April 6, 2018

Newsletter 2015


Our President-elect this year is Prof David Austin , recently retired from the Chair of Archaeology at the University of Wales Trinity St Davids – or as it was when he first came to Wales – the University College of Wales Lampeter. It is fitting that our Summer Meeting this year will be based at Lampeter and we will be looking at some of his more notable projects. Prof Austin is a well-known medieval archaeologist and he set up a department which specialised in that period, a new departure for the Welsh universities, and also became known for promoting theoretical approaches to the past.

This year 23 individuals have joined the Association, several of them joining at the highly successful Easter Conference where the Cambrians’ traditional mix of scholarship and friendliness was much to the fore. Sadly we have lost many old friends who will be known to all members. Three distinguished members from Penarth have died this year, Prof Peter Thomas, Anthony Packer and Miss J.M Good; and Roger Davies who was a great help to the Association in the administration of our Eisteddfod lecture when he retired from Flintshire County Council. We have also lost Cllr Huw Bevan Jones and Miss Valentine da Costa from Ceredigion; Mrs Anne Maby of Penrhyndeudraeth and Peter Leyshon of Tonypandy.

You will have already read in your copy of Arch. Camb . of the death in June of Hugh Morgan of Swansea . Hugh was our legal adviser for many years but was our benefactor in many other ways as well. He was our ‘remembrancer’ because he always had the documentation at his fingertips, and a meticulous organiser of many events for us, particularly in Pembrokeshire where he had a much-loved holiday home.

Members will be saddened to hear that the death occurred just before Christmas of Mrs Nansi Mascetti. Nansi had been very ill for the last few years, but her determination to continue an active participation in Cambrian affairs brought her obvious joy and gained her the admiration of everyone who saw how much she could contribute to a meeting and to a party despite her frailty in the last years. She and her late husband Keith gave a great deal to the Cambrians; she in particular was a most efficient and unflappable organiser, a solver of crises and a smoother of ways. She was a most valued Trustee and a much loved friend.

This month we have also lost a well-known Cambrian, former Trustee and President in 1998, Dr Lawrence Butler. Lawrence had worked for many years at the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth before going to the University of Leeds , and later of York . He was a noted historian and excavator of medieval buildings – castles and churches. Particularly important was his work on Dolforwyn. Many members will have benefited from his clear expositions of complex structures, and many organisers will have blessed him for his ability to pull a fact-packed card from his pocket to fill any embarrassing gaps in a programme. His great learning was always available to everyone with great generosity and charm. He will be sorely missed.


THE EASTER CONFERENCE on CHURCH MONUMENTS IN WALES was based at The Wild Pheasant Hotel, Llangollen, 11-13th April 2014 . The Conference had been planned by Dr Lawrence Butler who was sadly not able to attend, but his deep knowledge and many contributions to the subject were frequently mentioned.

The meeting started with a visit to St Collen’s Church in the centre of Llangollen to see the great 15 th century ceiling and the memorials to the Ladies of Llangollen.

After dinner, Dr Rhianydd Biebrach opened the Conference lecture programme with a sparkling and erudite lecture on ‘Effigies of Bishops in south Wales ‘ , concentrating on the six medieval Episcopal monuments in Llandaff Cathedral and the difficulty of their accurate identification. This was a problem shared by other Welsh Cathedral s and effigies.

The following day the President, Dr Sian Rees, who chaired all the lectures, pointed out that whilst V. E. Nash-Williams’ The Early Christian Monuments of Wales (1950) and Colin Gresham’s Medieval Stone Carving in North Wales (1968) remain seminal works, research had moved on, as the following lectures would show. First Dr Mark Redknap of National Museum Wales spoke of the just-completed project to revise and update the Nash-Williams Corpus. New interpretations laid greater stress on the survival of Christianity from Roman Britain than the influence of missionaries from Gaul and new technical aspects had been added. He was followed by Brian and Moira Gittos speaking about Gresham ‘s work, expanding their article in Arch Camb vol 161. Moira Gittos discussed in particular the dating of the ‘Princess Joan’ slab in Beaumaris and Brian Gittos concentrated on knightly effigies identified by Latin inscriptions, their numbers perhaps due to the Welsh love of genealogy.

After coffee Dr Maddy Grey of the University of South Wales spoke about Catholic Symbols on some Post-Reformation grave slabs. The discovery of several quasi-Catholic symbols in Monmouthshire suggested a stubborn liking for the older ways in this region. After lunch the party went by coach to Valle Crucis Abbey , the Pillar of Eliseg and Corwen . At the abbey one of the trap doors covering medieval grave slabs built into the vaulting of a passage below had been opened at the request of the President, providing a rare opportunity to examine them. Professor Howard Williams of Chester University spoke about the recent excavations in the Eliseg mound on which the cross stood, confirming its Bronze Age origin. At Corwen Church Bob Silvester spoke about its high status as Mother Church of the district in the Middle Ages. In the graveyard is a 10 th century cross shaft originally similar to Eliseg. Members were sceptical about the identification of a Runic inscription on it. However they were impressed by the quantity of 18 th century graves and memorials and saw the medieval grave slab of a priest under the guidance of the Gittoses.

After dinner Andrew Davidson of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust spoke about the patronage exercised by the descendants of Ednyfed Fechan in the late 14 th /early 15 th centuries. He discussed Penmynydd church and the four alabaster chest tombs in NW Wales, all of which commemorate members of this same family.

On Sunday morning Bob Silvester of Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust spoke on The Brute Family and other country masons in 18 th century Brecknock, demonstrating that this distinctive style of monument was not the product of only one family.

Unfortunately Ned Scharer was unable to attend due to illness and his place was taken by Prof Howard Williams who spoke about the Pillar of Eliseg, visited the previous afternoon. He briefly outlined its history, but mainly discussed the setting of the monument, on an earlier mound, beside a crucial route close to the border of Mercia and Powys, it was a statement of power and territorial control, designed to be prominent within the natural amphitheatre of the valley, perhaps a focus for Assemblies.

The final lecture was Richard Haslam on Baroque tomb sculptors – the Myddleton monuments at Chirk which were visited in the afternoon. He explored the background of the artists who had mainly trained in Rome but worked in London . The Myddleton family, wealthy London merchants, were typical patrons. Their memorials, some of the best in Wales , record the family from 1660s to 1718 when the original line died out. The first two are by John Bushnell (1636-1701), the third by Robert Wynne of Ruthin. During the visit there was discussion of the likely original location of the monuments and the party also saw a small effigy which commemorates a heart burial, dated stylistically by Maddy Grey and the Gittoses to c.1340.

A fuller account of this meeting and the text of the last lecture can be found here in PDF format. Longer accounts of the other meetings are also available on the Meetings page.


The meeting had been planned and prepared by Mary Dodd and David Longley. It was based at Barony College , an agricultural college outside Dumfries town. 46 members attended. Every day was dry and sunny – which must be a record!

On Sunday the first site visited was Caerlaverock Castle , famous because of its triangular plan, notorious siege by Edward I and the Renaissance house built within by the Maxwell family in 1630, only to be destroyed by Covenanters in 1634. After lunch in the castle cafe the party drove to Ruthwell to see the famous 8 th century cross where Jeremy Knight described its Anglo-Saxon cultural context. From Ruthwell we went to Lochmaben Castle , a complex of earthworks and late stone structures on a peninsula in the Castle Loch. Its history involved both the family of Robert the Bruce and Edward 1.

That evening Heather James showed a DVD on the Reivers and the turbulent history of the Scottish/English border, the context for many of the sites we would see later.

On Monday we visited sites on the west side of the Nith estuary under the guidance of Adrian Cox of Historic Scotland. The first was Sweetheart Abbey , a late Cistercian house founded by the Lady Dervorguilla, heiress to the Lords of Galloway who married John Balliol. Leaving the abbey we drove down the coast to Rockliffe to look at the site of Mote of Mark, the 6 th century fort on the shore of the Water of Urr where excavations have revealed a significant trading post. After lunch in Dalbeatie we visited Orchardton Tower , an unusual circular tower house probably built by the Cairns family in the late 15th century. We then continued along the coast to Dundrennan Abbey another Cistercian Abbey which had had a huge church and some impressive sculpture. On the return journey to Barony we passed the Tongland Bridge , an early design by Telford , and the site of the crannog in Milton Loch .

In the evening David Longley lectured on the excavations at More of Mark, those of Alexander Curle in 1913 and his own, with Dr Lloyd Laing, in 1973 and 1979. Many of these finds were exhibited in Dumfries Museum and at Whithorn seen later in the week.

The whole of Tuesday was devoted to Dumfries town . The first visit was to Lincluden College , then to the Museum which also includes the only surviving totally authentic camera obscura which fascinated everyone. After this visit everyone was free to explore the town in the footsteps of Robert Burns.

That evening saw the Installation of the President , Professor W. H. Manning whose Presidential Address: Roman Wales: Past, Present and Future will be published in Arch Camb

The first visit of Wednesday was to the Twelve Apostles Stone Circle but most of the rest of the day was spent on the estate of the Dukes of Buccleuch , at Drumlanrig, at the mausoleum at Durisdeer and in their estate town of Thornhill .

At Drumlanrig , a great Renaissance house of pink sandstone built in 1673, the Cambrians took the very good official tour and after lunch explored the extensive gardens.

The site of Durisdeer church is an old one, as befits a church on a Roman road, but its main interest lies in the Queensbury Aisle, the Douglas family mausoleum. The exceptional monument to the 2nd Duke, is very reminiscent of the Middleton monuments seen by the Cambrians at Chirk this Easter. At Thornhill the first visit was to the 9 th century cross, later than Ruthwell, but very similar in shape when complete.

The lecture that evening was by Dr Adrian Maldonado Ramirez of the University of Chester . He spoke about current views on the role of Whithorn and St Ninian ( or Uninniau ) in the establishment of Christianity in Scotland . He based himself on the study of the inscribed stones and gravestones at Whithorn and Kirkmadrine and on the results of excavations at Whithorn in the 1990s.

On Thursday we went west to the two famous megalithic tombs at Cairnholy, described by Frances Lynch who explained that the analysis of their structural development, and that of other Clyde tombs in the region, had been very influential in megalithic studies. The next visit was to the modest Tower House at Carsluith which had the added attraction of a small café and a smokery. Carsluith is a small square 14th century tower with a first floor hall, and bedrooms and a corbelled wall-walk above. The Tower House or Castle at Cardoness was next visited. This was a larger establishment, a seriously defensible castle.

The afternoon was spent in the Artists’ Town of Kirkcudbright . The town had much to offer: a good lunch; another impressive Tower House; elegant houses, beautiful gardens, an idiosyncratic museum and a very fine art exhibition.

The 161st Annual General Meeting of the Association was held on this evening.

On Friday we took a beautiful drive through moorland and forest around New Galloway to Whithorn at the mouth of the Solway Firth where we were welcomed by Julia Muir Watt of the Whithorn Trust. We watched the new video on the site and its history. There were also two very good exhibitions: one a new display of finds from the excavations placed within the context of the early and later medieval historical sequences revealed by recent work. The other contained the crosses and grave slabs found around the church at Whithorn, which provide the most tangible evidence for the importance of the site.

In mid afternoon we took the bus to look briefly at the Isle of Whithorn , and several prehistoric sites, notably the Torhouskie Stone Circle . Dinner that night was in the Imperial Hotel in Castle Douglas . This gave an air of celebration to our last night in Galloway.


Thirty-two members assembled at the Faenol Fawr Hotel, Bodelwyddan, on September 19th for a weekend of talks and visits relating to the First World War in Wales in a spot where some notable physical remains of that war could be still seen on the ground.

The meeting opened with an illustrated lecture before dinner by Medwyn Parry of RCAHMW who provided an overview of 20th century military remains from both World Wars. This lecture provided a useful introduction to a wide range of physical remains of both world wars, some of which were dealt with in greater detail in later talks.

The following morning the Rev Clive Hughes spoke on Recruitment in North West Wales 1914 -16 before conscription was introduced. He traced the rise and fall in enthusiasm for involvement in the war by the people of north Wales , the subtle difference in attitudes between Anglicans and Non-Conformists and the role played by celebrity recruiters. He was followed by the Rev David Williams speaking about Brigadier General Horatio Evans and the Battle for Mametz Wood. General Evans, a professional soldier of long standing, was the Commander of the Welsh Brigade at the notorious defeat at Mametz Wood. His life and attitudes were outlined with sympathy. Due to a family bereavement Jonathan Berry of Cadw could not be with us to speak about Trench Warfare , but Clive Hughes , at very short notice, took his place and provided us with a valuable background briefing on the practice trenches we would see in the afternoon.

The party then left for Bodelwyddan Castle where a buffet lunch was arranged in the Castle tearooms. After lunch Dr Kevin Mason , Director of Bodelwyddan Castle, showed us the exceptionally well-preserved practice trenches in the parkland. These were some of the first trenches to be scheduled as Ancient Monuments. Members then returned to the castle to view the state rooms of the castle before going down to the Bodelwyddan estate church of St Margaret ‘s where Frances Llewellyn outlined the events of March 1919 in nearby Kinmel Camp where Canadian soldiers rioted because of delays to their repatriation. This event became the subject of myth and of re-evaluation in studies of failed leadership.

The Cambrians then returned to Faenol Fawr where Jeff Spencer of Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust spoke about the World War I Aerodromes in North Wales . The two main sites were Llangefni (now called Mona), which was the base for very large airships protecting shipping in the Irish Sea , and Sealand at Queensferry which was a training and maintenance base. The only surviving WWI hangars in Britain are at Sealand.

Jeff later showed the small stone found during recent excavations at Pen y Cloddiau hillfort on which an American serving in the Canadian army, Carlyle D. Chamberlain, had scratched his name and address in 1919. By an extraordinary coincidence the same man was the author of a long note about America and the British Empire found in the 1920s pushed into the wall of the tower on Moel Fama. Jeff showed a copy of this note.

On Sunday morning members attended a short service of remembrance devised and led by the Rev David Williams in St. Margaret’s Church. After returning to the hotel for coffee Iain Wright of RCAHMW described his work for Cadw in photographing war memorials around Wales . This was in association with the War Memorials Trust and their campaign to ensure that the condition of all memorials should be improved at this time.

Dr Gethin Matthews of Swansea University the author of a study of South Wales Chapel involvement in the war effort spoke next. He described a project in Caersalem Newydd Baptist Chapel which focussed on the Roll of Honour which recorded all those that enlisted (with regimental details). These memorials, usually framed paper lists, were not previously well known and not officially noted. They are increasingly at risk as chapels close.

After the official lectures were over individual Cambrians gave some personal reactions and those who had records of their family involvement in the war spoke about their relations. Mary Dodd read extracts from the diary (1914-18) of her father, Prof A.H.Dodd; Nick and Eva Moore brought memorials of Eva’s grandfather, a surgeon in the Austrian army, and of Nick’s father who had fought in the Salonica campaign; Mrs Wendy Camp recalled three relatives who had had very different experiences of the war, one a prisoner from the first week, another a Conscientious Objector and a third, a medical orderly who went on to study and became a distinguished Royal surgeon.


Seven applications were received this year and hard choices had to be made since the Treasurer advised on a slightly reduced amount available to disburse owing to low returns and reductions in the value of the investments that sustain the fund. The Friends of Court Farm (Pembrey, Carmarthenshire) are a hard-working local group seeking to consolidate the ruins of an important 17 th century mansion and investigate its site. We were able to contribute £500 towards the costs of geophysical survey of a possible Elizabethan formal garden. Andrew David, now retired from English Heritage, has made a lifelong study of mesolithic Pembrokeshire and we awarded £1000 towards geophysical survey at Cutty Bridge near Haverfordwest. This is an inland area (far less well-studied than coastal sites) where the distribution of surface flint finds suggests buried deposits in palaeo-channels. The Association has supported the work of Margaret Dunn, leader of the North West Wales Dendrochronology Project and now the Dating Old Welsh Houses Group, in previous years and this year granted £500 towards a joint project with Conwy Borough Council to date selected houses. We have supported Gary Lock’s excavations at the hillfort of Moel y Gaer, Bodfari, Denbighshire from their inception and this year made a grant of £1000 for the 2015 season. A final Report is promised for Archaeologia Cambrensis. Three young archaeologists, Andy Seaman, Tudur Davies and Oliver Davis working at Canterbury Christ Church , Cardiff and Sheffield universities have taken a number of sample pollen cores close to Iron Age and Early Medieval sites in the Vale of Glamorgan. These have the potential to throw light on the environment in the Vale in these periods and the Association’s grant of £1560 will allow 5 AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) radiocarbon dates to be secured from the cores.


The Cambrians School prize of £250, now administered with many others, by the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative (see http://www.whsi.org.uk ) was won by Glynhafod Junior School , Rhondda Cynon Taf for their project on Welsh Music. They researched the history of the Welsh National Anthem and other iconic songs, such as Calon Lan, Sospan Bach and Cwm Rhondda, finding several local composers and visiting their monuments and graves, such as that of Caradog (Griffith Rhys Jones) in Aberdare.

Although 3 entries were received for the senior prize the judges did not think that any of them were of sufficient standard to win the prize.


Full accounts of recent meetings and conferences can be found on our website with many photographs of members both listening intently to speakers and exploring on their own. Gastronomic delights, unsurprisingly, feature in the account of the 2013 Brittany Meeting. The Secretary appeals once again for a volunteer or volunteers to help with the website where much more could be done to publicise the Association’s work past and present. The AGM at Barony College , Dumfries , provided the opportunity to formally thank Nick Moore for all his work in compiling entries on the Association for Wikipedia. These bear worthy comparison with similar accounts of other national societies in England , Scotland and Ireland . After the AGM , Barony College ‘s computer was fired up and Nick gave a fascinating presentation of his work and the great potential Wikipedia has in reaching global audiences. He said that it reinforced his view on the importance of the Association’s historiography and you will find links to many of the Association’s influential members – but much more could be done and work on Wikipedia is a democratic and collaborative effort. You will find the account under ‘Cambrian Archaeological Association’ and also ‘ Archaeologia Cambrensis’. Nick has also digitized many out of copyright images from 19 th Century Arch Cambs on Wikimedia Commons. Anyone interested in contributing should contact Nick on nandemoore@gmail.com . The links to the Wikipedia entries are:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_Archaeological_Association and


In the general discussion which ensued, the Secretary expanded on her Report of archiving CAA material from the 1980s and 1990’s, now deposited in the National Library of Wales. She appealed for members to submit any memoirs, short or long, and other material relating to their membership and experiences of the Cambrians. Members may be interested in a recent article by Professor Nancy Edwards ‘From Antiquarians to Archaeologists in Nineteenth-Century Wales: The Question of Prehistory’ on the often heated debates and opposing camps in the Cambrians in the second half of the 19 th century. It is in Writing a Small Nation’s Past: Wales in Comparative Perspective 1850-1950, 2013, Eds Neil Evans & Huw Pryce, Ashgate Publishing Ltd.


Many members will recall that this revised Constitution, embodying much work by the late Hugh Morgan, was unanimously adopted at an Extraordinary General Meeting in 2001 at the Speech House Hotel in the Forest of Dean and printed in Arch Camb Vol 151 (2002). The Trustees will be reviewing the Constitution through 2015, seeking advice if necessary from the Charities Commission to see what, if any, changes need to be made. Members’ views are sought.

Meanwhile, as required by the Constitution, we give notice here that the Trustees wish to propose the following two amendments at the Annual General Meeting in Lampeter, Thursday 9 July 2015 :

‘That under section F Executive Officers, the offices of Membership Secretary and Programme Secretary be added to those of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Editor’.

‘That under section H Executive Committee, (1) shall be changed to ‘The Executive Committee shall consist of fourteen members’ (replacing twelve members). ‘

EISTEDDFOD LECTURE Wednesday August 5th 2015

The Eisteddfod is in Montgomeryshire this year, near Meifod, and the Cambrian Lecture will be given by the Rev Clive Hughes on local experiences of the First World War. The exact title is not yet available but it will be in the Societies Tent. Those who heard Clive Hughes lecture in Bodelwyddan in September will know that it will be a very interesting talk.