Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 23, St. Davids

St. David is the patron Saint of Wales. Many legends and a cathedral have sprung up on him, but the essence of the Saint is his teaching:
"Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd"
"Do ye the little things in life"
I'm with you there, Dewi Sant! While he has a grand cathedral, the essence of the man permeates the soul of Cymru.

St. David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 22, Tretower! and Llanthony

It was old home week back in Wales and back to the ancient home of the Vaughans at Tretower Court and Castle (check the link if you don't believe me!). While not the most impressive castle or manor house in Britain, it still has its unique charms besides being the ancient seat of my surname. Cadw, or Welsh Heritage, has done much to recreate the late medieval hall most impressively with the art work of Tony Barton who based his wall hangings and other representations of the Vaughans and their half-brothers and cousins, the Herberts, in contemporaneous styles.

Tony Barton emailed me and said that as he was commissioned by the Welsh Government,
he considers the Tretower art to belong to the People.
Thus, I have used his representation of the Vaughan armorial for my personal symbol. I am one of the Vaughan People.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

DNA 2: The Y-DNA Test

It's likely that I have a Y Chromosome as it's been working for me so far.

Frustrated by the imprecision of the Ancestry.com test, as good as it is. And with more people taking it the better it gets. I still need some info on my direct paternal line. That's what I've been researching and we have that one illegitimate birth. We have circumstantial evidence for the father, but it would be nice to pin it down.

There's also the question as to whether we can pin down the medieval Vaughans who were sufficiently wealthy and of the gentry with even a few knighted to sire significant offspring legitimate, illegitimate, and otherwise. I mean, everybody in the Glasbury/Talgarth area of Breconshire are probably related anyway. The most likely multiple-great-grandsires are those who had the monetary means and power to get away with it.

And then there's the tantalizing mystery of ancient origins. My son's test from 23-and-Me said his Y Chromosome "looked like" it came from Irish strongmen, one of whom we know established the Kingdom of Breichniog that become Brecknock then Breconshire.

So, I ordered a detailed Y-Chromosome test from Family Tree DNA. It's the mid-range test as the top-of-the-line seems to be for establishing a common father with a male sibling, My brother and I already accept what our parents told us.

The kit comes in a smaller package than the Ancestry.com test.

The scribbles are my poor attempt with "Paint" to redact my personal identifiers

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 21, Edinburgh, Sore Feet, Hadrian's Wall, and Hamilton

After getting home I was officially diagnosed with bone spurs. While they may help to keep me out of Vietnam and make me President some day, they are an extreme pain. The hike up Yr Wyddfa (Mt. Snowdon) did me in. After wandering around Edinburgh for a day, my feet would go no further. I went and sat in the Museum of Scotland (free internet). My wife went with the group to climb Arthur's Seat (still on my bucket list with better shoes and ibuprofen).

Our group with healthy feet on Arthur's Seat
I did see a few more sites in Edinburgh.

To prove I was in Scotland

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 20, Edinburgh (in a clearly Celtic land)

Scotland is full of our Celtic Cousins, so we're fine. I have a maternal line that goes back there. And Edinburgh is a very unique city. For one thing, it is built on several different levels like three-dimensional chess or maybe an Escher drawing.

We've got about about three street levels here.
It is also dark, enlightened, and ancient. Monuments to philosophers, poets, and warriors abound.


And there is a beautiful cemetery across from where J.K. Rowling wrote some Harry Potter. She took names from the monuments for some of her characters.

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 19, Bangor and Conwy

Had a bit of my own adventure going off to the archives at Bangor U. Professor Ron dropped me off and I took the train to Conwy in the afternoon to meet back up with the group.


I found some documents that appear to be from ancestors of mine. But I still have some work to get it all tied down.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 18, Caernarvon, Snowdon, and Dolbadarn

This has to be in the top 100 days of my life. North Wales did not disappoint. We drove up and around fulfilling the unfortunate explanation we heard from more than one of  the Cymry, "If you want to get anywhere in Wales, you have to go out to England and back in." There is no north-south M-highway in Wales. That doesn't mean if I had my way, we wouldn't wander the valleys, mountains, and seashore. But then, it would have been hard to fit all this in one day.

While Caernarvon was established by Edward I to put down the Welsh, today it is thoroughly Welsh.

Walking to Caernarfon Castle
You just can't beat this. (At least not until the next day.)

Caernarfon Castle. The round dais is where the current Saxon pretender to the title, Prince of Wales, was invested by his mother.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 17, Church, Beaupre, Tinkinswood, and St. Lythans

It was Sunday, so we went to LDS church services in Cardiff again. There were some missionaries leaving for home so the members stood to sing them the "farewell and come back again" song (I didn't get that quite right). And I couldn't resist snapping a phone pic in church.

"Farewell and Come Back Again"
And what do you do after church on Sunday? Why, visit ancient sites in surrounding Glamorgan, of course!

First up was Beaupre Castle.

We climbed over a sty and hiked across a field to Old Beaupre

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 16, Big Pit, Blaenavon, Romans at Caerleon

It was good that I was uploading my pics every day as on this day, back in Cymru in the land of my fathers, my SD card failed. I only have a few that I took with my cell phone. We couldn't take pics in the coal mine anyway, and I had already been to Blaenavon. So really, only Caerleon out of Newport was lost. Well, so was the Round Table.

Our group readying for a trip down the mine.
This idea just came to me, but I wonder if "lift" for "elevator" in Britain comes from the industrial use of the 19th Century in these pits. One had to get out of those by lifting up to the surface while in America, we started building skyscrapers to "elevate" us.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 15, St. Michael's Mount, Cotehele, Scorhill on Dartmoor

St. Michael's Mount is the little brother to Mont Saint-Michel. I mean, I'd heard of Mont Saint-Michel in France or at least off the Normandy Coast thereof. I didn't know Cornwall had a its own little one going.

St. Michael's Mount at low tide.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 14, In which we travel to West Wales (AKA Cornwall)

Cornwall was known as West Wales in medieval times because the Saxons recognized they were up against another plucky group of strange little people with pixies. It is a Celtic country, if only a county of England now. And it is a strange, mysterious place.
We started off at Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. Here I am excited beyond belief at Merlin's Cave at the Sea below the Castle!

"You're a Wizard, Merlin!"
This place was just astounding, the ruins of the castle are high above the cliffs dropping off to the Sea.

My wife at Tintagel Castle

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 13, Kenilworth, Tolkien, Stratford-upon-River

Woke to a glorious Cardiff morning:


Went to Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, bastion of Simon de Montfort, John of Gaunt (Father of the Lancasterians), and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who wooed or not Elizabeth I (It depends on what "woo" means, not to mention "virgin" Queen).

We approach Kenilworth, a beautiful, red-sandstone castle.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 12--Seeking the Welsh in Oxford (and the Cotswolds)

Once more over the Severn Crossing, we headed to the nearby Cotswolds. The first stop was some little church I'm going to need help with in remembering the location (all I had to do is Google "hobbit door church in the Cotswolds"). It is in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire at St. Edward's Church.

Very Tolkienesque or C.S.Lewisy

Friday, December 1, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Dydd 11, Harry Potter in Lacock and Roman-Georgian Bath

We left Wales again (sigh) but saw some great places.

The A-Team
The village and abbey of Lacock, Wiltshire is mostly preserved in its bygone eras. It has been used as a setting for many a film and BBC series including, ta-dah! Harry Potter. Yes, welcome to Godric's Hollow:

If you throw some dirt, mud, and straw on the street, you can get to "Old English Village" pretty quick.