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My first blog, what on earth do I write?

June 20, 2011

Oh well, I thought I had better give this a go after welshwaller and I had another chat on Monday night. “Get a blog, you should do one.” He is right I suppose and it was not the first time he had offered that advice. So with a bit of luck this blog will take off, some helpful comments will be returned and perhaps all will be better in this part of the world.

Or will it?

You see, I say what I think and that is not necessarily what I have been taught. I regularly sit in my lectures thinking, ‘Nah, that is not quite right’; at first I questioned my tutor but not any more. I have learnt that there is a time and place for that and the lecture theatre – if that is what you can call what I sit in – is certainly not the place. Sometimes, that does land me in hot water but there you go. If everybody in this game repeated what they were taught, the game would not develop, it would stagnate and that would be a bad thing indeed.

I am currently a student in South East Wales, I am supposedly studying regional history but the  course is based on the landscape and the historical clues that lie within in it. And I enjoy it, immensely.

So what exactly do I do, what is it that drives me to walk Lord knows how many miles a month through fields, woods and up bloody steep mountains? The answer is easy, it is the historical regional identity of my home town, Cwmbran. The historical Jack Boot that is stamped on my town is that of one that only really developed from the industrial period onwards. There is no mistaking that it did, that is an impossible fact to deny, but the clues that have not been looked for, that of an earlier history,  are there to be grabbed if you know what to look for. And look for them I have, quite successfully in a lot of cases. More of that in the future methinks.

On Monday night I gave a short talk on the possible prehistoric and Roman finds located on Mynydd Maen, the mountain that my home town nestles, quite neatly, against. It was delivered to the Cymdeithas Twmbarlwm Society. They have been set up to protect the Iron age ‘fort’ against destruction by off road bikers. That’s fair enough and best of luck to them. The talk was well received even if the weather did affect the attendance. I had included a few possibles that needed further investigation. Some were Neolithic sites, some may have been Bronze age sites and along with those there is the possibility of an Iron age field system sitting on the Mynydd, although I didn’t have time to discuss that.

The following day I started thinking about the evidence I had to leave out, stuff I take for granted. Henllys (Old Court) the 13c Medieval church from which the above photo was taken from, has been massively overlooked. Llys sites are known in Wales to have been royal seats of power in the post Roman period, known as the early medieval period its the big one in Wales where everybody looks upon as being difficult to investigate. Why? The clues are there in the place names alone. There are loads in and around Cwmbran to complement Henllys.

The Monastic grange of the Dorallt, its there and it has two  pandy place names attached to it. Pandy place names tell us that there were mills there dedicated to the cleaning and thickening of wool prior to spinning (not sale as is commonly thought). The Dorallt pub itself is known as post medieval, is it? Of course it is, it has to be as its in Cwmbran.

Next in line is Llanderfel chapel. Sat in tithed lands belonging to Llantarnam abbey, this chapel may have earlier origins.

The Blaen Bran Community Woodland Trust has a farm house that screams for more attention due to its standing architecture. Welshwaller touched on it here.

The abbey itself has been over looked. Founded in the late 12c, nobody has looked at its landscape at all. It is practically untouched since Medieval times. Construction work continues apace down there. Holes in the ground are dug, does anybody keep a close on it? No, it is in Cwmbran, a New town, one that was born from the Industrial period onwards. I don’t think so.

And so the quest begins. It will be a long one which will be difficult along the way. The challenge is there to overcome.



From → Uncategorized

  1. Oh good !! Now you can upset the Archaeological world…… Well done MD.

  2. I thought you needed help in that regard! I do not think that will be the case though, unless they disagree with me of course 🙂

  3. TheRooster permalink

    excellent to see you on this bud and looking forward to your posts – just watch the language ok…..

    • Yeah, yeah. I have something for you, it is a map, an old one of Pembrokeshire.

      And, it is free, courtesy of Torfaen Museum Trust.

  4. Dave not doing as he is told? Perish the thought! Look forward to reading more of your iconoclastic ramblings and chortling with delight as the establishment blows a collective gasket.


  5. Welshblood permalink

    Will follow avidly!

  6. ken douglas permalink

    will follow eagerly cheers ken

  7. Am I the forst person that you don’t know to comment? This kind of stuff fascinates me – Welsh “history” used to be all about Anglo-Norman Castles. Now it’s about Anglo-Norman and Welsh native castles. Your interest (obsession?) with the local archaeology of Cwmbrân is something that is bound to turn up new, fascinating, illuminating stuff, regardless of whether it fits in with orthodox thinking. You are doing something that I would love to have done had my life taken a different turn, so good luck to you – kick over some tables, bloody some noses, find some real-life historical treasures in your own back yard… That is what real archaeology should be about!

    I will be following you avidly.

    All the best


    • Iestyn, thank you, what a brilliant reply.

      And yes, why not bloody a few noses? It is something that has to be done unfortunately. I think I will have to be quite gentle to start off with though.

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