If you weren’t there you missed a smashing trip and several walks through history! A good journey, good driver, good friendships and a good time was had by all.
We started with a visit to Brymbo where this old iron and steel works is being partly restored to inform folks of the social and industrial heritage of the area. John Wilkinson who founded the works in 1793 was an amazing chap, an entreupenur who dabbled in many things – the Richard Branson of his day – with ‘bells on’. He was the first true industrialist, helping to drive forward the early Industrial Revolution, he inspired the world’s first iron bridge and boat, he was known as the ‘father’ of the machine tool industry, the South Staffs Iron industry and he received awards for his farming practices. Phew… but hold on… he also had ownership and interests in five banks..and invested in copper, tin and arsenic mining and that isn’t the end of his talents.
They are doing great work still at Brymbo today in preserving this heritage for future generations. Interestingly they are also aiming to grow all species of European pear trees here.
We tasted delicious pear juice and also went back in Deep Time and viewed fossils of a Petrified Forest 314 million years old. We handled ironstone from outer space from trillions of years ago. Something to do with compressed stars and a Red Dwarf!
Onto the nearby town of Wrexham and relatively modern history, Brymbo Man who lived and was buried in the Bronze Age, about 3,500 years ago. In more modern times The Parish Church of St. Giles was a little gem being built in its present form towards the end of the 15th C. There’s an interesting 16th C. Doom painting and Nave Roof another claim to fame is that the principal benefactor of Yale University is buried in the churchyard.
The evening saw us ensconced in our convivial lodgings in Llandudno, where we enjoyed a hearty supper and games to follow.
On Wednesday we visited Mike Woods, an archaeologist who has advised our Pendle Archaeology Group (PAG), at Brynn Celli Ddu where he took us on a tour of a significant Neolithic burial chamber, surrounded by a ditch, with an imposing entrance way. Mike has been busy excavating in the area and we hope to hear more about this later. Moving forward again in time we then visited Penmon Priory built on a 6th C. site with stunning carvings around the doorways and arches, reputedly some of the best Norman and Romanesque carving in N. Wales. There is also a most remarkable dovecote said to be on e of the largest and remarkable constructed in Britain. Across the water to 13th C. Beaumaris Castle and lunch at a local hostelry. Beaumaris was the last of Edward 1st’s great fortresses and due to insurrection by those north of the border was never fully completed.
Back to Llandudno and another social evening before travelling to the Roman fort of Segontium above Caernarfon the following morning. After experiencing the might of Caernarfon Castle, yet another unfinished project of Edward’s, we visited St Winifede’s Well and Chapel at Holywell before we set off home again. But not before enjoying cream scones and a nice cuppa’.
All in all a super experience and a thankyou to Georgina for arranging everything, no small task when words like, herding and cats come to mind! We are looking forward to next year’s experience, where to next?
Banner Image: The Friends enjoy hearing an interesting raconteur about the iron and steel works at Brymbo, some of the objects here are from Deep Time. Attribution: Roger Grimshaw