22 February 2021

Book about slate

I finally did it! I finished a book I started months ago. Maybe even more than a year ago. It took a while! But it is a big book, and it is in Welsh, and it is a rather inaccessible Welsh. It is a big book about the history and archaeology of Welsh slate. Right up my street, evidently! And it is a beautifully researched and presented book. But as I said; it's not one of those you read in one sitting. It is one of those books that makes you reach for a dictionary all the time. And sometimes you need several dictionaries, and there are only so many of those I want to surround myself with if I'm reading a book. For instance in a section about fixing roof slates, there was mention that you could do that with a "gwden". I don't know what that is. So I looked in the dictionary. And that informed me it was a withe. What on earth is a withe? And that in turn turns out to be a twig. In the book is full of that sort of specialist language. You can imagine why this book took me a while. But it was a pleasure! And told me a fair amount about my own surroundings. After all, my entire village wouldn't be here without Welsh slate. One of my running routes is an old route for bringing slate to the sea!

The book goes systematically through any aspect of slate you can think of, and then some. It discusses quarrying and mining; power sources used; processing of the slate; transport within the mine; travel by road, rail, and boat; uses for slate products of various kinds; the accommodation of the quarry workers; and so on. And it even gives grid references for locations of interest.

And now what? I don't yet have another book lined up. In any language! I will have to pick one soon. But I think I will be returning to this one quite often. It is a bit of a work of reference you can always return to if you want to look something up. And I have some ideas of places to check out once we can travel again!

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