Many of us are familiar with the so called Elizabethan houses with their familiar black and white timbers and we are also familiar with the ‘Victorian’ stone farm house which abound in this area. But few would realise that many of the stone walled farm houses were originally timber framed Elizabethan buildings.
At St Fagans Museum there is a house from Gwynedd [Waunfawr] which is called a ‘Snowdownian’ house and it is recognised that this house is from a distant past. It is now apparent that this house is not a lone relic but one of many houses of great age that that still stand, in good repair, in daily use and still retain many of their original features. What is remarkable is that some of these houses are as much as 500 years old.
It has been demonstrated and acknowledged that through tree ring dating [dendrochronlogy ] it has been possible to establish not only the year [felling date] for the timbers but also the season in which they were felled.
The project with its surveys has been able not only to date these houses but to gather the evidence to identify and distinguish between houses such as, Cruck frames, Open hall house, Timber frames and changes in the Snowdonia houses themselves, leading to the variations and then Gentry Farm houses. These can show a continuity and progression from one type of house to another, whether a centrally placed or offset inglenook fireplace with subsequent spiral staircase.
The Project has also been able to show that these old houses are not restricted to Gwynedd but occur all over north west Wales. Whilst not every house surveyed has been able to give a positive timber date the knowledge gained in carrying out the surveys coupled with the wealth of information gathered from the archives by a team of volunteers has greatly increased our understanding of these historically important houses.