Neolithic Knapping and Other Skills

James Dilley is a PhD student at Southampton University. He is also a skilled craftsman working with materials such as flint, wood, bone, horn, leather, ceramics, metals, natural fibres and wool.

His outreach object is to encourage people of all ages to learn about ancient crafts by bringing our ancestors’ skills and knowledge back to life.

He is dedicated and enthusiastic, an expert in his field, and an excellent teacher.

You can find out more about James on his website:  ancientcraft.co.uk

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As members of The Darran Valley History Group, we were lucky enough to be invited to Parc Cwm Darran for a hands on Neolithic skills course taught by James that involved flint knapping, bronze age metal casting, woodwork and making nettle cordage. We joined Andy Wilkinson (Senior Environmental Education Ranger for CCBC‘s Countryside Service – Parc Penallta), Mark Batchelder (The Winding House Museum – New Tredegar), and Morgan Roberts (Welsh Language Voice Project Officer for Menter Caerffili) for a thoroughly informative and enjoyable week.

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As part of Neolithic skills week at Parc Cwm Darran, James gave a demonstration of traditional bronze age copper smelting. Copper smelts at approx 1100 degrees centigrade. Bellows are used to keep the temperature up. A small pit is dug and a crucible filled with alternate layers of blue malachite and charcoal is placed into the charcoal furnace. The whole process takes around half an hour.

The main part of the course involved flint knapping. Flint is one of the sharpest materials on earth, how it is formed still remains a mystery. Its composition is similar only to that of glass. The use of flint dates back to before the Neolithic times where it was a highly useful material for making tools necessary for survival.

 

Because flint is so sharp it was necessary to take health and safety precautions when knapping. A kit consists of: Leather leg cover, Gloves, Goggles.

Basic knapping, to create flakes, is hitting the flint nodule on a flat surface (platform) using a hammer-stone (pebble) no more than 1cm from an edge that is not over 90 degrees.

The flakes are formed underneath the area that you are working on.

Flint knapping is a skill that takes many years of practise in order to become accomplished. We did, throughout the week, manage to make a selection of tools that we used to fashion our own knives with by the end of the course.

They included; Scrapers, Saws, Knife Blades, Harpoon Blades.end-knives-large

Hi

I’m Andy Wilkinson and I’m the Senior Environmental Education Ranger for CCBCs Countryside Service. I’m constantly looking at ways of engaging people in the fantastic local countryside we have in Caerphilly. We are blessed by incredible biking trails, walk, wildlife etc. right on our doorstep. Our local countryside has seen humans living on it for thousands of years and there are many ancient remains and signs hidden all over it. You just have to look. As the Darran Valley has some excellent remains, along with Mark Batchelder from the Winding House, we decided to put a Neolithic project together which would celebrate this fact and be very hands on. Hence I ended up learning Neolithic crafts for a week at Parc Cwm Darran with James Dilley. The week was fascinating, frustrating, rewarding and illuminating! I think my biggest impression was that Stone Age man was extremely intelligent. The incredible skills and understanding needed to chip a flint at the right angles, force etc. is incredibly detailed. It is a very difficult thing to do to create stone tools, but incredibly rewarding too. The week opened my eyes to new skills and I enjoyed the company, enthusiasm and shared knowledge of my fellow students. Now its time to put it all together to create a 2 day project that, hopefully, will build self esteem and inspire!

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A big thank you to James Dilley for his enthusiasm and patience. Thanks also to all the guys who made the week so much fun.

 

Happy Birthday to Baarbaara The Sheep (BBTS) Publications – Let the Tails Continue – Part 1

Today is the first day of the 5th year of BBTS publications – Not bad for a sheep – My work involves writing/editing and publishing. I also help people to understand the process of Self – Publishing or Indie Publishing as it has become popularly known. As little as 6 years ago Indie Publishing was frowned upon, thankfully today people’s views have changed for the better.If you would like more information on my services please email me at: baarbaarathesheep@hotmail.co.uk

What began as a one off publication, ‘Save Our Valleys – A Sheep’s Tail,’ printed and bound from the comfort of my field, has become a proper entrepreneurial adventure. After encouragement from friends and local people, I published the book via the Createspace Platform on Amazon.

The book was written to raise awareness of a local campaign group,  (UVAG) United Valley’s Action Group, who were opposing a proposal for an incinerator on the mountain at Ffos Y Fran, Cwmbargoed. Details of the successful campaign can be read at the following links:

Wales Online – Incinerator Battle Goes To Downing Street

Covanta Drops Incinerator Plans

Initially I wrote a story about the animals from the mountain helping the campaigners with their fight. This was to try and encourage younger people to get involved. Due to its political nature, no publisher would get involved, that is how I came to self-publish. The book now sits on the library shelves in Caerphilly County Borough.

Complete Cover Save Our Valleys

Click on the Image to view the book on Amazon

The second publication was a poetry anthology by locals to raise money for another, ongoing, fight. A new opencast mine opposite the existing black hole at Ffos Y Fran. Nant Llesg is an untouched site of natural beauty. The habitat is perfect for migrating birds. Rhaslas pond, situated in the middle of the site is of historical interest as well as being a spectacularly beautiful part of the area. Despite Caerphilly Council’s unanimous decision against the proposal in August 2015, the company involved, Nant Llesg Ltd, a subsidiary of Miller Argent, have decided to appeal. The most recent opposal by UVAG has been against Nant Llesg Ltd’s intention to fence off the area.

Rhaslas Pond Blog and Photos

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More about the Campaign (Americymru)

Black Hole Cover Image

Click on Image to view book on Amazon

Details of the ongoing campaign by UVAG against Nant Llesg can be read on the links below:

Best Outcome for Anti-Opencast Campaigners

Wales Online – Thousands Pen Objection Letters

Victory to Anti Opencast Campaigners

After the success of the first two books, I was encouraged to go to University by a friend of mine who had just completed her BA Honours in Creative and Professional Writing. To be honest, I didn’t think I stood a chance of getting in. The last time I attended school was over 30 years ago. But to my surprise I was accepted on the initial course which was a two year foundation degree in English and History at Lambridge University, formerly Glamorgan, Treforest, and now known as The University of South Wales.

 

Part 2 coming soon…. Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

The TARAGGAN Tale – Bargoed

Doris and her six hoglets

***  Doris and her six baby hoglets  ***

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The TARAGGAN Tale

A concrete jungle atop a mountain,

You made it beautiful, you made it bountiful.

 

Red and yellow and pink and blue,

A rainbow of colours and an Eco-loo.

A green-fingered glory with quite a story,

About those who have tended it and those who inhabit it.

 

A haven for the hedgehogs, who help keep slugs away.

After dark those spiky balls will all come out to play.

There’s Brychan and Gwladys and Doris and her brood,

Tummy’s grumbling they’ll wake up and search the grounds for food.

 

In the daytime welcome feathered friends, like Cheeky and his mates,

Who fly around and feast on fat-balls, nuts and juicy gnats.

And don’t forget Mice Manor, where voles are welcome too,

And the great Buggingham Palace, with creepy crawlies running through.

 

Buzzing bees and pollinators visit for the wildflowers,

And the sensory garden full of herbs with healing powers.

 

The bottle greenhouse is impressive, it’s the biggest of its kind,

Aluminium tool-sheds are packed with tools for you to find,

To till and sow and work the land

And grow great things by your own hand.

 

New potatoes, old potatoes,

Red and orange Tiger tomatoes,

Russian Kale and cabbage green,

Big orange pumpkins for Halloween.

Artichoke heads blowing in the breeze,

Fragrant flowers on tasty sweet peas,

Carrots that help you see in the dark,

Radishes that give your taste-buds a spark,

Onions for frying, so good you’ll be crying,

Beetroot for boiling and juicing and pickling,

A wonderful variety of lettuce hearts,

Succulent strawberries for jamming and tarts,

Fruit bushes laden, ripe for the picking,

Gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants for tasting.

 

Aesthetically pleasing and teaming with life,

Once wasteland, now fertile and blooming with growth.

A station for sitting, a scarecrow for scaring,

A spade man, planted, at the entrance, for guarding.   

 

As you stroll along the log lined ash path,

A feeling of peace comes to pass.

Touch the standing stones before you go,

And salute this project that continues to grow.

 

The TARAGGAN Tenants And Residents Association

Green Gym And Nursery, you are an inspiration.

SPRING

SPRING
Hosts of golden daffodils.
Trees adorned and ripened hills.
Royal purple, petals bright.
Red tips, brown spots, cabbage white.
Snuffling hedgehogs mating dance.
New lambs frolic, ponies prance.
Bluebells carpet, mossy bed.
Thorny roses, crimson red.
Fine fern fingers, curly tips.
Queen bee buzzing, nectar sips.
Majestic kites cavort sky high,
Dandylion floating by.
Catkins wave, wind blows softly.
Copper beech, gleaming brightly.
Cuckoo, murmur, starlings flight.
Blue tits cheep in evenings light.
Swathes of green, primrose yellow.
Heather sprung, spring says hello.

May 2015

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Our Garden – Biodiversity So Close to Home – Poems and Pics

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Biodiversity so close to home

As the sun shone in the blue sky high above,

I sat in our garden and acknowledged all we have:

Three chaffinches with little red berets, were busy investigating the flower beds,

Red Kites soared high above, playfully riding the warm thermals,

Jackdaws were calling, feeding young, their nest in a chimney top, safe from prey,

Blue tits brave upon the feeder, catch our gaze, chatting amongst the fertile Hawthorne, heavily laden with life sustaining nourishment.

Delicate fern fingers reaching toward heaven, bathing in the suns warmth, growing hearty,

Rosebuds cracking open, a hint of crimson colour,

Young elders, bushy, green,

Buddleia, their purple haze, nectar for our butterflies and  bees,

Lily of the valley, scent sublime, tiny droplets of ivory satin,

Carpet of blue Forget- me- nots, I’ll try…..

2/6/13

Dharma

Biodiversity Poetry

Biodiversity so close to home

As the sun shone in the blue sky high above,

I sat in our garden and acknowledged all we have:

Three chaffinches with little red berets, were busy investigating the flower beds,

Red Kites soared high above, playfully riding the warm thermals,

Jackdaws were calling, feeding young, their nest in a chimney top, safe from prey,

Blue tits brave upon the feeder, catch our gaze, chatting amongst the fertile Hawthorne, heavily laden with life sustaining nourishment.

Delicate fern fingers reaching toward heaven, bathing in the suns warmth, growing hearty,

Rosebuds cracking open, a hint of crimson colour,

Young elders, bushy, green,

Buddleia, their purple haze, nectar for our butterflies and  bees,

Lily of the valley, scent sublime, tiny droplets of ivory satin,

Carpet of blue Forget- me- nots, I’ll try…..

2/6/13

Dharma

 

The Future Leaking Through

A Bee See,

Where?

I thought they had gone long ago!

A casualty from the time before the flowers were not all pollinated by hand,

From the time when

Pesticides, drip

Insecticides, drip, drip

Herbicides and Biocides, drip, drip, drip

Were not banned,

The old people say, they buzzed, In ages past,

What a waste,

It should have been as easy as A. B. C.

 

By Tog Deri  23rd May 2013 FOE….

 

 

Save the Butterflies

Ivory butterflies with sunset tipped wings,

To see you flying free, makes my heart sing,

Cabbage whites where did you go?

What have we done to make your numbers so low?

The noble red admiral with colours so bright,

Why are we not more aware of your plight?

When I was a child, in a field I’d lay,

And watch hundreds of species going about their day,

Now my vision is clouded and we’ve shrouded the sun,

Because pesticides and pollution are taking you all, one by one,

It is our duty to save you from depletion,

So campaigning to protect you, must now be our mission.

2/6/13

Dharma

 

 

The Humble Bumble

Humble Bumble, Busy, Buzzy Bee,

Enhancing life and creating biodiversity,

Pollinating flowers, working long hours,

A co-operation, like a mini factory nation.

How much We owe you fuzzy little creatures,   (We Collective)

With your black and yellow stripes and your delicate features,

Living in a dimension so different from ours,

Like little tiny faeries with magical powers.

Lives so short, yet powerful and creative,

Now it is our turn, to help you thrive and live,

Without your help, biodiversity will die,

And you’ll Bee a distant memory way up in the sky…  (You Bee)

 

 

Dharma

23/5/13