On the subject of door sizes I can corroborate David's point. My wife had a
house based on a cottage of some age, maybe 18th century or earlier. The
door to the kitchen, which had clearly once been the outside door had a
lethally low headroom and was much wider than a modern doorway. Despite that
there were were curved cut-outs on each side of the door frame some distance
from the floor. My assumption was that they had been cut to allow the
passage of a barrel being slid through end-on. | | That sort
of thing, only the cut-outs were obviously lower down.
From: PETTS D.A.
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 9:53 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Was the Rhosyfelin Neolithic bluestone "quarry"
engulfed in water?
>>1) Two fireplaces would be unnecessary if this was a small cottage. But
>>would make sense if this was a mill for washing wool fabric. For purposes
>>of heating water and >>drying the fabric.
No - two fireplaces is absolutely typical of the range of architectural
forms of British rural cottages -also looking at the earlier OS maps it is
clear that there was once more of the structure than stands today and the
presence of a small enclosure - absolutely nothing in that respect to
suggest it wasn't a cottage at some point in its life.
2) A photo of this ruin shows a rather wide "door" opening in the direction
downslope (much too wide for a cottage and in the wrong direction imho). And
an inclined ground ramp coming off it. A cottage would not have such a
structure. While a mill likely would.
> I agree with you that the door is odd - but a wide opening doesn't
> automatically equate with a mill- in fact almost any kind of agricultural
> storage building/ animal house might have its access points widened to
> facilitate the movement of animals/machinery/straw bales etc- it may well
> point to the subsequent use of the structure for some non-domestic purpose
> but you cannot leap straight from that to arguing for a mill. To do that
> I'd expect you to be able to point to a series of standing fulling mills
> which have a door of that size/shape in that position and also show that
> animals houses/byres/storage structures do not have similar openings
3) The purpose, design and fixtures of this mill may have been different.
Perhaps not needing a water wheel and leat to draw water from higher up. The
water flow may have been direct and strong. While a natural water flow
through the mill may have served well the purpose of washing and
conditioning the wool fabric. It all depends on the actual purpose and
design of this mill.
> Can you point me to *any* examples of mills (fulling or otherwise) that do
> not have a waterwheel? Indeed isn't that the basic definition of a mill -
> the presence of water driven machinery that is harnessed for a particular
> function? Otherwise, it wouldn't be a mill- it sounds like you are
> envisioning a washing floor or similar - but that is not a mill! It is
> useful to to have a look further up the course of the Afon Brynberian at
> Brynberian itself where there was also a mill - you can still see the
> evidence for the mill leet and associated water management features
The link to the photos discussion of the mill you posted was abstracted from
Archwilio - it was part of the Cadw funded mill survey of 2012-14, so I'm
assuming that the survey team would have seen lots of mills standing and
ruined and would be able to recognise the presence of any diagnostic
features indicative of the presence of a mill - it is clear from the report
that the only evidence is the name.
I am not saying that there was never a mill there - indeed the name is
certainly suggestive- but there is no suggestion that on the basis of its
structural remains the ruined building on the site, in its current form was
It is of course possible that an earlier structure on the site was a mill
and it was demolished and replaced
It is also equally possible that the structure that survives originated as a
mill, but has been so heavily reworked that all diagnostic features have
It is also possible that the original mill structure was a little further
down the slope or along the valley but the name has shifted over time- this
is precisely what happened at the site of the fulling mill I carried out a
very small excavation on- the name had become attached to a house a little
further up slope after the mill had been demolished.
The only very tentative possible hint of anything that might be even
potentially mill associated is what just about might be a course of a leet -
if you look at the google earth imagery for the site, there is some kind of
long linear feature that runs along the contour line just to the north of
the structure westwards to where it meets the stream that runs southwards
from Tirnewydd- it is just about possible that this *might* be a leet- it is
marked as an field boundary on the OS maps, but I have known examples of
relict leets preserved as hedges/walls. Of course the presence of a leet
would cancel out the basis for your hypothesis for radical changes in the
depth of the Afon Brynberian
So, before we start arguing for radical reworking of what we know about the
basic hydrology of the area on the basis of a hypothesized mill on a
hillside we need to:
(a) confirm whether the structure was a mill or not - this may simply not be
possible from a rapid site visit and may require more detailed building
survey and/or targeted excavation.
(b) if it wasn't a mill then identify any other possible candidate sites in
the immediate area.
(c) confirm whether any identified mill structure on or near this site
harnessed its water supply- and confirming the presence/absence of leats.
Again, requiring some form of earthwork survey, further archive research and
perhaps again targeted excavation
Until all this has been done, there is absolutely no point in developing
more complex hypotheses that require major shifts in the hydrography and
geomorphology of the area in question. We can play the 'what if' game all we
want, but until some fieldwork is done there is no way we can take this
forward. It may be boring but that's the way archaeological research works.
I would also say that all the information I've presented in this email was
collated by me in about 10 minutes on the internet- I'm not sure why you
couldn't have done this yourself, as the basic 'due diligence' I'd expect
anyone to do before coming to a list with such a radical idea.
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