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News 2003

LLANDEILO’S ROMAN FORT DISCOVERED

During an archaeological survey commissioned by the National Trust of their estate at Dinefwr Park Llandeilo, the exciting discovery of a Roman military fort was made by Stratascan, a geophysical survey team used by Dyfed Archaeological Trust to assist in the survey. This work has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Geophysical survey produces a radar-like picture of features beneath the ground surface. What is even more exciting about the Llandeilo find is that there appear to be two forts on the same site, as well as a civilian settlement and other related features, including a Roman Road and a possible Roman bathhouse site. It is thought likely that the first fort dates to the about AD74, the time of the Roman conquest of Wales.

It has a possible area of 3.9 hectares, which would make it one of the largest Roman campaign forts in Wales and may have housed a Roman legionary detachment. A second, smaller fort seems to have been built on the same site after the conquest and a small settlement grew outside its gates. The shadow of the first fort can be seen in the lower part of the image produced by the geophysical survey (below). The settlement outside the gates can also be seen in the upper right-hand quarter of the image.

Archaeologists will hopefully be able to carry out some excavation in the near future to try to begin to properly date and understand the features which are so clearly visible on the image shown here.

Project contact: Gwilym Hughes

 

THE HER – A PUBLIC RESOURCE

The regional Historic Environment Record (HER) for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire is held by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. The HER is a key to information about the archaeological heritage of the area and covers all periods of human development from traces of the earliest known human habitation to Second World War defensive structures.

The HER has a computer database which holds over 36,000 records, a figure increasing every day. As well as the database we have a large paper-based information system, with many historic maps, ground and aerial photographs, journals and reports.

The HER is a valuable source of information for anyone interested in the past landscapes of the southwest and the people who inhabited them. Dyfed Archaeological Trust welcomes enquiries from anyone wishing to find out more about the archaeology of the area. Please contact the HER by telephone, letter or e-mail and explain what it is you would like information about.

CARN

Dyfed Archaeological Trust are partners with the three other Welsh Archaeological Trusts, Cadw, RCAHMW and the National Museum and Galleries of Wales, in the development of the CARN database. CARN combines simplified site records of all the main heritage bodies in Wales into a single, publicly accessible online index which you can see on the internet at: www.rcahmw.org.uk/data

PORTABLE ANTIQUITIES

The Treasure Act (1996) made it compulsory to report the finding of certain objects. A voluntary scheme was piloted in twelve areas to record objects that did not have to be reported under the Treasure Act. The pilot project proved very successful and from April 2003 to March 2006, the Heritage Lottery Fund will support the scheme across Wales and England.

Every year thousands of objects are discovered by metal detector users, walkers, gardeners and farmers. The scheme allows anyone to have their find recorded to add to the information available about our past.

The Welsh recording scheme is co-ordinated by Mark Lodwick, based in the National Museum in Cardiff. Mark is supported by the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts and a network of local reporting centres.

Further information about the scheme and the Treasure Act can be found on the Trust website and also at:
http://www.finds.org.uk

 

 

PLANNING FOR THE PAST


As an archaeological trust, Dyfed Archaeological Trust fulfils an important role in the planning process through our Planning Archaeologist, Lucy Rowley-Williams. Here are her own thoughts on what her job entails.

My role as Planning Archaeologist is certainly not to make people’s lives unnecessarily difficult. I am entrusted with the role of trying to protect historic and archaeological sites that may be affected by development. My main role is to give advice to the public, private developers and to local authorities to help them follow planning guidance concerning archaeology and the historic environment.

The evidence that we are trying to protect ranges from sites associated with prehistoric settlement or burials right through to recent industrial monuments. We are not trying to preserve a landscape in aspic, but more to try to enable towns and villages to grow and develop without causing avoidable harm to archaeological sites.

The way in which we can do this is by carefully checking weekly lists of all planning applications that are sent to us by each of the planning authorities of southwest Wales. We check information held in the regional Historic Environment Record against those areas affected by applications and ask for more detail if we think that a development might impact on known archaeological sites. On average, about 4% of planning applications have a possible archaeological issue which will need further investigation.

If we are not sure how important the archaeology might be, or how dramatic the impact is, we might ask for more information in the form of a ‘pre-determination evaluation’. This work has to be completed before planning is given, as its findings might result in planning permission being refused. However, these are rare cases.

In most cases where an archaeological planning comment is made, we recommend that a condition requiring archaeological work is attached by the Local Planning Authority. This means that a programme of archaeological work has to be arranged before any other work can start. When an applicant decides to start work on a site, the archaeological work will take place. This may be a simple “watching brief” where an archaeologist monitors work as it progresses, or can more rarely include a larger scale excavation. In this way valuable information about the past can be discovered.

 

 

HAFOD

Thomas Johnes’ Hafod

Dyfed Archaeological Trust has undertaken numerous projects at Hafod, near Cwmystwyth , Ceredigion on behalf of the Hafod Trust and Forest Enterprise Partnership. Hafod, is a naturalistic picturesque landscape established by Thomas Johnes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Johnes built a mansion in the neo-gothic style and laid out long walks linking natural features such as waterfalls and cataracts with summerhouses, grottos and bridges.

Following his death, the built picturesque elements of Hafod were neglected and lost as later owners concentrated on commercial aspects of the estate. In the 1950s the Forestry Commission purchased Hafod, demolished the mansion and established coniferous plantations.

Since the early 1990s, the Hafod Trust, in partnership with Forest Enterprise, have been restoring some of Johnes’s picturesque structures and many of the old walks. Dyfed Archaeological Trust have been involved on most of these restoration projects. It is now standard practise for Dyfed Archaeological Trust to carry out a full topographic survey prior to the restoration of an old walk, recording elements of the landscape such as paths, tracks, walls, rock outcrops, breaks of slope, streams, deciduous trees and tree stumps. It is not unusual to find ‘lost’ or previously unknown walks during these surveys.

Other topographic elements discovered during survey, such as viewing platforms, assist in interpreting Johnes’s vision of the landscape. In addition to topographic survey, detailed recording of individual structures, such as the Alpine Bridge and the Gothic Arcade, has been undertaken. Excavation across selected sections of walks and on buildings such as the Cold Bath and the Rustic Alcove has also been carried out.


Project contact: Ken Murphy : k.murphy@dyfedarchaeology.org.uk

 

METAL MINES IN WEST WALES 2002-3 PROJECT

Wemyss Mine, near Pontrhydygroes

One of the great, lost industries of southwest Wales is the ancient and historic metal mining industry that was focused on the ore-field of central Ceredigion, but also extended into northern Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. In 2002-3, Dyfed Archaeological Trust were grant-aided by Cadw to assess the condition and archaeological importance of 30 abandoned metal mines in southwest Wales.

Archaeologists have shown that copper was being mined in Ceredigion during the Bronze Age, over 3,000 years ago. It is known that the Romans mined gold at Dolaucothi, Carmarthenshire, but they may also have exploited the lead, silver and copper ores of the region. Certainly, lead was mined during medieval times. For example, Strata Florida Abbey had mines and smelteries in the Cwmystwyth area in the early 1500s. During Elizabethan times, private interests began developing mines on an industrial scale. However, it was during the 18th and 19th centuries that the industry flourished and made its greatest impact on the region’s landscape. By the second half of the 19th century, the Ceredigion ore-field was dotted with large and small mines and many industrial villages sprang up. The effect on the landscape, settlement pattern, culture and economy of the area was immense.

When international metal ore prices crashed in the late 19th century, as cheaper ores from the New World flooded the markets, this ancient industry was decimated and only a handful of mines struggled on into the 20th century. By the 1930s all production had ceased. The industrial community was broken up and many miners went to seek work in the collieries of South Wales. The mine sites were abandoned and fell into dereliction. Many have since been affected by land reclamation schemes, their buildings and spoil tips levelled in an attempt to remove such “eyesores.” However, Dyfed Archaeological Trust has records for over 220 metal mine sites in Ceredigion alone and many have lain undisturbed since their closure. Far from being industrial wastelands, these sites are now recognised as being important heritage sites, of high archaeological importance. Many sites have also become havens for wildlife.

In the 21st century, there is now a much greater appreciation of the value of heritage themes and sites as components in economic, tourism and educational strategies. The preservation of our metal mining heritage would clearly benefit such strategies. the Trust’s hope is that the protection of key sites by Scheduled Ancient Monument status will in future form part of a management strategy to protect our mining heritage, linking the best mine sites and mining landscapes and settlements in the region.


 

OTHER CURRENT PROJECTS

Here is a list of other projects Dyfed Archaeological Trust is undertaking during 2003-4:

Cadw funded:
Deserted Rural Settlements Project; Historic Landscape Characterisation of areas defined by the Register of Landscapes of Historic Interest; Early Medieval Ecclesiastical Sites; Lithics Sites Assessment; Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Sites Assessment.

Other projects:
Tir Gofal Farm Assessments; Carmarthen Castle Excavations; Hafod, Cwmystwyth Topographical Survey; Excavation of Newton House, Milford Haven (Petroplus development); Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo Topographical Survey.

National Archaeology Day:
This annual event falls on Saturday, July 19th this year and Dyfed Archaeological Trust staff will be holding a series of related activities in conjunction with Carmarthen Museum, Abergwili, Carmarthen throughout the day. Details will be posted on the Dyfed Archaeological Trust website prior to the date and will also be available from Gavin Evans at Carmarthen Museum, (01267) 231691.

KEEP IN TOUCH
Dyfed Archaeological Trust is keen to foster links with members of the public and community groups. You may have an interest in our work, as an amateur archaeologist or historian or as someone who is interested in the past of your community. Perhaps you work for an organisation that may have an interest in fostering links with Dyfed Archaeological Trust.

 


 

 

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