Author Topic: Chartist Cave on the tele  (Read 2355 times)

Offline Huge

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Chartist Cave on the tele
« on: February 10, 2010, 09:37:19 pm »
Just watched Weatherman Walking with Derek Brockway on BBC1 Wales. In this episode he was walking in the Trefil area and visited Chartist Cave. He also walked through the old Trefil quarry (sorry, I've forgotten it's name - the one that's next to the current quarry) and mentioned that it's a Scheduled Ancient Monument, something that I wasn't awear of. I suppose digging is out of the question then.

Offline mikem

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2010, 11:09:03 pm »

Offline robjones

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2010, 06:55:38 pm »
Chartist Cave features from 25.20 to 27.10

Mentions that 'serious cavers' (!) found three bodies in the inner chanbers of the cave - assumed to be murdered informers, or some of those rioters killed at Newport. Can anyone throw light on whether bodies were actually found in the cave?

Offline Huge

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2010, 09:17:32 pm »
The remains were found by members of the Severn Valley Caving Club when they were digging to the left in the entrance chamber in 1969. I think this was the dig that led to the discovery of most of the cave as we know it today.

At the beginning of the Trefil section of the program,  Derek is doing his introduction piece to camera while stood opposite the Tarfan Ty Uchaf. Visible behind him is the SVCC's hut in the middle of the roundabout/turning area. At least it used to be their hut. Not sure if they still use it or even if the SVCC are still active - anyone know? Never been inside but I looked through the window a few years ago and it's very basic. No power, earth floor, a few candles and car seats and room for about 2 to sleep.

Offline robjones

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2010, 11:29:13 pm »
Thanks for the information Huge.

Offline mikem

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2018, 08:57:22 am »
SVCC journals & newsletters are now available on the MCRA website, although they may get moved to the club publications section:
http://www.mcra.org.uk/logbooks/?dir=SVCC

Whilst on the subject of chartists, ogof website gives the length as 440m & CCC 480m, but survey on there says 501m, anyone know which is most accurate?

Mike

Offline mudman

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 04:09:44 pm »
Thanks for posting that link Mike. Very interesting, I shall be having a good peruse of those later.
As to you question on length, I don't know why the discrepancy may exist. Perhaps the longer lengths are including small extensions?

Offline jbaer

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2018, 09:32:58 am »
Stolen from a book:

CHARTISTS CAVE also known as OGOF FAWR, TREFIL   NGR SO 1273 1519   A 1785 feet   L 1450 feet

The cave has the reputation of being difficult to find, but given a map, compass, the above grid reference and good visibility there should be no problem.  From the village of Trefil proceed north past the disused quarries to a point about 1400 yards (1866 paces) from the Quarrymen’s Arms.  Take a bearing east north east and the cave will be found 1600 yards away, about 350 feet higher up just beyond the highest point , in a small conglomerate outcrop, north north east of a intermittent lake called Llyn y Garn fawr.

 

The site is noted in Theophilus Jones as “Stabl Fawr” on account, he says of the habit of mountain horses to take shelter therein during severe storms.

 

It is possible that the cave was inhabited by early man, even though it is rather high up.  The southerly aspect of the entrance suggests that the place may have been relatively comfortable, at least during the summer months.  However there are no archaeological records of either finds or excavations.

 

There are records, though of the use of the cave by the nineteenth century agitators for common rights from whom the present day nomenclature is derived.  Idris Williams mentions discussions which are “said to have taken place where the leaders met to discuss weapons and their plan of campaign for the march on the Westgate Hotel at Newport in 1839...... The cave is in direct line with Dukestown and is still treated by visitors as a kind of monument to the chartist pioneers”.

 

The reforms sought by the Chartists were parliamentary rather than social, though the six points embodied in the Charter were far-reaching in their implications in terms of voting rights and representation of the people.  With the exception of the third point, which demanded annual parliaments - to ensure dependence of MPs upon the wishes of their constituents; all the main items of the Charter - universal suffrage, vote by ballot, payment of MPs, abolition of property qualification in voting, the equal electoral districts, have been implemented.  The exile of many of the leading Chartists reflected badly (in retrospect) upon the administration of the 19th century.

 

Another book “The Early Days of Sirhowy and Tredegar” states that the cave was used by the Chartists, but the author finds it impossible to conclude why this site in particular was chosen:  “It has been suggested that the place was used as a smithy for the making of pikes and other weapons-...again, no smith could live with smoke of a forge in that unthinkable place which is now known as the Chartist Cave but was originally called Tylles Fawr (Great Hole).  Inside at the end of a tunnel it opens out into a chamber like cavern in the centre of which is a large stone rather like a table.  This seems to suggest that the place was for other purposes in days gone by.  The entrance has now crumbled badly, making access both difficult and dangerous”.

 

The last sentence of the extract above is interesting.  The “table-stone” is still in place, but the description of the entrance chamber where it lies as being “at the end of a tunnel” hardly corresponds with the cave as we know it today and, unless the account is simply erroneous, one may conjecture that at sometime - probably within living memory, the entrance passage was somewhat more extensive.  The grit roof at the entrance is sufficiently thin to indicate that a collapse of part of the roof might well have taken place.  In addition, one cannot imagine mountain ponies using the present entrance for shelter in quite the numbers which are implied by Jones T since there is now an awkward jumble of boulders in the entrance.  These rocks also prevent one from spotting the cave when approaching from the south.

 

The low entrance, 5 feet high by 20 feet wide is shielded by rising ground and is easy to miss.  From the entrance chamber two passages lead off.  To the right there is a low creep which eventually opens out into a chamber with some signs of collapse.  Descending on the far side, there are signs of a major dig, but it is obvious that this passage heads towards the surface and is terminated by a run in from above up.  The length of this section is about 100 feet.  To the left the passage originally extended for 40 feet ending in a choke.  Here in 1969 the SVCC excavated in the boulder in the floor.  It was the heavy scalloping on the walls which encouraged them to dig here in the hope of finding a way into the vast system that must exist under Mynydd Llangynidr.  After digging down about a foot they uncovered some bones which looked human.  Subsequent excavation and consultation with Cardiff Museum confirmed the presence of a couple of individuals which could have died 50 to 100 years ago.  But lack of further evidence makes the detection of the crime impossible.  Were they murdered by Chartists?  One can only speculate.

 

After the excavated section one enters a rift like passage 20 feet long by 10 feet high and 6 feet wide.  A high level continuation goes straight ahead but soon becomes too tight.  The way on is at floor level and leads to the left down over boulders to a short crawl.  The crawl leads to a complex of very large sandy passages and narrow meandering rifts.



References:

BC Vol 14 pp 36-39; Vol 15 p 36; Vol 19 pp26, 77-78.

Barber, Chris 1985 Cordell Country.  80pp, illus, location map.

Blorenge Books.  It is over 25 years ago that Alexander Cordell wrote Rape of the Fair Country.  Since then it has sold over a million copies, in 17 languages and had been serialised on radio, its film rights sold and plans are in hand for the story to be televised.  Chris’s book is a walkers guide to the locations featured in the novel, pp 66-67 refers to Chartists’ Cave and pp 67-72 the Chartists’ movement.

Cordell, Alexander - Rape of the Fair Country, The Hosts of Rebecca, Songs of the Earth.  A trilogy of three novels which give a good insight into the back ground of the Chartists’ movement.  The first book mentions the use of a cave (Chartists’ Cave?)

Cullingford 1951 p 65

CWM p 70

Descent (90) Leaflet on Chartist Movement.

Fay, C. R., 1933 Life and Labour in the 19th Century.  Cambridge University Press.  p156ff.

HCC S. P. p 15

Hovell, Mark [the late] 1925  The Chartist Movement.  327 pp frontis.  Edited and complete, with a memoir by

Jones, Theophilus - History of Brecknock.

Stratford p 60

SVCC N/L July 1970; May 1975;

SWCC N/L (109)

Professor T F Tout. Manchester University Press.  Historical Series.  No 31.  Detailed account but does not mention caves.

Williams, Idris,. - Trefil: A Monmouthshire Quarry Village.

 



Offline mudman

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Re: Chartist Cave on the tele
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2018, 01:04:19 pm »
Mike's links to the above and jbaer's wholesale cutting and pasting pointed me to the SVCC newsletter that contains an article that gives a lot more detail of the discovery of the bones in Chartist's.
It is very interesting reading (if you find that sort of thing interesting) and is also interesting in that at the time of writing that the cave was only 250 feet long.
Any way a link to the relevant newsletter is here.