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Monday, 28 February 2011

Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station Survey Of Major Industrial Sites





Yr adeilad modern a godwyd i Storio Gwastraff Lefel Ganolig ynddo fel rhan o’r broses ddatgomisiynu.
The modern Medium Level Waste Storage Building constructed as part of the decommissioning process.
(Image/Llun: DS2010_540_033 / NPRN: 30192)
Atomfa Trawsfynydd
Un o rolau’r Comisiwn Brenhinol yw arolygu safleoedd diwydiannol mawr sydd wrthi’n cael eu cau a sicrhau bod gennym gofnod o ffyrdd o fyw sy’n newid am byth.

Dechreuwyd codi’r atomfa ym 1959 a chychwynnwyd cynhyrchu trydan yno ym 1965 o dan y Bwrdd Canolog Cynhyrchu Trydan. Bu atomfa Trawsfynydd ar waith am chwe blynedd ar hugain a chynlluniwyd iddi gynhyrchu 500MW, digon i ddarparu trydan i ddinas o faint Manceinion. Fe’i caewyd er mwyn ei hatgyweirio ym 1991 a dechreuodd Magnox North wneud y gwaith datgomisiynu ym 1995 o dan yr Awdurdod Datgomisiynu Niwclear.

Erbyn hyn, mae rhyw 600 o bobl yn gweithio ar y safle ond mae 99.99 y cant o’r defnydd ymbelydrol wedi’i symud oddi yno. Y bwriad yw gostwng uchder adeiladau’r adweithydd a chlirio’r adeiladweithiau’n barod iddynt gael gofal a gwneud gwaith cynnal-a-chadw arnynt dros y naw deg blynedd nesaf. Yna, caiff y gwaith o glirio’r safle ei gwblhau ar ddiwedd y ganrif.

Syr Basil Spence, cynllunydd Eglwys Gadeiriol Coventry a Llysgenhadaeth Prydain yn Rhufain, wnaeth greu’r cysyniad pensaernïol. Cynlluniwyd y gwaith tirweddu cysylltiedig gan y Fonesig Sylvia Crowe i gyd-fynd â’r lleoliad hynod sensitif hwn. Buont yn gweithio gyda’i gilydd i arddangos yr adeiladau yn y dirwedd. Eu bwriad oedd i’r adeiladau efelychu maint castell canoloesol a godai’n ddramatig o’r llawr heb fod unrhyw adeiladwaith o’i gwmpas i darfu arno. Cynlluniwyd i’r gwaith ar y dirwedd guddio’r adeiladau ychwanegol a’r is-orsaf drydan enfawr. Ar bob ochr fe blannwyd coed gan ddefnyddio rhywogaethau brodorol i droi’r dirwedd yn rhan o’r amgylchedd lleol.

Y nodweddion amlycaf, sy’n sefyll yn noeth yng nghanol y mynyddoedd, yw dau adeilad yr adweithydd Magnox, dau sy’n 180 troedfedd o uchder. Mae eu paneli concrid yn cynnwys agregau lleol, ac ar eu harwynebau mae patrymau asennog sy’n lleddfu gwynder digyfaddawd y concrid safonol er mwyn iddynt allu plethu’n well i’r dirwedd. Yn 2003 fe chwalwyd neuadd enfawr y tyrbinau lle’r arferai’r adweithyddion greu ynni o’r ager dan wasgedd uchel , ac yn 2005 fe chwalwyd y tŷ ar lan y llyn a fyddai’n pwmpio dŵr allan i’w oeri yn yr awyr agored.

Trawsfynydd oedd yr unig atomfa yn y DU na chodwyd mohoni ar hyd yr arfordir - codwyd pob un o’r lleill ar y glannau iddynt gael digon o ddŵr i oeri’r adweithyddion. Dewiswyd safle Trawsfynydd am fod llyn wedi’i adeiladu yno ym 1920 ar gyfer cynllun pŵer trydan-dŵr ym Maentwrog. Ehangwyd y llyn i ddarparu 35 o filiynau o alwyni o ddŵr yr awr i oeri’r adweithyddion a chrëwyd cyfres o rwystrau i sicrhau bod y dŵr yn teithio holl hyd y llyn i oeri cyn iddo ddychwelyd i’r atomfa.

Mae’r Comisiwn Brenhinol wrthi’n gweithio i gofnodi’r safle ac i sicrhau bod y deunydd wedi’i archifo’n gywir. Mae’n cydweithio mewn tîm gyda Magnox North, Archifdy Meirionnydd, Amgueddfa Cymru, Trawsnewid, aelodau o’r gymuned leol a sefydliadau eraill, gyda chymorth Cadw a CyMAL. Prif rôl y Comisiwn yw tynnu ffotograffau o’r adeiladau a’r offer sydd yno ar hyn o bryd a darlunio i’r oesoedd a ddêl y broses ddatgomisiynu, proses sydd ynddi’i hun yn rhan fawr o hanes y safle. Mae ef hefyd wrthi’n cofnodi’r safle yn ei dirwedd ac yn gwneud cofnod ffotograffig o’r nodweddion cysylltiedig, fel y tai a godwyd ar gyfer staff yr atomfa.

Cysylltau:
 
Gweithiwr wrthi’n rheoli robot y peiriant chwalu.
Operative controlling the robot demolition machine.
(Image/Llun: DS2010_540_030 / NPRN: 30192)
Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station
One of the roles of the Royal Commission is to survey major industrial sites that are closing down, making sure we have permanent records of ways of life that are changing forever.

Work on the power station began in 1959 with electricity production commencing in 1965 under the Central Electricity Generating Board. Trawsfynydd worked for 26 years, and was designed to produce 500MW, enough to power a city the size of Manchester. It was shut down for repair in 1991 and decommissioning started in 1995, carried out by Magnox North under the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Some 600 people now work on the site but 99.99 per cent of the radioactive material has now been removed. The plan is to reduce the reactor buildings in height and clear structures ready for care and maintenance over the next ninety years, and then complete the site clearance at the end of the century.

The architectural concept was by Sir Basil Spence, designer of Coventry Cathedral and the British Embassy in Rome. The associated landscaping was designed by Dame Sylvia Crowe to fit the highly sensitive location. They worked together to display the buildings in the landscape, replicating the mass of a medieval castle, rising dramatically, uncluttered by surrounding structures. The contouring of the landscape was designed to hide ancillary buildings and the massive electrical substation. Planting of trees extended all around, using native species that would make the landscape part of the local environment.

The twin Magnox reactor buildings, each 180 feet high, are the dominant features, standing starkly in the mountain setting. Their concrete panels contain local aggregates, and have surfaces broken up by patterns of ribs to avoid the stark whiteness of standard concrete, allowing them to better blend into the landscape. The huge turbine hall where energy was created from the high-pressure steam produced by the reactors was demolished in 2003, and the lakeside pumphouse for cooling water was demolished in 2005.

Trawsfynydd was the only inland nuclear power station built in the UK – all the others were constructed on the coast to give them plentiful water for cooling. The site was chosen because of its lake, built in 1920 for a hydro-electric power scheme in Maentwrog. This was enlarged to provide 35 million gallons of water an hour for cooling and a series of barriers was created to ensure that water travelled to the whole length of the lake to cool before returning to the power station inlet.

The Royal Commission is working to record the site and ensure that material is properly archived, collaborating in a team with Magnox North, Merioneth Archives, the National Museum of Wales, Trawsnewid, members of the local community, and other organisations, with the support of Cadw and CyMAL. The Commission’s main role is to photograph the existing buildings and equipment and to capture for posterity the decommissioning process, which is itself a major part of the history of the site. It is also recording the site in its landscape setting and making a photographic record of associated features such the housing built for the power station staff.

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Construction of the Brynmawr Lido 1931-32





Parc Lles a Lido Bryn-mawr
Gan mai tref haearn Bryn-mawr a welodd un o’r cyfraddau uchaf o ddiweithdra yn y Deyrnas Unedig yn ystod y Dirwasgiad Mawr, bu’n gartref i ‘Arbrawf Bryn-mawr’. Menter oedd honno dan arweiniad y Crynwyr i ddysgu sgiliau newydd, megis cynhyrchu celfi, i bobl ddi-waith. Bu’r dref hefyd yn ganolbwynt i brosiect gan y Gwasanaeth Gwirfoddol Rhyngwladol - mudiad o heddychwyr o’r Swistir - a Chyngor Hunan-Gymorth Myfyrwyr Cymru. Tynnodd y grwpiau hynny sylw rhyngwladol at effaith y caledi economaidd ar bobl De Cymru.

Codwyd Lido Bryn-mawr (NPRN 411741) rhwng 1931 a 1932 gan bobl Bryn-mawr a grŵp o wirfoddolwyr a oedd yn cynnwys dinasyddion o sawl cenedl yn Ewrop, gan gynnwys y Swistir Norwy, Sbaen a Gwlad Belg, yn ogystal â myfyrwyr o brifysgolion Leeds, Rhydychen, Caergrawnt, Llundain a phedwar coleg Prifysgol Cymru. Hwn oedd y cynllun cyntaf o’i fath ym Mhrydain a’r prosiect hamdden cyntaf un a gyflawnwyd gan y Gwasanaeth Gwirfoddol Rhyngwladol a oedd wedi ymsefydlu yn ystod y 1920au drwy gyflawni prosiectau a ymatebodd i drychinebau naturiol fel llifogydd neu afalansau eira.

Y record honno o wirfoddoli rhyngwladol a sicrhaodd y câi’r Lido ei gwblhau. Cyfyngedig oedd yr arian ar gyfer y prosiect, a phan ddaeth hi’n bryd prynu concrid i sicrhau bod y baddonau’n dal dŵr, doedd dim ceiniog ar gael yn lleol. Yn ffodus, cymaint oedd yr ymwybyddiaeth ryngwladol o Lido Bryn-mawr nes i gymuned fach Lagarde yn Ffrainc roi’r arian angenrheidiol i dalu amdano. Y flwyddyn gynt, roedd Lagarde wedi dioddef llifogydd dychrynllyd ac roedd gwirfoddolwyr (gan gynnwys sawl un o Brydain) wedi defnyddio arian a gawsai ei godi yn yr Iseldiroedd i fynd yno i helpu i ailgodi’r pentref. Gweddill yr arian hwnnw a anfonwyd gan Lagarde i Fryn-mawr. I goffáu’r rhodd , bu Maer Lagarde yn westai er anrhydedd yn seremoni agor Lido Bryn-mawr ym 1932.

Er i’r Lido gael ei ddymchwel yn y 1980au, cafodd y ffynnon ddŵr a arferai fod yn rhan o’r baddondai ei hachub a’i hadfer fel rhan o brosiect cymunedol dan arweiniad y cynghorydd lleol Terry Hughes. Cafodd y safle yn y Parc Lles ei agor ym mis Mehefin 2010 ac mae’n cynnwys arddangosiad clyweled sy’n disgrifio hanes a gwaddol Lido Bryn-mawr a’r bobl a’i cododd.

Cysylltau:


Brynmawr Welfare Park and Lido
During the Great Depression, the iron town of Brynmawr experienced one of the highest rates of unemployment anywhere in the United Kingdom. Home to the Quaker-led ‘Brynmawr Experiment’, an initiative designed to retrain the unemployed with new skills such as furniture manufacture, the town was also the focus of a project by the International Voluntary Service, a Swiss pacifist organisation, and the Welsh Student Self-Help Council. These groups brought international attention to the impact of economic hardship on the people of south Wales.

The construction of the Brynmawr Lido between 1931 and 1932 was undertaken by the people of Brynmawr and a group of volunteers that included citizens of several European nations including Switzerland, Norway, Spain, and Belgium as well as students from the universities of Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, London, and the four university colleges of Wales. It was the first scheme of its kind in Britain and the very first recreational project undertaken by the International Voluntary Service, which, during the 1920s, had established itself through projects responding to natural disasters such as floods or avalanches.

It was to be this record of international voluntarism that ensured the completion of the Lido. Money for the project was limited and when the time came to purchase concrete to make the baths water-tight, none was available locally. Fortunately, international awareness of the Brynmawr Lido was such that the small French community of Lagarde donated the sum needed to do so. The year before, Lagarde had suffered from a devastating flood and volunteers (including several Britons) had helped to reconstruct the village using money fundraised in the Netherlands. It was the remainder of this money that was sent by Lagarde to Brynmawr. To commemorate the gift, the Mayor of Lagarde was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the Brynmawr Lido in 1932.

Although the Lido was demolished in the 1980s, the water fountain that once formed part of the baths was rescued and restored as part of a community project led by local Councillor Terry Hughes. The site, which lies within the Welfare Park, was opened in June 2010 and features a audio-visual display detailing the history and legacy of the Brynmawr Lido and the people who built it.

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Monday, 14 February 2011

Chambered Tomb Older Than Egyptian Pyramids





Barclodiad y Gawres, gan edrych allan o’r beddrod ar hyd y cyntedd mynediad.
Barclodiad y Gawres, looking out of the tomb down the entrance passage. Image/Llun: DS2010_580_003 / NPRN: 95545
Barclodiad y Gawres, Môn
Beddrod siambr Neolithig yw Barclodiad y Gawres ac fe saif ar graig ar frig pentir Mynydd Cnwc uwchlaw Porth Trecastell. Cloddiwyd y beddrod ym 1952-3 ac ers hynny mae ef wedi’i gyfnerthu er mwyn i’r cyhoedd gael mynediad iddo o fewn twmpath modern sydd â haen o wydr ar ei ben.

Codwyd y beddrod cynhanesyddol hwn 5-6000 o flynyddoedd yn ôl ac mae’n hŷn, felly, na phyramidiau’r Aifft. Yn wreiddiol, roedd twmpath mawr o dywyrch rhyw 27m o ddiamedr drosto. Ar yr ochr ogleddol roedd cwrt blaen a drôi at i mewn, ac oddi yno ceid cyntedd 7.0m o hyd i mewn i siambr ganolog afreolaidd ei siâp. Oddi ar y gofod canolog hwnnw ceid tair siambr lai o faint a roddai gynllun croesffurf i’r beddrod. Dros y siambrau bach hynny, o leiaf, roedd slabiau mawr o gerrig nad oes ond un ohonyn nhw’n dal yn ei le. Wrth siambr y gorllewin roedd estyniad bach lle cafwyd hyd i olion dau ddyn a gawsai eu hamlosgi. Ar gerrig pen siambr y dwyrain a siambr y gorllewin ac ar dair o gerrig pen mewnol y cyntedd gwelir patrymau pigedig haniaethol ar ffurf igam-ogam, losenau a llinellau troellog yn nhraddodiad y gelfyddyd fegalithig sy’n gyffredin ar greigiau beddrodau Dyffryn Boyne yn Iwerddon, gan gynnwys beddrod enwog Newgrange, a beddrodau siambr yn Llydaw a Sbaen.

Wrth gloddio yn y siambr ganolog cafwyd hyd i olion tân hirhoedlog. Cawsai hwnnw ei ddiffodd â ‘stiw’ neu ddiod hud, ac yna ag amryw o gregyn meheryn a cherrig mân. Ond esboniad arall a gynigiwyd o’r casgliad anarferol hwnnw o famaliaid a physgod go anfwytadwy oedd mai ysgarthion dyfrgi a all fod wedi byw ymhlith adfeilion y beddrod oedd yno.

Effaith anffodus y fandaliaeth a fu yno’n ddiweddar yw bod y beddrod dan glo. Ond oherwydd technoleg ffotograffig newydd a thechnoleg sganio-â-laser, bydd modd gweld gogoniannau’r cerfiadau cynhanesyddol y tu mewn i’r beddrod cyn hir. Daeth gwaith ymchwil tîm o Brifysgol Bryste yn 2005 a 2006 o hyd i ragor o gelfyddyd bigedig gynhanesyddol ar Garreg 7 yng nghilfach chwith neu ddwyreiniol y siambr ac mae hynny’n dangos bod gan y beddrod hynafol hwn ragor o gyfrinachau newydd i’w datgelu.

Cysylltau:


Barclodiad y Gawres, y cyntedd mynediad.
Barclodiad y Gawres, entrance passage. Image/Llun: DS2010_580_002 / NPRN: 95545
Barclodiad y Gawres, Anglesey
Barclodiad y Gawres is a Neolithic chambered tomb set on a crag at the highest point of the Mynydd Cnwc headland overlooking Trecastle Bay. The tomb was excavated in 1952-3 and has since been consolidated and presented for public access within a modern glass-topped mound.

The prehistoric tomb, built between 5-6000 years ago and older than the Egyptian pyramids, was originally covered by a great turf based mound some 27m in diameter. On the north side was an inturned forecourt from which a 7.0m long passage led into the irregular central chamber. Three smaller chambers branched off this central space producing a cruciform plan. These smaller chambers at least were roofed by great stone slabs, only one of which survives. The west chamber had a smaller annex within which the cremated remains of two men were found. The end stones of the east and west chamber and three of the stones in the inner end of the passage were decorated with abstract pecked patterns of zig-zags, lozenges and spirals, in a tradition of megalithic rock art common among the tombs of the Boyne Valley in Ireland, including the famous Newgrange, and chambered tombs in Brittany and Spain.

Traces of a long lasting fire were found during excavations in the central chamber. This had been quenched by a 'stew' or magical potion, followed by a quantity of limpet shells and pebbles. However, alternative explanations offered for this unusual deposit of largely inedible mammals and fish is that it is faeces from an otter who may have been resident in the derelict tomb.

Due to recent vandalism the tomb is unfortunately kept locked, but through new photographic and laser-scanning technology it will soon be possible to see the glories of the prehistoric carvings inside the tomb once again. Research in 2005 and 2006 by a team from Bristol University discovered further pecked prehistoric rock art on Stone 7, in the left hand or eastern recess of the chamber, showing that this ancient tomb still had new secrets to reveal.

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BBC2 Wales - Hidden Histories - Series 3

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Mining for Lead, Silver & Other Metals





Yr olion sydd ar yr wyneb yn Ystrad Einon. Yma, gwelwn ni’r pyllau cerwyn crwn a’r tŷ malu a oedd yn elfennau pwysig yn y broses o dynnu’r metelau o’r mwyn.
The above ground remains at Ystrad Einion. Here we see the circular buddle pits and the crusher house, important elements in the process of recovering the metal ore. (Llun/Image: DS2011_075_002 / NPRN: 33908)
Dod â Mwynglawdd Metelau yng Ngogledd Ceredigion yn fyw
O’r golwg mewn cilfach dawel yng Nghwm Einon yng ngogledd Ceredigion mae un o emau diwydiannol cudd Cymru, sef mwynglawdd metelau Ystrad Einon. Bu pobl yn cloddio am blwm, arian a metelau eraill yma ar raddfa fach ers y 18fed ganrif, ond degawdau olaf y 19eg ganrif a welodd y gweithgarwch mawr yno. O weld cyfle i wneud arian, aeth y mentrwr o Sir Gaerhirfryn, Adam Mason, ati i gael prydles ar y tir a gwario dros £3000 ar brynu’r offer diweddaraf.

Mwynglawdd cymharol fach oedd hwn. Yn ôl adroddiad a luniwyd ym 1891, doedd ond 11 o fwyngloddwyr yn gweithio yno: naw dyn yn gweithio dan ddaear a dau lanc 13 ac 18 oed ar yr wyneb. Colledion enbyd a wnaed yn Ystrad Einon ac o edrych yn ôl gallwn weld i Adam Mason a’i offer gyrraedd yno’n rhy hwyr. Roedd y mwynau ar fin dod i ben, costau mwyngloddio’n cynyddu a mewnforion rhad o dramor wrthi’n bygwth ac, yn y pen draw, yn dinistrio mwyngloddio ym Mhrydain. Ym 1903 fe gaewyd y mwynglawdd am y tro olaf a gwerthu neu sgrapio llawer o’r peiriannau.

Gall y cyhoedd ymweld â mwynglawdd metelau Ystrad Einon, a bydd ffrwyth gwaith dehongli newydd i’w weld ar y safle erbyn haf 2011.

Mae gwaith y Comisiwn Brenhinol yn Ystrad Einon wedi’i gyflawni mewn partneriaeth â Chyngor Sir Ceredigion a’u prosiect PLWM, ynghyd ag Ymddiriedolaeth Cadwraeth Mwynfeydd Cymru.

Cysylltau:


Olwyn ddŵr dan ddaear. Hi fyddai’n gyrru’r pympiau draenio a’r drwm troi. Dyma un o drysorau cudd mwynglawdd Ystrad Einon, ac mae’n unigryw oherwydd iddi oroesi.
An underground water wheel, operating drainage pumps and a winding drum is one of the hidden treasures of Ystrad Einion mine and unique in its survival. (Llun/Image: DI2010_0140 / NPRN: 33908)
Bringing a North Ceredigion Metal Mine to life
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Cwm Einion in North Ceredigion, lies one of Wales’ hidden industrial gems, Ystrad Einion metal mine. Mining for lead, silver and other metals had been carried out here in a small way since the 18th century, but the main period of activity came in the final decades of the 19th century, when seeing an opportunity to make money, Lancastrian entrepreneur Adam Mason leased the land and sank over £3000 in state-of-the-art equipment.

This was a relatively small mine, a report of 1891 notes just 11 miners working at the site, nine men labouring underground and two lads, aged between 13 and 18 above ground. It also proved spectacular unprofitable and looking back we can now see that Adam Mason and his high technology arrived at Ystrad Einion too late. The ores were becoming exhausted, mining costs were increasing, and British production was being threatened, and eventually destroyed, by cheap foreign imports. The mine was finally closed in 1903, when much of the machinery was sold or scrapped.

Ystrad Einion metal mine is accessible to the public, and the results of new on-site interpretation work will be in place by Summer 2011.

The Royal Commission’s work at Ystrad Einion has been carried out in partnership with Ceredigion County Council and their PLWM project, together with the Welsh Mines Preservation Trust.

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BBC2 Wales - Hidden Histories - Series 3

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Monday, 7 February 2011

Traditions of Healing Wells





Ffynnon Elian yn 2010.
Ffynnon Elian in 2010. (Llun/Image: DS2011_053_002 / NPRN: 32271)
Ffynnon Felltithio Ffynnon Elian
Mae Cymru’n gyforiog o ffynhonnau iacháu, a llawer ohonyn nhw’n dyddio o’r Oesoedd Canol. Yn y 18fed ganrif gwelwyd adfywio ar draddodiad y ffynhonnau iacháu, yn rhannol oherwydd y diddordeb mewn datblygu trefi ffynhonnau ac yn rhannol am fod pob plwyf yn ymfalchïo bod ynddo ffynnon a feddai rymoedd arbennig. Un o’r amlycaf ohonyn nhw oedd Ffynnon Elian – ffynnon a gysylltid â brifo yn ogystal ag iacháu.

Ym mhlwyf Llandrillo-yn-Rhos, ar y ffin rhwng siroedd Dinbych a Chaernarfon, y mae Ffynnon Elian ac roedd hi’n rhan o fferm o’r enw Cefnyffynnon. Hyd at tua 1775, doedd y ffynnon ond yn enwog am ei grymoedd iacháu, ac o dan ddylanwad poblogrwydd Treffynnon, mae’n siŵr, fe geisiodd y plwyfolion hyd yn oed ei hyrwyddo’n fan ymdrochi. Ond wrth i’r18fed ganrif fynd rhagddi, magodd y ffynnon enw amwys am fod modd cywiro cam yno. Erbyn blynyddoedd cynnar y 19eg ganrif roedd hi’n adnabyddus fel ffynnon felltithio a cheid amryw byd o straeon am y trasiedïau a gysylltid â hi.

Cartref ceidwad y ffynnon oedd Fferm Cefnyffynnon – adeilad a ailgodwyd, mae’n debyg, ar sail yr elw a wnaeth ceidwad y ffynnon drwy godi tâl sylweddol am felltithio neu am ddileu melltith. Ar ôl ysgrifennu enw neu lythrennau blaen enw’r dioddefwr arfaethedig ar ddarn o lechen, câi’r darn hwnnw ei osod yn y ffynnon i gyfeiliant chwythu bygythiadau a melltithion at yr unigolyn a’i eiddo a’i wartheg. Grym awgrym a sicrhâi effaith y ffynnon. Yn ddealladwy ddigon, byddai pobl yn poeni ac yn dychryn am eu bywydau o glywed iddyn nhw gael eu melltithio yno, ac fe aen nhw at y ceidwad i ofyn iddo dynnu eu henwau oddi yno. Fel rheol, ateb cadarnhaol a gâi’r rhai a holai a oedden nhw wedi’u melltithio, ac mae’n debyg bod llechi ac arnyn nhw bob cyfuniad dan haul o lythrennau blaen yn cael eu cadw yn y ffermdy. Yn ddieithriad, ceid hyd i’r melltithion a’u dileu – a gorfod talu cryn dipyn yn fwy na chost y felltith yn y lle cyntaf.

Achosodd y ffynnon broblem i faes cyfraith a threfn wrth i gannoedd os nad miloedd o bobl felltithio’u cymdogion. Allai’r ynadon, i bob golwg, wneud fawr o ddim am fod y ffynnon ar dir preifat ac am nad oedd unrhyw drosedd amlwg wedi’i chyflawni. Ond ym 1828 aeth cynulleidfa capel gyfagos Rehoboth, capel y Methodistiaid, i’r afael â’r broblem drwy ddinistrio’r ffynnon a phlannu tatws drosti. Aeth pentrefwr mentrus, John Evans (a lysenwyd yn Jac Ffynnon Elian), ati i droi dŵr y ffynnon i lifo i’w ardd ef. Agorodd ef ffynnon yno a rhedeg y busnes am 30 mlynedd. Pan gyhuddwyd ef o dwyll ym 1831, cafodd ei garcharu am chwe mis, ond dychwelodd at y gwaith ar ôl iddo gael ei ryddhau. Tua diwedd ei oes, yn y 1850au, cyfaddefodd ef wrth weinidog mai twyll oedd y cyfan, a throdd yn Fedyddiwr. Rhoes Jac ei gyffes ar bapur ond bu farw cyn iddi gael ei chyhoeddi. Fe’i claddwyd ef ym mynwent Ebenezer, Capel y Bedyddwyr. Y syndod yw nad oes modd atal llif Ffynnon Elian a’i bod hi’n dal i gyflenwi dŵr iachusol i’r ffermdy gerllaw. Cewch holl hanes y ffynnon yn A History of Witchcraft and Magic in Wales gan Richard Suggett (2008).

Cysylltau:

Ffermdy Cefnyffynnon: cartref ceidwad y ffynnon.
Cefnyffynnon Farmhouse: home of the keeper’s of the well. (Llun/Image: DS2001_053_001 / NPRN: 32271)

Ffynon Elian Cursing Well
Wales is full of wells associated with healing, many of medieval origin. The tradition of healing wells was reinvigorated in the 18th century partly because of the interest in spas and partly because of parish patriotism, as each parish claimed to have a well with special powers. None more so than Ffynnon Elian which was associated with hurting as well as healing.

Ffynnon Elian is sited on the Denbighshire/Caernarfonshire border, in the parish of Llandrillo-yn-Rhos and was part of a farm called Cefnyffynnon. Up to about 1775 the well was known only for its healing properties, and the parishioners even tried to promote it as a bathing place, no doubt influenced by the popularity of Holywell. In the later 18th century however, the well acquired an ambiguous reputation as a place where wrongs could be righted, and by the early 19th century it was well-known as a cursing well with numerous stories circulated of the tragedies connected with it.

The keeper of the well lived at Cefnyffynnon Farm, apparently rebuilt from the profits of the well as the keeper was paid a substantial fee to impose or retract a curse. The intended victim’s name or initials were written on a piece of slate which was then placed in the well to an accompaniment of curses and imprecations directed against the person, their property or cattle. The well worked by power of suggestion - people were understandably anxious, if not terrified, if they heard they had been cursed there and could apply to the keeper to be taken out of the well. Those who enquired if they had been cursed were usually replied to in the affirmative, and it seems that slates with every possible permutation of initials were kept at the farmhouse. Curses were invariably found and cancelled – at considerably more than the initial cost of imposing a curse.

The well resulted in a law and order problem as hundreds, if not thousands, cursed their neighbours. The magistrates seemed powerless as the well was on private property and no obvious crime had been committed. In 1828 however, the congregation of the adjacent Rehobeth Methodist Chapel took matters into their own hands and destroyed the well, planting potatoes on the spot. An enterprising villager, John Evans (alias Jac Ffynnon Elian), diverted the spring water to his own garden, opened a well and continued in business for another 30 years. Tried for fraud in 1831, he was imprisoned for six months, but continued after his release. Towards the end of his life, in the 1850s, he confessed to a minister that the well had been a hoax and became a Baptist. Jac wrote his confessions but died before they were published and is buried in the graveyard of Ebenezer Baptist Chapel. Remarkably, the spring at Ffynnon Elian has proved irrepressible, and supplies salubrious water to the nearby farmhouse. The full story of the well is available in A History of Witchcraft and Magic in Wales by Richard Suggett (2008).

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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Drawings of Chain Bridge by a French Industrial Spy





Pont Gadwyni Llandysilio.
The Llantisilio Chain Bridge. Llun/Image: DS2007_077_001   NPRN: 24054
Pont Gadwyni Llandysilio
Codwyd y Bont Gadwyni gyntaf ym 1817 i gysylltu dau lwybr mawr trafnidiaeth yn y Gogledd, sef camlas Llangollen a’r ffordd o Lundain i Gaergybi. Yr oedd y mentrwr lleol, Exuperius Pickering, yn awyddus i fanteisio ar Gamlas Llangollen i gludo’i nwyddau – glo, calch a barrau haearn – draw i briffordd Telford a sicrhau mynediad cyflym a rhad i farchnadoedd y gogledd. I sicrhau hynny, treuliodd gryn amser o 1814 ymlaen yn pwyso ar Gwmni Camlas Llangollen i wella darn bwydo’r gamlas a rhoi iddo ef, a neb arall, fynediad i’r ceiau a’r pontydd. Yn y pen draw, bu codi’r bont yn fodd iddo fonopoleiddio’r fasnach lo yn yr ardal honno.

Codwyd pont Pickering o ddec pren a gâi ei gynnal gan gadwyni haearn gyr oddi isod. Rhoddwyd haen o bridd a cherrig dros y dec. O wely’r afon cynhelid y bont gan chwe cholofn dderw digon o faint i wrthsefyll llifddyfroedd mawr. Gwnaed lluniadau arolygu manwl o’r bont honno gan y sbïwr diwydiannol o Ffrainc, J. Dutens, ym 1819, ac yn ei adroddiad cafwyd y sylw ‘nid oes modd rhoi terfyn ar yr athrylith... fe geir yn Llundain enghreifftiau o bontydd cadwyni, ond ôl meddwl rhagorach sydd i gynllun y bont dros Afon Dyfrdwy’. Erbyn 1870, y farn oedd bod cyflwr y bont yn rhy wael iddi gael ei hadfer ac fe’i tynnwyd oddi yno. Yn ei lle, codwyd pont ym 1876 gan Henry Robertson, peiriannydd enwog pontydd a rheilffyrdd a pherchennog gwaith haearn Brymbo. Mae’n hysbys i’w gynllun ddilyn un y bont gyntaf ond bod y colofnau a gynhaliai’r bont yn rhai o haearn yn hytrach nag o dderw.

Er i’r rhan fwyaf o’r bont gael ei golchi ymaith gan lifogydd difrifol ar 16eg Chwefror 1928, dal eu tir wnaeth ei chadwyni cynhaliol. Penderfynodd Syr Henry Robertson, mab yr Henry blaenorol, ailgodi’r bont ar batrwm Pont Menai, a dywedir iddo ailddefnyddio cadwyni’r bont wreiddiol. Crogwyd chwech o’r cadwyni hynny i gynnal y dec oddi uchod, a gosodwyd dwy arall unwaith eto o dan y dec. Gwelliant mawr oedd y cynllun hwnnw am ei fod yn gryfach ac yn gallu gwrthsefyll llifogydd. Costiodd gyfanswm o £303.11.00. Adeg agor y bont cynhaliwyd diwrnod o ddathlu a rhoddwyd 45 o’r gweithwyr i sefyll ar y bont i ddangos pa mor gryf oedd hi.

Caewyd y bont yn derfynol ganol y 1980au. Gan ei bod hi mewn cyflwr peryglus, does dim modd mynd ati ond mae ymchwil y Comisiwn wedi gallu dangos bod cynllun a graddfa’r cadwyni a ddefnyddiwyd yn y drydedd bont mor debyg nes ychwanegu cryn bwysau at y ddamcaniaeth i gadwyni’r bont wreiddiol gael eu storio a’u hailddefnyddio 111 o flynyddoedd yn ddiweddarach.

Cysylltau:

The Llantisilio Chain Bridge
The Chain Bridge was first built in 1817 in order to link two major transport routes in North Wales, the Llangollen canal and the London to Holyhead Road. Local entrepreneur, Exuperius Pickering, wished to take advantage of the Llangollen Canal to transport his goods of coal, lime and iron bar to Telfords’ highway, thereby giving him quick and cheap access to the markets in the north. To achieve this he spent considerable time from 1814 onwards petitioning the Llangollen Canal Company to improve the feeder section of canal and allow him exclusive access to the wharves and bridges. Ultimately, the construction of the bridge allowed him to monopolise the coal trade in the area.

Pickering’s bridge was constructed of wooden decking supported by wrought iron chains from below and with a covering surface of earth and stone. Six oak pillars supported the bridge from within the river bed, substantial enough to withstand heavy floodwaters. Detailed survey drawings of this bridge were carried out by the French Industrial spy, J. Dutens, in 1819 accompanied by a report that included ‘one cannot assign a limit to the genius… there exist in London examples of chain bridges, but the conception of the bridge of the Dee is preferable’. By 1870 however the condition of the bridge was considered to be beyond repair and the structure removed. It was replaced in 1876 by Henry Robertson, a renowned bridge and railway engineer, as well as an owner of the Brymbo Ironworks. His design is known to have closely followed that of the first structure, the supporting pillars being of iron rather than oak.

On 16th February 1928, severe flooding washed away the majority of the bridge, although the supporting chains held fast. Sir Henry Robertson, the previous Henry’s son, decided to rebuild the crossing along the lines of the Menai Suspension Bridge, reportedly re-using the chains from the original structure. Six of these chains were suspended to support the deck from above, while a further two again lay underneath the deck. The new design was a great improvement, being of greater strength and unaffected by floods. The total cost was £303.11.00, and the official opening was marked by a day of celebrations, including the standing of 45 employees on the bridge in order to demonstrate its strength.

This bridge was finally closed in the mid 1980s and, being in a dangerous state of repair, is inaccessible. The research carried out by Commission however, has been able to show that the design and scale of the chains used in the third structure are so similar as to lend considerable weight to the hypothesis that the chains from the original structure were stored and reused 111 years later.

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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Survival of Vernacular Building Traditions





Wig-wen-fach: golwg o’r tu mewn a’r nenfforch sgarff.
Wig-wen-fach: interior view with scarfed cruck. Llun/Image: DS2010_116_003 / NPRN: 35396

Wig-wen-fach, Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion
Cyfeiriai teithwyr yn y ddeunawfed ganrif a’r ganrif ddilynol yn aml at gyflwr ffiaidd bythynnod a ffermdai bach Cymru, adeiladau a fyddai, yn fynych, â muriau o fwd, toeon gwellt, simneiau go fregus a thu mewn tywyll a brwnt. Ond mae modd gorliwio’r darlun hwnnw: yn aml, mae’r bythynnod sydd wedi goroesi (a detholiad ohonynt yn unig sydd wedi gwneud hynny, wrth gwrs) yn adeiladau cadarn a’u nodweddion wedi’u saernïo’n gelfydd.

Enghraifft brin o’r traddodiad adeiladu brodorol hwnnw yw bwthyn Wig-wen-fach ar ystâd Llanerchaeron, Sir Aberteifi. Tan yn ddiweddar, bu’n llety i weithwyr fferm yr ystâd ond yr oedd yn wag pan waddolwyd ef i’r Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol ym 1989. Penderfyniad goleuedig yr Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol oedd cadw’r bwthyn fel y mae yn hytrach na’i foderneiddio a’i ddatblygu. Cyferbyniad difyr i ymwelwyr â’r ystâd yw’r un rhwng y plasty gwych a godwyd gan John Nash yn y G18fed ganrif a’r bwthyn ystâd unllawr o’r un cyfnod.

Yn Wig-wen-fach cadwyd nodweddion crefft sydd wedi diflannu i raddau helaeth mewn mannau eraill. Mae cryn dipyn o glai yn y waliau. Ar y tu mewn, cadwyd y plastr gwreiddiol, fflagiau’r llawr, y paredau o fasgedwaith, mantell y lle tân, y nenffyrch sgarff a’r defnydd o dan y to. Tu mewn o ran gynnar y G19eg sydd i Wig-wen-fach. Yng ngeiriau craff Eurwyn Wiliam, ‘cartrefi o waith cartref’ oedd y bythynnod: yn aml, y bobl a’u codai a fyddai’n byw ynddynt, a defnyddient sgiliau’r crefftau traddodiadol at y gwaith. Fel y cyfryw, maent yn enghreifftiau cynnar o adeiladu cynaladwy sy’n cynnig gwersi i ni yn y G21ain. Drwy’r Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol yn unig y ceir gwneud apwyntiad i ymweld â Wig-wen-fach.

Cysylltau:
Wig-wen-fach: golwg o’r tu allan.
Wig-wen-fach: exterior view. Llun/Image: DS2010_116_002 / NPRN: 35396
Wig-wen-fach, Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion
Travellers in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Wales often alluded to the wretched state of cottages and small farmhouses that were frequently mud-walled, thatched, with make-shift chimneys, and internally dark and squalid. And yet this picture can be overdrawn: surviving cottages (and of course they are only the select survivors) are often robust with well-crafted features.

Wig-wen-fach, on the Llanerchaeron estate in Cardiganshire, is a precious survival of this vernacular building tradition. Latterly it provided cottage accommodation for farm workers on the estate, and was empty when bequeathed to the National Trust in 1989. The National Trust has made an enlightened decision not to modernise or develop the cottage but to preserve it as it is. There is an illuminating contrast for visitors to the estate between the splendid C18th mansion built by John Nash and the contemporary single-storey estate cottage.

Wig-wen-fach preserves craft features that have largely disappeared elsewhere. The walls have generous quantities of clay and internally, the original plaster, the flagged floors, wickerwork partitions, fireplace hood, scarfed cruck-trusses, and underthatch survive. Wig-wen-fach preserves an early C19th craft interior. In Eurwyn Wiliam’s felicitous phrase, cottages like these were ‘home-made homes’: they were often built by the people who lived in them using their traditionally-learnt craft skills and as such the provide early examples of sustainable building that have lessons for us in the C21st. Access to Wig-wen-fach is by appointment only through the National Trust.

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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Severn Estuary Flood of 20th January 1607





Golwg o’r awyr o’r gwaith cloddio yn Allteuryn.
St Mary Magdalen's, Goldcliff, view from north-east. Image/Llun: AP_2005_1219 / NPRN: 307350

Mae’r Comisiwn Brenhinol yn casglu gwybodaeth am arysgrifau yng Nghymru ers tro byd. Negeseuon o’r gorffennol yw’r rheiny, ac fe’u codwyd yn fwriadol er mwyn i ni eu darllen yn y dyfodol. Fe’u gwelir yn gyffredin ar adeiladau ac mae modd eu defnyddio i lunio mapiau a graffiau o weithgarwch adeiladu. Mae arysgrifau’n ddiddorol oherwydd eu hiaith (Cymraeg, Saesneg neu Ladin) a’r digwyddiad a goffeir ganddynt. Weithiau, cafwyd digwyddiadau mor drychinebus nes mynnu codi cofeb iddynt – enghraifft o hynny yw cofeb Tân Llundain (1666). Mae’r arysgrif yn Allteuryn yn un o sawl cofeb i orlif mawr 20fed Ionawr 1607 a wnaeth gymaint o ddifrod i lawer o’r tir ar hyd glannau aber afon Hafren.

Mae’r arysgrif ar blât pres bach yn eglwys Allteuryn yn odli a hynny, mae’n debyg, i’w gwneud hi’n fwy cofiadwy: “On the 20 day of January even as it came to pas/ It pleased God the flood did flow to the edge of this same brass/ and in this parish there was lost 5000 and od pound/ Besides xxii people was in this parish drowned.” Pa mor uchel oedd y dŵr? Mewn sawl eglwys gyfagos (e.e. Llan-bedr Gwynllŵg) dangosir union lefel y gorlif â phlwg plwm (ac ynddo soced i ffon) a lefel. Mae’r uchderau wedi’u mesur yn fanwl-gywir ac yn dangos i’r gorlif gyrraedd uchder o 7.14 m (23.4 troedfedd) uwchlaw lefel y môr. Gan ddefnyddio’r uchderau hynny, gallwn ni fras-fodelu hyd a lled y gorlif ar wastadeddau Gwent hyd at lle mae’r M4 heddiw ar ymyl y gwastatir llifwaddod.

Yn ôl y ffynonellau dogfennol, achoswyd dinistr ar hyd arfordir Cymru cyn belled â Bae Caerfyrddin. Ond ceir gwahaniaeth barn ymysg haneswyr hinsawdd ynghylch ai dygyfor storm ai swnami – pwnc rhaglen wych Timewatch (BBC, 2005) – a achosodd y gorlif. Wnawn ni ddim poeni am hynny: y dirwedd hanesyddol sydd o ddiddordeb i ni.

Er y gall rhai cymunedau fod wedi methu ag ymadfer ar ôl y gorlif, fe ymadferodd gwastadeddau Gwent i raddau helaeth am fod yno (o hyd) system o forgloddiau, ffosydd (reens) a llifddorau (gouts) i reoli’r dŵr. Nid dyna’r tro cyntaf, wrth gwrs, i’r tir gael ei orlifo. Rhoddwyd y gorau i ddefnyddio Priordy Allteuryn ganol y G15fed ar ôl gorlif, a dyna pryd y codwyd eglwys y plwyf. Mae’r morgloddiau y rhoddwyd y gorau i’w defnyddio yn dangos bod proses barhaus o ennill a cholli tir wedi bod yn digwydd yno ers oes yr arth a’r blaidd. O safbwynt archaeolegol, mae’n fro gyfoethog iawn.

Er i’r eglwysi a godwyd o gerrig wrthsefyll y gorlif, mae llenyddiaeth y pamffledi’n awgrymu nad dyna hanes llawer o’r tai. Yn sicr, mae’n anodd iawn dod o hyd i dai cynnar ar wastadeddau Gwent, ond fe godwyd Little Porton, ger eglwys Whitson, yn y traddodiad brodorol lleol. Fe ddysgwn ni gryn dipyn o’i astudio. Yma, yr ydym ar wastatir llifwaddod heb fawr o goed na cherrig adeiladu. Rhaid dod â defnyddiau adeiladu sylfaenol, fel coed, cerrig ac, yn ddiweddarach, frics yma. Yn Little Porton fe welwn ni ddefnydd adeiladu arall, sef clai. O dan y llifwaddodion ceir gre, clai morol gludiog y gellid ei ddefnyddio i godi adeiladau. Er i Little Porton gael ei godi ar ôl y gorlif, mae’n rhoi syniad da o bryd a gwedd adeilad a godwyd yn yr G17eg - adeilad hir ac isel â tho gwellt. Mae’n fwy na thebyg i’r waliau blaen ac ochr gael eu hailgodi, ond wal o glai yw’r un gefn o hyd. Mae hynny’n dangos mai defnydd adeiladu brodorol a lleol oedd y clai morol lleol. Cwympo wnaiff waliau clai, wrth gwrs, pan gânt eu gwlychu, a dyna a ddigwyddodd, mae’n debyg, adeg gorlif 1606/7.

Wrth ochr y bwthyn mae adeilad difyr arall, sef beudy a godwyd o blanciau. Mae i hwnnw, hefyd, do gwellt. Mae’n gwbl annhebyg i’r adeiladau fferm eraill sydd wedi goroesi yn y fro. Er bod coed yn brin, defnyddiwyd planciau’n helaeth wrth ei godi. Codwyd y waliau o blanciau gan eu gosod ochr wrth ochr â’i gilydd a’u cysylltu â sbigynnau. Lwc dda’r adeiladydd oedd iddo gael gafael ar lwyth o blanciau. Hoffwn gredu mai rhan o gynhaeaf y môr oedd hwnnw.


Cysylltau:

Awyrlun o Eglwys Mair Magdalen, Allteuryn, o’r gogledd-ddwyrain.
Aerial view of Goldcliff excavations. Image/Llun: DI2007_1576 / NPRN: 400758

The Royal Commission has been collecting information on inscriptions in Wales for a long time. They are messages from the past deliberately put there for us to read in the future. They are commonly seen on buildings and they can be used them to construct maps and graphs of building activity. Inscriptions are interesting because of the language used (English, Welsh or Latin) and the event commemorated. Sometimes events were so cataclysmic that they demanded commemoration – like the Fire of London memorial (1666). The inscription at Goldcliff is one of several memorials to the great flood of 20th January 1607 which devastated much of the Severn estuary.

The inscription is on a small brass plate in Goldcliff church and is in rhyme, presumably to make it more memorable: “On the 20 day of January even as it came to pas/ It pleased God the flood did flow to the edge of this same brass/ and in this parish there was lost 5000 and od pound/ Besides xxii people was in this parish drowned.” How high was the water? At several adjacent churches (e.g. Peterstone Wentlooge ) the actual flood level is marked with a lead plug (socketed for a stick) and a level. The heights have been accurately measured showing the flood here reached a height of 7.14 m. (23.4. feet) above OD. Using these heights we can model in a rough and ready way the extent of the flood that covered the Gwent levels reaching all the way to the present M4 on the edge of the alluvial plain.

Documentary sources provide evidence that the destruction reached around the Welsh coast as far as Carmarthen Bay. However there are differing views among climate historians as to whether the flood was caused by a storm surge or a tsunami, the subject of a brilliant Timewatch programme (BBC, 2005). That doesn’t concern us here – we are interested in the historic landscape.

Some communities may never have fully recovered from the flood, but the Gwent levels did largely because it had (and still has) a water management system of sea-walls, dykes or reens and sluices or gouts. This wasn’t of course the first time this area had flooded. Goldcliff Priory was abandoned in the mid-C15th after flooding, and the parish church was built then. Abandoned seawalls show that there has been a continual process of reclaiming and abandoning land from a remote period. The area is archaeologically very rich.

Stone built churches withstood the flood but the pamphlet literature suggests that many houses didn’t. It is certainly very hard to find early houses on the Gwent levels. However, Little Porton, near Whitson church, is built in the local vernacular tradition, and is really quite an illuminating house. We are on an alluvial plain without much tree-cover or building stone here. Basic building materials wood, stone and, later, brick, have to be imported. At Little Porton we see a third alternative building material - clay. Underneath the alluvial deposits there is gre, sticky marine clay which can be used for building. Little Porton is a post-flood building but it gives a good idea of what a C17th buildings was like - long and low with a thatched roof. The front and side walls have probably been rebuilt but the rear wall is still clay, and shows that the local marine clay was a local vernacular building material. Of course when clay walls get wet they collapse, and this is probably what happened in 1606/7 flood.

Alongside the cottage there is another intriguing building. This is a plank-built cowhouse, which is also thatched. It is quite unlike any other surviving farm building in the area. Timber is scarce here and yet this is lavishly plank-built. The walls are built from planks set side by side and spiked together. The builder had the good fortune to acquire a load of planks. I’d like to believe that this was part of the harvest of the sea.


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