Alert readers will have noticed that the Cambrians
have a new General Secretary. Members from the south west of Wales
will already know Mrs Heather James very well from her work with
the Dyfed Archaeological Trust, of which she was Deputy Director
for many years, and for her great contribution to the Carmarthenshire
Antiquarian Society and other local historical societies. Together
with her late husband, Terry, she had an enormous impact on our
knowledge of the Roman and medieval history of Carmarthen town and
of the wider region and was always happy to share that knowledge.
She is the author of several weighty tomes and a number of more
accessible works and will bring to her work for the Cambrians an
impressive and widely respected professional reputation and an enthusiastic
and friendly approach to the day to day running of the Association.
Canon Michael Coombe will remain as a Trustee
but has been able to lay down the burden of office that he bore
for several years longer than he had agreed to, way back in 2002!
The Association owes him a great debt of gratitude for his hard
work and long journeys over the last six years.
Members will have been saddened to hear of the
sudden death in February 2008 of Geoff Mein who had become a regular
at recent summer meetings. Geoff had been a lawyer with the National
Coal Board, but was chiefly known in Cambrian circles as the enthusiastic
leader of the Trostroy Excavation Group who had been working on
the site of Trostroy Castle near his home in Usk for many years,
and making some important and complex discoveries, from prehistoric
through to medieval with some challenging stratigraphy. Sadly the
full report had not been completed, but interim reports had been
regularly published in Archaeology in Wales.
Another enthusiastic regular at summer meetings,
Elwyn Lewis from Llangeler, Ceredigion, has also died recently.
His health had been declining and he attended the Conwy Meeting
this year in a wheelchair, but though it was an effort for him,
he enjoyed it immensely because he found the company so agreeable.
Other members, less frequently seen in recent
years, died this year, the distinguished journalist, Charles Quant
and Bill Putnam who had been a very active fieldworker in Montgomeryshire
with the late Jack Spurgeon but had moved some years ago to the
University of Bournemouth where he was one of the founding members
of the archaeology department.
While it is always sad to record the death of
long-standing members and friends it is pleasing this year to also
record that we have had over thirty new members, many of whom have
reached us via the website. We are very happy to welcome them to
the Association and hope that we will see them at some of the meetings
planned for this year and the years to come.
MEETINGS IN 2008
Three very successful meetings were held in 2008: an Easter Conference
in Aberystwyth, the Summer Meeting at Betws y Coed in the Conwy
Valley and a long autumn weekend in Kraków, south Poland.
Full accounts of all three can be read on our website and will published
in Archaeologia Cambrensis next year.
The Easter Architectural Conference was planned
as a tribute to the late Vernon Hughes and covered the Welsh Vernacular,
religious buildings and seaside towns, all within the context of
conservation. The location gave the Association an opportunity to
celebrate the centenary of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical
Monuments with a tour of their offices. Professor Bill Davies, a
life-long friend of Vernon Hughes and one of the foremost architects
of a modern Welsh vernacular gave the keynote speech on the Friday
evening. Lectures throughout Saturday and on Sunday morning were
topped off with a tour of Aberystwyth, both a medieval borough and
a seaside resort, with Michael Freeman.
The Summer Meeting was based at the historic Royal
Oak Hotel in Betws y Coed and looked at both sides of the lower
Conwy river and explored the uplands around its upper reaches. Bridges
were one theme, the Gwydir estate another and also early tourism.
On visits to historic houses, members were able to see the restoration
work at Plas Mawr, Conwy, at Gwydir Castle where the panelling of
the dining room had been retrieved from America, at Hendre where
work was still very much ‘in progress’ and to explore
the still-puzzling history of the buildings at Plas Iolyn. In a
notoriously wet summer in a wet region the Cambrians were surprisingly
lucky with the weather and were able to sit out some of the worst
downpours at tea with the enterprising Cooperative in Ysbytty Ifan
and in a gastronomic high spot in the ‘foodie’ town
The Autumn Meeting in Poland, led by the Rev Dr
David Williams, was a truly memorable event for the 44 members who
attended. The party was based in the centre of Kraków, a
rich medieval city with a famous university and many fine churches
with late medieval carvings and some beautiful modern stained glass.
Outside the city the notorious concentration camps of Auschwitz
and Birkenau were visited by some of the party while the others
went to a Benedictine monastery. Not surprisingly a Cistercian abbey
was also on the itinerary for another day where, as friends of Dr
Williams, we were entertained in the refectory to a simple but surprisingly
generous lunch! Part of Sunday was spent down a Salt Mine, originally
a late medieval royal monopoly gradually expanded to a virtual city
MEETINGS PLANNED FOR 2009 - see
Meetings and Events
Money has been granted for two new research projects
this year. Adam Voelcker, whom members who were at the Summer Meeting
will remember for his expert guidance around Betws y Coed, was granted
money for work on his proposed biography of the architect, H.L.North.
The Pevsner Buildings of Wales volume on Gwynedd to which
Adam contributed, together with our members Richard Haslam and Julian
Orbach is due for publication next year. Order your copy now!
We have also granted money towards the long-term
research excavation by Dr Chris Caple of Durham University at Nevern
Castle in Pembrokeshire.
Two other grants were made towards on-going projects.
We gave money for a radiocarbon date from excavations near Bala
which we supported last year. The excavator, Tudur Davies was also
the winner of the Blodwen Jerman Prize for his Sheffield University
dissertation on the Early Medieval Landscape of the Bala area.
The other project is an expansion of Margaret
Dunn’s dendrochronological dating programme for 16th and 17th
century houses in north west Wales. She spoke to the Summer Meeting
about the very interesting results which had come from the smaller
pilot scheme which she had run in the Beddgelert area and it is
obvious that the combination of local family research and scientific
sampling is providing important new insights into architectural
development in the region.
Some of the product of last year’s grant-aided
research on Dr Gardner Wilkinson will be appearing in the volume
being published early this year by the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian
Society Carmarthenshire and Beyond: Studies in History and Archaeology
in Memory of Terry James. This is a very wide-ranging volume
which should be of interest to all readers of Arch Camb. It costs
just £17 (+3.50 p&p) from Mrs J Davies, Erw Hir, Llanarthne,
INDEX to ARCHAEOLOGIA CAMBRENSIS 1981-2000
All members will be aware of the publication of
this, our fourth Index volume, because of the generosity of the
Ethel and Gwynne Morgan Charitable Trust which paid for its distribution
to everyone. The earlier volumes II (1901-60) (£12) and III
(1961-80) (£18) are available post free from CAA Publications,
Halfway House, Halfway Bridge, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 3DG. Volume
I is out of print.
The Index was launched at a ceremony, ‘A
Celebration of Indexes’, in the National Museum of Wales on
December 9th at which the compiler, Mrs Elizabeth Cook, spoke about
how she had set about the task which she had found deeply fascinating
and enjoyable; Tom Lloyd described early attempts to index the 19th
century volumes; Tony Carr, our current President, discussed his
indexing of medieval names in Anglesey and Andrew Green, the Director
of the National Library of Wales, looked at the future of indexing
and information management. But the morning, of course, belonged
to Donald Moore who had managed the production of all four volumes
and had contributed all the so-useful lists of Cambrian personnel
and activities which define the Association, alongside the publication
of the journal. After the speeches everyone enjoyed a buffet lunch
in the Court Room of the Museum serenaded by carols from the Great
CAMBRIANS’ LIBRARY at the NATIONAL MUSEUM
Members will know that Archaeologia Cambrensis
is exchanged with a great number of other comparable publications
across Britain and Europe. The societies are all listed at the end
of the Members List. The Trustees have recently initiated an audit
of the volumes we receive in return which are available for consultation
by members. They are all coming in, and they represent a very considerable
resource of scholarship, not only the annual journals but also monographs
and catalogues. The quantity of material from Germany and Spain,
for instance, is impressive and the Dutch material is largely published
in English. Members wishing to use the Library should contact the
NMW Librarian, John Kenyon (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Eisteddfod will be at Llanfor, Bala, this year and, as usual,
the Cambrians’ lecture will be held on the afternoon of the
Wednesday, August 5th. The lecturer this year will be our President,
Prof Tony Carr, and the Chairman will be a distinguished past-President,
Trefor Owen. The subject of the lecture will be Penllyn a’r