Cosmeston, Tintern & Avebury


Cosmeston is a recreation of a medieval Manor which actually existed in post Norman conquest (of Wales) times just to the west of Cardiff. Only part of the site has been excavated (the rest may be, one day, as I think the land is owned by the local Council) and buildings have been recreated on the sites where they originally stood, based on excavated foundations.

While I was there the place was deserted – weekday, see – it may have had better presentation on a weekend, but the audio guide was reasonably comprehensive.

Herbalist’s Work Shed, probably belonging to the Parish Priest. There is a small representative herb garden out the back, but the original would probably have been much larger
The Bailiff’s House, interior. Notice the luxurious plastered walls which have been whitewashed and painted with simple designs. Also note the expensive pottery on the well appointed table!
The Swineherd’s House … also plastered and whitewashed, which was unusual, but evidently the Swineherd was unmarried and paid extra for his house to be plastered so that the Lord’s pigs would be extra specially cared for. He lived at one end with stalls for the pigs taking up the other two thirds of the interior. There was also a stone-walled pen at one side.
A more typical Peasant’s hut occupied by a Mercenary Archer (retired? seasonally employed? those are Longbow staves in the rack on the wall) … unplastered walls and scant possessions. In this particular case he doesn’t even occupy the whole hut – only half of it. The other half (behind me, and too badly lit to photograph) was occupied by another single guy who was evidently at least a part time fisherman (there’s a nearby lake and the sea was closer back in the day).

Tintern Abbey

One of the greatest of the Cistercian foundations in Britain back in the day and extremely wealthy – even the destruction and neglect caused by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Monasteries couldn’t entirely destroy it … and the ruins are both massive and majestic.

And a sign of just how bloody rich the medieval Catholic Church had become … and why it was such a temptation, one that Henry couldn’t resist.

The original entry, through what would have been part of the Monk’s quarters, with the Nave of the Abbey Church in the centre rear.
Some of the remaining decorative stonework is amazing. This is the archway and main (formal) entry doorways … used only by important guests or on important occasions.
The Quire/Altar end of the church — notice the space where a truly massive stained glass window would have fitted. This was a truly massively rich operatiom!


Coming back from Tintern I decided to stop over at Avebury, Stonehenge’s poor relation – mainly because the latter has become so grossly difficult to access – timed tickets that have to be booked at least several days in advance. And, frankly, unless it’s changed since the last time I was there in 1988 (it was bad enough getting in then), they don’t actually let you anywhere near the main large stones.

Avebury is a larger site, but the stones are less impressive … and, of course, most of them are missing, as is the case at Stonehenge. But access to the stones is free, it’s just the Parking they hornswoggle you with.

Two of the bigger stones.
Most are this sort of size or smaller
Like these … some of which are just concrete markers showing where stones once stood.

Like Stonehenge, all of the stones at Avebury are bluestone – that is, they’re not actually blue, they are simply from somewhere else than where they have been found.

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