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Cardiff
Naturalists' Society


Cymdeithas Naturiaethwr
Gaerdydd

 

 

John W. Rodger (1859-1950) 41st President


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We have a brief obituary for him in Volume

J. W. Rodger, M.S.A., 1859-1950.

By the death on the 5th April, 195o, of Mr. John W. Rodger, the Society has lost a former President and one-time strong supporter of its Archaeological Section. Mr. Rodger was born at Leeds, and raised himself from modest beginnings as a builder's clerk at Barrow-in-Furness to partner in the architectural firm of Halliday and Rodger at Cardiff. In this capacity much church restoration work came his way, including that carried out at Llantwit Major, and gave him an opportunity for archaeological research.

In 1902 Mr. Rodger became Hon. Secretary of the Archaeological Section and member of the Society's Council. About the same time his architectural knowledge and skill as a surveyor brought him an important role in the excavations conducted by John Ward on Roman and medieval sites near Cardiff. In this way he came to contribute to the Transaction. a memoir illustrated with his own drawings on the architecture of Castell Morgraig, Llanishen (1905) and to survey the Society's excavations at the Roman fort at Gellygaer (1899-1913). His work at the latter site was particularly important, since this was one of the first Roman auxiliary forts to be scientifically and completely excavated in any country.

Mr. Rodger's own research naturally lay in the medieval field, and the most important was devoted to the church and monastic buildings at Llantwit Major. His memoir on the former was published in the Transaction in 1906, while the report on his excavations on the monastic site appeared in the same periodical in 1914. He also made a useful excursion into comparative echeology with his 'Stone Cross Slabs of South Wales, published in the Transactions in 1912.

All this work culminated in the Presidency of the Society in 1914; the Presidential address death with 'Some Aspects of Archaeology.' Mr. Rodger retired from business in 1923, and spent the rest of his life at Newton, Porthcawl. He was a worthy example of the professional man, able, by his technical qualification, to render good service to local archaeology in more spacious days than the present. It is allegedly that this kind of amateur archaeologist should be almost extinct in South Wales today, when the need for him is all the greater because of the increasing destruction of unrecorded archaeological evidence in the path of modern developments.

We are indebted to Mr. Rodger's surviving son and to Mr. Gilbert Shepherd for help in preparing this notice,

H.N.S

Early references to him that I have found in local newspapers relate in the main to his work as an architect, not always just local work as shown in this clip from 1899

Success Of Cardiff Architects, Evening Express 31st May 1899

Success Of Cardiff Architects, Evening Express 31st May 1899

before long his partnerships with other members on archaeological excavations such as Gelligaer camp and this from Castell Morgraig were bearing fruit and gaining interest from the newspapers

Castell Morgraig. Interesting Papers On Its Structure And History, Weekly Mail 7th July 1906

Castell Morgraig. Interesting Papers On Its Structure And History, Weekly Mail 7th July 1906

And resulting in papers given to the society

Cardiff Archaeologists. Drawings Of Local Crosses Exhibited, Weekly Mail 21st November 1908

Cardiff Archaeologists. Drawings Of Local Crosses Exhibited, Weekly Mail 21st November 1908

prime amongst his works were the excavations at Gelligaer which had been ongoing since 1899 and were to go on to 1913 as noted above.

Excavations at Gelligaer Sept 1910 from the Society Archives

Excavations at Gelligaer Sept 1910 from the Society Archives

Plan of Gelligaer camp measured and drawn by J W Rodgers from the transactions

Plan of Gelligaer camp measured and drawn by J W Rodgers from the transactions

There is more information available on the current state of Castell Morgraig Here and Here



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