A little over a month ago, we set out on an adventure which culminated in us bringing home a new dog. Somewhat inevitably, I managed to usurp the dog buying jaunt and replace our priorities with visits to as many castles and related historic sites as was possible, in between visits to farms. Taking in Grosmont, Crickhowell, Llangors and others, it made for a busy day!
What a triumphant day the 26th of April, 2014, proved to be. Cyfarwydd - our heritage organisation, has been doing bits and pieces here and there over the last few weeks, all building up to our official launch in a couple of months time. So far we have been involved in oral history training events, ancient world event days, and burgeoning social media projects. Today we kicked off another one of our many activities, heritage tours in Caerleon. This one is the brain child of Ferg and Verd, and their infectious enthusiasm for the historic landscape certainly seemed to win over our guests from Gloucester today - despite some ridiculously changeable weather. It's great to see this organisation out and about and gradually building a profile, and there was some really positive feedback after the event as well. The images below, and many more related to our wider activities, will be available through the official website next month, but in the short term, here is a taste of how things went in Caerleon today.
I've either been in, talking about, or hearing academic discussions on church and graveyards quite frequently over the last few weeks. My most recent interaction was related to a conversation regarding resetting headstones which had shifted and sunk in the soil. Debate raged in the community (I won't name which one as the arguments are ongoing) as to whether or not headstones should be reset, left as they were, or (and this is probably the scenario more common than most in such discussions) to remove certain examples altogether. In addition, there are plenty of cemeteries which are delicately manicured, made as presentable and accessible to as many as possible. Okay, so many churchyards are havens for wildflowers, but that does not mean that the more intrusive and cumbersome forms of vegetation are not quickly dealt with, dismissed as a threatening invasive growth which might undermine the graveyard monuments. This all brought back memories of Iceland, where I found examples of foliage in Reykjavík which would probably horrify many custodians of British graveyards. The tradition of tree and shrub growth in Icelandic cemeteries is well established, and significantly adds to the experience and atmosphere of the location. But is this too great a threat in the long term to the monuments, or perhaps a refreshing way of thinking about the use of these spaces, which we might explore in a British context?
Found myself in Bath last week for a graduation ceremony. It's been several years since my last visit, but much of what makes this city so special has been retained. No time to get down to the old Roman haunts, but plenty of opportunity to take in the detail of the Cathedral façade, and the wider surrounding architecture. It remains an excellent, and challenging World Heritage Site, where cultural landscapes conflict with contemporary urban demands.
Spring appears to finally be creeping into life, and it provided for a glorious day in Neath last week. It's easy sometimes to overlook the quality of some of the architecture in Neath, certainly the town could do more to promote such elements, while the castle being hidden away under lock and key was also a shame. The same can be said of Neath's historical connections, Alfred Russell Wallace living in Neath for seven years being one that I was unaware of until stumbling across the building he designed.
Recent travels to Texas revealed these wonderful heritage themed murals. Reflecting the historic narratives that have influenced the growth of San Angelo, these murals have played a role in the enhancement of the central shopping district in the city, and should serve as an indicator for the way in which local heritage can act as positive inspiration for community regeneration.