Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1908

Archaeologia Cambrensis 1908 is in Archaeologia Cambrensis.

Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1908 Supplement

Dec 1802. Archaeolgia Cambrensis 1908 Supplement. Ten Day's Tour Through the Isle of Anglesey in December 1802 by the Reverend John Skinner (age 30), Rector of Camerton, Somersetshire.

Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1908 Supplement Introduction

The Rev. John Skinner's Ten Days' Tour Through Anglesey, which is given in the following pages, has been carefully transcribed from the manuscript in the British Museum, the punctuation, spelling, and use of capitals followed strictly throughout. Some notes have been kindly furnished by Mr. E. Neil Baynes, F.S.A., and he has also copied (in black and white) most of the water-colour illustrations which are included m the manuscript. The illustrations are reduced from the original size, but with this exception and the absence of colour they have been copied as closely as possible, with all errors of perspective, etc. Some of the drawings would appear to have been done by Mr. Skinner in the evening from memory, and not on the spot. The complete list is printed herewith, and the pages where the plates appear in the original. A copy of an extract from Mr. Skinner's will is subjoined, in which he expresses his particular wish that the chests containing his numerous notebooks should not be opened until the expiration of fifty years from the day of his death.

Extracted from the Principal Registry of the Probate Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Juetiee In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

In the will of the Reverend John Skinner late Rector of Camerton in the county of Oxfordshire.

No. 2. I give and bequeath to the trustees of the British Museum all my Journals and other Manuscripts transcribed by my late brother Russell from No. 1 to No. 110 both inclusive and interleaved with original drawings together with the Journals I have made in my own hand-writing since my brother's death from the year one thousand eicrht hundred and thirty three to the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight in volume 1 to volume 36 of an Octavo size with blue Morocco backs containing altogether in number one hundred and forty six which I desire may be safely conveyed to the trustees of the British Museum with the five Iron Chests in which they are now contained and I request tuy said executor the Reverend John Hammond to see to the per- formance of this bequest in the tnanner aforesaid and it is my particular wish and request that neither of the Iron Chests with the contents aforesaid shall be opened till after the expiration of fifty years from the day of my death but provided the trustees of the British Museum should raise any objection thereto it is my will that tny before mentioned request should not be insisted upon.

Proved (with two Codicils)

14th November 1839

Fos 4


716 Vaughan

N.B.—It is not to be inferred that the foregoing extract contains the only portion of the said Will referring to the matters therein mentioned.

Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1908 Supplement 02 December 1802

Here we were gratified by the sight of a very perfect chromlech [Bodowyr Burial Chamber [Map]] standing in a field to the N.W.1 of the house. The upper stone terminates in a ridge like the roof of a building and measures seven feet four inches long three feet deep and four wide this is sustained by three supporters No. 7. End View of Bodowyr Cromlech. each three feet in height & nearly the same in thickness. That cromlechs were not always used (if they were at all) as altars for sacrifice I think may be demonstrated by the one before us (as its Pyramidical form is by no means adapted to the purpose. Indeed there is a tradition amongst the Welsh that this rude memorial was erected over the grave of a British princess named Bronwen who flourished in the year of the world 3105 1).

Note 1. Half a mile south-west.

Books, Prehistory, Archaeologia Cambrensis 1908 Supplement 03 December 1802

03 Dec 1802. Accompanied by a young farmer who procured a lanthorn for the purpose we walked nearly a mile to the south east of the church to the spot where in Mr. Rowlands' time there were two carnedds [Bryn Celli Ddu Burial Mound [Map]] remaining having two rude stone pillars placed between them but these stones have been employed for the purpose of building a wall near this place as well as a great part (fol. 45«) of the western carnedd which is nearly destroyed for the same purpose about twenty years ago when the labourers when digging towards the center discovered a flat pan about ten inches over-turned bottom upwards and under it a wedge of gold as they pretend the size of the heater of an iron with a piece of wire passing through the smaller end of it. The father of the young man who was with us happened to be one of the workmen employed at the time, but as what they found was immediately taken by Colonel Peacock the proprietor of the ground the man could give no further account of the circumstance. I should imagine that what they called the wedge of gold was no other than one of the brazen celts or sacrificial instruments used in former times which have been discovered in great numbers in Cornwall and (fol. 46) other parts of the kingdom. Whilst a farmer was removing some of the stones from the north east side of the larger carnedd to employ them in his repairs he came to the mouth of a passage covered with a square stone similar to that at Plas Newydd, anxious to reap the fruits of his discovery he procured a light and crept forward on his hands and knees along the dreary vault, when lo! in a chamber at the further end a figure in white seemed to forbid his approach. The poor man had scarcely power sufficient to crawl backwards out of this den of spirits as he imagined however in the course of a few days instigated by the hopes of riches and the presence of many assistants he made his second entré into the cavern and finding the white gentleman did not offer to stir he boldly went (fol. 46a) forward and discovered the object of his apprehensions was no other than a stone pillar about six feet in height standing in the centre of the chamber. His former consternation could now only be exceeded by his eagerness to see what was contained beneath the stone which he shortly overturned but treasure there was none, some large human bones lying near the pillar sufficiently testifying the purpose for which the structure was intended. This is the substance of the account we received fromn the younger man whose father was one of Colonel Peacock's labourers and on the premises at the time of the discovery. The superstition of the common people still suppose this to be the habitation of spirits.

Our two conductors seeming rather to compliment each other about precedence I took the lanthorn and crawling for about twelve feet along (fol. 47) a narrow passage got into a more capacious chamber, my companions followed close at my heels and we assembled to the number of sixx in this singular sepulchre. The passage by which we entered is about three feet high and a little more in breadth and was formed like that we noticed at Plâs Newydd with flat stones stuck endways and covered with others of still greater magnitude laid across. I have still my doubts that if the former was further explored it might terminate in a similar vault to what we are now speaking of. The height of the chamber is nine feet, its form nearly triangular some of the sides being about three yards long and four or five feet high. The intermediate space up to the roof is filled with stones placed one above the other in the manner they build walls but without any kind of cement. Two prodigious flat stones covered the whole one about three yards in length and two in breadth (fol. 47a) the other not quite so large. These are of a gritty substance not like any stone found in the vicinity. The pillar still lying in the cavern is a kind of freestone and seems to have been rounded by the tool. On examining Inore minutely this singular structure we were not a little annoyed by a tribe of immense spiders who have reigned here unmolested for acres the cones con- taining their young ones suspended from different parts of the roof nearly as large as those of silk worms.

I suppose we were in this mansion of the dead half an hour and on regaining the open air found the evening shut in, and the gloom still heightened by a heavy rain which accompanied us the whole way to Moel-don where we arrived very wet to a late dinner and went early to bed.