Page images

feature consists of the photographs of the Crowther's Camp hoard of Bronze implements which are preserved, some at Powis Castle, others in the public museums of Welshpool, Shrewsbury and Ludlow.

The volume concludes with a full Index.

In a series of five articles, which the writer of this review contributed in November and December, 1911, to the Montgomeryshire Express, he has pointed out a few unimportant omissions and inaccuracies in the Inventory.

Mr. Edward Owen, the Editor of the Inventory, as well as the Secretary to the Commission, has thanked him for pointing out these blemishes, without in every case acknowledging that they were blemishes. It is then unnecessary that the same ground should be covered again here. Accuracy and precision are the most noteworthy features of the volume, both as a whole and in detail. must have entailed some hard work on its Editor's part.


It would be ridiculous to consider the antiquities of Montgomeryshire without considering first certain physical features which must affect the habits and actions of past and present inhabitants.

We are accustomed to think of Wales as consisting of two nearly equal portions, North Wales and South Wales; but Wales would be far more accurately divided into West Wales, almost entirely Welsh-speaking, and East Wales, almost entirely Englishspeaking. Montgomeryshire belongs to East Wales with the exception of the Cantref of Cyfeiliog (containing Machynlleth) and part of the Cantref of Mallwyd (the rest lying in Merionethshire). The mediæval kingdom of Powys included rather more of West Wales and a great deal more of East Wales. Plynlymon forms an effective barrier between these two divisions of Wales, some rivers flowing into Cardigan Bay, the others into England. Montgomeryshire has no sea-board, though the tidal waters of the Dovey come very near it. Nor had it any large lakes from the time that the surface of the earth assumed its present general outline until the Liverpool Water Board came to its assistance.

"The geological structure of the district did not lead to the formation of caves or fissures in which early man might have left his bones and his implements, nor was he drawn hither by the presence of flint, which would have resulted in the establishment of rude trade centres and routes." Again, the Severn and its tributaries make some of the easiest approaches from England into West Wales, so that we find remains of positions guarding these approaches.

Also lead has been the only metal worked to any large extent in the County. Quarrying never appears to have been carried on upon a large scale. Agriculture and wool have been the chief sources of employment and of wealth.

Now let us work our way down the outline of classification given above.




In Montgomeryshire Tumuli abound on the Kerry Hills and near Staylittle, in the parish of Trefeglwys; while there are a few near Welshpool and in the neighbourhood of Cemmes. One of the last was opened up in the autumn of 1911.

Carneddau are found in large numbers on the slopes of Plynlymon and in the basin of the Vyrnwy.

The finest circle of stones in Powys is that known as Mitchell's Fold, beneath Corndon, in the parish of Shelve, Shropshire. In Montgomeryshire there are four such circles, one on Kerry Hill, two in Llanbrynmair, and one in Llanrhaiadr-ym-Mochnant.

Of Meini Hirion the best known in Montgomeryshire is Maen Beuno, lying between the village of Berriew and the River Severn. Mr. Worthington G. Smith's drawing, reproduced in the Inventory, shows the glacial markings on the stone. Legends have sprung up around the Darowen Stones and "the covenant stones of Owen Glyndwr" in the parish of Uwch-y-Garreg. The standing stones of Trefeglwys mark the course of the Roman road to the lead mines.

Cromlechau or Dolmens do not appear in Montgomeryshire, but there may be one doubtful example in Llanerfyl parish. The Commissioners, however, believe Neolithic man to have inhabited this County, as well as Clun Forest, Denbighshire and Flintshire, where he has left traces.

At Craig Rhiwarth in the parish of Llanrhaiadr-ym-Mochnant are about sixty hut circles. There are also the foundations of two hut circles near Twr Gwyn Mawr, in the parish of Llanbrynmair. The most interesting inscribed stone in the County is that in Llanerfyl churchyard, which bears a sepulchral inscription in Latin.

The County of Montgomery possesses some very fine earthworks. "There are in Montgomeryshire five or six examples of what we may term prehistoric fortresses of the first order, and there are within the same geographical area, though beyond the limits of the administrative county, several others of the same class. The Ffridd in Montgomery parish, the Gaer in Guilsfield, the Breiddin in Criggion, Cefn Castell in Middletown, Cefn Carnedd in Llandinam, and Pen-y-Clun in Llanidloes, though differing in detail, were clearly constructed by the same people and probably within the same fairly wide period of time. In not one of these camps have excavations been conducted; so that much is uncertain in connection with them; and it is far too early in the work of the Commission to dogmatise on the period of the construction of these great earthworks. The examples in Montgomeryshire are matched though not excelled by others in various parts of the Principality, and until all these have been examined and at least one of them has been carefully explored, it is desirable that the problems to which they give rise should be approached with a perfectly open mind."

In this connection the account of the excavations by the Abergele Antiquarian Society at Pen y Corddyn by Mr. Willoughby Gardner should be read.

The Roman stations in Montgomeryshire were at Caersws, Caerflos, Cae Gaer (Llangurig), Gaer (Llanfair Caereinion) and Gaer Noddfa (Carno). Many antiquaries have argued that Mediolanum was in this County, but the Commission dissolve the claims of Clawdd Coch, not even allowing it to be Roman.

Only the camp at Caersws has been excavated. It has yielded many treasures.

The Breiddin and Cefn Carnedd claim to be the site of Caratacus' last stand against the Romans described in the Annals of Tacitus. The Commission thinks highly of the claims of the Breiddin.

There are twenty-four examples of the mound-and-bailey or mote in Montgomeryshire, the most remarkable being Tafolwern, Owain Cyfeiliog's home, from which "was issued the foundation charter of the Abbey of Valle Crucis in 1185; Mathrafal, the seat of the most powerful line of Powysian chieftains; Rhyd yr Onen, in the parish of Llangurig, doubtless the work of Earl Hugh of Chester; Bishop's Moat, Castlewright, and the Gro Tump, Newtown." "Whether this type of structure was developed by the English or by the Normans, need not concern the Welsh antiquary; certain it is, that it was not adopted by the Welsh until after the Normans had established a number of such structures." Accordingly, these strongholds (which were originally crowned with wooden structures) are believed to have been constructed in Montgomeryshire in the twelfth century.

There are many dykes in the County, the most important being Offa's Dyke, the full consideration of which is deferred, although it is entered under the parishes in which it appears. The Commission affirms that all the dykes in the County may be assigned to peaceful purposes, with the exception of the Aberbechan Dykes in the parish of Llanllwchaiarn.

There are remains of three stone castles, the Castles of Montgomery and Dolforwyn, and Powis Castle which is still inhabited. Plans of all three are given in the Inventory; and Montgomery Castle is the subject of the Frontispiece to the volume. There are a great number of half-timbered black-and-white houses some of which, but not all, are entered in the Inventory.

At Machynlleth and Newtown Glyndwr's Parliament Houses are maintained in good repair.

The Parish Churches do not retain many features of mediæval architecture. The reasons for this are two. The absence of large monasteries deprived the district of its architects and builders in the Middle Ages. There were only two monastic foundations in the County: Strata Marcella Abbey and Llanllugan Nunnery; and communication was not easy between the abbeys of Cwm Hir and Strata Florida and this County. Further, so thorough has been the eighteenth or nineteenth-century restoration in most cases

that very little of the little medieval architecture ever in Montgomeryshire churches has been preserved.

The Parish Churches of the following parishes have been specified as especially worthy of preservation:- Buttington (font, formed of the capital of a pier from Strata Marcella Abbey), Kerry, Llanbrynmair (arcade of rude oak beams), Llandrinio (Norman arch and font), Llanerfyl (inscribed stone), Llanfair Caereinion (fourteenth-century effigy), Llanfechain (Early English details), Llanfihangel yng Ngwynfa (sepulchral slabs in vestry), Pennant Melangell, Llangynyw (screen), Llanidloes (nave arcade from Cwm Hir Abbey), Llanllugan (Church of Nunnery of Llanllugan, and old glass), Llanwnog (screen, and figure of St. Gwynnog in fifteenth-century glass), Meifod (Norman details), Montgomery (screen, stall-work, tombs, font), Newtown (portions of ancient screen), Trelystan (wooden structure).

The dedications of the churches are given in the Inventory, and the names of the Townships of each ancient parish are entered under the Parish Churches. Eight churchyards are noticed.

Mention is made in the Inventory in the case of six churches of chests, four of effigies, twenty-five of fonts, six of stained glass, three of memorial brasses, ten of roofs, three of sepulchral slabs, and eight of rood screens; there is a triptych of carved oak at Llandinam, and a pre-Reformation brass at Bettws Cedewain.

One antiquity must appeal to all Welshmen. It lies near the Vicarage, in the Parish of Llanrhaiadr-ym-Mochnant, and consists of the foundations of Bishop William Morgan's summer-house; therein "tradition has it that much of the translation of the Bible was done. Within living memory, the walls of this small building were breast high, but the stones have been removed for use elsewhere." Bishop Morgan was for some years vicar of this parish. In the old churchyard at Newtown lies buried Robert Owen, "the founder of the Co-operative movement"; and in Llanwnog churchyard "rest the remains of the Welsh poet, John Ceiriog Hughes."

From the nature of the case, Nonconformity provides but few historical monuments :-Cae'r Fendith (Llanllwchaiarn), Capel Bach (Pennant), Independent Chapel (Llanfyllin), Yr hen Gapel (Llanbrynmair), Vavasour Powell's Communion Table in Sarnau Congregational Chapel (Guilsfield); the Quakers' Chapel, Dolobran (Meifod), and the three Quakers' Burial Grounds, at Llanwddyn, Staylittle (Trefeglwys), and Dolcaradog (Uwch y garreg). These four Quaker monuments appear to date from the reign of King Charles II.

Twenty-four Wells are entered, many of them dedicated to the Trinity, or to Our Lady, or to Saints.

Antiquaries owe the Commissioners much gratitude for the addition of the last two classes of antiquities inventoried, Sites and Finds. In their efforts to illustrate the latter they had to encounter

discouragement and (at first) refusal on the part of His Majesty's Treasury.

No trace of Paleolithic man has been yet discovered within the limits of Montgomeryshire; but Mr. Worthington G. Smith, writing in 1895, stated his belief that a flint-flake found in the surface material during excavations at Strata Marcella Abbey near Welshpool, and now in the Welshpool Museum, was "undoubtedly Palæolithic."

There are some mounds, long or oval in shape, in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa which possess the name of Beddau'r Cewri, and are probably Neolithic burial places, like the alleged barrows at Llanelwedd in Radnorshire. The Commissioners conjecture that the first division of Celts to reach Wales-the Goidels -brought with them the use of bronze; and that the second division-the Brythons of whom the Ordovices were a part, brought that of iron; but that iron was not introduced into Powysland long before the arrival of the Romans in Britain.

Two cinerary urns of the Bronze Age have been dug up in Montgomeryshire. Both are depicted in the Inventory. One was found a few years before 1870, during the construction of a new road to Aberbechan Hall in the parish of Llanllwchaiarn. It is "of the drinking cup type, and is now in Welshpool Museum." other urn was discovered in 1903 in an excavated tumulus, near Staylittle, in the parish of Trefeglys. The Crowther's Camp (Welshpool) hoard consists of bronze implements.


Two bronze finds are ascribed to the Iron Age-the boar found at Guilsfield earlier than 1833, and the horse-bit found at Carreg hofa in 1866.

A list is given under Llanfair Caereinion of nearly five hundred Roman coins found in 1740 "in a field near the River Banwy," enclosed in an urn, which was broken. Roman coins, pottery and glass have been unearthed at Caersws; and there have been smaller finds at other places in Montgomeryshire. "In Sites of Historic or Antiquarian Interest,' all place-names that appear to possess special significance are recorded," that is all place-names that seem to indicate that finds may be expected on those sites, and others that carry the mind back to historic incidents.

We cannot close this review of the valuable Montgomeryshire Inventory better than by quoting the Commissioners' own words upon their work :--"The Commissioners are especially desirous of making it clear that the descriptions of the monuments here given are in no way to be regarded as embodying the final verdict upon any one of them. We hope that our list is practically, if not altogether exhaustive, though we are conscious that we cannot expect to have effected a clean and comprehensive sweep into our net; but we do not wish it to be supposed that our labours are final. We have, on the contrary, endeavoured to bear constantly in mind the desirability of arousing the in

« PreviousContinue »