Monday, 3 September 2012


Alan and I have over the years, toured mosts parts of Ireland. However, we have only passed through Dublin to the port. I'd always wanted to visit the Newgrange Neolithic tomb in the Boyne Valley. We are at an age, when we're no longer confident enough to drive around Dublin. I saw on the web that Mary Gibboms had coach trips there and had pickups at various hotels around Dublin. One was the Davenport Hotel in Merrion Square. This was ideal for us, as Trinity College's back gate was across the road and the Archaelogical Museum was a couple of short streets away from it.

We booked three nights and Mary duly picked us up as arranged on the first morning. She was a wealth of knowledge and gave us a complete potted version of the history of Ireland from the Neolithic period to the present time as we travelled along. She had prebooked an allocated time for a small group of us to enter the tomb. Newgrange is around 5,000 years old, i.e. 3,200 BC. You can look up its complete background history yourself rather than me writing at length here.

A guide pointed out to us in detail the various aspects of each part of the chamber. We were then instructed to squeeze against either side of the chamber passage wall. The light was then switched off and we were in absolute darkness. Gradually, a simulation of the solstice sunlight appeared through the light box above the dorway and crept along the floor between us until it reached the back wall area. A most awesome experience! Many of the spiral carvings are similar to ones found here on Anglesey at Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres. Legend explains the translation of Barclodiad y Gawres as the giantess' apronfull of stones falling as she flew from Ireland over Anglesey! You will notice some of these carvings and the light box above the doorway in this picture of Alan and myself.

Mary took us also to visit the Hill of Tara. This is an Iron Age hilltop enclosure with huge ditches around it. The stone on top was used to perform rituals when they elected a new King. ( originally on top of the adjacant Hill Niall of the Nine Hostages). I asked Mary who were his hostages and she said they were slaves brought over fom England and Wales. I wonder if the gang chains in Llyn Cerrig Bach had a similar purpose? King Niall of this period, was the best king Ireland ever had. It is said that he took control of large parts of Britain from the Romans. When visiting the museum we saw the bead necklace of a young male teenager who could have been a ritual offering to him at this site.

On top of the Hill of Tara
Hill of Niall of the Nine Hostages
The following day, we made our way to the Archaelogical Museum nearby to our hotel. I asked at reception if there was anyone who could show me where the Irish Iron Age Horn was displayed, that was similar to the Irish part of one found by my father in Llyn Cerrig Bach. The receptionist spoke on the phone and a young curator called Isabella came through. She asked how long we were going to be there as Aemonn Kelly, the Head of Irish Antiquities, was excited to hear I was there and wanted to meet me! I said we would be there until mid afternoon at least. Isabella then took us through to her lab. where we studied entry reference numbers for the artefacts I was interesting in seeing.
She guided us to see a complete Irish horn, which was magnificant. Also a number of feasting cauldrons which might have been similar to the Llyn Cerrig Bach one, which only a section of had been discovered.
Since a couple of the bridle bits in Llyn Cerrig Bach had come originally from Ireland, we saw a number of very similar ones. The small shield boss they had, I was interested to note, had been mounted on a leather covered shield.
Isabella then took us to see three different bog bodies. These were in an amzing condition having been preserved by the peat.

On my arrival home, I googled their images and came across a highly informative lecture by Aemonn Kelly on ritual bog burials - very much worth listening to, if you're interested in such things like me!
As it was now approaching lunchtime, Isabella led us to the restaurant. Here, Aemonn Kelly was there to meet us. He had brought the Head of Irish Tourism with him, who insisted on paying for our lunches! It seems my Llyn Cerrig Bach fame can get me anything! Aemonn Kelly was not only full of information, but also very entertaining. He told us how he'd once arrived in Australia and the customs oficers asked what was in the large long black box he was carrying. He told them, truthfully, that it contained the names of all the Irish convicts that had been transported to Australia. They asked his name and he said that at home he was called Ned Kelly! I mentioned that we'd had a marvellous trip with Mary Gibbons the day before. His reply was, that she was his wife's sister!

Before leaving the museum, Alan and I managed a quick look at their Viking displays. They have an incredible amount of gold jewellery and adornments. They also had a single neck iron slave chain which interested us.
Since being back home, we have continued our volunteering at Oriel Ynys Môn with explaining the usage of the various artefacts through the means of the replicas. In September, it will be the turn of various schools to come at allocated times for workshops on them. I took one of my youngest granddaughters to a workshop in making replicas at Llynnon Mill. Lloyd, the miller, chatted with me whilst I waited for Awen. He asked what had the JCB diggers been doing at Llyn Cerrig Bach all last week. Naturally, we went straight there on our way home. They whole grass verge and reeds had been taken away, exposing that part of the lake to the road. I have always wondered since speaking to Eryl Rothwell Hughes, if this was the part of the lake where my father referred to him, that he had really found the artefacts. I do hope the RAF at Valley had informed such people as Cadw and GAT of their intentions, so that someone was on site to oversee what might be unearthed?!
I was very pleased to note that the DVD on Megalithic Anglesey has been relaunched by Michael Bayley Hughes. This is an excellent account of various prehistory sites on Anglesey. It has a complete section on Llyn Cerrig Bach. and can be bought at Oriel Ynys Môn and Oriel Cemaes.
Sorry - this image insisted on loading sideways!

I had my birthday during August - weather permitting we would have had tea outside but ended up in the conservatory. We spent the time eating, laughing and joking mainly. As you can see from this picture of the females present, we are a jolly crowd and have a great time when we get together.