Friday, 18 April 2014

Quarries, ancient mines and another hillfort, or: lots of climbing!

The first few days of the trip there was a lot of hill-climbing. Not proper hiking, of course, but more than I'm used to! Our first stop was very interesting. It was a prehistoric site located above an active quarry site - a quarry that has been running since about the 1830s, and where the cobblestones in Ashton Lane come from! We were given hard-hats and high-vis vests to wear while hiking about.

This was inside our youth hostel. I was delighted with the Welsh & English signs. 

Above the quarry, our first stop was Craig Lwyd, a Neolithic 'axe factory'. We were shown the face of a huge rock and could see ancient (and more modern) chips in the rock used for axes.

The rock face.

Beyond Craig Lwyd was Penmaenmawr, a prehistoric landscape filled with stone circles and other monuments dotted throughout the uplands. There was also an ancient walkway which we went along.

A wee stone circle.

Beautiful views!

Old walkways.

Our glamorous hard-hats & high-vis vests!

A shy Welsh mountain pony!

Standing stones?

This is a fuzzy picture, and you probably can't even see them, but there were cats on the wall! In Wales! I had a happy "Child's Christmas in Wales" moment. 

 Our next stop was to see the Great Orme Bronze age copper mines. We traveled through a delightful seaside village to get there.

I think the town we were in was called Llandudno.

AND we got to go on an old-fashioned tram! Bliss!

My friend Jamie enjoying the ride in the tramcar.

Hayley and Jamie.

Ooh! Bits of human bone!

Approaching the bronze age mines.

Inside the mine!

Our last stop of the day was Deganwy hillfort. This had been an early medieval hillfort, with a later castle built atop it. Very little remains of the castle, as Conwy castle, situated across the bay, was built instead.

A fragment of a corner of a wall still remaining.

Remnants of a gate-house perhaps?

I was so intrigued by the small, broken pieces of wall here and there.

One of the objectives of our trip was to assess the access, presentation and signage of historical/ archaeological sites. This sign, we all agreed, was rubbish. It quotes a letter from an Englishman (!) complaining about weather. And that's it. No history, no explanation of what is going on, what traces can be seen, etc. 

After the trip I walked down into Conwy. 

The post office in Conwy. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hillforts & Castles & Forts, oh, my!

Our first full day in Wales was a rigorous one. I was advised to wear trousers, which, for me, is a great imposition. But our first stop was Tre'r Ceiri hillfort, which was a steep climb, and very windy, and I concede that trousers were probably wise.

One of our stops was to view the round Iron Age houses.

Standing by the Iron Age huts/ houses.

Looking down on the circular Iron Age houses.

An entrance to the fort.

 After wandering around the hillfort, our next stop was Caernarfon Castle. My mother and my sister Heather had visited this castle years ago and were very excited that I was going to see it on this trip.

Approaching the castle from the car park.

I loved the brightly painted shops near the castle.

A view of the river (and our coach) from the castle.

The grey slab on the grass is used for crowning the Prince of Wales. It's thought that it may have been an ancient inauguration hill and that when Edward built the castle he purposefully built it around this hill (which was destroyed by the Victorians).

Nothing beats a floating fireplace!

A handy model of the castle and city wall. 

Sitting in a window-seat. I think I like them even more than spiral staircases!

We had a wee wander around Caernarfon & passed this building with Welsh writing on it. 

This place was also very interesting, and had this sign in front of it:

Our next stop of the day was Segontium Roman fort & museum. I'm not particularly thrilled by Roman forts, but it was still an interesting place. Oddly enough the signs in the ruins had all been taken down.  As they've refurbished the museum, perhaps they're working on new signs.

Part of the Roman fort.

I really liked the trees along the outer wall.

Two jolly fellows dressing up as Roman soldiers. I was afraid that I wouldn't know any of the 3rd year students when I was told I'd be going on this trip last year. But a lot of them were at SERF last summer and so I was in familiar & very good company.

This was an extra treat that wasn't on our itinerary. It was a beautiful medieval church which had once been on a pilgrimage route. It had a lot of very early woodwork in it still, which just thrilled my medieval church loving heart!


Actually sitting in the wooden seats. I was SO thrilled!

Medieval sundial. 

Our last stop was Bachwen portal dolmen. A portal dolmen is a prehistoric stone structure where a large slab is balanced neatly on three upright stones. In Ireland they're huge. This one was very modest, but still lovely.