Mary opened the meeting to yet another full house and told us a story about Dai Davies and the Bank Manager, Mr Thomas, who incidentally lived in Haulfryn, the house where Mary and Richard live today.
Dai Davies was working in the AutoPalace in Llandrindod when he had a phone call from Mr Thomas to say that he needed to see him straight away as he had a problem. In the days when Bank Managers were Bank Managers he dutifully turned up at the Bank in Penybont and was very surprised to find a tractor pulled in tight across the doorway of the Bank. When he managed to squeeze in he found Mr Thomas with two very disgruntled looking gentlemen farmers. The tractor had been purchased from Dai by the 2 farmers but when they got it home they found it did not perform as expected. They phoned the Bank and asked for the cheque, they had written to purchase the tractor, to be stopped. The Bank failed to stop the cheque and the transaction went through. The two farmers were not too pleased and wanted their money back – “You can have it!” they told Mr Thomas . A somewhat delicate moment which was resolved by Mr Thomas having to, in effect, purchase the tractor from Dai and handing the cash back to the two farmers. Mr Thomas, in the time old way of Bankers, did not lose out as he sold the tractor on making a small profit for himself in the process!
Geraint welcomed everyone and introduced new members to the group:
Dr Geoff Barlow retired Medical Offer of Health for the County and former next door neighbour of Maesyfed.
Jenny Jones; David and Muriel Parker; Ralph and Lorraine Slaney (Ralph is a retired Head teacher); Maria Wicks, a seamstress from Russia. Geraint also welcomed Liz who had come to barrack Derek!
Main Topic: The Archaeology of Rhos Swydd/Penybont Common
Speaker: Derek Turner
Having walked my dog over the Common for many years it has been fascinating to learn about its history over the centuries. In this talk I am not going to say much about its more recent history or the time when it was occupied by the troops, perhaps for another time or in discussion later.
There were so many features to look at and I have narrowed it down to just six: Geology; Commons; Roads; Settlements; Agriculture; Rabbit Warrens. I will attempt to give some general information in each case and then say what I think I know about Penybont Common or, to give it it’s proper name, Rhos Swydd Common.
I have really struggled with the word Swydd but having consulted various oracles I think I can now say, even if I struggle to say it correctly, that Rhos Swydd is an upland moor where people worked, it gave occupation or jobs. Coed Swydd is a woodland where people worked, and Dolswydd is a water meadow where people work. The Welsh for Yorkshire is Swydd Efrog. There is within this the suggestion that Swydd in older Welsh was a ‘district’ and that it could be the basis of the term ‘Shire’.
An interesting discussion followed on how the word ‘swydd’ which for our Welsh Speakers, and in the dictionary, means an ‘office’ or ‘small administrative district’, and how this might be an illustration of how the Welsh language evolves over time in use and in different places. An office or small administrative district being places where people worked, and the ‘Shire’ being an area of administration.
I will start with some photographs of the Common.
• The ‘ring’ of trees is a particular feature that will be well known.
On Christmas Day in 2010 we went for a walk across the Common in the sun and snow and we took some photos from various angles. At one point our daughter, Ellen, who has travelled extensively around the world, looked up and said you; “This is probably the most beautiful scenery I have seen anywhere!” Pictures followed of:
• Ring of trees in the snow
• Looking towards Dolau
• Looking towards CefnLlys
• Looking towards Llandegley Rocks
• Ant Hills in the snow
Around 1830, John Clare, the Poet, penned:
“Ye commons left free in the rude winds of nature
Ye brown heath beclothed in furze as ye be
My wild eye in rapture adorns every feature
Ye are dear as this heart in my bosom to me”
2. General Characteristics
Rhos Swydd Common covers 2.84 square kilometres
It is underlain by Silurian (used by Dr WHO) mudstones, siltstones and sandstones of Wenlock Series, over 420 million years old. The bedrock is rarely exposed, although several small quarries have been worked on the common in the past.
The Silurian Period follows the Ordovician Period, at 443.8 ± 1.5 million years ago (Llandegley Rocks were created by a combination of volcanic eruptions and movements in the Teutonic plates in the Ordovician Period)
Interestingly the people of this area prior to Romans were known as Ordovices with the Silures living in south east Wales. Ordovices were almost wiped out by Roman invaders. Their lands were littered with hill forts that were also strongly defended.
“Now leading the Ordovices and Silures tribes, who inhabited a large area of current day Monmouthshire; Caractacus conducted a successful guerrilla war against the Romans. He was finally defeated at the Battle of Caer Caradoc on the Welsh border in AD 50. Caractacus was eventually captured and taken to Rome where he so impressed Claudius that he was pardoned by the Emperor.” http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofWales/the-romans-in-wales/
Penybont Common is an area undulating upland landscape, characterised by gentle slopes and rounded hills, divided by a number of minor streams which form part of the tributary network of the River Ithon, which flows to the west of the common. The common rises to 300m at its eastern edge, but descends westwards and southwards to about 230 metres. The study area is crossed by the A44 and the A488 roads.
The study area is characterised by rough pasture, with a mixture of moorland grasses intermingled with reasonably good grazing land. Gorse has spread across much of the area in recent decades and now obscures significant areas of the landscape, particularly through the central portion of the study area, either side of the A488. A combination of cold winters and burning has reduced some of the gorse in recent years.
Joseph Botting, our local esteemed Geologist, has very kindly helped me with trying to understand the Geology following a question from Geraint “Is the Common an example of a ‘moraine’ landscape.
“Once upon a time, in the middle part of the Silurian Period (around 420 million years ago), there was a southern ocean called Iapetus. On the northern (equatorial) side was North America (with Scotland and Northern Ireland stuck to it), and on the southern side was a little continent called Avalonia. This consisted of Wales, England, Eire, and bits of France, Belgium and Newfoundland. The Iapetus Ocean was slowly closing as it was subducted under Avalonia, and the crust of Wales was being stretched in the process. The whole area sagged, forming the Welsh Basin: a small sea surrounded by islands and volcanoes, and in the middle (around Aberystwyth) probably well over a kilometre deep.
On Penybont Common the rocks are siltstones and mudstones (no slate!) deposited in quite shallow water – perhaps only a couple of hundred metres or so, as we’re quite close to coastline. These layers were mostly deposited by storms sweeping sediment down from the shallower water, and burying things along with it. For most of the time, it seems that there was little oxygen in the bottom water, since we don’t see much in the way of shells or burrows; not much was living there. Instead, we find graptolites (floating colonies of our distant relatives, the hemichordates) and the conical shells of nautiloids (early ancestors of ammonites and squid that swam well above the sea floor).
This carried on for a good long time, although by the end of the Silurian, some ten million years later, the subduction zone ran out of ocean. The result was the sort of collision that has pushed up (and is still pushing up) the Himalaya today. Since then, that vast Caledonian mountain range, running through Scandinavia, the Highlands, Ireland and eastern North America, has been slowly eroding away…
Over hundreds of millions of years, continents shifted and shuffled, and oceans appeared and vanished. Eventually the Atlantic opened, and long after that, in the last few moments, the Ice arrived. The Ice Age (which we’re still in) and its glaciations (which we’re not) scoured and shaped the remaining stumps of hills that we still have, and left behind piles of rubble in the form of till. In some places the till stacked up into moraines, but I don’t know of any on Penybont Common (although, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t!). These glacial deposits are just the subsoil: that layer of clay with boulders and pebbles in it.
The siltstones and mudstones themselves? That, as you now know, is a totally different story…!”
So Geraint the simple answer is “No!” or it “could it be”? I was quite comfortable with ‘no’ until after I looked at the picture of a County Down Drumlin (a moraine) and then walked to the site of the ancient settlement on the Common. From a distance the hill, which is on the right hand side of the Common heading towards Knighton, looked awfully like a drumlin to me!? There are in fact a series of 3 hills that might just have been formed by a retreating glacier in a previous ice age? Speculations are usually proved wrong but it is fun to give some substance to the possibility that Joseph has left us with.
Prior to the 12th century the uplands were managed primarily as ‘forests’ or ‘hunting grounds’.
By the 13th century there had evolved a mixed use of the land with livestock being introduced. As communities developed landlords were looking to get a financial return from their land. Tenant farmers were allowed to enclose areas of land and other land was managed in common.
By the 16th century communities enjoyed rights of pasture and the 16th and 17th centuries was a the hey day of local communal control of common land.
Manor courts in the 16th and 17th centuries had the twin aims to uphold the lord’s privileges and to maintain “good neighbourhood”. New byelaws were introduced including orders that could impose financial penalties.
On the common pastures two principals were used to control livestock numbers: one was the rule of levancy and couchancy, related to stock that he could keep at the homestead in the winter.
The alternative means of controlling livestock numbers was by “stint” that related to the number of units a common could maintain.
The courts in practice had a tendency to fall back on ancient custom and the need to maintain ‘good neighbourliness’.
In the 18th century, with general agricultural improvements there was a shift towards improvement of the land to obtain better returns. Thousands of hectares of the uplands were enclosed by Act of Parliament during the 19th century before the balance shifted back towards a mixed economy involving Commoner’s rights and a general right of access.
• The Inclosure Act 1845 (8 & 9 Vict. c.118)
• The Inclosure Act 1846 (9 & 10 Vict. c.70)
• The Inclosure Act 1847 (10 & 11 Vict. c.111)
• The Inclosure Act 1848 (11 & 12 Vict. c.99)
• The Inclosure Act 1849 (12 & 13 Vict. c.83)
• The Inclosure Commissioners Act 1851 (14 & 15 Vict. c.53)
• The Inclosure Act 1852 (15 & 16 Vict. c.79)
• The Inclosure Act 1854 (17 & 18 Vict. c. 97)
• The Inclosure Act 1857 (20 & 21 Vict. c.31)
• The Inclosure Act 1859 (22 & 23 Vict. c.43)
• The Inclosure, etc. Expenses Act 1868 (31 & 32 Vict. c.89)
• The Commons Act 1876 (39 & 40 Vict. c.56)
• The Commons (Expenses) Act 1878 (41 & 42 Vict. c.56)
• The Commons Act 1879 (42 & 43 Vict. c.37)
Christopher P. Rogers in his book “Contested Common Land” tells us from the Manor Court Records of the 1830’s that the “the manors of Radnorshire were said to contain ‘numerous Encroachments un the Waste – some made by Owners or Occupiers of adjoining Property or farms, but most of them by poor labouring People, many of whom erected and occupied cottages.’” He states that many of these cottages were remote ‘one night cottages’ and often associated with pillow mounds. This may account for cottages such as Sunnybank, Rhos Swydd Cottage and Shady Grove all built around the edge of the Rhos Swydd Common and now gone, albeit Sunnybank is still standing in a very poor state of dereliction. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LKceBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA147&lpg=PA147&dq=1830+Manors+of+Radnorshire&source=bl&ots=nadLNOYdG5&sig=Or-tm3BXVnF4SokPdRiStkRMsv8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAWoVChMI8-KI9-SgyAIVB-8UCh2ApAWJ#v=onepage&q=1830%20Manors%20of%20Radnorshire&f=false
By the 1860s the dominant ethos concerning the value of common land had moved from improvement to amenity and recreation. The Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society was founded in 1865. This would eventually lead to the forming of the National Trust.
In our area of interest there are in fact 8 commons: 8. Rhos Swydd; 9. Coed Swydd; 10.Cwm Brith Bank & Bwlch Fedwen; 11. Mynyddrheol; 12. Bwlch Llyn; 13. Llandegley Rocks; 14. The Bank; 15. Llandegley Rhos. http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/media/329.pdf
In 1965 the Government passed the Commons Registration Act 1965 to bring some clarity to the rights of ‘commoners’ and ‘landowners’. In the debate in Parliament a Welsh MP, Leo Abse, supported the Bill:
“Again, we welcome the Bill because we realise that it could be a precursor to legislation which could help in some measure to meet the problem of the depopulation of Mid-Wales. In counties such as Radnorshire there are large areas of common land which undoubtedly could be used for reafforestation, and the fact that they are not being so used is due to the vague character of the existing position. We have here a Bill which will clearly help in giving definition in order that it will become possible to use, ultimately, far more fruitfully some of the land which at present is being so fecklessly disregarded and which could he used for more effective purposes.“
In England and Wales, with few exceptions all common land and common rights had to be registered in accordance with the Commons Registration Act, 1965. At the end of the registration period, only that land which was registered can be deemed to be common land, and similarly only those rights which were registered can be exercised. These documents, held by local authorities, are conclusive.
In Wales commons cover 173,366 ha, a little over 8% of the total land area.
The three authority areas of Powys alone comprise 74,653ha, nearly 40% of all the common land in Wales. Brecknock alone has nearly 47,000ha, over 25% of Welsh common land.
Locally this did initially raise some issues for the Rhos Swydd and Coed Swydd Commoners Association, as people rushed to ‘register’ their ‘right’ way beyond those who had traditionally grazed the Common. In fact a new Association Group usurped the standing one and a hearing had to be held by the Commons Commissioner in 1976 to resolve the dispute. As with much legislation there are unintended consequences and in the interests of ‘good neighbourliness the Common is now ‘unmanaged’ formally and the Commoners work together “informally”. Geraint felt that this only served to show that local arrangements in the interests of ‘good neighbourliness’ were often much better than centrally controlled legislation that attempts to impose ‘uniformity’ across the whole country.
The question that remains unanswered, is whether the Common came down to the river? The field between the cottages and the bridge does give us a clue, Mary showed me a book about the Church community of Llanbadarn Fawr in which Percy Severn is recorded as saying that the Village Green was ‘usurped’ to make way for a tennis court, Violet Edwards is recorded in Geraint’s book, ‘Penybont’, as saying that the land had been used as a recreation area and also by cottagers to keep pigs and hens. There is the suggestion in this that it might have been a remnant of the Common. The name of this property where we are sitting is Maesyfed, the field where the animals drank is also a bit of a clue? The comments of Percy Severn are interesting in that as the ‘landowner’ he has by this stage completely lost control to the ‘commoners’ and the ‘community’ over the use of the land. Maureen was able to point out that the landowner retains the rights over the minerals under the surface of the land, whereas the commoners and community have the right over the pasture. The current owners of Rhos Swydd Common are descendants of Lord Ormathwaite.
5. Archaeological Sites on the Common
In researching the specific facts about the Common I have drawn extensively from: Uplands Initiative – Radnorshire Small Commons Archaeological Survey Part One general Information about the commons http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/media/329.pdf and Part Two has specific information about each common http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/media/551.pdf These two documents were commissioned from Trysor by Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales 2012.
Rhos Swydd Common – Sites by Period
• Paleolithic (pre c. 8800 BC)
Mesolithic (c. 8800 – 4900 BC)
Neolithic (c. 4900 – 2000 BC)
Bronze Age (c. 2000 – 800 BC) …….. 2
Iron Age (c. 800 – 1 BC)
Roman (c. AD 1 – 400) ………….. 2
Early medieval period (c. AD 400 – 800)
Medieval period (800 – c. 1500) ………… 18
Post-medieval period (c. 1500 – c. 1800) .. … 17
Industrial/Modern ……………………………………… 4
• Total sites …………………………………………… 43
Sites by Type
• Roads ……………………………….. 4
• Settlements ……………………… 1
• Platforms …………………………. 8
• Cultivation ………………………… 5
• Husbandry ………………………… 2 + 1 Pillow Mound
• Forestry …………………………….. 3
• Earthworks ……………………….. 6
• Quarrying ………………………….. 6
• Funereal ……………………………. 1
• Milestones …………………………. 2
• Well, Enclosure, Mound, Gravel Pit, Shed
To find the ordinance survey references for all of the sites visit Part Two, Page 34, as above. The Pillow Mound, which is not referred to in the Trysor Report is reference below from a CPAT Report.
The Penybont Roman Road (NPRN 86841) is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM RD258) and has been described in the NMR as having a prominent camber and flanking ditches. It has been proposed as the road which linked the Roman fort at Castell Collen with Mortimer’s Cross, Herefordshire. There have been uncertainties about the presence of a Roman road beneath Rhos Swydd Common undtil a more recent bulletin has provided some certaint. There is also a post-medieval road is shown on early 19th century Ordnance Survey maps. This road (NPRN 512220) was in use as the main route across Rhos Swydd until a turnpike road was built just to the south and it was still in use as a trackway until the late 19th century. The road showed up well on Google Maps when this was displayed on the screen.
A short section of similar ditched roadway (NPRN 310212) runs parallel to the “Roman Road” for some 600 metres, along its southern side. The date of this road is unknown. http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/media/329.pdf
Castell Collen is a Roman auxiliary fort occupied (though not continuously) from the 70s AD until the early fourth century in a tactically strong position overlooking the River Ithon. It is a rectangular, round-angled enclosure, originally about 182m north-west to south-east by 114m, later reduced to about 128m by 114m, defined by stone riveted and ditched banks. Trenches from extensive excavations in 1911 and 1913 are prominent on the site today and clearly visible when viewed from the air. Further excavations, focussed on the defences and an extra-mural bathhouse, were undertaken by L. Alcock between 1954 and 1957. Surface indications of further extramural structures are said to remain within a wooded area immediately south-east of the fort. http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/95708/details/CASTELL+COLLEN+ROMAN+FORT/
Geraint was able to tell us that the site of the fort could be found just off the road from Llandrindod to Llanyre.
Ordovices covered much of the mountains and valleys of what is today mid-Wales. They were the northern neighbours of the Silures and the Southern neighbours of the Degeangli. These peoples lived in small farms, often defended against attack. After the emperor Claudius invaded southern England in AD 43, one of the main leaders of the Britons, called Caratacus escaped to the Ordovices and the Silures. They were stirred into rebellion by Caratacus and for a long time successfully resisted the Romans.The Roman general Agricola only finally defeated the Ordovices in 77-8. The tribe was incorporated into Britannia and became a civitas (an administrative district).
The Turnpike Road over the Common was moved to its current position because the section adjacent to the Roman Road was very boggy. The Rebecca Riots did not seem to affect this road but not so far away the road from Rhayader to Penybont was attacked. While Sarah Rees and her daughter lay in bed they were told:
“Lie still in bed; we do not wish to injure you or the house, but we have come to hew down this old gate.” https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=s-fTr6Pgi-UC&pg=PA179&lpg=PA179&dq=Turnpike+Road+Penybont&source=bl&ots=fENVvtDIR0&sig=ZXMM2qmNUMdaww78Cix1gqoyC4A&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAzgKahUKEwjT-NH08aDIAhVMbRQKHcWHDP8#v=onepage&q=Turnpike%20Road%20Penybont&f=false
In the Trysor document they list a ‘medieval settlement’ on the Common with several platforms. I have tramped around one of the hills just south of the footpath towards the Pales and have been unable to find anything that looked like a ‘platform’.
One of the members said that this hill has always been known as Caertwch possibly meaning something like ‘a settlement where people felt safe’.
We screened Google maps to have a look and miraculously, with the increase in size on the screen, the area of the settlement on the Common suddenly became quite clear. It is located on the southern side of the hill but much lower down than I had been looking.
• Several people in the group were immediately keen to do a field trip as soon as the vegetation dies down. We need to follow this up.
From a picture of a ‘platform’ on the Common it was just possible to see the way that platforms were cut into the hill with the earth pulled back to level up the surface on which the building would have been constructed. It is not always possible to say that these were all houses. Some may have been but others would have been store sheds or to house animals.
Examples of such complexes have been well documented across Radnorshire and were encountered at several locations. Sites of this type are well-known across Radnorshire and are well-described by R.J. Silvester of the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (Silvester, 2006), who suggests that they are late medieval or early post-medieval in date and relate to a colonisation of the most accessible uplands. It appears that discrete areas of ridge and furrow cultivation are usually also associated with these sites.
Upland settlements are often thought of as belonging to the “hafod” tradition, that it to say they are the result of medieval or early post-medieval transhumance and therefore only occupied during the summer grazing season when animals grazed the hill pastures. In landscapes where later enclosure, ploughing and settlement have encroached onto the historic mountain wastes and commons, it may become difficult to clearly identify early settlement evidence but in a later period changed their function and became permanent holdings, with efforts made to improve and cultivate the surrounding land. https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Clwyd-Powys+Ar+chaeological+Trust+%28Silvester,+2006%29&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=4nv9VdbdJoGtU9mGoIAM
There is another platform on the other side of the common, near the abandoned sites of Sunnybank and Rhos Swydd Cottage and adjacent to a very large area of ridge and furrow, as mentioned below.
There is considerable evidence of areas that were cultivated on the Common. The Common has a particularly fine example of the Strip Field system which is an unusual adaption of the Open Field System of cultivation.
Open fields consist usually of narrow strips of arable separated, at best, by grass balks. Occasionally divisions between the strips were marked by mere stones, or perhaps markers of less durable material. Groups of strips running in the same direction were termed furlongs, groups of furlongs as fields. Farmers would originally have had their strips scattered widely throughout the open fields, and this fragmentation of a holding could continue through to the modern era. The significance of the open and common fields in the lowlands was that they could be communally gazed after the harvest, with stock able to roam freely across the grassy balks between the selions (or individual strips). Only as a landholder amalgamated adjacent strips with his original holding was he was able to create a block of land suitable for enclosure. Enclosure was certainly taking place in the later Middle Ages, but the chronology of enclosure varied from parish to parish and it was still taking place into the nineteenth century,
The characteristics of those strip fields that were formed from the open fields, as explained above, are their long and relatively narrow shape, the aratral or reverse-S curve at their terminals, and the staggered, right-angle or dog’s-leg turns in their appearance, to which might be added their grouped appearance. It is the terminal curve which is usually the most convincing indicator. Upland strips are relatively rare. The clearest example is on Penybont Common (Rads) where several platforms representing a single farmstead lies just below a set of strip fields, the strips divided by slightly raised grassy banks and exhibiting cultivation ridges. There is no likelihood of an open field here.
Ridge and Furrow is also featured with in the Common
In the core area, cultivation ridges represent strips known as lands, which were parcelled together into furlongs, which in turn were grouped into fields. These fields, open in the sense that they were not delineated by hedges or other continuous bounds, numbered two or three to a community, and defined the rotation which allowed some ground to remain fallow each year. Each set of lands and ridges would terminate in headlands where the plough was turned. The furrows between the ridges provided a drainage function, and demarcated one land from another. http://www.cpat.org.uk/resource/reports/cpat1199.pdf
There is another reference to several ridge and furrow systems within the Common:
A broad strip of discontiguous areas of ridge and furrow cultivation runs southwest to northeast across the northern side of Rhos Swydd common. The strip is about 1 kilometre long and up to 400 metres wide. Towards the southwestern end of this area is a strip field system defined by quillet boundary banks rather than cultivation ridges. J.J. Hall, Trysor, 23 June 2011.
As well as the arable cultivation on the land there is evidence of sheep folds and animal husbandry showing that the Common was extensively ‘farmed’ in the medieval period. Maureen and Gwyneth were able to tell us that the use of land over time on many Commons often related to climate change in the past. Sometimes the climate encouraged arable activity at other times this was not profitable.
There were three early small plantations on the Common. One is now usually referred to as ‘the circle of trees’ and the other two are down near Dolswydd. Quarrying activity also went on demonstrating further the extent to which the commons, often described as ‘waste’ land were integral to the economy and social dynamic of the area.
9. Rabbit Warrens
Rabbits had difficulty initially adapting to the British weather and they were easy prey when they were first introduced by the Romans from Spain. The Pillow Mounds were developed as a way of managing the rabbits and protecting them from predators. In the 12th century rabbits were a delicacy for the aristocracy. Their use gradually moved down the social scale and became widespread and universal as a source of protein. It should be noted, however, that as late as 1721, it was being written that “Rabbits are very profitable Creatures for their great increase, and their being kept on dry barren sand or gravel that will maintain nothing else; which the dryer ‘tis the better for them” (Sheail 1978, 349). Their adaptation to the British weather took many centuries and it is only in recent years that we have begun to see them as bit of a nuisance.
There is only one Pillow Mound on the Common over near Sunnybank and Rhos Swydd. (There are 14 on Coed Swydd Common.)
It can be found at:
6689 Penybont Common pillow mound SO11656570 http://www.cpat.org.uk/resource/reports/cpat1251.pdf
I have not found its position, but it is located near Sunnybank. It is described as a rectangular bank with the top sloping slightly to the south.
A rabbit warren is a defined area in which rabbits were bred and protected from predators. There has been controversy over the introduction of rabbits, Romans or Normans, but research has now shown that they were introduced from Spain by the Romans. More latterly they became associated with the ‘house in a day’ and subsistence living. The activity continued to form part of the economy in the study area up to the end of the 19th century. A warren might include: pillow mounds; Trap Mounds (circular with posts); Pit or tip trap (sunken or walled hollow)’ and Vermin traps (funnel traps).
Their name is often included in place names today and may include Welsh or English language elements, such as ‘cwningen’ or ‘coney’
Place-names such as ‘Giant’s Grave’ and ‘Soldiers Graves’, where pillow mounds have been attributed a mythical function based on their perceived appearance often originate from these medieval earthworks.
Geraint invited John A. to talk about the Second World War period.
He remembered literally thousands of troops on the Common preparing for the invasion of Normandy. Some of the ladies of the village would make sandwiches for them and he was aware that exercises were being carried out around the village with hand grenades and Bren guns. Local people were not always aware of just how much activity the troops were involved in. There were troops from USA, Canada, Britian, and other parts of the colonies. The Canadians were known as the Polar Bears. They started assembling in 1942 and about 3 days before D-Day they all disappeared over night.
Jean remembered a tank on the Common, which Ray also remembered stayed on after the troops had gone. The village garage was taken over by the troops and Jean remembered it as a tuck shop full of sweets and chocolates.
Ray, of course, lived on the Common at this time at Ludlow. He told us again of some of his time with the troops and being in and out of the mess tent. Ray was asked by Mary to tell us again of the disappearing geese which probably made a good meal for a number of the American troops. His mother was not too pleased to have lost her prize birds.
Geraint reminded members that there will be talk next time by Marion on the Archaeology of Walton Basin – 2nd November.
Jennifer told members about a Radnorshire Society talk “Quaker emigration from Radnorshire” –AT Cwmdauddwr Old School 9th October at 7.30 pm
‘Farmhouses in Radnorshire and their relationship with the landscape’ by Richard Suggett at New Radnor Community Centre Friday 23rd October at 7.00 pm