Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Henllan stone circle or Carn Caca.


Henllan Stone Circle

The presence of some very significant archaeological sites on Carn Caca above Melincwrt, has been known to me for many years but have never quite plucked up the courage to push my aging Scottish terrier up the steep incline to witness the delights on our doorstep. My abiding fear actually, by combining a walk with a recce that it could prove disastrous on what is working farm land. To cut a long story short , today , the 20th of September, doubts were pushed aside and out of my comfort zone, went in search of the stone circles, which are shown on the OS map as Carn Caca cairns and stone circle. 

D.Rhys Philips in his “History of the Vale of Neath”, describes it thus ( paraphrased) :-

The Henllan circle lies in a commanding position on Henllan farm in ( Glyn Gwilym ?) Melin y Cwrt. It is a small circle about 30’ in diameter and an eloquent connection between the pre and post Roman Period. It pre dates the Brythonic period and could well have been used by the Celtic saints Cadoc and Illtyd.

Carn Caca also includes a Roman marching camp and a hillfort. “Caca”, itself is interesting and probably refers to the leachate of iron ore in the area which would resemble excrement.

Did I find it? Well, yes and no. I came across one of the cairns which runs alongside St Illtyd’s Walk , but was not sure if it was the cairn or stones deposited by a long melted glacier. Walking straight passed I had obviously missed the other two, after close inspection of the map on my return. However, my worst fears were realised when I saw a herd of huge Welsh Black steers being driven up the hill accompanied by dogs , two 4 x 4s and a lot of shouting. Beating the retreat off the hill I came under the bounding and watchful eye of one of the athletic dogs, who sniffed my terrier and then bounded off to the day job. In my defence, the Archaeological Trust did state that it was difficult to spot, i.e. the circle, not the dog.

Been to base camp,  summiting next time and will take the map



Friday, September 18, 2020

Cancellation of Morgannwg - Glamorgan History Society Conference

It comes as no surprise that the annual meeting and day school held by Morgannwg has been cancelled this year. 


Friday, September 11, 2020

Update :

 It will come as no surprise that we have been unable to make a start this year. unfortunately, the Church hall is out of bounds for a while and the "rule of six", newly announced,

A reminder that things have been a lot worse in the past!!

makes it impossible even with social distancing and other measures.

I hope at least to be able to have a Members Night , nearer Christmas or in the new year if the fog clears and Mr Drakeford gives a good review of the situation in a few months time. 

Cofion gorau / Best wishes,


Monday, August 03, 2020


The latest copy of Morgannwg has arrived , don't be fooled by the 2019 date. Should anyone like to borrow it please get in touch. 

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Future activity of the Society

I am sure , that many members are wondering when we will be able to meet again as a Society following the easing of lockdown restrictions. It appears that it will be quite a while yet, since the 2m distancing rule in Wales, makes any gathering extremely difficult. The Chairman has spoken to several members of the Committee and the intention is to review the situation when the shielding period ( hopefully) comes to an end in the middle of this month. Three of the Committee are subject to being shielded at present. 

Inevitably the General Meeting , which normally takes place in September will have to be delayed. A further problem is that it is unclear how many of the proposed speakers are now currently available. I'm sure , with a little patience we will be able to get going in the period between now and Christmas. 

In the meantime, we still have an online presence and any articles or annotated photographs, anecdotes or any any other material is welcome for us to display here. 

Daw Haul ar Fryn 


Friday, June 12, 2020

You Tube


It is hard to imagine our late and much lamented former President Mr Phylip Jones having much to do with modern technology. However, Eleri, Phylip's daughter has placed much of the choral events staged by the Resolven and District Chapel Choir on You Tube, after they were dutifully recorded by her husband Martin. The editor spent a very happy three hours last night having a nostalgic look at the concerts , which quite frankly are ageless and show a scene which could well have taken place in the 1940s.

It was also wonderful to hear Phylip's introductions to the songs, where he spent  a good deal of his time educating the audience as to the background of the item, much of which concerned his magnum opus, Resolfen's Three Doctors of Music: David Evans, Tom Hopkin Evans, and William Rhys Herbert. Members must surely remember our 25th Anniversary Concert in Jerusalen Chapel , when Phylip's Choir and Cantorion Bro Nedd gave a joint concert featuring the music of the Three Doctors who all came from the coal face to national, even international prominence. The joint rendition by both choirs and the audience of the famous hymn Penmachno, resonates even now.

The intention is to include other items recorded by Phylip on the history of Resolven, including work for S4C , on the You Tube platform . This will add to the collection of items available from this weblog and a collection of  books in the Community Resources Centre, including our own Resolfen Recalled.  Let's hope the dark clouds of "lockdown" will soon be lifted and we will be able to continue our valuable work of promoting the study of history, both local and in the round.

Update: Several new items have been placed on the you tube channel in the last few days. I can recommend listening to the Cymanfa Ganu from 1979, held in the old Tabernacle to celebrate the Three Doctors of Music. Phylip's talk on Tom Hopkin Evans is a real treat, and it inspired me to visit his grave in the cemetery of Melincwrt Chapel after being given instructions by Phylip in his talk on how to find it. The singing is glorious and the dialogue is an echo to any of us who went to such large Cymanfaoedd Canu when the chapels still held considerable sway. 

The items can be found on YouTube under : Eleri Nedd.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Tweedle Tip

The Tweedle Tip Reappears

The Tweedle tip can be seen clearly in the top right hand portion of the photograph, with its distinctive flat top.

The cull of diseased larch by Natural Resources Wales on Hirfynydd recently, has had one historic benefit to the village of Resolfen.  Namely, the reappearance of a once familiar landmark ,the Tweedle Tip. Its distinctive flat top and quarry in the background make it readily identifiable.  A chance meeting with Mr Spencer Evans of Abergarwed, (socially distanced and both accompanied by dogs having their daily exercise) pointed out this feature to the author. He recounted how the tip was a popular place for boys camping in the summer, and of the exploration of a cave on the site. He also stated that they would call the tip Tweedle Dum as against Tweedle Dee on the other side of the valley!

The Tweddel Level (changed by the passage of time to "Tweedle") was driven in Napoleonic times, and is named after its owner.

D. Rhys Phillips, describes it thus in his History of the Vale of Neath.

“The Tweddel Level was opened on the hillside near Ynys-y-biben , facing Resolven village.  The coal was sent down an incline and tipped into the canal boats below (on the Neath Canal Ed. Near the Ynisbipan aqueduct).   A clue to the period of its opening may be found in the circumstance that on April 28 , 1815 ,  Mr William Gwyn acting as solicitor to the Neath Canal Company , charges them £1 : 7 : 8, “for attending at Giant’s Grave to obtain possession of the dwelling house adjoining the warehouse to Mr Tweddle, to who the Committee had let the same the 9th February last, but which had been surreptitiously possessed by Mr Vigors,  and who refused to deliver possession to Mr Tweddle : all this forenoon.  The little colliery was busily at work circa 1812 -18 and at later periods in spasmodic attempts under various local managements.  In 1905 – 06 the late Mr David Edwards of Tonna reopened the level, conveying the coal in carts to Resolven Railway Station siding. He abandoned the place on embarking in the new enterprise at Abergarwed. It has now been reopened by Sir D.R.Llewellyn , a tram-road connecting the level with the Ynys Arwed sidings. There are several old sidings in the area of Ynys-y-biben – which has been known as the Farmers Arms for several generations."

Professor Hywel Francis in his paper on the Anthracite Strike of 1925, describes how ventures such as those of Mr Tweddel (hence the Tweedle Tip ) was not uncommon:-

This dichotomy of interest was essentially a phenomenon which became more apparent in the early 1920's with the development of the coal combines. The anthracite coalfield had been dominated by drifts and small levels owned largely by local farmers or 'self improved' miners, supported by a mining engineer, a foreman and occasionally by additional capital from 'leading' members of the village. The mines were sufficiently small for recruitment to be limited to the immediate locality and consequently were very much village enterprises. The owner was known intimately by his employees as he had probably attended the same elementary school, Sunday school and continued to frequent the same chapel. Although there were often grievances, the pit, like the chapel and the public house, was part of a shared community experience of individual anthracite villages, and such grievances could be mere easily resolved within such a context. Discontent with economic hardships and conditions must have been appreciatby the owner to the extent that he respected the miners' customs and did not normally challenge them. Similarly, the owner was content to receive a relatively moderate and leisurely return on his money and was not answerable to a large and alien body of directors and shareholders demanding ever increasing returned.

This is echoed by the famous Welsh labour Politician and government Minister, James (Jim) Griffiths ,in his autobiographical essay “Glo Carreg”. He was deputy leader of the Labour Party and became the first Secretary of State for Wales, in 1966. 

Era of Small Mines

Until the two big pits were sunk at Cynheidre and Abernant, the anthracite coalfield had been one of small mines, mostly levels and drifts driven into the hillsides. Many of them were opened by the farmer who owned the land, aided by a mining engineer and an experienced "gaffer ". Some of them bore the name of the farm, such as Ynysdawela, Gellyceidrym, and Blaenhirwaun. Once a seam of coal was tapped, the practice would be to follow the seam to the boundary, or to the fault. When one seam was worked out and it became necessary to drive down to the lower seam, the Salesman at the docks at Swansea or Llanelli would find the capital as well as the trucks, which bore their names, such as T. T. Pascoe, Griffith Thomas, or Cleeves. It is significant that the first Combine in the anthracite coalfield was formed by Cleeves, the Salesman, who came to own four collieries. Even so, the pits remained small, employing from a hundred up to five hundred workmen. The miners at these small mines knew each other intimately; they not only worked in the same mine, but also lived in the same village, attended the same chapel or frequented the same "locals". In my time I have been privileged to belong to many circles of friends, but none of them have been richer in fellowship than the circle of miners, the men who faced the perils of the pit together and developed the warm fellowship of common danger.

Trefor Jones