Thursday, 13th July an EVENING VISIT to Hen Gwrt and Llantilio Crossenny Church:

Meet at the The Church of St Teilo at Llantillio Crossenny at 7pm

Hen Gwrt moated site is defined by a rectangular platform, 39m by 45m, set within a moat, 72.5m by 76m overall. Excavation in 1957 demonstrated a sequence of occupation starting in the thirteenth century, the moat being the work of the fourteenth century. After a hiatus in occupation during the fifteenth century substantial buildings were constructed/adapted in the sixteenth century when the site was used as a park lodge, occupation ceasing in the seventeenth century.  The Church of St Teilo is an unusually grand cruciform church, with an early English 13th century tower crossed by a decorated 14th century chancel. The nave is late 14th century. St Teilo was bishop of Llandaff and died in 580 A.D. and is buried there. The earliest relic is the 12th century Norman font.

DIRECTIONS: Llantilio Crossenny is situated between Abergavenny and Monmouth. From Abergavenny, take the B4223 from Abergavenny towards Monmouth. Llantilio Crossenny is about 5 miles from Abergavenny. Meet at the church at 7pm.

Saturday July 1st: Llangwm History Day

The event aimed to showcase the history of Llangwm and took place in conjunction with the Gwent County History Association and Llangwm Monmouthshire Local History Group. It was organised this year by the MAA.

The day will consisted of lectures in Llangwm village hall and forays into the locality and luckily the sun shone.  Hefina Rendle the chairperson of Llangwm History Society welcomed us to the village. Lyn Bennett, a member of the Llangwm society and also a member of the MAA worked the amazing PA system and it made all the difference to the day. The first lecture was given by Tony Hopkins from archivist from Gwent Archives and related to the John Gwin Common Place Book which is held by the archive. Tony had analysed the archive  in detail. He started with the family history and moved on to the contents. The book was not a diary or a journal. The contents are randomly recorded which is part of its charm. It contains things he needed to remember and things that interested him. The Civil War gets only one comment. There is a lot on medicine with various bizarre remedies. There is much about church affairs as he was church warden to St Jerome’s church. he was also related to the Monmouthshire Puritan Walter Cradock.

The group then walked to St Jerome’s church which is the custody of the Friends of Friendless Churches. Professor Maddy Gray described the ninth century origins of St Jerome’s church, its wonderful carved rood screen, and the nineteenth century rebuilding by Seddon. (Bradney commented unfavourably stating, ‘ The whole has suffered by the injudicious work of zealous restorers.’) She explained the liturgical significance of the lay-out of the Medieval church, and how the laiety would have experienced worship. St Jerome’s  is now under the custodianship of the Friends of Friendless Churches,  and recent work by them has revealed the tombstone of Joan Gwin, Cradock Gwin and Elizabeth Gwin, (the latter ‘murdered in her own House’.)

After a ploughman’s  lunch prepared by our secretary and treasurer we visited the Baptist Chapel. The Revd Cannon Dr Arthur Edwards reminded us that when it was built in 1840 the Baptists were the strongest denomination in rural Monmouthshire, as shown by the religious census of 1851.  Here, too, we heard about the Cradock connection, as it was Cradock  Gwin Watkins who provided the land for the church.  In contrast to the separation between priest and congregation seen in St Jerome’s, the Baptist congregation focused on the preacher and the open Bible placed directly before them.  It encouraged a form of democracy in church government, and women were taught leadership in meetings, being able to vote, though not allowed to preach.

Peter Strong then spoke about the agricultural workers in Llangwm and the neighbouring villages of Gwernesney and Llangeview, based on evidence given to  the Royal Commission on ‘Women and Children In Agriculture‘, 1869. He explained that the wages, at 10-12 shillings a week were low but higher than many agricultural districts due to the proximity of industrial districts.  Women were paid about half as much as men but normally only did seasonal work.  Children were often sent out of the home to live on farms as farm labourers or domestic servants from the age of ten.     Having a lack of pictorial illustrations he cleverly used the paintings of George Clausen to illustrate the lives of people at the time.

Time was passing and so Christabel Hutchings curtailed her talk on the Village School. She described its foundation by the National Society in response to the expected take over of non-sectarian education under the terms of the 1870 Education Act.   This act allowed voluntary schools to carry on unchanged, but established a system of ‘school boards’ to build and manage schools in areas where they were needed. She then looked at the contents of the early log books and admissions books and the evidence for the social history of the village that could be gleaned from their contents. The punishment books are now available for study 1904-7 at Gwent Archives and created interest and she finished with a glimpse of how the school children celebrated St David’s Day in 1915 by creating a tableau of a  First World War hospital and trenches.

The day was  summed up expertly by the Chairman of the MAA Alan Aberg. He thanked the speakers and discussed the importance of their different talks relating to the village of Llangwm. He finished with some interesting and comical  reminiscences from his own school days.

photo 1    DSC09473

P1010747   DSC09457   P1010754

DSC09483   DSC09481

Thursday 15th June: A visit to Much Marcle, Hellens Manor, St Bartholomew’s church and St Mary’s Church Kempley:

We arrived at the Hellens’ Manor at 11.30am. The present house dates from the 16th /17th centuries, is built of brick, and has gardens redeveloped to reflect the age of the building.  Most of what you can visit is Jacobean, with period furnishings, but it has the feel of, and is, of  a lived-in house.   The house is run by a trust and the aim is to ‘protect and maintain, in perpetuity, two houses of historic interest – Southside House, Wimbledon, and Hellens Much Marcle, Herefordshire – and to make both houses available for educational and cultural activities relevant to the local communities.’

We divided into two groups and had two excellent guides. Hellens Manor stretches back to 1096 when it  was granted to the de Balun family. It then passed to the Lords Audleys by 1301, who were created Earls of Gloucester in 1337. We enjoyed the tour which began in the Stone Hall with a fireplace bearing the Black Prince’s crest and the Minstrel Gallery and finished in the rooms prepared for Mary Tudor and her tutor Fetherstone,

The gardens alone are well worth a visit.



Hellens 1       Hellens 2      Hellens 4


Hellens 5       Hellens 6

Following the tour we had an excellent lunch in the barn.

After lunch we will visit:- St Bartholomew’s Church (13th -15th century) was  nearby which has several fine tombs, including the unusual effigy of Sir Walter de Helyon, of painted oak (14th century), Blanche Mortimer (d.1347), portrayed realistically with drapery flowing over the side of the tomb, and effigy of Sir John Kyrle. We were met by the Church Warden who greatly added to the experience.

Kempley Church  a Norman church now in care of English Heritage, which was founded in the early 12th century by Hugh de Lacy, who also founded Llanthony Priory. It’s best known for the exceptional 12th – 14th century wall-paintings, revealed when white-wash was removed in the last century. Five people went on to the church while others went back to the Hellens’ gardens.

Below members viewing the frescos in Kempley.

Fresco      Fresco ceiling    Fresco 3


From the bell tower    The Nave 2   The Nave

Thursday May 25th at 7pm: An evening visit to Runston Deserted Village in conjunction with Cardiff Archaeological Society.


A beautiful sunny evening and members from the MAA and CAS assembled to view the site. The event was organised by Jeremy Knight, our president and Chris Jones-Jenkins a member of the MAA and of CAS. We were kindly allowed access to the Wye Valley Archery Centre to use their car park and access the deserted medieval village.


                                                                  runston 3


A few more photos

Runston 5   Runston 7    Runsron 4                                Runston 10


Runston – the site

The monument represents the remains of a deserted village’s earthworks, building flooring and a partially standing chapel open to the sky. Documents reveal that the chapel was built by the Normans and might stretch back to the early 10th century. Although it goes back to medieval times it was deserted in the 18th century when the landlord abandoned the village as its rents dwindled.

On the site one can see:-

The Chapel

The chapel is roofless with a chancel and nave and bell tower at the west end.  The chancel arch survives intact with walls surviving to original height. The chapel retains finely jointed ashlar blocks, and small Romanesque windows which point to an early 12th century date. Documentary evidence points to a village on the site as early as the 10th century.

Runston’s fortified Manor House

Visible is the remains a fortified manor house evidenced by tumbled rubble. This measures 30m by 30m on the north side of the chapel. On the s w corner is the outline of a tower toughly 5m in diameter and some coursed walling is still evident.

Runston House Platform

A rectangular complex of a turf covered long house and building foundations associated with enclosures surrounding it.

Dr Mark Lewis has written about finds discovered on the site:-

Runston 2



Saturday 6th May, The MAA AGM at the Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary School at 2pm


The AGM will be held as usual at the Charles Williams Church in Wales Primary School on Saturday 6th May at 2pm.

Our speaker this year is Dr Rick Turner

Many of you will remember Dr Rick Turner when he gave us an excellent tour of Chepstow Castle. He will talk on

‘The Commissioners of Sewers for Monmouthshire and the history of the Gwent Levels’


Wednesday 6th September: Visit to London to the Society of Antiquaries of London in conjunction with Cardiff Archaeological Society

Wednesday 6th September : Visit to London to the Society of Antiquaries of London in conjunction with Cardiff Archaeological Society: Organised by Alan Aberg 

The coach will take us to London on 6th September. A notice has been sent to all members.  Our chairman Alan Aberg has provided the following information.

Society of Antiquaries of London

The Society was founded in 1707, although there were earlier attempts from the Elizabethan period and during the seventeenth century to establish a society concerned with the material artefacts of archaeology, art and architecture. Its initial meetings were held in taverns in Fleet Street, the most famous of these being the Mitre, but soon after it received its Royal Charter in 1751 it found permanent headquarters first in Chancery House and then in 1780 at Somerset House. Since 1875 it has held its meetings in a building designed to house its library, museum collections and pictures at Burlington House alongside the other learned Societies: the Astronomers, Linneans, Geologists, Chemists and the Royal Academy of Arts. It funds research and publications, and also runs Kelmscott Manor, Oxon., the former home of William Morris.

During the tour of Burlington House items relevant to Wales and Monmouthshire will be on display in the Library, including drawings from the print collections and manuscripts which normally are not accessible. The tour of the building will include the Meeting Room, where many of the important paintings are displayed, the Library and the Museum collection. We have been invited by the President, Gillian Andrews, to a reception on arrival, and members of the staff will lead the tour and introduce the exhibits.

Here are prints from the Society of Antiquaries collections. We will be able to see many more on our visit. The first is of Bettws Newydd Church and is dated 1842, and the second is of the Old Tower at Caerleon.

BT 2                                                       Image (63)

copyright: Society of Antiquaries

Friday 7th April: Visit to Abergavenny Priory Church at 1.30pm followed by a visit to Abergavenny Castle and Museum at 2.30pm:

Visit to Abergavenny Priory Church

This was an informal visit during which we pooled our knowledge. We met at the Priory Church Abergavenny at 1.30pm. Some people arrived earlier and had lunch in the Tithe Barn close by. Anne Dunton led the discussion and began at the oldest part of the Priory which was the Norman font. Jeremy Knight told us about the bells and how at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536-39, the parishioners bought the four bells, weighing a total of 45.5 cwt, which were hung in the Priory Church. Anne told us that St Mary’s Priory was founded in 1087 as a Benedictine Priory alongside the castle by Hamelin de Ballon, the first Norman Lord of Abergavenny.

Priory 4       Priory 6

Here Jeremy is describing how medieval fundraising raised the bells and saved them from destruction at the Reformation. You can also see the oldest item in the church, the Norman font.


Priory 8       Priory 9

Here we are in the Herbert chapel.  Centre is the tomb of William ap Thomas and Gwladys Ddu, and on the right his son Sir Richard Herbert of Coldbrook and his wife. He was executed after the Battle of Edgecote. On the right is the tomb of William ap Thomas.

William ap Thomas was responsible for beginning the construction of Raglan Castle as we recognize it today. He obtained Raglan through his marriage to Elizabeth Bloet, widow of Sir James Berkeley shortly after 1406. When Elizabeth died in 1420, ap Thomas retained Raglan as a tenant  for the rest of his life. William’s second wife was the heiress, Gwladus, the daughter of Sir Dafydd Gam and the widow of Sir Roger Vaughan and all these men had fought with King Henry V in France at the battle of Agincourt. William ap Thomas was knighted by Henry VI, becoming known to his compatriots as Y marchog glas o Went (the blue knight of Gwent). Gradually he began to establish himself as a person of consequence in south Wales. When he died in London in 1445, his body was brought back to Wales to be buried in the Benedictine priory church at Abergavenny. His wife Gwladus (the star of Abergavenny), as she was called by the poet Lewys Glyn Cothi, died in 1454. William was succeeded by his eldest son, another William (d.1469) who took the surname Herbert.

Priory 10

Here Anne is pointing out the alabaster carving of the Annunciation and saints Catherine and Margaret on the tomb of Sir Richard Herbert.

Sir Richard Herbert of Coldbrook

On the north side of the Herbert Chapel is the tomb of Sir Richard Herbert and his wife Margaret, who lived at Coldbrook. Both Richard and  his brother William Herbert, were prominent in the wars of the roses and they were both beheaded at the battle of Edgecote. They brought up Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, at Raglan Castle under their guardianship. We then took the opportunity to look at the Jesse Tree which was carved from a single piece of oak in the 15th century and depicts the lineage of Christ from Jesse.

Abergavenny Castle 

At Abergavenny Castle Jeremy spoke about its history. Both the Priory and the Castle were focal points in the turbulent times of the Welsh Wars which followed the Norman incursion into Wales, particularly into the areas known as the ‘Welsh March’.

Priory 3       Priory 11

In 1087 the wooden keep was built, followed in 1190 by a replacement keep built of stone. As the castle of Marcher lords it had an interesting history, changing hands between English and Welsh. It was slighted by Charles I during the Civil War and became a source of stone for building material. Jeremy had pointed  out that the Caerleon Antiquarian Association, as it was then called, had visited in 1898 when they held their Annual Meeting at the Castle.  They used to travel to places by train and took picnic hampers with them which were piled into carts and transported to the historical site they were visiting. Here is a map that they drew and provided for members on that the occasion of their visit to Abergavenny.

Abergavenny Castle (poss 1898)


Copyright MAA.

The Museum is situated in a nineteenth century hunting lodge which is on the site of the former motte. It  has an interesting collection of artefacts. There is a Victorian Welsh farmhouse kitchen and a saddler’s workshop amongst other displays. When we visited the current exhibition was ‘Monmouthshire Women Making Change’ which was very interesting.

Saturday 4th March 2017: A visit to Newport to see the Feibusch murals in Newport Civic Centre, followed by a visit to the Museum:

Barbara Bartl, the Museums Officer for Collections at Newport Museum and Art Gallery,  gave us a guided tour of these superb murals. Hans Feibusch (1898 – 1998) was a German painter and sculptor of Jewish heritage who lived and worked in Britain from 1933 until his death. A series of 12 murals by Feibusch, each over 20 feet (6.1 m), around the central hall of Newport Civic Centre, tell the history of Newport. They were commissioned by Newport Corporation in 1960 and painted during the period 1961-4. 31 members  met at the Civic Centre at 10.30am. Many of the group had not seen the murals before and were struck by the size and colour. Barbara  gave us an interesting detailed talk about Feibusch and the murals and it was based on an interview that former curator of art, Roger Cucksy had with the artist.



Thursday 2nd March: MAA members attended the Society of Antiquaries London meeting in Cardiff.

The Society of Antiquaries London, meeting in Cardiff.

The Society was founded in 1707 and currently has 3,000 Fellows include many distinguished archaeologists and art and architectural historians. The Fellowship is international and includes all aspects of the material past. The role of the Society was, and is ‘the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of antiquities and history in this and other countries’. The Officers and Council are elected on St George’s Day (23 April). The Society remained at Somerset House until 1874, when it was offered a suite of purpose-built apartments in Burlington House, Piccadilly, designed by architects Banks and Barry, which gave it more room than was available in Somerset House.

On Thursday 2nd March,  MAA members were invited to attend the Society of Antiquaries London meeting in Cardiff. Many members of our Association are Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries and one was to be admitted at this meeting. Tea was served in the restaurant of the Main Building, Park Place. The main meeting was held in the Wallace Lecture Theatre. Following the formal admission of fellows Dr. Paul Nicholson and Dr. Steve Mills (both of Cardiff University and Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London) gave a lecture entitled,  ‘Visions of Antiquity – Imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War’. Following the interesting lecture there was a wine reception.

The above is complemented by our forthcoming visit to the Library of the Society of Antiquaries on 6th September. 

This year on 6th September the MAA and CAS (Cardiff Archaeological Society) will jointly visit to the premises of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly. Members are invited to tour the premises of the Antiquaries and see not only the rooms, but a special display of items from its collections relating to Wales, drawn from its archives, library, print collection and museum. A reception will be offered on arrival when we will be greeted by Officers of the Antiquaries. Further details on booking arrangements have been sent out to members and you are advised to book early to obtain a place.

See events below

Sunday 6th August at 12.30pm: Members’ summer lunch at usual venue