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.

 

 

 

 

 

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LOVE LONG LOST

There are soo many things in and around us everyday that go unnoticed, things that we used to love when we were a child but have now grown up and just don’t see anymore. We have become blind, oblivious to them.
Today, I took a trip to “Dialogue in the Dark”. For a complete hour, I was blind and guided by a charming blind man. To say that it was an experience I can hardly describe in words is an understatement. What he said right at the end touched me the most.
“In the dark, we guide you. Similarly in the light, please guide us.”
So today’s post is dedicated to the little living beings around us whom we love, but have just forgotten or have turned a blind eye because we just become too preoccupied or busy.

“Hey Mr Universe, My Heart is so sad, Has everyone in this world gone mad!
So much destruction all over the nation, Whole countries suffering Death and Starvation.
What has happened to cause all this pain?That people kill for power and gain.

A human life was once a precious gift, But the world’s leaders are causing a rift,
Amongst their own people, amongst their own kin, When will they realise to kill is a sin.
Despair and hunger go hand in hand, What happened to tilling, and feeding by hand,
Not drilling for oil, Or killing for spoil.

Where can it lead? There are people to feed,
but no! They want power, Don’t they know poor people cower,
Down to extremists, religion, dictators, Where’s all this damage going to take us?

Nature will fight back, she knows she is owed, Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, Volcanoes
ready to explode.
Each country has suffered, but people look away, Some try to help, but sometimes there’s no
way.
We all once were brothers, not separate, not others.
Something terrible’s happened for life to be lessened.

Taken for granted, rich people play, Whilst poor people shrink into nothing each day.
What does the future hold for us all? If we ignore all the signals, we’ll all surely fall,
The balance is threatened, so called progression, We worry each day and talk of recession.
Whilst elsewhere it seems there is deliberate ferocity, Killing and maiming just two such
atrocity’s.
Dignified people these nations once were, Now only murder and genocide occur,

What must they think of their fellow man, Letting their children die while they can,
Do something to help them, there must be a way, Help us, please help us do something today.
Before Mr. Universe looks down on us all, And tells us and shows us, we’re all going to fall,

The rich and the famous, the mighty, the poor, Will anyone be here after the mighty core,
Has exploded, imploded, and waged its own war, Upon mankind as a whole, the great Gaia
takes its toll,
Ferocious anger will be released, no humans able to stop this mighty beast,
Save our people, before it’s too late, Help us to save them and all will abate!”

The first 5 entries were made at our facebook group. Join our group to submit your works too!
The last entry is by Judy Laylo. You can find her blog here:Thriving Thoughts
The poem was written by Baarbaara. Check out her blog here: Baarbara Sheep
Find Baarbaara on Twitter here: http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.1338995330.html#_=1339960379127&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&screen_name=BaarbaaraSheep&show_count=true&show_screen_name=true&size=m
Baarbaara is hosting a POETRY COMPETITION  (closing date is 30th June) entitled “The Black Hole” which is to raise funds for their campaign against opencast mining . Details here

Would like to share this wonderful music video with you. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.

Heal the World – Michael Jackson

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baarbaarathesheep.com is LIVE

baarbaarathesheep.com Her new website is now up and running please take a look, many thanks, feel free to leave a comment in the guestbook all feedback is gratefully received.
The about me tab links straight to wordpress about me.

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

Stop the Rape of the Fair Country

Thanks to Eddy Blanche for creating this video, it says it all…..

United Valleys Action Group is on facebook and are  trying to stop any more devastation of  the beautiful green Valleys by Opencast Mining.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/125567940859735/

and Stop The Rape of the Fair Country facebook is here…..

https://www.facebook.com/groups/300608256654269/

We also have petitions in all the local areas, Deri Post Office, Fochriw, Pontlottyn, Bedlinog, Tredegar…please sign if you can, many thanks….

http://amzn.to/HPkr7P

http://amzn.to/HWjIA5

First BBQ of the year and a fire….

What a wonderful week we have had, sunshine every day, so I arranged for friends to come over and have a BBQ on Saturday and guess what? Yes it was cloudy and also rained a little bit, but we soldiered on and about 6pm the clouds parted and we had some blue sky.

Everyone had a lovely time and we had our first fire in the fire-pit at the bottom of the garden and toasted marshmallows of course….

Oh and I forgot everyone burned £50 notes on the drive….

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