Tuesday, June 13, 2017

History beneath our feet

As we turned from our cottage driveway, we found ourselves behind an enormous tank truck. It was such a big truck on such a small lane, that we wondered what it was doing there. But as the truck climbed a steep hill we noticed a white liquid seeping from the tank. This was a milk truck so full of liquid that it was dripping onto the road. 

We turned toward Fishguard because Lillian needed to see a dentist. The pharmacy here would not accept a prescription for an antibiotic from her US dentist without a local dentist approval. She was able to make contact with a clinic and got an appointment for 4:15. So we headed out with the plan to return to Fishguard at that time. 

 Not far up the coast is an important Neolithic site. The site is called Pentre Ifan and was constructed in 3500 BC. The archaeologists believe it was part of a burial ground and that the enormous stones that we see supported the entrance to an underground chamber. The stones, which were surrounded by earth now stand free, exciting the imagination. It is hard to think of people who lived over 5000 years ago, who built a burial chamber with rocks weighing many tons. 

On the fields around the megalith, the ever present Welsh sheep stare at the visitors who come regularly to visit this strange neighbor of theirs.

From prehistory to the Welsh Iron Age we continued our historical journey. A few miles away at Castell Henllys we found a tea room. Tea and oatcakes is an essential part of doing history in the U.K.  We are enthusiasts when it comes to tea for two. Then, fortified by our snack we sent off on the pathway to the restored Iron Age site in Pembrokeshire. The Iron Age in this region is between approximately 500 and 50 BC. On the top of a hill are several reconstructed thatched roundhouses where the tribe would have lived.
The chief's house had a replica loom, benches with early Celtic motifs, a granary, a meetinghouse and a forge.
There was an archaeological team digging in the site on the premises, and a very informative guide we talked to as we were leaving. This was the lifestyle before the Romans came to Britain. 

Our next stop was the church of St Brynach in Nevern. The saint himself was from the 5th or 6th century. The tower is probably 11th century and the Celtic cross might be from the 10th. The spreading yews in the ancient graveyard are 600 years old.

It is modern compared to he Neolithic megalith or the Iron Age site, but compared to life today, this is an ancient place. It was majestic, and beautiful and calm. After walking around we headed back to Fishguard for Lillian's dentist appointment. 
We arrived with about an hour to kill,  but as we walked down from the parking lot we saw an arrow labeled "tapestry."
  My antenna went up, and I led the way. We found the tapestry in the Town Hall on the second floor.  We discovered that 1066 was NOT the last invasion of Britain. In 1797 the French invaded Wales and landed near Fishguard. The invasion was a failure and the French surrendered to the British after a few days. As the town was preparing to celebrate the bicentennial of this event a couple women had the idea of creating an embroidered tapestry in the model of the Bayeux Tapestry about the Norman Invasion of 1066. They put the idea into motion and two years later 75 people, mostly women had embroidered a marvelous work of art.  I was so entranced by the tapestry that I forgot to photograph it. Search it on line. 

Lillian's dental visit was successful, and she came away with the antibiotics she needs. It was time for dinner so we headed for Porthgain where the Sloop Inn overlooks the harbor. It was shortly before 6 when we arrived and the Alun Davies Studio was still open. We enjoyed his paintings of the region with dark threatening clouds and white stucco cottages along the coast. 

The pub was the best. We all had fish pie and Peter and I enjoyed lemon posset for dessert.

A walk after dinner around the harbor completed this historic day.

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