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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

New Fishtraps For Cardigan Bay

The Royal Commission survey team (Deanna Groom, Louise Barker, Ollie Davis, Nikki Vousden)
(photo Rowan ONeil)

The Royal Commission’s new Reconnaissance Team has begun working on a project to map the visible remains of fish traps along the Welsh coast drawing on our extensive aerial photograph collections.

Royal Commission staff and University of Trinity St David placement student Nikki Vousden also spent two days in mid May looking at the complex of fish traps at Llanon. Four fish traps were surveyed, including a new one identified initially from National Assembly of Wales aerial photograph coverage dating 2005. The trap was confirmed on the ground as comprising two walls (approximately 3m wide and over 100m in length) running at an angle down the beach to converge at low water (see NPRN 413831).

Royal Commission staff surveying the remains of one of the stone arms of the newly discovered fish trap.
Fish traps, or goradau, were once a common feature coming in lots of different shapes and sizes - from curving half-moon shaped enclosures and rectangles, to shapes that resemble the handles of a shepherd’s crook or “V” sometimes combined to form zigzags hundreds of metres in length.

Fish traps worked by herding and then trapping fish behind stone walls and fences of wattle. As the tide receded, fish would be caught in a net or woven basket in the sluice where the water drained out of the trap. Other traps appear to have been worked as tidal ponds in which the fish could be held to be later caught in hand nets or speared.

Members of Llansantffraed History Society have undertaken research into the Llanon fish traps, which are mentioned in a 11th century charter for the Strata Florida Abbey and were worked by local people into the 1920s. The Royal Commission team were joined by one of the society’s members, Rowan O’Neill, during the foreshore survey.
An oblique aerial photograph of the fish traps at the northern end of Swansea bay taken by Toby Driver, the Royal Commission’s aerial photographer and head of the Reconnaissance Team in July 2009.
A mosaic of aerial photographs dating to 1966 geo-referenced within the Royal Commission’s GIS and used to map the multiple phases of the ‘zig-zag’ complexes.
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