Thursday, 5 November 2015

Cyfaredd 17: Research on Ynys Môn—Day Two, Part One

Haia Pawb

On my way back from Moel-y-don the previous day, I decide to check out Melin Llynnon (Llynnon Mill), which is near the rural village of Llanddeusant. However, when I arrived the place was shut, so first thing my second day on Ynys Môn I went straight there.

Mill and Roundhouses (Source)
Melin Llynnon is the only working windmill in Wales producing stoneground wholemeal flour using organic wheat. It was originally built in 1775, for £550, was damaged in a storm in 1918, and restored by the local council between 1978 and 1986. Interesting though the mill and its history was, I was there to explore the two Iron Age replica roundhouses that were also on site.
Display Board
One of the roundhouses
The roundhouses were built in 2007 by Ancient Arts and are similar to those that existed on Ynys Môn 3000 years ago and common in the Celtic world from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. The simple wooden structures were covered with wattle and daub and thatched with water reed. Materials used for the construction were harvested locally and a trail from the site takes visitors through woodland planted with species common to the area in the Iron Age. (See here for a film about the construction of the roundhouses.)

The entrances to both roundhouses were wider and higher than those at Castell Henllys, which might reflect an attempt at depicting status. Only one roundhouse was open, so I spent time inside pacing it out (10 metres in diameter) and becoming acquainted with the decorations on the walls, the layout and construction of the building itself, the smell of the packed dirt floor and the thatched roof, and the furnishings. I loved the carved logs used for seats both inside and outside the huts and the dragon totem pole set up in the clearing nearby (though I don’t know how historically accurate this was.

A typical Celtic loom
Dragon totem pole

Obviously, my reason for visiting such places is to soak in the ambience, which I hope to then transfer to my novel, and discover relevant information unavailable through book and online research. One such discovery concerned construction, not of something in the roundhouses themselves but in the ground immediately around them.

Interior of the roundhouse
Typical Celtic utensils

Triskele wall decoration

I remember from my scouting days putting up tents and digging ditches around the circumference to run off rainwater. When I walked around the roundhouses I noticed gravel trenches directly under the thatched-roof overhang. Of course, such things would exist to channel rainwater away, though I hadn’t thought about it till the moment of my discovery, which wouldn’t have been possible through off-site research. Such a detail, when used appropriately, should convey authenticity to my writing in the novel.

Llynnon Mill Roundhouse. Note the gravel rain trench under the 'eaves'.
After wandering around the site for some time and walking the woodland trail, I bought gifts from the Melin Llynnon shop and went back to my hotel to catch up with family on Facetime before heading out for more explorations of Ynys Môn, which I’ll share in my next post.

As always, I hope you’re enjoying these posts and I welcome any comments.

Cofion cynnes



Nadine Cresswell-Myatt said...

Really interesting post Earl. These huts are very evocative of what it must have been like way back when. Great images as well as text. I gather today they must have very skilled thatchers who can recreate the roofs just as they were. Cheers Nadine

Earl Livings said...

Hi Nadine, Thanks for the response. Yes, there are skilled thatchers around, especially as there's many normal thatched house still needing maintenance. I remember seeing a thatcher working on a place in Essex when in 2013 I visited Farnham, which is where the Livings originate. Cheers, Earl

Lee Berwick said...

The lack of lots of of straight lines and corners in the huts is lovely....

Earl Livings said...

Hi Lee, Yes, the organic structures and materials make for an interesting contrast to the right-angles we have in our concrete and steel modern world. I admit to preferring nature's curves to man's imposition of straight lines. Cheers, Earl