Cyngor Archaeoleg Brydeinig
Council for British Archaeology
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The Twentieth-Century Military Sites in Wales Project
The Strata Florida Landscape Project
‘A Role for All’ : An Overview of the HERIAN Partnership’s Work
Cadw and Local Heritage Conservation Volunteer Groups
Analysis of Bones from Brownslade Barrow
Terry James FSA
2007 Spring Meeting and Symposium
During the 1980s and 1990s, around two dozen twentieth-century military sites in Wales received some form of statutory protection. This occurred as the result of specific requests or in response to particular threats. The first preliminary survey of WWII structures in Wales undertaken by Cadw was presented to the Ancient Monuments Board for Wales as a discussion paper in 1992. It noted the increasing frequency of requests for surviving WWII remains to receive statutory protection and paralleled the increasing interest in WWII structures to that of the embryonic field of industrial archaeology twenty-five years earlier.
Consequently, in 1994 Cadw part-sponsored Roger Thomas’s study of the nineteenth and twentieth-century military buildings of Pembrokeshire, the first major research project to focus on the WWII structures of Wales. In 1997, Cadw also commissioned research to systematically locate, extract and tabulate information about the date, location and character of sites from the surviving documentary records of the armed forces and their parent civil ministries from 1939-45. The report focused on anti-aircraft defences, bombing decoys, radar sites, Overlord hards, coastal artillery sites and anti-invasion defences. The study identified a total of 647 sites in Wales and revealed that the density of sites in Wales, particularly the c. 1940 anti-invasion defences, approached those built in eastern England.
Since 2003, Cadw has been engaged in a systematic review of the subject and embarked on a thematic programme of statutory protection. This work is a joint initiative undertaken in conjunction with the RCAHMW and the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts.
The current initiative stemmed from an Ancient Monuments Board for Wales’s annual report in 2003, which focused on the subject of protecting twentieth-century military structures in Wales. The Board’s report recommended that Cadw should identify a primary list of sites that should include the most important twentieth-century military sites likely to be strong candidates for statutory protection. The project was timely and benefited from the increasing public interest in the remains of this period and the results of the CBA’s Defence of Britain project.
The Board also recommended that a small working group involving all interested parties and chaired by Cadw should be established to provide advice and identify a way forward for Wales. The working group meets twice a year.
The initial challenge was where to begin. Wales was not a military backwater and an enormous range of site types was created. During WWII, Wales was in the front-line for the Battle of the Atlantic, with bases protecting the Western Approaches. Fighter stations protected the industrial towns. Wales possessed important west-facing defences against possible German invasion from Ireland. The relatively distant position of Wales from the Continent made it an ideal location for the manufacture of military equipment (including aircraft and munitions), training, maintenance and weapons testing. Surviving remains include amongst others coastal and inland defences such as pillboxes and anti-tank barriers, artillery sites, aircraft crash sites, radar stations, prisoner-of-war camps and military factories. Many sites are extensive in size and some can be complex. There are also important Cold War sites including radar, weapons system development and testing facilities and civil defence establishments.
Specialist advice from Medwyn Parry (RCAHMW) and Roger Thomas (English Heritage) enabled a primary list of twenty-nine sites suitable for statutory protection to be identified. Work is ongoing and to date, sixteen of these sites have been protected through scheduling or listing. A small number of additional sites identified as being of similar quality have also been protected.
As the scheduling and listing work proceeded, it became increasingly apparent to the membership of the working group that the original list was limited and could not hope to achieve a representative sample of the surviving evidence in Wales. A revised list that improves the geographical bias of the original list and adds to the range of site types included is currently under preparation. The working group is also in the process of publishing an Introducing Twentieth-Century Military Sites leaflet, which aims to raise awareness of the significance and role of these sites and to take steps with the help of owners and tenants for their protection and interpretation. The leaflet will also be available from the Cadw web site.
For any further information on the project, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Berry at the address below:
Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed
01443 336 073
Ystrad Fflur or Strata Florida is the site of a Cistercian abbey founded c.1164 by monks from Whitland. It lies in central Ceredigion in the upper valley of the Afon Teifi on the western edge of he Cambrian Mountains. It is these landscapes which the project seeks to understand through intensive inter-disciplinary research.
The Strata Florida Landscape Project, began in 1998-9 under the direction of David Austin and in the context of developments in the teaching of archaeological practice in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at University of Wales, Lampeter. We have also consciously constructed the project within a research design process supported by a partnership of individuals and institutions, including both the RCAHMW and Cambria Archaeology. A further dimension has been the parallel development of a facility based on the historic farm complex of Mynachlog Fawr, the former Stedman plas, which lies immediately to the south of the Cadw guardianship monument.
The research project seeks to extend our understanding of the abbey and its landscape, but aims also to use the site and its place in Welsh history as a key to unlock various themes and topics related to the presence of material culture, both in space and time. In temporal terms the primary interest is the period from late prehistory to the present, with the dynamic being to understand the trajectory of Strata Florida, its antecedents and successors in the landscape. As to space the footprint of the lands granted to the medieval abbey has been a convenient way of sketching out a possible sphere of activity.
The first small-scale fieldwork was undertaken in 1999, but the whole undertaking came to a halt with the foot and mouth outbreak of early 2001. We were not able to return to the field until 2004 when we began three years of preliminary exploration of the archaeological potential of the site and its landscape. This was completed in the summer of 2006. In the meantime the Mynachlog Fawr development has continued, and has now emerged as the separate Strata Florida Trust whose objectives are to preserve the historic buildings and develop it as an educational and visitor facility for the greater understanding and appreciation of the historic landscapes of the Cambrian Mountains and Central Wales.
The research has modelled, from morphology, historic maps, place-names and documents, the boundaries of the former abbey precinct on the flat valley floor of the upper Teifi where the river is joined by the Afon Glasffrwd, probably now flowing in a diverted stream bed created in the twelfth century. Within the precinct, to the west of the abbey remains, we have located an iron-working area (based on soil work by John Crowther) and the very substantial remains of a medieval and early modern building complex which we have tentatively identified as the gatehouse to the inner precinct (under the direction of Quentin Drew).
Within the precinct we have also begun a geophysical survey (conducted by Jemma Bezant) which has located two other major building groups and a series of features which indicate at least two distinctly different orientations, one of which may be earlier than the laying out of the Cistercian abbey (see figure). To the south of the abbey we have surveyed a large earthwork area and identified the position of the infirmary range and a mill (excavations directed by Neil Ludlow), serviced by a large leat and pond complex. We have also explored the archaeology of the Stedman house with its remains of an important 16th to mid 18th century sequence of gentry buildings and gardens, which were transformed into the tenant farm still functioning today.
Beyond the precinct we have also projected a core demesne of intensive specialist farms indicated by medieval place-names, as well as an ancient woodland to the south, probably established to service the needs of the abbey. Beneath the woodland flora is an extensive series of earthworks which have been tested by excavation (directed by Jemma Bezant) to reveal a large kiln, an associated enclosure and an associated system of water management. There is also a major roadway which was truncated by the canalisation of the Glasffrwd and probably, therefore, precedes the abbey. To the north of the precinct are the extensive remains of mining, much of it post-medieval, but lying over earlier features some of which may be medieval or earlier. These too have been tested in excavations (directed by Daniel Jones).
Between this core demesne and the broad peneplain of the Cambrian Mountains Andrew Fleming and Louise Barker have surveyed an important group of buildings and enclosures, including one which has been provisionally identified as the great sheep house of a Cistercian bercaria. The existence of the core demesne and these buildings does question the nature of the grange system normally assumed to be the principal mode of land exploitation by the abbey. Work for a doctoral thesis by William Whiteley has begun to reveal an alternative model of land use in the area known as Blaenaeron Grange.
Excavations and survey will continue in 2007 as we gear the project up to full scale. Visitors will be welcome during the excavation period from May 21st to June 15th.
University of Wales,
By bringing together local authorities, national statutory bodies, voluntary organisations and community groups from across the region, HERIAN - Heritage in Action is working to harness the unique and varied legacy of industrial south Wales – the story of how the region and it’s people made Wales into the first industrial nation. The long term objective is to help generate more visitors to the region and by providing a memorable experience, create new employment opportunities particularly in the Valley communities.
One of the Partnership’s first actions was to prepare a regional 'Interpretive Action Plan' which provides a non-prescriptive framework for future strategic, regional and local interpretation and access initiatives. Its overall objective is to facilitate delivery by local people guided by a strategic programme, which includes skills development, lifelong learning and community capacity building. Potential projects totalling nearly £80m have been identified, of which £27m relate to improved interpretation and £50m for access (walking and cycling trails). To date projects totalling some £15m have been completed with a further £10m investment is currently being implemented.
Also underway is the HERIAN Information Point network project. Located at sites identified by HERIAN Partners. These interactive web-based kiosks will enable users to access information about what to do and see in the area, with a future option of creating personalised route itineraries utilising wherever possible the growing network of trails which link the numerous heritage sites across the region. Some 15 kiosks will become operational in the spring/summer of 2007 with others coming on stream later in the year and beyond.
Our research has demonstrated that in order to provide a memorable experience community groups must play a crucial role in the telling of the south Wales story. To assist them HERIAN has introduced an interpretive advisory service, which includes training workshops, tool kits and ongoing specialist support. The aim is to encourage communities to come forward and develop their own heritage projects that are well planned and sustainable. Not only will this improved interpretation help ensure local people have pride in their community it will also spread economic benefits by encouraging local people and visitors to explore 'undiscovered' places. To date more than 100 people have benefited from the training and 50 plus community groups across the region have completed or are currently planning to implement their local heritage project. Individuals from community groups are also attending HERIAN’s successful ‘Welcome to Our Heritage’ courses enabling them to undertake a local ‘ambassador’ role and some are also training to achieve ‘Green Badge’ tour guiding qualifications .
Industrialisation of the region was a result of its geology and topography and any celebration of its heritage must encompass both man-made features and the natural environment. The region’s network of former tramways, railways, and canal towpaths is unsurpassed in Western Europe and the HERIAN PCT is encouraging and supporting Partner organisations to develop a world class network of walking and cycling trails which will provide physical links between sites and points of interest, including imaginative interpretation, such as art and sculpture. The 'loops and links' trails project developed by Groundwork Merthyr Tydfil - Rhondda Cynon Taf will encourage local people and visitors to go ‘off the beaten track’ and visit less well-known heritage sites and other interesting places in the area, and is an excellent example of what needs to be emulated across the region.
In order to bring heritage sites 'alive' an action plan has been prepared for a programme of ‘Performance’ at both heritage and conventional performance venues across industrial south Wales. Funding has been secured for a pilot programme of performance to take place during the spring of 2007. Locally distinctive content will help raise the profile of the area and arouse general interest in the heritage of both individual sites and the wider south Wales region. HERIAN has also begun a project which will see the architectural floodlighting of selected heritage assets and other buildings to provide an attractive and highly 'visible' statement of community pride in its industrial past. With funding from the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) a technical feasibility study identified a range of sites within the ‘Heads of the Valleys’ Programme (HoV) which could be floodlit utilising sustainable and low energy technology. The first phase of implementation is already underway, and when rolled out across south Wales this ‘Trail of Light’ has the potential to develop into one of the most high profile and highly marketable aspects of the HERIAN initiative - becoming an arts and entertainment programme on a vast and dramatic scale across the region in its own right.
HERIAN’s website gives more information on the initiative and provides links to Partner websites. Please visit www.herian.org.
Director Partnership Coordinating Team
The urban townscapes and rural landscapes of Wales contain many historic ruins and ancient monuments. These historic monuments contribute to the character of our towns and countryside and may contain archaeological information that can help us to better understand the lives of our ancestors. Caring for such historic monuments is important, for ancient monuments and archaeological features once damaged or destroyed can never be replaced nor properly understood – and important pieces of the intricate jigsaw that forms our inheritance and history are lost.
If you are the owner of a Scheduled Ancient Monument you may be eligible for financial assistance (in the form of an Ancient Monument Grant from the National Assembly for Wales) to help you preserve and maintain it. However, if you are not the owner of the monument, but wish to organise and/or undertake conservation work to it and apply for a grant, you may do so – providing that you first obtain the owner’s written permission.
Cadw generally offers grant of 50% of the estimated total cost of the proposed work (although this percentage may be increased in certain circumstances). However, recognising that the role of the heritage conservation volunteer is becoming increasingly important in protecting such monuments, Cadw can take other forms of match funding into consideration. Conservation volunteer projects can provide site repair and maintenance alongside elements such as training, education, volunteer opportunities and many other associated community benefits. Cadw recognises that such projects and initiatives may be costly and is prepared to assist with Ancient Monument Grant in appropriate cases – and accepts that match funding can be provided in kind (volunteer labour for example) or in partnership with another funding body.
What local heritage conservation projects for volunteers are eligible for grant?
Applications for Ancient Monuments Grant are considered on a case by case basis. The precise nature of the projects and of the conservation works that are required will vary from monument to monument. To be eligible for consideration a proposed conservation volunteer project must:
If you wish to apply for grant but are not sure about how your proposed project should be organised, or how the proposed works should be undertaken, an officer from Cadw’s Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments or Conservation Architects will be able to give you advice. You should write or telephone Cadw to make an appointment to meet the professional officer on site to discuss the works.
Cadw - Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments
Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed
Cardiff CF15 7QQ
As reported in the Autumn 2006 Newsletter, excavations undertaken by Cambria Archaeology for Defence Estates recovered around 30 identifiable extended inhumations from Brownslade Barrow, Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire, although due to badger disturbance not all the inhumations were complete. Several were partial inhumations; some were relatively complete and just missing a head or the feet bones, a result of being displaced by the building of the badger runs. There were also a large proportion of co-mingled human remains mixed with a large quantity of animal remains, pottery and other cultural debris. The animal bones and cultural remains are thought to date to a later occupation period and probably represent midden type deposits once the cemetery was abandoned.
Analysis so far has revealed that there are around 45 individuals, with equal numbers of males, females and juveniles. The proportion of young individuals, ranging from neonates to teenagers, at just over 33%, may seem high from a modern perspective but is in keeping with other demographics of this period
It is evident that there is a huge potential within this population to address some very fundamental questions about rural and early medieval society for this part of southwest Wales. In terms of the pattern of burials there appears to be little formality or marked patterning at the site, although all are aligned. Some inhumations were contained in cisted graves others were not. Those in cisted graves probably survived better than those in unprotected or open graves. The vast majority of cisted grave were reserved for females with very few being given over to males. The juveniles are interred with males and females, with each other and on their own. Some of the skeletons display some characteristics that are both unusual and very interesting and are, most probably, due to biomechanical adaptations. The evidence suggests that some members of the population had a very physical and, possibly, a harsh lifestyle. From the signs of stress on the teeth and bones of the juveniles, it is thought that such adaptations or activities, may have started early in life.
The preservation of both the human and animal bone, although disturbed to some extent, is good and considering that bone rarely survives in the highly acidic soils of Wales, makes this site even more unusual. The bones are currently undergoing a dating and a stable isotope programme in order to understand the foundation and duration of the site and to address some of the lifestyle questions relating to this rural population.
Dr Ros Coard
University of Wales,
I first heard of Terry James in 1975 when Don Benson was recruiting staff for the newly-established Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Don spoke enthusiastically of having met a practical, self-taught man, a printer by trade, who was an able draughtsman, a photographer and also extremely knowledgeable about Carmarthen and its county’s history and industrial archaeology. Don was speaking of Terry James, whose talents he would help nurture at the Trust, together with his deputy directory, Heather Barnie. She was to become Mrs Terry James in 1978.
Terry was born and brought up in Carmarthen and served a six year apprenticeship at the Carmarthen Journal qualifying as a skilled compositor. He secured a scholarship to study at Ruskin College, Oxford gaining a diploma in Labour Studies in 1973. He returned to Carmarthen in 1974. It was to be home for the rest of his life. By 1975 he had researched the history of the cottage he had been brought up in, the last of the almshouses established under the will of Bishop Rudd (1549-1615). There he set up his first darkroom photographing Carmarthen’s buildings especially the dilapidated remains of Carmarthen Tin Plate Works.
Appointed as the Trust’s first Field Officer, after initially undertaking research for Carmarthen’s future ‘rescue’ needs (published as The Carmarthen Survey by the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society in 1980), he was soon to be thrown into the thick of excavations both urban and rural. The most important of these were on St John’s Priory Carmarthen, and Carmarthen Greyfriars, the latter being the largest-scale excavations undertaken to date on any medieval friary in Britain. Both were to be written up complete with specialist reports in national journals and both were fully archived.
In addition to handling (and processing) the Trust’s photographic needs, Terry began to take an interest in aerial photography. During the mid-’seventies we held informal annual seminars at RCAHMW bringing together aspirant aerial photographers amateur and professional. Terry spoke to the group several times and he was among the Trust staff who would generously pass on prints of his discoveries to the Commission. In 1979 his photo of Gateholm Island was selected for the Ilford Aerial Photographic Award. It was then reproduced as the cover of Aerial Archaeology vol.4. Previously, Dyfed had been flown over only rather sporadically by the Cambridge University team. A pioneering booklet, Ancient West Wales from the Air, also published by the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society in 1980) an important outcome of Terry’s regular reconnaissance, demonstrate the potential for new discoveries. It was jointly authored with Doug Simpson.
Around 1980, Terry took a break from full-time Trust work to set up The Rampart Press. Here, for three years he fulfilled the intention of producing high-quality letter-press work, principally academic journals. Besides the Carmarthenshire Antiquary, he undertook three volumes of Landscape History (2-4, 1980-82) and Roman West Wales by his wife Heather in 1982. Indubitably Terry’s most notable achievement as its compiler and printer was CAMDEN’S WALES being the Welsh chapters taken from Edmund Gibson’s revised & enlarged edition of William Camden’s Britannia (1722). For the scholarly introduction, setting the work’s origins and value in its proper antiquarian perspective, Terry secured a now much-neglected essay by Gwyn Walters, then recently retired from the National Library as Assistant Keeper of printed books.
The Dyfed Archaeological Trust was a pioneer in the computerisation of archaeological records nationally and it would be true to say that during the 1980s the National bodies lagged far behind in such developments. After the tragic death of Charles Stenger Terry became Trust Records Officer and soon mastered both hardware and software. Computers remained a lifelong interest and he kept abreast of developments right up to his death not as an end in themselves but as tools for handling and disseminating archaeological, historical and latterly, place-names databases. Integrating databases with GIS systems was as much a passion as was translating the typographic and design standards of letterpress printing into the new age of electronic publishing.
By the end of the decade he had made such progress in information technology that in 1991 he was appointed Information Systems Manager at the RCAHMW with a brief to create electronic indexing, searching and retrieval of the Commission’s voluminous records and archives. When he joined, the National Monuments Record (NMR) was largely card index-based. He was to play a key role in creating the Commission’s first automated NMR/SMR, though the wider goal of a national archaeological record for Wales in which he strongly believed, is still to be achieved. Sadly, ill-health led to early retirement in 1998.
In retirement he continued to practice and bring to fruition his life-long interests. He sailed far and wide with Heather (usually with archaeological objectives) and continued playing a full role in the activities of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society. Most of all, he researched and wrote, in 2004 setting up a website for others to access more of his unpublished researches (http://www.terra-demetarum.org.uk).
Terry James’s unusual strength lay in his ability and motivation to want to know and to learn about or to verify any given fact, and to gain skills quite free of institutional or curricular baggage. In a climate of continuing expansion in the tertiary ‘education’ sector that can so often inhibit real intellectual curiosity and which often values skill-and-vocation-based courses at the expense of the academic, virtues like Terry’s, so enthusiastically embraced by Don back in 1975, will become increasingly difficult to develop so successfully in future.
The Spring Business Meeting and of CBA Wales/Cymru will be held at Llanidloes High School, Llanidloes on the morning of Saturday 17th March, starting at 11:00. A map showing the location is available here.
The Symposium in collaboration with Powysland Club, to which we welcome non-members as well as members, will take place in the afternoon, starting at 14:00.
|14:10||Eurwyn Wiliam||Welsh cottages : sustainable building traditions in rural Wales|
|15:00||Judith Althrey||History in ruins: the architecture of lost settlements|
|16:15||Richard Suggett||Hall-houses and their contexts|
|17:00||Ron Gilson||Closing Remarks|
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