Archive for the ‘Wales’ Tag

Castell Henllys

On Monday we visited Castell Henllys, a scheduled ancient monument and one of many prehistoric promontory forts in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park dating to around 600BC. What makes the site particularly important is that archaeologists have been excavating there for over twenty years and thatched Iron Age buildings have been reconstructed on their original foundations.

Castell Henllys

Larkhill Tipis

We’ve just come back from four beautiful days at Larkhill Tipis in West Wales. Larkhill is a wonderful site run by Fran and Tony and combines a picturesque location with all the facilities you’ll need. The site is ecologically friendly from the water which is supplied from a local spring to the compost toilets.

The tipi was extremely comfortable and we cooked some lovely meals over the open fire, using some of the plentiful supplies of site-grown firewood. I took the opportunity to make some pine pitch for various projects, using pine resin, charcoal and egg shells (from the free range hens wandering around the site) to make two pitch sticks (lower right image). I used some of the pitch to haft my arrowhead on the arrow I started on Native Skills 2. It’s nearly finished and I’ll post pictures here when it’s done.

Larkhill tipi holiday

We also visited Oakwood, Castell Henllys Iron Age Hill Fort and the National Wool Museum. We hope to return to Larkhill in the future.

Llyn y Fan Fach, Powys

The shore of Llyn y Fan Fach, shrouded in mist. Taken on Saturday.

Llyn y Fan Fach

Cosmeston Medieval Village

I went to Cosmeston Medieval Village last weekend. Cosmeston is a reconstructed fourteenth century village based on archaeological evidence unearthed in the 1980s. It is now a living history village open to the public, with guided tours and re-enactment events held throughout the year.

Taking the guided tour gave me a sense (albeit superficial) of what it must have been like to live there in the fourteenth century. Cosmeston would have been on a busy trade and pilgrim route from the City of Llandaff westwards, eventually to St David’s and the western ocean. Life would have undoubtedly been hard in the village, whatever rung of the social ladder you were on … and I imagine unbearably so for those robbed of their trade through injury or illness, both of which were rife.

Cosmeston is holding a re-enactment event tomorrow, which I’m hoping to go along to. I’m especially hoping to see some medieval archers.

I hope everyone is enjoying the Beltane fires and the inspiration of Spring!

Corn Ddu and Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons

Taken yesterday.

Corn Ddu and pen y Fan

Snow on my way to work last week

Llandaff fields

Ystradfellte, Brecon Beacons

Ystradfellte, 2006

View from Snowdon

I’ve noticed that this blog could do with some images. Here’s a photo of the view from halfway up Snowdon, taken last April:

Snowdon, April 2008

Severn barrage debate

I’m not sure where I stand on this debate. A two-year feasibility study on a possible Severn Barrage was launched last year following a report from the Sustainable Development Commission. The proposed Severn Barrage project would stretch nearly 10 miles from Lavernock Point west of Cardiff to near Brean Down in Somerset. It would cost around £14 billion.

Backers include the Welsh Assembly and the Southwest Regional Assembly, a number of cross-party MPs and Gaia theorist James Lovelock. Opponents include the Green Party, Friends of the Earth, the WWF and the RSPB.

The Friends of the Earth website explains some of the risks:

Why would the Barrage be environmentally damaging?

  • The Barrage wall would create a 5 metre deep lake to its eastward side, losing an inter-tidal habitat, feeding grounds for tens of thousands of birds
  • The Barrage would halve the tidal range and sensitive flora and fauna would be lost, and the famous Severn Bore diminished
  • The Barrage could also have a significant impact on fish species of conservation interest, through use of fish sluices within the barrage wall
  • The Barrage could significantly damage the viability of ports. It would also generate new traffic on existing road networks around Lavernock and Cardiff airport and cause development pressures in rural Somerset
  • The government’s own statutory advisers state that ‘a Severn Barrage project would not be possible within the current legal framework provided by the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. The estuary is also being proposed for designation as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the highest protection in European Union law

It recommends a number of other means on generating energy from the Estuary, such as tidal lagoons located a mile off the Severn coast, a shorter flood defence barrage near the Second Severn Crossing, marine current turbines, wind energy or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) fitted to coal or gas power stations.

My gut reaction is that Sabrina should be protected, that her tidal activity is the essence of her nature, and that as a result she would be desecrated by such a violation.

I have a particular interest in this issue, as the proposed Barrage would link my family home in Somerset with my chosen home in Cardiff, and Sabrina has been a constant presence throughout my life. I am also a member of the Flatholm Society, although I don’t know if they have an official view on this. I will try to find out.

The possibility of so much renewable energy is massively attractive, but not at the expense of our land and its heritage. I think the money would be better spent on education programmes teaching us how to live within our energy means, simplifying and reducing our need for energy. This, combined with a wind generation and CCS programme would be my favoured approach. While there is still so much invested in a growth economy, however, this seems doubtful.

Roundhouses at St Fagans

I took an unplanned trip to St Fagans today for a cup of tea and a wander around the Iron Age roundhouse village. It was the first time I had been there with a fire lit in the largest of the roundhouses. I was wonderful to see the smoke wisping out from the thatch like steam. And inside was even more impressive, with thick smoke above the top of the door line, but perfectly breathable air below. Sitting there around the fire not being able to see the roof I imagined what it would be like to spend an evening there listening to a storyteller or musician and letting your imagination wander up there into the void.

The small wattle-and-daub roundhouse was closed because of the roof sagging in. There was a notice to say they were waiting on advice whether to repair or rebuild.