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Friday, 17 April 2015

Discover the Source of the River Usk on the Royal Commission’s Big Welsh Walk: Saturday, 9 May 2015

Low clouds in mountains at the source of the Usk.
Following last year’s successful exploration of Fan Llia to Fan Dringarth led by the Royal Commission as part of Ramblers Cymru Big Welsh Walk, held annually throughout the month of May, another exciting walk has now been planned for this year in partnership with Cadw and Ramblers Cymru. On Saturday, 9 May, senior archaeologist David Leighton will lead an informative and interesting guided walk that will take in the upper reaches of the River Usk as far as its source (below the cliffs of Fan Brycheiniog and Bannau Sir Gaer), and the far eastern side of Mynydd Du. Setting off from the parking and picnic area at Pont ar Wysg at SN82002715 and slowly climbing to 2000 foot above sea-level, this 11 km circular walk will reveal a range of sites of the prehistoric, Roman, medieval and later periods along the route. This walk of breathtaking views in the beautiful Beacon Beacons National Park will include a number of Bronze Age burial cairns, the remains of a Roman marching camp and even a large nineteenth-century sheep fold with its numerous cells. Accompanied by other Royal Commission staff, including architectural historian Richard Suggett, David Leighton will offer his historical expertise along the way sharing a wealth of knowledge gained through his many years as coordinator of the Royal Commission’s successful long-running Upland’s Project. The day promises to be great day out for keen walkers of all ages and a rare opportunity to discover more about the heritage which surrounds us!

Places for the walk are still available, although limited. For further details and booking please contact

As part of the Ramblers’ 80th anniversary celebrations, this year’s Big Welsh Walk will be bigger than ever! For further details see their website at

A list of heritage walks planned by Cadw can be found on the events page of Cadw’s website at

Ponies and stone circle in the upper Usk Valley: one of the sites on the walk.

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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Two Unique Anglesey Anniversaries

2015 marks a unique event for a celebrated village on Anglesey – a centenary and a bi-centenary.

On the 16 September 1915, the first meeting of the Women’s Institute in Britain took place in an unassuming building in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (or Llanfair PG). The movement was formed in Canada in 1897. Their aim was to revitalise rural communities and encourage the local country-women to help increase supplies of domestic food supplies during the Great War. The original meeting hall still stands, beside the old A5 trunk road through the village.

There are over 200,000 members of the WI in the UK, and the movement has evolved to become the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the country.

For the second anniversary, you only have to travel a short distance to the east of the hall, to Craig y Dinas, and the striking column that was erected in 1817 as a tribute and to Henry William Paget, the first Marquis of Anglesey. The title was awarded to him in July 1815 - in recognition of his bravery and leadership at the Battle of Waterloo, where the French army, commanded by Napoleon, was defeated by the Anglo-allied army, commanded by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army, led by Gebhard von Blucher, on the 18 June 1815.

Paget was the cavalry commander on that day. He and Wellington were on their horses and observing the scene before them. Grape shot from one of the very last French cannon volleys of the battle hit Paget’s right knee. He looked down and said “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” Wellington instantly replied “By God, sir, so you have!”

The bronze statue was a later addition to the column. It was placed there in 1860 after Paget died, at a grand old age of 85.

By Medwyn Parry

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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

AVAILABLE NOW! New Royal Commission Publication ‘Welsh Slate - Archaeology and History of an Industry’ by David Gwyn

Slates from quarries in Wales once went to roof the world. By the late nineteenth century as many as a third of all the roofing slates produced world-wide came from Wales, competing with quarries in France and the United States. This exciting and lavishly illustrated new book traces the slate industry from its origins in the Roman period, its slow medieval development and then its massive expansion in the nineteenth century – as well as through its long drawn out decline in the twentieth.

Dinorwic Quarry viewed from the west, across Llyn Peris (AP_2010_2454, NPRN 40538)

The books author David Gwyn, draws not only on the extensive industrial archaeology of the quarries themselves and the historic evidence of the stunning landscapes within which they are situated, but also on legal and company records, port books, local and national newspapers, trade journals, painting and photographic collections and parish histories to build up a picture of this distinctive industry.

The Cornish beam engine at Dorothea quarry, Nantlle, built 1904-06 (DI2013_0723, NPRN 26409)

Separate chapters examine the quarries themselves and the ways in which the rock was extracted and processed. Others examine the evidence for the technologies that made the quarries possible – the pumping and power systems, the internal and overland transport systems, and the sailing ships that exported the finished slates all over the globe.

The 1924 Australia Mill at Dinorwic with its row of saw tables (DS2013_509_005, NPRN 419478)

It also looks at the distinctive settlement and community created by the quarrymen and their families, in towns like Bethesda and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and villages like Deiniolen, Tal y Sarn and Abergynolwyn.

The Ffestiniog quarries and slate-quarrymen’s city of Blaenau Ffestiniog (AP_2011_3093, NPRN 305760)

Welsh Slate. Archaeology and History of an Industry is a large format book of 291 pages with 243 high-quality illustrations, and costs £45.

Welsh Slate - Archaeology and History of an Industry
For further details and to order a copy, please contact the Royal Commission on 01970 621200,

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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

National Monuments Record of Wales Archives and Library Bulletin - March 2015

Welcome to the latest monthly edition of the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW) Archives and Library Bulletin which lists all newly catalogued material. The archival items, library books and journal articles are all available to view in our public reading room. The full archive catalogue is available on Coflein and contains digital copies of many of the items listed.

Our Library and reading room is open:
Monday – Friday 09.30 – 16.00, Wednesday 10.30 – 16.30.
An appointment is advisable.

March 2015


Gerallt Nash Welsh Mills Collection
  • Collection of material relating to mills in Wales, including correspondence, newspaper cuttings, reports, drawings and photos, collated or produced by Gerallt D. Nash in the course of his research and his involvement with the Welsh Mills Society: C602666 

Cwmystwyth Mines Complex Collection
  • Collection of records comprising original and copied drawings and maps compiled during research and survey relating to the Cwmystwyth Mines complex: C603398 

D.B. Hague Collection
  • Set of mainly site-specific records relating to buildings/structures outside Wales, collated or produced by Douglas Hague: C602560 
  • Set of black and white photographs labelled Deerness Orkney, 1962, taken by Douglas Hague: C602561 

Peter Smith Collection
  • Unsorted notes, drawings photos and correspondence relating to the publication of a series of essays on Ty Mawr, published in The Montgomeryshire Collections, journal of the Powysland Club, volume 89, 2001: C602562 
  • Bound volume entitled "The Development of Miltary and Civil Architecture and Town Planning in North-west Wales". Finals thesis presented to R.I.B.A. by Peter Smith. Undated: C602563 
  • Miscellaneous notes and correspondence produced or collated by Peter Smith: C602631 

Peter Smith Slide Collection
  • Colour slides of buildings in Carmarthenshire. Held in alphabetical order of site name with unidentified sites at the back: C602557 
  • Colour slides of buildings in Breconshire: C602788 
  • Colour slides showing churches in Wales: C602799 
  • Colour slides of Welsh landscapes: C602800 

RCAHMW Field Notes
  • Investigators' field survey logs produced by Deanna Groom prior to and during field trips to a number of maritime sites in 2013: C602575 

Cotswold Archaeology Projects Archive
  • Project archive relating to an Archaeological Watching brief for Former Gas Works, Mount Street, Bala. Produced in 2015 by Cotswold Archaeology: Project No: 3640, Report No: 12043. The collection comprises digital and hard copy reports: C602969 

William Grimes Collection
  • Various artefacts from a number of projects and excavations, including Burry Holms: C603339 

RCAHMW Digital Survey, Borth Submerged Forest : C561232

Digital image relating to Level 1 Survey, Borth Submerged Forest: Area C, DSC_BSF06

  • ArcGIS 10 shapefiles relating to a survey of Borth Submerged Forest, produced by RCAHMW 2010-2012 
  • Google Earth Screen Grabs of routes walked, relating to a survey of Borth Submerged Forest, carried out by RCAHMW 2010-2012 
  • Access database relating to a survey of Borth Submerged Forest, carried out by RCAHMW 2010-2012 

Jeremy Lowe Collection
  • Photocopy of fifteen field notebooks on workers housing produced by Jeremy Lowe, dated between 1970 and 1993. Access to these notebooks may be controlled until his work is published: C603399 
  • Notes, drafts and correspondence relating to a proposed joint project on workers housing produced and\or collated by RCAHMW and Mr Lowe: C603400 

Investigators' Digital Photography

Digital photographic surveys of the following sites taken c2009-2015

View of west façade, Dan-y-bwlch, DS2015_021_012, taken March 2015

  • Dan-y-bwlch, Crucorney: C602370 
  • Sully Island Promontory Fort, taken by Deanna Groom, June 2010: C602372, C602377 
  • Llandudno Pier taken by Deanna Groom, August 2010: C602426 
  • East Tower, Nash Lighthouse, taken by Nicola Roberts Sept 2009: C602378 
  • Foghorn Signal Building at Nash Lighthouse, taken by Nicola Roberts Sept 2009: C602387 
  • West Tower at Nash Lighthouse, taken by Nicola Roberts Sept 2009: C602391 
  • Ynyshir Hall, taken by Deanna Groom, March 2010: C602397 
  • Great Orme Copper Mine taken by Deanna Groom, August 2009: C602401 
  • Rhyl Flats Windfarm taken by Deanna Groom, August 2009: C602438 
  • Greenala Point Fort taken by Deanna Groom, Oct 2009: C602446 
  • Cilcain Church: C602654 
  • Interior photos of Bethania Baptist Chapel, Maesteg: C603162 

Sites in Cardiff
  • Gorsedd Gardens, Cardiff: C602667 
  • Friary Gardens: C602669 
  • City Hall: C602671 
  • Law Courts: C602673 
  • Cardiff University Registry: C602675 
  • UCW Cardiff: C602683 
  • Great Court and Drapers Library: C602687 
  • County Hall: C602699 
  • National Museum: C602703 
  • Bute Building, UCW Cardiff: C602705 
  • Glamorgan County Hall Extension: C602729 
  • Queen Anne’s Square screen: C602741 
  • Former Welsh Office: C602772 
  • Temple of Peace and Health: C602775 
  • UCW Cardiff Law Building: C602786 
  • Sir Martin Evans Building: C602789 
  • Life & Science Building: C602791 
  • UCW Cardiff Tower Building: C602793 
  • Police Station, Cathays: C602795 
  • Welsh government offices: C602797 
  • UCW Redwood Building: C602782 
  • Aberdare Hall, UCW Cardiff: C603551 

Statues and memorials in Cardiff
  • Statue of David Lloyd George, Gorsedd Gardens: C602784 
  • Statue of Col Lord Ninian Crichton Stuart, Gorsedd Gardens: C602709 
  • Statue of Marquis of Bute, Friary Gardens: C602719 
  • Mining and Navigation sculpture, County Hall: C602701 
  • Statue of John Cory, Gorsedd Gardens: C602680 
  • Boer War Memorial: C602689 
  • Statue of Viscount Tredegar: C602693 
  • Statue of Judge Gwilym Williams: C602695 
  • Statue of Henry Austin, Alexandra Gardens: C602697 
  • Cardiff City Falklands Conflict Memorial: C602801 
  • Welsh National Falklands Conflict Memorial: C602804 

Castell Tan y Castell Collection
  • Black and white slides taken or produced during excavation in 1956-57: C602632 

NMR Site Files

Photo surveys of sites taken 1970s to 1990s:
  • St Bridgets Church, St Brides Wentlooge: C602534 
  • Malthouse and associated residence at Bryn Street, Newtown: C603588 
  • Tro'r Derlwyn deserted rural settlement, taken by D.J. Percival, 1986: C603592 
  • Old Turnpike Road between Llangadog and Brynaman, taken by D.J. Percival, 1987: C603594 
  • Carn Fadog, taken by D.J. Percival, 1987: C603599 
  • Nant y Llyn Maenhir, taken by D.J. Percival, 1987: C603601 
  • Abdon Clee houses, taken by D.J. Percival, 1990: C603605 
  • Lower Clydach aqueduct on the Swansea Canal: C602707, C602735 
  • Clydach Pumphouse on the Swansea Canal: C602747 
  • Clydach Bridge, Lock No. 6, on the Swansea Canal: C602752, C602757 
  • Fountain Hall on the Swansea Canal: C602771 
  • Godre'r Graig Dry Dock on the Swansea Canal: C602768 
  • Giedd Feeder Weir on the Swansea Canal: C602806 
  • The Castle Hotel, Cae'r Llan on the Swansea Canal: C602813 
  • Limekiln at Cae'r Lan Canal Wharf on the Swansea Canal: C602816 
  • Canal boat at Abercraf on the Swansea Canal: C602824 
  • Lengthman's Punt at Trebanos on the Swansea Canal: C602836 
  • Ynyscedwyn Ironworks Colliery Branch on the Swansea Canal: C602847 
  • Godre'r Graig Dry Dock on the Swansea Canal: C602866 
  • Hafod Limekiln, Landore.: C602870 
  • Hafod Copperworks Tramway Viaduct: C602891 

Photo surveys of the following sites taken in the 1930s to 1960s:
  • High Street, Conwy: C602967 
  • St Gwyddelan's Church: C603012 
  • Gwyndy: C603014 
  • Cwm Fynhadog Isaf: C603019 
  • Moel Goch Bridge: C603026 
  • Bwlch Ehediad: C603028 
  • Pont Sarn yr Offeriad: C603032 
  • Pont Sarn Ddu: C603034 
  • Bwlch Cynnud: C603036 
  • Bwlch Bach: C603039 
  • Round Huts near Clogwyn Mawr: C603041 
  • Capel Horeb: C603047 
  • Pendyffryn stables: C603052 
  • Braich y Dinas: C603053 
  • Plas Coch: C603067 
  • Cwm Fynhadog Uchaf: C603074 
  • Tai, Dolwyddelan: C603081 
  • St Mary's Church, Rhossili: C603136 
  • 11 Castle Street: C603129 
  • The Old Cockpit, Conwy: C603131 

The Old Cockpit, Conwy, 1939: C603131, DS2015_021_012

  • 28 Castle Street, Conwy: C603134 
  • Bishopston Church: C603138 
  • Llanddewi Church: C603144 
  • Ogmore Castle: C603146 
  • St Donat's Castle: C603149 
  • Chantry House: C603151 
  • St John's Hospice: C603154 
  • Church House, Llantwit Major: C603159 
  • Candleston Castle: C603349 
  • Maen Ceti: C603354 
  • Samson’s Jacks standing stone: C603360 
  • Conwy Suspension Bridge: C603376 

1929 photo surveys of the following sites taken by B. C. Clayton:
  • Manorbier Castle: C603389 
  • Carew Church: C603386 
  • St Davids Cathedral: C603392 
  • Conwy Castle: C603401 
  • Skenfrith Castle: C603406 
  • Skenfrith: C603408 
  • Raglan Castle: C603410 
  • St Mary's College, St Davids: C603416 
  • Caernarfon Castle: C603544 
  • White Castle: C603555 
  • Margam Abbey Church: C603559 
  • Neath Abbey Church: C603571 
  • Llangan Churchyard Cross: C603573 
  • Llanwnog Church: C603575 
  • Ogam Stone, Nevern: C603580 
  • Pembroke Castle: C603582 
  • Nevern Cross: C603584 
  • Old Radnor Church: C603586 
  • Pontypool Park Gates: C603612 
  • Bettws Newydd Church: C603615 
  • Mitchel Troy Church: C603618 

Investigators' Photographs
  • Bethel Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, High Street, Pen-y-Groes: Photo survey comprising 1 B&W print taken by S. R. Hughes, January 2000: C602664 
  • Merthyr Mawr Sawmill: Photo survey comprising 22 B&W prints taken by B.A. Malaws, August 1999: C603229 

A.J. Parkinson Slide Collection
  • Sheet of slides showing architectural details of No7 Town Hill, Wrexham: C602812 
  • Sheet of slides showing various buildings, most of which are identified: C602817 

Additional Information
  • Two mounted black and white photographs showing Cors y Gedol Chamber, donated by Cadw: C603340 

General Digital Donations Collection
  • Batch of digital colour aerial photographs showing various sites in Wales taken by Paul R Davis using a quadcopter: C603049 
  • Report entitled: 'Discovery of a new Four Poster in North east Wales. Site no.70 from 'Digs, Discoveries and Megaliths' produced by the discoverer, John Denton Blore in 2014. Comprises electronic report and two photographs: C603353 

History of the Royal Commission
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Branch: desk instructions for the archival recording of antiquities and their publication on maps: C602661

Christopher J. Williams Mines Photographs
  • 96 catalogue entries of digital copies of 35mm slides of various lead mines and related artefacts in Wales, taken by Christopher J. Williams, during mine exploration and research 1970-2000. 


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Richardson, J. S. and Wood, Marguerite, 1953, The Castle of Edinburgh, H.M.S.O., Edinburgh.

Roberts, T. J., 1937, Ruthin: the official guide, J. Burrow & Co. Ltd., Cheltenham.

Shepherd Wheel, The Council for the conservation of Sheffield antiquities, Sheffield

Simmonds, Robin G., 2012, A history of the Port Talbot Railway & Docks Company and the South Wales Mineral Railway Company. Volume 1: 1853-1907, Lightmoor Press, Lydney.

Simmonds, Robin G., 2013, A history of the Port Talbot Railway & Docks Company and the South Wales Mineral Railway Company. Volume 2: 1894-1971, Lightmoor Press, Lydney.

Smith, Peter, 1990, The R.C.A.H.M Wales in my Time 1949 – 89, Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, London.

Spurgeon, C. J., 1973, The Castle and Borough of Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth Borough, Aberystwyth.

Spurgeon, C. J.,1975, The Castle and Borough of Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth Borough, Aberystwyth.

Steele, Philip, 2012, Llyn Cerrig Bach: treasure from the iron age, Oriel Ynys Môn, Ynys Môn.

Steer, Francis W., 1971, The Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel: a guide and a short history, Moore and Tyler, Chichester.

Stell, G. P. and Hay, G. D.,1984, Bonawe Iron Furnace, HMSO, Edinburgh.

Stratton, Michael, 1988, Industrial monuments in England: the iron and lead industries, The Ironbridge Institute, Shropshire.

Street and district maps of Abergavenny, Town & Country Publications, Sussex.

Street and district maps of Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, Rhayader, Town & Country Publications, Sussex.

Street maps of Bangor, Holyhead Menai Bridge & Amlwch, Town and Country Publications, Sussex.

Street map of Bridgend and district, Town & Country Publications, Sussex.

Street map of Colwyn Bay, Denbs., Town & Country Publications, Sussex

Street map of Llandudno, Norman Martell Ltd., Ramsgate.

Street map of Llandudno and district, Town & Country Publications, Sussex.

Y Swyddfa Gymreig Welsh Office, Kidwelly Castle, Dyfed, Headley Brothers Ltd, London.

Taylor, A. J., 1976, Basingwerk Abbey / Abaty dinas Basing Clwyd, Department of the Environment, Edinburgh.

Taylor, Christopher, Looking at cows - field archaeology in the 1980's: The second Beatrice de Cardi lecture 1977, Council for British Archaeology, London.

The new album of Rhyl views, (nd.

Thomas, Catherine E. (Ed), 1979, Celf a Chrefft: Exhibition, Art and Crafts Pavilion. National Eisteddfod Caernarfon and District, Cambrian News, Aberystwyth.

Thomas, Julian, 2013, The birth of Neolithic Britain: an interpretive account, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Thomas, Richard J., 1968, Bedd Taliesin (Taliesin’s grave), Amgueddfa Tre'rddôl, Tre'rddôl.

Thornes, Robin, 1990, Tyne and Wear vol. I, Tyneside, Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, London.

Titchmarsh, Peter and Helen, 1986, The Pembrokeshire coast by car, Jarrold, Norwich.

Titchmarsh, Peter and Helen, 1988, Wye Valley by car, Jarrold and Sons, Norwich.

Titchmarsh, Peter and Helen, 1993, Brecon Beacons by car, Jarrold, Norwich.

Thompson, W.J. (General Editor), 1989, A guide to the industrial heritage of West Yorkshire, Twelveheads, Redruth.

Tymms, Samuel, 1848, An architectural and historical account of Saint Mary's Church, St Bury St. Edmund’s, Part I, Jackson and Frost, Bury St. Edmund's.

Tymms, Samuel, 1848, An architectural and historical account of Saint Mary's Church, St Bury St. Edmund’s, Part II, Jackson and Frost, Bury St. Edmund's.

Tymms, Samuel, 1848, An architectural and historical account of Saint Mary's Church, St Bury St. Edmund’s, Part III, Jackson and Frost, Bury St. Edmund's.

U. S. Department of the Interior, 2000, Historic American engineering record; Volume 23, No. 4, US. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.

Wales Tourist Board, 1983, Wales architectural heritage, Wales Tourist Board, Cardiff.

White, Richard, 1988, Gerald's Wales: a twelfth century journey, Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments, Cardiff.

Wild, J., 1969, A short guide to the Cathedral Church of Durham.

Wiliam, Eurwyn, 2003, Rhyd-y-car: a Welsh mining community : the life, death and re-creation of a Welsh mining community, 1800-1980, National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cardiff.

Wyeth, Lynn, 2011, A practical guide to handling freedom of information requests, Ark Group in association with Inside Knowledge, London.

York Archaeological Trust / Ordnance Survey, 1988, Roman and Anglian York (Map), Ordnance Survey, Southampton.


Anglesey Antiquarian Society & Field Club Transactions (2013)

Antiquity vol. 89 no. 343 (February 2015)

Archaeology Ireland no. 110 (Winter 2014) [donation]

Archive: The Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History no. 85 (March 2015)

Brycheiniog vol. 46 (2015)

BSI Update Standards (March 2015)

C20: The Magazine of the Twentieth Century Society issue 1/2015

Cardiganshire Family History Society Journal 1996-2013 (some gaps) [donation]

Cartographic Journal vol. 52 no. 1 (February 2015)

Ceredigion vol. 18 no. 2 (2014)

CPRW Newsletter no. 11 (Summer 1971)

Current Archaeology no. 301 (April 2015)

Cymmrodorion Transactions vol. 20 (2014)

Dyfed Archaeological Trust Newsletter (Summer 2014 and Autumn 2014)

Dyfed Family History Journal 1984-2013 (some gaps) [donation]

Focus: Historic Scotland’s Annual Magazine (2015)

Gower Society Newsletter (Spring 2015)

Heritage Bill e-Bulletin no. 9 (February 2015) [electronic version only]

Historical Association Annual Report nos. 60 & 63 (1965/66 & 1968-69)

Journal of Ecclesiastical History vol. 39 no. 1 to vol. 49 no. 4 (1988-1998) [donation]

NAMHO Newsletter (March 2015) [electronic version only]

Pembrokeshire Life (March 2015)

Post-Medieval Archaeology vols. 39 and 42-48 (2005 and 2008-2014) [donation]

Railway and Canal Historical Society Bulletin no. 454 (March-April 2015)

Railway and Canal Historical Society Journal no. 222 (March 2015)

Twentieth Century Society News and Events (January 2015) [electronic version only]

The Victorian no. 48 (March 2015)

Welsh Mills Society Newsletter no. 119 (April 2015)

Welsh Railways Research Circle Newsletter no. 142 (March 2015)

Yr Ardd (National Botanic Garden of Wales Magazine) no. 22 (Autumn 2014)

Also: An index of articles on houses in Country Life from 2 June 1950 to 2 August 1962. Typescript. To be kept with pamphlets in the library, ref. H5.COU(P)

Journals Current Awareness

Ceredigion vol. 18 no. 2, p. 1: ‘The Strange Case of a Mysterious Lead Anomaly: Castell Grogwynion Hillfort, Ceredigion: Iron Age smelting, eighteenth century pottery or post medieval prospection?’ by Simon Timberlake, Keith Haylock, Toby Driver, Louise Barker, Phil Andrews, Brenda Craddock, Anthony Gilmour and Lorraine Mepham

Current Archaeology no. 301, p. 11: ‘New heads for English Heritage’ [on the appointment of new CEOs for the new bodies arising from EH’s impending reorganization]; p. 12: ‘The English Railway Station’ by Chris Catling

Focus: Historic Scotland’s Annual Magazine, p. 5 ‘Historic Scotland and RCAHMS join forces in new heritage organisation’

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Monday, 30 March 2015

Walking into history – completion of the fieldwork stage of the Welsh Uplands Archaeology Initiative

Peter Schofield and Hannah Leighton from Oxford Archaeology North (OAN), on fieldwork in Snowdonia with David Leighton (centre) of the Royal Commission.

Field archaeologists have been making history by completing the final surveys in the 28-year long Uplands Archaeology Initiative.

The Uplands Archaeology Initiative has been in progress since 1987, and sponsored by the Royal Commission since 1991. Wales is essentially an upland country and this project is a programme of archaeological investigation designed to promote a wider and deeper understanding of Welsh upland heritage through survey, research and publication. Its core activity has been the exploration of upland above about 244m (800 ft) with teams of archaeologists recording sites and monuments they find there.

Exploration has focused on the unimproved moorland component of the Welsh landscape. Although some parts had previously been investigated to a greater or lesser degree and monuments identified, no systematic programme of reconnaissance had been carried out and vast areas remained entirely unexamined. This immense exploratory stage of the project draws to a close this year. By the end of March 2015 a little more than 2500 km2 of moorland will have been surveyed since the inception of the project. This work has taken place in all weathers, in some of the most exposed and extreme environments in Wales.

The final surveys are now being completed and the last covers upland to the south of Trawsfynydd, around Craig Aberserw in the Snowdonia National Park. Fieldwork here is being carried out by Peter Schofield and Hannah Leighton from Oxford Archaeology North (OAN), one of several organisations to have participated regularly in the project, through grant aid, over many years. OAN has now spent nine seasons working in the project in the uplands of North Wales since 2002. They have investigated 350 km2 of moorland and recorded some 4500 sites and monuments.

Hannah Leighton from Oxford Archaeology North (OAN) making a detailed record of an abandoned cottage settlement on moorland near Trawsfynydd.

Peter and Hannah have been looking at a broad range of ancient structures including abandoned settlements, burnt mounds, burial monuments, old peat workings and sheepfolds, many of which were entirely unknown. This diversity is typical of upland environments which are generally conducive to monument survival. By the close of this season it is anticipated that the entire programme of exploration will have resulted in the recording of around 42,000 previously unrecorded archaeological features, and the updating and enhancement of existing records for about 6000 more.

This dataset is a rich resource of information on past land use in the Welsh uplands. The Royal Commission will now begin to examine the legacy and achievements of this long running project. The future analysis of nearly three decades of survey data should lead to a deeper and richer understanding of the part played by the uplands in the history and culture of Wales.

By David Leighton

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