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Monday, 18 November 2013

Top Award For Royal Commission’s 3D Animation Of Copper Industry

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales’ use of computer reconstruction and animation to explain complex industrial archaeological sites has been recognised by an award from the Association of Industrial Archaeology (AIA).

The Hafod Copper Works animation, created in conjunction with Ceredigion–based visualisation company ThinkPlay, was carried out as part of the ESRC–funded project, The Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper. A focal part of the project was to enhance understanding of the Hafod Copper Works, at its height the largest copper–smelting works in the world, but which, since its closure in 1980, has largely disappeared. A particularly important aspect of the site is the Musgrave engine which powered the rolling mills, the only surviving insitu engine of its type. 

The two surviving engine sheds and rolling machinery at the Hafod Copper Works site. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
Utilising a wealth of survey carried out by the Royal Commission and our in-house expertise, combined with historic images from the West Glamorgan Record Office and Swansea Museum, the animation recreates the detail of buildings, machinery and processes on the site with a sense of the highly industrial nature of the Lower Swansea Valley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Stills from the animation. Crown Copyright: RCAHMW
As well as being a key part of the major The Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper temporary exhibition at the National Waterfront Museum (NWM), the animation has been used in an episode of Time Team, and is an integral part of the Swansea Community Boat experience. It has been shown in countries from France to China, as well as winning the acclaim of the American Society for Industrial Archaeology who have commended the film to their members. The animation is now on permanent display at the NWM.

While the Royal Commission has long been known for using informed 2D cutaway drawings and reconstructions in such books as the ground-breaking Houses of the Welsh Countryside, in recent years it has lead the way in the use of digital technologies in interpreting complex sites across Wales. The granting of the Peter Neaverson Award recognises the impact that this work has had on developing the interpretation, dissemination and conservation of our industrial heritage and archaeology. Examples of all RCAHMW animations can be viewed at

The Hafod Copper Works animation was funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)as part of The Global and Local Worlds of Welsh Copper, led by Swansea University and the European–funded Atlanterra project.

The first Award for Digital Innovation has been made to the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales for their animation of the Swansea copper industry. Stephen Hughes received the Award from AIA President Marilyn Palmer at the Association’s Conference Dinner on board HMS Unicorn in Dundee.

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