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Friday, 23 December 2011

Welsh Development Agency Aerofilms - Newly Catalogued Collection





Welsh Development Agency Aerofilms: Ref. No. AFW01
Part of the Aerofilms Collection
34 files of colour prints of aerial photographs of South Wales, commissioned by the Welsh Development Agency.

Covering dates: 2005

Further reading:

Britain From Above - Rare and Fragile Aerial Photos from Aerofims Collection Conserved
25/06/2012 The website www.britainfromabove.org.uk is free and available to use now, so log in and see what you can discover.

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Stephen Hughes Slide Collection - Newly Catalogued Collection





Stephen Hughes Slide Collection: Ref. No. SHS
8 files of colour slides of various copper-mills and related buildings: mainly in Swansea, but also in Bristol and Berkshire.

Covering dates: 1995-2002


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J.C. Young Pembrokeshire Standing Stones - Newly Catalogued Collection





J.C. Young Pembrokeshire Standing Stones: Ref. No. JYP
53 digital copies of a collection of original oil paintings of standing stones in Pembrokeshire.

Covering dates: 1981-1984

Further reading:



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Douglas Hogg Slide Collection - Newly Catalogued Collection





Douglas Hogg Slide Collection: Ref. No. DHS
19 boxes of 25mm colour slides of buildings, views, etc. in Wales, taken by Douglas Hogg in his role as Chief Architect at Cadw.

Covering dates: 1990-1993



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Oriau Agor y Llyfrgell: Nadolig 2011 a’r Flwyddyn Newydd





Bydd y llyfrgell a’r ystafell chwilio ar gau, a chaiff y gwasanaeth ymholiadau ei atal, o ddydd Gwener 23 Rhagfyr tan ddydd Mawrth 3 Ionawr. Ni chaiff ymholiadau ac archebion a ddaw i law yn ystod y cyfnod hwnnw mo’u cydnabod na’u trin tan i ni ailagor ar 3 Ionawr 2012. Mae’n flin gennym am unrhyw anghyfleustra y gall hyn ei achosi.

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Library Opening Hours: Christmas 2011 and New Year





The library and search room will be closed and the enquiry service suspended from Friday 23 December until Tuesday 3 January. Enquiries and orders received during this period will not be acknowledged or dealt with until we reopen on 3 January 2012.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Thursday, 22 December 2011

St Tudwals Excavation - Newly Catalogued Collection





Slide of RCAHMW colour oblique aerial photograph of St Tudwalis' Head, taken by C.R. Musson, 9/5/1989.
Crown Copyright: RCAHMW: GTJ25636    NPRN: 33027

This collection represents material relating to excavation and post-excavation work relating to the Royal Commission's excavations on St Tudwal's East Island.

This comprises: field notes, maps and plans, finds material; historical and comparative material, provisional reports; black and white photographs and negatives; and administrative and personnel records.

The archive is divided into seven groups: field notes, historical and comparative material, provisional reports, and small maps and plans (STE01); finds material (STE02); black and white photographs and negatives (STE03); larger photographs (STE04); larger maps, section plans and drawings (STE05); administrative records (STE06); and restricted access recruitment and personnel files (STE07).

Covering dates: 1957-1985



Coflein - Discovering Our Past Online
Coflein is the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), the national collection of information about the historic environment of Wales.


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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Recent Work On Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire






Skomer Island, located off the south-western coast of Pembrokeshire, is a National Nature Reserve, a Marine Nature Reserve and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, famed for its bird life and puffins, and its relict prehistoric agricultural landscape is among the best preserved anywhere in the British Isles.

Two major archaeological surveys have examined the island in the twentieth century, in the 1940s and 1980s. The first was by Professor W.F. Grimes who produced an archaeological map, based on a transcription from a set of Ordnance Survey aerial photographs, checked and augmented by detailed survey on the ground. Forty years later Professor J.G. Evans complemented and built upon this earlier work by recording in detail small enclosures and habitation sites from ground survey. He also expanded the archaeological map from transcription of vertical aerial photographs supplied by Cambridge University and oblique aerial photographs taken by Terry James, then of the Dyfed Archaeological Trust. Evans argued for a simple prehistory of Skomer since in his opinion the fields and farms showed little complexity and may have been built, settled and entirely abandoned in no more than a century.

However, aerial survey in March 2008 by Toby Driver of the Royal Commission in low light, and with compacted vegetation after a heavy frost, yielded a new collection of images that revealed discrepancies with the mapped detail. Mapped field shapes were generalised, altered, wrongly depicted or had details ‘smoothed out’ when compared to the new aerial images. In other places the excellent conditions in which the new photographs had been taken picked out extremely denuded lynchets and boundaries showing clear phasing among overlapping field systems. This suggested a more complex history of the island and provided the stimulus for new fieldwork and survey by the Royal Commission to examine the archaeology and historic land-use of Skomer.
Field systems in the south of Skomer show up spectacularly in low light during March 2008.
Crown Copyright: RCAHMW: AP_2008_0306

New survey and fieldwork

Skomer has no large grazing animals and so the vegetation is dominated by coarse tussocky grass. A field visit in August 2010 revealed that this formed a kind of fescue mattress effectively obscuring much of the archaeology and making it difficult to map features from aerial photographs. Therefore, in February 2011 the Royal Commission commissioned a LiDAR survey of the island in order to identify the full extent of the surviving earthworks. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a method of remote sensing that obtains three-dimensional data points by using an airborne laser, mounted on an aircraft.

The LiDAR sensor is mounted below an aircraft where it emits short infrared laser pulses towards the earth’s surface, fan-shaped across the flight path. Each pulse will result in multiple echoes or ‘returns’. The first return will usually be received from the tops of trees and vegetation, but as the laser penetrates the canopy, further returns are received from branches and understorey. Typically, the last return is received from the ground surface. As the aeroplane moves forward the position of each return, or point, can be calculated using a satellite navigation system, while the pitch, roll and yaw of the aircraft is recorded by an inertial measurement unit to increase accuracy. Each point therefore has a set of x, y, and z coordinates to reflect its position and elevation. These points can then be processed to create a highly detailed terrain model of the ground surface.

Digital surface model generated LiDAR image of Skomer (top) and interpretation (bottom). 
Copyright Reserved, Environment Agency Geomatics Group; hillshade DSM view generated by RCAHMW. Map based upon Ordnance Survey mapping: Crown Copyright and database right 2009. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022206


The results of the survey have been staggering, revealing hitherto unknown complexity to the field systems and clear phasing of boundaries, particularly within the interior of the island . A first season of fieldwork in April 2011 began the process of ground-truthing these new discoveries, but also undertaking a more nuanced ground survey of the surviving remains. A typological study for the settlement in the north of the island confirmed that Skomer’s field systems are complex and long-lived. The variety of boundary types is notable and there are many subdivisions. The low banks of stone and earth have many different forms and characteristics, and individual boundaries do not have a consistent character throughout their length. What appears to be a single coherent boundary from the air may on the ground comprise a composite of varying build and type, and suggests a succession of phases of expansion, contraction and abandonment.

Skomer has only one prominent megalithic monument, the Harold Stone, which is a 1.7 m high monolith of local stone sited towards the eastern edge of a block of fields, looking out over the maritime approaches to the island. Aside from the Harold Stone, a variety of less obvious monuments of potential Early Bronze Age date are recorded on Skomer. These include the barrow near the Wick along with a considerable number of cairns. In re-visiting some of these cairn cemeteries, and during the re-survey of other settlement areas, the recent survey showed new evidence for megalithic structures of Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date. Among these are at least three unrecorded standing stone pairs, clearly identifiable as unusual paired stones in isolation, or incorporated in later boundaries with stone in-filling, precluding their use as gateposts. A further possible stone pair is closely associated with an earthfast natural slab, prominent on the skyline on the north-eastern part of Skomer Island (SM 7266 0998). There is the strong likelihood that this represents a megalithic or sub-megalithic monument and it lies just to the north of a cluster of cairns.

Probable megalithic site on northeast Skomer, with two orthostats found in close association with a large, earthfast rectangular slab of natural origin, seen from the south. The twin orthostats break the skyline when seen from all southern approaches and look out across St Brides Bay to the peaks of St Davids Head in the north .
Crown Copyright: RCAHMW: DS2011_448_001


Future work

Further ground survey is planned for 2012 to complete the typological study of the island’s field systems and investigate the megalithic site in more detail. Skomer still has many archaeological secrets to be revealed!

Further reading:



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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Community Archaeology Training Placements





The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is advertising ten 12-month-long training bursaries in community archaeology, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional support in Wales from Cadw and the Welsh Archaeological Trusts.
There are five Welsh host organisations and locations:
·         Cadw (Cardiff)
·         Dyfed Archaeological Trust (Llandeilo)
·         Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust (Swansea)
·         Gwynedd Archaeological Trust (Bangor)
·         Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (Aberystwyth)

Bursary: See individual job descriptions
For complete details of these posts please visit www.britarch.ac.uk/community/bursaries/2012
Application closing date: Friday 20th January
Interview dates: See individual application packs.

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Lleoliadau Hyfforddi Archaeoleg Gymunedol





Mae Cyngor Archaeoleg Prydain (CBA) yn hysbysebu deg bwrsari hyfforddi am 12 mis mewn archaeoleg gymunedol, gyda chymorth y Loteri Genedlaethol drwy Gronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri, a thrwy gymorth ychwanegol yng Nghymru gan Cadw ac Ymddiriedolaethau Archaeolegol Cymru.
Mae pump sefydliad a lleoliad yn cynnig lle yng Nghymru:
·         Cadw (Caerdydd)
·         Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Dyfed (Llandeilo)
·         Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Morgannwg-Gwent (Abertawe)
·         Ymddiriedolaeth Archaeolegol Gwynedd (Bangor)
·         Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru (Aberystwyth)
Bwrsari: Gweler disgrifiadau’r swyddi unigol
I gael manylion llawn y swyddi hyn, ewch i www.britarch.ac.uk/community/bursaries/2012
Y dyddiad cau i wneud cais: dydd Gwener 20 Ionawr
Dyddiadau’r cyfweliadau: Gweler y pecynnau ymgeisio unigol.

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Atlanterra Project – Information Needed For Computer Animation





A survey drawing of the Winding House at Maenofferen Slate Quarry which will be used as part of the process of producing a computer animation of the site.

Three slate quarries are being recreated through computer animation as part of the 'Atlanterra' project.
  • Maenofferen, Blaenau Ffestiniog – An example of an underground slate quarry, NPRN: 400427.
  • Vivian, Llanberis – An example of a slate quarry worked as a series of galleries, NPRN: 40571.
  • Pen-y-Bryn, Nantlle – An example of a slate quarry worked as a series of pits, NPRN: 33674.
Investigators from the Royal Commission have previously been to survey Vivian, and Maenofferen, a survey of Pen-y-Bryn will be carried out in the New Year.

The company carrying out the computer animation have asked that we supply them with information about these three sites, if anyone has any information about these quarries please contact: spencer.smith@rcahmw.gov.uk


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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Chapels Today - Information Needed!





Interior view of Ebenezer Chapel, Tumble
NPRN:6570    DI2008_0364

The NonConformist chapel in Wales is part and parcel of the landscape, whether that backdrop is rural, urban or industrial. This statement is substantiated by the fact that six and a half thousand chapels were built in the towns and countryside of Wales during the last two centuries. Today, however, the chapels are disappearing from our lives almost as quickly as they appeared in their heyday.

The Royal Commission has undertaken a massive project to record these chapels over the last few years, and one important aspect of the work is looking at what is happening to chapel buildings today. This survey consists of trying to establish the status of each chapel, whether it is still a ‘chapel’ (with active services), or whether it has been converted, demolished, is lying disused or derelict, or something else. Where conversion has taken place we are recording the new use, and we are also noting any chapels which are in a transitional phase of being for sale or in the planning process.

Our coverage of Wales to this point is very varied. In Anglesey, for example, we are only missing the status for three chapels, representing less than 2% of the original total. Unfortunately, the urbanised historic counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth are more complex and we have recorded less than a half and a third of the status information respectively.

Would you be able to help us record the present use of chapels? We are aiming to complete this element of the research by the end of December 2011. Lists of chapels for which we are looking for information are available from anne.harris@rcahmw.gov.uk or susan.fielding@rcahmw.gov.uk

Thank you very much in advance for any assistance you can give.

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