Thursday, March 10, 2011

Roots in the Air

The 16th Century wills transcribed by the late Mr E J L Cole in numerous editions of the Radnorshire Society Transactions must have been an eye-opener to any member labouring under the misapprehension that the county was somehow not part and parcel of mainstream Wales. After all the likes of Angharad verch Lello Bedo ap Madock of Llanvihangell Rhidython (1563) or Jevan ap Hoell ap Gwallter of Nantmell (1587) were hardly likely to have sprung out of an anglicised society. Indeed for the majority of Radnorians, not able to grapple with the extensive bardic literature or the elegant prose of Mr Payne's book Crwydro Sir Faesyfed, these wills must have been a most obvious confirmation of the area's Cymric heritage.

As one of those for whom the word maƱana suggests an unnecessary degree of urgency, I'm full of admiration for the likes of Mr Cole, beavering away in the archives during their leisure time, and long before the internet made most Radnorshire wills available at the click of a mouse. Mr Cole also had that tabloid sense for a good story which makes history more accessible, this for example.

What to make of this enigmatic article by Mr Cole in the Radnorshire Transactions? Radnorians should be able to guess the location of "the great rock that stands close to the church of Paternus" and with the census available on-line, at a price, it's now easy enough to identify the people, but what was Mr Cole's relationship to the old lady who in true Radnorshire fashion would not want to see her name in print "bringing shame and notoriety on her family."

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