by  • June 20, 2013 • Cemetery, Hillfort, House, Iron Age, Medieval, Modern, Pembrokeshire, Period, Post-Medieval, Site Type, St. Dogmaels • 0 Comments


    Caerau banks in August 2002 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Caerau banks in August 2002 (c) Glen K Johnson

    The name means ‘Round Walls’. A Post-Roman cemetery is located here within an Iron Age  multivallate enclosure. On 20th May 1417 eight acres of land at “Caire Llandebloden” was released by Philip ap Ieuan ap Madoc Vichan to his nephew – Philip ap Ieuan ap Ieuan ap Madoc Vichan. His father, Ieuan ap Ieuan ap Madoc Vichan, was referred to in documents of 1355 and 1362. George Owen, in 1603, wrote that:

    “…it is reported that in ancient time this abbey stood in an open field near a place called the Caer a mile from the place it now standeth where yet appeareth some small ruins and is called Yr Hen Mynachlog, that is the old abbey, wherby it seemeth that those religious houses had but small beginings and were raised and augmented by the devotion of good people to their highest estate, where in the midst of their pride they altogether fell…”

    Reference was made in 1697 and 1708 to “Keyre-ycha”. In 1801-03 Caerau Slang belonged to John Phillips and was leased to John Bateman.

    In 1841 the dwelling was occupied by John Davies, 40; Rachel Davies, 35; and Elizabeth Davies, 15. In 1861 Maria Samuel, 49, labourer’s wife, lived here with her daughters Rachel Samuel, 16, and Anne Samuel, 8. In October 1864 an article appeared in “Archaeologia Cambrensis”, written by Rev. Henry James Vincent, the Vicar of St. Dogmaels.  It refers to numerous stone-lined graves here.

    ...My attention has lately been called to "Caerau" (an earthwork, in a field called "Parc y gaer" on the farm of Penallt Ceibwr, on the brow of a hill overlooking Moylegrove) by a stone coffin enclosure found in the space between the second and third lines of fortification on the east, in what appears to have been an old cemetery extending to the east, north, and south of the earthwork; which seems to give further proof that the defences were intended against attacks from the sea. In this place several graves have been found during the last seventy years. In one was a hammer and a cutlass; in another the figure "T" grooved in the mould, and filled up with scoriae of the smithy; in another a fragment of bone;...and in all five pebbles of pure quartz, taken evidently firom the sea-shore, of the size of a small apple. These graves seem to have been all of the same type, from the materials scattered around the field, consisting of fragments of slate, white pebbles, etc. In ploughing the field last spring, something white was turned up by the plough, which the ploughman mistook for a piece of lime; but the lad who drove the plough took it up, and found it to be a human tooth. This led to further examination, and about fourteen inches below the surface they came to a coarse stone coffin of the rudest formation, consisting of five untrimmed slate stones about an inch thick in the middle, and tapering to a thin jagged edge; one at the head, two on each side, both of which had two small grey rubble stones at the foot, probably to make out the length. It had neither lid, bottom, nor footstone, and gives one the idea of a warrior buried hastily on the battlefield; but this could hardly have been the case, for the place was evidently a cemetery. This stone inclosure, now covered in, is of the following dimensions: length, six feet seven inches; width at the widest part, one foot eleven inches; width at the head and foot, eleven inches; depth, eleven inches; lying from north-west to south-east, and probably intended to face east. How singular that, after the lapse of so many ages,...this coffin, rudely, flimsily and hastily got up from materials found at or near the spot, should still remain. It probably owes its preservation to its insignificance and the isolation of its resting-place. The only thing indicating anything like care was the fine yellow mould with which the coffin was filled, which differed widely from the coarse, stony earth by which it was surrounded. At the head was found a small portion of the skull, which turned to dust the moment it was touched, fifteen small pieces of calcined bone, and eight human teeth (six molars and two canines) in a state of more or less perfection. One of the canine teeth, now in my possession, is covered with enamel, and bears no symptoms of decay except in the root. A medical gentleman thinks that the teeth belonged to a young man about thirty years of age. There were also found there a piece of crystal and five white pebbles, like those already described...The owner of the jaw and teeth might have been a monk, for tradition says that there was once here a monastic 
    establishment; and it is not impossible but that it might be the Religious House of Llandudoch, destroyed by the Danes A.D. 987....”
    	“...There are two cottages on the south side of the earthwork, called Caerau and Penallt Esgob (the top of the bishop's hill), which shows that Caerau had something ecclesiastical about it. Near these cottages on the south-east was, within the memory of men now living, a wall of very superior masonry about thirty feet long and nine feet high, which might have been a part of the monastery of Caerau....Caerau consists of three concentric, circular embankments within and above each other at intervals of about twenty yards; with an elevation in the second of two feet, and in the third, or innermost, of four feet. There are some men living who remember these embankments much higher than they are at present; particularly the innermost agger, which on the seaward side was about ten feet...”

    In 1871 the following persons lived here: Daniel Samuel, 60, agricultural labourer; Maria Samuel, 53, his wife; and Anne Samuel, 18, their daughter. In 1881 the following persons lived here: Daniel Samuel, 59, general labourer; Maria Samuel, 63, his wife; and Anne Samuel, 28, their daughter. The monument is marked on the 1886 and later O. S. maps. In 1891 the following persons lived here: Daniel Samuel, 70, agricultural labourer; and Maria Samuel, 74, his wife. Both were Welsh-speaking and born in the parish.

    In 1894 William Williams lived here. In 1901 the property was unoccupied. On May 13th 1937 David Selby of Caerau was buried at St. Dogmaels having died aged 83. In October 1942 Mr. & Mrs. D. Protheroe lived here.


    None available


    NLW Bronwydd MS 1199

    Land Tax Lists for St. Dogmaels 1801-03

    Census Returns 1841; 1861; 1871; 1881; 1891; 1901

    Archaeologia Cambrensis 1864

    O. S. Map 1886 etc.

    Occupiers List of Voters – St. Dogmaels 30/07/1894

    The History of St. Dogmaels Abbey, Emily M Pritchard 1907

    St. Dogmaels Parish Register – Burials 1885-1952

    Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1942

    Elizabethan Pembrokeshire, George Owen, ed. Brian Howells 1973

    The Place Names of Pembrokeshire, B G Charles 1993

    Geophysical Survey Report – Harold Mytum & Chris Webster 2003

    R C A HM (Wales) files

    © Glen K Johnson 20/06/2013


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