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Monday, 16 April 2012

Plas Tirion: Old House Yields Up Its Secret

Dr Dan Miles sampling the smoke-blackened, cruck-framed cowshed at Plas Tirion, NPRN:- 27773
There was excitement earlier in the year when a cowhouse in the lovely Conwy Valley was identified as an ancient Welsh hall. The discovery was first reported on the Heritage of Wales News and was then picked up by BBC and ITV news, and Current Archaeology is running a feature, ‘The Oldest Cowshed in the Land?’ The cruck-framed building is the medieval predecessor of the lovely Plas Tirion built in the 1620s and currently being restored by Ned and Sophie Scharer. The old house was built using roughly trimmed (‘boxed’) whole trees for the arched shaped roof-truss or ‘crucks’. This is an archaic building technique – and the big question is when was Plas Tirion old hall built?

We now know that old Plas Tirion was built exactly 514 years ago. The trees used for the arch-shaped cruck-truss started growing in 1418 and was felled in Spring 1498. These are the conclusions of Dr Dan Miles of the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory, who was commissioned to tree-ring date the old house by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments after it was discovered by the community-based Dating Old Welsh Houses project. Plas Tirion is not the oldest house in Wales but it is one of very few precisely dated C15th houses. It is astonishing to realise that it was built by an unknown Welshman as Columbus was discovering the Americas. Plas Tirion was then and is still - as the name suggests - a very pleasant place.

The identification and dating of Plas Tirion old hall is one of the triumphs of the Dating Old Welsh Houses project, which is working in partnership with the Royal Commission to document the older houses in north-west Wales. The project is community based and has over 100 members and volunteers spread all over north Wales who are rediscovering the built heritage of Caernarfonshire, Merioneth, Anglesey and Conwy, and have made some very important discoveries indeed. Further information is available on

Heritage of Wales Blog Post:

Could A Cow Shed in Llanrwst be Wales' Oldest House? BBC News Story

Coflein - Discovering Our Past Online
Coflein is the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), the national collection of information about the historic environment of Wales.  

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