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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

AVAILABLE NOW! New Royal Commission Publication ‘Welsh Slate - Archaeology and History of an Industry’ by David Gwyn

Slates from quarries in Wales once went to roof the world. By the late nineteenth century as many as a third of all the roofing slates produced world-wide came from Wales, competing with quarries in France and the United States. This exciting and lavishly illustrated new book traces the slate industry from its origins in the Roman period, its slow medieval development and then its massive expansion in the nineteenth century – as well as through its long drawn out decline in the twentieth.

Dinorwic Quarry viewed from the west, across Llyn Peris (AP_2010_2454, NPRN 40538)

The books author David Gwyn, draws not only on the extensive industrial archaeology of the quarries themselves and the historic evidence of the stunning landscapes within which they are situated, but also on legal and company records, port books, local and national newspapers, trade journals, painting and photographic collections and parish histories to build up a picture of this distinctive industry.

The Cornish beam engine at Dorothea quarry, Nantlle, built 1904-06 (DI2013_0723, NPRN 26409)

Separate chapters examine the quarries themselves and the ways in which the rock was extracted and processed. Others examine the evidence for the technologies that made the quarries possible – the pumping and power systems, the internal and overland transport systems, and the sailing ships that exported the finished slates all over the globe.

The 1924 Australia Mill at Dinorwic with its row of saw tables (DS2013_509_005, NPRN 419478)

It also looks at the distinctive settlement and community created by the quarrymen and their families, in towns like Bethesda and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and villages like Deiniolen, Tal y Sarn and Abergynolwyn.

The Ffestiniog quarries and slate-quarrymen’s city of Blaenau Ffestiniog (AP_2011_3093, NPRN 305760)

Welsh Slate. Archaeology and History of an Industry is a large format book of 291 pages with 243 high-quality illustrations, and costs £45.

Welsh Slate - Archaeology and History of an Industry
For further details and to order a copy, please contact the Royal Commission on 01970 621200,

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