NEWSLETTER FOR 2011
The President of the Cambrians this year is the Right Rev. J. Wyn Evans,
Bishop of St David’s who is not only a very notable churchman but also an archaeologist
and scholar, a very worthy successor to several episcopal Presidents in the past. His dual
expertise was much to the fore in his very successful campaign of restoration at St David’s
cathedral while he was Dean. Next year the Presidency will be taken by Prof Gwyn Meirion
Jones who has made a life-time’s study of French manorial architecture and history.
This year Nansi Mascetti retired as a Trustee. Like her late husband, Keith,
she was an educational psychologist who brought a great deal of wisdom and generous energy
to the role. She was always willing to help and was a great trouble-shooter. The Association
owes her a huge debt of gratitude. In her place Roger Davies of Mold has joined the Trustees.
Roger and his late wife, Catrin Puw Davies, will be known to many members and to all involved
with the work of the National Eisteddfod. He is a lawyer who became Chief Executive of Clwyd
County Council and his election will bring a great deal of experience to the Association.
However we are still looking for a new Treasurer. If you have the necessary skills -- please
think about it!
Members will be saddened to hear of the deaths during the year of Mrs Diana
Boon who frequently came to meetings with her late husband, George Boon of the National
Museum; of Francis Humphreys Jones, a stalwart of cultural affairs in Caernarfon; of Mrs
Lalla Hughes who ensured that Aberlleiniog motte in Anglesey, which her family owned, came
safely into public ownership; of Dr Enid Pierce Roberts, the noted scholar and expert on
bardic poetry of the Renaissance , and of WRB Robinson, Dr Leveson Gower and Alan Hayward
who were all experts in other fields but retained a passion for history through those careers.
MEETINGS HELD IN 2010
Three successful meetings were held in 2010 and the Association is very
grateful to Frances Llewellyn and Prof Thomas Charles-Edwards; Heather James and Dr Anthony
Ward; and Brian Davies and Chris Jones Jenkins who were the organisers. Longer accounts
of these meetings can be found on the CAA website.
The Easter Conference at Oxford looked at the links between Wales and Oxford
and was held at Jesus College. The meeting was opened by the Regius Professor of History,
Prof Robert Evans, giving a Europe-wide overview of themes which were picked up the following
morning by Prof Tony Carr and Dr Brynley Jones who dealt with medieval and 16-17th century
Oxford. A highpoint of the day was a visit to the Bodlean to see their famous Welsh manuscripts
under the guidance of Daniel Huws, late of the National Library, Aberystwyth. In the evening
the Oxford Movement was discussed by Dr John Morgan Guy and on the following day aspects
of Oxford’s teaching of history and Celtic Studies were covered by Profs Huw Pryce
and Thomas Charles-Edwards. Edna Dale Jones and Heather James drew attention to the wealth
of social information in the management of College lands in Wales and the conference ended
with a history of the Dafydd Society by Bruce Griffiths.
The Summer Meeting in Canterbury and East Kent was based in The University of Kent. We were
helped a great deal by our member, Dr Anthony Ward, Master of Keynes College, and were also
fortunate to have a lecture from another member, John Williams, recently retired as Kent
County Archaeologist, on results from large-scale, commercially-funded excavations. Two
days were spent in Canterbury itself, with visits to the two great ecclesiastical sites
of Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey. Two guided walks and an evening
lecture by members of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, Paul Bennett (Director) and Simon
Pratt provided members with a wealth of information on the Roman, Saxon and Medieval city.
Smaller, lesser-known medieval buildings such as The Eastbridge Pilgrims Hospital were a
delight and members visited both the Canterbury and Roman Museums. On Tuesday we went to
Dover, where Keith Parfitt, showed us the Bronze Age Dover Boat in its new gallery in Dover
Museum. A visit to the Roman ‘painted house’ was squeezed in before the party
was bussed up to Dover Castle. Most of the group went underground on the ‘ Secret
World War II Tunnels’ tour and many also managed to see the newly-refurbished Great
Keep AND the Roman pharos as well. On Thursday, we had a stimulating tour of Richborough
Roman Fort by John Grigsby. Then to nearby Sandwich where we split into two groups for a
most entertaining tour of the 17th century Guildhall, Mayor’s chambers and Court Room
by the mace-wielding and moot horn- sounding Town Sergeant, Kevin Cook. We again split into
two groups for the afternoon, one party visiting Walmer Castle, and actually glimpsing the
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Admiral the Lord Boyce there. The second group visited
Deal Castle, a Henrician artillery fortress, and then the somewhat quirky Time Ball Museum
on Deal sea front. On Friday, we were on the Medway, first to the Historic Dockyard, Chatham
where much was packed into two hours. At the Ropery, our newly-installed President, Bishop
Wyn Evans, displayed a remarkable aptitude for rope-making. Rochester Cathedral provided
interesting points of contrast and comparison to Canterbury. Finally the Meeting concluded
with a special visit arranged by our member Paul Oldham, one of the Wardens of the Rochester
Bridge Trust, to the Trust’s restored medieval Bridge Chapel and council rooms.
The Autumn Meeting in the Vale of Glamorgan was based in Bridgend and blessed
by wonderful weather. On Friday afternoon the first visit was to Ewenny Priory to see the
new work done by Cadw, described by Sian Rees, and, with permission, to see the ruins of
the monastic enclosure in the gardens of Ewenny House. The next visit was to Merthyr Mawr
where some went on foot to the chapel behind Merthyr Mawr House with our member Murray McLaggan,
a site relevant to Saturday’s lecture on Iolo Morganwg’s concern for Early Christian
stones. The main party was rejoined at the display of these stones behind the parish church
where Jeremy Knight spoke. The next day there were visits to the burial chamber at Tinkinswood
and the restored medieval village at Cosmeston. In the afternoon there were contrasting
visits, to the famous medieval church at Llantwit Major and to the lighthouse at Nash Point.
In the evening Brian Davies of Pontypool Museum spoke with his characteristic energy and
humour about Iolo Morganwg and the date of the Llantwit Major Crosses. On Sunday we visited
Cowbridge with its restored Physic Garden and newly displayed St Quintin’s Castle.
After lunch and a tour of the revived gardens at Dyffryn, the last visit was to Coedarhydyglyn,
the home of Rhodri Treherne, the nephew of our late President, Sir Cennydd Treherne. It
was a great privilege to be able to wander through this beautiful 18th century house.
BLODWEN JERMAN PRIZEWINNERS
The Junior Prize, which we give in association with the Welsh Heritage
Schools Initiative, was won by the Orielton CP School from Pembrokeshire for their project
on a famous WWI code-breaker from the village – Oswald Thomas Hitchings. It is hoped
to extend it into a book in the near future. The Chairman presented the prize at a ceremony
at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.
There were four dissertations presented for the Senior Prize which was
won by Ben Davies, an undergraduate at the Department of Archaeology of the new University
of Worcester. He had presented an extremely competent geophysical survey of the possible
vicus area around the Roman fort at Buckton, Shropshire, together with a mature discussion
of the significance of his results in the light of the known history of the site.
GRANTS FOR RESEARCH AWARDED IN 2010
This autumn the Trustees were presented with an exceptionally large number
of requests for grants for archaeological and historical work in Wales. This is undoubtedly
a sign of the straitened times, so it was decided to add to the Research Fund the surpluses
made on meetings this year. As a result it will be possible to give some money to all those
who applied, but it should be noted by applicants that this year’s funds are exceptional.
We would also ask that applicants send in their application forms as early as possible,
and certainly by the end of September.
The following grants were made to:
Toby Driver and Jeff Davies: £1500 for a second season of excavation at Abermagwr
Margaret Dunn : 2 grants of £1000 for dendrochronological work on dating houses in
Merioneth and Conwy. (See report following)
W.T. Jones and Cymdeithas Hanes Dolwyddelan : £500 for cataloguing pottery from their
excavations at Tai Penamnen.
Mathew Jones: £500 for a geophysical survey of Rhuddgaer, Anglesey.
Alan Lane: £350 for a radiocarbon date on bones excavated from Llangors Crannog, subsequent
to the main excavation.
Anne Leaver and Ian Stewart: £500 for post-excavation work on the late Geoff Mein’s
records of his long-term excavation at Trostrey, Monmouthshire.
Geoffrey Wainwright: £500 towards excavations at Carn Menyn, Preseli.
Rev David Williams: £400 for travel costs incurred in the revision of his Fasti Cistercienses.
J. Llywelyn Williams: £300 for drawings of Roman skillets to facilitate an article
in Arch. Camb.
NORTH WEST WALES DENDROCHRONOLOGY PROJECT
This three year project, also known as the “Dating Old Welsh Houses”
project, is very grateful to the Cambrian Archaeological Association for the financial support
received since its inception in 2008/9. Our objectives include identifying early Tudor and
Elizabethan houses with original timbers suitable for dating; sampling to obtain the felling
dates; architecturally recording each dated building; involving and training volunteers
from local communities to undertake documentary research on the dated houses and their families;
and sharing the results widely with school pupils, local communities, visitors, academics,
and those professionally involved in planning and building conservation.
The project works in partnership with The Royal Commission on the Ancient
and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW), which has developed dendrochronology in Wales.
Sampling and analysis has been undertaken by Daniel Miles and Martin Bridge of the Oxford
Dendrochronology Laboratory. Results are publically available within a year of sampling
through summary publication in the tree-ring lists in Vernacular Architecture and on Coflein,
RCAHMW’s on-line database.
So far some ten houses have been sampled on Anglesey, the earliest at present
is a recently identified first-floor hall in Beaumaris with timbers felled in the winter
of 1482/83. A further ten houses dated in south Denbighshire yielded several early sixteenth-century
dates and included a previously unknown hall-house of 1517/18 with an early inserted fireplace.
Ten houses sampled in the former Caernarfonshire part of Gwynedd have revealed several sixteenth-century
examples of the “Snowdonian style” stone-walled, storeyed house with gable-end
fireplaces, both without and, later, with a mural stair. A 1506/7 timber-framed town house
in Caernarfon has been recorded. Work is now starting in the former Merioneth part of Gwynedd
and we await the results from the first three sampled houses. In 2011 work will start across
the Conwy County Borough, mainly in partnership with the National Trust.
Many of these houses of the later fifteenth and early/mid-sixteenth centuries
were the homes of the first generation benefiting from the political and economic improvements
of the early Tudor period, and of the changes in land ownership brought about by the introduction
of primogeniture and by the effects of the Acts of Union. These heads of families were important
locally, and sometimes regionally, and some of their homes, families and lifestyles are
described by the bards. Many of them re-organised their land holdings, often laying the
foundation for the field boundaries and land use which has resulted in the environment so
admired by many today.
Prior to the use of the scientific technology of dendrochronology, the
dating of particular types of building and changes in style and materials was uncertain.
Now it is possible to trace in more detail the distribution over time and space of the main
house types and their modifications.
This project hopes to raise awareness of the unique early domestic built
heritage still surviving, often unrecognised or under-appreciated, in north-west Wales.
Results already indicate that the region was far from being an architectural backwater but
was in some ways innovative. Full results will be published in due course. Meanwhile further
information is available from www.datingoldwelshhouses.co.uk
and summaries of results are available in the annual volumes of Vernacular Architecture,
(www.vag.org.uk), and on Coflein, RCAHMW’s on-line
Margaret Dunn, Nant Gwynant.
The Cambrians’ lecture at the Ebbw Vale Eisteddfod was delivered
by Prof Ceri Davies of Swansea University. His subject – Y Goncwst Rufeinig yn Llên
Cymru -- was designed to reflect the 1600th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Romans
CAMBRIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE
The Trustees have been discussing the need to extend the existing deposit
in the National Library of official and working papers of the Association. Secretarial papers
from the 1990s have been taken to Abersytwyth (left in good order by Dr Hughes and in rather
less good order by Peter Llewellyn who, as an early medievalist, expected papers to have
been messed about a bit) and the current Secretary is discussing the awkward problem of
electronic records with the library staff.
If any members have material relevant to the Association, especially well labelled photographs
or slides, that they would like to present to this archive, please contact the Hon. Secretary.