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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Atlanterra Project II: Slate Studies

The Atlanterra project has also led to cultural tourism and heritage maps and guides of a number of mining fields including the Mapa de Patrimonia Minero de Galicia, (IGME, Madrid, 2013) and the Slate quarrying & mining sites of the French/Breton border in ‘Sur le Chemin des Ardoisières’ (Marie de Noyant-la-Gravoyère, 2013). Mapping and publication of mining on the iron pyrites belt of Portugal is also being published as part of the project. Mapping of the Swansea Valley coalmining field and its eighteenth and early nineteenth-century railways in south Wales has also led to a re-analysis of the origins of the public railway published in S. R. Hughes, 2010, ‘The Emergence of the public railway in Wales’, in G. Boyes (Ed.), Early Railways 4: Papers from the Fourth International Early Railways Conference (Six Martlets, Sudbury, 2010), 107-124. The international diffusion of narrow-gauge railway practice from Wales to Sardinia is discussed in Hughes, Stephen, 2011. ‘Piercy, Benjamin (1827-88), railway builder. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, Oxford University Press [].

The geological analysis of building-stones in the area studied as part of the Atlanterra project has included an analysis of part of the World Heritage Pilgrimage route to Santiago Compostella in a volume by Martinez, R.J. & Diaz Martinez, E. on Las piedras del Camino de Santiago en Galicia, (Instituto Geolόgico y Minero de España, Madrid, 2013); available at!/p/coleccion-guias-geologicas.html.

A major aim of the Atlanterra project has been the heritage contribution to the valorisation and regeneration of old mining fields. Part of the explanation of this process has been published as Stephen Hughes, 2011 ‘The Comparative Regeneration of the Blaenavon and Pontcysyllte World Heritage Areas’, in Industrie Archäologie 10 (2011) (Industrial Heritage –Ecology & Economy: XIV. International TICCIH Congress 2009 in Freiberg, Germany – Selected Papers), 55-9.

The Atlanterra Project has also contributed to the process whereby TICCIH has agreed with ICOMOS to restart the series of World Heritage Studies. The background to this has already been explained in Stephen Hughes 2012, ‘Thematic World Heritage Studies’ in James Douet (Ed.), Industrial Heritage Re-tooled: The TICCIH guide to Industrial Heritage Conservation (TICCIH, Michigan, USA & Carnegie, Lancaster), 2012, 174-181.

The Atlanterra Project has provided the funding for the process of the compilation of initial studies of the slate and building-stone industries to be started. An initial summary of some of this comparative work has been published by Dr. David Gwyn in Anjou and Gwynedd: Slate Landscapes (Snowdonia National Park, Plas Tan y Bwlch, 2013). Much more and analytical detail of the north Wales Slate Industry will shortly be published in Gwyn, D., Welsh Slate: Archaeology & History of an Industry (RCAHMW, Aberystwyth, 2014).

The Atlanterra partnership has included representatives of areas that had some of the biggest international slate-producing industries. The largest industry developed in the Loire Valley in France in the medieval and post-medieval period and then was overtaken in scale by the nineteenth-century Welsh industry. In the twentieth-century the Spanish slate industry has become the largest in Europe.  Discussion and field visits have allowed draft documents to be produced as a foundation for future World Heritage Studies of slate and building-stone to be produced in consultation with a wider range of TICCIH members.

The methodology of producing animations for industrial archaeological interpretation continues and the annual Digital Past Conferences are one vehicle for carrying this discussion forward (check for future conferences). Some further work has been carried-out as part of the Metal Links Irish-Welsh partnership led by the Royal Commission in Wales and this will be reported on in a future Bulletin.

Stephen Hughes.
Projects Director, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales & TICCIH Secretary

Further Reading:

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