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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Job Vacancy - Mapping Officer





Closing Date: 19 April 2013
Pay: £20,100 per annum.
Location: Aberystwyth
Contract: 10 month


Job Desription:
37 hours per week Fixed term appointment until 31.3.14 Pay Band C £20,100 - £25,200 per annum (Appointment is normally made at or near the minimum of the pay band) Based in Aberystwyth the Royal Commission is the organisation responsible for surveying, recording, publishing and maintaining a database of ancient historical and maritime sites, structures and landscapes in Wales. We are looking to recruit a Mapping Officer who will help maintain and develop our internal and external Geographic Information systems, develop on-line initiatives including projects under the Peoples Collection Wales Innovation Strand and carry out mapping of archaeological features from aerial photographs. You will have proven experience and/or appropriate professional or academic qualifications in GI systems, be able to recognise innovative ways to improve on-line service delivery and identify and map archaeological features on aerial photographs. Closing date for applications: 19th April 2013.

For complete details of this post, please visit: Current Vacancies
Application closing date for post: 19/04/2013.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Archaeology in the Uplands






A dayschool organised by the Royal Commission, Snowdonia National Park and the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
Plas Tan y Bwlch, Friday 10th May 2013

09:45  Assemble for coffee
10.15  Welcome  - John Griffith Roberts (Archaeologist, Snowdonia National Park)
Introduction by Cynghorydd/Councillor Caerwyn Roberts OBE, Cadeirydd, Awdurdod Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri/Chairman, Snowdonia Park Authority
10.30  Opening address: Kings, lords, commons and commoners - David Gwyn (Govannon Consultancy)
11.00 RECENT WORK ON THE UPLANDS ARCHAEOLOGY OF WALES
Introduction to the Uplands Archaeology Initiative - Henry Owen-John (Vice-chair, RCAHMW)
Chair: Henry Owen John
11.10     Recent surveys in Merionethshire - Richard Hayman (Hayman & Horton)
11.30    The east Glamorgan uplands - Paul Sambrook (Trysor)
11.50    The south-west Cambrian Mountains - Jenny Hall (Trysor)
12.10    The Cwm Prysor uplands - Tudur Davies (ArcHeritage)
12.30     Lunch and discussion with speakers
13:30  ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE UPLANDS
Chair: John Griffith Roberts
13.30    Roman Roads in Snowdonia - David Hopewell (GAT)
13.55    Surveying and Presenting the Slate Industry - Louise Barker (RCAHMW)
14:20    Recent work at Dinas Emrys - Kathy Laws (National Trust)
14:45    Tea/coffee
15:15    Past human-environment interractions in Snowdonia: a story from the palaeo-environmental record - Tim Mighall (Aberdeen University)
15:45    The Bronaber Ranges - Bob Johnston (Sheffield University)
16:15    Lives in the landscape: the complex archaeology of the Gwynedd hills from above - Toby Driver (RCAHMW).
16:45 close of dayschool

To register please contact David Leighton on 01970-621204 or david.leighton@rcahmw.gov.uk. The cost of the dayschool is £10.00 which includes lunch if ordered in advance,  payable by credit card on registration.

Please note: the dayschool will be conducted bilingually with simultaneous translation facilities provided.

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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Chocks Away! Take Off with Britain from Above!






On Saturday 2nd March, Britain from Above held its first BBC Big Screen event in Swindon’s city centre to launch the second phase of Virtual Volunteering as part of the Britain from Above project. For three hours we took over the big screen showing aerial images of Swindon from the 1920s and a promotional film from Aerofilms, which was produced to showcase their working methods. It was all very exciting with plenty of shots of the planes soaring through the clouds on their way to record yet another fascinating view. The film was ground breaking when it was first shown to a public for whom the Charleston was the latest dance craze, however, on Saturday, it captured the attention of the Harlem Shake generation just as keenly!

People stopped throughout the afternoon, taking a seat to watch the rolling images and films, then most came to ask us about the project and take a closer look at the website, which we had set up on one of the stalls.

As well as iPads and a monitor to show the Britain from Above website, we let people discover how their own local areas used to look (www.britainfromabove.org.uk). we also had jigsaws to complete of various iconic images of Britain, a cut-away photoboard that lets you be the pilot for a photograph, and we also ran a paper plane competition with the chance to win an aviator teddy bear!



The paper planes proved very popular with children and adults, and even lured out the teenagers! We had four official competitions throughout the day, where the winner was decided by the plane that had flown the furthest, but everyone was welcome to join in, have a go at making and decorating a plane, and launching it from the runway line!

It was a successful, if cold, day in Swindon that helped raise the profile of the project to new audiences, who are now keen to have a go on the website themselves from the comfort of their own warm homes!

The project is running until 2014 and currently has over 25,000 images uploaded and available for everyone to view. Registering a free profile on the website allows you even more freedom to take part in the project: zoom in on images; share your stories; tag photos with place names to help us identify unlocated images; and join groups to talk to other people with the same interests. The collection is updated every few months; by the end of the project we will have all 95,000 images from the Aerofilms collection (1919-1953) uploaded for everyone to find out more about the changing face of Britain in the early 20th century.

By Natasha Scullion, Activity Officer (Wales) – Britain from the Above Project.

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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

People’s Collection Wales at International Women’s Day Event, Penparcau





Helen Rowe and Hazel Thomas demonstrate the People’s Collection Wales website.
On International Women’s Day (Friday 8th March) Royal Commission and National Library of Wales staff members teamed up to present a workshop on how to get the most from People’s Collection Wales. This was part of a day of free women’s workshops at Penparcau, organised by Aberystwyth University to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The workshop included an introduction to People’s Collection by Royal Commission staff member, Helen Rowe. Helen gave a fascinating insight into the variety of material already added to the collection, both by organisations and individuals. She highlighted the significance of everyday photographs, which illustrate numerous aspects of social life in Wales throughout the twentieth century and into the present day. Helen made particular reference to family photographs, which are often undervalued, being stored away at home in cupboards or attics. In addition to recording family life, such photographs are also an important record of contemporary clothing, d├ęcor, buildings, farming methods, landscapes and many other aspects of life. It is often women who are the keepers of these treasure troves of historical information, all of which contribute to the story of Wales. Photographs and other documents deteriorate with time, and Helen urged anyone who has such items to endeavour to digitise them and upload them to People’s Collection, so that they can be preserved and shared as part of the social history of Wales.

National Library of Wales staff member, Hazel Thomas, then explained the different aspects of the People’s Collection Wales website and introduced participants to the practicalities of using it. Participants then had the chance to try out the website for themselves.

By Nikki Vousden

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cargo Book For Wales' Most Famous Shipwreck Found





Large barrels or Jerkins of butter appear to have been a regular cargo for auction in Australia for both the Royal Charter and the Great Britain – Merseyside Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool.

Over the winter months, the Royal Commission has been working with Cadw and the People’s Collection Wales to develop an educational resource for the Royal Charter shipwreck off the Anglesey coast.  The tragedy that unfolded during the night of 25-26 October 1859 resonated across the nation, and subsequently the world, as news reached Melbourne, Australia, from whence the ship was returning with some 450 passengers and crew onboard.

‘Even today, no one is sure how many people were onboard, but only 17 survivors were recorded in contemporary newspaper accounts’, said the Royal Commission’s Maritime Officer, Deanna Groom.  ‘We’ve been searching out some of the original archive material relating to the wreck and making it digitally available for teachers and students for project work. The two most interesting finds so far have been at Chester Archives and Merseyside Maritime Museum. Kind colleagues at Chester Archives retrieved a collection of papers relating to the bankruptcy of the ship’s builder, George Cram. These included a complete inventory of all the tools and machinery that were in use at the Sandycroft Ironworks on the Dee Estuary when the ship was being first laid down. At Merseyside Maritime Museum, archives staff made available a cargo book from the Gibbs Bright & Co, in which Cotswold rams are recorded being sent to Australia to improve breeding stock. On one of the pages, under an entry for the Royal Charter, is an entry for Brunel’s steamship, the Great Britain which is now preserved at Bristol. The Great Britain was also part of the fleet of the Liverpool and Australia Navigation Company.’

Steve Donnachie, a PhD student from Swansea University on a placement at the Royal Commission, has been actively involved searching out and loading material onto the People’s Collection Wales website.

‘It was one of the worst civil maritime disasters in British history, and the loss of life caused a sensation in the British press. It has been quite a different experience for me, having to research and come to grips with entirely new areas of history. Nineteenth-century shipping, ship building on the River Dee, and migration to Australia are far removed from my usual field of study, the medieval Mediterranean. The chance to get away from my safety zone and explore something new,  as well as a chance to use skills gained at university to produce something quite practical has been very rewarding’.



The inventory marking the end of George Cram’s dreams of a ship building enterprise is particular poignant as it makes clear that all his creditors will leave him with are the clothes that he and his family members possess – Chester Archives.

The resources have already been taken into three schools on Anglesey by Erin Robinson, Cadw’s Lifelong Learning Manager for North Wales. The children have visited the graveyard of Llanallgo to record the gravestones. They have also produced artworks of the weather phenomenon - this is the aspect of the story which has intrigued Helen Rowe, from People’s Collection Wales team, the most:

‘Scientists continue to debate the effect of solar activity on our weather, but just before the Royal Charter gale a large solar storm was report by astronomers. The UK’s October hurricane is mirrored in severe storm damage along the eastern seaboard of America. There are other oddities, for example, in its summary of the weather for October 1859 reported in the Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald, the Llandudno Weather Observatory noted that the aura borealis had been seen. This must be quite unusual for our latitude? We are going to try and keep looking at this part of the story over the coming months as the Royal Charter Gale Shipwrecks Project expands to include more of the recorded losses around the Welsh coast during the hurricane. It is going to be helped greatly by the National Library of Wales’ initiative to make more Welsh newspapers available online (a service launched on the 13 March).’

The People’s Collection Wales ‘Great Storm of 1859’ collection can be accessed via this link (the collection continues to be added to and edited):
http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/Collection/1515-the-great-storm-of-1859

We would like to extend special thanks to colleagues from Cadw (especially Caroline Pudney and Polly Groom); the county archives network - Anglesey, Ceredigion, Chester, Gwnydd and Pembrokeshire; to the Archives team at Merseyside Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool; the Met Office; and to the East Melbourne Historical Society down under.




One of several gravestones associated with the Royal Charter Wreck at Llanallgo Church - this a recent tribute placed by descendants.


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Friday, 15 March 2013

The Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative Competition







Each year the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative Committee (http://www.whsi.org.uk/) invites schools from all over Wales to enter heritage projects in its nationwide competition. The word "heritage" is interpreted in the widest sense, to include people and their social history, religion, traditions and culture; the world of work, agriculture, industry, finance, commerce, science, technology, arts and sport. These projects can be part of the usual curriculum-focused work carried out as part of the timetable, or they can reflect work done by the school to commemorate a local event, person or building.

With almost two million photographs and half a million pages of text in the National Monuments Record of Wales, the Royal Commission’s freely available public archive offers information on a wealth of historic sites in Wales. These include: Schools, Houses, Churches, Chapels, Farm buildings, Stone circles, Hillforts, Enclosures, Roman sites, Castles, Mottes, Canals, Railways, Ironworks, Coal mines, Mills, Lighthouses, Gardens, Wrecks, Mansions, Cairns and more. The list is endless and the possibilities are great. Much of this information is available on Coflein, our on-line database. For further assistance, please contact our enquiry team: nmr.wales@rcahmw.org.uk, Tel: 01970 621200.

Additional useful sites include:
People’s Collection Wales http://www.peoplescollectionwales.co.uk/
Britain From Above http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/

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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Peter Smith, architectural historian, 1926–2013







Peter Smith, architectural historian, Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales 1973–1991, died on the 12 March 2013 in a nursing home in Devon.  He leaves a widow, Joyce, and three children.

Peter Smith FSA, architectural historian and author of the classic Houses of the Welsh Countryside, died on the 12 March 2013 in a nursing home.  Born in 1926 at Winlaton-on-Tyne, Co. Durham, the son of a schools’ inspector (H.M.I.), subsequent moves gave Peter Smith an early appreciation of the diversity of Britain but he never lost the regional accent acquired in his childhood.

After Oxford, where he read Modern History, there was a brief career as an Assistant Principal in Whitehall in the Ministry of Transport. His enthusiasm for historic buildings, however, led him to study successfully for the R.I.B.A. intermediate exam.  In 1949 he was appointed to the Welsh Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments, one of a small number of standing Royal Commissions, and began his long professional study of Welsh antiquities. In Wales, too, he was to find his wife, Joyce, bring up a family, and acquire a new language.

The Commission staff – the Secretary and four investigators – all then worked on monuments of every period.  However, encouraged by Cyril Fox, Peter Smith developed an enthusiasm for the interpretation of historic farmhouses, and his contribution to the Caernarvonshire Inventory shows him as a pioneer in a new subject - vernacular architecture.  Peter was to become one of the early members of the Vernacular Architecture Group and served as its President.

After Caernarfonshire, Peter investigated the stone houses of Glamorgan with forays into central and north-east Wales.  The opportunity for a broad study of Welsh architecture was presented by the transfer of the National Buildings Record in 1963, when Peter was moved from inventory work to the emergency recording of threatened buildings throughout Wales, including timber-built houses.

Peter Smith’s provisional views on the development of vernacular architecture were published in 1967 as a chapter on ‘Rural Housing in Wales’ in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, 1500-1640,  and then  developed into a remarkable full-length study arranged around original distribution maps and reconstruction drawings.  Houses of the Welsh Countryside was published by the Royal Commission in 1975 as its first thematic volume, was awarded the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion of the Society of Architectural Historians, and received many glowing reviews which recognised the book’s originality.

Peter Smith was appointed Secretary of the Royal Commission in 1973 (delighting in the antiquated title Secretary, which was confusing to some) and a steady output of Inventory volumes followed as well as several thematic volumes, all distinguished by their scholarship but also by explanatory illustrations of very high quality, including much admired cutaway drawings.

In retirement Peter Smith continued to research and write, reflecting on the European context of the vernacular architecture of England and Wales.   In 2010 a Welsh-language television series commissioned by S4C introduced a new generation to the themes of Houses of the Welsh Countryside.    The bilingual book of the series, Discovering Houses of the Welsh Countryside: Cyflwyno Cartrefi Cefn Gwlad Cymru (2010), has Peter’s reflections on some of the houses he had helped save.  This was Peter’s last publication and an appropriate coda to his life-long engagement with historic buildings in Wales, which has greatly influenced the contemporary appreciation of vernacular architecture.


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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dendrochronology; The Method Of Dating Using Tree Rings





Abingdon Abbey, Berkshire, roof truss with pomegranate decoration on the infill.

For anyone that has seen our Twitter account, @RC_Survey, you may have picked up on #IfABursary that I have been using when out and about surveying or, in this case, when I was invited to the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory by Dr Dan Miles and Dr Martin Bridge. Over the last few months I have been fortunate enough to have spent time with Dan and Martin on fieldwork in Wales taking core samples, so the invite to see the next part of the process could not be missed. Having found their lab, hidden in the Oxfordshire countryside, the experience I gained was invaluable in understanding how each sample is prepared, measured, and then compared against their extensive database to produce a date or date range. Meticulous attention to detail was needed at all times, as missing a single tree ring or taking an incorrect measurement could potentially produce an inaccurate result and throw the date out by years, if not centuries. The following day I attended the Oxford Dendro Lab’s lecture and practical with the students from Oxford University’s MSc in Archaeological Science. Dan and Martin gave a very interesting lecture, with examples of how dendrochronology works and where the technique has been used to provide a definite date where dates have been disputed. This was followed by fieldwork taking samples at The Long Gallery, Abingdon Abbey, which the students were to prepare, measure and analyse as part of their course. The two days spent with Dan and Martin was very interesting and I hope to spend more time with them in the future to learn more about the tree-ring process.

Abingdon Abbey, Berkshire, exterior of the Long Gallery.

By Ross Cook, IfA/HLF Workplace Learning Bursary in Historic Building Survey and Interpretation.

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Friday, 8 March 2013

The Welsh Experience Of World War One - Pontardawe






The material will be available on the People’s Collection Wales website and Project Officer Carys Morgan said:

‘Collecting and sharing these very personal and often poignant items contributes greatly to our understanding of the War and is an important way of commemorating its 100th anniversary. People will be able to contribute by coming to the roadshow events and having their items scanned by our staff. Or, they can also upload items and memories to the People’s Collection Wales website themselves at any time if they can’t make it to one of the events.’

To get involved in the project, bring along your First World War letters, diaries, photographs and other memorabilia to one of the following events between 10am and 4pm.

12 March: Pontardawe Arts Centre
14 March: Brecon Library
18 March: Ruthin Library
20 March: Picton Community Centre, Haverfordwest

Further information:
Carys Morgan carysm@culturenetcymru.com or 01970632500

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Royal Commission’s Digital Publications on World Book Day







Why Digitise Old Books?
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has been publishing books for over a century, and for the first time these important volumes are now available online. The digitisation project was undertaken to promote the fundamental recording work of the Royal Commission, and to make available books that have been cited many thousands of times in the last hundred years but are now often only available in libraries and command a high price in the second-hand market. But now all our out-of-print titles can be accessed via our website and viewed through Google Books. Most importantly, those published over fifty years ago are now free to download while those published later are available for purchase from Google Play.

Our first volume was the Inventory for Montgomeryshire in 1911, which listed all the monuments and sites of interest in the county, parish by parish. This was soon followed by volumes for Flintshire (1912), Radnorshire (1913), Denbighshire (1914), Carmarthenshire (1917), Merionethshire (1921), and Pembrokeshire (1925). After the publication of the Pembroke Inventory a more rigorous archaeological approach was followed and the first of these new-style volumes appeared for Anglesey in 1937 and was followed by three volumes covering Caernarvonshire (1956-64). All the titles are now available to download free via our website.

The later inventories for Breconshire (two volumes, 1986-97) and Glamorgan (seven volumes, 1976-2000) replaced the parish-by-parish approach and were arranged thematically instead. The last printed inventory was the Later Castles of Glamorgan published in 2000. These later volumes are available for purchase at £9.99 or less. Individual site records are available via our online database Coflein.

The publication of Houses of the Welsh Countryside in 1975 was the first thematic book by the Commission, and following its second edition in 1988 many smaller volumes appeared, including Brecon Forest Tramroads (1990), Lighthouses of Wales (1994), Collieries of Wales (1994) and Copperopolis (2000). All these titles and many more are now available via the bookshop on our website from as little as £1.99.

View: Bookshop

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