Gardd Fotaneg Genedlaethol CymruNational Botanic Garden of WalesNational Botanic Garden of Wales
Garden blogs

Tomb raiders?



At the beginning of January I had the opportunity to spot a tantalising variety of  earthworks across the historic parkland at the Garden. So last week I persuaded Helen, Bruce and Huw to come and check out some of the more intriguing of these features in the eastern part of the park. Situated not far from the earthworks, on the far north-eastern edge of the Garden, was another feature I also wanted to investigate. South of Pantwgan farm, marked on the 1847 Llanarthne Tithe Map, was a location described as “vault”. Although other people had mentioned to me that they had looked for the site, no-one had found any traces. Armed with copies of the aerial photos and historic maps we went exploring.

The legend of Edward Adams’ tomb

Described in his day as a “free thinker” Edward Adams, bought Middleton Hall following Sir William Paxton’s death in 1824. Contemporary accounts written by Thomas Cooke (Adams’ land agent) in letters to his mother, complained that the family never attended church and that a Sunday was like any other day. “They believe in a God as the maker and ruler of all things…but further believe there is no devil nor place of punishment for the wicked hereafter… Mr. Adams has been at war with the church clergy respecting tythes in the shape of a suit of Chancery for the last 20 years”.

Edward Adams died in 1842 and legend has it that it was a stone filled coffin that was  placed in the family tomb built in Llanarthne Churchyard, while his body wasactually placed in a vault that he had had built in Middleton Hall parkland.


Huw knew precisely where we needed to go and took us through a gate and into some woods.  On the edge of the woodland were a series of depressions that  looked as if the ground had been quarried. Amongst these was a hollow about 3m wide and several metres long full of vegetation and rubbish, including a dead sheep. Climbing down into it we could see, concealed by the rubbish, traces of stonework, mortar and plaster on one side of the hollow and then, as we explored, more chunks of masonry on the other. If this had been Edward Adams tomb someone must have had it demolished and removed most of what remained.

To the east an historic trackway joined up with the hollow, linking it with one of the main historic routes around the parkland, making access a lot easier then than it is now. Looking round we realised that the land adjacent to the hollow had also been terraced and there was a mature ornamental maple tree, all suggesting that surrounding the “vault” there had been some sort of garden.

All we need now is to get together a group of willing volunteers to help clear out all the rubbish so that we can clean up and record exactly what survives of the structure. Then we can perhaps work out whether Edward Adams did build himself a tomb in his park and whether he was actually laid to rest in it.

If you would like to volunteer with the Regency Restoration Project please get in contact. E-mail