Thursday, 28 October 2010

Carningli Village

Been looking at those wonderful Google images again -- and have homed in on Carningli Village.  this is the main residential part of the hillfort which straddles the summit of the mountain.

At the bottom left of the photo we see the craggy summits, and the fortified embankments can then be seen in a loop around the settlement site, criss-crossed by tracks -- some made by humans on their way to the summit, and others made by sheep.  If you click to enlarge the image, you can see some of the hut circles quite clearly -- but many others are buried beneath the heather and bilberry "carpet".

Monday, 25 October 2010

The Strange Affair......

 The children's book is away to the printer!  Got the PDF off this morning -- now I must work on setting up the launch and signing sessions, in time for the book to be delivered around 10th Nov.  Marketing this one will be a bit of a novelty for me -- an educational /schools market that I am not familiar with.  But always up for a challenge.....

Up the mountain today with Martin, Callum and Finley.  Bright and dry, but a bitterly cold wind.  Felt more like a midwinter walk than an autumnal one.  But it was great -- we sat behind a rock on the lee side of one of the summits, with the late afternoon sun on us.  Shared the mountain on this occasion with 6 other human beings and one raven. 

Monday, 18 October 2010

A Sad Tale from the Mountain

The Sad Demise of Johnny Wityn

Before the Second World War there was a strange old man called Johnny Evans who lived in a small cottage called Waun Fach, up a rough track off the Cilgwyn Road.  The cottage was unapproachable by wheeled vehicles.  But Johnny was happy enough, so long as people left him alone.  He did odd jobs for the local farmers, but he was something of a recluse who preferred his own company to that of others.  He was a very quiet and shy man, who had apparently been spoilt as a child and had been looked after for far too long by his mother when he grew up.  He was known to everybody as Johnny Wityn.  On one occasion Mr George Hughes of Felin Cilgwyn met Johnny, who was out in the woods gathering sticks for his fire.  He offered him a bucket of coal, but Johnny replied: “No thank you, Mr Hughes bach, I couldn’t accept that.  Coal is far too dirty.”  That was  ironic, since Johnny was known never to wash, and to sleep in the warm ashes of his fire when the weather was really cold.  People thought that one day he would certainly go up in flames.
    During the terrible winter of 1947, when thick snow blanketed the ground for weeks on end, Johnny caught pneumonia and the neighbours thought that he would die if he was not rescued from his hovel.  The Council decided to take him to some warm place where he could be looked after.  An ambulance managed to get fairly close to his cottage, and from there a rescue party trekked through deep snow-drifts to Johnny’s cottage.  He was cold and hungry, but still very much alive.  He  refused point-blank to leave his hovel.  A furious argument ensued, and at last the officers decided that “for his own good” force would have to be used.  After a struggle, he was tied to a chair and carried through the snowdrifts to the ambulance, protesting that he was being abducted against his will.  He was taken along the snowy roads to St Thomas’s Hospital in Haverfordwest, where he was bathed and fed and given medical treatment.  Two days later he was dead, and it is still believed in the community that “poor Johnny Wityn died of cleanliness”.  He was buried in an unmarked grave in Caersalem Churchyard.

(This tale, together with many others, is included in the 2008 booklet called "Carningli -- Land and People" -- still in print, priced at £6.00.)

Martha's Lane

This is a copy from the 1907 "twenty-five inch" map of the Cilgwyn - Carningli area.  Look at the well-marked lane that runs down from Blaen-waun towards Waun-fach and Iet-y-rhos.  It's a public footpoath and bridleway -- brought back into use through the combined efforts of the local footpaths group and the NPA.  It's got no name, so far as I know -- but I always refer to it as "Martha's Lane" because I have visions of Mistress Martha walking down it on her way from Plas Ingli towards Cilgwyn and the church.  It was certainly the main route between Cilgwyn and the mountain -- and its width and substantial bounding stone walls attest to the fact that it took animals and quite possibly wheeled vehicles as well, in the days before the modern Dolrannog Road was built.  You can see how the trackway extends westwards from Blaen-waun, across the common.

All the houses are still there, except for Waun-fach, about which there is a very sad tale, which I'll tell in another post.

By the way, Blaen-waun was where William John Jenkins and his brother Dewi lived -- and it is the cottage in which the imaginary Abraham Jenkins lived and translated Martha's diaries from the Dimetian Welsh dialect into English!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Spookiest Place on Angel Mountain

Everybody who knows Carningli is struck by the serenity -- and even the sanctity -- of the place.  But there is one corner on the mountain where I have never felt very comfortable -- a rocky hollow close to the summit, on the north side, where it is often damp and shady, and which hardly sees the sun at all during the winter months.  I never settle down there for my picnics, even if it is the natural lee-side place to be.

Some years ago, when I was leading a walk for a largish group on the mountain, a lady suddenly became very agitated when we were passing this spot.  She rushed on ahead of the group, and when we caught up with her she had calmed down again-- but she said that she had received a very strong message that "terrible things have happened there."  When pressed, she said "People have been killed there!"

On thinking about it, that is actually not very surprising.  During the Iron Age this was, after all, a hill fort settlement site.  The Iron Age was a pretty brutal time -- there was a lot of tribal conflict.  Prisoners were certainly taken during raids, and we know from Roman records that enemies were beheaded, and their heads stuck on poles on the palisades, to deter aggressors and to demonstrate prowess in battle.  This site is a short distance away from the main "village" or living area -- so it may well be the place where prisoners were kept.  It is also a sort of natural amphitheatre, and so it may be the place where public executions were carried out, and maybe even sacrificial murders..... with the inhabitants of the village perched on the rocks, looking on in horror.

That may well all have been 2,000 years ago, but there is clearly still something in the air that is deeply unsettling for those who have a certain sort of sensitivity......

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Another Angel Mountain reprint

Been shifting great piles of boxes today -- following delivery of the latest reprint of "On Angel Mountain."  I should really be laying in 2,000 copies, but storage limitations (ie lack of room in the house) forces me to take just 1,000 at a time.  That makes the unit cost a bit higher, but I just have to grin and bear it......