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Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Library of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

National Monuments Record of Wales’ Search Room and Library
Aberystwyth is a town of books, housing the National Library of Wales, the University’s libraries and the newly-housed public library. One of its least known and best kept secrets is the gem-like collection held in the library of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Here can be found a small specialist library that supports the work of staff as well as providing a reference collection for the general public to browse when visiting. It holds books, guides, pamphlets, maps and journals relating to all aspects of the built environment ranging from Neolithic dwellings to railway transport systems; building legislation to tinplate processing.

In particular, books of Welsh interest can be found telling the story of how Wales was formed as a land and as a nation. They cover the geology of Wales, its topography, archaeology and architecture. There are local, county and national studies that offer context, interpretation and explanation for the way Wales has developed. The library holds reports and works of reference that place the Welsh story in a British, European and global context. Whether you are interested in the Romans or in the Middle Ages, in specific architectural features such as stained glass or cruck frames, in how the industrial revolution took hold and shaped Wales, or how non-conformity was manifested, you will find a book that aids your research in the Royal Commission’s library.

It is a unique collection that has grown through acquisition, donations and books presented in lieu of copyright and license fees. Examples include English Vernacular Architecture by Eric Mercer (1975) in our architecture section, and Larn’s Shipwreck Index of the British Isles (2000) in our maritime section. We also hold a small collection of rare books and first editions, including Thomas Pennant’s, A Tour in Wales, vol. II (1783) and William Coxe’s An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire (1801) which provide wonderful descriptions and illustrations of the scenic wonders and antiquities of Wales. They also depict some of the industrial marvels of the time, such as Blaenavon Ironworks. 

Plate showing Blaenavon Ironworks from An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, William Coxe, 1801

The visitor to the library will find a full set of the journals published by Welsh county, antiquarian, archaeological and historical societies, which present over 100 years of record and inquiry. There are also a wide range of archaeological, architectural and historical journals covering such specialist topics as industrial engineering, in the International Journal of History and Technology, produced by the Newcomen Society, and Welsh nonconformity, in the Capel Newsletter.

You are welcome to come in and browse the library’s collections on Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 4:00, Wednesday 10:30 to 4:30.

If you would like further information, please contact us at or ring 01970 621200.

Plan of Tre’r Ceiri Hillfort from Thomas Pennant’s, A Tour in Wales, vol. II, 1783

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