Jottings on the History of Pembrokeshire Cosheston,Upton,Nash

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The water is temperate with no particular taste. It still maintains some credit. You descend to this [well] through a little Chapel of no great antiquity, 18 by At one end is something like an Altar Mon. On this Altar is laid the money of Visitants, if the Priestess of the Chapel happens to be absent. The building has a stone seat all round it. In it is a little Puddle which they call a spring, good for the Eyes. The water is taken out with the shell of a Limpet…. The number of the steps to the Chapel is about 70, from thence to the Well, 30…. By the bye, it may not be very difficult for this Well to support its Reputation, if visited by People who can walk near 40 miles and back again!

It is telling that the chapel altar is beside the entrance to the cell. It was believed that a person squeezing into the cavity and making a wish, will have that wish granted if he or she can turn around while making it. The most familiar version is that pirates came ashore and stole the chapel bell. As they returned to their boat, they rested the bell on certain stones, and ever afterwards those stones would make a bell-like sound when struck. Alternatively, the bell was miraculously returned and became encased inside a rock, which rings like a bell when struck.

A century earlier, B. Malkin mentioned in passing that sometimes couples would get married at the chapel. Two early 19th-century visits by Richard Fenton Richard Fenton , Welsh historian, topographer and genealogist, wrote two accounts of the chapel and well, both published in although one of his visits is datable to and, judging from a remark in the other account, the visit was his first. He wrote first of the bell stones and the pirate legend, and then about the well:. Also, genuine cripples would have found it very difficult to negotiate the steps up to the cliff-top without the aid of their crutches.

The sailors told me, that, a few years back, such was the veneration the St. This description tells us that in the well had not yet been covered by the stone arched well-house now to be seen: Maybe the amount of water was dependent on the weather, how much rain there had been, whether the spring was running fast and clear. Fenton ended his account with a description of the cell in the chapel, mentioning only the custom of making wishes while squeezed into it.

At the north side of the chapel on the floor there is a little cavity, shewing some appearance of moisture as of an oozing from some spring at the top of the cliff, and filtering through there forms a muddy deposit, used and held to be of sovereign efficacy in complaints of the eyes, though it is shrewdly suspected that the venerable Sibyl [i. Sick pilgrims hope to be cured Two men Richard Ayton and William Daniell on a voyage round Great Britain in paid a visit to the chapel, describing the building, the cell and the well in great detail.

Their guide took them inside the chapel to show them the display of crutches:. Our guide, anxious to witness the full confirmation of our faith, accompanied us into the interior, where we beheld, suspended from the walls, several crutches, which had supported the crippled and credulous to the well, and which were hung up here in testimony of their cure, and as offerings of gratitude to their gracious deliverer.

They then continued through the chapel and met two children who had come to the well in search of cures. A few more steps lead from the chapel down to the well, and as we were descending, we met a miserable, emaciated girl, who was toiling up with the utmost difficulty and pain, and bending under the load of a large pitcher of water, which she told us she was going to drink.

She had been in ill health for many years, and had formerly drunk the water with strict regularity during twelve months, but growing worse, had applied to the doctor, who declared, after a long trial, that he could give her no relief, and she had now returned again, as her last refuge, to Saint Gowan. The failure of the doctor had awakened all her confidence in the saint, and she was only fearful that he might be offended at her former impatience. These poor people seemed to be utterly ignorant of all particulars relating to the birth and history of Saint Gowan, and delivered themselves up to his keeping without troubling themselves about his credentials.

My own enquiries on this subject and my wishes in the wall [he refers to making a wish while squeezed into the rock fissure] may be supposed to have made me enquire with some earnestness, have not led to any satisfactory conclusions. There seems to be a doubt whether he was a thorough-bred saint imported from Ireland in the early ages of christianity, or Sir Gawaine, the nephew of king Arthur, and a model of valour and courtesy, canonized after his death by an error of the vulgar.

Introduction Over the last three years an important programme of excavations has been carried out on a group of small defended settlements of Prehistoric and Roman date near Llawhaden. The Llawhaden sites are typical of the defended settlements of central Pembrokeshire. Today these usually survive as gentle grass grown banks and ditches representing the levelled remains of once formidable defences, which were necessary in the war-like Celtic society of the first millenium BC.

Within these defences were houses and storage structures and additional outer enclosures were sometimes provided for the protection of livestock. Two main types of settmenent are known: There are also "ringworks"; smaller, single banked enclosures often situated in non defensive hillslope positions. Archaeologists would like to answer a number of questions regarding these sites: Is one type earlier than another or were they occupied at the same time? What class of people lived in them - for instance was one type of site the residence of a chieftain and another of a person of less wealth and importance?

What crops were grown and what animals were kept and how did the economy influence the type of society that developed? Unfortunately, we are rapidly losing the chance of answering these questions.

The majority of sites lie on farmland and slowly but surely year by year are being ploughed away, not so much by intensive arable farming but by reseeding operations. In order to obtain information on these sites before their final destruction, the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has undertaken a programme of survey and excavation, a large part of which has been focused on the group of sites north of Llawhaden. The Llawhader Group The sites occupy an extensive 4 sq.

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Eleven defended sites are known in the area, which is the greatest concentration of small enclosures in Dyfed. A number of types of site are represented. Of these Broadway, Pilcornswell and Holgan are "small hillforts" while the remainder are "ringworks". The majority of these sites are under the plough. Small scale excavation has been carried out at Broadway, Pilcornswell, Holgan and Bodringallt while Drim, Woodside and Dan-y-Coed have been totally excavated.

Archaeological features consisted mainly of pits and hollows but included a round-house at Woodside. These structures were long buried and forgotten when the main phase of occupation began and their preservation and discovery was to some extent a matter of chance.

These discoveries are important as they show a much greater density of Early Bronze Age activity in the area than would be suspected from the relatively few surviving monuments such as round barrows and standing stones.

Manual Jottings on the History of Pembrokeshire Cosheston,Upton,Nash

Many of these have long been destroyed by agriculture and the Bronze Age landscape of lowland Pembrokeshire was probably every bit as densely settled as the upland north. No certain settlement has been excavated at Llawhaden although a bronze trunnion chisel of the period was discovered embedded in the enclosure bank at Broadway. This may have been accidentally lost and only later incorporated into the rampart but it does suggest that there may have been a settlement of this date somewhere in the area.

This lack of settlement suggests that there may have been a catastrophic breakdown in society during the period, perhaps brought on by various factors such as over-population, over-cultivation of land and climatic deterioration. Certainly when settlements were again well established in the first millenium BC, society had become much more aggressive.

Continuing competition for available resources led to widespread tribal warfare, which included ritualised head hunting and necessitated the construction of massive defences around settlements. The earliest defended settlements at Llawhaden were the larger sites, the small hillforts Broadway and Pilcornswell. Broadway started as an undefended settlement, perhaps as early as the eighth century BC and only later was given a defensive bank and ditch.

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Pilcornswell was built from the beginning as a defended settlement, perhaps at a slightly later date. Its defensive rampart seems to have been supported by timbers which collapsed in flames into the ditch, perhaps as the result of enemy attack.

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This sequence demonstrates the increasingly warlike nature of the times. The Ringworks These tensions may have become worse from the third century BC onwards the Later Iron Age leading to a fragmentation of society and the construction of large numbers of ringworks. It is the total excavation of the ringworks, Drim, Woodside and Dan-y-Coed - that has provided the bulk of our evidence regarding the structure and function of these settlements.

Dan-y-Coed and Woodside were particularly interesting as they were paired sites, lying next to each other.


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The ramparts would have been topped by a fighting platform and the entrances at Drim and Woodside were defended by timber towers much like an American cavalry fort. Internal structures - represented by post-holes, drains and wall gullies - included two main types. The first were round dwelling houses with low walls and high pitched thatched roofs, much like recent African houses. There were also "four-posters" - storage structures raised on four massive posts to protect the contents from damp and rodents. Many of these buildings were rebuilt a number of times leaving a complex sequence of post-holes and gullies for the archaeologist to interpret.

The most complete plans come from the larger ringworks Dan-y-Coed and particularly Woodside. The sequence of development is also clearest at Woodside. At first only one or two round-houses and 4-posters were built within the enclosure, but later it filled up with structures.

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In its later phase it had a neatly planned layout with round-houses arranged around the periphery of the site surrounding a central perhaps slightly larger round-house. The 4-posters were largely confined to the south western corner. At Dan-y-Coed there was also a succession of round-houses and 4-posters although the latter were not concentrated in any one area but were scattered throughout the enclosure. A very elaborate approach was provided to Woodside Camp.

At first this consisted of a metalled trackway flanked by banks and ditches with a timber tower set half-way along it. The excellent preservation of these features was due to their protection by two later arcs of bank and ditch laid out more or less concentrically to the main enclosure.

Both these phases of outwork were probably intended to provide a monumental and impressive approach to the enclosure. An indication of the dates of these sites is provided by finds of pottery and a brooch dated to the first century BC and by radio-carbon dates. Woodside and Drim were probably not established until early Roman times although buildings and material culture remained of a traditional native type.

Economic and Social Function We can reach some conclusions regarding the economy and social function of the ringworks. A mixed farming economy was practised: Arable farming is demonstrated by the discovery of rotary querns or hand mills and of actual carbonised grain from the occupation layers. The sites would have lain in an intensively farmed landscape.