Sunday, 7 July 2013

June 2013

I had a lovely surprise at the beginning of June in having a request to do reccie with BBC2 Director, Jonathan Barker. After meeting him off the train at Rhosneigr, my local train station, I spent time taking him to various locations he wanted to survey from prehistory, including LL C B, This was in readiness for coming back to film with Neil Oliver the following week. Neil is from Scotland and well known as an archaeologist, historian, author and presenter.  Many will know him from the excellent series - Coast. I also drove past Cymyran Hotel, which is around the corner nearby to Llyn Cerrig Bach. He agreed it would be Ideal for Neil and the filming group.
                                           Jonathan at RAF Valley
During the following couple of days, my husband and I went around the sites they’d decided to film. We took pictures of the sites and also of suitable car parking areas! We had a very enjoyable weekend in all as it was during one of our rare sunny periods.
The following week, I met up with Neil Oliver and Jonathan at RAF Valley, where I was asked to relate on film some of my memories of handling Llyn Cerrig Bach artefacts. This was after the main hoard had gone down to Cardiff. My father, along the following few years whilst at work, would find more things such as swords, currency bars etc. He would wrap them in sackcloth and carry them home on his bike. I then used to help him wrap them in old newspaper, place them in an old orange wooden box and post them to Cardiff. I still have the letter of thanks to him from Sir Cyril Fox – but not the five shillings postal order enclosed to reimburse him the postage.

                                    With Neil Oliver after finishing filming my piece.
 The following day, as pre-arranged with Jonathan, Alan and I met up with Neil and the filming group on Holyhead Mountain. This is the site of the Tŷ Mawr Hut Circles - known in Welsh as Cytiau'r Gwyddelod (literally translated - Irish Huts) They are located across the road to the South Stack cliffs and the RSPB centre. Travelling a little further up the mountain, you can look down over the cliffs and see an amazing view of South Stack lighthouse.

No one is sure how old this settlement is, suggestions range from the Neolithic to the Dark Ages. Most probably it is from the Iron Age. There are twenty bases still to be seen which you can walk amongst. Finds from the site include flint arrowheads, part of a stone axe and pottery remains that date from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age as well as later a small hoard of Roman coins found within one of the huts.

                                                          Neil filming on Holyhead Mountain

Down the road from where I live is Barclodiad y Gawres – again literally translated as The Giantess’ apronful ( stones that she dropped when she flew over from Ireland according to the fable! That evening, since they were so near my home, I met up with Neil and the group again. Amanda had brought us all a picnic to enjoy whilst we watched the sun setting over Holyhead Mountain and the Irish Sea. Beautiful. Here Frances Lynch, our own expert on Anglesey’s prehistory, explained to Neil on film, the significance of the site. She has
published an excellent book “ Prehistoric Anglesey”.
Barclodiad is a Neolithic burial chamber with a passage in the form of a crucifix. It has six stones with carvings of spirals, zig-zags, lozenges and chevrons. I had never seen it light up so well – usually I’d be stumbling around with my flash lamp like everyone else!

The site is cared for by Cadw, the Welsh Heritage organisation.From April to October at weekends and bank holidays it is possible to enter the chamber. You need to pre-book by phone for the key holder from the Wayside shop in Llanfaelog to come there to accompany you. ( 01407810153)

To finish off the evening, the filming crew had carried boxes of food and drink for an evening picnic. We sat chatting whilst watching the sun setting like a red ball of fire over the Irish Sea and Holyhead Mountain. Bliss!
Sadly, it was time to say our goodbyes after becoming really good friends over the last few days.

Recently,work by the Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams has gone on public display in Venice. Bedwyr’s exhibition - The Starry Messenger - forms the official Welsh presence at this year's Venice Biennale. Designed at his home in Rhostryfan in Gwynedd, Wales, the installation at a former Venetian convent features sculpture and a video performance. It is inspired by amateur astronomy, and features a replica observatory and areas of near-darkness. This international contemporary art event takes place at venues across the Italian city every two years. Bedwyr commissioned my son, Gorwel (remembered mostly by many as the Super Furry Animals producer ),to do the sound tracks for it.  Bedwyr asked him to recreate “that sound when you’ve been in the house all evening and you go out at midnight.” The exhibition was launched in June and is on until November.

During June I arranged a day’s visit for of 40 of our local U3A members to Amlwch on the north coast of our island. First, we visited the new Heritage Centre at Amlwch Port. The old copper bins have now been transformed into a fascinating H C telling the story. I arranged for Alison Price from Menter Môn to give us an informative talk on the history on how the copper was mined and shipped around the world from here. You can pick up a card representing one of the people from that time and scan it for information at various interactive spots. There are also excellent interactive educational panels We then walked over to the GeoMôn centre situated very close by. Here, Dr. Margaret Wood, a renowned geologist, guided us through the various ages of Anglesey rocks.
She explained how the bedrock geology of Anglesey comprises a complex collage of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that were formed between 300–650 million years ago.
In this picture of Margaret and myself, she explained that can be seen behind us, were formed under the sea about 530 million years ago during the Cambrian Period. Around 450 million years ago when Anglesey was in the southern hemisphere the rocks then on the margins of Antarctica at the southern edge of the Iapetus Ocean moved northwards as the Iapetus Ocean closed. Scotland which was on the northern shores of the Iapetus Ocean then suffered a collision with Anglesey and the southern continents. This resulted in the rocks being folded and cracked (faulted). The fault you see on the photo was the result of the collision, known in Britain as the Caledonian Orogeny (Mountain building period). You will notice that the right hand side of the hillside to the right of the fault, has dropped down 15 to 20 feet all of which happened during the collision under water. This would have caused a huge tsunami as big as the one in Indonesia in 2004. Sadly, the time to leave came too soon, but I shall be re-visiting with my grandchildren during August.
Please note, the Young Geologists Club for the over 8 will meet at Oriel Ynys Môn, starting Wednesday July 31st. 1.30 – 3pm (01248 752009 to book). £1.50 each child.

 My friend Margaret Rookes and I enjoyed a lunch at Quay’s Café - walking distance up the road from the port car park. We had lovely different salad each followed by a choice of homemade cakes or scones, I even bought a similar takeaway teatime treat to take home to my husband!
Next stop was Parys Mountain, where we met up with Lionel Joyston, whom I’d pre-booked as our guide.
                                           with guide Lionel Joyston
 First, Lionel guided us along the footpath from the entrance to the visitors viewing platform.  From here, you have an incredible view across the massive Great Open Cast. It allowed us to see clearly down to the bottom of the mine.  No wonder the BBC filmed some shots for Dr Who, the popular sci-fi series, here,  The bare, heavily mined landscape give the mountain a strange appearance which was also used to film scenes for the science fiction, Mortal Kombat.
At the platform, Lionel gathered us around him to tell us how Parys mountain was mined for copper ore in the early Bronze Age, nearly 4,000 years ago as identified by sub-surface debris. The main ores mined  here were silver, gold and lead, copper.  The copper from the mine was used to sheath the British Admiralty's wooden ships of war, to prevent the growth of seaweed and barnacles and to protect the wood from attack by shipworms.This increased the speed and maneuverability of the ships, and enabled them to remain at sea for longer since there was less need to return to port to maintain them.
In the distance, you can see the Summit Windmill which was built in 1878, in the hope of reducing pumping costs for the deepening mine shafts. The windmill was unique in Anglesey in having five sails.

                                      up above the Great Open Cast
Everyone agreed that we’d had a wonderful enjoyable and informative time informing us about the unique history of our island.
For the more adventurous, you can book guides that will take you on underground tours. You’ll be able to go down a shaft via a narrow steep ladder and then explore the various tunnels. In my younger days I would have loved to have done this!  Fascinating pictures of this adventurous tour can be seen on the web.

I attended three book launches by Anglesey authors this month!The first was “Screen of Brightness” a new collaborative collection of poems by Fiona Owen, my daughter in law and Meredith Andrea. They first launched in Birminghambut I attended the second launch at Bangor. It was a very proud moment for me. Also Fiona and Gorwel gave a small musical recital, singing in harmony old Welsh folk songs and English songs which they’d composed both the music and words.
Another book launch I was invited to on Anglesey, was by Chas Parry-Jones at Ucheldre Arts Centre, Holyhead: “Equalising the day.” This again is a selection of poems by Chas, which contain many based on reflections of his childhood in Bryngwran, Anglesey. to see what's on.

The final one was to “Montage” .This is a bi-lingual book in Welsh and English inspired and written mainly by the Benllech Writers Group. It contains stories and poems written personally by the contributors about their memories and knowledge of our island. I was asked to contribute an article in Welsh about Llyn Cerrig Bach. During the book launch Proff. David Crystal, as its Godfather, was invited forward to baptize the book. He had been part of a book launch in Czech Republic. Following in their tradition, he literally baptized our book with red wine! There were loud gasps echoing around the room. David then explained that it was the custom then to auction this first book, which resulted in raising a lot of money! We did not do this, as he had intentionally truly soaked the book!

 As almost an octagenarian, I'm still battling with blogspot. For those who know - how are you allowed to arrange pictures where you'd like them to be on the page? Also, I keep saving and saving as I go along but find that things have moved when I look at it again! Ughhh.