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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Uplands Dayschool 2014 at Sennybridge Training Area, Powys

This year’s Royal Commission Uplands Archaeology Forum and Dayschool, on the theme of Upland Military Landscapes in Wales, was held at Sennybridge Training Area in Powys, in collaboration with the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT) and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). The requisitioning of the upland landscape of Mynydd Epynt, or the Sennybridge Training Area, and its military stewardship since the second world war, unwittingly preserved a massive block of upland Wales against the effects of post-war and recent farming methods and upland improvement, making the range a haven for preserved landscape archaeology. For this reason it was fitting to hold our 2014 dayschool and fieldtrip in this remarkable upland landscape.
Delegates outside the Epynt Visitor Centre with Major Eddie Mahoney, Commandant of Sennybridge Training Area.
The event was held over two days. On Friday 9th May we held our dayschool of talks at the Red Kite Centre in Sennybridge Camp. The day was opened by Colonel Richard Howard-Gash, Commander Wales and West, and Major (retired) Eddie Mahoney, Commandant of Sennybridge Camp, who briefed 50 assembled delegates on the requirements of the training estate. The programme began with a talk by Richard Osgood, the Senior Archaeologist for the DIO, about archaeological priorities for the UK training estate. This was followed by papers from the past year’s archaeological walkover surveys funded by the Royal Commission’s Uplands Archaeology Initiative. Over lunch delegates had a rare opportunity to view preserved Prisoner of War (PoW) alpine scenes painted on the Cookhouse walls in the mid 1940s.
Delegates admiring in-situ Prisoner of War alpine murals on the walls of the Cookhouse at Sennybridge Camp.
The afternoon saw a splendid range of talks on the theme of Upland Military Landscapes in Wales with papers by Dr Bob Silvester and Jeff Spencer (CPAT), Jon Berry (Cadw), archaeologist Dr Stephen Briggs, military historian Mark Kahn, and Dr Bob Johnston from the University of Sheffield. On the following day, two minibuses of delegates braved the sunshine and showers on Mynydd Epynt to see how the military stewardship of this block of upland moorland has preserved prehistoric, medieval and twentieth-century sites.

Experiencing typical Epynt weather on the Saturday field trip at Hirllwyn enclosure, a scheduled ancient monument protected from military activity by a ‘no digging’ star.
By kind permission of the Commandant, we were able to visit famous sites of the Epynt, like the enigmatic defended enclosure at Clawdd British, together with relatively recent discoveries of national importance like Pant y Blodau medieval deserted settlement, and twentieth-century military monuments including drainage culverts built by German and Italian Prisoner of War. A highlight of the trip was a visit to the restricted German training village or FIBUA (Fighting in Built Up Areas), an urban training facility, guided by Mark Kahn.

Visiting the restricted FIBUA village (Fighting in Built Up Areas), a purpose-built training facility for urban combat, modelled on a German village.

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