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Cymdeithas Hynafiaethau Cymru - Cambrian Archaeological Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWS

NEWSLETTER FOR 2013

Our President for 2012-13, David Longley , was installed at the Anglesey meeting in which he took a very active part, as befits someone who has been Director of the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust and is currently working on a book on the Roman and Early Mediaeval history of the island. His previous work in Galloway will be called upon by the Association when we visit Dumfries in the summer of 2014. In the same way the very considerable expertise of our previous President, Prof Gwyn Meirion Jones , firmly underpins our visit to Brittany this summer. Our President for 2013-14 will be Dr Sian Rees who is already a valued Trustee and well-known to many members. Her expertise in conservation and monument management has already been placed at the service of the Association through her organisation of this year's Easter Conference.

This year there have been no changes amongst the Trustees and Officers of the Association who have met on four occasions during the year to oversee the planning of meetings, to choose lecturers for the Eisteddfod and future Presidents, to respond to matters of public policy in the field of heritage and academic research and in particular to disperse research funds. In these straitened times the Association is keen to receive applications from amateur groups and from professional bodies who may need relatively small sums to finalise work with extra analysis or additional dating which falls outside the remit of more formal grant-giving bodies. Please see the website for details, but also note the deadlines for application!

The Association has gained 22 new members this year, but has sadly lost others. Our President for 1999-2000, Prof Etienne Rynne of Galway died in June. A full obituary will appear in Arch. Camb. Bernard Morris of Swansea , one of the founders of the Gower Society and prominent member of the Cambrians died this spring. He was a very notable scholar of south Welsh history, especially architectural and land use history, and a volume of his collected articles is planned, which the Cambrians are proud to support. Others who died this year are Dr Howard Davies, the husband of our President for 1993-4, Morfydd Owen, Dr Siriol Colley who died only a few months after appearing in a BBC documentary about her uncle, Gareth Jones, whose heroic journalism from Stalinist Russia she did so much to bring to public notice. The historian W. Rhys Robinson died this year, as did Miss Eileen Willson of Mold and Andrew Laing of Bangor who had worked for the Council for Museums in Wales and for the National Trust.

 

MEETINGS HELD IN 2012

Three meetings were held last year, a very successful Easter Conference on World Heritage Sites in Wales organised by Sian Rees and a Summer Meeting in Anglesey which was very well attended, and an autumn weekend in Birmingham which was less popular, but nonetheless interesting and enjoyable. These last two were organised by Frances Llewellyn.

 

The Easter Conference was based in Llangollen close to the most recently inscribed Welsh World Heritage Site, the Pontcysyllte Canal and Aqueduct, which provided a perfect exemplar to illustrate the themes of the lectures as well as an enjoyable setting for Saturday lunch. The conference started on Friday with an overview of the philosophy of ICOMOS in its promotion of World Heritage Sites by Susan Denyer, its secretary, and on Saturday morning by Sian Rees who is involved with the selection and monitoring of sites worldwide.

On the Saturday evening David Breeze gave another wide-ranging lecture which described his involvement with the Roman Frontiers in Scotland and his subsequent work with the other frontiers of the Empire in east Europe , the Middle East and North Africa . These feature a variety of physical remains, political controls, financial resources and development ambitions which make their combination into a single ‘heritage' a daunting task.

The other lectures dealt with the World Heritage Sites in Wales -- the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and the Castles of Edward I in Gwynedd. All were discussed from several angles. For Pontcysyllte, Peter Wakelin spoke of the innovative engineering, while Judith Alfrey described the hinterland of the canal, its 19 th century development and the possibilities of re-generation there that the new status might bring. Finally British Waterways staff discussed its impact on their work to keep the site working as a canal. They were able to point out problems and solutions over lunch on board a barge.

In the afternoon Blaenavon was described and discussed by Stephen Hughes and by staff of Torfaen CBC who were working to integrate the industrial history into local tourism and cultural benefit for the region. Similarly, the Castles of Edward I in Gwynedd were still a focus of study and scholarly debate but were also an enormous resource for exciting educational initiatives (outlined by Adrienne Goodenough of Cadw) and for touristic exploitation, which was debated by Dr Kate Roberts of Cadw.

Finally David Gwyn looked to the future of World Heritage Sites in Wales , especially the new candidate, the slate valleys of Gwynedd, which sharpened the focus of the final debate: the value of this international status for the sites and for the communities around them. Summaries of all the talks can be found on the website.

 

The Summer Meeting was held in Anglesey , with the 60 participants housed in the University halls of residence in Bangor . Despite the generally bad summer, Anglesey lived up to its reputation for good weather and the party only got seriously wet on the Friday. The proceedings began on the Monday afternoon, July 9 th with a visit to the megalithic tombs at Bryn Celli Ddu and Plas Newydd. The former, with its complex and disputed history took up most of the discussion. In the evening members went to the university main building for a reception which unexpectedly turned into a book launch for the volume of essays published by the CAA in honour of Frances Lynch (who was completely unaware of its preparation since her mind had been on the preparation of the Summer Meeting!).

The Tuesday was devoted to sites in the Holyhead area, starting with Llyn Cerrig Bach in which an Iron Age ritual deposit was found during the war, some of the finer pieces being currently on loan to Oriel Ynys Môn; then visiting the tomb at Trefignath and viewing the site close by (Parc Gybi) where a rare contemporary house had been found in excavations directed by Jane Kenny of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. A huge archaeological landscape had been revealed, with features from the Neolithic through to the Early Medieval and 18 th century. The mix of late prehistoric, Roman and early mediaeval settlement was identical to that found in the 19 th century excavations by W.O.Stanley the local landowner and MP at sites such as Porth Dafarch and South Stack, visited later. The afternoon was spent in Holyhead, at the Roman Fort and the parish church and also looking at the development of the harbour on which the 19 th century prosperity of the town was built. In the evening there was the installation of the new President, David Longley who delivered his presidential address on the nature of Anglesey houses from Prehistory to the Renaissance, stressing the strands of continuity which had been manifest in the sites visited earlier.

Wednesday took the party to the north of the island, around Amlwch. The first part of the day concentrated on the copper industry of the area, starting with a guided tour of the great opencast mines on Parys Mountain, led by Dr David Jenkins and Brian Hope of the Amlwch Heritage Trust which was giving the mine a fourth period of economic importance. The first was in the early Bronze Age; the second, the most spectacular, was in the late 18 th century when it was the most important copper mine in the world; in the 19 th century subsidiary industries were developed which survived to the mid 20 th ; now the derelict mine and its harbour has a new future as a major tourist attraction (the new exhibition at the harbour having been opened only a few days before our visit). Another revived site was briefly visited en route between the mine and the harbour, the modernist concrete Catholic Church which had just been restored after a period of closure due to structural problems.

After examining the narrow harbour at Amlwch the party drove to Llanfechell where they had been invited to tea at Brynddu, the home of Prof and Mrs Robin Grove White whose family had owned it since it was first built in the 17 th century. In the 18 th century it had been the home of the famous diarist, William Bulkeley, and some of the exotic plants brought back by his son-in-law the pirate, still survive in the gardens. The Cambrians enjoyed here a luxury seldom now seen on their visits – afternoon tea on the lawn!

In the evening the Public Lecture was given by David Hopewell of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust on the newly discovered Roman settlement at Tai Cochion on the Anglesey shore just across from Segontium. This was a site discovered by geophysical prospection where nothing could be seen on the ground but a great deal had been revealed by Community Excavation over the last two years.

Thursday was devoted to Beaumaris and Penmon. The Edwardian Borough of Beaumaris occupied the whole morning, with visits to the parish church, the 19 th century gaol and the 17 th century courthouse, alongside visits to some of the early houses in the main street where analytical recording by David Longley, during recent restorations had revealed that many late medieval and Renaissance features survived, despite external appearances. The afternoon involved some complex logistics whereby everyone saw their choice of two out of three monuments: the great castle of Edward I in the town, the Norman motte/ Civil War redoubt/18 th century folly hidden in the woods at Aberlleiniog, and the church and priory at Penmon, the best surviving 12 th century church in the region with remnants of the sculpture of its 10 th century monastic predecessor. The AGM was held in the evening.

Friday morning was devoted to the early Kingdom of Gwynedd with visits to the Rhosyr area, Llangadwaladr and Aberffraw. Because of problems of access the site at Rhosyr itself was not visited, but David Longley described the princely court and its hinterland in the Newborough Institute, itself a notable monument to Edwardian philanthropy. At Llangadwaladr Prof Nancy Edwards spoke about the famous Catamanus stone and at Aberffraw David Longley outlined the importance of the village as one of the main courts of Gwynedd, and the parish church with its fine 12 th century arch was visited.

In the afternoon the party stepped back to prehistory in the rain with a visit to Barclodiad y Gawres where Frances Lynch spoke about the tomb and the additional art recently recognised, while Dr Kate Roberts discussed Cadw's plans for improvements to the display of the monument. On the return journey to Bangor there was discussion of the excavation of late prehistoric and Roman settlement during the building of the A55 and also of the building and re-building of the Britannia Bridge .

Saturday morning, the final excursion, took the party to the well-known site at Din Lligwy, a prosperous enclosed ‘hut group' – an estate centre akin to a Roman villa where Prof Ray Karl spoke about the Iron Age and Roman-influenced societies which would have lived there. This was followed by a visit to Haffoty, one of the earliest medieval estate centres in the island where David Longley unravelled the complex ownership history and Ray Nally guided people around the building, recently restored by Cadw. On the return journey Dr Peter Jarvis spoke about Telford 's Menai Bridge .

The Autumn Meeting at Birmingham was attended by 23 members who assembled at the Thistle Hotel in the city centre on midday on Friday September 21 st . The Friday afternoon was devoted to the late mediaeval history and architecture of the region with visits to Kings Norton and to Bourneville where the Cadburys had rebuilt two fine timber houses.

The evening lecture was given by Dr David Symons on the Staffordshire Hoard . The hoard itself was viewed at the museum the following morning where Dr Symons was available to give the party early access to the galleries and to guide them around the exhibits. The rest of the day was devoted to more modern jewellery and metalwork, with visits to the Jewellery Quarter Museum and to the Evans Silverworks which had only recently been acquired and opened to the public by English Heritage. Both these museums are in virtually untouched workshops which are quite small and cramped so the party had to be divided into two, visiting the sites alternatively. This part of Birmingham has a lot to interest the visitor and members wandered happily around modern jewellery shops or grand Victorian cemeteries, according to taste.

Nick Molyneux gave the evening lecture, an introduction to the Lunar Men and the late 18 th century rise of science and industry in the West Midlands, which formed an ideal introduction to the architectural tour of the city centre which he led on Sunday morning and to our visit to Soho House Museum (the home of Matthew Boulton) and to Handsworth Parish Church in the afternoon.

 

GRANTS FOR RESEARCH AWARDED IN 2012

An award of £1000 was made to Dr Toby Driver and Dr Jeffrey Davies for post-excavation work on their excavations at the Abermagwr Roman villa, Ceredigion (of which the Association has been the principal fund provider). The grant will be used to obtain radio-carbon dates and also for analysis of environmental samples. An interim Report on this important site can be found in the current issue of Arch. Camb. (Vol 160, 2011).

Two other applications have been received and will be considered in February 2013 when the two references required for each application have been received. They are from Professor Gary Lock for a second season of work at Moel y Gaer, Bodfari hillfort in Denbighshire where the grant awarded by the Association last year was used for excavation trenches in areas which had shown promising indications from geophysical survey; and from Dr Andy Seaman to assist in a programme of survey and excavation at Dinas Powys hillfort, Vale of Glamorgan. Re-evaluation of the finds and stratigraphy of this important ‘Dark Age' site (first excavated by Leslie Alcock) continue to produce new information.

Applicants for grants are reminded that they will not be considered by the Trustees until their two referees have sent in their references to the General Secretary.

 

BLODWEN JERMAN PRIZEWINNERS

The Schools Prize (now one of several from different funders co-ordinated by the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative) was awarded to Rhymney Comprehensive School , Caerphilly for a project on ‘Rhymney and the Romans'. A website and two booklets were produced by an after-school club ‘The Rhymney Centurions'.

Hugh Morgan reports that the original CAA Blodwen Jerman prize has inspired Pembrokeshire Historic Buildings Trust to inaugurate a similar prize for their own county.

The Undergraduate Prize was won by Cerys Hudson, Bangor University , for her study ‘The British Media and the Revival of Genealogy 2004-2010'. Her start date was prompted by the start of the TV programme ‘ Who do you think you are? '

 

G T CLARK PRIZES

The G. T. Clark Prizes are awarded every five years for the most distinguished published contributions to the study of the archaeology and history of Wales and The Marches, in five categories: Prehistory, Roman, Early Medieval, Medieval and Post-Medieval. The adjudication panel is made up of the previous prize-winners. These were, for 2007: Chris Musson and Frances Lynch (Prehistory), Heather James (Roman), Patrick Sims-Williams (Early Medieval), David Robinson (Medieval) and Richard Suggett (Post-medieval).

Following their recommendations, the incoming President, David Longley, presented the prizes at The Summer Meeting in Anglesey when copies of the books were tabled for members to look at after the Annual General Meeting.

Barry C. Burnham & Jeffrey L. Davies received a cheque for £100 each for the Roman Prize for their Roman Frontiers in Wales and The Marches, (2010);

Nancy Edwards £200 for her A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales, Vol. 11 South-West Wales, (2007) for the Early Medieval prize;

John Goodall , £200 for The English Castle, 1066-1650, (2011), for the Medieval Prize and Richard Bebb £200 for Welsh Furniture, 1250-1950: A Cultural History of Craftsmanship, 2 vols, (2007), for the Post-Medieval prize.

Apologies had been received from Alex Bayliss, Frances Healey & Alasdair Whittle , joint prizewinners in the Prehistory section for their Gathering Time: Dating the Early Neolithic Enclosures of Southern Britain, 2 vols. (2011) who were unable to be present.

 

EISTEDDFOD LECTURE

The 2012 lecture was given at Llandow, Vale of Glamorgan, by Ffion Reynolds, Cadw's Community Archaeologist, on community involvement in a conservation and education project centring on Tinkinswood Long Barrow.

This year's lecture at Denbigh will be given by Robin Gwyndaf in the Societies' Pavilion on the afternoon of Wednesday 7 th August. The title of the talk will be: Diwylliant ar Waith: Beirdd a Hynafiaethwyr Bro Hiraethog ( Culture in Action: the Poets and Antiquaries of Bro Hiraethog ). It will be based on his fieldwork, 1959 – 2013 (c. 300 half-hour sound tapes) and an extensive collection of papers and manuscripts (c. 5000 items to be presented, eventually, to NLW). We are most grateful to Robin, who is a man who has a very busy time at any Eisteddfod, for agreeing to give us this important and wonderfully appropriate lecture.

National Eisteddfod Lecture - Darlith Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

Calling all Eisteddfodwyr! This year the Cambrian Archaeological Associations's lecture at the National Eisteddfod will be given by Dr Robin Gwyndaf at 3.30 pm in the Societies' Pavilion on Wednesday 7th August. His title is Llên Gwerin Bro Hiraethog (Folklore of Bro Hiraethog). This year's Eisteddfod being held on the outskirts of Denbigh.Members, especially those in North Wales, and their friends, are urged to support the Association and our distinguished speaker.

Neges i'r holl Eisteddfodwyr! Eleni traddodir Darlith Cymdeithas Hynafiaethwyr Cymru yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol gan Dr Robin Gwyndaf am 3.30 p.m ym Mhabell y Cymdeithasau ar Ddydd Mercher, 7 Awst. Y testun yw ‘Llên Gwerin Bro Hiraethog'. Cynhelir yr Eisteddfod eleni ar gyrion Dinbych. Anogir aelodau'r Gymdeithas, yn enwedig y rhai o ogledd Cymru, a'u cyfeillion, i ddod i gefnogi'r ddarlith a'r siaradwr adnabyddus.

 

New Publication

Only one person was in for a surprise at the Reception at Bangor University on the first evening of this year's Summer Meeting in Anglesey – none other than Frances Lynch Llewellyn, the organizer! She was presented with a copy of a Festschrift in her honour, edited by Bill Britnell and Bob Silvester.

Many contributors were there, including a contingent from Ireland – again to her complete surprise. Following the presentation, several contributors got to their feet and made extempore personal appreciation of Frances's work. An order form will be going out with the 2013 Newsletter but meanwhile here is a chance to order the book for yourself – or as a Christmas present.

Reflections on the Past - Essays in honour of Frances Lynch ORDER FORM (in PDF format - opens in a new window).