More welsh lifting stones

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More welsh lifting stones

Postby David Horne » Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:26 am

Some more great research by Roger Davis.
http://www.dailypost.co.uk/farming-nort ... _multiline

Also his other stone lifting article was on the main BBC page online.

IN AN age when men were measured by their brawn, heaving a boulder skywards was considered one of the ultimate tests of Welsh manhood.
Often such feats were carried out in churchyards on the “Gwylmabsant” – the village’s saint day celebrations.
This forgotten tradition, known as Y Maen Camp (The Feat Stone), is now slowly returning to Wales as the country rediscovers one of its lost customs.
Only six old feat stones are known to exist in Wales but Englishman Roger Davis, 41, who is leading the custom’s renaissance, is hopeful of finding more.
He’s currently trying to track down a 180lb granite stone in Bodedern, Anglesey, which was last reported as being lifted on the village’s saint day in 1981.
“It is a great shame that this important part of Welsh village life appears to have been forgotten,” said Roger, from Hemel Hempstead.
“As I research these stones, it’s clear how enthusiastic people are to see the tradition revived once they learn the history behind it.”

While researching a new book on the “stones of strength”, Roger came across a quote in an 1886 book by Elias Owen which mentions a “ponderous” 101lb feat stone in the churchyard of St Michaels, Efenechtyd, near Ruthin. Like the others, it was traditionally thrown during the saint day celebrations.
After contacting the vicar, the Rev Richard Carter, he discovered the stone was still in place. What’s more, the village was looking to revive its Gwylmabsant festival – and Roger was promptly invited to participate.
Last Sunday a family eucharist service was held in St Michaels church, after which youngsters rolled the stone to the north side of the churchyard, accompanied by the blowing and shaking of instruments to “wake the saint”.
To great fanfare, Roger lifted and threw the Efenechtyd feat stone for the first time in many generations. Not to be outdone, a local Welshman repeated the feat.
“I managed to throw the stone backwards over my head as described in the book,” said Roger.
“It’s a very awkward way to hurl a stone, even a relatively light stone of 101lb. I also made a forwards throw which was more dramatic as the stone travelled much further through the air.
“I was pleased to see that it was not about me lifting a stone, but about a village remembering its traditions, and long may they continue.”

St Wddyns church, Llanwddyn, also has an ancient throwing stone. Clearly engraved as weighing 75lb, it dates back to at least the early 1800s.

On Sunday Roger visited an equally ancient lifting stone in Ysbyty Ifan. He was guided to the remote site by sheep farmer Gwyn Davies and while he was able to lift the stone from the ground, he could not stand fully with it.
“I would challenge others to try,” he smiled.
“The Ysbyty Ifan stone is really special. It has a date of 1868 engraved on it, and it has a long history of use.
“It is a very large slab of stone, and weighs well over 300lb. To stand upright with it would be very impressive.”

Last month Roger attempted to lift a feat stone outside Criccieth Memorial Hall, mentioned in a biography of David Lloyd George as being a “test your strength stone”.
Although it was of more modest weight, he admitted defeat after 11 attempts, blaming a lack of grip.
Roger said: “Since then the tradition has been revived. Two local lads have successfully lifted the stone, and the feat is to become part of the town’s St David’s day festival.”

Another feat stone from Anglesey is in St Fagans museum, Cardiff, and there are rumours of stones in Rhiwlas and Trawsfynydd.
Roger is now on the trail of the Bodedern feat stone, and would like to hear of any other examples in Wales.

To help, contact him at Roger.Davis@ whitbread.com.
Consistency is key!
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