Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1862

Archaeologia Cambrensis 1862 is in Archaeologia Cambrensis.

Drawings of the Cromlechs at Plas Newydd [Map] and Presaddfed [Map].

Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1862 Page 92


St. Nicholas, anciently called Llanelnydd, is a parish in the Hundred of Dinas Powis, upon its western border. Its northern limit, towards Peterston, is the river Ely. On the east a small brook divides it from St. George's; and it abuts upon Wenvoe and St. Lythan, which extends round its southern end. On the west it joins Llancarvan, Bonvileston, and, in Cowbridge Hundred, Pendoylon. The extreme length of St. Nicholas, north and south, is three miles; its breadth, one and three-quarters. It contains 2,104: 3: 30 statute acres; of which 19: 2: 0 are roads, and a small part woodland. It is divided nearly equally by the old Portway, now the turnpike road between Cardiff and Cowbridge. It contains the small reputed hamlet of Trehill, the farmhouse bearing the name of which stands opposite Cottrell, south of the road. It has but one regular village, St. Nicholas, built about the high road, with the church and school upon its north side; and there is a small but old group of houses at the south-east corner of the parish, which it shares with St. Lythan, and the name of which, Dyffryn or Tref Golych, is of high antiquity. The population is not absolutely stationary. It was, in 1801,1819; 1811,320; 1821,329; 1831,351; 1841, 425; 1851,414; 1861,351. The last census shews one hundred and seventy-one males and one hundred


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original features; and they retain nothing, even in an antiquarian point of view, worthy of description. The fish-ponds of Worlton, mentioned by Meyrick, are represented by some mounds close south of Dyffryn House; where also, within the last century, was a mill. In the house are pictures of George Lewis of Penmark Place, and his wife1 and of a boy, a son of a Lewis of Llanishen, who was drowned in a pool on Cardiff Heath, and which came from Llanishen. There is also a small picture of Col. Owen of Orielton, brother to a former Mrs. Pryce. In the diningroom is a good picture, by Shee, of the Rev. Wm. Bruce Knight, Dean of Llandaff, presented to him by his friends in the county. It has been engraved. There is also a picture of his brother, Mr. Bruce Pryce, by H. W. Phillips.

Note 1. These were removed from Penmark Place, and presented to Mr. Bruce Pryce by Col. Tynte.

Dyffryn is chiefly known to antiquaries for its three cromlechs, which are said to have gained for it the addition of "Golych." "Dyffryn Golych" means "the vale of worship." The soundness of this etymology may, however, be doubted, since cromlechs are now known to have been sepulchral only; besides which, in the Llandaff Book, Golych is set down as the name of the stream. Of one of these cromlechs only a trace has remained for the last eighty years, in the shape of a large flat stone partially embedded edgewise in the turf. It stands by the side of a small pool south of the road, and opposite Cottrell Lodge, on the source of the northern head of the Dyffryn brook. The field is called "The Stauntons."

Worlton cromlech is remarkably perfect. It stands about half a mile south-east of Dyffryn House, in St. Lythan's parish, on the edge of Maes-y-velin, or the "mill-meadow." It is composed of three uprights and one top stone, enclosing a chamber nine feet by six feet, in form rectangular, about six feet high, and open at the south-east end. The side stones measure about twelve feet long by six feet broad; and the end stone five feet by six feet. The top stone measures about fourteen feet by ten feet. All are about two feet thick. This cromlech stands on elevated ground, and on a sort of platform, evidently artificial, and apparently formed of earth and fragments of rock, which appear through the sward. North-west of the cromlech this platform projects as though there had been a second and smaller structure. The platform is not improbably the remains of the mound within which the cromlech may be presumed to have been buried. The stones are of magnesian limestone, here found in situ.

Tinkins-Wood Farm cromlech [Map], though less perfect, is a much larger structure than the last. It stands just within a modern plantation, and near the junction of several hedges,which much obscure the adjacent ground. This cromlech is half buried, and is surrounded for some yards by a quantity of earth and masses of rock, evidently the remains of a large mound, and possibly of other cromlechs. The chamber is an irregular trapezoid. There have been at least seven uprights, of which four remain; those on the south, a long side, being absent. The figure was, no doubt, governed by the roof-stone, which, though now cracked and chipped, has been in one piece, measuring twenty-two feet by fifteen feet, and about two feet six inches thick. The chamber (the floor of which is below the surrounding surface) measures eighteen feet by fifteen feet, greatest dimensions; and is at present about five feet six inches high. A human skull is said to have been recently found by the Rev. H. L. Jones under this cromlech.

A few yards south, in an adjacent field, are the wrecks, probably of a smaller cromlech, and of what may have been a line of four or five upright stones. Near these again, in the next field, is the still more evident wreck of another cromlech, of which the large roof-stone remains poised on some fragments of rock from two to four feet above the ground; and near this is a sort of quarry of magnesian limestone slabs, whence, no doubt, the adjacent remains were taken, and the occurrence of which probably governed their position.

These cromlechs were the subject of a formidable controversy between Dr. Todd and the late Archdeacon Williams, and led to a series of essays by the latter disputant, which are supposed to have materially influenced the circulation of the very respectable newspaper in which they appeared. Models of the monuments were made for Sir R.C. Hoare, and may be seen in the British Museum. The monuments themselves are the property of Mr. Bruce Pryce, who has guarded them with great care.

In the Cottrell grounds, south-east of and near the house, is a large tumulus, apparently sepulchral, the top of which has been levelled and planted. This is omitted in the Ordnance Map.

East of Cottrell is a remarkable earthwork known as the Gaer. This occupies the summit of a ridge, where advantage has been taken of the ground to defend an oblong rectangular space of about three acres by a steep scarp surmounted by a vallum, of which traces remain. The entrance seems to have been on the eastern side, one of the longer and the least perfect. At the northern end of this enclosure is an oval space surrounded by a ditch, and within this a vallum. The included platform is level, and about seventy yards east and west, by fifty yards north and south. The whole appears to be a tolerably complete example of a Roman camp formed about an earthwork of a different date. It is placed about three furlongs north of the Portway.