As part of the Big Welsh Walk campaign, GGAT will be carrying out a circular tour to look at the ironworks, its water management and transport systems, as well as some of the places where the people associated with it lived. No dark Satanic mills here now – most of our walk follows the Taff Trail through beautiful scenery at the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
Duration: 3.5 hours
Dates: 23 May 2015
Times: 10.00am – 1.30pm (approx)
Start/Parking: In front of Cyfarthfa Castle main entrance
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.
The fantastic Festival of Archaeology is once more upon us, and GGAT kick off their activities for the festival with our flagship ‘Archaeology for All!‘ event on Saturday 12th July.
This year the event is being held within the beautiful surroundings of Cyfarthfa Castle, in association with the Merthry Tydfil Heritage Forum. There will be Roman Cooking, Medieval Archery, Rural skills demonstrations, Archwilio, and that firm family favorite the Body in the Box!.
As part of GGAT’s First World War Project, our Senior Project Archaeologist, Johnny Crawford and Outreach Officer, Paul W Huckfield (wearing his Military Specialist hat) are visiting the site of the National Shipyard Number 1, at Chepstow this afternoon.
The National Shipyards were proposed, and partially completed, by the coalition government led by David Lloyd George during the latter years of the war and were built in order to counter the large losses of British merchant ships being destroyed by German U-boat attacks in the Atlantic Ocean.
The shipyards were to be built so as to construct large numbers of “standard” cargo ships as rapidly as possible. In accordance with the Protection of the Realm Act, all Chepstow shipbuilding companies therefore came under government control and were expanded to form National Shipyard Number 1 (Chepstow). Shipyard Number 1, was one of three great shipbuilding centres established in the area, the others being Beachly and Portbury. Eight slipways were laid down in order to build ships of up to 600 feet (180 m) in length and of up to 300 tons.
The construction however was not restricted to just the shipyard, as over 6,000 skilled workers came to the Chepstow area from other shipbuilding areas in Britain. New housing was provided at
three new Garden City sites at Hardwick, Bulwark and Pennsylvania (concrete blocks used to construct the houses and slipways being produced in part by German prisoners of war). Camps were also built for the workers, along with workshops, a power station and a new hospital in Chepstow.
In 1925 Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd bought and later dismantled the shipyard. In due course the company became Fairfield-Mabey Ltd who now specialise in steelwork for bridges and other structures.
The ironworks of Merthyr Tydfil have often been described as the ´Engine of Empire´. You can now learn more about one of these important sites by visiting our new ‘Ynysfach Ironworks microsite‘. Watch the CGI animation, view the reconstruction drawings, and learn all about this important ironworks and the excavations that GGAT have carried out there.
Back in July I talked about the watching-brief that Neil was conducting at the Hafod laboratory building (http://hafodcommunitydig.wordpress.com/2013/07/). At the time he came across a small area of pavement made of copper slag blocks, which he’d never seen used around the copperworks before. Yesterday I found an area of copper slag blocks on Walters Road, identical to the ones used at the Hafod copperworks. These blocks had been used for decorative effect and were interspersed with stone paving blocks.
The historic mapping produced by the Ordnance Survey doesn’t show this alley existing till after the 1940s, suggesting that this area of paving is relatively modern. On this extract from the third edition (1919) OS mapping you can see that the alley (marked with a red arrow) is occupied by part of a pub.Do you know of any other areas of copper slag paving or pieces of copper slag built into walls? If you do we’d be really interested to hear from you. Or if you’d like to know more about the Hafod copperworks, why not come down to the launch of our latest community archaeology project CuSP. We’ll be at the Hafod Community center on Monday 17th from 18:00, drop by and say hello.
Over the past 2 months GGAT has been excavating at the former Cyfarthfa Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil. The development area is situated in what was once the coke yard and associated ovens connected to the ironworks. The excavation has revealed multiphase forges, smithies, coke ovens, calcining kilns, coal stores, a marshalling yard and office buildings.
GGAT’s latest community driven dig started today at the former Hafod and Morfa Copperworks in Swansea. The excavation will be running every day (except Sundays) between 30th May to the 8th June and will be trying to discover the original early 19th century canal basin designed for barges to unloaded coal directly into the copperworks. The canal basin was filled in during the first half of the 20th century, and has now completely disappeared from view. In addition, the project is also hoping to find more traces of the tramroad that crossed the canal to take slag away from the furnaces to be dumped on the slag heaps.