Aberystwyth has hosted the Eisteddfod, a national celebration of Welsh culture and language four times in its 150 year long history.
The festival was started in 1861 and took 5 years to reach Aberystwyth, after first being staged in Aberdare. The festival has even been hosted over the border (just about!) in Chester, as well as Liverpool, London and Birkenhead.
Aberystwyth first hosted the festival in 1865, and then had to wait another 41 years until the time of the First World War to stage it again in 1916.
Following this it again came back to the town in 1952, and most recently in 1992.
In fact, the bardic ring of huge stones which stand in the centre of the castle were placed there in order to mark the 1916 Eisteddfod.
Did you also know that the word Eisteddfod literally means ‘a sitting’ hence the awarding of the famous chair to a bard who has really impressed the judges every year at the festival.
We all love to find an unexpected stone circle and this is a cracker.
Earth cache lesson
This stone is probably not carved from local stone, since most of the stone found locally is of a different type, (doh). This is supported by the number of local houses made from slabs stacked on top of each other; you can see these types of houses very close by.
Here are two descriptions of stone types.
There are outcrops of sandstone in Wales but not much locally. This type of stone is made as animals and small rock particles fall to the bottom of the ocean. It can be coarse grain, where the particles are as big as grains of rice (and sometimes bigger) to very fine mudstones, where the particles are microscopic and can’t actually be seen with the naked eye. Sandstone can be a variety of colours depending on the percentage of animal material is included and the type of rock that has contributed to the particles. Most sandstone is yellow in colour but it can be reddish and of a grey hue too. One confusing aspect of sandstone is that, as it is left out in the open, it all tends to go a greyish dirty colour, this is due to pollution. In the mid part of the 20th Century most sandstone in industrial areas was black due to the amount of soot in the air from coal fires. Today most pollution is from motor vehicles and this turns sandstone the greyish colour. This type of stone is very commonly used to sculptures and standing stones because of its resistance to weather and its ability to ‘hold’ a carved shape for many years.
A local material used for building local houses and roofing all around the world. This is grey/green in colour and made up of very thin layers of stone. Originally when it was laid down it would have been a mudstone of very fine texture with very few or no visible particles in it. Over time it has had pressure exerted on it, probably by the movement of the earth around it. This pressure has caused all the small particles to be almost liquefied and when it cooled, it has formed very thin layers. These layers are what gives slate its splitting ability and gives its very good linear strength. Slate is very poor for carving and although it can be etched, it is rarely used for large sculptures because water ingress down the cracks can lead to large splits which would destroy a large sculpture.
In order to claim this cache you need to have visited the site and answer the following questions. Please do not damage the stones to determine their colour, read the descriptions above in full.
1)What is the texture of the stones?
2)What type of stone do you think the stone circle is made from, (choose from the two above)?
3)What is the approximate height of the tallest stone in the circle?
4)How many stones make up the stone circle?
Please upload a photo of yourself, your GSP or something interesting in the castle, (this part -as always- is optional)
Thanks for visiting the castle and I hope you enjoyed the lesson and the cache
There is a nice puzzle cache in the castle too which can be done in about 30 minutes.