All over Wales you can find the sites of Hillforts and Roundhouses, There are places where some of these have been reconstructed so that you can see how the Celts used to live.
There is a fantastic Celtic Village reconstruction at St Fagans, The 3 round houses are each built in different styles, there is a stone walled one that was based on one found at Conderton in Worcestershire, A large Wattle walled house has a roof supported on posts and is based on remains that were excavated at Moel y gerddi in Gwynedd. The smaller wattle walled house which is normaly on site has been dismantled and is going to be rebuilt. It is based on one from the hillfort of Moel y gaer in Flintshire.
All 3 houses are roofed with straw, you can go inside the larger house and you can see (through the smoke from the central fire) weaving looms, and other everyday utensils that would have been used by the Celts.
The vullage is defended by a palisade and a ditch to stop intruders as well as magical symbols to keep the evil spirits out.
This was one of my favorite places in St Fagans and i went back to it twice during my visit.
Llwyn Yr Eos was a tenanted farm on the Plymouth estate from at least the 18th century although the present farmhouse dates from the 19th century. It is one of the few buildings that are on there original site and it was opened as a part of the museum in 1989.
It is displayed as a large farm of the 1930s with working gas lighting and early 20th c furniture'
It's kitchen is frequently used to demonstrate traditional cooking techniques using the traditional coal fire range as well as the gas oven.
In the farmyard there is a barn that was built in 1820 around the same time as the house along with other outbuildings which include pigsties, calf pens and stables. There are some early tractors on display along with the more traditional horse drawn equipment. Next to the stables is a small cottage were the Farm labourer and his family would have lived.
Running around the yard you can see Hens, Geese, Turkeys, and in the barns there were some little pigletts.
It is still a working farm and so it is a great place to get a glimpse of how farm life must have been.
saw Mills would have been a common site all over Wales when wood was more widely used than today. The saw mill at St Fagans came from Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion, It was built in 1892 and re erected at St Fagans in 1994.
It was originally erected to house a water powered circular saw which was powered by a water wheel that cost £15. during the 1930's the engine of an old model T Ford car was installed as an alternative power source.
Until it was banned in 1849 cockfighting had been enjoyed by all social classes in Wales who would flock to their local cockpits which would have been either indoor or outdoor pits, to witness birds fighting to their deaths. Cockerals were bred and trained to fight and became much prized birds.
The Cockpit at St Fagans is a 17th century circular thatched building which originaly stood in the yard of the Hawk and Buckle Inn, Denbigh. Since the ban it had been used as a slaughter house and a garage among other things. the interior had no original fittings so the seats and fighting stage are reconstructions.
St Teilo's Church came from Llandeilo Tal y Bont near Pontarddulais, Swansea. It is believed to have been built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier Celtic Church, the building has undergone much alteration.
When work started on the dismantaling of the building a fine series of wall paintings dating from around 1520 were uncovered. because of this the interior of the church has been refurbished to that period and an Italian artist was brought in to recreate the paintings. It contains all the elements associated with a late Medieval Catholic Church including a rood screen and loft.
Workmens institutes and Halls were once common features in the mining and industrial towns of Wales and in England at the end of the 19th and begining of the 20th century. They provided a a base for many social, cultural and educational activities in rural areas, much like village halls.
The workmens Institute at St Fagans came from Oakdale in Caerphilly were it was built in 1916 and re erected at St Fagans in 1995.
It included a library, reading room and commitee room on the ground floor with 2 small offices, a concert hall that seats up to 300 people occupied the 1st floor. Originally there was a seperate but linked building behind the institute which housed a Billiards Room. This building was not brought to the museum.
Built in 1508 and re erected in 1962 Hendre'r Ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse is a single storey farmhouse which is typical of the wealthier class of Welsh farmhouse from the Middle Ages, The roof and walls are supported on four sets of large curved oak timbers which reach from the ground and meet at the roof apex forming massive A's and dividing the building into 5 sections. The lower 2 were used to house the animals while the upper 3 sections were used by the family and were probably a workroom, hall or living room and bedroom.
It's exterior walls are timber framed with the panels being filled in with wattle and daubed with clay. It has then been limewashed in a manner common in the Medieval Ages. It has an open hearth placed in the centre of the hall a\nd as there is no chimney the smoke would have to escape through the unglazed windows.
The first building i looked at properly when we started to look around St. Fagans was this great timber framed Barn that was originaly built around 1550 and re erected at St Fagans in 1951.
It consists of 3 parts with the oldest and largest part being constructed using crucks ( large curved timber beams that reach from the ground to the roofs apex making A frames)
Corn would have unloaded through the central doors into the middle section were it would have been threshed by hand with a flail and then cleaned by fhrowing the ears up into the draught coming through the open doors.
The straw would then have been stored in some of the bays.
In around 1600 a smaller building was errected next to the barn which was later linked to it and it used timbers from the original older building.
There are marks on the timbers which that the building was first made in the timber yard, the pieces numbered and then reassembled on site. A kind of build by numbers kit.
You can't think about Wales without picturing Sheep and it has been like that for hundreds of years. Sheep have always been important both for food and clothing.
Sheeps wool has always been popular and more so before the importation of cotton and after that man made fibres.
Woolen Manafacture has always been essebtial to rural communities and there would have been a lot of small wool mills all over wales where farmers would take their wool to be processed into cloth for their own use. All the processes of the Wool production would be undertaken all under one roof, from the teasing and dyeing of the fleece to the finishing of the fabric.
The Woolen Mill at St Fagans is typical of the many small mills that would once have been found all over Wales. It was built in 1760 and extended during the 19th c to accomodate new machinery. Wool was proccessed here until 1947. It was re erected at St. Fagans in 1952
Both Handlooms in the mill date from the mid 18th c and were converted to flying shuttle not long after. The spinning jack is said to be the only one still working and it was made by John Davis of Llanbryn mair around 1830 with the carding engines being purchased second hand at the same time from a mill in Yorkshire.
The internal water wheel powers all the machinery and can be seen on the ground floor.
As with all the craftsmens buildings at St Fagans the Mill continues to produce traditional shoulder shawls and Welsh Carthenni (Blankets) and are all for sale.
the Original site of the Mill was at Esgair moel, Llanwrtyd, Powys
St. Fagans castle was built in 1580 and was opened to the public in 1947 and is a grade 1 listed building, it is one of the finest Elizabethan Manor houses in Wales and stands within the walls of a medieval Castle.
In 1946 the Castle along with 18 acres of land was donated by the Earl of Plymouth to the National Museum of Wales as a site for the National Of Wales as a site for a National Museum of Wales.
Much of the interior was remodelled during the 19th century.
Many rooms in the mansionare fully equipped with gunuine old furniture, house hold equipment and general brick a brak that spans many centuries.
The small terrace of houses was built by Richard Crawshay inorder to provide housing for some of the workers of his iron ore mine. Crawshay was one of the great iron masters that made Merthyr Tydfil one of the most important Iron manutacturiong towns in the world during the early 19th c .
Ironstone miners were relatively well off among the other people of Merthyr and their house survived while those of the poorer people have disapeared.
This Six house terrace has been displayed to illustratew different periods of their history.
1805, 1855, 1895, 1925, 1955 and 1985
The changes of the buildings and their gardens are clearly shown in this terrace and it really is very interesting.
Kennixton Farmhouse was built in 1610 and re-erected at St Fagans in 1955. It is a typical farmhouse from Gower in south west Wales. It's walls are painted red which are thought to protect the house against evil spirits. The house would originally have consisted of only a small parlor and the loft above. During the 17th C new prosperity ment that a living room was added around 1680 followed by the back kitchen.
They have recently aquired the original barn whith was attached to the house and this is currently being reconstructed on site.
From the 18th century to the late 1940's most farmers in Wales used horses to do the work on the farm.In order to feed the horses Gorse was grown on a large scale but as it is very tough it had to be crushed to make it edible. Smaller Farms would bash their gorse by hand but Water driven mills like this one at St Fagans used heavy metal spikes to crush the gorse and had become quite common by 1800 but by 1850 farmers were using lighter and cheaper hand operated machines.
The Mill in the picture came from Deheufryn Farm, Dolwen Denbighshire it was originaly built after 1842 but was disused by 1866. It was re erected at St Fagans in 1983
The Bruised Gorse would normaly be mixed with straw chaff and at the time was considered to be good food for horses.
Untill the late 18th century most roads were in a terrible condition untill local gentry began to construct private or Turnpike roads. To fund and maitain these roads a toll was charged. The Tollhouse at St Fagans used to be at the South gate of Aberystwyth and The building and it's gate cost £40 to build. (nearly 4 times what a mud and thatch cottage would have cost.
the first gate keeper was David Jones of Dihewyd and the first Tolls were charged on the 23rd of March 1772.
Y Garreg Fawr is another example like Kennixton and Abernodwydd of the kind of two storeyed house that replace the type of house that was common in the middle ages. it was built in 1544 in Waunfawr, Gwynedd and was named Y Garreg Fawr (The Big Rock) after a rocky outcrop that was behind the house. It would have been the home of a wealthy farmer.
It is solidly built of large pieces of slate stone and mountain boulders with it's slated roof supported on two pairs of stout oak trusses. The windows were not glazed so to stop the cold mountain wind Oak Board Shutters were fitted to the windows.
It has tall chimneys which were a great status symbol in the 16th century as most houses had a fire in the middle of the floor and the house would be full of smoke as there would have been no chimney.