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The apartment at the right hand or east end of the building is the solar or retiring room, also partitioned off. The floor here was probably higher than the body of the hall, and the partition was movable, to connect it with the hall so that the end could be used as a dais or place of honour at the “high table” on special occasions. The space at the west or left hand on plan contained the kitchen department occupied by the servants. This portion was, like the solar, in two storeys, and the upper apartment or sleeping room was approached by a circular stone stairs formed in the thickness of the gable wall, in the position shown on the plan. A quoin of the jamb and one step still in situ indicate clearly the position and structure of the stairs. The end or gable wall at this portion was made of greater thickness (about 4 ft.) so as to afford space in it for the circular stairs leading to the upper apartment, and in order to reduce this thickness, where not required for structural purposes, a recess was formed in the wall which also added to the internal space of the kitchen. The bulk of masonry was still further reduced at the angles, where, having the support of the end walls, a mass was not required, and there the masonry above the foundations was broached in the form of low buttresses in the position indicated on the plan. This gable shows considerable skill in its design, judging from what remains of it. There was no appear. ance of a well within the building at the time of the Society's visit, but there was a small pit in the centre of the floor a few feet in depth.
There was an upper floor over the solar approached by a separate stairs or timber steps. The apartments over the solar were occupied by the family, and those over the kitchen were used by the servants.
Each had their own stairs, and they were separated by the upper portion of the hall, so that there was no con
1 The possibility of a later fireplace and oven having been built into the gable arises, but though not negatived is not supported by existing conditions,
nection between these subsidiary rooms at each end. In the east wall there is a projection which might have been made for the purpose of a fireplace or an oriel window, either of which would have been introduced about the middle of the fifteenth century.
The solar was probably lighted by windows in the east wall as well, but there are now no traces indicative of such openings. The arrow slits commanding both the entrances are clearly discernible.
In some of the earlier houses of this type the entrance door opens directly into the hall, and it is just possible this may have been the arrangement here, in which case the division between the hall and kitchen would have been nearer the west gable, as at A, and the hall would have been larger and the kitchen smaller. It is difficult to locate precisely the position of the timber work or indicate the divisions of the kitchen department, which would contain a pantry for food and a buttery where drink was served usually through a batch in the partition. The solar also had a space partitioned off near the stairs enclosure for such small stores as were too large for the wooden chest. At the rear of the house there was a small enclosure and some less permanent building or outhouse, frequently an occasional kitchen, called “outshuts," where rougher cooking with larger fires was done, but of this there appears to be no trace at present.
The latest examples of remains of this kind that I have had an opportunity of investigating is at Rathumney, County Wexford, where, during the present year, the building has been offered for vesting under the Ancient Monuments Protection Acts. The plan herewith will assist in showing the great similarity in the general design of the two structures, with, of course, the necessary variations in detail.
The Rathumney house has the hall, solar, and kitchen as at Dyserth. It has a circular stairs leading from the solar to the family sleeping apartments above, while the access to the servants' rooms was by means of a ladder stairs. There is a small store, where indicated, beside the stairs. The solar is the same width as the hall, 21 ft. 3 in., the width of the hall at Dyserth being 21 ft. The length over all of ball and kitchen at Rathumney is 54 ft. 6 in., and the similar dimensions of Dyserth are 53 ft. 6 in. The floor space within the walls of Rathumney is 1572) ft. super. The floor space of Dyserth is 15882 ft. super., and though the practical equality of space in the two houses may be accidental, it is possible there may have been a recognised standard of accommodation
Ground Plan of Mediæval House at Rathumney, County Wexford,
known locally as Rathumney “Castle"
for dwellings of this class. At Rathumney, which in many respects is of the better construction of the two, fireplaces have been introduced in the solar and the room above it, and the windows of the hall were reconstructed at a later date.
I assign the foundation of Rathumney to the early thirteenth century, and its occupation may have continued over the sixteenth century. Dyserth would appear to be of later foundation, and fell into disuse earlier. A fairly approximate period may be taken as beginning at the end of the thirteenth century or a little later, and continuing until the end of the fifteenth; and though it does not exhibit any con
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
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 Cochwillan, parish of Llanllechid, near Bangor, in Carnarvonshire, which is described in Arch. Camb., 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.”