Cathedral and the fascinating Museum in the old Bishop's Palace. Before dinner we were
introduced to all the castles, castelnau and bastides of the region in a splendid tour
d'horizon by Marie-Thérèse.
Monday was our first day of excursions into the countryside. We visited Aubiac where we had some
difficulty getting the key, but the interior of the church was worth waiting for. We saw the fine
trefoil –shaped chancel and Romanesque frescoes of the Evangelists in the tower. From there we
went to Layrac – all these ‘ac' endings denote settlements originating in the Gallo-Roman period. At
Layrac we visited the 12th century church with a fine west door with a range of sculptures like those
at Moissac. In the chancel floor recent restoration has revealed a mosaic (date a little uncertain) of
Samson and the Lion. Marie Thérèse revealed this to us with a bottle of water and a soft cloth
brought specially for the purpose!
We had an ideal salad lunch in Layrac and In the afternoon we went to Moirax a small village on the
old Roman road which became part of the celebrated Road to Compostella - a great source of
revenue (and interaction and human contact and hope) in the Middle Ages, and increasingly so in
the 21st century, as pilgrimage revives. From there we drove to Sainte Mère to visit one of the best
preserved and most typical of the 13th century ‘Gascon Castles', a tall rectangular keep with two
square towers reaching 27m high at either end. The castle had been originally built in 1277 by a
Bishop of Lectoure as a fortified country residence.
We were welcomed to the site by its English owner Piers Kileen. He uses the ground floor of the
castle for pop and folk concerts and spends a good deal of his time arguing with the conservation
When we returned to Lectoure we met our lecturer for the evening, Dr Anais Comet who spoke to us
before dinner on Village Fortification in the Gers in the Late Middle Ages. This explained to us the
context of the Castelnaux -- the villages connected to castles and the Bastides – the larger defended
market centres, which we would be seeing in the next two days.
Tuesday. The first visit of the day was to Lagarde-Fimarcon – now almost a ghost town. In the
Middle Ages this had been the centre of a powerful lordship but at the Revolution all that was
destroyed and the 19th century village developed outside the defensive walls. By 1970 all the
mediaeval village was empty and bought up by a single owner for holiday and event letting. We
wandered amongst the empty cottages. At Terraube, another Castelnau, the castle and its defended
village survived well and we were allowed to walk in the castle grounds, and then stroll down the
central street of the tightly packed village.
From Terraube we drove across to Condom for lunch at the Hotel Continental where the Cambrians
had stayed in 2011. We were greeted as old friends and had a wonderful meal!
In the afternoon we went to St Orens-Pouy-Petit where the mediaeval castle at the apex of the
triangular defended hilltop village had been rebuilt in the Renaissance and from there we visited the
Mas D'Avignon a 13th century castle whose owner was keen to know how close its design was to the
Edwardian castles of North Wales. Pretty close was the general opinion. Here we were quite near
to Plantagenet lands and the Fimarcon family had links with Edward I, also Duke of Aquitaine.
The lecture that evening was a joint performance by our President, Dr Prys Morgan, and his cousin,
Dr Nia Watkin Powell about their uncle Morgan Watkin (1878 – 1970) a scholar of mediaeval
languages who may have been spying in Europe on behalf of Lloyd George.
On Wednesday we concentrated on the Bastides – larger 13th century foundations which were
designed to encourage trade and usually had a large covered marketplace at the centre. These were
defended towns rather than villages, and castles are not as prominent as in the castelnaux. The
bastide is familiar in Wales because the towns founded by Edward I in North Wales follow this plan
We first visited Monfort , notable as the birthplace of the Renaissance poet, Salluste de Bartas, who
wrote in French and Gascon, then we passed through Mauzevin to arrive at Cologne for a picnic
lunch and a tour of the town. The central market there is 14th century in date and very wellpreserved, with an outer stone and wood colonnade around a square two storey timbered tower
which housed the meeting place of the 6 Consuls who ran the town. The arcaded galleries around
the square are also well preserved. We then moved to Sarrant which was a Gallo-Roman settlement
on the Roman road from Toulouse to Lectoure. Remains of columns and statues have been found
and it is possible that the fountain retains some original Roman work. In the 14th century it became
a royal Castrum with a large church at the centre and a small village clustering around it within a
circular wall with a single gate-tower. Not much had changed, but over the years houses had been
built against the wall; windows and doors had pierced it and gardens filled the moat. We discovered
a most fascinating bookshop at the centre.
From Sarrant we went to Miramont- Latour and visited the notable agricultural museum which has
been developed within the Chateau Latour . The chateau has been occupied by the de Lary family
since the 15th century. They left during the Revolution but were able to regain the castle and its land
after the fall of Napoleon and are still living there now. The Museum of Rural Life spreads through
15 rooms of the castle and stables and contains some remarkable farm implements. This was a really
fascinating collection made even more enjoyable by the knowledge and enthusiasm of our guide,
Patrick de Lary de Latour.
On Thursday our first visit of the day was to Saint Clar a double bastide with a long and complicated
history. The earlier town begins in the 11th century but in 1289 Edward I of England becomes
involved and a second bastide is established. Both were defended with walls and the markets
flourished. To this day Sant Clar is the national centre for the production of Garlic and on Thursdays
there is a major street market under the 13th century roof of the southern market hall. So most of
our time in the town was taken up with the market, which spread beyond garlic to many
gastronomic temptations and some interesting craft work.
We then drove to Gramont where we were booked in at the Auberge Le Petit Feuillant for lunch.
This lay just beside the great Renaissance Château de Gramont and was now a ‘destination' in its
own right -- a restaurant where people take photos of their food to impress their friends on
Facebook -- and several Cambrians did! So this was quite a long lunch…..
The castle of Gramont originates with Simon the Montfort, the father of the Simon de Montfort
more familiar to most Cambrians. Only a tall narrow tower of this survives. To that was attached a
14th century ‘Gascon Castle' built by the Montaut family. This was bare military architecture which
faced the village and the church. But beyond a Renaissance archway cut into the base of the Gascon
Castle lay a long courtyard overlooked by an elegant Renaissance château with large windows and
classical detail, with impressive staircases and marble floors -- a completely different symbol of
power! It remained the property of powerful politicians until the Revolution; then through the next
hundred years the house declined. There were restorations at the end of the 19th century by M. de
la Fontan de Goth, but sadly in the early 20th century it was abandoned again. Then in 1961 it was
bought by Roger and Marcelle Dichamp who devoted the rest of their lives to restoring the house
and filling it with life and furniture.
When we had caught our breath after that tremendous visit we drove to the village of Lachapelle
not knowing what to expect next. We were visiting what was originally the private chapel of an 11th
century castle. It became the parish church in the 15th century. In 1776 two wealthy brothers -- the
Abbés Goulard – were vicar and curate of the parish and they commissioned Maraignon
Champaigne, an architect more used to designing theatres, to provide a new interior for the church.
He gave them a riot of baroque woodwork in white and gold, such as you would never expect to see
in a remote rural village!
On leaving Lachapelle we called at the village of Saint Antoine Pont d'Arratz , a pilgrim village on the
road between Auvillar and Lectoure. It had been a commandery belonging to the Order of Saint
Anthony who specialised in the care of people suffering from ergotism. The church is particularly
interesting with an unusual combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and a 15th century
panel of wall paintings on the north wall of the nave which were uncovered in 2006. They represent
the life of Saint Blasius, and a noteworthy element is that the captions underneath and around the
scenes are in the Gascon language.
In the evening our General Secretary, Heather James, gave us a wide-ranging account of the Gascon
wine trade and its impact throughout Europe, not excluding Britain where the green, black and
white pottery from Saintonge which spread in its slipstream, is an infallible indicator of ‘high status'
Friday was our longest journey away from Lectoure and the high point of our architectural tour since
we were going to the great Abbey of Moissac on the other side of the Garonne. The abbey claimed
to have been founded in the 6th century, but a Merovingian 7th century date is more likely. In 1047
it became a possession of the Abbey of Cluny and by the beginning of the 12th century there were
100 monks and the cloisters and the church were built, richly decorated with one of the finest
ensembles of Romanesque art in France. The survival of this building through the troubles of the
Albigensian Crusade, the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the French Revolution (when was
used as a barracks) and finally the 19th century enthusiasm for railways, is nothing short of a miracle.
The closeness of the railway track was immediately apparent as soon as we descended from the bus
to enter the visitor centre and take our tour of this incredible art gallery of biblical imagery.
Most of the day was available for viewing the church with its wonderful tympanum with Christ in
majesty surrounded by Prophets and Apostles and scenes from His life, and the intriguing animal
capitals of the narthex. But there were also opportunities for spending time on a rather good lunch
and strolling through the old town to stand on the banks of the Garonne to admire this immensely
important trading river.
On our return we stopped at Auvillar, a hilltop bastide above the Garonne, to visit two fascinating
museums in the town ; one relating to the river trade: boats and mills on the Garonne; the other a
the small museum celebrating the local pottery traditions. We were greeted here by an English
woman who has been living in Auvillar for many years and is organiser of the rota of volunteers who
keep this notable collection of 19th century painted pottery open to the public. The style is floral,
exuberant and quintessentially French!
When we returned to the Hotel du Bastard, before our last dinner together, we all gathered on the
terrace to thank Marie Thérèse for our wonderful week. We gave her a beautiful framed
photograph of Aberdaron church, a fine plant for her garden and also a tribute which, as a notable
translator of Welsh into French -- and someone who would be inducted into the Gorsedd of Bards at
the coming Eisteddfod -- we knew she would really appreciate: an englyn in her honour written by
Nia Watkin Powell and declaimed by our President Dr Prys Morgan. Such a praise poem was a fitting
tribute for such a well-planned excursion so enjoyably delivered.
SUMMER MEETING IN LLANDRINDOD WELLS July 2nd – July 6th
We were based at The Hotel Commodore in Llandrindod where we had the use of the de Winton
room adjacent to our own dining area for the evening lectures and the AGM during the week. The
meeting was of slightly shorter duration than usual since 2018 was a three-meeting year.
On the Monday afternoon members were led on a guided tour of the town by Mike Garner, a
conservation architect whose practice is in the town, who had done much good work for the
Townscape Heritage Programme 2004-9 restoring and enhancing many of the splendid late Victorian
buildings of what was, from the 1860s onwards, Wales's premier spa town attracting thousands of
visitors. Mr Garner explained how the hotels and shops and private dwellings were built to impress,
using a variety of exuberant styles but with a degree of unity imposed by the ubiquitous use of red
and yellow Ruabon bricks and terracotta tiles. The perambulation concluded outside the offices of
Powys County Council, built in 1985-90 on the site of the Pump House Hotel. After the tour several
members went to the park to look at the relocated foundations of Capel Maelor, an unusual double
apsed medieval church excavated by the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust in the 1980s.
The first lecture of the week was a given by our Editor, Bill Britnell on ‘Llanelwedd RocksRadnorshire farming on the edge, 17th
-19th centuries'. Though the area is perceived by us as
marginal and the archaeological finds were limited, 18th century paintings, many by Thomas Jones of
Pencerrig (whose statue stands outside the hotel) and documents tell a different tale.
Tuesday was devoted to Hergest Court and Hergest Croft by kind invitation of Mr Lawrence Banks.
Mr Banks is the great grandson of R.W.Banks , a founder member, indefatigable supporter and
photographer of the Cambrian Archaeological Association. The family has, uniquely, maintained a
continuous membership of the Association since 1846. Hergest Court is described as ‘one of the
most important medieval sites on the Welsh Marches' in the Herefordshire ‘Pevsner'. Lawrence
Banks explained how his grandfather, W.H. Banks, had a long antiquarian interest in the house (see
Arch Camb 1871 – now on line, see end) and was finally able to purchase it in 1912.
After a welcome cooling drink, we embarked on a tour of both the inside and outside of the building
under the spirited and comprehensive guidance of Mr Allan Lloyd, who has a lifetime's knowledge of
the history and architecture of the house. He began by explaining that the lawn where we sat
occupied the area of a now lost 13th century great hall to which, on the west, a later two storey solar
block had been added (now surviving as a granary) and on the east a chamber, rebuilt in the 15th
century, reusing a beam dendro-dated to 1267. Standing on the east lawn, Allan Lloyd pointed out
how the late medieval house was extended northwards in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The
defensive qualities of the site were very apparent from the lawn with the ground falling steeply
away to the valley of the River Arrow. It was in this late mediaeval house that Lewis Glyn Cothi, then
resident bard to the Vaughans, then the possessors of the famous Red Book of Hergest, would have
worked on his own contributions to the manuscript; and the legends evolved of Black Vaughan
reappearing in the guise of a black dog presaging family catastrophes (to reappear as The Hound of
the Baskervilles it is said!). The complexities of the present house and its cellars defy brief
description, but our final visit to the granary, with its splendid mediaeval fireplace, was easier!
We then arrived at Hergest Croft where lunch had been organised in what had been the dining room
of the house, built in 1894 on the marriage of W.H.Banks, whose mother remained at Ridgebourne,
the Banks' home since their arrival in Radnorshire in the mid-19th century. Wonderful gardens
were developed around both houses, especially Hergest Croft, and the house now mainly serves
their many visitors and is the home of the family archives.
After lunch we divided into two groups alternately being guided around the celebrated gardens with
their many champion trees by Mrs Elizabeth Banks (a former President of the RHS) and visiting the
Banks family archive. Mrs Heather Pegg, the archivist, had laid out a special display for the
Cambrians which highlighted CAA items.
Appropriately, the evening lecture was given by Dr Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan on the Red Book of
Hergest. This priceless manuscript contains the Tales of the Mabinogi, much welsh poetry and the
medical texts supposedly by Rhiwallon, of Meddygon Myddfai fame. She explained how the
manuscript had been compiled for Hopkyn ap Tomas ab Einion in Glamorgan, then came into the
possession of the Vaughans of Tretower and then of Hergest Court. Passing through various hands
it was given to Jesus College and is now in the Bodleian where Cambrians saw it in 2010. Dr Lloyd
Morgan's lecture was also a fascinating exposition of scribal techniques and roles.
Wednesday saw the party take to two minibuses in order to get up a narrow track and lanes to
Pilleth and Cascob churches. Close to Pilleth church is the site of the Battle of Bryn Glas of 1402
where Owain Glyndwr inflicted what the late R.R. Davies described as ‘the most devastating and
decisive English defeat in the field during the rebellion'. Looking down onto the valley, Heather
James described the strategy of the battle and the lie of the land, allowing Glyndwr to bring off a
final flanking attack.
The church undoubtedly suffered in the battle and supposedly many of the dead lie buried in the
churchyard. It has recently been the subject of a felicitous restoration by the Friends of Pilleth
church which included re-roofing and a white lime wash render applied to the exterior. Despite the
turbulent history around it, it is a peaceful place.
We then made our way up 2 miles of a very narrow lane to the remote site of Cascob – now a small
hamlet with a typical Radnorshire church. Heather James briefly described the exterior and interior.
A particular reason for the Cambrians to visit this church is however the memorial slab to William
Jenkins Rees, Vicar of Cascob, 1772-1855. In the last afternoon of his Presidency Professor Prys
Morgan gave a rousing address on his life as a campaigner for the revival of the Eisteddfod and of
the Welsh language, and an active member of the Cambrians, the Cymmrodorion Society and the
Welsh Manuscripts Society.
We then made our way to Presteigne for lunch and many members visited the Judges Lodging in the
former Shire Hall. With the end of the court sittings there in 1970 its future looked uncertain but
under the guidance of Dr Charles Kightly it has been restored as an atmospheric gas-lit living
museum as it would have been in the 1870s, helped by the discovery of a treasure trove of Victorian
furniture and household fittings in the attic.
From Presteigne we went to Knighton and Offa's Dyke Centre where Mr Jim Saunders gave a slide
show with many images of stretches of the dyke. He described the challenges of management both
of the monument and the long distance Offa's Dyke path. Heather James passed around some
illustrations she had intended to use in the field, had time allowed, and described the seminal survey
and recording work carried out by Sir Cyril Fox in the 1930s, published serially in Arch Camb. Sian
Rees then led a group of members to the section of Dyke preserved, mostly in woodland close to the
Centre where further discussion ensued.
2018 was a year (once in every four) that the G T Clark awards were made for the best published
work in the Prehistoric, Roman, Early Medieval, Medieval and Post- Medieval periods in Wales. All
five prize winners (Elizabeth Walker, David Hopewell, Thomas Charles-Edwards , Neil Ludlow and
David Gwyn) had accepted the Association's invitation to dinner and the presentation. These were
made by the retiring President Professor Prys Morgan who then handed over his Presidential badge
to the incoming President Dr Mark Redknap.
The new President ‘s address will be published in Arch Camb and relates to Wales and the Sea.
His lecture was very wide-ranging and profusely illustrated and was followed by a convivial winereception.
Thursday was devoted to a visit to Hereford – both cathedral and town. Our time at the Cathedral
was divided between the Mappa Mundi in its new display area with other treasured manuscripts,
alongside the famous chained library, and the cathedral itself where a number of recent projects had
been realised – most notably the reconstructed superstructure over the shrine of St Thomas
Cantilupe which is highly coloured – as indeed it would have been in the Middle Ages – in deep reds,
blues and purples. We had the services of the Cathedral guides and, in the library, of our member,
Jean Currie who works as a guide there and was also on hand to lead us through the Vicars Choral
College to College Hall where we had a simple lunch in the splendid room hung with Episcopal
portraits. The President suggested that we then all assemble on the cloister lawn for a group
After lunch we visited The Black and White House Museum. This is a three storey Jacobean timberframed house, the sole survivor of a whole row of similar houses cleared away in the 1800s, now
standing alone in the open market place. After various uses – and misuses - it is now a house
museum run by Herefordshire Museums Service with reconstructed period rooms and good views of
well-preserved original 16th and 17th wall paintings.
Reconvening outside the west front of the Cathedral, the group met Tim Hoverd, Projects Manager
with Herefordshire Archaeology, who has many years of experience in excavating in the city and
leading tours. We went first to Castle Green where the Norman bailey of a substantial castle mound
had been constructed over the cemetery of the Saxon monastery of St Guthlac , predecessor of the
cathedral. Only some of the rampart and ditch remained since most was cleared after the Civil War
and the area became an attractive park with a monument to Lord Nelson in its centre. From there
we crossed the river Wye by the pedestrian Victoria Bridge into the Bishop's Meadow. From here
we looked back towards the cathedral and the fine riverbank buildings sketched by Turner in 1795.
Tim Hoverd then explained the rather complex history of the mediaeval Rowe Ditch and the
causeway across the meadows from results of excavations carried out as part of the Hereford Flood
Alleviation scheme. We re-crossed the river on the historic Wye Bridge and assembled promptly to
be picked up by our bus.
The AGM was held in the evening and before the business part of the meeting Professor Prys
Morgan presented our retiring chairman, Professor Muriel Chamberlain with a hamper, a token of
the Trustees' – and he was sure, the general membership's - appreciation of her years of service as
Chairman of Trustees. We were glad to hear that Muriel will however continue to serve as a trustee.
Following the meeting Heather James gave an informal slide presentation of members and places at
Cambrian meetings over the past decade.
On Friday morning many members were not able to stay for the final morning's activities in
Llandrindod itself. A small group however walked down to Rock Park. This 12 acre area was set
aside at the time of Enclosure of Commons in the 1860s. Initially it was an open hillslope on either
side of the Arlais Brook, a tributary of the Ithon, the site of the first spa activities in the later 17th
century. Subsequent tree planting created a splendid Victorian Arboretum, now cared for by the
Friends of Rock Park. Originally there were many mineral springs; today only one is accessible,
encased in a marble drinking fountain, which members duly sampled. The 1895 Pump House is now
used as a Complementary Health Centre but the 1908 Treatment Centre and other buildings are
struggling to find a sustainable modern use.
We then walked back to the National Cycle Museum for the final visit of the week, where we had a
splendid tour by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer guide. Beginning with the ‘pennyfarthings' we progressed through all the technical developments leading to the modern hi-tech
racing cycles, with a great deal of social history on the way.
AUTUMN MEETING AT RHOSMAEN, LLANDEILO,
September 28-30th - The Physicians of Myddfai
The meeting was based at the Plough at Rhosmaen, some members also stayed at the White Hart
Hotel, Llandeilo and a number of local members attended as non-residents. We assembled at 2 pm
on Friday and made our way in wonderful weather to Dinefwr Park. The party then divided with
most being led up to the castle by Dr Sian Rees, via a great parkland tree recently shown to be older
than the castle; while Heather James led another group on a less strenuous walk in the park.
Sian Rees pointed out that Dinefwr Castle, perched on a crag above the Tywi floodplain, is in such an
good defensive position that a prehistoric fortification and an early medieval fortified site have both
been suggested here, but no evidence has been found. Thus the castle may well be a new work in
the late 12th century by the Lord Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth, much fought over by his descendants.
Particularly pertinent to our weekend was Rhys Gryg's control of Dinefwr since Rhiwallon and his
sons are named as his court physicians. The great circular keep and adjacent Welsh gate may have
been Rhys Gryg's work, in contention in his quarrels with his brothers. However much of what we
see today dates to the Edwardian conquest of the late 13th century with a new gate and a
remodelled entrance passage. Glyndwr's Revolt prompted some new building, but thereafter it was
abandoned in favour of Newton House.
Heather James led the second group towards Newton House (1850s), and pointed out parts of
surviving buildings on other sides of the courtyard which may belong to Gruffydd ap Nicolas's new
house of the mid-15th century which replaced the castle as principal residence. She showed a plan of
the park and the location of the recently discovered Roman forts. A great deal of the park
landscaping, subsequently approved by Capability Brown, had already been carried out before his
arrival in 1775. A short walk provided a splendid view of the veteran trees and park landscaping.
The whole group gathered outside the house where Dr Don Williams spoke about his fascination
with the famous breed of White Park Cattle (standing before us). It is popularly believed that they
descend from the white cattle with red markings specified as the honour price for any insult to the
King in the Welsh Laws. This, sadly, is unlikely. The modern herd's descent is minutely documented
and its health is due to its acquisition in 1974 by Lawrence Alderson who returned some to the Park
in 1992. Don Williams said that he had seen similarities between these cows and the Italian Chianina
white cattle breed and, when the Roman forts were discovered, he wondered whether the British
White Parks might have been a Roman introduction. With some difficulty he persuaded the National
Trust to undertake DNA sampling. But, as he ruefully admitted, they did not show any linkage.
A change in the Evening Programme had to be made and Heather James had prepared an overview
fact sheet on the subject of the Physicians which she went through with a short powerpoint
presentation. The notes covered the context of the courts of the Lord Rhys of Deheubarth and
descriptions of the office and duties of the court Physician in the Laws; then introduced the medieval
medical books and tracts, medical beliefs, practices and herbal remedies, and finally outlined the
legend of The Lady of the Lake and her sons, from whom the Physicians allegedly descend.
The second half of the evening was spent in looking at a diverse array of books on early botany and
medicine, part of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society's fine collection now owned by Dyfed
County Council and kept at Carmarthenshire Museum in Abergwili. Jill Davies has been cataloguing
this collection and had made a selection which she presented to the Cambrians.
Saturday morning was devoted to lectures. The first lecture was by Alan Paddison the author
(under a pseudonym -- V.A.Grant (Vagrant)) of an intriguing booklet The Liminal Lakes of South
Wales in which he argued that lakes were places on the borderland of reality and imagination,
conveying the uncertainties and dualities of the worlds of myth and legend, and the very real places
in which they are located. The legend of the fairy mother of Rhiwallon the Physician emerging from
the lake of Llyn y Fan Fach in the Black Mountain near Myddfai is a prime example.
The next speaker, Dr David Thorne, is Chairman of Cymdeithas Enwau Lleoedd Cymru/The Welsh
Placename Society. He has made a particular study of the element meddyg in the placenames of
Myddfai. It was not a common element, but studied in relation to the local administrative divisions,
a pattern emerges which suggests an hereditary office of ‘physician' in each of the cwmwdau of
Cantref Bychan and Cantref Mawr during the period of the Lord Rhys and his sons. He also listed
names relating to ‘honey' and ‘holed trees', both indicating an interest in bees and possibly the
medicinal use of honey.
The final lecture was by Dr Donald Williams, Meddygon Myddfai – a Modern Cohort in which he
looked at the recent history of doctors in Carmarthenshire. He began by explaining how he had been
born at Glanceidrych, a farm near Myddfai from where he had attended Llandovery Grammar School
and then became a medical student in London. He was aware of many other Welsh doctors there
and this was the start of his interest in Welsh medical history. He moved to Swansea where he was a
consultant psychiatrist. On retirement he began to contribute to papurau y bro and amass an ever
growing list of the many doctors coming from the Myddfai area in recent times, starting with the
inspirational Sir John Williams, physician to Queen Victoria and founder of the National Library of
Wales. This led him to found the Cymdeithas Meddygon Myddfai in 2014 which holds an annual day
conference at Myddfai Community Hall. The concentration can be described as a clustering effect,
and he finds it hard not to attribute this to knowledge of the traditions of the earlier Physicians of
The speakers were thanked by Dr Mark Redknap, Dr Glenda Carr and Dr Lindsay Morgan, who, with
his wife Dr Valerie Morgan, had been a colleague of Dr Williams in Swansea.
The party then set off for Myddfai to have lunch in the Community Hall where we were greeted by
Robin Barlow who described the new building opened by the Prince of Wales in 2011 and now
earning useful money for local charities. We enjoyed an excellent light lunch made on the premises
and then made our way to Myddfai Church where past President and Wales Herald Extraordinary,
Thomas Lloyd spoke about the architecture and fittings. The gravestone of the greatest interest for
the Meeting was that to David Jones (1719) and his son, John Jones both ‘surgeons' of Myddfai
which is in the church porch. Myddfai is a small settlement and the size of its double-nave church is
testament to the prosperity of this upland area in the late Middle Ages and 16th century.
We then boarded the coach once again to drive to Carreg Cennen Castle splendidly visible on its crag
in magnificent afternoon sunlight. Some stayed in the café but most walked up the hill with Dr Sian
Rees. The building of the castle is attributed to the Lord Rhys but there is nothing now visible of the
late 12th century. In the partition of his lands in 1216 Iscennen went to Rhys Gryg. After Edward I's
conquest the castle was granted to John Giffard and money was spent, making it likely that the
visible remains belong to this period. Detailed accounts of 1369-70 show that the outer ward was
then in place and also the elaborate added barbican – prestige building by a Marcher Lord. It
remained an important stronghold through the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, but after the
Yorkist victory it was ordered to be systematically demolished.
The dramatic site began to attract the Romantic travellers of the 18th century and was the subject of
a watercolour by Turner. The Cawdors, inheritors of the Vaughan estates, undertook consolidation
and indeed rebuilding. A few intrepid Cambrians went down the ‘cliff gallery' to a watery cave which
has produced finds of prehistoric and Roman date.
The final event of the day was a lecture after dinner by Dr Morfydd Owen on medical books, medical
knowledge and its wider transmission in the mid 19th century through the first printed text by the
Tonn Press, Llandovery. She described, with illustrations, the eleven Welsh manuscripts containing
medical material, the most famous being The Red Book of Hergest. A pamphlet manuscript,
Bodleian Rawlinson 467B, was especially relevant to the weekend since it has later additions
showing that it was in the Myddfai area in the 17th century and was given to Edward Lhuyd. She
stressed that beyond the language there was little that was specifically Welsh in the contents of
these mss and they were part of a general European tradition and still worked within Galen's theory
of humours propounded in the 2nd century. She hoped to carry out more work on the decision of the
Welsh Manuscripts Society to revive the traditions of Myddfai with their translation of 1861.
On Sunday morning a slightly reduced number of members boarded the coach for a visit to the
National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne. We first visited the Apothecaries Hall where the
complete contents of an Edwardian chemist's shop have been re-installed. Here we were met by
David Hunter, a retired GP, convincingly ‘in period' behind the shop counter in a white coat, starched
collar and splendid moustaches. We were able to look at – and indeed handle – various pills, syrups,
powders and tinctures and see how tablets were made. A display in the building of how plants are
used worldwide attracted interest and the newly created Apothecary's Garden on the slopes next
door still had many plants in bloom and leaf. Free time was also allowed to explore the Garden
further, of especial interest to those on their first visit.
MEETINGS ARRANGED FOR 2019
Next year there will be a Summer Meeting at Haverfordwest (June 30th -July 6th) and an Autumn
Weekend in South Meirionydd (September 27th – 29th) but there will be two other One-Day
Meetings organised in conjunction with other societies . This is a development which the Trustees
hope to continue in future years. We also hope to organise Day Schools to highlight research funded
by the Association.
Haverfordwest through History: Farmers, Merchants, Gentry and Canons
Sunday 30th June to Friday 5th July 2019
Venue: The Wolfscastle Country Hotel, Wolfscastle, Haverfordwest
The history of Haverfordwest and its hinterland makes a fascinating study. The wellpreserved prehistoric sites to the north attest to the importance of the area from earliest
times, and recent discoveries of a Roman fort and road reveal how the long arm of Rome
extended further west than hitherto realised. Situated in the southern March, the town was
especially important in the medieval period as its castles and churches demonstrate. The
long estuary of the Cleddau was a vital point of entry to Britain both for the fishermen and
merchants that made the town prosperous, but also for potential invasion through the ages,
from Henry Tudor, the French in the interminable 18th and 19th century wars, to the world
wars of the last century.
Sunday 30 June
12.30: Wolfscastle Country Hotel. Lunch (own cost) and Registration
14.00: Walk (or private cars) to local sites: Garne Turne burial chamber, Treffgarne Hillfort and hut
circles, Camrose motte and bailey, Rudbaxton Church.
Lecture: The First Farmers: Recent discoveries in the prehistory of Pembrokeshire
Monday 1 July. First Farmers
9.00 Coach departs to Carreg Coetan Arthur and Cerrig y Gof Neolithic burial chambers
10.30 Gors Fawr Bronze Age Stone circle
12.30 Castell Henllys Iron Age and Roman settlement with reconstructions of Roundhouses.
16.00 Rosemarket Rath, dovecot and church
17.30 Coach to Wolfscastle Hotel
Lecture: Haverfordwest: buildings and harbours of the gentry, townsfolk, merchants, smugglers and
Tuesday 2 July
Lords, Canons, Merchants and Fishermen
9.00 Coach to Haverfordwest. Walking tour of town to include:
Haverfordwest Castle and Town Museum, Site of Town Merchant's house (removed to St Fagan's),
Priory and Haroldston Tudor house
13.00 Buffet Lunch – Bristol Trader
Afternoon –Three medieval churches, post medieval chapels, Foley House, Higgon's Well
18.00 Coach to Wolfscastle Hotel
Installation of new President and Presidential Address: Nancy Edwards
Wednesday 3 July Incomers, Bishops and the Aristocracy
9.00 Coach to Wiston: Roman fort and road; Wiston Castle.
11.00 Llawhaden Castle and medieval hospital
12.00 Coach to Picton Castle
12.30 Buffet lunch at Picton Castle
13.30 Guided tour of Picton Castle, gardens and galleries
16.00 Coach to medieval and Tudor sites in Slebech - old church, Sister's House, Castell Coch
17.30 Coach to Wolfscastle Hotel
Lecture: The Augustinians in South-west Wales and Haverfordwest Priory excavations
Thursday 4 July Seamen, Smugglers and Industrialists
9.00 Coach to Carew Castle, early medieval cross, church and tidal mill.
12.30 Lunch at Carew Castle (own cost)
13.30 Carew Tidal Mill
14.30 Cresselly House, Creswell Quay and Cresswell Castle
17.00 Coach to Wolfscastle Hotel
AGM followed by talk on the excavation, dismantling and reconstruction of the Haverfordwest
Merchant's House to St Fagan's
Friday 5 July Haverfordwest: Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors
9.00 Coach to Carew Cheriton WWI and II Airfield and Watch tower
11.30 Coach to Pembroke Dock 19th C Defensible Barracks, Martello Towers and Garrison chapel
13.00 Cross Cleddau Bridge with views over Haven
13.30 Coach to Wolfscastle Hotel and lunch
Afternoon – optional visit to Scolton Museum, Haverfordwest.
AUTUMN WEEKEND in SOUTH MEIRIONYDD : September 27- 29th 2019
This coming year we are virtually replicating the meeting held in 1866 when, amongst other things
the Cambrians became the first human cargo on the Tal y Llyn Railway. Less auspicious was the fact
that the President failed to show up! But apart from that, we hope, we will, like them, be going to
Castell y Bere, to Peniarth, to Llanegryn, to Towyn church and its important but virtually illegible
inscribed stone, to Pennal and its Roman fort and we will be taking a trip on the railway. We will be
taking a bus, whereas in 1866 I think they walked from Aberglynolwyn to Castell y Bere and back!
We will be based at Plas Talgarth Resort, Pennal, where we will occupy 6-8 person lodges gathered
around the 19th century mansion where we will eat in the restaurant (2 course meal) and have our
lectures in the ‘Village Hall'. These lodges have bathrooms (with bath and overhead shower) and
fully equipped kitchens with tea/coffee etc . The ingredients of Breakfast are brought to the door.
Each lodge has a master bedroom (double or twin beds) a second /third room with twin beds, and a
double sofa bed. The cost per lodge is £210 for the 2 nights + £30 a day dinner and breakfast. If
you want a room to yourself it will be £105 + £60. If you share a room it will be £52.50 + £60. Do
please find someone to share with and perhaps even make up houses. We have booked 15 lodges
so please book early to get a bed. Late bookers will get a sofa bed! Level-entry showers are
available in the Spa which is part of the complex. There are no lifts and some short flights of steps
around the site. Everyone should bring a walking stick – for Castell y Bere if nothing else!
Arrive at Plas Talgarth Resort late morning : Registration
Visit Aberdovey in private cars (15 mins away). There is a large carpark near the harbour and
another at the east end of the town. The streets of the town are narrow and steep, but there is a
good deal of interest in the lower town and very fine views.
Return to Plas Talgarth for lecture and dinner in Y Garth Restaurant
Take private cars to the large car park close to the Tal y Llyn Railway station in Tywyn.
Take the train to Aberglynolwyn where we will be met by a 29 seater coach (or 2)
We will look at the quarry town of Aberglynolwyn; use facilities and pick up picnic boxes at the
Community Centre's Caffi'r Ceunant .
Visit Castell y Bere and eat picnic. Castell y Bere is quite dangerous in places. The church down at
Llanfihangel y Pennant is open and has an interesting exhibition about the valley and Mary Jones.
There are lavatories there. Those who do not want to risk the castle can be taken there.
Peniarth William Williams Wynne, the present owner, is happy to receive us. The house is notable
architecturally, as well as for its previous library belonging to W E Williams Wynne, President of CAA
in 1856. The house contains many family portraits and Gilray cartoons.
Llanegryn Church -- very fine rood screen and Wynne monuments
Towyn Church -- 12th century monastic church and early Welsh inscription.
Regain cars and return to Plas Talgarth for lecture and buffet dinner in the Village Hall.
Visit in private cars to Hall House at Rhownair . It is just N of Aberdovey
Pennal Church and memorial garden to Owain Glyndwr (The Pennal Letter) There are interesting
18th century memorials in the church – English invasion from Shropshire.
Cefn Caer house and Roman Fort We will certainly see the site of the Roman fort but the 16th
century house may not be accessible.
Return to PlasTalgarth for lunch (own cost) or Riverside Restaurant Pennal if preferred.
Disperse after lunch. You might like to visit MOMA in Machynlleth or the Centre for Alternative
Technology on the road to Corris on your way home.
EVENTS ORGANISED IN ASSOCIATION WITH OTHER SOCIETIES : 2019
NEW NEOLITHIC EVIDENCE FROM ANGLESEY Saturday 6th APRIL 2019, 1.30-5pm
Jane Kenney : The Neolithic Period at Parc Cybi, Holyhead : A long house joins the tomb at Trefignath
Cat Rees : Excavations at Llanfaethlu Neolithic ‘Village'
Frances Lynch : A Mass of new Pottery in Puzzling Pits
Venue: Lecture Hall 2, Pontio Building, Bangor University
Pontio is in the centre of Bangor about 10 mins walk, straight down the road as you come out of the
Trains (c. 8.20-9.50am) from Cardiff, London, Birmingham and Manchester can get you there in time
-- and return you!
By car, take the Bangor turn off J11 of A55 and follow A5 into town. Pontio is on the right, directly
below the university building on the hill; car parks on left (access ahead via Asda roundabout).
There are cafes and snack bars in the building. There is a £5.00 fee, at the door
For further details and to register your interest, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . This is an afternoon of lectures organised in conjunction with the Prehistoric Society to showcase
the very important new evidence for Neolithic houses and pottery found in Anglesey over the last
decade. The work at Parc Cybi is part of a huge multi-period excavation just outside Holyhead, now
nearing publication. The Llanfaethlu site is a surprising discovery of no less than four rectangular
houses on the site of a new school on the north coast of the island. Both sites have produced a lot
of Early Neolithic pottery and also a great deal of Middle and Late Neolithic pottery from pits.
RECENT WORK IN WELSH LANDSCAPE HISTORY
Sat. OCTOBER 19th 2019, 9.15am – 5.00pm
Venue : St Fagans National History Museum , Cardiff
We were asked to help the Society for Landscape Studies to develop this Day School in association
with their AGM in Cardiff in October. The SLS would be delighted if lots of Cambrians were to join
them in St Fagans at the newly re-designed National History Museum.
0940 Welcome and administrative issues.
0950 Bill Britnell : Location, Location, Location: Neolithic monuments in the Walton Basin
1030 Dr. Peter Guest & Leah Reynolds : The impact of the Roman Army on the Landscape of Wales
1120 Light Refreshments
1140 David Austin : Strata Florida: the Sacred Landscapes Project
1220 Evan T. Jones University of Bristol : The Severn Sea in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries
1300 Buffet Lunch and Society for Landscape Studies AGM
1400 Shaun Evans (ISWE) and Philip Nanney Williams (author) : Estate landscapes in Wales
1450 Speaker from CPAT : The Minera Project. (TBC)
1530 Light Refreshments.
1550 Dr Eurwyn Wiliam : Building a house on sand
1630 – 1700 Further questions and discussion
The cost will be £32.00 for CAA members and £35.00 for others. This includes lunch and
refreshments. Please fill in the Booking Form enclosed and send it to:
Brian Rich (SLS), 11 Adams Grove, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 8NX
Any enquiries: please email email@example.com
THE CAMBRIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION'S RESEARCH FUND
The Trustees have very much welcomed the generous response made by members to an appeal for
additional moneys to augment this fund, following a suggestion from member Paul Oldham who
made a starting donation in 2017. We thank Brian Davies, Sally Evans, David Lermon, Andy Seaman,
Rita Wood and Rosemary Yale for their generous donations, and the ever-generous Ethel & Gwyn
Morgan Trust. Subject to the Treasurer's advice, in recent years Trustees have normally transferred
the bulk of any surpluses from Spring, Summer and Autumn Meetings to the Research Fund. As a
result we were able to support a number of applicants this year for a variety of interesting projects.
Anyone wishing to donate, should send a cheque to the Hon Treasurer, Mrs Jenny Britnell, 75, Abbey
Foregate, Shrewsbury, Salop SY2 6BE.
Grants awarded November 2018
£485 to Peter Crew for conservation, survey and research at Dolgun Blast Furnace. Dolgellau.
£1500 to Margaret Dunn,towards dendrochronological dating and building recording for the
Discovering Old Welsh Houses in NE Wales project.
£2003 to Katie Hemer, for the Ynys Enlli Revisited project – full analysis of early medieval human
skeletal remains excavated at Ty Newydd, prior to their reburial by the Bardsey Island Trust.
£1215 to James Meek and Neil Ludlow for radio-carbon dating and assessment of pottery recovered
in recent excavations at Pembroke Castle.
£1600 to Tim Mighall for 6 radiocarbon dates for the project ‘Placing Metal Mining and Smelting in to
its environmental context: were there hotspots of woodland destruction?' Using samples already
analysed for pollen from the environs of the early mines at Copa Hill, excavated by the Early Mining
£500 to Gary Robinson and Joanna Brück for exploratory archaeological excavations and survey at
Frongoch WWI Internment Camp.
£1980 to Rhiannon Stevens – ‘Seeking Neanderthals' – using Zooarchaeology Mass Spectometry on
human bone samples from older excavations at Coygan Cave, Carmarthenshire.
BLODWEN JERMAN PRIZES
These are in two groups: a junior prize now administered through the very successful Welsh Heritage
Schools Initiative. In 2018 our prize winner was the Wolfscastle Primary School, Pembrokeshire for an
imaginative project, ‘The Four R's of Wolfscastle' which involved all of the KS2 pupils in one class.
They divided into groups each taking a subject beginning with ‘R' – rocks (Treffgarne ), the river
(Western Cleddau) and roads and railways (particularly important through the Gorge).
Entries for the senior prize of either an undergraduate or master's dissertation continue to be at a
disappointingly low number of submissions. We are now offering an increase in prize money and a
willingness to take electronic submission of entries. Trustees will review progress during 2019. The
2018 prize winner was Nathalie Apted, Cardiff University, for her thesis on the osteology of burials
from the excavations at the house of the Austin Friars, Newport.
The 2019 National Eisteddfod will be held in Llanrwst, Conwy. Trustees are happy to report that Rhys
Mwyn has accepted the Association's invitation to give the annual CAA lecture – likely to be midafternoon, Wednesday 7th August in the Societies Pavilion. He will be talking on an aspect of the
successful and long-running Discovering Old Welsh Houses project, led by Margaret Dunn. CAA has
made a number of research grants to this project. Full details will be posted on the CAA website.
The Cambrian Archaeological Association, as an organisation to which members pay an annual
subscription, believes that it has a contractual relationship with its members. This is one of the six
lawful bases for processing data (as set out in Article 6 of the General Data Protection Regulations).
This one does not demand a renewed consent from each and every member to allow us to continue
to send you Archaeologia Cambrensis, the annual Newsletter and, where appropriate, details of the
arrangements for our various meetings and conferences.
However the GDPR does require us to tell you what data we hold and how we use it. Our database
records the year when you joined CAA, your name, such honorifics as you provide to us, your
address, telephone number and e-mail (if you included these on your application form). We also
record if you signed up to Gift Aid, the method by which you pay your subscription and the date on
which it is paid (over a rolling 3 year period).
We do not give or sell this information to anyone outside the Association. We do not send
unsolicited material, but we may give information about events etc organised by others, by email if
you agree (see below). However, as you will know, we do provide (every five years) a printed list of
members' names and addresses. This is given to all individual members but is not given to corporate
or institutional members, so it is never available in public libraries.
National Library of Wales receives a copy with our regular deposit of archive material. Anyone who
looks at the membership lists published at the back of Arch. Camb. in the 19th century, will know
how interesting such information can become with time. If anyone does not wish to see their name
and address on this list, please tell the Membership Secretary who will remove it from the next list.
WEBSITE AND PUBLICITY
Trustees are grateful for the assistance of Christopher Catling, Secretary, RCAHMW, in the design of
a new website with our website providers Orchardweb. Trustees have reviewed and approved the
new design and work is underway on revising and updating core entries which will be bi-lingual. The
new site should be up and running in Spring 2019. Meanwhile the existing site will continue to
contain information about all aspects of the Association's activities. We urgently need to attract new
members. Social media outlets will be explored in 2019.
Every year a number of events of potential interest to members are brought to the attention of the
committee. At present we tell members about these through a message in our annual newsletter,
provided we get information in time. Cost of postage precludes general mailings at other times.
We would in future like to use email to advise members of such events as well as for messages
relating to Cambrian Archaeological Association activities that cannot (for whatever reason) be
included in the annual newsletter. In order to meet GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
requirements we will therefore, over the coming months, be contacting members whose email
addresses we already hold to check whether they are happy for these to be used for Cambrian
Archaeological Association business and for advising members of other matters of interest, like
events organised by other societies.
If you have an email address that you have not told us about, please email us at the address
below. We will add your email address to our records and contact you when we run our GDPR
compliance email. This is the email address to use for contacting us: firstname.lastname@example.org
We can reassure members that we intend to keep sending out our annual newsletter by post. If,
therefore, you do not use email, you will continue to receive information about the society's main
events as at present, but you will not receive the supplementary notices that are sent out by email in
between the annual newsletters. Cost considerations mean that we will not be able to use the postal
service for these supplementary notices. We hope that you will understand this.
Rhiannon Comeau Trustee with special responsibility for Web communication
ARCHAEOLOGIA CAMBRENSIS ONLINE
Volumes from 1846 to 1999 are available on the Welsh Journals website hosted by the National
Library of Wales ( https://journals.library.wales/ ). You can read the account of the Machynlleth/
South Meirionnydd meeting in AC for 1867!
Arrangements are now being made to make the volumes from 2000 onwards accessible digitally on
the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) website some time in 2019. The ADS is an accredited digital
repository for heritage data, hosted by the University of York, and already carries a number of other
journals. A further announcement will be made when the more recent volumes of Archaeologia
Cambrensis are up and running.