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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Eisteddfod and Olympic Targets in South Wales From the Air

All set for the Eisteddfod at the Llandow Airfield  next week. NPRN:307839
A Royal Commission aerial reconnaissance flight on 24th July 2012 in stunning weather conditions in south Wales took in some timely cultural and Olympic targets as part of its wider archaeological work on a three and a half hour return flight ranging from Pembrokeshire to Chepstow. The wet summer has meant that archaeological ‘cropmarks’ in ripening fields of wheat, showing where old enclosures and buildings have been lost to the plough, were not much in evidence.

However, the opportunity was taken to document the site of the forthcoming 2012 National Eisteddfod  at the Llandow airfield in the Vale of Glamorgan, where the Eisteddfod Maes is taking shape. Flight restrictions within the controlled airspace of both Cardiff Airport and RAF St Athan nearby mean that the aerial photographer is reliant on the skills of the pilot to negotiate access for just the right aerial shots. The photographer has to work extremely quickly in such a busy zone!

Flying the week before the Olympics got started also allowed the Royal Commission to document key Welsh sites involved in the games for the National Monuments Record of Wales including the Wales National Velodrome at Newport, where Team GB were practising at the time of the photography, along with the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff the day before the Olympic football tournaments began. As with the recently acquired historic Aerofilms collection for Wales, these images will form a permanent record in the National Monuments Record of Wales of transient cultural and sporting events so important to Wales in 2012.

A wide view of the Wales National Velodrome
(white roof next to running track) AP_2012_3189
Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, NPRN: 309686
Several hundred other targets were recorded in south Wales during the flight which now require processing and cataloguing before being uploaded onto the free online database Coflein. Routing back to Haverfordwest Airport in Pembrokeshire, we also took advantage of the stunning visibility to climb to 4,000 ft and document some key Welsh landscapes on the return journey, including high views of western Gower with Burry Holms (right foreground  ) and Worms Head (peninsula, rear ) framing this view of Rhossili Bay.

Burry Holms , NPRN:301302  (right foreground  ) and Worms Head NPRN: 305465, AP_2012_3280

See other aerial views of Wales, dating from the 1920s to 2012, in the Royal Commission’s new book Cymru Hanesyddol o'r Awyr / Historic Wales From the Air by Toby Driver and Oliver Davis.

For sporting fans Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales by Daryl Leeworthy will soon be available with a 10% discount for Friends.

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