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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Fulbright Students Visit the RCAHMW & North Ceredigion’s Mining Heritage

The US-UK Fulbright Commission Summer Institute (Wales) students with the tour leaders from Metal Links/RCAHMW.

Staff from the RCAHMW’s Metal Links Project recently played host to a group of American students participating in the US-UK Fulbright Commission Summer Institute educational exchange programme. Students from across the United States have the opportunity to experience an academic programme at highly regarded UK educational institutions, whilst exploring the culture, heritage and history of the UK and developing academic skills in areas such as research and presentation. The Metal Links team led the group of eight students, who have spent six weeks at Cardiff, Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities, on a tour of sites relating to the metal-mining heritage of north Ceredigion.

The day started with an introductory session at the RCAHMW, where the students learnt about the NMRW archive and collections, which include aerial photographs, maps, drawings, notebooks and archaeological records, among many other things. Following this, the first stop on the tour was the village of Cwmsymlog. This was once home to one of the premier lead and silver mining sites in the area; it was described by Lewis Morris in the 18th century as ‘the richest in Lead and Silver of any in his Majesty’s Dominions’ (NPRN 33830). As well as learning about the metal mining history of the area, RCAHMW Investigator Louise Barker also told the students all about the archaeology of the wider landscape around Cwmsymlog, which has some fine examples of prehistoric sites and monuments, including Darren Camp hillfort (NPRN 303592). From here, the group travelled to Ysbyty Cynfyn, where the students visited the church with its interesting graveyard and heard about various community initiatives in the area from the ever-enthusiastic churchwarden, Delyth.

The RCHAMW's Louise Barker explains the process of lead mining and the history of the site at Cwmystwyth, Ceredigion.

After a break for lunch at Devil’s Bridge, the next destination was Cwmystwyth and a chance for the students to see the stunning landscape formed by centuries of metal mining activity. There was also the opportunity to discuss present day issues affecting former mining sites, such as pollution, the modification of historic mining remains for energy generation, fly-tipping and the presentation of remote historic sites. To round off the day, the group visited Eglwys Newydd (Hafod Uchtryd Church; NPRN 743) on the boundary of the famous Hafod Estate, and learnt about the estate’s most famous owner, Thomas Johnes. It was a pleasure to introduce the students to the industrial heritage of north Ceredigion, to discuss wide-ranging topics and to showcase some fascinating historic sites to them. Hopefully they will take away good memories of their brief experience of this diverse historic landscape.

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