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Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Story of Wales – episode 6: Wales and Britain






The sixth and final episode of the BBC Wales series ‘The Story of Wales’ followed the events and changes in Wales from WWII to the present day, covering a host of topics such as WWII bombing in Swansea, the start of the NHS under Aneurin Bevan, the steel industries at Port Talbot, Ebbw Vale and Shotton, the Welsh language movement and the steps towards independent Welsh government. This popular series has been valuable in increasing understanding of the history of Wales and has sparked debate into what it means to be Welsh in the 21st century. The episodes are viewable on BBC iPlayer for the next few days and a DVD is now available through the Open University. The series will be shown again on BBC Two shortly.

If you want to find out more about some of the sites covered in episode 6, follow the links below:

Other links:

Finally, the Royal Commission's superbly illustrated book, Hidden Histories: Discovering the Heritage of Wales is an informative companion for anyone interested in the life and heritage of Wales and is now available for only £19.95 or alternatively only £17.95 for Friends of the Royal Commission with their special 10% discount.


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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Surveying at Pen-y-Bryn Slate Quarry in the Nantlle Valley





RCAHMW Investigator Spencer Smith surveying a row of workers’ cottages at Pen y Bryn Slate Quarry in the Nantlle Valley.

Louise Barker and Spencer Smith, Investigators with the Royal Commission are in the process of surveying Pen-y-Bryn Slate Quarry in the Nantlle Valley (NPRN: 33674) as part of the Atlanterra Project .

Pen-y-Bryn Slate Quarry is not as well known as Dorothea Slate Quarry (NPRN: 40539) to the west with its rare surviving Beam engine, or Pen-yr-orsedd Slate Quarry (NPRN: 40565) to the north with a series of aerial ropeways known as 'Blondins'. However, it is important because the complex of buildings used by the quarry workers survives almost complete including  their cottages a Saw Mill and a Weighbridge.

The quarry buildings were not the first buildings to be constructed at Pen-y-bryn, and the quarry takes its name from a 17th-century house which was still occupied while the slate quarry was in production around it and continued to be lived in until after World War II. The house is already designated a listed building by CADW, and when surveyed as part of the quarry complex will provide an important addition to the Royal Commission archive.
 

Dr. Gwynfor Pierce Jones, an expert on the slate industry of the Nantlle Valley and Eryl Williams, Conservation Officer for Gwynedd County Council are among those who viewed the survey work in progress.

Further survey work will be carried out in the coming weeks to survey the pumping system which kept the Quarry pits from filling with water whilst they were being worked by the quarrymen, and an animation of the complex will be completed for summer 2012.


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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Aeroplanes, Lasers & Puffins: My Year at the Royal Commission - Part 2





The view from above is often astonishing and can give an understanding and appreciation of the archaeology of Wales that is often not possible from the ground.  I found it difficult at first to orientate myself and get used to the different scales of places and buildings when seen from the air.  Even familiar landscapes that I have lived in for years and visited regularly on the ground appeared so different from the aerial perspective.  But it wasn’t until my first front seat flight that I realised just how tricky it was to look for archaeology whilst also navigating and taking photographs!  It is a juggling act that takes experience and a cool head, but I was always helped along the way by the expert flying of the pilots such as Bob and Gwyndaf at Welshpool and Haverfordwest Airports.

Looking from above can give an entirely different perspective of the archaeology of Wales. Here, on Harding’s Down, Gower, three Iron Age hillforts are sited within a stone’s throw from each other – a view that is difficult to appreciate from the ground.

We fly throughout the year. The low light of winter and spring is ideal for picking out the earthworks of ancients forts and fields, but it was the cropmark months of the summer that I found the most thrilling when we could discover tens of new sites in a single flight. Cropmarks form in ripening wheat and barley when buried archaeological features, such as walls or ditches, stunt or promote the growth of the plants during hot, dry weather. These can leave fantastic shapes on the ground that show the outlines of long-lost forts and buildings.  I still remember the exhilaration the first time I saw one and realised that I had discovered new evidence of the ancient occupation of Wales.

My first cropmark – a new discovery of a small Iron Age defended enclosure in Ceredigion.
What has been great about my time at the Royal Commission is that I’ve been given the opportunity to gain experience of so many different areas of work.  One of the highlights has been undertaking fieldwork on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire.  Famed for its puffins and other seabirds, the island is also home to one of the best preserved prehistoric farming landscapes anywhere in the British Isles.  I feel really privileged to have been part of a team undertaking a new ground survey of the surviving remains, working in one of the most beautiful landscapes of Wales, with some of the most dedicated and enthusiastic archaeologists the country has to offer.

The puffins of Skomer Island, perhaps curious about our new survey of the archaeological remains.
  
And that is what sums up my year at the Royal Commission: when your office is the front seat of an aeroplane or amongst the puffins on a remote island you know you’re in a good spot!
Oliver Davis won a year’s bursary supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Institute for Archaeologists to train in aerial archaeology with the Royal Commission.  A sumptuous new Royal Commission book by Toby Driver and Oliver Davis “Historic Wales from the Air – Images from the National Monuments Record of Wales” celebrating aerial photography in Wales is due in April 2012.


Oliver Davis, Royal Commission, March 2012.

View Part 1
<< Aeroplanes, Lasers & Puffins: My Year at the Royal Commission - Part 1

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Monday, 26 March 2012

Gwaith Celf Diwydiannol Unigryw yn Ennill Cymorth Cronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri





Melin Pant-yr-Ynn, Bethania, NPRN:-28620

Mae Cronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri wedi dyfarnu £46,700 i Gomisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru i brynu casgliad unigryw o fwy na 600 o luniadau a dyfrlliwiau gwreiddiol gan Falcon Hildred, artist sy’n gweithio yng Nghymru’n bennaf . Mae’r Comisiwn Brenhinol, sydd â’i swyddfa yn Aberystwyth, yn gweithio mewn partneriaeth ag Ymddiriedolaeth Amgueddfa Ironbridge Gorge (yr IGMT) i achub y cofnod gweledol nodedig hwn o adeiladau a threfweddau diwydiannol er mwyn i genedlaethau ddydd a ddaw gael ei fwynhau.

Mae’r casgliad wedi’i gatalogio gyda chymorth gwirfoddolwyr, a bydd sganio o ansawdd uchel yn sicrhau y bydd lluniau digidol gwych ohono ar gael ar-lein drwy Coflein (cronfa ddata ar-lein y Comisiwn Brenhinol) a gwefannau Ironbridge a Chasgliad y Werin Cymru. Yn ogystal, bwriedir cynnal arddangosfeydd, sgyrsiau cyhoeddus a chyhoeddiad awdurdodol yn 2012 i roi rhagor o gyhoeddusrwydd i’r casgliad.

Mwynglawdd a chwarel lechi’r Oakeley, Blaenau Ffestiniog, NPRN:-404307

Artist hynod ddawnus yw Falcon Hildred ac mae ef wedi cysegru gwaith ei fywyd i gofnodi adeiladau a thirweddau diwydiant yn y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg a’r ugeinfed ganrif. Mae ei waith o werth esthetig, hanesyddol a chymdeithasol mawr gan iddo fwrw ati i gofnodi’r newidiadau technolegol a pheirianyddol, a ffordd o fyw sy’n diflannu’n gyflym, yn fanwl iawn. Mae’r lluniadau’n cofnodi Blaenau Ffestiniog (cartref yr artist oddi ar 1969 a man y mae wedi cofnodi llawer arno) ac amryw o drefi diwydiannol yng Nghymru a Lloegr, gan gynnwys Caerdydd, Casnewydd ac Abertawe yn ogystal â Grimsby, Coventry, Llundain a Birmingham.

Falcon Hildred wrth ei fwrdd lluniadu
Caiff arddangosfa fawr o ddetholiad o’i weithiau gwreiddiol ei chynnal yn Oriel Coalbrookdale yn Ironbridge o ddiwedd mis Medi 2012 tan fis Ebrill 2013 a’r bwriad yw mynd â’r arddangosfa ar daith o 2013 ymlaen. Caiff fersiynau digidol o’r arddangosfa eu dangos yn y Sioe Frenhinol ac yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn 2013. Ym mis Medi 2012 cyhoeddir llyfr a fydd yn tynnu sylw at bwysigrwydd y casgliad a’r artist. Y cyhoeddiad hwnnw, a’r ymchwil ar ei gyfer, fydd y sail i gyfres o sesiynau newydd o addysg ac estyn-allan yn Ironbridge o dan arweiniad staff addysg yr Amgueddfa a’u gwirfoddolwyr. Cynhyrchir deunydd addysgol hefyd ar gyfer gwefan Casgliad y Werin Cymru.

Wrth sôn am y dyfarniad, meddai Peter Wakelin, Ysgrifennydd y Comisiwn Brenhinol, “Mae prynu’r casgliad hwn yn golygu y caiff oes o waith cofnodi ei diogelu at y dyfodol. Mae Falcon Hildred yn rhoi i ni ffyrdd newydd o edrych ar adeiladau a thirweddau hanesyddol ac yn ein hysbrydoli. Mae’n apelio at bawb – o blant ifanc i benseiri ac arbenigwyr ar dreftadaeth. Mae clywed y bydd yr adnodd gwych hwn ar gael i bawb am byth o hyn ymlaen yn newyddion arbennig o braf.”

Wrth esbonio pwysigrwydd cymorth Cronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri, meddai Steve Miller, Prif Weithredwr Ymddiriedolaeth Amgueddfa Ironbridge Gorge, “Rydyn ni’n ddiolchgar tu hwnt i Gronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri am ein helpu ni i brynu’r casgliad rhyfeddol hwn. Rydyn ni’n edrych ymlaen at weithio gyda’r Comisiwn Brenhinol i sicrhau y gall cynifer o bobl â phosibl fwynhau gwaith artist disglair ac unigryw sydd wedi dogfennu’r oes ddiwydiannol mewn ffordd mor gwbl nodedig”.






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Unique Industrial Artwork Wins Heritage Lottery Fund Support





Pant-yr-Ynn Mill, Bethania, NPRN:-28620
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £46,700 to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales to acquire a unique collection of over 600 original drawings and watercolours by Falcon Hildred, the Wales-based artist. The Royal Commission, based in Aberystwyth, is working in partnership with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) to save this outstanding visual record of industrial buildings and townscapes for future generations.
  
With the help of volunteers, the collection has been catalogued, and high-quality scanning will ensure that superb digital images will be available online through Coflein (the Royal Commission’s online database), and both the Ironbridge and People’s Collection Wales websites. In addition, exhibitions, public talks and an authoritative publication are planned for 2012 to further publicise the collection.



Oakeley slate mine and quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog, NPRN:- 404307
Falcon Hildred is a highly accomplished artist who has dedicated his working life to recording the buildings and landscapes of nineteenth-and twentieth-century industry, producing works of high aesthetic, historic and social value. He has recorded in detail technological and engineering change and a rapidly disappearing way of life. The drawings record Blaenau Ffestiniog (the artist’s home since 1969 and a place he has recorded extensively), and a number of industrial towns in Wales and England. These include Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, as well as Grimsby, Coventry, London and Birmingham. 

Falcon Hildred at his drawing board.
A major exhibition of selected originals will run from late September 2012 to April 2013 in the Coalbrookdale Gallery at Ironbridge with further touring exhibitions being planned from 2013 onwards. Digital versions of the exhibition will be shown at the Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod in 2013. A book highlighting the significance of the collection and the artist will be published in September 2012. This publication and the research for it will be the basis for a series of new educational and outreach sessions at Ironbridge led by the Museum’s education staff and their volunteers. Educational material will also be generated for the People’s Collection Wales website.

Commenting on the award, Peter Wakelin, Secretary of the Royal Commission, said “The acquisition of this collection represents a lifetime’s recording work being safeguarded for the future. Falcon Hildred gives us inspiring new ways of looking at historic buildings and landscapes that readily engage everyone from small children to architects and heritage experts. It is great news that this fantastic resource will be now available to all in perpetuity”.

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Steve Miller, CEO of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust  said “We are immensely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support in acquiring this amazing collection.  We are looking forward to working with the Royal Commission to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the work of a brilliant and unique artist whose documenting of the industrial age is truly breath-taking”.

 





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Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Story of Wales – episode 5 – A New Beginning





The fifth episode of the BBC Wales series ‘The Story of Wales’ explored how the discovery of steam coal in the Rhondda led to massive immigration to the valleys of South Wales and the development of the docks at Cardiff and Barry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It showed the opulent castles at Cardiff and Penrhyn, illustrating the wealth created both in the coal and the north Wales slate industries. The episode also covered sport, entertainment, male voice choirs and the darker side of industrialisation – poverty, mining accidents, strikes and lockouts.

The final episode in the series entitled ‘Wales and Britain’ will be shown on Monday at 9pm.

If you want to find out more about some of the sites covered, follow the links below:

Other links:



Finally, the Royal Commission's superbly illustrated book, Hidden Histories: Discovering the Heritage of Wales is an informative companion for anyone interested in the life and heritage of Wales and is now available for only £19.95 or alternatively only £17.95 for Friends of the Royal Commission with their special 10% discount.



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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Ysgol Ddydd Archaeoleg Ceredigion





Manylion cranc a gêr y drwm weindio ar yr olwyn ddŵr ym Mwynglawdd Ystrad Einion, NPRN:-33908
Dydd Sadwrn 24 Mawrth 2012 yng Nghanolfan Morlan,
Aberystwyth 10.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m

Bydd dau o archaeolegwyr blaenllaw’r Comisiwn, Dr Toby Driver a Louise Barker, yn cefnogi Ysgol Ddydd Archaeoleg Ceredigion yn Aberystwyth ar 24ain Mawrth. Trefnir y digwyddiad gan Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Dyfed ac fe fydd yn ddiwrnod o gyflwyniadau, arddangosfeydd a thrafodaethau ar ganlyniadau ymchwil ac ymchwiliadau archaeolegol diweddar yng Ngheredigion.  Bydd Louise Barker yn sôn am arolygu mwynglawdd copr Ystrad Einon a chreu animeiddiad 3D ohono, a bydd Dr Toby Driver yn sgwrsio am y gwaith cloddio yn fila Rufeinig Abermagwr fis Gorffennaf diwethaf. Bydd ein dau archaeolegydd cymunedol o’r Prosiect Cysylltiadau Metel yno hefyd i gynnal arddangosfa a sôn am eu gwaith.

£3 sy’n cynnwys te, coffi a bisgedi. Archebwch yn gynnar er mwyn osgoi cael eich siomi.
Cysylltwch â : Menna Bell, Archaeolegydd Cymunedol Ffôn 01558 825997 m.bell@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk


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Ceredigion Archaeology Day School





Detail of the crank and gear to the winding drum of the waterwheel at Ystrad Einion Mine, NPRN:-33908

Saturday 24th March 2012 at the Morlan Centre,  Aberystwyth
10.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.


Two of the Commission’s leading archaeologists, Dr Toby Driver and Louise Barker will be supporting the Ceredigion Archaeology Day School in Aberystwyth on the 24th March. The event is being organised by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust and it will be a day of presentations, exhibitions and discussions on the results of recent archaeological research and investigations in Ceredigion. Louise Barker is giving a talk on the surveying and 3D animation of Ystrad Einion copper mine and Dr Toby Driver will be chatting about the dig at Abermagwr Roman villa last July. In addition, our two community archaeologists from the Metal Links Project will be also there with an exhibition and to talk about their work.


£3 to include tea, coffee and biscuits. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Contact: Menna Bell, Community Archaeologist Tel. 01558 825997  m.bell@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk


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