The Maglocunus & Vortipor Stones – Nevern, Wales, UK

Nevern is a small village in the valley of Nevern, east of Newport in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

During August this year we stayed in Nevern with some friends on their plot of land. We stayed for 2 weeks, we had so much fun in on the beach, visting waterfalls, (see the 2 links below)

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But this time, I want to discuss some history of Nevern, and that starts with its church:

Nevern’s Church – St Brynach Church

This church is named after St Brynach of Pembrokeshire, who founded this place of worship here in the 5th century.

The Church (Source)

Inside the church, lays one of the finest Celtic language examples in Britain, dating to the 1st century AD:

The Maglocunus Stone

This is an ancient stone featuring Celtic Ogham script. What is Ogham? Well it is sometimes known as the ‘Celtic tree alphabet’. Monumental Ireland on the post lined to this picture, they say:

“It was designed to write ‘Old Irish’ and can be seen on stone monuments throughout the Country (Ireland), particularly in counties Cork & Kerry. (…) Some scholars believe it dates back to the 1st Century AD – as the language used shows pre-4th Century elements such as the letters q and z which do not appear in Modern Irish.

While all surviving Ogham inscriptions are on stone, it was probably more commonly inscribed on sticks, stakes and trees.

The origins of Ogham are uncertain: according to Irish mythology, it was invented by Ogma, the Irish god of speech, language, eloquence and learning. (…) .

Monumental Ireland.
(Source: Monumental Ireland)

The ancient stone is embedded into the window sill of the south wall of the nave of St Brynach Church.

What is quite interesting is that normally, Inscriptions are mostly peoples’ names and were used to mark ownership, territories and graves. This stone in particular we are talking about is on stone and was originally vertical. It was only turned horizontal so it could be set into the window.

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What does it say?

It is inscribed in Latin “MAGLOCUNI FILI CLUTORI” and in Ogham “maglicunas maqi clutari“, translated as (the stone) of Maglicu, son of Clutarias.

Who are these people? I will be writing another post on this as it gets very interesting. Keep a lookout!

In my research, I kept getting directed back to this book: KING ARTHUR: MAN OR MYTH, written by Tony Sullivan. It is “an investigation of the evidence for King Arthur based on the earliest written sources rather than later myths and legends.”

In this book, Tony writes about the stone in connection to Gildas and then Vortipor, the King of Demetia or modern day Dyfed/Southern Wales who lived approximately AD475-540.

Funnily enough, in Carmarthen, this is a stone dedicated to this king and on this stone are 2 inscriptions, almost identical to the Maglocunnus Stone, in that there is are Latin and Ogham inscriptions.

But why Latin & Ogham? The Romans brought Irish mercenaries across in the late 4th Century for protection from attacks by other Hibernians, (native of Ireland).

After the Romans left, the Irish Deisi (or Déssi) tribe of the County Waterford area ruled the region, hence the Ogham inscription as well as Latin. 

Territory Marker

Remember how I said that these stones were used as markers for territory? Well when this Vortipor Stone was found, it was originally one of a pair of boundary markers for an old track replaced by a new roman road. The Stone was moved and then stood near as stile on the southside of Castell Dwran Churchyard until 1879. There was a meadow next to where it stood and this meadow had evidence of hut-circles. This stone was only 200 meters off the line of the roman road, being used as a marker.

This may have been a continuation of roman customs such as the roadside burial, but also a tradition hinting to the Ogham origins for the inscriptions to be used as a marker for territories. Funny how things go full circle isn’t it?

Sadly, the assumption that the inscriptions on the stone, Voteporigis in the Latin and Votegorigas in ogham, refer to Vortipor, is refuted by modern linguistic analysis, which notes that the missing ‘r’ that is in the name ‘Vortipor’ and not in either of ‘Voteporigis’/’Votegorigas’ is significant, and so the stone must be dedicated to a different person.

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As you can see, I love history and language. I love the way both are intertwined and have an influence on each other. This is only part 1 of this mini series and next time I will be talking about who those 2 people are that were inscribed on the 1st stone I mentioned.

Did you enjoy reading? Please comment if you did!

Colliers Moss Common

This area was once one of the most industrial in the country, now it is a treasured part of St Helens, covered in trees and wildlife. What changed?

Bold Heritage

First of all, what is peat? It is dead compacted moss land. An industry was created in which turf cutters dug trenches to remove the peat which was then built into an array of thousands of pyramids spanning between 3 and 12 feet tall.

In 1955 the NCB, the National Coal Board, completed a £5.5 million investment into Bold Colliery.

The mine that was nearby was one of the most modern pits in all of Lancashire, with 1800 workers.

Sadly, there is such a thing called spoil with mining and this was more often than not just dirt mixed with rock and shale. It was taken by railway and offloaded onto Bold Moss. 23 years worth of this stuff equates to around 9 million tons. It caused massive environmental damage.

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Things started to change in 1978. The artificial hill that was made up of the mine’s sludge and the power station’s ash, reached a maximum height and the dumping stopped.

The Colliery stopped production in ’85 and 5 years after, British Coal agreed to the sell the site in order to restore it.

What had happened to the grounds as a result?

Well, during the 90’s, lots of work was undertaken to help ease the affects of the environmental damage that all those years of dumping had had on the land. Unfortunately, the soil was then very acidic which made it very hard for the plants to regrow.

Machines were used to loosen the soil, and then after lime & fertiliser had been introduced, grass heather and wildflower seeds were planted along with trees.

What is it like now?

The site is now a haven for wildlife and plants. Colonies of Orchids have spread on the common and new species of wildlife is arriving every year.

This is just one example of what is capable if spaces that were once abused, are looked after and restored to what they once were.

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Life Update: Moving to Royal Birkdale

So me and my family have recently moved house, from the dump that St Helens was, and moved to Sunny Southport. It is why my posts haven’t been the most reliable or consistent. We are slowly getting used to it. It is nice to live somewhere where the neighbours will call out good morning to…

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Murder in the crows

Hug the tree, feel the knots leave your body. Hear the wood creak, the wind whistle. The leaves sway. Walk on the forest floor, among long ferns. The damp, cold moss underfoot. Shoots of green peeking through, glimpses of the future spring yet to come. Feel the mist creeping, sneaking quietly. Closing in on you,…

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Chicken Makhani

Serves: 4 • Cooking time: 30 mins • Vegetarian alternative: Swap Chicken for Broccli. • What you need: 4 Chicken Thighs 1 tin of Coconut Milk 2 knobbs of butter 1 onion Olive Oil 1 can of chopped tomatoes. Seasoning: 1 Tsp Ground Coriander 1 Tsp Paprika 1 Tsp Cumin 1 Tsp Garlic Powder 1…

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Banana and Apple Smoothie

So, I recently started making this for when I feel I want a smoothie, but I don’t want all the hassle of loads of different ingredients. With this one, you are most likely to have these 3 main ingredients and even if you don’t have the others, it is still tasty and uplifting Ingredients: Main:…

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Cranberry and Raisin Soda Bread

Really easy and went down a treat in my house! It was eaten very quickly haha. This loaf is perfect spread with salty butter accompanied with a cuppa tea. You don’t need to be a pro baker to make this one! Ingredients: 1 1/2 plain flour 2 1/2 cups of bread flour for seedy bread.…

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Lockdown, COVID & Travel.

(Updated information) 16th March 2020. The UK prime minister announces a ban on nonessential travel and contact. On the 26th, the first lockdown commences. Nonessential shops are closed. Students confined to accommodation. Flights are grounded. Shops run out of toilet roll as a result of panic buying. Dolphins return to Blackpool in the North. The…

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Isle of Arran

My best friends family took me on their holiday to the Isle of Arran just before lockdown in the UK. Sadly, we weren’t able to travel all over the Island however we did visit the island’s main town – Brodick. Where is Arran? Isle of Arran is situated in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Brodick…

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Isle of Man – Cregneash

Cregneash Cregneash is a small village and tourist destination in the south-west part of the Isle of Man, about 1 mi from Port Erin. Most of the village is now part of a living museum run by Manx National Heritage, and overlooks the beautiful blue sea! Cregneash is a living illustration of a farming and…

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The Needles, Isle of Wight

The history of the Isle of Wight dates back to the Iron Age, with much evidence of settlement being discovered through archaeology and ancient structures which still stand today.  The Needles History The Battery This military battery was built in 1861 to 1863, and its purpose was to protect the West end of the Solent…

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Danes Dyke

Danes Dyke is a nature reserve in Yorkshire, known for the wildlife that are here and the fantastic pebble beach. The coastline here is so special it is actually a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest and its seabird colonies mark it as a Special Protection Area. Where does it get its name from? “Danes…

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Steam Railways

We were on holiday on the Isle of Wight not long ago and were taken to a a place called Ryde. Here, they have a fully functional steam railway! The steam railway is only 5 miles long, which is only a small fraction of the once stretched over 55 miles long. How did it all…

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Lockdown, COVID & Travel.

(Updated information)

16th March 2020. The UK prime minister announces a ban on nonessential travel and contact.

On the 26th, the first lockdown commences. Nonessential shops are closed. Students confined to accommodation. Flights are grounded. Shops run out of toilet roll as a result of panic buying.

Dolphins return to Blackpool in the North. The UK recorded one of the best summer weather in years. The sky’s were quiet. Communities came together for a short time. Streets were filled with the sound of clapping for the NHS workers, delivery drivers and other essential workers. Windows were filled with rainbows in support of the NHS.

12th April 2021. Over a year later, most things open up a bit more, and then self-contained accommodation holiday’s were encouraged.

Lots of independent businesses closed as a result of lockdown, but how big of an impact did COVID have on the travel industry?

Travel industry struggling…..

During the first lockdown, accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020.

Hays travel had to close 89 of their UK branches. This company provided work for the staff who came from Thomas Cook when that company closed down. This company is still active and continue to make their loyal customers happy.

“The family-run firm stepped in to take over all 555 Thomas Cook travel agencies – as well as 2,330 former staff – after the failure in September 2019.” – The Gaurdian.

(Source of Picture).

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What happened to the staff?

Well, about 450 staff  lost their jobs after a slump in business caused by the government’s sudden warning against travel to Spain.

Now this is a big company, and these 80+ branches are just a drop in the pool when you find out they have over 500 other branches to fall back on. When you’re a small company or just one shop/restaurant, the story is not the same…

In places like Greece and cities like Rome, restaurants not only need local residents to keep them going but they sometimes depend too on the tourism generated by local attractions. With lockdowns happening all over the globe, travellers were stopped from entering the country, which meant that small businesses that needed the income from holiday makers needed to close down or shut up shop.

Unemployment in Italy

Italy was the first European country to lockdown nationwide in an attempt to stop the spread. In March 2020, Italy’s industrial production fell almost 30%! The decline in unemployment started at the start of March and continued in April, reaching the lowest figure since 2007.

“Since July 2020, employment has started growing at a constant rate. However, employment levels in August 2020 are still 1.8% lower than the ones registered in August 2019. The drop in the number of employed is largely due to fixed term contracts not being renewed.”

IZA

According to Statista, Forecasts published in April 2021 expect that the unemployment rate in Italy will stand at 10.3 percent this year, an increase compared to 2020.

8.4 Million people are currently unemployed in Italy.

(Picture: GFM)

We can see on this chart, (provided by Trading Economics), that the numbers stayed at 9.3 percent in August of 2021, unchanged from July.

This is promising and can bring hope for those who are trying to find work, but as we have seen, nothing is ever guaranteed.


In conclusion, it is easy to see that everything is connected and that when one part of the chain is affected, the rest suffer too. Those who have been affected badly by Coronavirus, whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally or financially, I hope you are soon able to find some relief from your struggles.


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Isle of Arran

My best friends family took me on their holiday to the Isle of Arran just before lockdown in the UK.

Sadly, we weren’t able to travel all over the Island however we did visit the island’s main town – Brodick.

Where is Arran?

Isle of Arran is situated in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. Brodick is halfway along the east coast of the island, and this village has a population of 621.

Brodick receives the Islands ferries that come across from Ardrossan in Scotland. It doesn’t take ages to travel on this ferry. From what I remember it was roughly 45 mins to an hour. It was a calm crossing when we went but it was incredibly windy.

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828,262 passengers and 202,843 cars travelled on this ferry in 2016

Brodick

Brodick has much economic activity. There are many family-owned business and tourist attractions such as the Auchrannie Spa and Resort, where we stayed.

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Isle of Man – Cregneash

Cregneash

Cregneash is a small village and tourist destination in the south-west part of the Isle of Man, about 1 mi from Port Erin. Most of the village is now part of a living museum run by Manx National Heritage, and overlooks the beautiful blue sea!

Cregneash is a living illustration of a farming and crofting community in the 19th and early 20th century. You can see plough horses, Loghtan sheep, shorthorn cows and Manx cats.

Manx cats?

Manx cats walk all around the little village. “The Manx cat’s lack of tail is the result of a genetic mutation possibly caused by inbreeding among the small population of British Shorthairs on the Isle of Man. The true or ‘rumpy’ Manx has only a small hollow where the tail would have been, although cats with residual tails are born.”ICC

Cregneash opening times:

Open Tuesday – Saturday, 9.30am – 3.30pm

Site closes for the Season on 17 November 2021.


This is one of my favourite tourist attractions on the Isle of Man! I haven’t included a lot here but if you have the opportunity, take it. It will be well worth your trip!

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The Needles, Isle of Wight

The history of the Isle of Wight dates back to the Iron Age, with much evidence of settlement being discovered through archaeology and ancient structures which still stand today. 

The Needles History
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The Battery

This military battery was built in 1861 to 1863, and its purpose was to protect the West end of the Solent and defend against the enemy ships.

How did the rocks get there name?

Originally, there were four rocks. The name the Needles comes from the fourth rock, which was needle-shaped and known as ‘Lot’s Wife’.

“But Lot’s wife, who was behind him, began to look back, and she became a pillar of salt.” – Genesis 19v26, (JW.org)

Sadly, that 4th pillar fell down in 1764, and the collapse was that great, it is said that it was felt in Portsmouth, on the other side of the Island and over The Solent.

These unusually vertical rocks are a result of heavy folding of chalk. The remaining stacks are of very hard chalk that is resistant to erosion.

(Source)

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The Chair lift

They have a chair lift to take you down to the beach at the bottom of the cliff, here they have boat rides available to the base of the needles. They can range from a 15 minute ride or 20.



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Steam Railways

We were on holiday on the Isle of Wight not long ago and were taken to a a place called Ryde. Here, they have a fully functional steam railway!

The steam railway is only 5 miles long, which is only a small fraction of the once stretched over 55 miles long.

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How did it all begin?

The railway first opened in 1862 between Cowes and Newport. However, it was not until 1900 that the island received its second railway and the rail complex was complete.

Sadly after 2 world wars, their economic status was questioned and as a result lines to Bembridge, Freshwater and the very last line opened to Ventnor, all closed. This was in 1950.

Just 15 years later, the lines between Cowes, Ventnor to Ryde were the ones now under threat. But by now, this line was unique and was becoming a tourist attraction for fascinated historians. There was interest from several parties trying to protect was was left.

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Ron Strutt

(His Obituary)

Who is he? Well when he was a teenager, he’d tried to buy one of the old Island engines from British Rail but sadly hadn’t succeeded. He didn’t give up as he saw how important it was.

“Ron and friend Iain Whitlam called a meeting in south London during late ’65 to gather interest from like minded people in possibly preserving something of the old Island railways.”

Official steam railway website

Whitlam coined the name Wight Locomotive Society. They agreed to try and secure at least one ex London & South Western Railway O2 class engine and possibly a carriage or few.

The line from Cowes to Ryde remained open until February 1966 and only part of the Ventnor route, that from Shanklin to Ventnor itself closed in April the same year.

If you would like to read more about the history, please click the following link to learn more.


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Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Around about 2 weeks ago, we visited the popular Osborne house on the Isle of Wight down at the south of England. It took us 12 hours to get to the Isle of Wight in total as we were part of a coach party.

Click on the videos above to see the grounds and house in video.

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Bit of a back story…

“Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight in 1845. There they created a private home away from court life. Victoria used Osborne for over 50 years, entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers, finding solace there after Albert’s death in 1861. Today, many of the rooms are still filled with original furniture and works of art, while the planting in the grounds is to Albert’s designs.”

English Heritage

This house wasn’t built for them but was owned by a previous family – the Blachford family. The estate came into their hands in 1705 and from 1774-1781, Robert Pope Blachford extended and adapted the existing house and added a walled kitchen garden.

At the time when Victoria and Albert were looking for a seaside resort to relax in, Lady Isabella Blachford owned the Osborne estate. The happy couple leased and then bought the estate in 1845 and 3 years later demolished it because was too small.

If you would like to download a plan of Osborne, click the link below which has been provided by the English Heritage site.

SITE PLAN OSBORNE HOUSE.

Photos taken from English Heritage

Albert died in 1861 away from Osborne house, but Queen Victoria died here in her quarters in 1901.

None of her successors wanted to take on the upkeep so in 1902, Edward VII gave the estate to the nation. Only part of the ground floor was public in 1904 as other parts were transformed into a convalescent home for officers.

In 1903, part of the estate was convertred into a college for naval cadets but years later in 1921, it was closed as Royal Naval College Dartmouth took over.

“In 1933 many of its ‘temporary’ buildings were demolished and thereafter a succession of short-term tenants occupied the site.” – EH.

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Osborne today…

In 1945, Queen Elizabeth II unlocked Victoria and Alberts private rooms after being locked for 44 years. In 1977 the rooms were redecorated.

In 2012 Queen Victoria’s private beach opened and then in 2014, £1.65 million was spent refurbishing the Swiss Cottage.


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