Posts Subscribe to Heritage of Wales News Blog Posts      All Comments Subscribe to Heritage of Wales News Blog Posts     Cymraeg

Monday, 30 March 2015

Walking into history – completion of the fieldwork stage of the Welsh Uplands Archaeology Initiative

Peter Schofield and Hannah Leighton from Oxford Archaeology North (OAN), on fieldwork in Snowdonia with David Leighton (centre) of the Royal Commission.

Field archaeologists have been making history by completing the final surveys in the 28-year long Uplands Archaeology Initiative.

The Uplands Archaeology Initiative has been in progress since 1987, and sponsored by the Royal Commission since 1991. Wales is essentially an upland country and this project is a programme of archaeological investigation designed to promote a wider and deeper understanding of Welsh upland heritage through survey, research and publication. Its core activity has been the exploration of upland above about 244m (800 ft) with teams of archaeologists recording sites and monuments they find there.

Exploration has focused on the unimproved moorland component of the Welsh landscape. Although some parts had previously been investigated to a greater or lesser degree and monuments identified, no systematic programme of reconnaissance had been carried out and vast areas remained entirely unexamined. This immense exploratory stage of the project draws to a close this year. By the end of March 2015 a little more than 2500 km2 of moorland will have been surveyed since the inception of the project. This work has taken place in all weathers, in some of the most exposed and extreme environments in Wales.

The final surveys are now being completed and the last covers upland to the south of Trawsfynydd, around Craig Aberserw in the Snowdonia National Park. Fieldwork here is being carried out by Peter Schofield and Hannah Leighton from Oxford Archaeology North (OAN), one of several organisations to have participated regularly in the project, through grant aid, over many years. OAN has now spent nine seasons working in the project in the uplands of North Wales since 2002. They have investigated 350 km2 of moorland and recorded some 4500 sites and monuments.

Hannah Leighton from Oxford Archaeology North (OAN) making a detailed record of an abandoned cottage settlement on moorland near Trawsfynydd.

Peter and Hannah have been looking at a broad range of ancient structures including abandoned settlements, burnt mounds, burial monuments, old peat workings and sheepfolds, many of which were entirely unknown. This diversity is typical of upland environments which are generally conducive to monument survival. By the close of this season it is anticipated that the entire programme of exploration will have resulted in the recording of around 42,000 previously unrecorded archaeological features, and the updating and enhancement of existing records for about 6000 more.

This dataset is a rich resource of information on past land use in the Welsh uplands. The Royal Commission will now begin to examine the legacy and achievements of this long running project. The future analysis of nearly three decades of survey data should lead to a deeper and richer understanding of the part played by the uplands in the history and culture of Wales.

By David Leighton

Subscribe to the Heritage of Wales News and sign up for the full feed RSS, just click this Subscribe to Heritage of Wales News Blog Posts RSS button and subscribe!

Also find us on:
Facebook Twitter Google-plus YouTube Facebook Flickr

Twitter Hashtag: #RCAHMWales

Share this post:


Post a Comment
Please comment and let us know your views or your news. Remember that what you write can be read by everyone. RCAHMW reserves the right not to publish offensive or inaccurate material.


Related Posts with Thumbnails