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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 scat 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 Palæolithic 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
terest of local antiquaries, and of stimulating their energies to fresh or renewed studies of the memorials and constructions of the past. In some of the remarks we have made, it might appear as though we were expressing our surprise at the little that has been effected in the study and description of Montgomeryshire antiquities, whereas in truth we are fully alive to the zeal and steady purpose that has accompanied the work of the Powysland Club. The defect is one that is inherent in county societies where there is no strong directing organisation, and where each contributing member takes up his plot and ploughs his lonely furrow regardless of the researches or labours of his fellow members. We venture to think that this volume, where it brings into clear perspective the immense field of delightful exercise for both brain and muscle lying at the doors of the leisured folk of Montgomeryshire, provides also the basis for the organisation and the systematisation of the study of Montgomeryshire antiquities. Our business has been to inventory the monuments of the County. In performing this duty we have endeavoured to give just so much information as will enable local antiquaries interested each in his own branch of archæology to know the objects in the County which have an attraction for him, and which call for his attention. It has been no purpose of ours to provide him with a complete account of any single monument. We have tried in each case to let him know the kind of monument he will find in each place. We may occasionally have been more dogmatic than the facts actually warrant, but that amiable and not uncommon weakness has been indulged in with the express purpose either of stimulating his curiosity or of saving him the time and trouble lost in visiting a monument that may be to him of minor interest. In no case have we essayed to tell him so much about a monument as to stifle his desire to pay it a personal visit. If we have in any measure succeeded in our purpose of exciting within his breast the determination to know more of the past of our forefathers, we venture to think that its gratification should be easy." B. E. J.
THE EARLY NORMAN CASTLES OF THE BRITISH ISLES With Plans by D. H. MONTGOMERIE, F.S.A., By ELLA S. ARMITAGE. Pp. i-xix, 408. (John Murray, 1912). 158. net.
THOSE who take an interest in the castle-mounds and the history of castle architecture in this country have in the above work a rich and ample storehouse of trustworthy materials to consult. A considerable portion of the valuable Catalogue raisonné of early Norman castles in England was printed some years ago in the English Historical Review, but it has been enlarged in this volume by the inclusion of five fresh castles and historical notes on 34 others,
thus bringing up the number to 84 castles, more or less fully discussed. The Welsh castles are given in a separate chapter. Useful plans and illustrations are furnished by Mr. Duncan H. Montgomerie, F.S.A.
Several chapters are added, the fruit of 11 years' careful and intelligent research (in the unpublished Pipe Rolls and other documentary evidence) in support of the writer's contention that the Motte-Castles throughout the British Islands are in every case of Norman origin; that the private castle in Britain only appears after the establishment of the Feudal System.
Mrs. Armitage shows, by a closely reasoned argument, the error of Mr. G. T. Clark's assertion that the "moated mound the Anglo-Saxon called a 'burh,' a Saxon Castle.
Accepting the classification of earthworks put forth by the Committee of the Congress of Archæological Societies, viz., (a) promontory or cliff forts, (b) hill forts, (c) rectangular forts, (d) moated hillocks, (e) moated hillocks, with courts attached, (f) banks and ditches surrounding homesteads, (g) manorial works, (h) fortified villages; the author deals with the earthworks in classes (d) and (e), i.e. moated hillocks.
These earthworks in their perfect form (e) consist where fully preserved, of (1) an artificial hillock, 20 to 100 feet high; with (2) a breastwork of earth carried round the top; (3) enclosing a small court, sometimes only 30 feet in diameter. A stockade of timber crowned the whole, and there would be included, as in the Bayeux Tapestries, a wooden tower. The hillock, round or oval, but occasionally square, is surrounded at the base by a ditch. Below the hillock is a court, much larger than the small space enclosed on the top of the mount, which has been surrounded by its own ditch, which joins the ditch of the mount and thus encloses the whole fortification. Certain variations are mentioned, but the feature contrasting these moated hillocks most strongly with the prehistoric "camps" is their comparatively small size, the greater number including in the whole area not more than 3 acres, and many of them not exceeding an acre and a half. Unlike the great camps of the tribal period, they were not designed to accommodate a mass of people with flocks and herds. Small in area as a whole, the citadel is very small indeed. The author quotes (and upon it founds an able argument) the luminous remark of Dr. Sophus Müller, the eminent Danish archæologist, that "the fortresses of prehistoric times are the defences of the community. Small castles for an individual and the warrior band belong to the Middle Ages."
The man who threw up earthworks with a hillock-citadel, it is pointed out, was not only suspicious of his neighbours, but even of his own garrison. The hillock in most cases was so constructed as to be capable of complete isolation and of defending itself, if necessary, against its own court. The earthworks themselves suggest that they are the work of an invader who employed