February - Annual Day School

Fragments from Antiquity: Recent Archaeological Work in Carmarthenshire by Cambria Archaeology

As usual, the meeting was held at the Ferryside Education Centre. The speakers were all members of staff of Cambria Archaeology, which is the marketing name for the Dyfed Archaeological Trust and the meeting was chaired by Dr. Barry Burnham, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Lampeter University and Chairman of Cambria Archaeology.

Gwilym Hughes, the Trust's Director, gave a brief overview of the work carried out by the Trust in protecting, recording, managing and maintaining the archaeological and historical heritage of Dyfed. Many sites have been in the Trust's care for a long time but an increasing number are being recorded for the first time.

Ken Murphy, principal Archaeologist and Deputy Director of the Trust, then spoke of the recent excavation of an early Neolithic enclosure and Bronze Age barrow cemetery at Cwm Meudwy, Llandyssul, one of the six hundred known sites in Wales. With the aid of illustrations he then compared this site with some of the better-known sites in Carmarthenshire.

Dr. Nikki Cook, a Project Manager with the Trust, was unable to attend and a colleague read her paper on her recent survey of the Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual sites in Carmarthenshire. These included chamber tombs, burial mounds and standing stones, which date to the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. These, the oldest surviving monuments, indicate a settled landscape for over 5000 years agoand her illustrations provided the capacity audience with a vivid impression of the monuments in their stark setting.

Gwilym Hughes concluded the morning session by discussing the newly discovered Roman Fort at Llandeilo. Numerous Roman finds in the area, such as a milestone from the time of the Emperor Tacitus (273 - 276 AD), two coin hoards and many pottery shards, had led archaeologists to believe that it was likely that there had been a fort in or near Llandeilo, mid-way on the road between Carmarthen and Llandovery. However its location remained a mystery until the good weather of summer 2003 showed crop marks of an ancient site in Dynevor Park. A magnetron geophysical survey clearly showed two forts, one superimposed on the other. It is intended to carry out a further survey using ground probing radar before embarking on an archaeological dig which may give the reasons why the first fort was abandoned and then re-established as a garrison. The survey showed clear evidence of roads to Llandovery (Alabum), Carmarthen (Maridinum) and Loughor (Leucarum).

The afternoon session began with Neil Ludlow, a Project Manager with particular interest in the medieval archaeology and buildings of Wales, who gave an illustrated review of the archaeological work carried out at Carmarthen Castle over the last ten years. Alterations and additions to the castle at different periods of the its history are now becoming much clearer.

All these images are copyright of Cambria Archaeology. There are many more on their website.


Cairns on the hills of east Carmarthenshire

 


Medieval Carmarthen


A deserted house in a bleak landscape

 


Llandyfan Forge

Paul Sambrook's (Project Manager, Heritage Management) lectured on deserted rural settlements. The numerous ruins of habitations in remote upland areas, particularly the hundreds scattered over the Mynydd Du (Black Mountains), show that these bleak landscapes once supported a considerable, if not a thriving, population.

Nigel Page, a Project Manager with special interest in post-medieval archaeology, brought the day to a close with a paper on his survey of the early iron working industry in Carmarthenshire. This included the Ponthenri furnace and the Llandyfan forge, both important centres of industry long before the major industrialisation of the east of the county.

An article "Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites in Carmarthenshire" by Nikki Cook appears in the 2003 edition of The Antiquary together with shorter articles by Gwilym Hughes on the Roman fort at Dinefwr Park and Neil Ludlow on Carmarthen castle. Copies are available from Terry Wells in the Carmarthenshire Record Office. (twells@carmarthenshire.gov.uk).

 

March - The Buckley Memorial Lecture

Llanelli Periodicals in the Nineteenth Century

The Buckley Memorial Lecture ws established by the Society to honour the memory of Major Kemmis Buckley whose foresight and prudence contributed greatly to the success of the Society over much of the second half of the twentieth century. He served as chairman in the sixties being elected president from 1971 until he retired in 1996, when he became President Emeritus.

The inaugural lecture was held on Saturday, 20th March 2004 at Llandovery College, the topic being chosen to reflect one of Major Buckley's many interests. Dr. Huw Walters, Head of Bibliography of Wales Unit at the National Library of Wales, noted that some 1074 periodicals were published in Wales between 1735 and 1900, mainly in Welsh. There were three important publishing houses in Llanelli , those of Revd David Rees, David Williams and James Davies.

David Rees was born in Trelech and became the minister of Capel Als in 1829. When Brutus's 'Yr Efengylydd' ceased publication in Llandovery in 1835 Rees was persuaded to invest £500 in a printing office in Water Street, from where he published 'Y Diwygiwr'. The journal contained biographical details of eminent Welsh independent ministers, Nonconformist matters, home and foreign news together with discussions of political issues. His views on tithes and the rights of the Church of England brought him into conflict with the vicar of Llanelli, the notorious Ebenezer Morris. He was sympathetic to the Chartists and Rebecca Rioters and was denounced in an Edinburgh journal as an agitator and a danger to the state. He also published journals for the temperance movement, children's periodicals and ' Y Gymraes', sponsored by Lady Llanover, which was intended to raise the profile of women in society.

David Williams went into partnership with David Rees in Water Street. He started publishing the 'Llanelly Guardian' in 1863, a periodical which survived until 1953. Many other publications came from this publishing house, mostly to do with religious and moral issues. The third publisher was James Davies who operated at Bres Building in Murray Street. He produced, mainly local trade directories, a reflection of the growing industrialisation of the town and the surrounding area.

Together with Arthur Mee, who published 'Carmarthenshire Notes', all these publications are valuable as records of contemporary thought, vital to local and family historians, during a period of rapid industrial and population growth in Llanelli.

Molly Rees

 

Huw Walters is a prolific contributor to The Antiquary. Recent articles include:

"Emma Goldman, Queen of Anarchy: the Carmarthenshire Connection" , 2003

"Ar Drywydd 'Lamp y Cymro' and (with Bill Jones) "On the American Frontier:Amman Valley Emigrants in Texas 1879 -80" , 2001

"David Rees Griffiths ('Amanwy'), 1882 - 1953", 1999

"Gwasg Gyfnodol Tref Llanymddyfri, 1773-1856", 1994

"Eryr Glyn Cothi", 1993

"Sherlyn Benchwiban: unig Anterliwt Sir Gâr" (short article), 1992

Copies are available from Terry Wells in the Carmarthenshire Record Office. (twells@carmarthenshire.gov.uk).