Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Yak-y-da and Local Archaeology

The Yakmobile used to dispense delicious Nepalese curries from the layby out by the Llanigon turning on the edge of Hay on Tuesday evenings. I occasionally treated myself - but then they moved into the Hollybush a couple of miles out of Hay, calling themselves Yak-y-da. It's a bit too far to walk, even if the road were safe to walk along, which it's not. So I was waiting for an excuse to treat myself to a proper meal out.
The Young Man likes the Nepalese curries too, so we decided to hang the expense and get a taxi out there. Mike from Booktown Taxis ferried us there and back, for a fiver each way.
The Hollybush hasn't really changed much (though it's years since I was inside) - it's just added a few Buddhist trimmings to the decor. The caravan site has gone, though. We decided to go for the meal with a bit of everything - the Young Man had chicken curry and I had lamb. So it started with pappadoms and dips, and then everything arrived at once, including an absolutely delicious dhal soup. The curry was just as good as I remembered, and we were too full for a sweet, so we had a fruit juice to finish instead - the Frobishers apple juice was very nice.
We had a little time to wait for the taxi to pick us up, so we walked around the garden, with the peacock wandering about, and the chickens roosting here and there. A group of young men who were staying in the pub were stacking their canoes in the garden - the river is just at the back through the trees.
We had a really good meal, reasonably priced, and with friendly service.

Back at the Clock Tower, Mike didn't have another job straight away, so we had a chat about his hobby - local history and archaeology. He hasn't been out with his metal detector for a while, but he knows the area like the back of his hand, and told me something that I don't think I've seen mentioned elsewhere - the prehistoric burial chambers, which are fairly evenly spaced along the Wye Valley in prominent positions, all have their entrances aligned with the flow of the river. Mike suggested that this had been for the souls of the dead to depart along the river.
He also pointed out something that I had forgotten - that the river used to be much larger than it is now - the flow decreased significantly when the dams were built upstream. There are traces of different routes that the river took in the past along the valley in the shape of ox bow lakes, and he was puzzling over the Roman presence around Hay, at Boatside, but also with finds all the way to the Warren, and whether the position of the river at that time would have been different and so affected the placing of the gates of the fort.
And then there were his theories about Mouse Castle, which is a Norman motte and bailey, but almost certainly on the remains of an Iron Age hill fort - it's a good position and there would already have been earth ramparts for the Normans to re-use. There's a spring half way down the hill, too, which both of us are convinced must have been a sacred spring. It just has that sort of feel to it.
So that gave us an idea for what we would do the next day. The Young Man had said something about wanting a long walk - going over to Mouse Castle seemed to be just the thing for a day out.

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