2013 Madog Faculty Fellow
Dr. Dana Evans, from our Biology Department here at URG, was named the 2013 Madog Faculty Fellow. Her research into Welsh monoliths took her to Wales during the summer of 2012. Here is her research abstract:
Misconceptions about the megalithic monuments are abundant and I would like the chance to study current thought about these ancient structures. I want to know more about them in the hopes of dispelling some of these erroneous beliefs by using what I find in my writing, both non-fiction and fiction. I have long been fascinated with the standing stones and ancient cairns that sprawl across the United Kingdom. The bits of folklore and bardic tradition still in existence about these Neolithic sites, as well as the pictures of the stones themselves, capture my imagination and my desire to learn more about them.
Much of their history has been lost over the millenia, but the current research suggests links to astronomy, religion and calendar for planting and harvesting. The Menhir, from the Welsh words Maen Hir, long stone, were most likely of great importance to the Neolithic inhabitants of the island and are of great historic and cultural value today. Many of these sites have been blended into churches and monasteries, some of which are still in use today.
Many of the monuments are in the northwest of Wales, especially in the Anglesey area. Notably, Anglesey is home to the passage grave of Barclodiad y Gawres, which is an intricately carved monument, a real rarity. Bryn Celli Dhu, a burial mound, can also be found there. On the Gower Pennisula, near Swansea, is Parc Cwm long cairn, a well-researched Neolithic chambered tomb In Pembrokeshire, within a hundred miles of Trinity College in Carmarthern, there are other sites such as Gors Fawr stone circle, one of the few complete stone circles in Wales and Pentre Ifan, the best preserved Neolithic dolmen in Wales. Also the ruins of St Brynachs Church, Cwm-yr-Eglwys, are located in Pembrokshire. The college has ongoing research into the monastic system in Wales.
I have used these ancient monuments and fragmentary legends in my fictional writing. Currently, I am working on a series with a Welsh character whose roots reach back centuries and intertwines not only with the monuments but the castles and fortresses of thirteenth century Wales. I feel being able to study these megalithic monuments in detail would add richness and authenticity to the novels. In order to present the most authentic characters I can, and to avoid stereotyping, I have been studying Welsh history and have studied the Welsh language at the workshops provided by the Madog Center.
I believe that getting a better insight into Wales’s oldest heritage and being able to share it with others will support the Madog Center’s mission. In addition to the paper and presentation I will be doing for the Center, I already have interest from other venues to hear the presentation, notably the Jackson City Library. I am also actively marketing the first novel in the series, which placed into the semi-finals at the Amazon Breakthrough novel contest. If I am successful, it would be a way to bring this part of Welsh heritage to a wider audience.
Dr. Evans will present her findings on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 3PM in the
Bob Evans Farm Hall. Contact us for more information.
Dr. Dana Evans