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The Secrets of the Stone and Concrete Cairn

Blog 10

January 2014

When we first saw AMYNEDD in August 2013, we all 3 noticed the stone and concrete obelisk in the back garden. Jane looked at it carefully, but could not see what it was for. I noticed it and thought it might be a barbeque. I have no idea what Chris T thought it was.

Then we moved in and in all the volume of stuff we had to sort through in the house, there were lots and lots of photo albums.

We became very excited when we realised we had a photographic record of the actual construction of the house!

In amongst the photos which were carefully slotted into photo albums, was this one; slightly larger than most, and loose inside an album, at first glance it seems to be only a photo of Elizabeth’s ducks. Look more closely, however and you can see the stone and concrete cairn I’m talking about. And it seems to be on fire...

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Early in January 2014, Jane decided she needed to know the purpose of this mysterious creation.

So she took a pick axe to it. And when that didn’t work, she took a lump hammer to it!

Chris T and Jane worked on with great enthusiasm….I had no idea what they were doing…I keep out of the way when lump hammers are being swung….so I was not present to record the initial swing. However, very soon, they called me out “And bring your camera!”

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They had discovered that the mound of heavily concreted stone, contained many hidden secrets….this is what they found initially….Chris T is holding a fluorescent light bulb and Jane is holding up pieces of pottery…

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They had determined that the heap was not a barbeque! But so far, they had not determined exactly what its use or purpose was…

They continued to dig.

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These two Photos reveal the complexity of the dig. Inside the cairn, glass, barbed wire, shards of pottery and large items were all held together in a matrix of concrete and it was taking a lot of effort to release each find. They were forced to go very slowly; there were so many sharp things they did not want to injure themselves, but the frustration of not being able to remove everything they found immediately was immense!

Photo 5 shows a large metal object, perhaps on its side. They puzzled over what it could be. I knew I had seen it somewhere….and remembered this photograph…

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I have scanned it to my computer, and it is not necessarily a great picture, but you can clearly see that the metal structure full of blooming begonias, is the same structure as the one Jane and Chris T found in the concreted mess!

Why would Elizabeth consign this once very expensive metal garden flower basket to the mound of concrete and stone?

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Why would she place all these unbroken tiny flower pots and these unbroken saucers to this grave of concrete and stone? Much later (April 2014), the lovely Glitter Mary created a small sculpture of these tiny pots….

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Meanwhile, our intrepid archaeologists continued their trawl through the increasingly muddy and slippery mound…

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Here you can see Elizabeth thought it fitting to bury a letter box and a pottery soup bowl. Then they worked out what the huge thing was at the bottom of the mound…

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Yes! Elizabeth had buried a cement mixer! Why? We have no idea. Getting the cement mixer out took days of hard work. It rained often. The grass became a muddy, slippery mess. It took a lot of effort even to remain upright.

The cement mixer was full of cement and it had to be emptied before it could be moved; it weighed a ton.

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They pulled out of the cement mixer bags of neatly cut up pieces of barbed wire – similar to the bundles of barbed wire we had found in the stables; but here they were interred inside a cement mixer which was itself inside a huge mound of stone and concrete.

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The expression on Chris T’s face says it all…“Why?”…as she holds aloft an assortment of broken rusted tools in her hands. Behind her, the bags that once held chicken feed or compost, now hold the carefully sifted finds from the mound…two were full of glass, two held metal; one was just bits of broken pottery. All eventually went to the Recycling Centre in Dolgellau.

Here is a selection of other weird things they uncovered… a shoe last, a workbench vice, a hand drill, a coal shovel. Many of the metal things were so rusted it was difficult to identify them…but they know they uncovered, all now ruined, many tiny instruments used by opticians. Elizabeth’s father had been an optician.

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But still they could not extract the cement mixer…

It rained and the cement mixer filled with water. They had to empty it out…

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…and hidden, right at the bottom of the cement mixer, they found this

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…a gun!

Suddenly, the cement mixer was free, but it was too heavy for Jane and Chris T to move, so they asked Tim (our wonderful builder) if he would help them…

Jane and Tim between them managed to half drag, half carry the enormously heavy cement mixer to the lane end, where it would be collected by a scrap metal dealer in a few days time….

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….and Chris T followed on behind carrying the now freed metal garden flower holder!

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This then is the place where the mound once stood. It is a mess of mud, brambles and stone….all around, hanging in trees so they were not lost in all the detritus, are loppers, lump hammer, a gilet, bolt cutters and many other tools.

The cairn has been reduced to a pile of stones and lumps of concrete. We are no nearer knowing or understanding why Elizabeth thought burying a cement mixer in her garden was a good idea. But we do know there are more in the garden….!

 

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As I write this, in early July 2014, I’m aware that so far we have not had time to restore that area yet. We have ambitions to make it into a peaceful place to sit and look at the garden from a different perspective….we have the seat ready, and plenty of loose material to create a flat area on which it can sit, maybe it will happen soon….maybe it won’t.

Whatever happens, we are learning more AMYNEDD (PATIENCE) than we ever thought possible!

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