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News 2008

As always it is our sad duty to record several deaths this year among notable members of the Cambrians, men and women who had become friends to the many members attending meetings and whose work was also well-known in a wider arena.

Peter Llewellyn (1937-2007) General Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2003 and husband of our former President Frances Lynch Llewellyn, died on 17 October 2007 after a long illness. Peter was educated at Ampleforth and after National Service in the Royal Green Jackets he went up to Jesus College Oxford where he graduated in History. After graduation he was awarded the Rome Scholarship to study at the British School there. His particular interest was in early medieval Italy, especially its ecclesiastical history, and while in Rome he also took part in several excavations. In 1964 he joined the Survey of London team where he worked on the history of Soho and in 1966 he was appointed to a lectureship in History at what was then the University College of North Wales, Bangor. His main area of teaching was the history of early medieval Europe and he carried on with his research; Rome in the Dark Ages was published by Faber and Faber in 1971. Early medieval Europe would probably be regarded by the academic bureaucrats and bean-counters of today as an unacceptably esoteric field of study but his enthusiasm and scholarship meant that his courses were always popular and well supported. He played an active part in the affairs of the Department until his retirement in 1995 and represented it on the History at the Universities Defence Group. He was also active in the affairs of the Roman Catholic Church in Wales, being an adviser to the bishops on ecumenical affairs and church history. Members of the Association and all who knew or worked with him will remember his geniality, his humour and his scholarship. Our sympathies go out to Frances who shared so many of his interests. A.D.Carr

Jack Spurgeon was born in Cardiff in 1934 and attended the Grammar School in Penarth and Cardiff University. After graduation he began post-graduate research on earthwork enclosures in SW Wales - a topic which remained the focus of his professional work for the rest of his life, though emphasis on earlier and later defences varied through his career. He was perhaps best known for his magisterial work on the early castles of Glamorgan. Jack first worked as a history teacher, notably in Montgomeryshire where he pursued his private research on hillforts and mottes but in 1964 he joined the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments and was able to devote himself full-time to survey and analysis, becoming one of the most skilled and insightful fieldworkers in Wales. Alongside his professional work Jack was always generous in the time he gave to voluntary societies such as the Cambrians and the Powysland Club. Members will remember with affection his learned and amusing contributions to meetings in Wales and in France, a country to which he had been devoted since his schooldays. (A longer version of this obituary by David Browne of RCAHMW can be seen on our website).

Catrin Puw Davies will be known to members as a regular attender at meetings with her husband, Roger, but was also widely known and admired in Welsh literary circles. She won the crown at the Urdd Eisteddfod no less than three times and was gnerous wityh her writing and editing skills throughout her life. She founded Papur Famau and was a frequent adjudicator at Eisteddfodau, both local and national.

Allen Probert had become a well-known figure at Cambrian Summer meetings since his retirement, though he had been a life member since 1967 when he became active as an excavator of hillforts and leader of the Abergavenny Archaeological Group. His work at Twyn y Gaer near Abergavenny was part of a body of work which altered views about the development of settlement in later prehistory. Allen had worked in the building trade and as a wine merchant and had been Chairman of CBA Wales in the 1970s.


Meetings in 2007
Two very successful meetings were held in 2007, one in Carmarthen and one in Paris. Full accounts of both can be read on our website and will be published in Archaeologia Cambrensis next year.

The Summer Meeting Carmarthen was based at Trinity College Carmarthen and had been designed by Gwilym Hughes as an examination of the Towy Valley from its source to the sea. In the event, pressure of work at his new job in Cadw meant that the detailed organisation of the meeting fell to Marion Page of Cambria Archaeology and the Association is grateful to her for her conscientious and cheerful care of the party throughout the week. Despite an unsettled forecast the weather was mainly good and luckily the day spent on foot in Carmarthen was bright and sunny, and enthusiasm was high amongst members of the Carmarthen Antiquarians who led the tour and their listeners.

The Autumn Meeting in Paris was organised by Rory O’Farrell and was a new departure in Cambrian Meetings in that, in the centre of the city, members were successfully shepherded from site to site by public transport. This was a triumph for Rory’s fabled powers of communication and organisation and, in this age of environmental awareness, everyone returned with a great feeling of achievement in having seen all the great monuments with such a light footfall!

Meetings planned for 2008


All lectures and meals at the LLETY PARC HOTEL, LLANBADARN FAWR.

Vernon Hughes had been a member of the Cambrians since 1949, making him one of that small and distinguished band of loyal enthusiasts who had been a member for over fifty years. He was an architect with a lifelong interest in historic buildings and their repair and had been much involved with the saving of damaged buildings in London after the Second World War. Subsequently he worked as a conservation architect for the Ministry of Works in Wales and later for Cadw. Based in north Wales, he retired to his home town of Abergele but regularly attended and often addressed meetings of the Cambrians and other organisations connected with the built heritage of Wales until shortly before his death. Always ready to impart the knowledge of his considerable experience (often backed up by entertaining anecdote) his quiet, self-effacing manner and personal modesty meant that he was less well known than he richly deserved to be. Moreover he was one of the very first to draw attention to the qualities of Victorian buildings in Wales, all very much under threat in the decades following the War. During his time in London, he had spent many evenings in the RIBA library, scanning through The Builder magazine (monthly from the 1840s), making a huge, neatly ordered record of all references to Wales, which has been of incalculable help to all writers of the subsequent Welsh volumes of the Pevsner series. This conference is therefore dedicated to his memory and focuses on three building types of particular interest to him in Wales, all set within the context of conservation which was his most passionate concern.


4.00 pm. Tour of the Royal Commission of Ancient Monuments in Wales and their Archives (Plas Crug) led by Peter Wakelin, Secretary to the Commission

After Dinner
Keynote Address by Prof Bill Davies
The Concept of Regional Architecture with reference to Wales.



9.30 Richard Suggett (RCAHMW) - Discovering and recording
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Judith Alfrey (CADW) - Prioritising and protecting
12.00 Dr Greg Stevenson - Restoring, respecting and enjoying
1.15 Lunch


2.30 Alex Glanville (Representative Body of the Church in Wales) Past, present and future of the Welsh historic church
3.30 Gruff Owen The Work of the Welsh Religious Buildings Trust: Saving the best Welsh Chapels
4.30 Excursion to Llanbadarn Fawr church with talk on Victorian Church Restoration by Dr Lawrence Butler
6.15 Dr John Morgan Guy (Lampeter) The ‘Bible in Wales’ research project
7.30 Conference Dinner


Morning Session: SEASIDE TOWNS

9.30 Richard Haslam The Bracing Air of North Wales
10.30 Coffee
11.00 Robert Scourfield The Lure of the Pembrokeshire Shore
12.00 Michael Freeman (Ceredigion Museum) The development of Aberystwyth
1.15 Lunch

Afternoon Session: ABERYSTWYTH TOUR

2.30 Tour of Aberystwyth with the Civic Society
4.30 Tea and disperse.


Base: Llety Parc Hotel, Parc y Llyn, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3TL 01970 636333

Costs for Residents
Single occupancy: £99.00 per person per day = £198.00 + £15.00 Conference fee = £213.00 Double/Twin: £80.00 per person sharing = £160.00 + £15.00 Conference fee = £175.00

Day cost (includes coffee/tea & lunch) £20.00 per day = £40.00 + £15.00 Conf. fee = £55.00 Additional: Dinner Friday and Saturday nights @ £20.00 each

Participants should make their own accommodation arrangements. A certain number of rooms have been reserved at the Llety Parc. If you book there please make it clear that you are attending the Cambrians’ Conference. You should pay the hotel individually on leaving, but must pay the conference fee (£15.00) in advance to CAA.
Non-residents must pay their Day Costs and Conference Fee in advance to CAA. They may order dinner (£20) for Friday and Saturday night and include the cost with their cheque to CAA.

Booking forms are available with the CAA Newsletter and below where they can be printed off and returned with a cheque made out to ‘CAA Easter Meeting’ to Frances Llewellyn, Halfway House, Halfway Bridge, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 3DG

Booking form for the Easter Conference 2008 in Adobe Acrobat format (opens in a new window)


Monday JULY 7th - Saturday JULY 12th

Because the base for this meeting is in Betws y Coed the dates are early in July in order to get hotel rooms and relatively empty roads. Like last year the visits will be based around the river and the estates in the valley, dominated for much of the time by the Wynn family. We will be visiting their two main houses, in Conwy and at Gwydir, but also other estates carved out of the medieval lands of Aberconwy Abbey. Betws itself is a product of the tourist industry and we will be looking at the origins of that lucrative business and the transport infrastructure which supported it. In Plas Mawr, Gwydir and Hendre we will see very notable examples of historic conservation, some completed, some on-going and some in process.

The meeting begins after lunch on Monday but members wishing to come on Sunday can arrange an extra night with the hotel. Please book early, with a £50 deposit, because the hotel is not enormous (however rooms can be found nearby) and make it clear that you are part of the CAA meeting. Betws y Coed can be reached by train, changing at Llandudno Junction. Those leaving Cardiff at 9.20am would reach Betws at 2.00pm. The Annual General Meeting will be held on the evening of Thursday July 13th, after dinner in the church hall next to the Royal Hotel.

Conwy Valley Summer Meeting 2008
Dates : Monday pm July 7th - Saturday noon 12th

Base : Royal Oak Hotel, Betws y Coed LL24 0AY Tel 01690 710219
Cost (Dinner Bed Breakfast) Double/twin £59.00 per person per day;
Single occupancy of double room £74.00 per person per day.

Monday July 7th Arrive lunchtime : walking tour of Betws y Coed in pm
Medieval Church; 19th cent church; Pont y Pair; Motor Museum; Waterloo Bridge

Tuesday July 8th : Full Day : Conwy Valley West side
Conwy Church; Plas Mawr (Wynn mansion);
lunch (find own)
1.30 Telford Bridge; Caerhun Roman fort and church; Gwydir Castle and Chapel.
Possible alternative walks this day 1. Rowen Roman road, fields etc.
2. Gwydir Forest lead mining sites
Presidential Address and Reception after dinner

Wednesday July 9th : Full Day: Dolwyddelan and Penmachno
Dolwyddelan: Castle, motte and church;
Fedw Deg and Bishop Morgan’s house, Ty Mawr Wybernant
picnic lunch at Ty Mawr
Ysbytty Ifan church (Hospital of St John) and tea at new rural enterprise café
Penmachno 6th cent. stones in church
Public Lecture after dinner

Thursday July 10th : Full Day: Pentrevoelas
Pre-A5 roads; Dinas (Telford offices);
Plas Iolyn and Giler (two important late medieval estates, now farms)
lunch at White Lion, Cerrig y Drudion
Brenig Bronze Age cemetery (part); Hen Voelas motte and Levelinus stone
AGM after dinner

Friday July 11th : Full Day: Conwy Valley East side
Capel Garmon Neolithic tomb; Soflan 16th cent house (view from road);
Hendre House; 18th cent. house and garden currently being restored
Lunch at Amser Da restaurant attached to famous delicatessen, Blas ar Fwyd
Llanrwst town, church and almshouses ; Llandoged Church

Saturday morning : Capel Curig
Plas y Brenin (18th cent hotel and Richard Pennant’s bridge and road);
St Julitta’s church; Ysgubor y Glyn timber-framed barn. Ty Hyll (view from road)
Return to Betws y Coed for lunch (find own) and disperse

Booking form for the Summer Meeting 2008 in Adobe Acrobat format (opens in a new window)


SEPTEMBER 11th - 15th 2008

It is proposed to visit, and stay in (at the Hotel Cracovia), the beautiful and historic city of Kraków over the weekend of 11 to 15 September 2008. For various reasons - especially the Saturday visit to Jedrzejow Abbey, it will be necessary to limit numbers to 44 persons, but there will be a waiting list. (If the numbers wishing to go proved to be very large, one would endeavour to organise a second trip at a later date).

Those wishing to attend must return their forms by 29 February at the very latest, as in early March the Association must send a deposit over to Poland.

The basic cost, and the daily additions, are about £350 (double occupancy) or £410 (single). We have a group rate for dinner, bed and breakfast. All drinks, lunches, are extra (except perhaps Saturday lunch). The hotel has a casino.

On three occasions alternative excursions are suggested, (a) for those who do not wish to visit Auschwitz; (b) for those who by reason of claustrophobia or vertigo or disability, may not wish to descend the salt mine [600 steps down in easy stages] - but there is a lift to take those with walking difficulties down in very small groups looked after by a guide; They do not see all the mine, but two of the best levels. (If you wish to be in one of these special small groups, please indicate this on your application form) (c) as time precludes a visit to both the Clock Museum and to Tokarnia village.

This meeting is being organised by Rev Dr David Williams who, as most members will know, has lived in Poland for several years, visits regularly and has many friends in all the religious communities there. This is a tremendous opportunity for members to be given an exclusive tour. Kraków is Poland’s original capital, an enchanting medieval city, site of Poland’s first university and location of all royal coronations and burials, not to mention the more recent significance of its archepiscopal see!

He has made enquiries about the various methods of travel to Kraków. Easyjet from Liverpool, Gatwick or Luton are conveniently timed (leaving c. 13.00 on Thursday and returning by c 19.00 on Monday for about £50 (current prices)). Easyjet also flies from Bristol and Ryanair from Dublin and Stansted, but at less convenient times. Bmi Baby is starting a flight in February from Birmingham, but will not be flying daily (ie not Thursday out or Monday return). Travel by Eurostar will involve travelling on Wednesday, but will give you a tour via Brussels, Cologne, and Berlin. There are coaches which go direct from London to Kraków (let Dr Williams know if you are interested in this option).

Dr Williams will, if necessary, spend most of the day at the airport to welcome and assist you, but try to arrive in the afternoon when you can catch the CAA bus. For those who can’t, there are trains and buses from the airport to the Central Station, from where a taxi to the hotel costs anywhere between 12 to 25 zlotys [£2.50 to £5].

He can provide you with advice on all possibilities but you need to make your own enquiries and bookings as soon as possible as cheap flights fluctuate. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU TELL HIM WHAT YOU HAVE BOOKED AND YOUR TIME OF ARRIVAL.

As members return their application forms, they will be sent further details regarding currency exchange, water supply, suitable clothing. security and permissibility of photography at historic sites. Passport, travel insurance, and European Health Insurance Card, are essential.

KRAKÓW, POLAND : September 11th - 15th
Base: Hotel Cracovia, Kraków

Thursday 11 September 2008.
Please make your own way to Krakow. If you need further advice, please contact the organiser, Dr David Williams 01970 612736.

A coach (cost included) will leave Kraków Airport for the hotel at about 17.30pm. Persons arriving much earlier than 17.30 or very late, must make their own way to the hotel. It is important that when you have made your travel arrangements, you let the organiser know the projected time of your arrival at the railway station or the airport.

Friday 12 September 2008.
Group A, in the morning, will be taken on a guided city walk and, after finding their own lunch, will go to the historic Benedictine abbey at Tyniec.

Group B, will spend much of the day visiting the former concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau.
In the evening, after dinner, a local archaeologist will deliver an introductory lecture.

Saturday 13 September 2008.
In the morning, we will all be together to visit Jedrzejow Abbey, one of the first Cistercian abbeys to be founded in Poland in the twelfth century, and the burial place of Bl. Vincent Kadlubek, a noted medieval historian. Our guide will be an archaeologist who has worked on the abbey, and I anticipate that we shall be served lunch in the monastery refectory.

In the afternoon, Group A will visit the Clock and Watch Museum in Jedrzejow, and then explore the town while awaiting the return of Group B from the Polish timber village at Tokarnia a few miles distant. I hope that in the evening we can meet up with local historians and archaeologists.

Sunday 14 September 2008.
Group A will visit in the morning an European Heritage Site, the Great Salt Mine at Wieliczka - lunch can be taken in the mine or above ground Group B will visit Wieliczka Museum and Castle.
In the afternoon, we all visit the Art Collection at Niepolomice.
The evening will be free for those who may wish to attend a concert or organ recital.

Monday 15 September 2008.
After visiting Kraków Cathedral and Castle, there should be time for shopping before a coach leaves for the airport at about 2.30pm. (There will be shopping time on most evenings when we return to the hotel)

Booking form for the Autumn Meeting 2008 in Poland in Adobe Acrobat format (opens in a new window)

G.T.Clark Prizes 2007
These prizes, given every five years for historical/archaeological work relating to Wales published within the previous five years, were awarded during the Summer Meeting at Carmarthen. The adjudicating panel is composed of the previous winners and, this year, was chaired by Dr Jeff Davies.

Chris R Musson, for his joint report, with Frances Lynch, 'A prehistoric and early medieval complex at Llandegai, near Bangor, North Wales', Arch. Camb. 150 (2001, 17-142 (appeared in 2004). His other publications include The Breiddin Hillfort. A later prehistoric settlement in the Welsh Marches, 1991 and Wales from the Air. Patterns of Past & Present 1994. Chris has also made, and continues to make, an outstanding contribution to the archaeology of Wales and the Marches through his aerial photography, and the award of a G T Clark Prize is also an acknowledgement of his much wider work over the past 30 years.

Heather James, for her Roman Carmarthen. Excavations 1978-1993, Britannia Monograph Series No.20, 2003. Heather has published extensively on the archaeology of SW Wales in the Roman and post-Roman period, and the publication of the above is a landmark in the archaeology of SW Wales as a whole. The Association was delighted that Heather was elected a Trustee at the same Carmarthen meeting, on the retirement of Gwilym Hughes due to his new appointment as Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Cadw.

Early Medieval
Prof. Patrick Sims-Williams, for The Celtic Inscriptions of Britain: Phonology and Chronology, c.400-1200, Publications of the Philology Society 37 (2003), pp.464. This is the first comprehensive linguistic study for 50 years of the post-Roman inscriptions from western Britain and Brittany.

David M Robinson, for The Cistercians in Wales. Architecture and Archaeology 1130-1540, Society of Antiquaries, London, 2006, pp.388. The association also congratulates Dr Robinson on the award of the Alice Davis Hitchcock Memorial Medallion by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain for this same book.

Post Medieval
Richard Suggett, for Houses & History in the March of Wales: Radnorshire 1400-1800, RCAHMW 2005. This book is another very notable contribution in a field in which the Royal Commission has done so much valuable research and popularisation over the years.

The Association also congratulates our member, Daniel Huws, recently retired from the National Library, on the award by the British Academy of the Derek Allen prize for Celtic Studies in 2006 for his publication of Welsh Medieval Manuscripts.


2007 was the first year of the re-directed Blodwen Jerman Awards, now given for work in universities rather than schools. The adjudicators, Donald Moore, Hilary Thomas and Professor Prys Morgan, judged that two dissertations were suitable for the award.



'The Mathew Family and its Memorials' was a more restricted theme, and had far less source material to draw upon, owing to its earlier date. The aim was to examine the tombs of (i) David Mathew, (ii) Sir William and Jenet Mathew, (iii) Christopher and Elizabeth Mathew. That was successfully achieved. Photographs of the tombs were shown, though their awkward siting in the cathedral clearly presented difficulties to the photographer. There was a plan of Llandaff Cathedral and a map of the Mathew family's landholdings in Glamorgan. The author was familiar with Welsh language sources, especially the bardic. An excellent account was given of the religious motivation for creating tombs and chantries. A possible extension of the theme might have brought in protestant tombs of similar style from other churches in the area. The adjudicators would have welcomed more information about the family itself.
'Swansea Harbour Trust' was particularly rich in documentary and published sources, relating to both sides of the Bristol Channel and to Bristol itself. Much attention had been given to the transactions of local historical societies. The adjudicators considered, however, that more weight could have been given to the personalities involved in Swansea and to the social and political factors which affected the policy and the activities of the Trust. The work contained two maps and various diagrams, though no plan of Swansea Harbour itself, nor any examples of the numerous contemporary illustrations of the site and its environs.

Both winners were able to be at Carmarthen to receive their prizes and members were very pleased to be able to welcome them to the Association in person.


Reports have been received about the progress of work funded by our research grants over the last few years.
The Cymdeithas Hanes Beddgelert have had money for dendro-chronological dates for a number of 15th/16th century farmhouses in the region and the results are building towards a major social and architectural analysis which they hope can be published in Arch Camb.
The money given to Dr Jeff Davies towards geophysical survey around Roman forts and the preparation of illustrations of the results will complement the Cadw Vici Project and will appear in the new edition of The Roman Frontier in Wales.
Private research by Dr Stephen Briggs on the papers of Sir John Gardner Wilkinson (1797-1875), supported with a modest travel grant, will give rise to several articles and the re-emergence of a number of remarkable plans of Welsh prehistoric monuments, made at a time before many were significantly disturbed and altered. Although Sir John, the ‘Father of British Egyptology’, had some rather odd ideas about British prehistory, his surveys were objective and accurate.
We have also supported Dr Tim Mighall’s new approach to the dating of early metallurgy through the study of episodes of atmospheric pollution recorded in upland bogs. This work supports Peter Crew’s major programme of excavation on early iron-working in Snowdonia.
In addition to the formal grants we offered encouragement and a small amount of money to a Post-graduate Conference at Cardiff University with the aim of fostering new ideas. This summer we will be contributing to work in Llangynidr and in the Bala area, as well as continuing support for on-going projects.

Application forms for grants can be printed out from the website, but please ensure that all information, referees’ data etc is complete and forwarded to the General Secretary in good time for the main Trustees’ meeting in November 2008.


The 2008 Eisteddfod will be in Cardiff and the CAA lecture will be, as usual, on the Wednesday afternoon, August 6th. The lecturer will be Professor John Gwynfor Jones and he will be speaking about the Morgan family of Tredegar and their influence upon the development of Cardiff.



The fourth volume of the Index to Archaeologia Cambrensis is about to be published and an order form is enclosed. Once again the Association is indebted to Donald Moore for his supervision of the project. These indexes are some of the most useful volumes published by any society because they contain a convenient compendium of all sorts of information about the association and its activity, in addition to the very full and professional index itself. Copies of volumes II (1901-60) and III (1961-1980) are also available from Halfway House @ £18.00 each.

Notice of a special offer to Cambrian members of a reduced price on the new book about St David, edited by our members J.Wyn Evans and Jonathan Wooding, is also enclosed and members might like to know that a comprehensive Encyclopaedia of Wales is just about to be published by the Welsh Academy. It is available in both a Welsh and an English version and the publishers claim that no other work has covered so many aspects of Wales’ past, present, future, its people, places, arts, industries, environment and traditions! It will cost £65.