MONMOUTHSHIRE


ABERGAVENNY, Priory Church of St Mary (SO 3010 1413): Choir stalls

Felling date ranges: 1476-1506 and 1487-1517

North stall base plates 1476(h/s), 1410; Stall side to north stalls 1465(h/s); South stalls joist (0/1); South stall upper middle rail 1265(h/s?); South stall top plate 1447(h/s?); South stalls panels 1482, 1425; South stall rear base plate 1462. Site Master 1349-1482 ABERGVNY (t=9.2 HERECB2; 8.1 WALES97; 7.7 MASTERAL)

Many pre-Reformation features of great interest survive in the Benedictine Priory of St Mary because it was adapted as a parish church after the dissolution, including substantial portions of the canopied and traceried monastic stalls and screens.  These were thought to be of two phases; the elaborate south range is dated by the inscribed name of Prior Wynchester, prior in 1493, but the north stalls are less elaborate and appear to be earlier.  The felling date ranges of 1476-1506 and 1487-1517 generally supports the presumed construction dates, but access difficulties in sampling the recently-restored stalls restricted sampling.  Dating commissioned by Hugh Harrison on behalf of CADW who grant aided the work.  Description:  F H Crossley & M H Ridgway (1959), Archaeologia Cambrensis, CVIII, 20-28; Tracy, Charles, with specialist contributions from Hugh Harrison and Daniel Miles 2002,  The Choir-stalls at the Priory Church of St Mary, Abergavenny, BAAJ, 155, 203-54; (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 112)


BLAINA, Chapel Farm, Coalbrookvale (SO 1909 0896)

Felling date: Summer 1567

Collar 1566(26½C); Crucks 1554(35), 1521(H/S), 1487. Site Master  1147-1566 CHAPELFM (t = 8.7 SALOP95; 8.6 WALES97; 7.1 HEREFC).

A cruck-framed, stone-walled, upland farmhouse. Two cruck-trusses of distinctive ‘Monmouthshire’ type survive, with spurs and prominent saddles. The trusses defined the inner-room and (?single-bayed) hall of an open-hall house. An unglazed diamond-mullioned window may belong to this phase.  The insertion of a fireplace with large stone lintel produced a hearth-passage plan house. The downhouse has been reconstructed but is reliably said to have been a cowhouse. The relatively late date of this upland hall-house is particularly interesting, as it is the latest open-hall house to have been dated in Wales.  Reconstruction drawings by Paul Davis are deposited in the NMRW.  Dating commissioned by the owner. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 36, list 169)


Chepstow, Chepstow Castle (ST 534 941)

(a)     Outer Bailey Main Gates

Felling date range: 1159-1189

Diagonal ledgers (6/11) 1151 (H/S), 1148 (H/S), 1141 (H/S), 1120, 1115, 1113; Middle rails (1/2) 1150. Site Master 1045-1151 CHEPSTW1 (t=10.3 SOUTH; 10.0 BRISTOL; 9.3  WALES97)

(b)     Gates between Barbican and Upper Bailey

Earliest possible felling date: After 1500

Horizontal boards 1489, 1476, 1466. Site Master 1423-1489 chep45 (t=5.8 neu1; 5.1 BAYTON; 4.9 GIERTZ)

(a) Several historic timber doors survive at Chepstow Castle, the most notable being the main gates to the outer bailey.  Previously thought to have been Civil War replacements to a gateway conventionally dated to 1225-45, the average tree-ring felling date range of  1159 – 1189 show that they are the original doors, and that the second phase of building at Chepstow is at least a generation earlier than previously thought.  Remarkably, they were in constant use until being replaced in replica as late as 1964.  The gates are round-headed, typical of the Norman period of architecture, and are divided into upper and lower panels by a pair of mid-rails between which a horizontal bar slid to secure the two leafs.  The stiles are ‘L’ shaped, flush with the 2 ¼-inch thick bevelled-edged boarding.  The backs of the gates are tied together with diagonal lattice bracing above and below the middle locking rails.  Interestingly, the angle of the bracing of the upper panel is at a slightly different angle than the lower panel, and seems to be an original design feature. The front of the gate was covered with wrought iron sheets reinforced with iron strips and secured with iron nails through the whole thickness of the doors and clenched over roves on the bracing behind.  The samples came primarily from the mid-rails and the lattice bracing, and were cored with a micro-borer using compressed air for cooling and dust clearance, in order to minimise the surface disturbance of the timberwork.  The dating has identified the earliest provenanced post-Roman examples of see-sawn timber and mortice and tenon joints from Britain.

(b) The doors to the Upper Bailey from the Barbican were not physically sampled, but instead full-size monochrome photographs taken by Ken Hoverd were used.  The weathered end-grain of the horizontal planks were very suitable for measuring, and five could be dated.  None retained any sapwood or heartwood/sapwood boundaries, but the clustering of termini post quem dates suggests construction in the first quarter of the sixteenth century.  The doors consist of two layers of butt-edged 2¼-inch planks, the fronts laid vertically and the backs horizontally, and secured with large clenched spikes in a diamond pattern.  These gates are virtually identical to those between the Middle and Lower Bailey which, being of fast-grown elm, were not suitable for dating, but can now be ascribed the same construction period.  The dating of the doors was a major part of a detailed study of early carpentry at Chepstow, and was commissioned by R C Turner for Cadw:  Welsh Historic Monuments. (Miles and Worthington 1998, VA 29, list 94)


GROSMONT, St Nicholas Church (SO 404 243), nave roof

Felling date range and date: 1214-44; after 1232

Ex-situ dragon tie 1221; Ashlar pieces 1202(h/s), 1203(h/s); Tiebeam 1205(h/s). Site Master: 1112-1221 GROSMONT (t = 9.9 GTOXNBLD; 9.3 WALES97; 9.0 GLOUCBLF).

St Nicholas, Grosmont, is a large church with a strong thirteenth-century character more or less contemporary with the castle which was the centre of Grosmont lordship. The church served both the castle garrison and a new borough. The church has an ambitious cruciform plan with a central tower. Much of the church was rebuilt in the nineteenth century, but the long aisled nave was retained. The roof has an archaic character quite unlike any other surviving late-medieval roof in Wales although comparable to some roofs in southern England. The bays are defined by plain trusses of heavy scantling. Posts rise from the tie-beam to the notch-lapped collar and from collar to ridge; the trusses have impressive lateral braces to a collar purlin. Sampling of an ex situ dragon tie suggests a felling date after 1232, towards the end of the 1214-1244 range. This is consistent with the thirteenth-century character of the nave and shows that the roof has survived from the first phase of building, undertaken when Hubert de Burgh was lord of Grosmont in 1219-32 or shortly afterwards. In 1227 the king granted de Burgh fifty oaks for his new buildings at Grosmont and in 1240, he gave further timber to the parishioners, presumably for the church. Grosmont has the earliest scientifically-dated roof in Wales, and is one of the few dated thirteenth-century church roofs. Its survival can be attributed both to the substantial nature of the roof and to the later medieval decay of the borough. The early character of the roof was noted by C.R.J. Currie in Medieval Archaeol XVI (1972), 179; see also Julian Munby, Margaret Sparks and Tim Tatton-Brown, 1983, 'Crown-post and king-strut roofs in south-east England', Medieval Archaeol XXVII (1983), 130. Dating commissioned by RCAHMW. (Miles and Bridge 2010, VA 41, list 227)


LLANGUA, The Sleath (SO 3920 2565)

Felling dates: Spring 1514

Crucks 1513(24¼C), 1512(23), 1506(12), 1499(19). Site Master 1405-1513 SLEATH (t = 8.9 WVT9; 8.3 WALES97; 8.3 LOOASQ01).

A cruck-framed open-hall longhouse. The hall was single-bayed with an upper-end dais partition and inner-room. The arrangements at the lower-end bays show that the downhouse was used as a cow house. A robust partition with open panels indicates that the cross passage functioned as a feeding walk. The tiebeam of the adjacent cruck truss has sockets for tethering posts.. The insertion of the chimney and ceiling was not dated but ovolo-moulded detail suggests the first half of the seventeenth century. The timber-frame has been replaced in brick. A parallel cruck-framed barn range is now in ruins. Dating commissioned by RCAHMW. Plan and account in NMRW. (Miles and Bridge 2010, VA 41, list 227)


LLANVETHERINE, Croft Farm Barn (SO 3797 1783)

Felling date: Spring 1581

Purlin 1539; Post 1556(h/s); Tiebeam 1580(39¼C). Site Masters 1472-1539 clv07 (t = 7.8 SWANHS; 6.2 WALES97; 6.2 TYTHEBG); 1453-1556 clv05 (t = 5.1 LYDBURY3; 4.9 lsy1; 4.8 DENBY5); 1442-1580 clv06 (t = 6.1 SOMRST04; 5.6 SARUMBP6; 5.5 SWANHS)

A remarkably complete four-bay stone and timber-framed corn barn. The barn has two-tier square-framed side walls on a stone plinth with stone end walls. The threshing floor with wide, opposed doorways is located alongside a lower-end lofted cattle bay. The barn is unusual in having a combination of crucks (two) with one box-framed truss and one tiebeam truss, each at a gable end. The two cruck trusses are interestingly different: one open between the two store-bays with only a collar and the other with a tiebeam and collar situated between the threshing bay and the cattle bay. The upper side of the threshing bay has a box-framed truss with jowled posts. This range must be regarded as a barn of transitional type retaining cruck trusses but anticipating the mixed box-framed and stone-walled barns characteristic of seventeenth-century Monmouthshire noted by C. Fox and Lord Raglan, Monmouthshire Houses, Part I: Medieval Houses, (1951), 59-67. Plan and account in NMRW. Dating commissioned by RCAHMW at the suggestion of The Village Alive Trust. NPRN 43250. (Miles and Bridge 2011, VA 42, list 241)


NEWPORT, Tredegar House (ST 2883 8523)

(a) Service wing primary timbers Felling date range: 1544-74
(b) Service wing reconstruction Felling date range: 1624-54
(c) West range roof Felling dates: Winter 1666/7; Winter 1670/71; Winter 1671/2

(a) Ceiling beams (4/5) 1537(h/s), 1508(h/s), 1522, 1495; Purlins 1534(h/s), 1533(h/s); Principal rafters 1543(h/s), 1496; Collar 1522. (b) Principal rafters 1618(5), 1575. (c) Ceiling beams (2/4) 1671(30C), 1670 (22C); Principal rafters 1637(h/s); Interrupted tiebeam 1666(18C); Queen strut (0/1); Joist (0/1); Wall plate (0/1). Site Master 1397-1671 TREDEGR1 (t = 10.8 HANTS02; 10.6 SOMERST04; 10 LONDON)

An exuberant brick-built mansion with baroque detail, ‘one of the outstanding houses of the Restoration period in the whole of Britain’ (Newman). The mansion is thought to have been built by Sir William Morgan sometime between 1664 (when he inherited the estate) and his death in 1680, but documentary confirmation is lacking. The identity of the architect is unknown but the design of Tredegar House was clearly influenced by Sir Roger Pratt’s Clarendon House. Tree-ring dates obtained from the king-post roof demonstrate that the mansion was nearing completion in the early 1670s. It is reasonable to suppose that it was begun not long after 1664. Part of the earlier storeyed house survives as a service wing. The range of dates obtained from its trusses (some charred) may indicate reconstruction of the roof after a fire. Description in John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, (2000), 422-8. Dating commissioned by RCAHMW with the assistance of Emily Price, Curator. NPRN 20907. (Miles and Bridge 2011, VA 42, list 241)


NEWPORT, St Woolos Cathedral (ST 3090 8760)

(a) Nave roof Felling date range: 1402-32
(b) North aisle roof Felling date range: 1475-1505
(c) South aisle roof Felling date range: 1496-8

(a) Rafters (4/9) 1397(h/s), 1392(h/s), 1388(h/s), 1387(h/s). (b) Ashlars 1466(1), 1463(h/s); Rafters (0/3). (c) Arch braces 1482, 1481(2), 1480(h/s+16-18NMC),(h/s2), 1474, 1473, 1467, 1466, 1437. Site Master (a) 1292-1397 WOOLAS1 (t = 7.7 BUTTSBNK; 7.1 WAUNMN2; 6.1 LNYWATHN); (b) 1379-1466 WOOLAS3 (t = 5.8 FORESTR1; 5.8 NHRA; 5.5 DITTON3); (c) 1318-1482 WOOLAS2 (t = 9.8 DENBY6; 9.3 WALES97; 9.2 ALWCSQ02).

St Woolos is a large multi-period urban church with a twelfth-century nave and late fifteenth-century tower and aisles. The church was probably badly damaged during Owain Glyndŵr’s revolt which laid waste the lordship of Newport in 1402/3. The nave and aisles have a complete set of late-medieval wagon roofs, but the roofs are not identical and are the result of several campaigns of renewal. The rather plain ‘open’ wagon roof of the nave (a) (probably boarded over the rood loft) proved to be the earliest and its date range coincides with the recovery of the town, marked by the renewal of its charter by Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, in 1427. The finer, moulded, aisle roofs (with evidence for boarding in the north aisle) belong to a late-medieval phase or phases of improvement marked by the reconstruction (widening and heightening) of the aisles and the building of the tower, the latter attributed to Jasper Tudor, lord of Newport 1485-95. The south aisle roof (c) very probably belongs to the period when Edward, Duke of Buckingham, was lord of Newport 1498-1521. His Stafford badges were formerly in the windows of this aisle. The north aisle roof (b) is probably slightly earlier. Four samples from the original chancel roof failed to date. Description in John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, (2000), 422-28. Dating commissioned by RCAHMW. NPRN 220468. (Miles and Bridge 2011, VA 42, list 241)


PENRHOS, Waun Farm (SO 417 113)

Felling date range: 1518-69

Muntins 1453, 1479, 1507(h/s); Door lintels 1473, 1516(h/s), 1521; Door jamb 1490; Wall plate 1504; Floor beams 1521(1), 1528(h/s). Site Master: 1335-1528 WAUNMN2 (t = 12.0 HEREFC; 10.9 SOMRST04; 10.8 WALES97).

Originally a late-medieval hall -nd-crosswing house, which featured in RCAHMW's TV series, Hidden Histories. The down-slope hall range has been substantially rebuilt and retains little medieval fabric apart from the partition beam between hall and lower end. The storeyed crosswing was timber-framed with a post-and-panel partition between the two ground-floor rooms. There are extensive wallpaintings in these rooms. Subsequent phases entailed the rebuilding of the crosswing in stone with ovolo detail. A sixteenth-century plank-and-batten door, probably from the hall, was re-used in the lower-end when it was adapted as a stable. The hall may have been stone-walled originally; the parlour crosswing was certainly timber-framed. Felling dates were difficult to determine, because relatively few timbers showed heartwood/sapwood boundaries, and it is not clear whether the timbers all come from a single phase. Dating commissioned by RCAHMW. (Miles and Bridge 2010, VA 41, list 227)