« PreviousContinue »
structional feature of a later date than the period mentioned, its occupation may have been continued by a family of less importance.
The house was no doubt built for the accommodation of the family of a man of some position, but not one of exalted degree, or one in the position of lord of the manor. It is more likely to have been the residence of the seneschal of a manor or an esquire. It was a defensive rather than a fortified residence-that is, it was made capable of defence against robbers or casual attack, but it could not resist an armed force, and could not be made the base of offensive operations, so that the objection which led to the removal of the adjoining castle did not apply to it. The erection of this house seems to have followed some time after the destruction of Dyserth Castle in A.D. 1263.
An interesting example of a stone-built structure of this class is to be found at Coch willan, parish of Llanllechid, near Bangor, in Carnarvonshire, which is described in Arch. Čamb., 1866, pp. 132-6, by J. E. (Rev. John Earle, M.A.), and pp. 303-5, op. cit., by E. L. B. (Rev. Ed. L. Barnwell, M.A., Ruthin). It was then“ an antiquated barn-like structure,” 67 ft. by 26 ft. externally. The two end apartments were used as stable and cowhouse, the apartments over as haylofts. E. L. B. points out that the solar was above, and in this he is correct, as the word originally signified an upper chamber or loft ; solarium, a sunny chamber. The term was afterwards applied to the lower apartment or withdrawing room.
J. E. mentions that “Griffith ap Gwilym of Penrhyn, about A.D. 1360, gave Coch willan to his second son Robert, known as Robert of Cochwillan.” The woodwork of a remaining partition exhibits some beautiful carving of that period, and there is a fine hammer beam roof of probably a century later, which, with a groundplan, are illustrated in the volume referred to.
PRE-HISTORIC REMAINS ON THE UPLANDS
OF NORTH CARNARVONSHIRE
By W. BEZANT LOWE, MA. This upland district is roughly bounded on the north by Dwygyfylchi, Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan, and Bodsilin (near Aber); on the south, by that portion of the “ Roman road " which runs from the entrance to the Anafon Valley, past the “ Meeting of the Tracks” above Llanfairfechan, to Ro Wen; on the east, by the Conway Valley; and on the west, by the valley extending from Gorddinog, past Rhiwiau Ucha, to the entrance to the Anafon Valley. It abounds in prehistoric remains, of which up to the present no connected description has been given.
Hitherto, no unmistakable traces of Paläolithic man have been found in this part of Carnarvonshire, but of Neolithic man there is striking evidence. The frequency of pre-historic remains in the uplands can fairly easily be explained. The lowlands were swampy, and probably covered with forest growths, and those portions which were occupied have had the traces of former occupation obliterated by continual tillage, and by the employment of the materials for the building of walls,' gateposts, etc. On the other hand, the uplands were, in all probability, more frequently woods or pasture lands, and there was not the same necessity for clearing them. Moreover, the primitive inhabitants would cling to the more mountainous regions, because of the ease with which they could be defended against the marauding excursions of other tribes, and there would be a plentiful supply of stones close at hand. An attempt at classification will always be difficult, for several reasons.
1 Archdeacon Evans, in his History of Pentrevoelas (MS.), states that in 1803 most of the remains of the Carneddau in that district were carried off for mountain walls under an “ Enclosure Act.”
As far as this district is concerned, there was a period, in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, when very many of the tumuli, etc., were opened, and their contents removed; but it has been almost impossible to trace any of the objects then
As a more modern illustration of this, a stone cist was opened at Llanfairfechan in 1886, and, in the description of it, the fact is mentioned that there were numerous pieces of bones and fragments of pottery. These have entirely disappeared, and only by a mere chance were a few fragments found by the writer in another part of the district.
The pre-historic remains naturally divide themselves into two groups :-(1) Burial places ; (2) Dwelling places, including hill fortresses.
It is proposed to take them in order, and to describe the most important of each of these omitting the hill fortresses. The local megalithic chambers may
be roughly assigned to the Neolithic Age, and the tumuli, etc., mostly to the Bronze Age, but it must be remembered that these two merge into one another. The cromlechs or dolmens probably were the graves of chieftains, and may indicate the old Neolithic centres of population." They may have borne some resemblance to the primitive dwelling, and it is interesting to note that these megalithic structures occur in those districts where there was a supply of suitable stones.
The only cromlech remaining in the district under review is
CROMLECH MAEN Y BARDD. This is on the north side of the Roman Road leading from Bwlch-y-Ddeufaen to Ro Wen, and about 1. mile from the latter place, situated in a wall that joins the road at right angles.
1 "The Early Settlers in Carnarvonshire," by Sir E. Anwyl, M.A., in Arch. Camb., 1904, p. 197.
It consists of a capstone resting on four upright stones. The capstone measures about 12 feet 9 inches by 8 feet in its greatest length and width, its thickness being about 24 feet. The average height of the supports is about 4 feet 4 inches. The entrance is S. by E. It is locally known as “Cwt y Filiast," and is sometimes called “Cwt y Bugail” (Shepherd's Hut), but perhaps this latter term may apply to a stone cist close by.
Not far from Maen y Bardd was a large cromlech, “Cae'r Bardd,” and under this “ a great thickness of ashes." Unfortunately, this has been broken up to build walls some years ago.
in 1860, Mr. J. 0. Halliwell, F.R.S., noticed a fine cromlech about a mile from Ro Wen, after passing westward a farm-house called Buarth; it was on the right-band side, a few yards from the road, and in the line of a loose wall; it consisted of “four upright stones surmounted by a very large rude slab.” In a MS. of date 1772 it is called “Llech yr ast. In August, 1911, its situation was located by the writer, but all that remained was a number of large stones, blasted.
About 50 yards to the east of Cromlech Maen y Bardd, is a good example of a megalithic cist.
The chamber is situated on ground slightly sloping to the S.E., and the capstone projects only a little above the present surface of the ground. The cist is roughly in the centre of a mound, the longer diameter of which (from N.E. to S.W.) is about 26 feet. On the S.E. side are three stones, situated at distances of 12 feet 5 inches, 13 feet 2 inches, and 10 feet 3 inches respectively, from the eastern extremity of the N.E. upright. There is also a large stone at the S.W. end of the mound. The entrance is at the east ends of the S.E. and N.E. sides, and is 2 feet 5 inches wide. The opposite corner has no large upright stone, but the gap of about 3 feet is filled up with rounded stones. The four stones mentioned above evidently form the outer ring of the mound, and may bave been covered with earth. The interior of the cist is approximately rectangular in plan.
In Carnarvonshire, toward the beginning of the Bronze Age, the covering mounds of cists were circular