Despite the fact that I feel as if I have been locked in to Project Kitchen for months now, we did in fact have a brief break from it all when mil, fil and G came to stay for a week. It was a wonderfully mellow week, but as our 20th wedding anniversary happened in the middle of it all we actually dragged ourselves out for a little trip up the road to the tiny village of Llanddeusant. The village itself is no different from most other small inland villages on the Island, but it is made unique by having the last working windmill on the Island – Melin Llynnon, or Llynnon Mill.

Llynnon Mill

Anglesey used to be known as the Breadbasket of Wales, its fertile soil providing plenty of wheat for bread. The Island used to have a lot of windmills, it is a rather windy place. Records show windmills on the Island as far back as 1303, but the majority of the 32 windmills that still exist today were built in the 18th century. Nowadays most of the mills are either derelict or converted into homes, but Llynnon was bought by the Council in 1978, and the following year work began to restore it. You can read the full story on the Anglesey History website.

windmill sails

The sails weren’t turning the day we visited, but when conditions are suitable the mill grinds wheat and sells the wholemeal flour, both from the gift shop and around the Island. Our local bakers sells a Llynnon Mill loaf. Regular readers of this blog know that I love bread, and love making it, but this flour was a little too pricey for me!

There are lots of informative plaques inside the mill, and the chance to try grinding flour by hand using a quern.

quern

TNG was happy reading the Welsh and checking his translation prowess (getting quite impressive, I have to say), and mil was drawn by the Bara Brith recipe. For those who have not come across Bara Brith, it is a slightly spiced cakey loaf, often made with dried fruit, and there are as many different versions as there are people who make it, but here is the Llynnon Mill version if you want to have a go (for once clicking the image should bring up a larger, hopefully legible, version):

Bara Brith recipe

I should now know all about the various bits and pieces that make up a working mill, but I am dreadful at reading all those information boards, and tend to want to skip them and just wander around. I was entranced by all the machinery, and quickly clambered up to the next level on the steep ladder-like stairs. So I have lots of photos of fascinating machinery and no idea at all what all the bits are all called – fil, by contrast, probably still remembers it all! If any of you want to know more, the full details can be found on the Llansadwrn website

mill-workings2

giant-cogs

mill-workings

The grounds surrounding the mill are very pretty, there was a carpet of Brid’s Foot Trefoil buzzing with bees and some rather nice native hedging, but if you follow a hazel fence that curves around by the grass to the side of the mill…

perimeter fence

…you are greeted by a strange sight…

Ditch surrounding settlement

Anglesey is littered with menhirs (standing stones) and cromlechs (stone burial chambers) which bear witness to the fact that the Island has been settled since prehistoric times. There are remains of Iron Age settlements in several places on the Island, but Melin Llynnon now plays host to a reconstruction of an Iron Age settlement that was built using the techniques and materials believed to have been used all those centuries ago. They even planted trees in the area to provide a source of materials for repairs in the future, which has created a lovely area of woodland.

Reconstructed Iron Age Settlement

The project was completed in 2007, and consists of two round houses, a small storage shelter with a green roof and a garden, all surrounded by a ditch lined with prickly shrubs and a hazel fence.

roundhouse

I loved the smooth, organic lines of the roundhouses, they very much reminded me of the traditional huts we saw in South Africa and Botswana. One of the roundhouses has been decorated with skins, tools, work areas etc. to illustrate what life was like, and a fire burns in the central hearth filling the air with the sweet smell of woodsmoke. In the summer volunteer actors from the Island dress up and demonstrate what living in these roundhouses might have been like, which must be great for children. The second is kitted out with benches as a classroom, and is apparently used by local schools. It also shows a very informative film about the construction of the buildings, explaining how the large porch areas added to the strength of the building and provided well lit work areas that were sheltered from the elements.

roundhouse entrance

roof detail

I loved the construction details, see the leather hinges? I enjoyed looking round the windmill very much, but something about the roundhouses had me smiling like an idiot, I really loved them, though I would hate to live in a building with so little natural light, however good the fire and insulating properties of mud and straw walls!

I mentioned that they had planted a woodland – with the help of local schoolchildren – surrounding the settlement. It was really pretty, and goes all the way down to the remains of the old bakehouse that used to be so conveniently close to the mill. I would have taken photos. But in a burst of incompetence I managed to leave my spare battery at home, so all I have is a photo of some of the wonderful wild carrot that graced the edges of the woodland – though at least it keeps the post shorter…

wild carrot

56 thoughts on “Out and About: Llynnon Mill

  1. How absolutely fascinating! Windmills are stunning aren’t they and you’ve taken some lovely photos. I love those thatched roofs too! Looks like a gorgeous day there – lovely blue skies! Oh and Happy Anniversary! :)

    1. Hi Anna, yes, I am a big fan of windmills, we used to holiday on the Norfolk Broads a lot when I was a kid, and they have some wonderful ones, but this was my first proper working windmill. It was a stunning day – we have had lots of them, though on most I have been stuck inside working or stripping wallpaper :-( Mind you, the evenings have been fabulous too, so we do tend to sit down on the beach after dinner and relax. Not a bad life really!!

  2. I’ve never heard of these roundhouses before, which just shows one can learn something new everyday! They are great looking structures, with their circular roofs that looks so smooth and symmetrical from afar. I agree about the lack of natural light but I suppose back then all residents are out and about until dusk.

    1. Glad to be of service, educationally speaking! I was mesmerised by the thatching, so tactile. I suspect that back then if it was dark, people slept, and as you say, if not, they were outside working – except the women, who got to lurk in the dark and cook over the fire. But wouldn’t a small one make a wonderful garden building?

  3. Beautiful windmill. And the inside is so very interesting – I would have had to have splurged and bought some of that flour. I love your shots of the mill “workings”, especially the one of the two large gears. The round houses are quite unique! Although dark, I bet the shape of the roofs made these very sturdy, warmer in winter, and cooler in summer. All that thatching is really quite amazing!

    1. Hmm, somehow the romance of it didn’t quite persuade me to pay double what I do for organic wholemeal, but it does explain why the bakery charges so much for the loaves! The inside of the roundhouses was really cool and somehow comforting, probably all those curves. Glad you liked the gears, I did too.

  4. Oh what an intriguing place to visit Janet and most appropriate for you with your love of bread making. Glad that you were able to escape from the kitchen with your love and have a great day out. Many congratulations on your anniversary xxx
    PS I might try that recipe :)

    1. Hi Anna, we were so lucky with the weather, it was perfect, though it would be interesting to go back when the sails were turning. I am going to have to try the recipe too! When I can get in my kitchen and cook – hopefully this weekend…

  5. Many congratulations, we celebrated our 20th this year too, so something else we have in common.
    Love the windmill, a shame you thought the flour too expensive, is it sold elsewhere, not in a gift shop where it might be cheaper? It would be good to support the windmill as something is quite the same as real stoneground flour.

    1. Hi Christina, I will look out for the flour elsewhere, and they certainly need to make neough to cover the costs of upkeep and of employing a miller, but we have a very tight food budget nowadays. Congratulations on 20 years! We don’t usually take much notice of our anniversary, but 20 felt rather significant.

  6. What a fascinating post, so glad you shared it with us. The workings of the mill are so interesting and the round house so beautiful and tactile, what a super organic shape, I bet winter winds just flow over the top without causing any damage.
    Very best belated wishes for your anniversary!

    1. Hi Pauline, I think you are right about the wind just flowing over those wonderful roof lines, there isn’t really anything for the wind to catch on, and of course the porch faces away from the prevailing wind anyway. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. That blue sky is stunning – haven’t seen it like that here for a week or so now ;) The Golfer and I were just trying to remember where the amazing working windmill was that we went to in the last year or two, probably Norfolk – like you we were fascinated by the cogs at the heart of the relatively simple machinery and the Golfer could tell you all about ratios and such with his engineering background. The Iron Age settlement is a great reconstruction – it’s one thing seeing pictures but actually being inside such houses gives you a far better appreciation of the way of life. We might make it to Anglesey for a few days later in the year so will look both places up if we do. Thanks for posting – and Happy Anniversary!

    1. Hi Cathy, hope you have a lovely time on Anglesey if you make it here, you’re welcome to call in for a cup of coffee if you want, just let me know and I will do some emergency weeding! The windmill and settlement are definitely worth a visit, and are close to the wonderful Church Bay too. The sky was amazing that day, all that week, in fact, it has been much more unsettled since then.

      1. Thanks for the offer, Janet – we have had to fit in a visit to my Mums so Anglesey is deferred for a little longer, but maybe September? It would be nice to pop in if we did make it and see your garden for real, as well as meeting another blogger in person :)

  8. Happy Anniversary! I’m also fascinated by windmills (with watermills); I love to see them in the landscape. And I love the round houses, too. Anglesey has such an interesting history and re-creating these ancient settlements does bring it alive.

    1. Thank you Wendy! I love watermills too, probably even more than windmills, I always wanted to live in one, or be able to build a little hydroelectric plant!! It is good that at least this one windmill has been restored to tell the story of Anglesey’s past.

  9. A most enjoyable, and informative, post with terrific pictures.
    I went to a working windmill well over fifty years ago, still remember the sails slowing going round along with the noise outside and inside.
    Happy anniversary. xx

    1. Thanks Flighty, glad you enjoyed the virtual tour! I want to go back when the sails are turning, and see those huge cogs going round and the flour coming out of the chute.

  10. Hi Janet, This was a wonderful post–thank you! It reminded me of some of those stones houses on the Dingle Peninsula, although those are smaller. You really captured the place with your excellent photos and it looks like you had a gorgeous day. Reading your posts is a great way to transport myself to another world and I love it. My hubby and I recently saw the first iron works in 1180 in France as part of the Cistercian Abbey of Fontaney. It is incredible to see these “beginnings” of things and realize how hard people worked to make a life.

    Thanks again, Susan

    1. Hi Susan, thank you, it was a lovely day. I envy you seeing the early iron works – and Fontaney, I have never been. The roundhouses felt wonderfully peaceful inside, and cool, on a very hot day, but they lacked that feeling you get when you stand somewhere genuinely ancient. I am looking forward to visiting some of the local castles with my nephew when he is old enough, and seeing them through his eyes.

  11. Look at that blue sky! It’s so piercingly clear and brilliant that it distracted me from your story a bit. ;-) No, seriously, it looks like a wonderful field trip and how great to learn about how mills functioned. Such a quaint place, too, with the windmills and such!

    1. It was amazingly clear that day, and scorching hot, it was nice to be inside the stone of the windmill, or the cool dark of the roundhouses.

  12. Did you see ‘Living in the Past?’ Broadcast in the early 80’s (I think) it followed a group of volunteers who built an iron age village and then lived in it for a year. Terrific TV (and a good book too). The thing that they really missed about the C20th was wellington boots in winter! You’re right about the shape of the roundhouse – very beautiful. Dave

    1. I did! Yes! It was great fun. More fun to watch than to do, methinks, visiting on a wonderfully hot summer’s day was one thing, having to live in one 24/7, in the middle of winter, on Anglesey, with our rainfall? Though sitting around the fire listening to the wind howl outside would be an ideal environment for swapping scary stories…

  13. happy belated anniverary wishes Janet, I understand what you mean by being locked into the kitchen project, when mine was done 5 years ago I thought it would never be finished and couldn’t quite believe it when it finally was, yet the time since completion has flown, weird that.

    thanks for sharing your day out, the windmill is interesting but the iron age village is fasinating, as for forgetting your battery and not getting photos of the wood what a perfect excuse for another visit ;)
    Frances

    1. Hi Frances, funny how time passes, isn’t it, sometimes rushing by, sometimes crawling. I was laughing at myself the other day as I was obsessing about sanding down a rough patch, realizing that once I am back living in the kitchen I will be too busy cooking and eating to notice the occasional blemish in the decor! As for the windmill, I definitely want to go back, I have to see the sails moving and those huge cogs turning the millstone…

  14. This is interesting. My husband and I were just at an historic mill a few weeks ago that grinds corn for local farm animals. All the bits and pieces look the same. Those stone houses would have been fascinating to walk around in but I don’t think I’d want to live in one, either.

    1. How interesting that both had similar “innards”, I suppose there is a limit to how much it is worth changing a tried and trusted design. And yes, the roundhouses were definitely better visited than lived in!

  15. That mill has been beautifully maintained, not a rusty cog in sight. I can see why the huts had you smiling – I never cease to be amazed by the neatness of thatched rooves.
    Congratulations on your Anniversary.

    1. I loved the fact that although there was no rust there was plenty of flour dust, demonstrating its working credentials even with the sails still. Thatching fascinates me, so neat, so apparently tactile, and yet so prickly to touch. I also love that a roofing method in use for over two and a half thousand years is still in use today.

  16. Those roundhouses are beautiful, but they bring back very bad memories of our kids having to make models of them for homework. Thatching, children and dogs are the worst possible combination. A bag of straw goes a very long way – we were still finding bits of it months after the roundhouses had gone to school. What gorgeous weather you had for your trip! The photos of the windmill are wonderful. Happy anniversary!

    1. Ha! I can only imagine – were the children more or less of a problem than the dogs, I wonder?

  17. Janet I adore visits like this…such cool history and I bet you enjoyed the windmill especially with all the bread baking you love to do. I need to make a point of taking some interesting day trips when I finally get a few days of vacation.

    1. Hi Donna, it was really good to get out, I am so happy living here, working in the garden, walking the beach and cliffs, I forget to explore more widely. It is sometimes good to get a wider perspective, I hope you find a pleasing balance as and when retire.

  18. Absolutely fascinating, if the wind turbines that have invaded our land looked anything like this we would have little to complain about.

    1. Hi Alistair, I did take a couple of photos of one of the local windfarms from the top floor of the windmill, I rather appreciated the contrast, but there again, I think the modern windmills are beautiful to…

  19. Lovely blog post Janet. If you’re ever back this way, you should check out the Ancient Technology Centre. They too do reconstruction of roundhouses and other old structures, tools and ways of working, but very much working with the archaeologists. So it’s fun and science-y! They’re also on Facebook, where the more recent pictures can be found. I haven’t been there myself yet, but keep meaning to go one day. And, given your interest in matters nautical, you should also check out the Bronze Age boat if you haven’t already come across it.

    1. Nice to “see” you! Glad you enjoyed it, you would love the construction of the roundhouses where it was exposed. Maybe you could build one to distract the horses from attacking you?! Am off to check out those links…

  20. A really interesting post Janet – I especially love the round houses – they have made them beautifully. I have been in this sort of old building before, they are quite dark inside aren’t they but very atmospheric – I am not sure that communal living would suit me though, but I love this sort of history of how real people lived.

    1. Hi Elaine, they were built very well, and we were impressed at the way they had worked out the construction methods from various archeological digs.

  21. Happy anniversary to you two, and thanks for the tour! My great grandmother owned a mill, but it was powered by water not the wind. All that is left of it now is the pond and a particularly bad painting hanging in my mother’s house.

    1. Hi Les, what a shame that the painting is so bad. I had a secret dream about living in an old watermill and restoring the wheel and getting free electricity!

  22. I’m a bit of a straggler on this tour but thank you for the guidance without names – mechanics are works of art really.I wanted to touch the roundhouses – magnificent construction and I like the fact that they are shared with birds, juding by the entrance. Like a huge nest really.

    Very best and belated wishes for your anniversary, Janet – it is a testament to the power of love to overcome all obstacles and keep on track.

    1. Hi Laura, if you are a straggler what does that make me, so late in replying! Roundhouses are wonderfully tactile, and such a pleasing and somehow comforting shape. A mini roundhouse could make a lovely garden shelter, in a large enough space, so dark inside though, and I am a light junky!

    1. Hi Janet, one of the things I love about reading blogs is the way I get to enjoy strange – to me – landscape and architecture, so I am glad you enjoyed the virtual visit.

  23. Lovely photos and Happy Anniversary! I didn’t realise Anglesey had so many standing stones. Just come back from Brittany, near Carnac, the centre of ancient stone erecting activity as we discovered!

    1. Hi Damo, Carnac sounds fascinating, I’ve always loved coming across standing stones and barrows when walking in North Wales, I love the sense of being in a landscape that has been inhabited for thousands of years.

  24. What a gorgeous old mill. Great photos. I like that they’ve kept it working, those buildings and their proper function could so easily be lost through the ages. As a North American your history over there amazes me – buildings back to the 1300’s!!! We’re lucky to find anything over 100 years old here.

    1. Hi Marguerite, plenty of ancient history in North America but not many surviving reminders I guess, I remember being fascinated by a partially reconstructed native American settlement in Arizona a few years back. Mills are such a pleasing shape, I think there is something inherently comforting about all those curves, same with the roundhouses.

  25. I didn’t note the date when I started reading this . . . and was surprised when I got to the birds-foot trefoil! Like you, I wouldn’t like to live in a house with little light . . . but, also like you, I’m charmed by the flowing lines of the construction. When I’m a millionaire (ha!) I’ll have a house built in that shape only with big windows in the walls.

    Hope all’s well.

    1. Oh, yes, sweeping curved walls with huge curved glass panels, overlooking the sea! I’ll come visit… Bit of a bad patch but coming out of it now…

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