Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Thinking . . .
There will be more photos from Castell Coch tomorrow, but right now I am shattered from all the gardening I've been doing the past 10 days or so - especially the mattocking I have been doing in the paddock.
I sat down on the bank in the paddock this afternoon, when the sun was out, and having just dug up some round pebbles (possibly Iron Age ammunition), glass (Victorian or later), tile (possibly earlier), glazed tile (1950s fireplace) and a burned stone (any period), I got to thinking about the people who lived here in late Medieval and Tudor times - I would need to be digging deeper for traces of THEM! I wondered where the original house was and whether the 'great hall' was in front of where I was sitting at that moment or buried inside our present house, which has 1718 over the door, but that is just modifications to the architecture as we have an external wall a couple of feet thick in the middle of the house. We have found two parallell lines of foundation stones on the line of our present driveway.
I imagined the Bardic poet Lewis Glyn Cothi arriving on a sensible cob, and settling down by the fire to compare genealogy with his host and write praise poetry (he is recorded as being a great friend of the influential family living here then.) I imagined the excitement when one of the sons here was given a position as Esquire to the body of Henry VII. I imagined the other sons - or even their father - riding into Carmarthen in search of entertainment when country life got tedious. Perhaps their father had a mistress there who he visited when he was supposedly on official business and he would ride into town like Yuri in Dr Zhivago, visiting Lara.
I wondered what it was like here when Carmarthen Castle surrendered to Glyndwr in his rebellion, and when local Dryslwyn was so badly damaged by his forces in 1403 that it ceased to be of any importance and the townsfolk of its hilltop village would have been killed or at least displaced. Were the beacons flaring along the line of command up the Towy Valley, from Carmarthen to Dryslwyn, to Dinefwr, to mighty Carreg Cennen on its limestone crag? Did our family rally to the call to arms?
I am glad that we don't have to fight local battles or defend ourselves against all-comers, but every time I find a round pebble, I think of the defended Iron Age enclosure in the field next door to ours, and wonder, was it a slingshot? And does that burnt stone come from a Medieval hearth?