Taking over the World…

…one blog post at a time!

Today the GGAT offices are the scene of social media training for both staff and volunteers alike, learning how to promote the work of the Trust and its volunteer projects (such as the Gower Landscape Project and Access to Archaeology) through the wonderfully versatile medium of social media!

Volunteer adding information onto the computer system

GGAT is seeking highly motivated archaeologists to join its Projects Team

settlement2bsite2bsetting2bout2bthe2bgridSeeking highly motivated archaeologists to join our Projects Team. 

We are looking for persons for short term contracts (1-2 months) in Southeast Wales. The successful candidates must be able to demonstrate:

  • A degree or equivalent in archaeology or a related subject (or a proven track record).
  • Membership (at PCIfA level) of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (non-members considered).
  • Experience in archaeological excavation.
  • A good working knowledge of British archaeology.

Employee Benefits

Competitive salary range above CIfA salary minima guidelines £17,577 to £19,728 (appointments will be made on the basis of demonstrated ability and previous experience).

25 days per annum holiday entitlement (pro rata) with additional concessionary days at Christmas and New Year.

If you feel you are the right candidate then we welcome an application from you.

There is no application form. Applicants should apply in writing to include a covering letter, curriculum vitae and the names and addresses of two referees. Please email you application to projects@ggat.org.uk or post to The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd, Heathfield House, Heathfield, Swansea SA1 6EL.
Closing date for receipt of applications: Open recruitment

Romans in Merthyr Tydfil

It has long been established that the Roman Army constructed a fort at Penydarren (c.AD75), Merthyr Tydfil, to protect the auxiliary unit of troops (normally about 500 men) stationed there. This fort was one of a network of auxiliary forts which were usually positioned between fifteen and twenty miles apart. These forts were probably constructed during the governorship of Sextus Julius Frontinus following the establishment of a new base at Caerleon, or Isca Augusta, for Legio II Augusta (The Second Augusta Legion). The purpose of the auxiliary unit was to garrison forts in recently subdued areas, defend the frontiers, maintain order and protect supply routes.

The first evidence for Roman occupation in Merthyr Tydfil was noted in 1786 during the construction of Penydarren House for the Iron Master Samuel Homfrey when both Roman bricks and tessellated pavement (mosaic) were revealed. Later, between 1902 and 1904 during the preparatory groundworks for construction of the Merthyr Tydfil Athletics Club track and later football ground, the remains of a Roman granary, a building with a hypocaust system (Roman central heating) and a water-well were discovered. This was the first time that the site was considered to be that of a Roman fort, following the examination of the site by Dr F Haverfield of Oxford University. Rescue excavations were later undertaken in 1957 by Dr Brenda Heywood from the University of Cardiff, supported by university students and pupils from a local school. A corner of the forts defences was excavated, revealing a rampart that consisted of a clay and turf bank 8.25m wide that possibly stood to height of 1.6m above a stone base. This defence was supported by two ditches 3.96 and 3.05m wide respectively, separated by a berm at 2.74m wide. In addition, a small section of possible via sagularis (the perimeter road running behind the rampart on the inside) was found within the east rampart and the remains and traces of two ovens in the intervallum (the area found between perimeter road and rampart). From the excavation and its results, it has been postulated that the fort undertook a second phase of building and was occupied until c AD 140.



Civilian settlement (vicus) and industry (iron working) can often be associated with forts of this type. Outside of the fort at Penydarren the remains of a bathhouse and evidence of a small cemetery (three Roman cremation urns) had been discovered, but little else. That is until local historian and metal detectorist, Mr Anthony “Shirley” Thomas noticed unusual looking rectangular cropmarks on the aerial photographs of the land surrounding Merthyr Tydfil. Mr Thomas brought these photographs to the attention of the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust who confirmed that these cropmark could indeed be Roman, most likely associated with Roman metal working in the area, but further work is required to confirm the discovery. Rather excitingly, it now seems possible that Merthyr Tydfil’s origins as an Iron Town could stretch back some 2000 years to the Roman period.

Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust, working in partnership with Cadw, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust are planning to investigate the cropmarks first noticed by Mr Thomas as part of a community archaeology project. If you would like to get involved, learn more about the project and help discover the origins of Roman Merthyr Tydfil and learn how archaeologists investigate and record archaeological sites then please contact the Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust for further information.

GGAT Memories

The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust formally came into existence on 13th September 1976. In the run up to our anniversary, we are carrying out a number of celebratory events, some in conjunction with our colleagues at the Clwyd-Powys, Dyfed and Gwynedd Archaeological Trusts.

One thing that we would like to do is share memories with our staff and members past and present, our many clients, customers and supporters, and most particularly with everyone who lives in and cares about the heritage of South Wales.

In order to do this we will be running a series of themed stories over the coming year. Each month will be related to a particular aspect of our work – past or present- though we are not going to reveal too much at this stage!

We would also like you to share your thoughts, messages and pictures with us.  So, if you’ve worked for GGAT over our 40 year history and have memories and photos, or have attended one of our Open Days or visited one of our excavations we’d like to hear from you.  These can be shared through any of our social media streams.

To get the ball rolling the first theme is the Trust as an educative charity (we were formally registered in October 1976). Our object is to ‘educate the public in archaeology’.

Is there anything we’ve done that you have particularly liked? Did you enjoy a visit to one of our excavations or attend a talk or lecture? Did you see one of our exhibitions or visit our stands at the Eisteddfod or other shows? Have you read one of the leaflets or booklets that we have produced? Have you looked at the information on our main and subsidiary websites? What have we done that you have you liked?  Share your memories on our social media streams (Facebook, Instagram) and on Twitter using the hash tag #ggatmemories.

HERP2481.3OPEN DAY dressing up

Picture 024DSCN0576

Day 4: Aberwystwth – the Vale of Glamorgan

Day 4, the last of my long trek. Today I’d set myself the goal of visiting the final two Trusts. Dyfed Archaeological Trust in Llandeilo, then my Trust, the Glamorgan-Gwent in Swansea. It was going to be difficult, but then which part of the ride hadn’t been! I checked in my Sustrans book and it said there was a nice tarmac and gravel cycle path (81/82) from Aber to Tregaron. So after breakfast (the rest of the previous nights pizza, all the luxuries me!) I turned my trusty stead southwards and headed for home.
The cycle path started well…but soon descended into complete farce. The description in the book should have read, ‘ path gravelled in places, but mainly mud, oh and fallen trees. This path is mostly suited for mountain bikes. Should not be attempted by people on tourers or road bikes with panniers!!’ It was a great track nevertheless, following the line of the old railway. I passed half hidden station platforms, where the ghosts of local villagers wait for trains that time and Dr Beeching have long done away with, and a section blasted through solid rock. the sound of my tyres through the mud echoing between rough cut faces. This majority of the track was through woodland, though the last 5 miles crosses Tregaron Bog and the change to open moorland is stark. Finally I reached Tregaron. I’m not sure who looked worse, me or my bike? We were both caked in mud and grime from the mornings adventure. 12miles had taken 2.5 hours! After sustainable of coffee and a chocolate and fig slice I set off again. In front of me lay the hills and I felt very unprepared.
The ride to Lampeter/Cwmann was littered with small sleepy villages and hamlets, as I passed through Llanddewi-Brefi I noticed that I was the only cyclist in the village. As I reached the A482 I was in buoyant spirits, the mornings problems and the time delay on the cycle path were behind me and I’d made good time along the B roads. As long as I live the A482/ A40 from Lampeter through to Llandeilo will forever be my Everest. For those who are unfamiliar with this fine section of Britain’s. road network, the road is almost one long snaking continual climb! One of the highlights you pass on this climb is the Dolaucothi Gold Mines. The mines overlook the beautiful Cothi Valley, and were started by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Mining at the site continued in the 19th and 20th centuries, finally coming to a end in 1938. The site is owned by the National Trust and is well worth a visit.
The climbing over (or so I thought) I pedalled wearily in Llandeilo and announced my presence at the Dyfed Archaeological Trust office. Water, coffee and biscuits were produced and a comfy chair for my saddle sore posterior. Thank you Alice and Marion for looking after a somewhat bedraggled and dirty traveller. After discussing my route and finding a more suitable one, which didn’t involve me climbing over multiple mountains, I set off again. It was kindly suggested before I left that I could be loaded into the back of the Dyfed van and driven to Swansea, but I passed on the offer, I had set off to conquer 4 Trusts in 4 days and the end was tantalisingly close now. Only the GGAT office to go!
Leaving Llandeilo behind me the heavens once again opened in a mighty downpour and I wished I was in the back of a van. More climbing ensued. As a cycled through Llannon I caught my first glimpse of the Burry estuary and caught the taste of home on the wind. Through Llanelli, Dunvant, and onto the cycle path to the Mumbles. My legs hummed and my knee sung with pain, but on I rode. I turned the corner into Heathfield House, the home of GGAT, at 7pm. The carpark was empty the office shut for the night. As I photographed my bike in front of the office door as evidence of my presence, a small sense of achievement washed over me. 4 Trusts, 4 days.
As the shadows started to lengthen, I turned on my bike lights and started the familiar ride from the office to home. I knew that a hot meal and a pint would be waiting for me in my local and many tales of the previous four days would be regaled to friends and loved ones, with various degrees of embellishment. A fitting end to my archaeological adventure.




Day 3: Llandudno – Aberystwyth

Woke to sound of seagulls and the tang of salt air, that’ll stop me from leaving my bedroom window open! Day 3 another mammoth day in the saddle. I was feeling of trepidation as i waved a find farewell to lovely faded Llandudno , as i hadn’t arranged a B&B for the end of today’s adventure (as I wasn’t sure how far I would get). The coastal cycle path quickly disappeared into a series of sand dunes and I was seriously considering turning back for the main road, nevertheless I fastened a tea towel to my head put on my best Peter O’Toole/Lawrence of Arabian face and dragged my bike through the sandy wastes. Oh, what a reward awaits those with enough gumption to undertake this trek, the cycle path soon re-emerged from beneath the sands and across the bay stands the imposing fortress of Conwy. As you ride across the bridge the castle looms above you imposing Norman might on the lawless. The ride from Conwy to Bangor is fantastic, following the cycle path 5 you hug the coastline for most of the journey flanked by the mountains and the sea. After a woodland descent a found myself at my first port of call Bangor, home of the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. After coffee, cake (thank you Emily) more coffee, bike lubricant and a photo shoot, I bid a farewell to my North Wales colleagues and pointed my wheels in the direction of another Norman Castle, the mighty Caernarfon! The castle was one of a series built by Edward I to intimidate the surrounding population. The colour banded walls were designed to echo Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome. By the time I got there however the phone battery was on its last legs and after been informed that I couldn’t recharge my phone in the coffee shop I had to take the decision to turn it off or let it die. Die it was. I joined the vast hoards of tourists all taking ‘selfies’ in front of the castle and headed to the Lôn Eifion trail. This cycle path runs from Caernarfon to Bryncir along a former rail line. By now the weather had started to turn and the blue skies that had followed me from Llandudno deserted me as bands of slate grey rain rolled down the Snowdonia mountains to soak me. By the time I got to Criccieth, I knew I was in trouble. My knee had swallow like a balloon and it was becoming uncomfortable to ride, nevertheless, Barmouth wasn’t to far away, just another 2 hours cycle. Over the toll bridge at Porthmadog, past Harlech and the end was in sight. What is it they say about the plans of mice and men? No rooms at Barmouth!! My world suddenly became myopic as I knew I had carry on. No rooms at Machynlleth! With the pain in my knee being unbearable the cycle along the A487 became like a dream. I reached Aberystwyth at 8:30pm, luckily a B&B that I’ve stayed in a few times before took pity on me and found me a room. So, a happy ending after all. 2 Trusts down 2 left to do.








Day 2: Welshpool – Llandudno

Day 2 saw the previous days rain replaced by lovely sunshine. Popped in at the Clwyd -Powys Archaeological Trust offices to say ‘Good morning’, before setting off for today goal that Victorian haven of pleasure Llandudno. The ride from Welshpool to Wrexham was a delight. A short stop in Wrexham to refuel and to visit St. Giles Parish Church. A big thank you to the staff there who provided me with coffee and biscuits and allowed me to charge my phone. The church has a fantastic early 16th century Doom painting, showing figures rising from their coffins. Leaving Wrexham behind I set off for the old North Wales coast road, passing through Mold and Flint. Was very pleased with myself after seeing a sign for Flint Mountain, and I didn’t even notice the climb! At Prestatyn I joined the coastal cycle path and whilst dodging the vast amounts of holiday makers I spied the Little Orme looming in the distance. Now the ride from Prestatyn to Colwyn Bay is listed as being 16 miles long, once again it felt like forever, mind you the strong headwind didn’t help. Past Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Ross-on-Sea, all names from my childhood, I rode with the stood climb over the Little Orme ahead of me I stopped for an ice cream and a breather. The vast array of offshore wind farms glinted in the late afternoon sun as I finished my cornetto and rode the last few miles (uphill!) into Llandudno. The descent and ride along that long promenade was better than any sprint up the Champ Élysées as waiting for me was a shower and a soft bed.







Day 1: Chepstow – Welshpool 

Yesterday was the first day of the GGAT Youth Heritage Around Wales Cycle ride. I set off under threatening sky from the layby outside Chepstow. Where were the joyful crowds and bands of well wishers? Bet Chris Froome does get this. So said goodbye to my wife and headed for the hills. Chepstow Castle was wreathed in cloud as I headed for the hills. I got as far as Symonds Yat before the rain caught up with me. Goodrick Castle stood menacingly against the skyline as the first of the days Thunderstorms rolled around me.  After the first ‘bath’ from a passing White Van Man you tend to forget how wet you actually are! By the time I reached Hereford my pack had become considerably heavier by the amount of water it had soaked up. So I decided to lighten it by eating most of my cake and chocolate. I sat outside of the Cathedral as strains of songs from inside drifted to my sodden ears. Then I was off again nourished in both mind and body…until I got to the hill outside Hereford.  No not just a hill but a river. I tried valiantly to cycle up it but to no avail, so I had to get off and wade ankle deep (truly) through the torrent that was seven decending. After this the day became set into a rthym of hills and rain. By 3pm there was no more water left in the sky to fall on me and my goal was insight. I passed many fantastic argicultural outbuildings, but my mind had now become focused on reaching my goal. Now, have you ever had a dream where you are trying to reach a destination and the road goes on forever and ever, stretching into the horizon? I’ve lived that dream! The last 15.5 miles seemed to go one for an eternity. Nevertheless, Welshpool was reached and a welcoming smile and hot shower was waiting for me at my B&B. 

Today Welshpool to Llandudno…and possibly more hills! 


Youth Heritage Fund

Untitled-7In 2015-2016 the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts (WATs) are celebrating their collective 40th anniversaries with a range of celebratory activities.

As one of these activities the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust will be establishing a fund that will be used solely to provide support and encouragement to young people living in South Wales who are interested in our local archaeological heritage and in the practice of archaeology in general.

The fund will allow us to increase opportunities for young persons to engage with archaeology. For example it would be used to support the establishment or activities of Young Archaeologist Clubs, or development and distribution of learning materials, or meet the costs for work-place learning experience, or support activities with schools or registered youth groups.

The fund will be administered by the Trustees of the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust. The Trust is a Charitable Company registered with the Charity Commission and with Companies House (see http://www.ggat.org.uk/trust/governance.html).

We will be raising monies over the next twelve months through sponsored activities and donations.

As the first of these our Outreach Officer Paul Huckfield will be undertaking a sponsored cycle ride around Wales, stopping at each of the four WATs offices along with notable historic and archaeological sites on his journey. He will be posting a daily blog with details of the sites he visits on the Trusts social media streams and you can keep track of where he is in Wales via his Strava feed, which will be displayed on our Facebook site.  You can sponsor Paul by downloading a sponsorship form here.

We are hoping to have the online donations site available soon to help you make a donation more easily