Nant Wallter cottage from Taliaris near Llandeilo in Dyfed dates from the mid-eighteenth century. A high amount of building material was required. Its walls are of clom, a mixture of clay, gravel, lime and straw. It is built upon a low foundation of stone. It is a house for people with very little land. It was a smallholding. It is called a cottage and the people were known as cottagers who had built this themselves from poor building material.
Nant Wallter is divided into two rooms by means of a daubed wattle partition, one larger room is the main living area with a large fireplace, and the smaller one is the unheated bedroom. A crude loft above the bedroom may also have been used for sleeping by the children or for storage. The poor quality of furniture reflects the hardship that so many country dwellers faced before the agricultural improvements of the nineteenth century.
Seven acres of land were attached to the house in 1814 when it was occupied by Daniel Daniel and family. Outside there is a pigsty. This was commonly found near cottages for salted bacon which was the staple meat of most country families in those days. Later, a six acre field was added to the smallholding and a small cowshed was built onto the house. During the nineteenth century, the ground floor was re-designed with a small entrance hall giving access to a living room, pantry and bedroom.
The last person who lived here, worked on the road and was often drunk. He used to throw mugs inside to see if his wife was still awake. If the mug was thrown back, he had to sleep outside, if not he could sleep in the bed (personal correspondence with Gareth Thomas, 19.8.1997).
The cottages only survived one or two centuries. It is important to note that in the seventeenth century cottagers were half of the population of Wales. The cottage took two to three men about a year to complete.
This building has a parallel at Szentendre near Budapest which I visited two years ago. The architectures of the Carpathian Basin contain walls built of mud.
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