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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Working Class Heroes – Commemorating 30 years since The 1984/85 Miners’ Strike

Back in 1984 the miners fought their own cold war

Secret documents now unfold

The truth at last it will be told.

It’s 30 years since that debilitating strike

When Dai and Phil and Ron and Mike

Fought every day for one whole year,

Families in poverty and fear.

To starve them back to work she tried

Stopping benefits for which they applied,

Sequestering funds from the NUM

She divided the country into us and them.

She called them ‘The enemy within’

Let them cast the first stone who is without sin.

Pit closures were what they wanted to prevent,

To save what they had, so they could pay the rent.

They travelled the country picketing for their rights,

‘Coal not Dole’ their slogan emphasised their fight.

Up each day at 3am,

Hard working heroes, real men,

With their women’s support, on they fought,

United above, as they were when underground.

Now she’s joined the miners, at last she’s in the ground,

But the legacy of destruction prevails all around,

Empty pits, face value tips,

Community spirit no more,

All because that evil bitch, shut the mine doors.

Dharma11 18th Feb 2014

The Return of Itchee & Scratchee

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What is the working title of your next book?

The Return of Itchee & Scratchee

Where did the idea for the book come from?

This is the second book in a trilogy about two baby hedgehogs we rescued from our garden last year.

What genre does your book fall under?

Children, Young Adults, Parents who like to read to their children and anyone who loves Hedgehogs.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a move rendition?

Baarbaara, Poppy and Itchee and Scratchee would play themselves, however cameo appearances from Shaun The Sheep and Bagpuss would be appreciated.

What is the one sentence synopsis for your book?

After spending the winter in hospital, Itchee and Scratchee are returned to their rescuers, now their adventures begin.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-Published, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as well as CreateSpace.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Approximately three months due to other commitments, should be finished by the end of January 2013.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

No specific book, but any wildlife rescue stories, or fun tales about animals.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The Hedgehogs that come to eat in our garden, from March to October.  They are so cute and their numbers are declining rapidly, due to heavy traffic, and people mistaking them for rodents.  They are becoming a protected species, so we need to help them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Interesting facts such as they “DO NOT” have fleas, they can swim and they have very sharp teeth.

http://solomoninkwell.wordpress.com/

http://matthew-iden.com/

http://yoga-adan.com/

Other Books by the Author are available on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk on the links below…..

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hedgehog-Rescue-Saving-Itchee-Scratchee/dp/1479341177/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1357306594&sr=8-5

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Save-Our-Valleys-Sheeps-Tail/dp/1470111004/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357306705&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Hole-Poetry-Anthology/dp/1478361204/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357306805&sr=1-1

Wildlife Around Rhaslas Pond the proposed Opencast Extension Site…….

These are some of the beautiful animals that live alongside the already huge opencast at Ffos-Y-Fran and they want to extend it to Nant Llesg and take away their grazing land, Rhaslas pond and the beautiful views across to Brecon National Park, we are going to fight this all the way, we will not let […]

Poetry Competition

Calling All Poets

             

Poetry   Competition

There are four age Groups

7 &Under  50p entry

11 & Under 50p entry

16 & Under 50p entry

Adults  £1 entry

There will be an Anthology of 100 poems titled

“The Black Hole” for sale in August 2012.

Closing date: 30th June 2012.

 

The Black Hole theme is to get your views on opencast mining, the area around the opencast, such as Rhaslas pond, the wetlands & wildlife, & what living close to an opencast feels like. Also what effect you think it would have on future generations if an extension was granted.

 

There will be 1 Prize in each age group

Which I’m sure is going to be a very tough decision for the judges; however we will be including the best 100 in the book, with an author page for the winning entries as well.  Copyright remains with the author.

Adults & 16 & under groups will receive £15 cash & a copy of the Anthology “The Black Hole”

11 & 7 & under will receive £15 cash & a choice of either a copy of “Save our Valleys – A Sheep’s  Tail” or “Hedgehog Rescue saving Itchee & Scratchee” signed by BaarbaaraTheSheep.

 

Judges will be announced before competition closes and will not be related in any way to anyone entering, judging will be anonymous, rules of entry and application form can be downloaded from baarbaaarathesheep.wordpress.com or baarbaarathesheep.com

Locally application forms will be made available in Schools, Libraries and Community Centres.

You may enter via email (paypal) baarbaara@baarbaarathesheep.com or post please include the correct entry fee.  

Get your entry forms here:

baarbaarathesheep.com.

Finally finished “Hedgehog Rescue saving Itchee & Scratchee”

For some reason I have struggled to finish the second book in the Baarbaara The Sheep Tails, I just couldn’t get the wording right, however today it is completed and I am happy with it.  Also it has led to a follow up tail, which will probably be the fourth in the series, The Tail of the Black Hole being the third is in progress at present ..(relates to saving Rhaslas pond).

Happy Easter to everyone.

Thanks to everyone who has been following or reading my blog, much appreciated.

The first book “Save our Valleys-A Sheep’s Tail has been on Amazon for a few weeks and I have had a great response so far 97 downloads, 74 on Obooko as a FREE .pdf and many orders for paperbacks in the UK.  At present it is only available on Amazon.com as a paperback but anytime now I will be taking delivery for sale in the UK, 50p from the sale of each paperback will be donated to Barnardos, and the author will be in the Barnardos shop Bargoed signing the book by request in the next week or so. If anyone would like signed copies please feel free to email me, the cost is £2.95 + 60p 1st class postage, as soon as I receive the books I will let you know how much the postage will be, it is a small book, won’t cost a lot.

Here is a sneak preview of the picture inside the book which shows Poppy the Cat letting Baarbaara the Sheep into her home, see if you can spot the baby hoglets……

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https://www.amazon.com/author/baarbaarathesheep