Previous Index Next
Page 42
(previous) (Page 000042) (next)

roofs of English type. It is said that the nave of Llanfairfechan
old church was roofed in this manner, and it must be remembered
that the civil buildings were more antique in style than the
religious of a similar costliness, in the Middle Ages, not only in
England and Wales, but in France also, as Monsieur C. Enlart
has shownl.

However by personal enquiries among old men in North W ales,
including old carpenters in Carnarvonshire, the writer has found a
widespread tradition that these buildings were forced upon the
Welsh by their English conquerors, and it was a friend of the
Welsh—in one version the Black Prince, in another Henry Tudor
—who removed the restraint and allowed them to build houses
with walls. The conquerors imposed the use of such buildings
because they could not be fortified, and Welsh ingenuity, by
the use of the bent posts, kept the letter and broke the spirit of the
law. The tradition, like other traditions in Celtic countries, is not
very tangible, and probably the element of truth is an English
superiority in building, which was followed by the Welsh, and an
earlier use in England of upright walls in ordinary buildings.
Usually the tree is fixed on the ground, but at Beudy’r Efail,
behind Dinas Emrys, in the Gwynant Vale, the tree is fixed in the
wall at some distance from the floor2.

Messrs Hughes and North assign these cottages of Snowdonia
to the fourteenth or early fifteenth century. This seems to be
arrived at by comparison with dated buildings of a more elaborate
kind, rather than from documents: they were obviously con-
structed at a period when small buildings were permanent, and
sufficiently early for angularly bent oak-trees to be readily pro-
cured. An example is shown in Fig. 29. '

Ty Gwyn, the house of Howel the Good in Carmarthenshire,
where the Welsh laws were codified, is said, but without adequate
proof, to have been formed as follows: Two rows of trees formed
two rows of columns in its length, and each tree had a strong,
sloping branch left uncut; these uncut branches met and crossed
in the middle, in this way a row of forks was made in which was
laid a straight slender tree called the roof-tree. Low walls of wood
and wattle were built in a line with the columns and at some
distance away.

1 Manuel d’Arc/ze‘ologie Frauigaise, II, p. 102.
2 H. Hughes and H. L. North, Old Cottages of Snowdonia, pp. 19 and 20.

Previous Index Next