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!
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.
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.
The Festival of Archaeology Roadshow rumbles into the distance for another year!
But, weep not, you can re-live all GGAT’s archaeology fueled Outreach events through our FoA Lookbook. Here you can look back at a selection of photos from our many and varied events, helping you to keep warm until next years FoA rolls into town once more.
As part of the Big Welsh Walk campaign, GGAT will be carrying out a circular walk around Pen Garnbugail on Gelligaer Common. Learn all the fantastic archaeology of this upland site as we visit Bronze Age cairns, a Roman road, an early Christian monument and medieval house sites.
Time: 2.5 hours
16 May 2015
2.00pm – 4.30pm
Start/Parking: Car parking area at SO 10506 03095, off the road between Fochriw and Bedlinog
The First World War was an overwhelming event which had widespread effects across Wales – no area was left untouched as the whole country geared up to contribute to the war effort
One hundred years on the generation that witnessed it has almost gone, and what we are left with are the physical remains – buildings, landscapes and artefacts. Archaeology has an important role to play in understanding and remembering this global conflict. The Welsh Archaeological Trusts, grant aided by Cadw, are focusing on the First World War over the next few years to coincide with the centenary of the war.
Over the subsequent years GGAT will be looking at the following five themes:
The Sinews of War – Industry/manufacturing
The Call to Arms – The militarised landscape
Casualties of War – Hospitals and welfare facilities
Defence of the Realm – Coastal defences and port facilities
Their Names Liveth for Evermore – Commemoration and remembrance
There will be opportunities to get involved, visit sites and help in the research and recording.