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News

January 2006

A Happy New Year to All Cambrians

2005 was a year of some notable successes for the Association, although also of some sad losses.

There were especially enjoyable and interesting Meetings during the year. Full reports will be appearing in Archaeologia Cambrensis but we must here record the highlights and our gratitude to those who organised, guided and spoke at them.

The Summer Meeting (July 10th-16th), based on Bala and organised by Frances Lynch, gave us a rich programme ranging from the Iron Age and Roman through the Welsh Revival to the emergence of Plaid Cymru. The Meeting was blessed by unCambrian weather, a terrace at the Bala Lake Hotel overlooking the lake and close to bar and swimming pool. The beds were comfortable, the food, in these days, the consulship of Delia and Nigel, perhaps slightly unimaginative: never again will your correspondent enjoy boiled broccoli and potatoes with his moules marinieres.

Our President for 2005-6, Dr.Jeff Davies, delivered his address, Fragile Heritage; The Archaeology of the Early Roman Campaigns in Wales and the Borderlands. We are grateful also to Dr.Stephen Briggs for his lecture,Colt Hall and Leicester: in the footsteps of antiquaries and aesthetes at Fach Ddeiliog, to our Public Lecturer, on The Tryweryn Controversy and Plaid Cymru, and to Dafydd Tudur on Michael D.Jones and the Welsh in Patagonia. Our thanks are also due to Richard Haslam,Caroline Kerkham, Peter Crew, David Hopewell, Jack Spurgeon, Bill Britnell, Bob Silvester and Lawrence Butler for their guidance at sites, and to Professor Carr and Dr.I.B.Williams for an enthusiastic tour of Bala’s religious heritage. Thanks must also be rendered to Mr. and Mrs. Robin Price of Rhiwlas, for their hospitable welcome and sumptuous tea, and to Jennifer, Lady Newborough, for inviting us to Rhug Hall: it is an additional pleasure to record that Rhug Organic Farm Shop, where we lunched, has won a BBC Food Award, and other awards for its sausages and burgers.

The Autumn Meeting (23rd-25th September), based on the Ramada Jarvis Hotel, Swansea, and organised by Professor Chamberlain and Nansi Mascetti on the theme of Parks and Gardens, was enlivened by erudite and well-illustrated lectures as well as visits to sites. The meeting was addressed by Dr.Briggs on the recognition and renewal of historic parks and gardens, by Dr.Elizabeth Whittle (Cadw) on the genesis of the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in Wales (six volumes); by Graham Rankin, Director of Operations for the Aberglasney Restoration Trust; by Professor Ralph Griffiths on the estates and gardens created by the Vivian family at Singleton and Clyne, by Ivor Stokes, formerly Director of Parks and Gardens in Swansea, and by Michael Norman, Director of the Penllergaer Trust, on the project to restore those gardens. Visits were paid to Aberglasney, where the new winter garden in the courtyard was admired, to Penllergaer and Clyne Gardens and finally to Plantasia, in Swansea, where a reception was joint-hosted by the West Glamorgan Branch of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust. To the Trust, and to all our speakers, our thanks.

 

Trustee News

At the AGM (Bala, July 15th), two Trustees, Donald Moore and the Reverend Dr.Roy Fenn retired, and two new Trustees, Dr.David Williams and Mr.David Young, were elected. The Trustee Body now consists of: Professor Muriel Chamberlain (Chair), Rev, Canon Michael Coombe (General Secretary), Brian Newman (Treasurer), Frances Llewellyn (Membership Secretary), Bill Britnell (Editor), Bob Silvester (Reviews Editor), Mary Dodd, Very Rev, Wyn Evans, Gwilym Hughes and Nansi Mascetti;

The retirement of Donald Moore from the Committee is a momentous occasion for the Association. In over 58 years’ service he has occupied nearly every position of responsibility, as Assistant and then General Secretary, as President (1978), as Conference Organiser, and initiator of the Easter Conferences in 1952, as Editor of conference proceedings, as overseer of all the Index volumes, and as Editorial Assistant for Archaeologia Cambrensis during the illness of his wife Patricia. Throughout he has been the guardian of the Association’s memory and the person who can be relied upon to fill any breach and rise to any emergency. All this has been combined with a very active life, membership of committees of many societies, extensive lecturing and much else. He remains our representative on the Court of the National Museum, and is already engaged in planning the 4th Index volume

Dr.David Williams, a Past-President, needs no introduction to Cambrians as he becomes Trustee; David Young, from Usk, a lecturer, will also be well known to many Cambrians; he has been for many years a regular attender at Meetings.

 

General Secretaryship

Canon Michael Coombe has expressed his wish to retire as General Secretary in the Summer of 2006. If any member is interested in taking on this role, please contact Professor Chamberlain at 22, Wimmerfield Drive, Killay, Swansea SA2 7BR.

 

Cambrian Monographs

With the agreement of Cadw, the Association has now released custody of this series; they are now available (at considerably reduced prices!) from The Castle Bookshop, The Old Rectory, Llandyssil, Montgomery, Powys, SY15 6LQ: tel.: 01686 668484.

 

Research Grants

Nine applications were received and five grants made, to a total of £2,435.
Dr.Tom Mighall was granted £960 for radiocarbon dating of pollen horizons in Merioneth showing contamination from mineral exploitation.
Dr.Robert Johnston was granted £700 for radiocarbon dating in connection with post-excavation work on structures excavated above Egryn, Merioneth.
Mrs Margaret Dunn was granted £500 for the first stage of a project dating late medieval/early modern houses around Beddgelert by dendrochronology.
Dr. Harold Mytum was granted £125 towards a project recording graveyards in north Pembrokeshire.
Miss Aimee Pritchard has been granted £150 towards the hire of a special camera for work on the 12th century church at Tywyn, Merioneth.

 

Archaeologia Cambrensis

Members will have experienced experienced a flood of journals this year! Bill Britnell, our Editor whom many people met when he lectured on his excavations at Capel Maelog at the recent Llandrindod Meeting and who spoke to the Bala Meeting at Llangynog, has been working extremely hard to catch up with the backlog. After his baptism of fire with the poorly printed vol. 150, volumes 151 and 152 went through smoothly in 2005, and he hopes to be able to produce another two volumes in 2006, (vol. 153 for 2004, and vol. 154 for 2005), so bringing us back on line, with publication each Autumn of the proceedings of the previous year. As a serious international academic journal it is crucial that it appears quickly and regularly. I am sure you all wish to congratulate Bill on his achievement.

Readers of the long delayed account of the excavations at Llandegai near Bangor may be interested to know that large-scale excavations have been carried out this year in a neighbouring field, and a second early Neolithic house has been discovered, together with a lot more Late Neolithic pottery in pits, some later prehistoric roundhouses and more evidence of Roman activity: another large report is pending!

In Archaeologia Cambrensis, 139, 1990, we published an article, Walker P., Linnard W., ‘Bee boles and other beekeeping structures in Wales’. Since then, various other Welsh records have been added to the IBRA Bee Boles Register; this may be consulted online, at Beeboles-online(hist.journals).doc

We have sadly a number of deaths to record.

Sir Glanmor Williams KBE, MA, D.Litt, FBA, FRHistS., JP, a Past President, died on March 2nd, aged 84. A full appreciation of his career as a historian and servant of the Welsh cultural heritage, will appear in Archaeologia Cambrensis.
Mary Chitty (Mary Kitson Clark), FSA, died on February 1st, less than four months short of her one-hundredth birthday. Perhaps less well known to Cambrians than her sister-in-law Lily Chitty, she was a distinguished archaeologist, especially of the Roman period in her native Yorkshire.

Aileen, Lady Fox, an Honorary Vice-President, died on Nov.21, aged 98, was the widow of Sir Cyril Fox, Director of the National Museum of Wales. She was a distinguished archaeologist in her own right, holding senior posts in Exeter and extending greatly our knowledge of the Roman presence in Devon and Cornwall; on retirement she spent ten years in New Zealand, producing pioneering studies of Maori settlement. In 2000 she published her autobiography, Aileen-a pioneering Archaeologist.

Richard T.Davies, a faithful attender of many Summer Meetings, had a distinguished career of 36 years in American Government Service, mostly within the then Soviet bloc. He was a participant in many major events, in Moscow witnessing the end of the Stalinist era and the visit of Vice-President Nixon to Mr.Khrushchev; he had liaison duties during the ten days of the Cuban Missile Crisis and later, as Ambassador to Poland, organised the visits there of Presidents Ford and Carter. In retirement he remained active as a writer and lecturer on Eastern European affairs. To Jean, his wife, our sympathy.

John Hughes, O.St.J, TD, FRCP, FRC(Psych)., General Secretary from 1991 to 1998, will receive a fuller memorial in Archaeologia Cambrensis. We may here recall his energy, as medical man, as Territorial and, in retirement in pursuing a degree in languages with a dissertation on Spanish medical services. The compiler of this Newsletter wishes especially to record the meticulous nature of his hand-over of what can be an office both diffused and confused in nature.

John and Catrin Daniel died within a few weeks of each other in July and August. They were perhaps not well known to Cambrians as such but were much respected throughout Wales for their active role in Y Cylch Catholig. John was a philosopher, his main field being the implications of linguistic philosophy for Welsh (or possibly vice versa); this may have been stimulared by his National Service in Naval Intelligence, eavesdropping on Russian pilots. Catrin had been looking forward to joining us for the visit in July to Llyn Celyn, for the memorial chapel was designed by her father, but this was impossible. To their large and close-knit family, all our sympathy.

We must also record the deaths of Betty Sage, of Newport, a member since 1970; of Dr. O.Rocyn Jones,of Monmouthshire; of Brian Hartley, of Leeds, a Roman pottery expert and a member since 1961, of Miss P.M.Davies, a member since 1948 and a former Secretary of the Powysland Club; and of Miss Hilary Field, of Dublin.

 

Events in 2006

The AGM will be held on the evening of Thursday, July 13th, at the Westminster Hotel, City Road, Chester

 

The Eisteddfod Lecture for 2006

The Cambrian Lecture at the Swansea Eisteddfod will be delivered by Professor Prys Morgan of the University of Wales, Swansea, at 4.00 pm on Wednesday August 9th, in either the Societies’ Tent or the Pagoda (please check the Eisteddfod Day Programme). It will be chaired by Dr.Nesta Lloyd.

He will be speaking on history, folklore and zoology of the ‘Llansamlet Snakestone’, a Roman glass bead or amulet kept in his family as a good luck charm and also as a cure for eye ailments.