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BRITARCH  October 2015

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Subject:

Re: Was the Rhosyfelin Neolithic bluestone "quarry" engulfed in water?

From:

Constantinos Ragazas <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 13 Oct 2015 11:08:53 -0400

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David Petts,

In my original post and in subsequent posts to John Wood and others, I have agreed the need for a close up ground examination of this ruin. And no amount of googling could substitute for such field work. Nothing definitive can be said here. But only the question can be raised. Why? Because the answer can be so consequential to the Rhosyfelin Neolithic "Quarry" narrative.

You have sited several possibilities here. I have some more. Drawn from my own formative experiences. Growing up in a very rural mountainous region of Greece, I recall my mother and others loading up donkeys and mules with heavy woolen blankets to carry to a very shallow stream flowing over a good flat bedrock for "spring cleaning". The wool blankets would be submerged in the flowing water over the bedrock and be pounded with a long wooden paddle. And afterwards, the blankets would be spread over tree branches or on the grassy fields to dry. It would take all day. But it was an adventure.

The ruin near Rhosyfelin could have been used for a similar purpose. With water flowing through it over a "washing floor" and the two fireplaces used for drying the linen. Or, a wheel and pin was used to drive machinery that substituted for my mother's paddle pounding of the linen. A prototype of a "washing machine"! And as you say, such machinery could have subsequently been removed and used elsewhere. As the water level of the river declined to make the original design inoperative.

You write, "basic 'due diligence' I'd expect anyone to do before coming to a list with such a radical idea". The setting and function of this ruin suggests the possibility Crag Rhosyfelin was engulfed in water. This possibility needs to be properly and thoroughly investigated. Shouldn't the same principle of "due diligence" apply to laymen and professionals alike? More so to professionals! Before "coming to the World" with grand and radical ideas of Neolithic bluestone "quarries" at Rhosyfelin.

Why stump 32e/d (the only "possible" source for the Rhosyfelin rhyolite debris found at Stonehenge and scientifically traced to Rhosyfelin) not sampled and examined? Isn't this also "due diligence"?

Kostas
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-----Original Message-----
From: PETTS D.A. <[log in to unmask]>
To: britarch <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: kostadinos <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tue, Oct 13, 2015 04:53 AM
Subject: RE: [BRITARCH] Was the Rhosyfelin Neolithic bluestone "quarry" engulfed in water?



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<div>KOSTAS says

>>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 a mill





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 been removed.

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.





David










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