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Friday, 28 June 2013

My First Week As Mapping Officer For The Royal Commission






My name is Jon Dollery and I’m the new Mapping Officer at the Royal Commission. Being a new member of the team and new to the Commission, I thought it would be a good idea to post a blog about my first week and to share with you my experiences and the type of work that I have been doing.

As many of you will know, the first day starting anywhere can be quite daunting, no more so than for myself starting at the Royal Commission! In the past, I have been involved with archaeological excavations in and around Wales. My most recent experience involved running the archaeological excavations at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, I have also had the opportunity to work alongside some of the Commission’s staff as well as hearing about some of the Commission's amazing partner projects.

At 9:30, Monday 17 June, staring up at the Commission’s offices in Aberystwyth, I felt extremely nervous to say the least. Luckily everyone within the office was really supportive and my first day flew by. In the morning I started my induction to learn about the Do’s and Don’ts of working within the office. In the afternoon I was introduced to the team I will be working with - the Data and Technology Team - and everyone was very friendly.

On Tuesday I started work on a project, involving aerial photographic mapping in conjunction with the Uplands Archaeology Initiative. My role in this project will be to use the aerial photographic collections within the Commission and GIS software to identify potential archaeological features that have so far not been discovered, which I can honestly say is one of the best jobs in the world! The area I have been looking at is residual moorland within north Monmouthshire which has some interesting archaeology. So far, I have found a few circular enclosures, lots of peat cutting trenches, a few potential sites for buildings as well as lots and lots of pillow mounds (rabbit warrens).

Also during the week, I completed the induction programme which has been very useful. I have met lots of new faces and have had a tantalising glimpse of future projects that I’ll hopefully be involved with... I can’t say much more really... apart from watch this space; July and August are going to be brilliant!

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Commission Collaborates in Knowledge Exchange






Dr Alan Chamberlain, Senior Fellow at the Department of Computer Science
From July, Dr Alan Chamberlain, Senior Fellow at the Department of Computer Science, University of Nottingham, will be working with the Royal Commission’s Data and Technology team thanks to a grant from the University’s Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange – Archives, Audiences and Assets Fellowship.

Dr Chamberlain’s position as Visiting Researcher will see him work alongside Tom Pert, On-Line Development Manager at the Commission, to identify opportunities to extend public access to the resources of Coflein and the People’s Collection Wales.

Tom and Dr Chamberlain have previously collaborated on the development of Placebooks.org, a prototype web and smartphone-based digital publishing platform that enabled users to produce bespoke digital guidebooks using data from the People’s Collection Wales and other websites.

Dr Chamberlain said, "I'm honoured to be offered the chance to work with the Royal Commission. They are involved in some innovative and fascinating work. Digital technology and heritage play an increasingly important part in both the culture and economy of Wales. It is through organisations such as the Royal Commission that we are witnessing the development of new tools that let us look back upon our history and find new ways of being able to interact with it."

Further information: tom.pert@rcahmw.gov.uk

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

New information on the ‘Silian 3’ stone!






Professor David Austin, of the University of Wales TSD, Lampeter, chats to local people about the probable origins and evolution of the church site
On Friday 7 June news was received from Siân Iles, of the National Museum of Wales, to whom an enquiry had been submitted regarding the provenance of the cast and photograph of ‘Silian 3’. Both were noted by Professor Edwards in A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales.  Siân confirmed that the museum has the cast in its collection, and stated that it is likely to have been made by W. Clarke of Llandaff, prior to World War I. From 1894 the Cardiff Museum and Art Gallery (later the National Museum of Wales) undertook a programme of commissioning plaster casts of pre-Norman stones in Wales, in order to create a national reference collection. The programme was brought to an end by the outbreak of war in 1914.

A photograph of the ‘Silian 3’ cast is referred to as such in the National Museum’s catalogue. Also in the picture are the casts of two stones from Cynwyl Gaeo, which are known to have been made by W. Clarke in 1914. It can therefore be inferred that the ‘Silian 3’ cast probably also dates from that time, and ended up in the stream sometime afterwards. It seems that no one currently living in the village knew of its existence until now.

The ‘Silian 3’ stone is one of three medieval stones belonging to the church site. It will be permanently housed at St Sulien’s Church, whose parishioners intend to apply for funding to display ‘Silian 3’ and ‘Silian 2’, both of which are thought to date to the ninth-tenth century. ‘Silian 1’, whose inscription dates to the fifth-sixth century, is built into the church’s external south wall. There is considerable local and archaeological interest in the origins and evolution of the early church site at Silian. All three stones add to the narrative of the site, and local people now hope to disseminate this narrative using leaflets or an information plaque.


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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Aberystwyth Young Archaeologists recreate 1930s dig photo: Aberystwyth Young Archaeologists step back in time





Diggers from the Young Archaeologists' Club at Pen Dinas hillfort, Aberystwyth in 2013 (photograph taken by  Paul Harries)
Aberystwyth’s Young Archaeologists’ Club recently stepped back in time nearly 80 years to recreate an historic view of excavators working on Pen Dinas hillfort above the town, in the years before the Second World War. This is the first time people have stood in the footsteps of the 1930s archaeologists, complete with similar clothing and tools, to reconstruct a view of the hillfort excavations originally taken on a summer’s day in 1934.

On a walk organised by John Ibbotson and Paul Harries for the local branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club, and guided by Dr Toby Driver of the Aberystwyth-based Royal Commission, the challenge to stand in the footprints of pioneering archaeologists was too good to resist. With Anna Evans of Ceredigion Museum providing authentic tools and clothing from the museum’s handling collection to complete the picture, the Young Archaeologists got to feel what life was like for local workmen in the 1930s. Donning shirts, over-trousers, flat caps and long-handled spades in the summer heat was quite a challenge. Young Archaeologist Sam Williams completed the picture, taking the place of Professor Forde with waistcoat and tie, round spectacles and clutching a panama hat.

The original photograph forms part of the 1930s Pen Dinas excavation archive held by the National Monuments Record of Wales in Aberystwyth, and shows Professor Forde visiting the diggers as they excavated one of the main gateways into the Iron Age hillfort. It was not too difficult to find where the original diggers had once stood, but the background view of the National Library of Wales and Llanbadarn Fawr had changed quite a lot in eight decades.

Diggers at Pen Dinas hillfort, Aberystwyth, in 1934, NPRN:92236 (Crown Copyright RCAHMW)
Toby Driver added: ‘Reconstructing this 1930s view with original clothing and tools posed a real challenge to all involved but with the help of the Ceredigion Museum, and the patience of the children, we were all amazed at the result. It really has been like stepping back in time!’

Anyone wanting to join the Young Archaeologists should contact John Ibbotson via the Ceredigion Museum. The original excavation photographs of Pen Dinas, Aberystwyth, can be searched for on the Royal Commission’s online database www.coflein.gov.uk .


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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Newly Discovered Medieval ‘Silian 3’ Stone On Display!





On Friday 7 June, Royal Commission staff member, Nikki Vousden, invited members of the public to St Sulien’s Church to see the newly-discovered medieval carved stone, ‘Silian 3’. Professor Nancy Edwards, of Bangor University, and archaeologists from Lampeter University also attended. Nancy Edwards, specialist in medieval stone sculpture and author of A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales, noted the lost stone in Volume II of her corpus and was keen to see it for the first time. She used a torch to highlight the decoration, and carefully examined the stone to check that there were no further signs of carving. Professor Edwards noted that although the cross and lozenge pattern appears on at least three other carved stones in Wales, she does not know of another example of the pattern as a whole. She also noted that the carving consists of punch marks, meaning that the pattern was punched out using a metal tool. Professor Edwards was of the opinion that part of the original pattern has broken off, although its outer edge is evident in places.

Professor Edwards takes notes while a torch is used to highlight detail of the stone’s decoration.


Around 30 locals and visitors to the area attended the event, as did Reverend Chris Webb (Silian’s vicar) and archaeologists from University of Wales TSD Lampeter, including Professor David Austin. In addition to listening to the expert opinion of Professor Edwards, visitors also had the opportunity to view the find-spot. Professor Edwards took a photograph and GPS reading of the location, in order to update her records. The location of ‘Silian 3’ is no longer unknown, as stated in her corpus!

Archaeologists, Professor Edwards and locals pay a visit to the find-spot.

Article by Nikki Vousden, Data and Technology Team.

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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Help Us Create A Woolly Squadron – We Need Your Knitting Support To Take Off!





“Yarnbombing” over Llangynidr Bridge, near Crickhowell.

To commemorate World Wide Knit in Public Day (8―16 June 2013), the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is enlisting the help of volunteer ‘yarnstormers’ to create a squadron of knitted aeroplanes to take over urban and rural areas.

Volunteers are requested to showcase their knitting skills and find out more about the history of the place they live in by ‘yarnbombing’ locations near them, which can also be found in Aerofilm photographs.

Natasha Scullion, Britain From Above’s Activity Officer said: ‘We are encouraging any keen knitting enthusiasts to join us in our mission to wind up their wool and take off with Britain from Above!’

Be inspired by Britain From Above’s unique collection of stunning aerial photographs of Britain taken between 1919―53 on www.britainfromabove.org.uk. The images provide an unparalleled photographic history of Britain from the air in the twentieth century. They illustrate the enormous changes that have taken place in housing, leisure, industry, transport and agriculture, and the physical impact of two world wars. People can access over 35,000 images for free.

Both the instructions and the pattern is available to download from www.britainfromabove.org.uk and through English Heritage’s Britain From Above Twitter feed @AboveBritain

Joining in is easy.
Step 1. Knit a plane. Use our pattern or make up your own. The sky is the limit to your creativity …
Step 2. Go to www.britainfromabove.org.uk to find images near you and pick a favourite spot. If you like, leave your knitted masterpiece for other people to enjoy.
Step 3. Upload your picture to our KNIT for Britain from Above group on www.britainfromabove.org.uk/groups/knit-britain-above to join the ranks of your fellow yarnstormers.

Claude Graham-White piloting a Farman biplane at Bournemouth, 1910
                           

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Monday, 10 June 2013

A New Coflein Search Facility





A new dimension to the Royal Commission’s web access system―Coflein― is due to be launched on 11 June. Hitherto, public searchers have only been able to search our database of sites and monuments and find those archive records held by the National Monuments Record of Wales which relate specifically to the sites returned by a search. From 11 June, users will also be able to search the National Monuments Record of Wales’ archive catalogue directly. This will allow the public to explore our collections in more depth and access references to records that are not necessarily related to particular sites.

Users will be able to search for records produced by specific individuals, for instance a known archaeologist or historian, or by various organisations. Searches can also be conducted by date, medium of record, through free-text description, or combinations of all of these terms. In addition, researchers can go straight to named collections and explore them by browsing, or by using the search parameters outlined above. Results will display records in their catalogue hierarchy (e.g. at collection, group or item levels) allowing users to understand the context of the records within their parent collections, and see how the various records relate to each other.

New functionality will also allow search returns to be refined by further criteria, e.g. by selecting records only from particular collections or by limiting searches to include only those records which have online digital items. In addition, users will be able to specify what level of catalogue records they wish to view, whether collection, group or item. This ability to refine search returns by further selected criteria will be applied to the existing site search facilities in the coming weeks.

Coflein can be found here: http://www.coflein.gov.uk

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Friday, 7 June 2013

If These Mute Stones Could Speak...






Friday June 14th 7pm Ysbyty Cynfyn Church

Graveyards are special places full of genealogical information that can be used where paper records may not survive. This talk will look at a community project that focussed on populating the mining landscape of Ceredigion.

As part of the Cherishing Churchyards week Samantha Jones, community archaeologist for the Metal Links Project, will be giving an illustrated talk on recent work at Ysbyty Cynfyn Church.
Everyone welcome

For further details contact Samantha Jones,
samantha.jones@rcahmw.gov.uk
Telephone: 01970 621203

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales





Fans saying a final farewell to Cardiff Arms Park prior to demolition in 1997.
(DI2006_1049, NPRN 3064) © Crown copyright: RCAHMW

“Every pavilion or clubhouse has had its own struggle to be built and every club has faced its own fight for survival. It is why we cherish our fields of play and defend them furiously.” Eddie Butler

“Dr Leeworthy’s text could well have survived unadorned but it comes to us in a volume that is... superbly illustrated. We are presented with a classic example of how illustrations can be as important as a text and how both work together to clinch arguments and deepen an understanding of a theme.” (Peter Stead, Morgannwg, volume 56)


In the twenty-first century, many of us take the existence of parks, recreation grounds and leisure centres for granted. But, behind them all, are stories of struggle – often against adversity – and a collective desire for something better for the future. Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales traces the history of that struggle and examines the impact of sport on the landscape of modern Wales.

It explores the diversity of sporting facilities from the earliest public park opened in 1858 at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, through the Llwyn Onn swimming baths in Wrexham, opened in 1854, to the numerous welfare grounds that opened across Wales at the turn of the twentieth century. Lesser-known sporting venues are highlighted, such as the American Roller rink in Cardiff from 1908, the Welsh White City greyhound stadium of 1928, and the short-lived Penarth Road Speedway Stadium from the 1950s.

Little-known activities such as the Powderhall races, pushball, baseball, hill-climbing races in cars, are all considered alongside the better-known sports ― rugby, football and cricket―that dominate today, together with the development of adventure playgrounds and leisure centres.

The book also considers the sporting heritage of Wales in wider terms, with a chapter on the role of the countryside as a national playground, looking at the infrastructure generated by the rise in popularity of cycling, hill-walking and youth hostelling in the early twentieth century.

Superbly illustrated with 172 historical and contemporary photographs, including many never-before-seen images from the Aerofilms archive of the National Monuments Record of Wales, Fields of Play provides a history and analysis of this significant aspect of Wales’ built heritage and will encourage a greater appreciation of sporting places in the landscape.


Fields of Play: The Sporting Heritage of Wales
The book is priced at £14.95 and is available from the Royal Commission and all good bookshops.



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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Community Archaeology Training Placement (1)





Opening Date: 31 May 2013
Closing Date: 30 June 2013
Location: Aberystwyth

Job Desription:
Council for British Archaeology
Community Archaeology Training Placement

Do you want to develop your career in archaeology?

Are you interested in working directly with a wide range of communities?

The Council for British Archaeology’s Community Archaeology Bursary Placements (CATPs) are aimed specifically at providing training to individuals who already have a good working knowledge of archaeological theory and techniques and who are keen to develop their skills for utilisation in their future career to enhance relationships between the archaeological profession and a wide range of communities.

The bursaries are funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its Skills for the Future programme, with support from English Heritage, Cadw and Historic Scotland.

One final (non-youth-focused) Community Archaeology Training Placement is available from September 2013. The successful candidate will receive a salaried bursary of £17,000.

The placement will be hosted by:
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (Aberystwyth)

For full details of the post please visit our website where you can download an application pack (including full job description and person specification) http://new.archaeologyuk.org/community-archaeology-training-placement

The closing date for all applications is: Sunday 30th June 2013

Pay Scale: TSB
Salary: £17,000 per annum
Contract: 12 month
Contact: Toby Driver

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