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First World War Heritage Event

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-05-28 13:07
On 14 May Royal Commission Community Archaeologists, in partnership with Borth Community Council, ran an initial event to kick-start a series of First World War commemoration events in Borth.

The community of Borth had been asked to bring along any information, photographs and memories they had relating to the First World War. For the event the Commission provided an exhibition of material that we had started collecting, together with information from our archives, including aerial photographs and the 1905 Ordnance Survey map, which highlighted how the town had changed.

For the exhibition, a community member had given us permission to use his information, compiled from the 1911 census, and we were also given permission to use information from the West Wales Memorial Project. This website has detailed information on each person commemorated on all the war memorials in West Wales; including the three in Borth.

Community members looking at old photographs of Borth.We had also been given material to scan by a community member in relation to Howard Lloyd Roberts. Howard Lloyd Roberts was born in Borth but went to work in London as a journalist; he later returned to Borth and volunteered for military service. He produced many sketches and caricatures at this time, which were published and were enjoyed by his comrades.

Trench Cartoon by Howard Lloyd Roberts.The community archaeologists were also on hand to scan and photograph new material and record any new information.

Community Archaeologist scanning material.One community member brought in a large amount of material relating to Arthur Footitt who is commemorated on the Borth War Memorial.

Arthur Footitt.First World War medal belonging to Arthur Footitt.This marked the start of a series of First World War commemoration events in Borth. The next event will be on August 4th in Borth community hall. There will be an exhibition of all the material collected, with afternoon tea and music.


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The Royal Commission returns to Hay Castle for Hay Festival 2014

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-05-28 09:20
Hay Castle, with the thirteenth-century castle (left) and adjoining seventeenth-century mansion (right)Hay Castle (NPRN: 25593) sits at the heart of Hay-on-Wye, home to the annual Hay Literary Festival. The 10-day festival, now in its 27th year, attracts writers, artists and performers from all over the world. This year it runs from 22 May─1 June.

In 2011, Hay Castle, a Grade I listed building, passed into the ownership of a registered charity, the Hay Castle Trust. The Trust, working with Cadw and the Brecon Beacons National Park, aims to ensure the permanent preservation of the site. The community-based project involves a process of rediscovery, conservation and restoration, with the aim of regenerating the castle into a centre for culture, arts,crafts and education. The Hay Castle Trust will be running tours of the castle throughout this year’s festival. Royal Commission Senior Investigator, Richard Suggett, will be leading tours (now fully booked) on Friday 23 May and Saturday 31 May.

Situated on the Welsh/English border, Hay Castle is unusual in that it has been continuously occupied for the last 800 years. Constructed in the twelfth century and occupied into the twentieth century, the castle is considered to be potentially the most important multi-period site on the Welsh side of the border. The medieval castle survives, with its thirteenth-century gateway and early timber gates still intact. The timber gates, with their original cross-bracing, are one of only three to four surviving examples in Britain.

Hay Castle’s thirteenth-century gateway with early timber gates
 Castle House, a seventeenth-century Jacobean mansion, was built alongside the castle’s keep. Recent tree-ring dating by the Royal Commission has established the exact date of the three-storey house as 1636. Despite two twentieth-century fires, its basic structure has remained intact.

Castle House and the castle’s four-storey keep
As the process of rediscovery continues, it is becoming apparent that the castle contains many highly significant and possibly unique architectural components. The walls are to be consolidated, with the aim being to repair rather than to replace. It is heartening to see the castle’s important historical features cared for in this way, with the building and grounds well on the way to becoming a focal point for the local community once again.

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Uplands Dayschool 2014 at Sennybridge Training Area, Powys

Heritage of Wales News - Tue, 2014-05-20 10:12
This year’s Royal Commission Uplands Archaeology Forum and Dayschool, on the theme of Upland Military Landscapes in Wales, was held at Sennybridge Training Area in Powys, in collaboration with the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). The requisitioning of the upland landscape of Mynydd Epynt, or the Sennybridge Training Area, and its military stewardship since the second world war, unwittingly preserved a massive block of upland Wales against the effects of post-war and recent farming methods and upland improvement, making the range a haven for preserved landscape archaeology. For this reason it was fitting to hold our 2014 dayschool and fieldtrip in this remarkable upland landscape.
 
Delegates outside the Epynt Visitor Centre with Major Eddie Mahoney, Commandant of Sennybridge Training Area.The event was held over two days. On Friday 9th May we held our dayschool of talks at the Red Kite Centre in Sennybridge Camp. The day was opened by Colonel Richard Howard-Gash, Commander Wales and West, and Major (retired) Eddie Mahoney, Commandant of Sennybridge Camp, who briefed 50 assembled delegates on the requirements of the training estate. The programme began with a talk by Richard Osgood, the Senior Archaeologist for the DIO, about archaeological priorities for the UK training estate. This was followed by papers from the past year’s archaeological walkover surveys funded by the Royal Commission’s Uplands Archaeology Initiative. Over lunch delegates had a rare opportunity to view preserved Prisoner of War (PoW) alpine scenes painted on the Cookhouse walls in the mid 1940s.
Delegates admiring in-situ Prisoner of War alpine murals on the walls of the Cookhouse at Sennybridge Camp.The afternoon saw a splendid range of talks on the theme of Upland Military Landscapes in Wales with papers by Dr Bob Silvester and Jeff Spencer (CPAT), Jon Berry (Cadw), archaeologist Dr Stephen Briggs, military historian Mark Kahn, and Dr Bob Johnston from the University of Sheffield. On the following day, two minibuses of delegates braved the sunshine and showers on Mynydd Epynt to see how the military stewardship of this block of upland moorland has preserved prehistoric, medieval and twentieth-century sites.

Experiencing typical Epynt weather on the Saturday field trip at Hirllwyn enclosure, a scheduled ancient monument protected from military activity by a ‘no digging’ star.By kind permission of the Commandant, we were able to visit famous sites of the Epynt, like the enigmatic defended enclosure at Clawdd British, together with relatively recent discoveries of national importance like Pant y Blodau medieval deserted settlement, and twentieth-century military monuments including drainage culverts built by German and Italian Prisoner of War. A highlight of the trip was a visit to the restricted German training village or FIBUA (Fighting in Built Up Areas), an urban training facility, guided by Mark Kahn.

Visiting the restricted FIBUA village (Fighting in Built Up Areas), a purpose-built training facility for urban combat, modelled on a German village.

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Categories: Resources

From 2014 to 1525 – could you live in The Court?

Heritage of Wales News - Mon, 2014-05-19 13:05

This time last year production company Boom Pictures Cymru were looking for a group of people to take up the challenge of living in a Welsh Manor House (Y Plas) for three weeks in conditions as they would have been in 1910. Their time in Y Plas was documented and broadcast on S4C's living history series Y Plas last September.

The series returns in 2014 but the challenge has changed. This year, the production company are looking for people who are ready to take up the challenge of living in The Court – Y Llys.
The successful families and individuals will leave the comfort of their everyday lives and step back in time to the year 1525 to live in a Tudor court in Tretŵr court, near Crickhowell in southern Powys.

This is the time of Henry VIII, the time when noblemen led decadent lives feasting, being entertained by poets and singers, hunting and jousting. In the Tudor Age it was common for the noblemen and their servants to live and eat together, and don't forget this was before cutlery was invented!

Living in Y Llys will mean dressing, working, eating and spending leisure time exactly as the Tudors would have done in 1525, with cameras following every step of the way for the S4C living history series Y Llys, which will be broadcast on the Channel this autumn.

The production company are looking for 20 people to take part, and they will live in the court for three weeks during the autumn period this year.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 1 June. For more information and to apply contact Boom Pictures Cymru on yllys@yllys.co.uk / 02920 671545



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Wales Festival of Architecture: The Creative Space, 15 May - 17 May

Heritage of Wales News - Mon, 2014-05-19 12:30


Pant-yr-ynn slate mill, NPRN: 28260. This is one of hundreds of drawings by Falcon Hildred deposited in the National Monuments Record and now available on CofleinLater this week, the Royal Commission will be contributing to this year’s Wales Festival of Architecture, a joint venture between the Royal Society of Architects in Wales and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. A Royal Commission exhibition on the artwork of the highly accomplished, industrial-landscape artist, Falcon Hildred, will run until 28 May 2014: Worktown: The drawings of Falcon Hildred. In addition, architectural historian Richard Suggett will be leading a tour of the award-winning Arts Centre and its surroundings at 2pm, Saturday 17 May. To coincide with the 100th anniversary of Dylan Thomas’s birth, there will be a general theme of The Creative Space at this year’s festival, with emphasis on exploring the process of creativity. Other highlights include the festival launch: An Evening of Ideas; Spring School Inspiration Hour: Making History at St Fagans, and The Afternoon Play: Under Plywood, an irreverent review of the regeneration of our “ugly lovely towns”, presented by the Welsh Architects Theatre Studio.

Visitors to the festival will also be offered the opportunity to spend some creative time in a replica of Dylan Thomas’s iconic writing shed as it makes a special visit to the festival on its tour of the UK. Inside the shed, in honour of Dylan’s love of words, there will be the chance to invent your own perfect word and see it published in a Dictionary for Dylan.

For further details, please contact Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

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Categories: Resources

National Monuments Record of Wales Archives and Library Bulletin - April 2014

Heritage of Wales News - Fri, 2014-05-09 12:15
Welcome to the latest edition of the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW) Archives and Library Bulletin http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/HI/ENG/Our+Services/Donate+Records/Recent+Acquisitions/. The archival items, library books and journal articles are all available to view in our public reading room. The archival material is also available to view on Coflein www.coflein.gov.uk

We are open to the public at the following times:
Monday – Friday 09.30 – 16.00, Wednesday 10.30 – 16.30.
An appointment is advisable.

If you have any comments or enquiries, please feel free to contact us:

NMRW Library and Enquiry Service
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
Crown Building, Plas Crug
Aberystwyth
Ceredigion, SY23 1NJ

Telephone:  +44 (0)1970 621200
Fax: +44 (0)1970 627701
E-mail: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk
Website: www.rcahmw.gov.uk
Blog: www.heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.co.uk

By Lynne Moore


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Exploring Fan Llia to Fan Dringarth with the Big Welsh Walk 2014!

Heritage of Wales News - Thu, 2014-05-08 11:13
Throughout May, Ramblers Cymru is holding its annual event, the Big Welsh Walk. The event aims to encourage people to get out and about walking, with a programme of group-walks around Wales. Last Saturday (3 May) the Royal Commission provided the historical expertise for an 8.5-mile walk on the Brecon uplands planned by Cadw. 25 walkers and 4 Royal Commission staff members assembled near a Roman camp on the slopes of Fan Llia, some 400m above sea level. We were led on the walk by David Leighton, the Royal Commission’s Uplands Project coordinator. This long-running project aims to survey and record archaeology on all moorland over 244m above sea level. Although some 2380 square km have been surveyed to date, this area has yet to be covered. The 8.5-mile circular walk revealed the extent and variety of archaeology existing in upland areas such as this, from prehistoric cairns through to nineteenth-century sheep folds!

The walk proceeded along the western side of Fan Llia, where we saw a group of circular and oval platforms representing the remains of a prehistoric settlement which could date to as early as 2000 BC. This is an exciting site, as there are few examples of platform groups such as this in Wales: they are better-known in the north of Britain where the majority of those excavated are Bronze Age in date.

A short distance to the north-east lie the remains of a Bronze Age burial cairn. Its centre has been robbed out and a slab on the edge of the mound is thought to have been the capstone.

David Leighton explains how the burial chamber would have looked, with upright stones defining a stone-lined burial pit and supporting a larger capstone.We continued north, crossing the Afon Llia at Rhyd Uchaf, a ford over the Sarn Helen, an old Roman (and post-medieval turnpike) road. We then headed towards Maen Llia (NPRN 84541), one of the largest standing stones in Wales.
 
Walkers fording the Afon LLia on line of the Roman road.Although Maen Llia reputedly bears traces of a Latin/Ogham inscription, its precise geometric relationship with nearby bronze-age monuments suggests that it is prehistoric in origin. We paused exactly 320m south-east of Maen Llia at the remains of a Bronze Age burial cairn (NPRN 84539). David Leighton explained that the cairn forms the apex of an isosceles triangle whose other two corners are formed by Maen Llia and a multi-banked Bronze Age ring barrow (NPRN 84544). Distances between the three sites have been measured by the Royal Commission and the cairn was found to be equidistant from the other two sites. Intriguingly, a platform (possibly for a structure of some kind) sitting inside this triangle of sites is equidistant from the ring barrow and Maen Llia.
 
Platform lying precisely equidistant from ring barrow and Maen Llia.More recently, a possible recumbent standing stone (NPRN 409642) has been identified projecting from a field-bank at the current roadside to the south-west of Maen Llia. GPS readings indicate that the stone is also at the mid-point between the ring barrow and Maen Llia.

Walker standing on possible recumbent standing stone, positioned at an equal distance between Maen Llia and the Bronze Age ring barrow.Maen Llia, measuring 3.61m high and 2.75m wide, is located at the head of a pass between Fan Llia and Fan Nedd. According to legend, at Midsummer’s eve the stone walks to the river to drink. This story could refer to the stone’s shadow, whose evening shadow reaches towards the nearby river and is, according to local people, the shape of a forked tongue.

Maen LLia, one of the largest standing stones in Wales.Lunch was eaten overlooking the Llia Valley and much fun was had flying kites kindly supplied by Ramblers Cymru!

Looking south down the Llia Valley.After negotiating the 500m+ upper slopes of Fan Dringarth, we made our way down to the eastern slopes of Fan Llia and followed the line of the Nant y Gaseg stream towards Ystradfellte Reservoir. There are numerous abandoned post medieval dry-stone sheep folds and other tumbled stock enclosures in the vicinity of the reservoir.

One of many abandoned folds known to have been used from the medieval period up until at least the nineteenth century, possibly built on an earlier structure.The reservoir, constructed in 1907-14 to provide water for Neath, has the remains of a number of probable later medieval or post medieval building platforms close to its northern and western shores. Some are thought to represent seasonal dwellings, occupied in summer when cattle grazed the upland pastures.

The Royal Commission’s David Leighton and Richard Suggett (Buildings Investigator) discuss the interior layout of a probable longhouse on the reservoir’s northern shore.Given the close proximity of the reservoir, it is likely that further remains lie under the water itself.

Remains of medieval or later longhouse bisected by the western shore of the Ystradfellte Reservoir.
From the reservoir it was a short walk back to our start-point. We all agreed that the walk was invigorating, informative and fun!

Ramblers Cymru’s annual Big Welsh Walk continues throughout May. See their website at http://www.ramblers.org.uk/wales/what-we-do/events-index/2014/may/big-welsh-walk.aspx for details.

A list of heritage walks planned by Cadw can be found on the events page of Cadw’s website at http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/events/?lang=en

 By Nikki Vousden.


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Categories: Resources

Book Sale - Morlan Centre, Aberystwyth

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-05-07 17:38


Book Sale
Cymdeithas Bob Owen
Morlan Centre, Aberystwyth
Saturday 10 May 2014
10am to 4pm

Saturday 10 May will be the final opportunity to purchase a wide range of books, journals, off-prints and guidebooks relating to archaeology, architecture and the built heritage from the Royal Commission’s surplus library stock. There will also be a selection of O.S. 6-inch maps of various editions, and a small collection of 1:10,000 and Landranger maps.

Doors open from 10am–4pm.Everyone welcome!


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Categories: Resources

First World War Centenary Commemoration

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-04-30 15:38
The Welsh National War Memorial was erected in Cathays Park in 1928. This image is one of many photographs of war memorials now available on Coflein.Between 2014 and 2018 the Royal Commission will take part in the centenary commemoration of the First World War. The conflict, beginning in 1914 and ending in 1918, as well as its immediate aftermath, helped shape the Wales of today. One hundred years on, organisations across the nation are working to: promote understanding of the conflict and the devastation it wrought, explore its impacts, and discover its legacy for modern Wales.

Over the next four years, the Commission will contribute to the national commemoration of the First World War in Wales by:
  • Surveying and recording a selected number of sites with connections to the First World War and its legacy, including aerial reconnaissance work of sites such as the practice trenches at Penally, Pembrokeshire, and other training areas.
  • Enhancing information in the National Monuments Record of Wales related to the First World War.
  • Continuing to enrich our knowledge of shipwrecks and U-boat wrecks located off the Welsh coastline, and other maritime losses caused by the conflict.
  • Providing exhibitions that highlight the history, impact and legacy of the First World War in Wales.
  • Working with People’s Collection Wales to enhance content relating to the First World War. 
  • Working in partnership with Cadw, English Heritage, Historic Scotland and the Council for British Archaeology on the Home Front Legacy 1914-18 project. This unique, UK-wide community project records physical remains of sites and buildings associated with the First World War, ensuring their history, heritage and stories are recorded for future generations (www.homefrontlegacy.org.uk).
  • Taking opportunities to work in partnership with other organisations to commemorate the events of the First World War, and to explore its impact and legacy for the people of Wales.

You can follow our work on the First World War by subscribing to our blog, www.heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.co.uk, and by following us on Twitter at @RCAHMWales, and #walesremembers.


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Categories: Resources

Upland Archaeology and Military Landscapes in Wales

Heritage of Wales News - Tue, 2014-04-29 15:12
A dayschool organised by the Royal Commission in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust.
9 May 2014. Sennybridge Training Area,
Brecon, Powys.There will be an opportunity, over lunch, for delegates to view surviving Prisoner of War paintings on the Sennybridge Camp Cookhouse wall, painted by prisoners of war from Italy and Germany in 1945-6.  This view shows Heidlberg Castle in southern Germany (DS2011_331_003).
This year’s Uplands Archaeology Forum will be held on Friday 9 May 2014 at the Red Kite Centre, Sennybridge Training Area (SENTA) in Powys. This will be an open event, held in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust. The morning will see reports from upland surveys around Wales while the afternoon will be dedicated to papers about the archaeology of upland military landscapes in Wales. Registration is £20 to include sit-down lunch, refreshments and admission.
This will be a rare opportunity to attend an event at the training area and for delegates to hear more about the archaeology of Mynydd Epynt and other archaeological landscapes in Wales, and to visit sites around the range in the company of archaeologists and military personnel. As places will be limited early booking is advisable. 

Further details and booking arrangements can be found on the Royal Commission’s website. For further information please contact David Leighton on david.leighton@rcahmw.gov.uk or telephone 01970 621204

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Nissen Hut: “one of the great design classics of the twentieth century”

Heritage of Wales News - Thu, 2014-04-24 16:30
Two Nissen Huts at RNAD Trecwn, Pembrokeshire, NPRN 96059
One of the world’s most recognisable military structures is the humble half-cylindrical Nissen Hut. The simple design was developed by Canadian-American Captain Peter Norman Nissen, of 29th Company, Royal Engineers in 1916.

First used later that year at Hesdin, France, the light, economic and reusable huts were manufactured in three widths – 16ft; 24ft; and 30ft, the internal bays were set at 6ft, so any length of hut could be used, as necessary. The whole standard unit could be carried by a single 3-tonne army lorry. The load comprised the corrugated-iron outer skin; wooden inner linings; the semi-circular metal frames; a wooden door; and oiled cloth windows. A well-rehearsed team of six men could assemble a hut on a prepared concrete base in four hours. One hut was completed in a record time of 1 hour 27 minutes. It is estimated that over 100,000 units were produced during WWI.

The Nissen Huts fulfilled the requirement for temporary structures to accommodate the large numbers of newly conscripted troops for the army. The versatile design meant functions could also include kitchens, mess rooms, stores, dressing stations, churches etc.

Drawing: From Medwyn Parry Collection.
Nissen had filed the patent for his design in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the US. But he declined any royalties for the duration of WWI, and the manufacturing company did the same again during WWII.

Captain Nissen was not the only one to be developing temporary hutting during the First World War. Other solutions included Armstrong Huts, Aylwin Huts, Forest Huts, Tarrant's Portable Huts, and Weblee Huts, each named after officers in the Royal Engineers. During the Second World War there were similar designs such as Abbey Huts, Iris Huts, Romney Huts, and Tufton Huts. However, none of these was as ubiquitous as one of the great design classics of the twentieth century, the eponymous Nissen Hut. The simple concept has continued to be used for almost a century without alteration to its basic shape.

By Medwyn Parry.


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The Atlanterra Project I: the Development of Interpretative Animation & International Slate Studies

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-04-23 09:25
The development and international diffusion of innovatory survey and presentation techniques was one of the objectives of the four year Atlanterra: Green Mines Project which was brought to a conclusion in the early months of 2014.  The Project Partners also laid the foundations for international studies of the building-stone and slate industries.

The first four months of 2014 saw the culmination of a four year project that examined the valorisation of the mining heritage and laid the foundations for World Heritage Studies of the Building-stone and slate industries. It examined the mining heritage from both a geological and archaeological/historical viewpoint and explored how to showcase this heritage using the application of new digital technologies. As a result The Royal Commission recently won the first Peter Neaverson Award for Digital Innovation given by the British Association for Industrial Archaeology for its animation of world’s largest early/mid 19th century copper works - Hafod Copperworks in Swansea, south Wales, U.K. which can be viewed online at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y8DAXaMihc. Other industrial archaeological interpretative animation films can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/RCAHMWales .

The two surviving engine sheds and rolling machinery at the Hafod Copper Works site. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW

Utilising a wealth of survey carried out by the RCAHMW and their in-house expertise in industrial archaeology, combined with historic images from the West Glamorgan Record Office and Swansea Museum, the animation recreates the detail of buildings, machinery and processes on the site as well as a sense of the highly industrial nature of the Lower Swansea Valley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The establishment of authenticity by analytical survey must underpin both the conservation and presentation of internationally important industrial archaeology sites as discussed in Stephen Hughes, 2011 ‘Authenticity and Conservation in World Heritage’ in ICOMOS  China, Wuxi Forum on the Conservation of China’s Cultural Heritage, Conservation of Heritage Canals: Material for Academic Exchanges (ICOMOS China, Wuxi, 2011), 9-13.
Stills from the animation. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
The Atlanterra: Green Mines II European Inter-regional Project was formed in February 2010 by a group of geological, archaeological, tourism and regeneration organisations from France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Wales led by the municipality of Noyant-la-Gravoyère. An understanding of historic mining fields can only be achieved by a determination of their geological structure considered together with their archaeological remains. Cosequently the project partners have included the Instituto Geologico y Minero de España (IGME), the Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia of Portugal (LNEG) and the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) has led on the archaeological objectives that included the demonstration and diffusion of digital and laser-scanning techniques.

Some 19 project blogs, describing the survey work undertaken, some based on the former centre of the world slate industry in the mountains of north Wales were posted here at http://heritageofwalesnews.blogspot.com/  including  ‘2011/10/atlanterra-project-business-meeting.html’ , ‘2010/10/survey-at-maenofferen-slate-quarry.html’ and ‘2010/8/periant-arbrofol-codi-cwch-camlas.html’ [i.e. looking for an 18th century canal boat lift]. The slate industry was identified as being of international importance in S. R. Hughes, D. Gwyn & J. Alfrey,  2010, ‘Wales in the Industrial and Modern Period (Post 1750), Review of the Research Framework for the Archaeology of Wales, 7pp.’ at http://www.archaeoleg.org.uk/pdf/reviewdocs/industrialreview.pdf.

Laser-scanning of a significant site such as that carried-out in the Vivian Slate Quarry, part of one of the world’s biggest nineteenth-century mountain terraced slate quarries of Dinorwig, Llanberis, north Wales can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH1Gf1LY2Ms. These laser-scans of large industrial landscapes can simply be used to produce on-line ‘fly-throughs’ and seem to have an almost magical other-worldly feel that draws new audiences to go and explore these sites for themselves. The Royal Commission also commissioned an equally attractive scan of an underground mine-pumping waterwheel in a lead mine in mid Wales which can be viewed online at http://welshminestrust.org/ystrad-einion.

This work helped inspire our Atlanterra project partners to produce their own ‘fly-through’ films.  One has just been produced by the Copper Coast Geopark in County Waterford in Ireland of the conserved copper mine engine-houses on the cliff at Tankardstown and can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcqZfnXcJjk. Another has a fly-through of the remaining dry underground tunnels and mineral formations in the mine. This includes a 3D digital representation of all the levels, shafts and tunnels ever worked in the mine constructed from the historical mine plans archive held by the Geological Survey of Ireland. This can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1w1sBfbN1s. The tours also encourage cultural tourism from the Copper Coast Geopark Centre (http://www.coppercoastgeopark.com) where they can be viewed on-site.

The digital and laser surveys have helped produce high quality results upon which animators can build 3D models conveying reliable information to cultural tourists. The Royal Commission’s initial animation of the building of the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in north Wales available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqeCu6jd9W0, produced in 2009, lacked a sound track. The Hafod Copper Works animation has soundtracks in the English and Welsh languages http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2jH8D_0iV0 and as well as being available on youtube these animations are shown at the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Visitor Centre, the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea and by the Swansea Riverboat Trust. The Hafod Animation also has character animations of copper-workers.

The Geological Survey of Ireland subsequently produced a visualisation of the copper-ore dressing-floors at Knockmahon and the Laboratorio Nacional de Energia e Geologia of Portugal has produced an animation of historical conical-shaped copper-roasting structures in use as part of the Teleiras mining process at Aljustrel.

The design and distribution of workers’ housing and settlements were also compared as part of the Atlanterra Project (online database of workers housing in Wales is available as part of ‘Coflein’ at www.coflein.gov.uk). In Wales animations of the key 1790s ironworkers ‘Bunkers Row’ Houses & institutional buildings at Blaenavon World Heritage Site (south Wales) was produced and can be viewed online in English at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZUg94GMp3s and in the Welsh-language at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIV21l-Mw1Q. Both films are now shown on-site at the World Heritage Centre in Blaenavon. The animations show clearly how urban ideas of designing ‘back-to-back’ houses from the English west Midlands were imported to rural south Wales with the influx of both capital and key workers to the region. They also show how the iron workers built their own protestant Welsh-language chapels in the Italianate style to distinguish them from the gothic English-language Anglican churches provided by the ironmasters. The international background to this has been discussed in S. R. Hughes, 2010, ‘Attitudes to Religion, Education, and Status in Worker Settlements: The Architectural and Archaeological Evidence from Wales’, in M. C. Beaudry & J. Symonds (Ed.), Interpreting the Early Modern World: Transatlantic Perspectives (Springer, New York, in series C.E. Orser (Ed.) Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology, 2010), 197-225.  The international context has been expanded upon in Stephen Hughes, 2011 ‘The Architecture of Nonconformist Christian Religion and National Identity’ in P. Bellamy & Guarin Montpetit (Ed.), Religion: Beliefs, Theories and Societal Effects, (Nova Science Publishers, New York, 2011), 1-33 (2011).

International exchanges and visits to key slate-quarrying and mining sites were held during two international conferences held as part of the Atlanterra Project in 2012: at Plas Tan-y-Bwlch in north Wales (in conjunction with ICOMOS-UK) and at Nantes in France. Papers from the latter conference are available in Atlanterra, ‘Valorisation du Patrimoine Minier’ Actes du Colloque18 et 19 Septembre 2012, Nantes (Noyant-la-Gravoyère, 2013).

Animations of two of the major slate-quarrying and mining sites at Maenofferen Blaenau Ffestiniog and Vivian’s Quarry at the Dinorwig slate-quarrying complex have been produced as part of the Atlanterra Project and will be available at http://www.youtube.com/user/RCAHMWales. An animation of the railway inclined-planes at the Vivian’s Slate Quarry is already available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUUAfQOnDnk.

During discussions with partner organisations it was decided that previous animations of sites such as the Hafod Copper Works lacked photographs showing the present state of the works. The latest slate animations address this deficiency by including both terrestrial and aerial photographs of the sites and landscapes. They also use an alternative narrative methodology by using sub-titles rather than spoken narratives.

In 2012 the Atlanterra project also sponsored the Royal Commission’s annual international conference on digital innovation Digital Past (details at www.rcahmw.gov.uk). Part of the output of that conference was the Atlanterra sponsored booklet Rhannu Ein Gorffennol Digidol: Sharing Our Digital Past (RCAHMW, Aberystwyth, 2012) to give guidance on current digital innovations and their use. Much of this is available online at: http://www.slideshare.net/trompet/sharing-our-digital-past-digital-innovation-at-the-royal-commission-1-of-2. One very useful survey tool is aerial laser-scanning (also used by GSI in a Maritime context to detect wrecks as well as undersea deposits) which is explained at: http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/HI/ENG/Publications/Digital+Reports/Processing+and+Working+with+LiDAR+Data+in+ArcGIS%3A+A+Practical+Guide+for+Archaeologists.

By Stephen Hughes.
Projects Director, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales & TICCIH Secretary

Further Reading:
  • The Atlanterra Project II: Slate Studies
    23 Apr 2014
    The Atlanterra project has also led to cultural tourism and heritage maps and guides of a number of mining fields including the Mapa de Patrimonia Minero de Galicia, (IGME, Madrid, 2013) and the Slate quarrying & mining sites ...


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Categories: Resources

The Atlanterra Project II: Slate Studies

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-04-23 09:16
The Atlanterra project has also led to cultural tourism and heritage maps and guides of a number of mining fields including the Mapa de Patrimonia Minero de Galicia, (IGME, Madrid, 2013) and the Slate quarrying & mining sites of the French/Breton border in ‘Sur le Chemin des Ardoisières’ (Marie de Noyant-la-Gravoyère, 2013). Mapping and publication of mining on the iron pyrites belt of Portugal is also being published as part of the project. Mapping of the Swansea Valley coalmining field and its eighteenth and early nineteenth-century railways in south Wales has also led to a re-analysis of the origins of the public railway published in S. R. Hughes, 2010, ‘The Emergence of the public railway in Wales’, in G. Boyes (Ed.), Early Railways 4: Papers from the Fourth International Early Railways Conference (Six Martlets, Sudbury, 2010), 107-124. The international diffusion of narrow-gauge railway practice from Wales to Sardinia is discussed in Hughes, Stephen, 2011. ‘Piercy, Benjamin (1827-88), railway builder. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, Oxford University Press [http://www.oxforddnb.com].

The geological analysis of building-stones in the area studied as part of the Atlanterra project has included an analysis of part of the World Heritage Pilgrimage route to Santiago Compostella in a volume by Martinez, R.J. & Diaz Martinez, E. on Las piedras del Camino de Santiago en Galicia, (Instituto Geolόgico y Minero de España, Madrid, 2013); available at http://igmepublicaciones.blogspot.com.es/p/coleccion-guias-geologicas.html#!/p/coleccion-guias-geologicas.html.

A major aim of the Atlanterra project has been the heritage contribution to the valorisation and regeneration of old mining fields. Part of the explanation of this process has been published as Stephen Hughes, 2011 ‘The Comparative Regeneration of the Blaenavon and Pontcysyllte World Heritage Areas’, in Industrie Archäologie 10 (2011) (Industrial Heritage –Ecology & Economy: XIV. International TICCIH Congress 2009 in Freiberg, Germany – Selected Papers), 55-9.

The Atlanterra Project has also contributed to the process whereby TICCIH has agreed with ICOMOS to restart the series of World Heritage Studies. The background to this has already been explained in Stephen Hughes 2012, ‘Thematic World Heritage Studies’ in James Douet (Ed.), Industrial Heritage Re-tooled: The TICCIH guide to Industrial Heritage Conservation (TICCIH, Michigan, USA & Carnegie, Lancaster), 2012, 174-181.

The Atlanterra Project has provided the funding for the process of the compilation of initial studies of the slate and building-stone industries to be started. An initial summary of some of this comparative work has been published by Dr. David Gwyn in Anjou and Gwynedd: Slate Landscapes (Snowdonia National Park, Plas Tan y Bwlch, 2013). Much more and analytical detail of the north Wales Slate Industry will shortly be published in Gwyn, D., Welsh Slate: Archaeology & History of an Industry (RCAHMW, Aberystwyth, 2014).

The Atlanterra partnership has included representatives of areas that had some of the biggest international slate-producing industries. The largest industry developed in the Loire Valley in France in the medieval and post-medieval period and then was overtaken in scale by the nineteenth-century Welsh industry. In the twentieth-century the Spanish slate industry has become the largest in Europe.  Discussion and field visits have allowed draft documents to be produced as a foundation for future World Heritage Studies of slate and building-stone to be produced in consultation with a wider range of TICCIH members.

The methodology of producing animations for industrial archaeological interpretation continues and the annual Digital Past Conferences are one vehicle for carrying this discussion forward (check www.rcahmw.gov.uk for future conferences). Some further work has been carried-out as part of the Metal Links Irish-Welsh partnership led by the Royal Commission in Wales and this will be reported on in a future Bulletin.

Stephen Hughes.
Projects Director, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales & TICCIH Secretary

Further Reading:



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Categories: Resources

Britain From Above at Cardigan Library

Heritage of Wales News - Thu, 2014-04-17 08:59

On Monday 31 March, Britain From Above’s Activity Officer and Community Archaeologists from the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments Wales were in Cardigan Library as part of the nationwide Spring Online campaign, helping senior members of the community explore and use the internet. Over thirty people including residents from the local community and further afield came along to hear about the Britain from Above project for the first time. They were astonished by the range of the collection and the quality of the images.

The website is a fantastic online resource showcasing a previously unseen collection of aerial photographs of Wales, Scotland and England from the pioneering age of aviation. The collection covers the years 1919-1953, a period when the landscape of Britain was undergoing drastic change.

After hearing about the project and seeing the remarkable collection, they were all keen to log in and get started! Once registered, people were eager to start looking for places they knew well. There was an engaging mix of interests drawing people to the event, some came along who had a strong fascination with local history and were enthusiastic to find out how to use the site for their own research whilst other people enjoyed looking for places they knew when they were growing up.


It was a successful day with attendees happily sharing their stories of Cardigan from both their research and personal memories. Everyone who joined us left knowing more about the Britain from Above project and the ways it could be explored and used as a free research resource.

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Categories: Resources

First Modern Excavation on Skomer Seeks to Explore and Date Island’s Prehistoric Settlements

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-04-09 14:42
The Skomer Island Project team (L-R), Dr Oliver Davis (Cardiff University), Louise Barker (RCAHMW), Dr Bob Johnston (University of Sheffield), Dr Toby Driver (RCAHMW) 
A collaborative research project between staff of the Royal Commission, The University of Sheffield and Cardiff University has just completed a third season of fieldwork and research on the renowned prehistoric landscape and national nature reserve of Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire, west Wales. This included the historic, first modern excavation in the island’s history, exploring a mound of burnt stone alongside a prehistoric settlement, which produced flintwork, datable charcoal and the first fragments of prehistoric pottery from the island.

Skomer is a heavily protected landscape famous for its puffins and other breeding seabirds, but it is also home to some of the best preserved prehistoric field systems and hut settlements anywhere in Britain. In 2011 the Royal Commission used airborne laser scanning (LiDAR) to map comprehensively the island’s field systems. This work discovered evidence for a longer chronology to the fields than had previously been thought. The Skomer Island Project built on this work in 2012 with the first use of geophysics on the island, which showed that unrecorded prehistoric fields and settlements survive beneath the modern fields in the centre of the island.

Despite two major studies of the island’s archaeology in the twentieth century, no modern excavation had been attempted. In order to refine a chronology, the team set out in 2014 to undertake the first modern excavation to locate buried charcoal and other evidence suitable for radiocarbon dating and scientific analysis. It was decided to target one of the many substantial mounds of burnt stone in the north of the island, which are found alongside the prehistoric hut groups, thought to have built up from cooking activities. Although few finds were encountered in the mound itself, a sealed soil layer was uncovered a metre down, which yielded charcoal, flint tools and fragments of prehistoric pottery. Excavations were recorded using Structure from Motion, a technique which builds individual photographs into a 3D digital model of the land surface. The hard work of post-excavation now begins to analyse the discoveries and learn more about prehistoric life on Skomer.



Accurately recording prehistoric finds and charcoal samples in three dimensions using GPS.
The Skomer Island Project team would like to thank the Skomer Island Wardens, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and Natural Resources Wales for accommodating the archaeological work and granting permission to work in a Site of Special Scientific Interest. They are also grateful to Cadw for Scheduled Monument Consent, which allowed the work to proceed. The Royal Commission’s online records for the work can be found here.

By Toby Driver

 Further Reading:



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Categories: Resources

Archaeology and the Sea: Aberystwyth hosts CBA Wales Spring Meeting

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-04-09 09:13
On Saturday 5th April CBA (Council for British Archaeology): Wales held its Spring Meeting at Y Morlan Centre, Aberystwyth. The theme was Archaeology and the Sea: Coastal Archaeology in Wales. The Royal Commission provided exhibition material, including a display on Aberystwyth’s storm-damaged Bathrock Shelter and aerial photographs of the coastal davastation caused by the recent storms of 2014.

CBA-sponsered Community Archaeologists, Kimberly Briscoe and Sarahjayne Clements, were on hand to discuss their current community project, The Coastal Heritage of Borth and Ynyslas. Both are completing CBA-sponsered work placements with the Royal Commission. The project has proved hugely popular, with an ever-increasing number of Borth and Ynyslas residents (past and present) eager to participate and to contribute memories, photographs and documents. Material generated will be added to the National Monuments Record (NMR) and uploaded to People’s Collection Wales, creating a permanent digital record. The project’s facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Coastal-Heritage-of-Borth-and-Ynyslas/277783665703802


The Royal Commission’s CBA work placements, Kimberley and Sarahjayne, discuss the coastal heritage of Borth and Ynyslas
During the afternoon’s symposium, Mike Roberts (Bangor University) detailed current research on the history of north Wales’ sea level change, including the fascinating results of a multibeam sonar survey of the entire Anglesey coast. A causeway linking Anglesey to the mainland is now thought to have been submerged for the first time at around  8,400BP. Stephen Briggs (independent researcher) then gave an informative talk about the remains of ancient landscapes beneath the beach at Llanrhystud. Various recently exposed features include post-glacial peat deposits and parts of a cobbled track thought to be associated with nearby post-medieval limekilns. Paul Huckfield (Gwent-Glamorgan Archaeological Trust) reviewed recent discoveries on the south Wales coast revealed by the 2014 storms. They  include a cemetery at Monknash, two canon at Porthcawl and a number of ship wrecks, discovered as a result of the Welsh Archaeological Trusts’ Arfordir scheme. The pan-Wales scheme brings together local volunteers to record and moniter their coastal heritage and incorporate the results into the regional Historic Environment Records. One of the shipwrecks, identified through the Royal Commission’s Maritme Database, is thought to be that of the iron-hulled Ben-y-Gloe, wrecked on its maiden voyage from Penarth in 1886.

The Royal Commission’s Maritime Officer, Deanna Groom, then explained the Commission’s leading role in the recording, curating and supplying of information regarding Wales’ maritime heritage. The Commission’s 9498 Maritime records comprise around 9% of the entire National Monuments Record. They include coastal and intertidal features, submerged landscape features, historic seascape features, 6000+ shipwrecks and 349 downed aircraft.


Royal Commission Maritime Officer, Deanna Groom, talks about Wales’ rich maritime archaeology
Deanna also outlined recent work with Kimberley and Sarahjayne on the Royal Commission and Cadw’s Shipwrecks Project, designed to investigate the wider impact of the Royal Charter Gale of 1859. The Royal Charter was one of 50+ vessels driven onto the Welsh coast by the gale. The project involved working with Welsh Baccalaureate students from Pembrokeshire College, engaging them with the story of the storm and their local maritime heritage. The project also demonstrated how local resources can be used for research, with Pembrokeshire Archives facilitating a ‘treasure hunt’ across shipping registers, burial records and census returns. Material generated by the project can be viewed by visiting ‘The Great Storm of 1859’ http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/collections/377940 and ‘Pembrokeshire Shipwrecks Project’ http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/node/380977 on the freshly relaunched People’s Collection Wales website.


Some of the items uploaded by the Royal Commission to People’s Collection Wales as part of ‘The Great Storm of 1859’ collection
The afternoon’s final speaker was Martin Bates (University of Wales Trinity St David, Lampeter), who discussed the results of recent archaeological investigation at Borth and Clarach. Recent coastal change, coupled with this year’s storms, has revealed extensive prehistoric peat exposures, within which are contemporary organic remains and animal and human (including a child’s) footprints. At Borth, a combination of survey, sampling and archaeological excavation has facilitated far greater understanding of the foreshore’s underlying geology and the reconstruction of its post-glacial landscape.

The event proved a great success, providing an informative insight into the wealth of archaeology located around Wales’ coastline, as well as highlighting its fragile and precarious nature.

By Nikki Vousden


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Categories: Resources

History and Heritage Book Sale at the Royal Commission

Heritage of Wales News - Thu, 2014-04-03 11:06


On Wednesday, 9 April, there will be a rare opportunity to purchase a wide range of books, journals, maps and guidebooks, relating to archaeology, architecture and the built heritage. There will be over 1000 titles in this sale of surplus and duplicate stock from the Royal Commission’s library in Aberystwyth. Titles include a complete set of Archaeologia Cambrensis and other standard archaeology journals, numerous off-prints, books on pre-history, the Romans, industrial archaeology, Gwent and Glamorgan County Histories, and other historical and archaeological volumes and much more. There will also be a selection of O.S. 6-inch maps of various editions, a small collection of 1:10,000 and Landranger maps. Selected current Royal Commission publications will also be on offer with a discount of up to 30%. Information Services Manager, Penny Icke, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to acquire hard to find and often out-of-print historical and archaeological material. We hope to see as many people as possible at the sale”. Doors open from 10am–4pm. Everyone welcome!

 For further information, email Penny Icke, penny.icke@rcahmw.gov.uk or phone 01970 621200

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Categories: Resources

The Great Walk: Fan Llia and Fan Dringarth Guided Walk, 3 May

Heritage of Wales News - Wed, 2014-04-02 11:01

The rolling moorland landscape looking across the upper Llia valley to the south-eastOn Saturday 3 May, David Leighton, an expert in uplands archaeology from the Royal Commission will be leading a guided walk around Fan Llia and Fan Dringarth in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. In a quiet area for walking, well hidden from more popular routes, this picturesque moorland walk is notable for monuments of prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date, which can be seen along the route. Notable highlights of the walk include a massive block of sandstone and one of the largest prehistoric standing stones in South Wales at Maen Llia (NPRN: 84541), and the old toll road and possibly the line of the Roman road, Sarn Helen (NPRN: 407122), as well as the extensive remains of numerous historic period settlement sites in the Nant y Gaseg Valley.

Covering a total distance of about 13.5 km (8.5miles), this walk will follow a course along the western slopes of Fan Llia to the head of the Llia valley, across Bryn Melyn and Cefn Perfedd into Cwm Dringarth and tributary stream valleys below Fan Dringarth, and down Cwm Dringarth above the Ystradfellte Reservoir, returning to the carpark across the southern extent of Cefn Perfedd.
Walkers will meet at 10.30am at the parking and picnic area (SN92721646) on the unclassified road between Ystradfellte and Heol Senni. This can be accessed to the south from the A4215 Sennybridge to Libanus road.

For further information, email Nicola Roberts, nicola.roberts@rcahmw.gov.uk or phone 01970 621200. Places are limited to 30 on this walk.


View of Maen Llia from the north-west
A fuller description of  this walk , together with other walks and sites encountered along the route, may be found in a copy of  The Western Brecon Beacons: The Archaeology of Mynydd Du and Fforest Fawr by David Leighton which is available from the Royal Commission.

This walk has been organised as part of Ramblers Cymru and Cadw’s Great Walks programme. For further details of other walks amid a historic setting this spring, please use Cadw’s events finder: http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/events/ 

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Categories: Resources

December 2011: Heathrow Terminal 5 Excavation Archive released.

Archaeology Data Service - Wed, 2011-12-07 17:45
The ADS and Framework Archaeology are pleased to announce the release of Heathrow Terminal 5 Excavation Archive, 2011. Framework Archaeology is a Joint Venture agreement between Oxford Archaeology (OA) and Wessex Archaeology (WA) to provide archaeological services to BAA. Between 1996 and 2000 they undertook extensive excavations of an important prehistoric and Roman landscape at Perry Oaks sludge works, Heathrow, Middlesex. Further archaeological work in advance of a fifth passenger terminal ('T5') at Heathrow Airport took place from 2002 onwards, and the results of those excavations will be integrated with the data contained in this archive.
Categories: Resources

November 2011: York Archaeology wins Queen's Anniversary Prize

Archaeology Data Service - Wed, 2011-12-07 17:45
The Department of Archaeology at York University, which hosts the ADS, has been given a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. Introduced following the 40th Anniversary of the Queen's reign in 1992, the prizes, which rank alongside the Queen's Awards for Industry are awarded biennially for 'work of exceptional quality and of broad benefit either nationally or internationally'. This is the fifth to be conferred on the university in 15 years, only the second time it has been awarded to a whole Department.
Categories: Resources
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