Final Project Events on June 19th 2013

  • June 5, 2013 - Lorna Hughes

At the conclusion of the AHRC-funded research project The Snows of Yesteryear (narrating extreme weather)/Eira Ddoe (cofio tywydd ethafol), we are delighted to announce an afternoon and evening of exciting and stimulating events on June 19th 2013, culminating in the performance of Dawns ysbrydion/Ghost dance 09.02.63 commissioned from Eddie Ladd.
We hope you can join us
Prof Lorna Hughes (University of Wales)
Prof Mike Pearson (Aberystwyth University)

Annwyl ffrindiau
Wedi darllen fod yna helyg ar lan Afon Tryweryn (ar y “Tryweryn Trail”), daeth y stori am yr helygen i gof. Dywedwyd fod yr Iddewon alltud wedi crogi eu telynau ar ganghennau’r coed wrth afonydd Babylon a’u nifer (a dwysder y profiad) yn eu tynnu tuag at y dŵr. Teimlais y byddai’r telynor Rhodri Davies, o Aberystwyth, yn medru ‘neud cyfiawnder â’r ddelwedd hon ac y byddai’r gerddoriaeth, a’r gwaith dawns y gallai ysgogi, fod yn sail i berfformiad am achos Tryweryn. Daeth ef â Lee Patterson gydag ef, un o artistiaid blaenaf yn y sîn sain amgen, a des i â’m brawd, Roger Owen. Gobeitho y dewch chi’n llu hefyd…
Eddie Ladd

(…Having read that there were willow trees on the banks of the Tryweryn river (on the “Tryweryn Trail”), a story about willows came to mind. It was said that the exiled Jews hung their harps from the branches of the trees by the rivers of Babylon, so that their number (and the intensity of the experience) drew them down to the water’s surface. I felt that the harpist Rhodri Davies, from Aberystwyth, could do justice to this image and that the music, and the dance work thus invoked, could form the basis of a performance about the Tryweryn case. Rhodri brought Lee Patterson, one of the foremost artists in the alternative sound scene, with him and I brought my brother, Roger Owen.  I hope you bring yourselves in large numbers too…)



Cerddoriaeth. Darlith. Perfformiad.
Music. Lecture. Performance

14.00 Rhodri Davies (telyn) a Lee Patterson (artist sain) ar waith ar y delyn rhew (Mynediad am ddim)
Rhodri Davies (harp) and Lee Patterson (sound artist) at work on a frozen harp (Entrance free)

16.00 Darlith gan Dr. Roger Owen ar achos Tryweryn a dawns ysbrydion brodorion America yn ystod y 19eg ganrif (Mynediad am ddim)

Lecture by Dr. Roger Owen on the Tryweryn bombing campaign and native American ghost dances of the 19th century (Entrance free)

18.00 Saib

19.30 Dawns ysbrydion/Ghost dance 09.02.63
Rhodri Davies, Lee Patterson, Roger Owen + Eddie Ladd (dawnswraig/dancer)
(Mynediad am ddim ond trwy docyn yn unig; Entrance is free but booking essential)

Stiwdio Emily Davies                                              Emily Davies Studio
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu    Department of Theatre, Film and Television
Adeilad Parry-Williams                                          Parry-Williams Building
Prifysgol Aberystwyth                                             Aberystwyth University
SY23 3AJ                                                             SY23 3AJ

Dawns ysbrydion/Ghost dance 09.02.63

Dawns ysbrydion/Ghost dance 09.02.63 is the final output of the research project ‘The Snows of Yesteryear/Eira Ddoe’, which explored archival and personal evidence of resilience and vulnerability to extreme climate in Wales. These narratives were the inspiration for the ideas within the performance, and the work is outlined in the series of events around the performance. The project was funded by the AHRC Landscape and Environment programme, and is led by the University of Wales in partnership with Aberystwyth University, the Internationsl ACRE initiative at the Met Office, the National Library of Wales and Eddie Ladd.

Perfformir y sioe ar ddiwedd diwrnod o weithgareddau – mynediad am ddim ond trwy docyn yn unig.

The show is performed at the end of a day’s activities – entrance is free but booking essential.


January 2013: Snow at Talgarreg

  • January 24, 2013 - cerysjones

Snow has caused some disruption to The Snows of Yesteryear project in the last few days, as heavy snowfall and strong winds resulted in drifts and poor driving conditions. One of the areas affected was Talgarreg, Llandysul. Though forecasts have mostly been correct, sudden snowfall in the Talgarreg area on Monday 14th January and Thursday 17th  caught many by surprise. However, the greatest fall of snow occurred on Friday 18th, which was accompanied by strong winds. The snow clung to windows, resulting in poor visibility and an intense sense of isolation. At Clettwr, snow was blown into lambing sheds; under doors and through holes in walls. By the time night fell, the farm lane which ascends the Clettwr valley was blocked by deep drifts, making it unconquerable even to a 4×4 vehicle (see photo below for a drift on the side of the farm lane). Nearby B-roads, such as the Synod Inn to Llanybydder road and the Synod Inn to Ffostrasol road, were also closed, until they were re-opened by snow-ploughs the following day.

On Thursday 24th January, as this blog entry is being written, the A- and B-roads are open and clear, though the smaller C-road and farm lane down to Clettwr still require great care. The car is left at the end of the farm lane; though it may be possible to drive it down the hill, it may not be able to come back up! This requires a twice-daily walk to and from the car in sturdy walking boots and warm clothes. Though this may seem an inconvenience, recollections of the conditions at Clettwr during the 1962/63 winter put it in perspective (read ‘Expert number 2’ here). Note that Clettwr no longer has any dairy cows so, luckily, milk wastage is no longer a problem.

Yesterday (Wednesday 23rd January), southwest Wales was greatly affected by heavy snowfall which, luckily, wasn’t too bad at Talgarreg, though Dyffryn Teifi School (Llandysul) was closed and remains closed today (24/1/2013). The area wasn’t forewarned of snow and, as TV and radio weather presenters reminded us throughout yesterday, “snow is a very difficult thing to predict”.


Performance Development – Part I

  • November 22, 2012 - cerysjones

The Performance Development is based on the Warplands toolkit (particularly part 3c); a toolkit developed as a part of the Snows of Yesteryear’s Co-Investigator’s (Professor Mike Pearson) Warplands project.

Within the Toolkit there’s guidance to choose an autobiographical topic with personal resonance, to draw from personal experience and the historical record, to include texts of different kinds: letters; half-remembered stories and so on.

The Snows of Yesteryear project was invited to talk about the performance at the ‘Making it Real’ Active Ingredient event in London on the 20th November 2012.

So, as this is such a personal process, this is an extract written by the performers on their thought-processes up until the time of that meeting…


The performance will be a sibling duet between brother and sister, Roger Owen and Eddie Ladd (real name Gwenith Owen). As children, they lived on a farm and so it’s probable that the duet will concentrate on the countryside, rural experience of extreme weather. The two thought a lot about survival and persistence; the work is likely to last quite a time, though they have yet to consider the practical implications of this idea! What is “a long time”? Is it 2 hours? 2 days? Weeks? Months? They believe that the weather and climate has to leave its mark on the performance – they must consider the changing weather and the changing “weather of the body” as such. When running a marathon, for example, the body experiences physical changes after running 16 miles – when you hit ‘the wall’ when the body’s store of glycogen is empty. The challenge for the performers would be to consider the effects of fatigue, thirst, cold, wetness, heat and rest on the body. In addition there are psychological experiences which have yet to be considered. For example, one of the diaries we’ve received includes accounts of a farmwife waiting at home, on her own, for hours each day for her husband to return from the mountain slopes where he was trying to dig out sheep from underneath the snow. Her diary says of the greyness of the days and the loneliness; and worse, the lack of things to do.

Some resources that could be used in the performance include soil, bales, root vegetables, sugar, mild, wool and blood. Possible locations include a hay barn, a series of interconnected rooms, a series of separate venues or a chapel and its vestry.



One of the ‘Timestreams’ shown at the Making it Real event.

Each inflatable is connected to sensors which monitor sound levels and Carbon Dioxide levels; the objects inflate and deflate according to the volume and CO2 detected by the sensors.













AHRC Digital Transformations Moot

  • November 22, 2012 - cerysjones

On a grey day in London, The Snows of Yesteryear project was present at the AHRC Digital Transformation Moot (19/11/2012, Mermaid Centre)… and had the best view in the house!

In addition to having a stall, which raised awareness by informing the Moot delegates about the project, The Snows of Yesteryear’s Principal Investigator (Professor Lorna Hughes) and Climate Science Expert (Dr Philip Brohan) both spoke in the ‘Seeing a Storm of Data’ session, along side Professor Howard Watson (University of Oxford).

Of particular interest to extreme weather enthusiasts was Philip Brohan’s talk, which included a visualisation of the severe wintry weather during January to March 1947, which can be seen here.


The Snows of Yesteryear Project’s location at the AHRC Digital Transformation Moot:

Sharing your Memories of Extreme Weather

  • October 29, 2012 - cerysjones

Anyone who wishes to share their memories of extreme weather can now do so by going to Community Interaction and completing our submission form.

Digitised pages of almanacs, diaries and various other manuscripts from the National Library of Wales archives are able to be viewed on Flickr NOW! (see right of your screen) Some chosen highlights are discussed in Historic Weather Sources and will be added to periodically.

1947 Winter near Corwen: walking on top of the Austin 7

  • October 29, 2012 - cerysjones

Kindly received by letter:


Cofiaf aeaf 1947 yn dda iawn pan oeddwn yn byw ym Mryneglwys, ger Corwen ac yn methu â mynd i’r ysgol uwchradd yn Rhuthun am 8 wythnos oherwydd trwch yr eira.


Yn y dyddiau hynny, roedd Bryneglwys a Bwlchgwyn wastad yn cael sylw yn y newyddion am fod yn ddau le cyntaf i gael eu hynysu gan eira a rhew, ac felly y bu ym 1940 a 1947. Roedd fy nhad wedi bod i rywle yn ei gar bach Austin 7 yn ystod diwrnod cyntaf yr eira mawr, a method a’i yrru nôl i fyny’r allt i’n tŷ ni ac felly bu raid iddo ei adael yng ngwaelod y ffordd, ac yn y fan honno y bu am y ddau fis y parhaodd yr heth. Cofiaf i ni, blant, unwaith yr oedd y lluwchfeydd wedi rhewi’n gorn, gael caniatad ‘nhad i gerdded i waelod y ffordd (tua chwarter milltir) a sylweddoli ein bod yn cerdded uwchben y car bach ac ar ben y gwrychoedd heb unrhyw beryg y byddem yn suddo gan mor galed oedd y rhew. Roedd yr un peth yn wir am y llyn hwyaid wrth y tŷ lle cawsom lawer o hwyl yn sglefrio.


Ond ‘doedd yr holl brofiad yn fawr o hwyl i mam, druan, a oedd yn gorfod coginio ar dân agored yn yr ystafell fwyta yn lle’r popty arferol yn y gegin am fod y pibellau dŵr cysylltiedig wedi rhewi, a ‘nhad yn gorfod cario dŵr o’r nant gyfagos, nid yn unig i’n teulu ni o chwech ond hefyd i’r gwartheg a’r moch ar y fferm. Cofiaf ein bod wedi methu â gwneud menyn yn y fuddai fawr oherwydd y rhewi cyson, ac ar waethaf ymdrechion pob un ohonom i droi’r fuddai am oriau.


Bu ‘nhad, ynghŷd â sawl dyn arall o’r pentref, yn cerdded i Gorwen, saith milltir i ffwrdd, sawl gwaith i brynu bara i bawb oedd ei angen; bu’r eira mawr yn fodd i gymuned gyfan glosio at ei gilydd a gwerthfawrogi ymdrech a chymwynasgarwch y dynion.

Magical Snow in 1962/63

  • October 8, 2012 - cerysjones

Kindly received by e-mail:

The extreme weather I remember was in, I think, 1962. I was living in Pembrokeshire, on the coast where we rarely had snow that stuck. But this particular Winter  I woke to find everything covered in depths of snow. Our house was situated on a back lane in the village and the snow was level with the hedgerows. It has been funnelled in with the wind. I remember walking or rather scrambling to the Post office sinking up to my shoulders in snow. It was magical…No school for a week and our lane wasn’t passable for vehicles for quite a few weeks after that.


Read more recollections of the 1962/63 winter from Ceredigion here and Carmarthenshire here.

Other websites for Extreme Weather

  • September 14, 2012 - cerysjones

In addition to direct contributors to this blog, The Snows of Yesteryear project gains inspiration and information from other websites which may be of interest to weather enthusiasts:


Llen Natur’s Tywyddiadur, where you can search for accounts of the weather according to date.

From Warfare to Welfare’s The Valley, which is a digital story by Bryn Hughes, a Ceredigion farmer, and includes an account of the snow during 1947.

The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales’ colour footage of “The Great Blizzard of 1947”, showing shots of a tractor/snow plough and volunteers in action at Llanwddyn, which was snowed up for 9 weeks, and shots of the streets of Newtown. Filmed by Geoff Charles.

People’s Collection Wales’ photos of snow (‘eira’), including the winters of 1962/63 and 1981/82.

British Pathe’s film of Storm Damage at Aberystwyth in 1938.

Photography by John Mason of Aberystwyth of Stormclouds, Rain and Floods, Winter weather, and colourful skies.


From outside Wales, the following are found to be particularly interesting:

 The Weather Memory bank, which has video clips of people in Reading answering set questions on the weather.

Flood Memories blog for the River Severn, mainly concerned with the Tewkesbury floods of 2007.

The British Hydrological Society’s Chronology of British Hydrological Events. Search the database according to date and/or river catchment in the UK.


If any of these pictures, videos or written accounts strike a chord, why not share your memories of similar extreme weather right here using our comments form.

Atgof plentyn 1962-63

  • September 10, 2012 - guest

Car llusg pren yn anrheg Nadolig, ac eira y diwrnod wedyn. Ryw 4 milltir i’r gogledd o Gaerfyrddin, lle roedd yr heolydd cul rhwng banciau uchel a wedyn perthi ar ben y banciau. Wrth i’r eira lluwchio fe lanwyd yr heolydd bron i ben y perthi. Roedd y car llusg yn mynd yn bert i lawr tyle serth, a dim perygl o gar neu dractor yn dod i gwrdd â ti.
Sawl wythnos wedyn, pan oedd yr heol fawr wedi’i chlirio, fe gerddais i (9 oed) gyda mam a’r car llusg i fewn i’r dre i brynu bwyd. Erbyn hyn roedd y rhewgell yn wag. Cerdded i lawr yn iawn, ond tynnu’r peth yn ôl, gyda’r holl bwysau newydd, a tuag at lan bob cam, yn araf iawn.
Cathi McGill

Forecasting the Weather

  • September 10, 2012 - cerysjones

The work of the UK Met. Office enables us to have the most accurate weather forecasts possible, and technological advancements mean that we can view these forecasts at any time of day or night. But before the establishment of the Met. Office (1854, when an experimental government department which was later to become the Met. Office was set up) and weather forecasts in the media (1st August 1861 was the first issue of The Times to include a weather forecast), what did people do? How did they plan and prepare for tomorrow’s weather?

Almanacs hold a wealth of information and help for their readers on ‘all things meteorological’. Among them are lists of meteorological ‘signs’; signs of things to come. The three pages below contain lists under the headings ‘Signs of Fair Weather’, ‘Signs of Rain’ and ‘Signs of Wind and Storm’. Some are familiar; “4. When the Sun sets red, fair weather or frost” is similar to the popular saying ‘Red Sky at Night, Shepherd’s Delight’. Others are not so familiar; “14. Magpies screaming”, “23. Weary flies and midges” and “27. Arthritis in the elderly and corns on your toes” are all signs of rain.  Signs of stormy weather include “8. Fire burning dark and hissing”, “9. Ravens clapping their wings” and “11. Pigs crying more than usual”.

Weather Signs from John Harries’ Almanac (Carmarthen) for the year 1791, held at the National Library of Wales (all pages can be viewed at:

 Even with today’s forecasting capabilities, do we still use ‘signs’ for the weather? Do we still take a glimpse at how bright the stars are shining (sign of frost), how quickly the clouds are moving (sign of wind) or how busy the spiders are (sign of rain)? In the same way, is it the weatherman that tells us about a period of extreme weather, or do we still see the signs? Surely we all knew of the extreme wetness of the 2012 summer before the Met. Office’s official announcement (… but how? What were the signs?

I noticed how my raincoat never left my side, the fact that I barely had to water my garden plants, and that so many summer events had been cancelled – from horse races to agricultural shows. I didn’t, however, notice any of the signs of rain from the 1791 Almanac!

How did you know that we’ve just experienced the wettest summer since 1912?