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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Crowd-sourcing Wales’ Favourite Building





Aberystwyth University Computer Science undergraduate, Daniel Drave, explains his work in the Royal Commission’s Data and Technology team:
 
As the developer of the My Favourite Building mobile application and website service, I have been able to expand my knowledge of the professional working world, expand on my skills in computer programming and contribute to a programme of delivery with the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth. My work placement is officially with a policy division in the Welsh Government, CyMAL: Museums Archives & Libraries, and the placement with the Royal Commission is an extension of that.

Dan at work on the project.
Tom Pert, On-line Development Manager at the Royal Commission, presented to CyMAL the idea of a crowd-sourcing digital heritage mobile application to support user-contribution to the People’s Collection Wales website. As I had gained suitable skills from studying Computer Science at Aberystwyth University, I offered to lead the development of the app.

My Favourite Building homepage.
The crowd-sourcing app will allow users to photograph their favourite historic building using the camera on their smartphone. They can then enter some information about why it is their favourite building and upload the record to a web service. The web service provides an attractive user-interface for viewing their own, and other users’, contributions and offers access to other services, including profile management and quick searches. Site administrators or local community project leaders will also have the ability to create new projects, allowing users to upload new content for a wide variety of topics. Projects could include ‘My Local Pub’ or ‘My favourite heritage site’. The app is designed to be flexible and it’s hoped it will be used in various situations, from recreational use to educational workshops.


Data entry screen (left) and completed record screen (right) on the My Favourite Building app

The project is in the final stages of development and a prototype of both the app and website will be available for user testing by mid-February. The app will be available for the Android operating system, and the website has been optimized for Mozilla Firefox.

If you would like to know more about the My Favourite Building project, please contact: tom.pert@rcahmw.gov.uk

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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Creating A New Sense Of Place - Digital Past 2013





Dissemination of, and public engagement with, the outcomes of historical research can benefit from tourism management and the intervention of cultural institutions in utilising new digital technologies that promote engaging ways of enhancing the visitor experience. These resources may be online or on site, but equally provide a new critical currency in the global digital economy.


Professor Ray Howells of the South Wales Centre for Historical and Interdisciplinary Research and Matt Chilcott, development director for digital tourism, interpretation and inclusion at CMC2 Community Interest Group and PhD scholar at the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling will be discussing their experiences of work carried out by SWICHR in the creation of immersive digital environments and other projects.


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Friday, 25 January 2013

Outside Education Group visits the Royal Commission





Richard Suggett shows the children a salmon spear, much to their surprise.
On Wednesday 23 January, sixteen home-schooled children accompanied by their parents had the opportunity to visit the offices of the Royal Commission in Aberystwyth for an afternoon packed with archaeological and historical fun-based activities. During the afternoon, everyone had the opportunity to study and peruse old maps, reconstruction drawings and aerial photographs, and handle original artifacts found in old houses ― the salmon spear was much admired! They also learnt how to plot the dimensions of a room using the total station laser scanner, to search for information through Coflein, our on-line database, and saw the wealth of historical photographs that are offered from the Britain From Above website. As you can see from the photos, great fun was had by all.

Anna Evans, the People’s Collection Wales learning officer, with a group of children looking at old maps in the Library and Search Room of the Royal Commission.
There was much interest in the aerial photographs.



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Monday, 21 January 2013

Raglan Sense of Roots - Digital Past 2013





Dr Cheryl Morgan of Raglan Local Archives will be at Digital Past 2013 talking about the latest digital projects that have been taking place within the Raglan and District Local History Group. These projects include:

  • A Digital Story Telling Project - a digital archive of local records and digital media at http://www.raglan-history.org.uk/ working with youth groups to digitise and catalogue over 800 historical photographs, maps, wills and other documents, and the creation of digital stories.
  • The Raglan Local Ways Project - linking Raglan Primary School Children with long time residents. A CD was published including old photo's and video records of elderly residents reflecting on the changes in Raglan Village in the last century. In the past two years, the Raglan History Detectives after school club has focused on learning history through studying and conserving the graves in St Cadoc's Churchyard.  
  • Raglan Village Domesday Wiki site as a repository for local historical records and memories. Since its establishment the wiki has had over 30,000 hits from around the world. 
  •  The current QR based project for Heritage Landmarks

For further details read the full abstract.


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Friday, 18 January 2013

Wales Under Snow – Winter Archaeology From The Air





The first snows of 2013 provided breathtaking conditions for Royal Commission aerial reconnaissance on 15th January. Despite leaving Haverfordwest airport under rain showers, the hills of eastern Wales were covered by a blanket of snow providing immaculate conditions for earthwork recording combined with the low winter sun.

Painscastle motte and bailey.

Aerial reconnaissance over the Radnorshire commons east of Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells, together with recording to the south along the Usk Valley between Llangorse and Brecon, targeted underflown scheduled ancient monuments for Cadw as well as looking for previously unrecorded archaeological sites.

Snow ‘evens out’ the colours of the landscape allowing complex earthwork monuments to be seen more clearly and precisely. At the same time drifting or melting snow, as well as melting frost on improved pasture, all help to show up slight differences in topography which can highlight an archaeological site.

The snow proved ideal for making stunning new records of well-known monuments like Painscastle medieval motte and bailey and the complex hillfort and medieval castle at Cefnllys together with previously unrecorded earthworks to the north.

The scheduled ancient monument of Cwm-twrch medieval settlement (small rectangle, far right), matched by newly-recorded ploughed-down earthworks of a larger platform settlement on the opposite side of the valley (feint lines, left)

As well as discovering new monuments like the unrecorded house platform and earthworks on the opposite side of a minor valley from the scheduled Cwm-Twrch deserted rural settlement in Radnorshire. Another interesting discovery were near-invisible earthworks of a probable moated site near Llangasty-Talyllyn, south of Llangorse Lake, showing as lines in melting frost. These special weather conditions rarely last for long, making timely aerial reconnaissance imperative.

For more winter aerial views of Wales under snow, see the 2012 book by the Royal Commission



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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Glamorgan Early Castles





Glamorgan Early Castles
In its first century, the Royal Commission has produced more than 55 major publications. These have already made an enormous contribution to the understanding of the archaeological, built and maritime heritage of Wales, and many more books are in the pipeline. All of the publications are available in public and institutional libraries throughout Wales as well as in the Commission’s library and archive search room in Aberystwyth. Books still available for sale are listed in the Bookshop.

This title is now out of print, but is available as an eBook.
Buy eBook Now Glamorgan: Early Castles at Google Play. 

Glamorgan Early Castles
Fifty-seven castles founded in Glamorgan by 1217 are here described. These include mottes. castle-ringworks, and presumed Welsh earthworks, all without masonry, as well as sixteen masonry castles ranging from well known sites at Cardiff, Coity, and Ogmore, to the Welsh stone castle now identified at Plas Baglan. Later defensive monuments will be described in part lb.
Published 1991.

Content
Map of sites treated in this Part (la) of Volume IIII
Chairman's Preface
Report, with a List of Monuments selected by the Commissioners
as most worthy of preservation
List of Commissioners and Staff
Authorship and Compilation
Presentation of Material

Introductory Survey
I The Division of the material; Parts la and lb Explained
II The Geographical Background
III The Historical Background (1072-1217)
IV The Early Castles Discussed

Inventory of the Early Castles
Section MO: Mottes without Masonry
Section CR: Castle-Ringworks without Masonry
Section UW: Unclassified, probably Welsh Castles
Section VE: Vanished Early Castles
Section MM: Masonry Castles Built Over Mottes
Section MR: Masonry Castles built over Castle-ringworks
Section EM: Early Masonry Castles

Abbreviated Titles of References
Map and List of Ecclesiastical Parishes, with incidence of Monuments
Map and List of Civil Parishes, with incidence of Monuments
Index of National Grid References for sites treated in Part la
Glossary: General
Glossary: Welsh Terms and Place-name Elements
List of Figures, including maps and photographs
General Index
Alphabetical List of sites treated in Part 1 b of Volume III
Map of sites treated in Part lb of Volume III

Related Publication Links:
Gwerthu Llyfrau
Book Sales

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Inside Welsh Homes Exhibition at Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, Bangor





Our popular ‘Inside Welsh Homes’ exhibition is moving on once again, this time to Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery in Bangor, north Wales.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 19 January 2013 until Saturday 2 March. Over thirty images of Welsh homes from the Commission’s extensive archive will be on show, alongside domestic objects from the museum’s own collections. The exhibition will be supported by the Commission’s Inside Welsh Homes book.

Rachael Barnwell, the Royal Commission exhibition curator for the Inside Welsh Homes exhibition, will be delivering a short talk at the opening of the exhibition on 19 January.

For details about opening times and admission, please visit the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery website, or call 01248 353 368.

Although modern refrigeration became commercially available following the Second World War, the technology was not always taken up by homes in Wales until later. This photograph of Henryd in Caernarfonshire was taken in 1950, and shows that meat was still being preserved and stored in the traditional way.
DI2012_0138   NPRN 26615


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Monday, 7 January 2013

Snowdonia Flights Reveal Winter Treasures





Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa summit with two walkers at the summit
AP_2012_5401

In the recent frosty December weather, Toby Driver from the Royal Commission got airborne over the hills of Snowdonia and Llŷn accompanied by the archaeologist for Snowdonia National Park Authority, John Roberts. The low December sunlight, combined with the effects of melting frost, proved ideal for recording slight earthworks and stony banks of Snowdonia’s numerous prehistoric hut groups and hillforts, together with field systems which date from prehistory to medieval and later times. The extremes of winter light are particularly effective at revealing wide-spreading traces of field systems in cultivated land which can be invisible at other times of year. Having John’s regional expertise onboard was invaluable and brought new insight to the view from the aircraft.

Flights made over Llanddeiniolen and around the great Iron Age hillfort of Dinas Dinorwig and eastwards to Llanllechid north of Bethesda to document sites managed by Cadw, revealed extensive traces of forgotten field systems under improved pasture. Similar remains of prehistoric homesteads and terraced fields were seen throughout the parkland at Glynllifon, site of the 2012 Urdd National Eisteddfod, and along the improved coastal plain between Harlech and Barmouth where the Hafotty manganese mines were also documented.

At the same time Toby and John were struck by the extensive survival of ridge and furrow cultivation on many coastal hills and at higher altitudes inland, frequently found in association with prehistoric, medieval or later upland settlements. This fragile evidence of plough cultivation only survives where pasture and open moorland has been spared from modern ploughing and improvement. It is difficult to date. We are content that much of the ridge and furrow cultivation close to long houses and medieval and later farms is contemporary with those settlements. However, more basic cultivation ridges occur close to later prehistoric round houses and ‘concentric’ homesteads suggesting the widespread survival of prehistoric ploughing.

The flights over Snowdonia and northern Llŷn several new sites and many famous ones like Tre’r Ceiri hillfort and the renowned prehistoric landscapes above Egryn near Dyffryn Ardudwy. On the way back to Caernarfon Airport there was also a chance to capture the high peaks around Yr Wyddfa, Snowdon, under freezing conditions and snow with two walkers proudly standing at the summit of Yr Wyddfa itself.

Well-preserved remains of a later prehistoric enclosed hut group and associated fields at Cwm, Clynnog, picked out in low winter light. AP_2012_5522


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Thursday, 3 January 2013

digiDo Project at Digital Past 2013





Dr Ted Jones of the National Library of Wales will be presenting on the digiDo Project at Digital Past 2013. The Theatre of Memory programme has aimed to digitise as much printed material published in Wales as possible and make it freely available and accessible via the internet, giving Wales and the Welsh an enhanced online identity on a worldwide stage.

Key initiatives to date include:
  • Welsh Biography Online that holds approximately 5,000 biographies of eminent Welshmen/ women who died before 1 January 1971.
  • Welsh Journals Online which offers access to a selection of 50 modern periodicals and 300 historical titles in both Welsh and English.
  • Welsh Ballads Online that comprises of approximately 4,000 digitised ballads, mainly dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Welsh Newspapers Online which is the National Library of Wales’ entire holdings of pre-1910 Welsh newspapers: a magnificent resource of everyday knowledge estimated to contain over 1 million pages and 200 newspaper titles covering every corner of Wales. 


Additionally, the Library’s collections of manuscripts, wills, archives, maps, paintings, photographs and drawings have also been digitised.

Dr Jones will be speaking about the process of scanning, OCR'ing, metadata, data management and data dissemination. For the full abstract go to our speakers page.

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