Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The day of the Snowdrop

This is where I have been today - Newton House/Dinefwr Park at Llandeilo, which is run by the National Trust. I have asked to volunteer there and been taken on. Yippee! I had a tour of the house today, seeing bits I'd seen before but some of the behind-the-scenes parts too. I am really looking forward to getting involved and it will be great to meet like-minded people and to visit such a lovely setting regularly. The house has been frozen in time to the year 1912. Think of Downton Abbey, recently on tv . . .

Over the years we have had many walks in the parkland, across to the Castle, and my eldest daughter and I have also been involved in two archaeological digs run by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Both were looking for the Roman remains in the park, and indeed there are the remains of not just one but two Roman forts. I can never look across the parkland without thinking of the Romans and how they lived there with the little vicus of local folk attached to the fort. I was thrilled to bits to find half a beautiful glass bead - dark blue with a twist of white in the glass. The position of the fort was such that they would have seen the camp fires of the local tribe, the Demetae (whose "towns" were modern-day Carmarthen and Dolaucothi, near Pumpsaint, where the Romans mined for gold), across at Garn Goch, a vitrified hillfort.

I was delighted to find these flowering - the first Snowdrops of the year.

Triceratops fallen . . .

View across the park, looking towards Paxton's Tower on the horizon.

I had a lovely wander through this woodland just below the Ice House. This stretch of woodland and the 2nd part I walked past are known as The Rookery.

Green and gold moss on a stump.

The Ice House for Newton House. It was a fair way from the main house and would doubtless have caused much muttering when ice needed to be fetched.

One of the herd of White Park Cattle which roam the parkland. There have been White cattle such as these at Dinefwr Park ever since Medieval times.

Heading back down towards the house.

A long view across the Park.

This pathway led me round in a circle, although had I carried on across the next field, righthanded, I would have ended up just below the Roman fort.

This oak tree had such a beautiful winter shape, and I hope to take other photos of it throughout the year.

The early mist was finally starting to rise as I was leaving.

A long view of the castle remains. I will try and find links to past posts about visits there and its history. The round "tower" to the left of the castle was used as a summerhouse for picnics in Victorian times.


  1. This is immensely interesting. I should think that with your surely unique background in history and archealogy you would make an inspiring docent or tour-guide--although perhaps you are involved in some other aspect of the place?
    I look forward to more posts about this.
    A lovely spring [almost!] ramble as well--although the size of the white bovine is a bit daunting--reminds me of Texas longhorns.

  2. What a wonderful job. You get the opportunity to step back in time on a regular basis! The place is beautiful and I would think you would make a grand docent or guide. Please keep us posted on the place. Your oak tree is lovely and I have always had "favorite" trees all my life. They were either wonderfully beautiful (to me) or friendly, or comforting, but some just catch the eye. I would love to see that giant through the seasons. The mist is appealing, as always, and the ruins are a treat. One of the sad things about this country is how beautiful buildings are always just torn down. There is really no sense of preserving our heritage, just build something new. I love old things and seeing how people used to live. Imbolc blessings to you and thanks for the lovely snowdrop pics. Lynn

  3. MM - Originally I was going to keep my head low and just do admin work, though I had said I was interested in the Hidden House tours. I had a follow-up chat today and am now going to be a Room Assistant, and have still flagged up my interest as an HH guide . . . I can even dress up if I so wish (Maid's Uniform!) The White Park cattle DO look like Texas longhorns don't they? The original ones were paid as fines and payments under the laws of Hywel Dda, the 10th C leader of Deuheubarth.

    Lynn - If you were to visit the Deer Park (where my daughter and I were involved in the 2nd of the Roman Digs), you would have been able to see some venerable trees indeed - some are nearly 1000 years old! and originally formed part of the boundaries of the deer park.

  4. Oh, can I be a wee bit jealous? When I saw the first photo I did think of Downton Abbey. How fabulous to dress in a maid's uniform to help with the ambiance for visitors. How do you pronounce Dinefwr?

  5. What a wonderful place to volunteer. I would love to get to go into the non-tourist areas. Do post a pronunciation.--hart (Bethesda,MD, several miles from Silver Spring as your traffic feed says)

  6. hart - We still have one or two places called Bethesda in Wales!

    Terra - the nearest I can pronounce it by spelling it is Dinevr, with the emphasis on the "e" which is a short vowel as in "egg", not a long "ee". And of course you can be a wee bit jealous! If Id known that ordinary mortals like me could volunteer at places like this, I'd have done it years ago!

  7. BB - you are a very knowledgeable historian and archaeologist, so they are very fortunate to have you there as an Ordinary Mortal! I`m sure it will not be long before you are able to extend your skills, but just being in such an interesting place will be such a positive thing.

    Beautiful photos of the park. You had more sunlight today than we had.
    How lovely to see snowdrops so well advanced.

    I do love the White Park Cattle. I envy you watching the calves out with their mothers as calving season gets underway.

  8. What a wonderful place to volunteer at, I agree with other commenters that you would make a great tour guide. Hidden House tours are always so interesting as they usually involve the servants quarters which always appeals to me more than the main rooms. Hope you really enjoy your volunteering.

  9. Lucky you BB, it looks a lovely job, those cattle are wild are'nt they? But you will be able to dream around the house and take beautiful photos through the season. Happy Imbolc....