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Newsletter for 2012

The President this year, Prof Gwyn Meirion-Jones, is a historical geographer who has made a particular study of French manorial architecture and his expertise was especially valuable during our visit to Gascony last summer where he was installed and gave a very appropriate Presidential Address. His successor for 2012-13 will be David Longley who has just retired as Director of the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. His particular interest is in the Early Medieval period and while working for the Trust he has been able to make significant contributions to the study of the early princes of Gwynedd.

One new Trustee was elected at the AGM in Tenby: Marie-Thérèse Castay who is well known to fellow Cambrians and those who were in Frances last summer will know that Marie-Thérèse’s knowledge and love of Wales is almost as wide as that of her native Gascony. Another recently elected Trustee, Dr Sian Rees has just retired from Cadw and has an intimate knowledge of Welsh heritage matters, so she was immediately put to work arranging our Easter Conference on the impact of World Heritage Site status. Sadly Mr Roger Davies had to resign almost immediately after his election due to ill health. He writes sending best wishes and reporting that he is improving slowly now in Swansea, near his daughters.

The AGM of 2011 also saw another change of major significance. Our Treasurer of 25 years,
Brian Newman retired, to be succeeded by Jenny Britnell of CPAT. Brian Newman was recruited by his old boss Bill Howells at a time when bank managers were expected to work for their communities as well as their shareholders. He has certainly worked hard for the Cambrians and for many other charities and organisations in mid-Wales, he drives people to hospital, he helps with town theatricals, he’s on the Brecon Twinning Committee (which strangely involved a visit to the tables at Las Vegas) and, since a bout of illness himself, he raises funds for cancer charities and spent his 70th birthday on Everest in the outdoor gear which he was given at the AGM in gratitude for his careful management of our investments. He will still be available to offer investment advice to Jenny who will be dealing with the day to day finances, the type of work that she is well-used to at CPAT. We are most grateful to Jenny for taking on this work in an already-busy life.

Another landmark has been passed by the Association with the death in May of Donald Moore who had joined in 1947 and had become its Remembrancer, the embodiment of its customs and traditions. A full obituary has been compiled for the next volume of Arch. Camb., a compilation of many hands since he had been active and distinguished in so many fields. For the Cambrians he had served in almost all capacities; he had been General Secretary, Chairman of Committee, President, Meetings and Conference organiser,(in fact he first established the Easter Conference series); he served as Joint Editor when his wife, Patricia, became ill and he organised the production and printing of the Monograph series and of the highly acclaimed Indices. Indexing was one of his passions because he had a phenomenal attention to detail and a virtually infallible memory. All these talents he put most generously at the disposal of others, and especially of the Cambrians.

Other deaths must also be recorded, especially that of Olive Champion who died at the very end of last year. She and her family used to come regularly to meetings in the 1980s and up to about 2004. We are grateful to have been mentioned in her will. We have also lost two members from Pembrokeshire, The Rev Raymond Ball and Mr Stanley Speight.



MEETINGS HELD IN 2011
Two meetings were held this year, a major excursion into la France profonde and an autumn weekend by the sea in Tenby. We are immensely grateful to the organisers, Marie-Thérèse Castay who planned and led our week in Gascony and Heather James who ran the weekend in Tenby. Longer, illustrated accounts of both meetings can be found on the website.

The week in Gascony was attended by forty Cambrians and was based in the small cathedral city of Condom near the northern border of the region. Travellers foregathered at Bordeaux either by air or train and had a small taste of that great city before driving south to Condom to arrive at our family-run hotel on the banks of the Baïse in time for a very good dinner. This was to be the first of many good dinners and lunches and most people returned home a bit heavier! The following day, Sunday, was devoted to visiting Condom itself, seeing the splendid cathedral and the fine mediaeval and 18th century houses which surround it. It was quite a leisurely day which was lucky since it became exceptionally hot. Happily by the middle of the week the temperatures had become more comfortable.

Monday was devoted to the Roman period with visits to the villa at Séviac and the Museum at Eauze built to house a great coin hoard found in the 1980s in this tribal capital. The villa a Séviac was particularly attractive with its acres of fine mosaics and a fascinating post-Roman history. An unscheduled visit to the large Romanesque church at Nogaro was fitted into the afternoon. Identifying the biblical scenes on the capitals aroused very lively discussions.

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to medieval architecture and to the sites of the Pilgrims Way to Compostella which passes through this region. Visits were made to the fortified 12th century village of Larresingle, to the Pont d’Artgues on the Pilgrim Way and to the remains of the nunnery at Vopillon with 13th century wall paintings. Lunch was taken at the hotel each day, followed by a lecture in the Ancien Carmel at Condom. After a lecture on the Pilgrim Way by Lawrence Butler the party visited the great Cistercian abbey at Flaran.

On Wednesday the main visits were to the interesting Romanesque church of St Germaine du Soldunum and the Gothic collegiate church at La Romieu. The lecture that afternoon was the Presidential Address by Prof Gwyn Meirion-Jones who spoke on ‘Aristocratic Residence in the Plantagenet World: Britain and Europe’. The party then returned to La Romieu for tea at the Jardins de Coursiana and visited other smaller churches on the return journey.

Thursday was a day of Bastides with visits to Forcès, a circular debateable example, and Monteal-du-Gers, the type site, and a lecture by Prof Tony Carr on bastides in Wales and Gascony. In the afternoon we visited the great 17th century chateau at Lavardens, slowly being restored from long neglect by a devoted band of local volunteers.

Friday was spent in the great city of Auch with its magnificent Renaissance cathedral and intriguing medieval alleyways and great staircases linking the upper town with the lower one on the banks of the river where the Roman settlement had been.

On Saturday the party regretfully left for Bordeaux and home, but not without seeing another Bastide town at Vianne and glimpsing the castle of Henri Quatre at Nérac.

Forty seven members attended the Autumn Weekend in Tenby, most of them staying at the Fourcroft Hotel above North Beach, an early 19th century townhouse, one of several fine regency terraces which were built in Tenby with encouragement from William Paxton a wealthy nabob, London banker and Carmarthenshire gentleman who built roads and a bathhouse, making the town a fashionable resort.

On Friday afternoon Heather James led a walk from the hotel to Castle Hill, looking at the vestiges of mediaeval houses, the arrangements of the harbour and bathing places and discussing the defences of the ruined castle on its rock promontory and the deserted Palmerstonian fort on St Catherine’s Island. Members then assembled in Tenby Museum for a wine reception, to view the archaeological and historical collections and to hear Mrs Kathy Talbot, the Honorary Curator, speak informally about the highlights of the Museum’s Art Gallery which included works by Augustus and Gwen John.
Saturday morning saw visits to Penally, the 19th century limekiln, the church with its 9th century crosses and the military camp and Lydstep ‘palace’ a ruined medieval hall-house. Lunch was taken at Lydstep Holiday Village in the original 1894 house overlooking the beach where Mesolithic footprints have recently been found. The afternoon visits were to the Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey where Rick Turner of Cadw spoke, and Lamphey Court, a Greek Revival mansion now a hotel, where Tom Lloyd’s history of the house and family was read by Heather James. The remains of Bronze Age barrows on the Ridgeway, excavated to impress the Cambrians on their 1858 visit, were glimpsed on the return journey.
On Sunday morning the town defences, the Tudor Merchant’s House (NT) and 3 Lexden Terrace, the wonderful home of Mrs Marian Hutton above South Beach, were visited. In the afternoon, after unexpectedly attending a wedding, the party heard Tom Lloyd in person explaining the history of the parish church, one of the finest in Wales.

GRANTS FOR RESEARCH AWARDED IN 2011
The following grants, amounting to £4000, have been awarded:
Margaret Dunn : £1000 towards the final phase of her North West Wales Dendro-chronology Project, which is currently working in Merioneth and the Conwy Valley. We have been a major supporter of this project since the beginning and are pleased to see it through to the end, since the results have been so consistently worthwhile.
Prof Gary Lock: £1500 for 2 weeks excavation at Moel y Gaer hillfort, Bodfari, Denbighshire. This is an independent piece of work, but the results will be integrated into work done for the Heather and Hillforts project and excavations being carried out at other NE Wales hillforts by Prof Raimund Karl of Bangor University.
Meggan Gondek: £500 for digitising work to prepare for publication several years’ survey work by students of Chester University on the historic mining landscape of Halkyn Mountain, Flintshire. This will enable public use to be made of this teaching exercise.
Toby Jones : £1000 for analysis of the animal bones associated with the 15th century Newport Ship and comparison with other near-contemporary shipwreck assemblages. This will form part of a major publication about all aspects of the ship to be completed by 2013.

BLODWEN JERMAN PRIZEWINNERS
The Schools Prize (in association with the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative) was awarded to the Fitzalan High School, Cardiff, who will be using the £150 to support its Archaeology Club. The Chairman presented the prize at a ceremony in Caerphilly Castle.

The Undergraduate prize has been won by Nikki Vousden of Trinity St Davids University (Lampeter) for her study of the Historic Landscape of Silian Parish, Ceredigion and the prize for a post-graduate dissertation was won by Dominic Walker, University of Cambridge, for a study of community involvement in the management of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.

EISTEDDFOD LECTURE
Last year’s lecture was delivered in Wrexham by Nia Watkyn Powell of Bangor University. It dealt with the rise of Wrexham to be Wales’ foremost town in the early modern period.

This year’s lecture in the Vale of Glamorgan will be by Ffion Reynolds , Cadw’s new Community Archaeologist who will be speaking about their project based around Tinkinswood. The lecture will be on the afternoon of Wednesday August 8th.

FUTURE PLANS
2013 will be a year with two meetings. The Summer Meeting is proposed to be in Brittany . It will be organised and led by our current President, Prof Gwyn Meirion-Jones who is an expert on the area, especially the 16th and 17th century manor houses. The timing will be at the end of June or the beginning of July and detailed planning will start in the New Year. The autumn meeting will be in SE Wales, Caerleon or Usk, to be organised by Sian Rees and David Young.


 

DONALD MOORE
Many Cambrians will be saddened by the news of the death of Donald Moore, one of our most devoted and hard-working officers. An obituary will appear in the next volume of Archaeologia Cambrensis but in the meantime many members who attended his funeral felt that the address delivered then by the Rev Neil Fairlamb should have wider publicity. It is too long to appear in full in the volume, but the web allows space.


Donald in the Mayor's Chamber at Sandwich, Kent
at the 2010 Summer Meeting in Canterbury and East Kent

 

Tribute given at the funeral of Donald Moore. All Saints, Penarth. 16th May 2011


Donald`s life has been all of a piece, an integrated life of an immense range of activities which have complemented each other and shaped the character of the man to whom we now pay tribute. In outlining just some features of his long life today - supplemented by the many other memories that have been awakened by his passing and cherished by his family and countless friends - we are thanking the God who gave him the gifts and talents of which he has rendered so faithful a stewardship account. In particular, I think, Donald fulfilled himself through institutions and organisations; they defined his purposes in life and in honouring him we are also, as he would wish, honouring those organisations-the Forces of the Crown, the museum, educational and library worlds, the national and local groups he supported, the huge voluntary effort, and the friendships across the world from Uganda to Malaysia, from Brittany to Dresden. Three years ago he revisited Dresden more than forty years after being a visitor to the communist East Germany to develop some pioneer links in the museum world. Strands in Donald`s life were always being woven together. The GDR officials asked him where he would like to visit-Weimar, the birthplace of Goethe, was his immediate answer and they took him in splendid style. He could recite Goethe by heart to the end.

So often the ending of a person`s life is a clue to its whole meaning. Donald has endured a series of afflictions and setbacks - henaint ni ddaw ei hunan - which he has borne bravely and without complaint. He has coped, with the support of family and friends and other help he would wish to acknowledge, especially from his beloved niece and nephews, notably in these last weeks, from kind neighbours and friends, whether the daily call from Peter, the egg custards from the Washington, streams of messages and cards from friends in the republic of letters; remembrance of these little acts of kindness and affection is also part of our service today. However, as a very independent man not always easy to help, it has to be said that he coped best by being true to himself, following those methodical routines which are part of an ordered life. Care for his house and its maintenance, care to put his affairs in order, complete his final projects with great concern for accuracy and detail, care for God`s creatures notably Palkin and his camp follower Milo, and care to make this farewell fitting and memorable. He has chosen the hymns, the psalm and the Haydn movement from the Seven Last Words with which we began our service.

It seems to me that Donald perfected the art of retirement; he made it a seamless transition from full-time work to continue and deepen his lifelong interests, and take on new projects that were offshoots from that deeply rooted stock that was his life. Not many people continue into their 80s a laborious and exacting work in an unglamorous field-as an indexer! He devoted much of his eighth decade to editing of a consolidated index to Wales`s premier archaeological and historical journal, Archaeologia Cambrensis, latterly a labour of love in memory of his late wife Patricia who had been so committed to that publication; the index will be a boon to generations of scholars and proves how indexes are creative and essential parts of any serious works of non-fiction. He has taught me to judge whether a book is worth reading by starting with its index and bibliography, then the introduction. Woe betide an author who didn`t supply an index; Donald`s review would be damning.

He continued well into older age the mission he set himself earlier in life: to communicate. Skills, enthusiasm, a wide vision with a detailed focus, especially perhaps to keep the best of our past alive in the most stimulating way for our present. Instructor Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Area Tutor Organiser for adult education in Shropshire, Schools Service Officer of the National Museum of Wales, Keeper of Pictures and Maps in the National Library of Wales; these were some of his full-time roles. (Perhaps I could here mention that I first met Donald when I was a boy and he came to my school in Colwyn Bay to enthuse on the treasures of the Museum; I met him again aged 16 at a Cambrian conference in Shrewsbury where he was the only lecturer to speak encouragingly to the youngest member). These positions laid the foundations for so much that he achieved post-retirement. He curated collections in the Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea and the Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno. He was consultant to trusts, councils and steering groups-too many to list. He was Founder Chairman of the Hafod Trust, set up to restore one of the most important historic landscapes in Wales in remote Ceredigion, a sensitive issue which involved as many human negotiations between disputing parties as technical issues of landscaping. Chairmanship of Ceredigion`s branch of Welsh Historic Garden Trust, the Aberystwyth Bibliographical Group, latterly the Maritime Advisory panel of Penarth Pier Pavilion Project (this last an example of how his long maritime experience can be used for the present issue of the most appropriate development of the best pier in south Wales), Trusteeships of the Cambrians and WHGT. All these are posts held since he turned 70, and remarkable examples of how foundations laid earlier in life are strengthened in older age rather than abandoned. Post-retirement, he gave of his time of help St David`s Cathedral, both in devising a lapidarium for the display of sacred stones and in helping the refounding of the cathedral library. Well into his 70s he gave lectures on art history, topographical literature and asrchaeology as part-time tutor in Aberystwyth`s centre for continuing education. Articles on projects matured over many years continued to appear and lectures given-on Haverfordwest Priory, historic gardens in Ceredigion, Caerdeon Church in Merioneth, the Flintshire landscaper Thomas Pennant, the Merthyr Tydfil hero G.T. Clark. There is hardly a corner of Wales Donald`s knowledge has not illuminated. He has given to the people of Wales a sense of their living past and, having become a fluent speaker of Welsh since university days in Aberystwyth, has been a Gorsedd Bard of the National Eisteddfod since 2002.

“In my end is my beginning.” All that I have described came from the foundations laid in Barry-its Romilly Schools and County Grammar, and UCW Aberystwyth. (How fitting he edited the centenary history of his home town.) Then into service as a Fusilier, Naval Signalman and Airman before a pioneer role as instructor in the Navy to create effectively a mini-technical college in Dale, Pembrokeshire, to prepare offices, ratings and wrens for demobilisation. Extraordinary now to walk along this deserted site on the coastal path once crammed with people and activity. Twenty years of volunteer service followed in the Royal Naval Reserve in posts ending as Commander RNR ( Donald was always Commander Moore to my late churchwarden in Penrhyn-coch where I was the vicar and met Donald again after 30 years). I had a fine tribute to him as Commander of HMS Cambria from an old friend Peter Rees Commander of HMS President in London. The pioneer character of the role at Dale continued in his work in Shropshire in creating a social centre and developing new cultural and artistic activities, then in the National Museum devising new education programmes, especially in archaeology. For services to archaeology in Wales he was awarded the M.B.E, which he received from HRH The Prince of Wales in Cardiff Castle. He flourished at the National Library in curating collections, devising exhibitions and writing catalogues.

Did you know that Donald had an Oxford education diploma with a subsidiary in advanced woodwork?
Did you know he took secondment from the Museum to help set up a museum service in post-colonial Uganda?
That he led parties of Welsh artistes to perform in Breton festivals over a 25 year period?
That he broadcast on radio in English and in Welsh frequently in the 1950s and 1960s and early television programmes for children.
That his “select bibliography” just from 1955 to 1991 has over 80 items.

Well, perhaps you did know. And more besides. Remember with gratitude and bless his name.

Donald`s Aberystwyth degree was in Classics. He mastered Welsh, French and German-and not a little Breton. He kept up subscriptions to language tapes to keep his knowledge fresh; he composed and delivered a funeral oration in French for a Breton friend. He had Goethe by heart but it was truly astonishing that last Christmas in the extraordinary snow we had, even more in Anglesey than here, that when I rang up to inquire how he was coping and if he was cut off he declaimed in Latin without hesitation or flaw the Ode of Horace he had learnt by heart in Barry Grammar School 75 years ago that was exactly apposite and a tribute to the power of the spirit; though the outward man perishes, wrote St Paul, yet is the inward man renewed day-by-day.

Vides ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte, nec iam sustineant onus
Silvae laborantes, geluque
Flumina constiterint acuto.

You see how Mount Soracte stands out
white with deep snow, and the struggling
trees can no longer sustain the burden, and
the rivers are frozen with sharp frost.


Let us thank God for the life of Donald and for his continuing life in our grateful remembrance of him.

Neil Fairlamb
Rector of Beaumaris, Anglesey.