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Roman Plumbing at Isca

“It is to be observed that the pipes take the names of their sizes from the quantity of digits in width of the sheets, before they are bent round: thus, if the sheet be fifty digits wide, before bending into a pipe, it is called a fiftydigit pipe; and so of the rest.”

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: de Architectura, Book VIII

The word plumber dates from the Roman period, in Latin lead is plumbum; those that worked the lead, the plumbers, were known as the  plumbarii and of course the symbol for lead is Pb in the periodic table.

“Dave, you’re in trench six today with Rob, is that ok?”

At first I thought that was a joke for I knew what was in trench six. Quite unashamedly, I wanted a part of it. It had been unearthed some days earlier and Time Team had already been in there so that they could be filmed having a little crack at it. Its how television works. I knew lead pipe had been found at Caerleon before, an eleven metre section had been recovered from the School Field excavations in 1928, but to be part of this one was an amazing, selfish, opportunity.

Lead water main, 17cm gauge, School Field, 1928

Funnily enough, even though I knew what had been found I hadn’t had the time to go and actually see it until the night before I ended up in the trench. We had been so busy in trench two that the other trenches had no concern for me. The pipe had been adequately protected by a plastic sheet.

Lead pipe

The spur interested me, to see a welded joint from this period that was obviously still in-situ is rare indeed. To have a spur of a smaller bore to the main pipe was even better. When a water system is gravity fed, as this one would have been, there are two ways to increase pressure. The most obvious way is to increase the incline of the pipe so that the water runs through it at a faster pace. The other way of achieving pressure is to tap the main pipe with a smaller bore. The pressure from the larger bore is immediately increased. This is what we appeared to have in this instance. The big question was why? The favourite theory was that it led to, and then, powered a fountain. Well, did you expect anything else?

With the plastic removed, a quick clean of what what was there began to give a better insight into what we had.

So, not only did we have a smaller bore but it appeared to be falling at a steeper angle to its larger supplier, increasing the pressure even more. As you can see (at the bottom of the picture) the pipe had a wall constructed around it and it was the other side of this wall that had to be excavated next to see if the remains of the pipe continued or had it been robbed out in antiquity.

This turned into quite a difficult task. There was not much room to play with, I couldn’t really place my feet on the wall as it had been semi cleaned, rendering the masonry unstable, and the extension to the trench was not at all large for somebody of my height. To top it all off the local media had published that Time Team were going to be present over the Bank Holiday weekend. They weren’t, they had left on the Friday but the hoards of public visitors increased no end. As much as you concentrate on the job in hand, having between 20-50 members of the public standing at the edge of a trench you are working in does slow you up. Its a distraction. Nevertheless, if it was not for the public tours the next picture would not have been possible. Thank you Lynda, you’re a darling.

It was incredibly cramped in there!

With your ankles next to your rear end, your knees next to your chest, and having to concentrate on what your trowel reveals, is a tiring exercise. After carefully excavating what was in front of me, I had to turn around and excavate what was behind me – without disturbing what I had just uncovered, or the remains of the wall. My knees went first, the back second but I didn’t tell anyone; determination carried me through. I am glad it did, the pipe did carry on but not as we thought it may have. It had collapsed at some point which meant that it was at a much lower level than expected.

Next up was the cleaning of what you can see in the right hand side of the photograph above. That was going to be at the forefront of the photograph for publication. The key with that is that you carefully remove all of the soil that is around the masonry without disturbing it whatsoever. For sure you will disturb one or two of the smaller stones but by and large they have to be kept intact, removing them would destroy any possible hope you may glean of understanding the construction and/or the collapse of what was there. The majority of this was achieved using a small implement known in archaeological circles as a leaf and square [trowel], they are tiny.

It was the most painstaking but rewarding work I have ever done, The resulting pictures should give you a clue as to how it turned out.

 


The day after I was sent to another trench. I never did get the opportunity to de-construct the overlying wall, which was a shame. But that’s the thing with a training excavation, there is no ‘I’ in team, other students had to have the opportunity to finish off what I was lucky enough to have started. Before I had even got to trench six there had been a hoard of students and volunteers slaving away in there, for weeks on end. I believe that I was the lucky one to have been able to clean the pipe up. That’s life I guess. Some you win, some you lose.

The pipe was fully excavated by the time the trench was closed down. Take a look.

Next up, lets go back to the CBM and the Legionary Fortress’ of Wales – That will be a big pile of fun.

MD

Volunteering on the Caerleon Excavations 2011 – Trench One

During the summer of 2010, Cardiff University continued with a large scale excavation within the legionary fortress of Caerleon. This was part of the Priory Field Excavations 2007-2010. While there, as part of their under-graduate degree, the students undertook a huge geophysical survey of the fields to the south of the amphitheatre. This produced quite remarkable results and the resulting interpretation of the survey shows a monumental complex lying next to the river Usk.

How the fortress and port may have looked like in AD74

Those of you that have visited the amphitheatre at Caerleon will be able to recognise the sheer scale of the construction - It dwarves it in comparison.

This exciting discovery was released to the press in August 2010 as test pits in the area were being excavated. One  of the test pits was placed quite close to the river Usk and it threw up a wall built entirely of tegula. These are roof tiles and when used in conjunction with imbrices they formed a durable  and waterproof roof covering.

Each tegula (a) overlaps the one below it and its raised lateral borders tapering in to nestle between its lower tile's upper border. Each curved imbrix (b) covers the side ridges of the joints formed between adjacent tegulae. Some imbrices are not shown in order to reveal the details of the tegular joints.

So why on earth were they used during wall construction? Obviously they are waterproof so they would be ideal for a port but the port excavated in Caerleon by Boon in the late 60’s produced walls built entirely out of masonry. A comparable  had to be found. Dr Peter Guest found that the port walls in Ostia – Harbour City of Ancient Rome were built of the same Ceramic Building Material (CBM) and armed with this information he approached CADW with a plan for nine evaluation trenches during this summer. The laying out of the trenches was undertaken by Tim Young of Geoarch and he blogged his activities for The Day of Archaeology 2011.

© Geoarch

As you can see, most of the trenches were of the same size. Two metres wide and twenty metres long. Only two were different, trench one and trench three. Evaluation trenches are just that, they are there to evaluate what the archaeological remains could be. It is minimum invasion for maximum information. As it was already thought what was known in the area of trench one, permission was granted for a larger area to be evaluated. Trench three had the same area to be excavated as the rest of the trenches, forty square metres, but the shape was different at ten metres by four. After a brief spell in trench five, it was trench one that I ended up in.

The wall had already been re-exposed by the time I got there. The photograph to the right is facing an easterly direction. The right hand side of the photograph is near to the Usk and the test pit excavated in 2010 can be seen at the bottom.  As the trench was widened the tegula wall majestically extended across the width of the excavated area. For some reason the Roman engineers had built the wall slightly wider than the width of the actual tile. To do this, each tile was roughly split down the middle and then each course was laid down using clay mortar – thus ensuring a water tight barrier.

One of the first questions that I asked myself was why construct the wall wider than the tiles? The tiles could quite easily have been moulded in a different size. Judging by the scratch marks on the back of each tile the moulds were probably made of timber and as such, easily made or easily altered. That not being the case there must have been another reason why these tiles were used and the answer may lie in the fact that they were mass produced. Is it possible that these tiles were the result of surplus production? It would certainly fit in with the amount of CBM used as walling found in other trenches around the site. If that is correct, how on earth did the Roman military machine, normally so efficient when it comes to construction, allow so much surplus material to be manufactured?

I could probably give umpteen reasons for the use of this material ranging from it being easier to use construction wise, to the tiles being seconds or broken during the manufacturing process. Each theory would be hard to argue against.

That is not the end of this particular story in trench one. On they went, deeper and deeper to try and get a further understanding of the archaeology.

This is the eastern side of trench looking towards the Usk. Interestingly a river cobble foundation was used to support the riverside wall.

Looking from the Usk side at the same wall you may notice a dark staining of soil right next to the wall. This is probably the remains of timber, possible used as part of a jetty projecting out into the Usk. This development would give us a direct parallel to Boons excavation of his third century port lying to the west of the amphitheatre.

All in all this trench was fascinating to watch as it developed over the weeks of excavating. I haven’t revealed all of its secrets, some of which I found quite surprising. Other areas of the trench threw up some quite surprising archaeology, not least because the geophysical survey had not revealed it.

Now that was fun.

MD

Where have I been?

I’ve been busy. Ultra busy.

It all kicked off when the Council for British Archaeology launched its Day of Archaeology to take place on 29th of July 2011. It ended up jam packed with 400 archaeologists from all over the world documenting what they did on that particular day. Well, most of them anyway. Some were a little sneaky and just documented what they did as their everyday job. Others, like myself, actually wrote what we did on the day.

I posted an introduction about what I was going to attempt a week or so before the day and this was published online on the 29th. It did not go exactly to plan but as you can see lessons were learned and they will hold me in good stead for the future. So that was that, I enjoyed it, and will certainly do it again if I have the free time to take part next year.

While organising that something else popped up that I just couldn’t leave alone although what I wanted to do and what I actually ended up doing were quite different. As part of The Festival of Archaeology I visited Caerwent’s military base to be shown around by representives from CADW.

CADW's tours proved very popular

 It turned out to be an interesting day for a number of reasons. Firstly, the buildings hastily erected during the build up to World War II are quite rapidly disappearing. Apparently, a corps of the British Army know as the SAS require buildings to practise demolition on. Seeing as there were an abundance of these at Caerwent it seemed logical that they could be blown up from time to time. Now it is all well and good blowing these things up (probably for fun) but it means that unless they have been recorded there is not much left after demolition to record. CADW, thankfully, have recognised this and have duly scheduled most of the remaining buildings at Caerwent’s base to save them for future generations. And it has to be said good on them for doing so.

Saved for future generations not involving members of the SAS

The second reason why Caerwent was interesting is that I happened to meet the president of Cardiff University Archaeological Society. We had already chatted through Twitter about the possibility of me delivering a seminar, centered on Llantarnam Abbey, in the coming year, so to meet face to face was brilliant. The excavations at Caerleon cropped up in conversation and I ended up being introduced to Dr Peter Guest by the side of Trench one the following weekend…

Excavating does not really bother me, I am a non-invasive sorta guy when it comes to archaeological investigation. Saying that, I have trenched many times on various excavations. What interested me at Caerleon was not so much what was being revealed but how the whole thing was run and organised. I volunteered to help on the community archaeological side of things and my offer was duly accepted. Imagine my surprise the following weekend when I  ended up in a trench, trowel in hand!

It was thouroughly enjoyable though, the experience of a large scale excavation was gained albeit through the eyes of an excavator. Not only that, I also got to interact with the general public as open days had been organised over the Bank Holiday weekend. I took several groups around the trenches explaining along the way what was thought to be in each one.

Yours truly, addressing the general public at Caerleon

So, what was found? Where exactly did we excavate and why? Not many people realise that there has to be a reason to excavate. You have to have good reason esspecially as this land had been protected for many years.

The answers to those questions deserve a page of their own. Watch this space.

MD

An old barn, some parch marks and a possible Medieval quay.

Greece was nice. For some reason it was empty, everything was cheap and I overdosed for my sun addiction. Tenerife is next up in September. It is a hard life that I lead at the moment but I shan’t complain.

Before I went away I mentioned that I had taken two of my tutors around Llantarnam abbey. This was because I wanted to point out most of the things I had discovered down there. While waiting for them to turn up I suddenly remembered a conversation I had with a person employed by CADW. It was about Llantarnam’s so called ‘tithe barn’. It isn’t thought to be that now, it is probably post medieval but, it is one of only two things that have been granted listed building protection within the grounds. It’s a big old thing mind you. Here it is nestled behind some rather nice corrugated iron buildings.

Llantarnam's Tithe barn.

Some of you may not know who CADW are. Let them explain who they are in their own words. From their website:

Cadw is the historic environment service of the Welsh Assembly Government. ‘Cadw’ (pronounced cad-oo) is a Welsh word meaning ‘to keep’….We aim to protect the historic environment of Wales by working with partners and private owners. We want people to enjoy it, to learn from it, to preserve it for our descendants, and to share it with others.

So there you go, it seems to me that is reasonably simple. Cad-oo look after old buildings that are listed and as such they have adopted the Welsh word that means to keep.

Really?

You see I have been based at the abbey for nearly two years now. I look at stuff that I have looked at a thousand times before. You may ask why? The simple answer is that firstly, you may see things that you hadn’t spotted before, and secondly, with standing buildings, you can see any dilapidation develop. The barn is in a state of continuing dilapidation. Last summer I was horrified to see that a large crack had opened up along the top of the ventilation slits at the top of one of the gable ends. The situation is worsened as a large tree is growing against it. I took the chance of raising this issue at a lecture delivered (if that is what you could call it) by the person from CADW.

The conversation went like this.

“Llantarnam’s tithe barn is on the point of collapse, something has to be done before it is to late.”

“Of course it is about to fall down, it is old.”

That was the end of the conversation. How dare a member of the great unwashed even approach such a person from an esteemed establishment!

"Of course it is going to fall down, its old." - CADW Spokesman

This raises the issue of what CADW actually means. I know they have said that it means ‘to keep’ but in what way? ‘To keep’ a diligent eye on the buildings they are supposed to protect and acting when informed of any dangerous developments? Or ‘to keep’ doing nothing until the ‘protected buildings’ fall down? The latter seems to be more apt. Well done Cad-oo. The buildings need protecting allright, probably from the care of Cad-oo themselves.

After I had taken the photos above I walked around to the front of the abbey for no other reason than to have another look at the grand old place.

Its a wonderful setting, you become relaxed in the tranquillity of the place. Just to look at  the current building is a wonder in itself. The interior is even more elegant with grand remains of the Tudor reconstruction scattered throughout. One thing that caught my eye were some parch marks on the front lawn that I had not noticed before. Parch marks occur when the roots of the grass are depraved of moisture. This normally happens during sustained periods of dry weather and normally indicates that there is something under the subsoil preventing the roots from delving deeper to find some moisture. Get a long regular line of parched grass and you could reasonably argue that there is a stone wall or structure just lying below the surface.

Parched grass - I wonder what lies beneath the sub soil?

According to one excavator, this area of the abbey grounds contains the southern end of the Cistercian nave. It is such a shame he never published his work otherwise people may have listened to him. I am not saying he is wrong but this is the next area I have targeted for  geophysical survey. More about that if or when it happens.

While on holiday, much to the delight of my long standing and suffering wife (aww), I studied every day. Not all day I might add but nevertheless I read while taking notes for the best part of five hours on a daily basis. My word didn’t I learn a lot!

The book I decided to take away with me was titled Waterways and Canal-Building in Medieval England, Edited by John Blair. It promised a lot of potential for me in regards to the water management at the abbey.

  • The first study of canals and waterways in medieval England
  • Essays from a wide range of specialists, from geographers and geomorphologists, to place-name scholars
  • A new perspective broadening our understanding of medieval economy, landscape, and settlement in England

And it delivered. My eyes have been well and truly opened. It made me realised that I may have misinterpreted a standing structure in the Dowlais brook; it is situated within the abbeys precinct. As I had no idea what it could have been I described this structure to somebody before as ‘a long wall along The Dowlais’ bank that had a small semi-circular section cut into the bank’. They had suggested that it could be a possible baptism place as the cut into the bank would have kept the person getting wet out of the main flow of the brook. I have to say that, perhaps unfortunately, I accepted that explanation without much further thought. I did realise at the time that it would require quite a bit of further investigation.

One of my tutors was extremely sceptical on my suggestion above so I just left it up in the air until I had time for more research. As you can probably guess the probabilities came to light while I was away. I am wondering if it may have been a medieval quay. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Dowlais has been canalised, the long straight sections of it indicate that. I had always taken it as a given that this was done to enlarge the area for the inner and outer precinct of the abbey.

Straightening the Dowlais Brook enabled many things, including easier navigation (maybe).

Reading the collection of academic papers while I was away has shed new light on the possibilities of why that was actually done by the monks. Water transport of goods, cattle and construction material was the done thing in the early middle ages period. For sure there is no doubt in my mind that the precincts were opened up and enlarged by this act of engineering but the possibilities of transporting goods down (or up or probably both) this canal is, quite literally, staring me (or us) in the face.

I suppose now would be a good time to post a photo of this feature, the possible quay. It is unfortunate that I do not possess one of quality. So here is a taster, a glimpse of what is there to give you an idea of what I have described.

The semi circular feature is on the left of the picture as you look at it.

Ok, I admit that is a poor photo but!, my next quest is to get down there, clean the whole thing up and post some pictures in my one of my next blogs. Just don’t moan that I have teased, the probability is there.

An update on my last blog is that I have a meeting with Torfaen’s heritage officer tomorrow, watch this space.

MD

Adolf, his footmen and Torfaen’s heritage strategy

It has been a funny old week you know. Since I last wrote, quite a few things have happened and I am not to sure where to start explaining things.

I fly today, I am off to (hopefully) sunnier climes as I have had a gutsful of the British summer, or should I say the lack of it. I need sunshine, it is a fix, a drug if you like, and in this country I am not getting enough of it to cure and satisfy my needs. I am a sunshine person, I need it as a bolster.

But lets start with death. A person died  a few weeks back – it will probably happen to us all – and the daughter of the deceased gentleman had entered her dads attic to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Rubbish was thrown out, personal stuff was kept, but what could have been of a general interest to the general public was donated to the Museum Trust where I work. There were books, a lot of them. Mainly children’s books from the early 50’s onwards, they held a lot of interest as they were earmarked to enter the handling collection for our current little lot to see and understand how literature was delivered in times past. That’s great stuff but as I stood there witnessing what had been brought in a small plastic bag drew my attention. I took a peek and immediately ran off to find myself a pair of cotton gloves so that I could handle the donation.

It was a leather belt adorned with regimental badges from around the country. I laid it out to take a photograph.

One has to wonder where the badges came from; where they collected in the field, sought after at collectors markets or even exchanged during reunions? Whatever, the belt was duly accessioned into the museums collection for future generations to ponder over.

As I placed the belt back into its bag something else caught my eye. Shiny, small and tight. It was a WWII infantry mans cutlery set. Nobody else had noticed it was there, I was the only one wearing gloves at the time, it was mine to examine first. These things are incredibly tightly packaged. They have to be. Used daily, they have to be hard wearing, practicable and easily accessible.

As I disassembled it something caught my eye, it was part of the engineering process that I had never really thought about before. I am a non-military man, I never felt the need, my Granddad did, although he had no choice (more of that in a later blog). You may notice that the end of the handle of the knife there is a small recess engineered into its construction.

I had not realised that the last thing you need, when at war, was the end of a fork digging into your hip or other parts of your anatomy for that matter. I think it would have been  an unwelcome distraction. It is precision engineering of the highest quality. Then, as I turned the cutlery set over, something else, a surprise, clouted my eye balls.

The stamp of the Third Reich.

You have to hand it to Adolf, for all of the bloody carnage and misery he brought to the world at least he cared for his footmen. Aw bless.

As interesting as it is, enough of that nonsense. When in work I enjoy myself. I do as I am told as quickly and efficiently as possible. Time is money and money matters. I never scowl, get bored or have major issues with the curator, there is just no point. Enjoy your work, enjoy your life. And I do. It works.

I was asked to comment on Torfaens heritage strategy this week. I rather large bundle of historical blurb drawn up by some consultant or another. It made me angry in work so I brought it home. It was riddled with historical mistakes. Actually it was jam packed with historical mistakes and the night before  last I started drawing up a draft to to Torfaens Heritage officer on what was what. I finished it yesterday morning, two thousand words of common sense has been delivered by Electronic Mail.

James Bond is the most brilliant monastic landscape historian. An unfortunate name, perhaps, but nonetheless he knows his onions on that particular subject. In his introduction he mentions something that I can relate to. Mention monastic landscapes to some historians and you can immediately see their interest wane, they almost start to fall asleep in front of your eyes. Not me though, my eyes widen with interest and my brain cell switches to on mode. That is down to Llantarnam Abbey, my study there, and its granges.

I had the pleasure of taking two of my tutors around the grounds of Llantarnam on Monday of this week. I have been worried about the amount of research I have collated over the last two years and what was to be left out of my dissertation. After a four hour tour they have thankfully pointed me in the right direction while giving me focus for my study. The pressure is off. The dissertation will now be delivered on Medieval water management in and around Cwmbran.

That means I will not deliver my research on Llantarnam’s granges, well not all of it anyway. This is what I said about some of them in my E-Mail to the heritage officer.

While we are on the subject of Llantarnam abbey I would like to bring up its granges and their potential importance to tourism. 
Llanderfel is mentioned later on in the report as a SAM but not in the key site list. Yes we know it was a chapel, the detail that is missing is that it was a grange chapel for those working the land – the lay brothers. The grange farm house is still there and the geophysical survey has thrown up the possibility of a large barn next to the chapel. Place name evidence indicates that it was a farm dedicated to the production of oats and that the field where the kiln was situated to dry those oats can be located from old maps. Further, 150 acres of Llanderfel’s land was assarted and the evidence for this can still be viewed within the landscape through existing field boundaries.
Pentre Bach grange is not listed. This is one of the key sites attributed to Llantarnam. It probably has the earliest use of brick in Gwent and demands further investigation. It probably had an earlier use as part of a multiple estate. These were post Roman in date and really pushes Torfaen’s historical record on quite a bit. The evidence for these is rare but Pentre Bach has probably mutated from Pen Tref – Head of the estate. The Llys is nearby (Henllys) with its church and royal seat of power, the Mayors land is named as is the bishops land. This area of history requires quite a lot of research, I am going to offer it to a fellow student of mine for his master degree. We can only hope he takes up the offer.
The Dorallt grange is still sat in the landscape above the public house of the same name. On the subject of the public house, an argument could be constructed to say that is probably located on medieval buildings belonging to the grange. The Dorallt grange was dedicated to sheep rearing and it has the remains of two fulling mills nearby. The fulling mills were for the preparation of the wool prior to spinning, not sale as is commonly thought. The abbey had a lot of sheep.
That was just of the top of my head, I could expand even more across the mynydd.
Now for those that are interested in Monastic landscape that sort of detail would pull them in. I realise that it is not everybody’s cup of tea but there is a whole swathe of people and organised societies dedicated to visiting them across Britain and Europe. Its an area that is ripe to be exploited.

Will they listen? I doubt it.

Right then, I hope you all have a good week, I am off to Corfu and some Greek archaeology. I can assure you, it will be a blast.

MD

My first blog, what on earth do I write?

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.

MD.