Friday, 9 August 2013

Day 2 at the Plas Brynkir Site

The nerve centre of the project itself, the Training Room at the Cwm Pennant Hostel 
Today, the students got up for a 9:00 start in Training Room where they were briefed on their day's work. It was a day of clearance, beating nature back to reveal Brynkir's medieval garden. Eight students split
up into groups of four to tackle the overgrowth. I must say, they did a very good job indeed! Led by Emrys, our very own conservation expert, we revealed some top part of the neglected terraced garden. We also discovered a 19th century stone wall standing between the Upper House and the driveway from the terraces. There was also the remains of the small iron fence which would have been drilled into the wall.

Before I write any further, I think a brief summary of Brynkir's history is in order! The Estate is made of two main ruins, The Upper House and Lower House. On the top of the hill, we have The Upper House which is an early mansion on the site and was built in the mid 15th Century to house an Aristocratic Welsh family which later became the Brynker family following the adoption of the name in the 1600s (they named themselves after the Estate). The Upper House is on top of a terraced garden, aligned with the lake under it and the valley beyond. The mansion stayed in use until the death of Jane Brynker in 1760. The Estate passed hands to the Huddart family in around 1800 who soon built a much larger Regency Villa known as the Lower House, which became the main residence until the 1860s when the site was abandoned. The Estate was visited sporadically until its final abandonment in the first decade of the 20th Century.

The above images show the Upper House (left image by Emrys Ruck, 2013) and the much later Lower House (right image by Antonia Dewhurst, 2012). A fascinating difference in style documenting the eras in which they were built.

After clearance, Tim from Cardiff University came to do a geophysical survey of the back of the Lower House, which I personally helped in! Very interesting device which sends electric signal into the ground through the moisture. Because stone and brick has hardly any moisture in, the signal bounces back and when used with specific software on a computer, draws a map of any lost walls or pathways that are present underground. The results came back with an irregular arrangement of stones under us, could it be another building? Very exciting stuff! Tomorrow we will be doing a geophisical survey of the terraces to see what lost relics there are there!

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