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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Royal Commission supporting Dementia Awareness Week 17-23 May 2015





Last Thursday images from the People’s Collection Wales www site provided a talking point at an event promoting Dementia Awareness at Y Plas, Machynlleth. Many of the images were from a previous digitisation event in the town organised by Communities First initiative in 2011, but many were also from the Royal Commission’s own collections.

The photographs included the Queen’s visit in the 1977 Jubilee year; the Eisteddfod held in the town in 1981; former businesses such as the Powys Cinema, Arvonia Bakery and Read’s Garage; and buildings on the PhotoScoot 2014 wheelchair-friendly town trail.
http://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/385998

The event was organised by The Alzheimer’s Society and Crossroads Care Mid & West Wales as part of the Dementia Friendly Powys project funded by Powys Council.

A Memory Café for Machynlleth is one of the ideas currently being explored. The venue would provide people with memory problems or dementia and their carers an opportunity to meet regularly with others in similar circumstances. Health and Social Services professionals would also be available to provide practical advice and information about support services.

Memory Boxes comprising old photographs, objects from bygone eras, and games designed to stimulate reminiscences, often form part of the therapeutic activities available at such cafés.
The laminated images provided by the Royal Commission for the event may eventually form part of the ‘Memory Box for Mach’. 

Follow this links to see more of the images available on the People’s Collection Wales www site for Machynlleth:
http://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/376935


Ingrid Bernathova, Crossroads Care Mid & West Wales, and Glenys Jones, Carer’s Voice Machynlleth, (left), learning from locaIngrid Bernathova, Crossroads Care Mid & West Wales, and Glenys Jones, Carer’s Voice Machynlleth, (left), learning from local residents that South Pacific and Love Me Tender (starring Elvis Presley) were among the films once shown at the Powys Cinema (http://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/32837).

 


(left to right) Heather Lewis, Dementia Advisor Nurse, Powys Local Health Board; Deanna Groom, RCAHMW; Richard Jones, Machynlleth Community Council Clerk; Glynis Jones, Carer’s Voice Machynlleth; and Vanessa  Garwood, Alzheimer’s Society.




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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

80th Anniversary of the Death of Lawrence of Arabia





Gorffwysfa, Tremadog, Gwynedd.
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Lawrence of Arabia. Thomas Edward Lawrence died on 19th May 1935 six days after he had been seriously injured while swerving to avoid colliding with two schoolboys cycling in a dip in the road near his home in Dorset. He lost control of his Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle and was thrown over the handlebars. He was an author, a renowned archaeologist, and a highly regarded British Army officer who mobilised the Arab Revolt during WWI. Otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia, he was born in Tremadog on the 16th of August 1888. A small plaque mounted above one of the bay windows on the ground-floor of Gorffwysfa (NPRN 17044) notes the birthplace of one of the greatest military leaders this country has ever known.

By Medwyn Parry

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry






A book which tells the story of an industry that changed the landscape and communities of Wales will be launched this week in a castle which was at the centre of one of the longest industrial disputes ever seen in British history.

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry is published by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and is the result of a collaboration with Dr David Gwyn, an industrial archaeologist who lives in Pen y Groes in the Nantlle Valley. The book brings together Dr Gwyn’s life-long fascination with the industry and the Royal Commission’s recording expertise and extensive visual archive.

Dr David Gwyn is in no doubt about the importance of the industry.

“The slate industry left its mark on not only the country’s landscape but also had a profound social and cultural impact on the region, on Wales and on the wider world.”

Professor R. Merfyn Jones, who has written the book’s Foreword, agrees:

“The Industrial Revolution may have been founded on textiles and powered by steam; but it was roofed with slates skilfully wrenched from the Snowdonia hills.”

The Ffestiniog quarries and slate-quarrymen’s city of Blaenau Ffestiniog (AP_2011_3093, NPRN 305760)

World Heritage Status

Slates from quarries the length and breadth of Gwynedd once roofed large parts of the world, and its global significance has been recognised with the inclusion of the Slate Industry of North Wales on the UK’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites to be submitted to UNESCO.

This book makes an important contribution towards developing the Gwynedd Council led nomination.

Councillor Mandy Williams- Davies, Chair of the bid’s Steering Group, believes that the book is undoubtedly a key step in gaining UNESCO World Heritage Status for the slate industry but also believes that it will have an impact locally:

“The book will help the people of Gwynedd take pride in yet another part of the county’s rich heritage, ensuring that the industry continues to bring benefits of all kinds to people still living in the slate communities and beyond.”

Reconciliation

Welsh Slate is encyclopaedic in its range, immensely detailed in its research but is also accessibly written and illustrated by outstanding drawings and photography.

The book will be officially launched in the Great Hall of Penrhyn Castle near Bangor. The neo–Norman castle was built in the nineteenth century and is now owned by the National Trust.

In 1900, conflict between Lord Penrhyn and the Bethesda quarrymen led to a bitter three year strike and the launch of this book is seen as an important step in reconciling the heritage of the castle and the surrounding communities.


NOTES TO EDITORS:
The book is available in both English and Welsh versions:

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry (ISBN: 978-1871184-51-8)

Llechi Cymru: Archaeoleg a Hanes (ISBN: 978-1871184-52-5).

These are large format books of 291 pages with 243 high-quality illustrations and cost £45.

The launch will take place in the Great Hall of Penrhyn Castle, Llandygai, Bangor 17:30 – 19:30 Thursday 21 May 2015.

For further details, please contact the Royal Commission on 01970 621200, nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk

For further information and images, please contact:

Nicola Roberts, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales nicola.roberts@rcahmw.gov.uk Tel:- 01970 621248

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is the investigation body and national archive for the historic environment of Wales. It has the lead role in ensuring that Wales’s archaeological, built and maritime heritage is authoritatively recorded, and seeks to promote the understanding and appreciation of this heritage nationally and internationally.

Website: www.rcahmw.gov.uk


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Thursday, 14 May 2015

A View From The Air: Aerial Survey With The Royal Commission





Safely landed at Haverfordwest Airport (K. Davies)
I’m a current PhD student at Swansea University, studying digital heritage and archaeology in Wales. Through Swansea University I was offered a heritage skills training placement with Toby Driver at the Royal Commission, giving me the opportunity to gain experience of the aerial survey work that the Commission carries out. Aerial survey includes monitoring the condition of scheduled ancient monuments across Wales to ensure they are not being damaged, as well as searching for previously unidentified archaeological sites from parch or cropmarks. Cropmarks appear when archaeology under the surface affects the growth rate of plants – for example plants growing over a ditch may grow taller than those around them as they can get more nutrition, whilst plants growing over a buried wall may be stunted, particularly during drought periods. This allows archaeologists to interpret the marks visible and suggest possible further investigative work. Information about these sites is made available to the public through the Royal Commissions online database Coflein.

As part of my week long placement I was given the chance to go on one of the Royal Commission’s aerial reconnaissance flights. Now it has to be said that I’m a nervous flyer at the best of times – but this was an opportunity not to be missed!  The weather was clear and sunny, with barely any wind, perfect for taking to the skies. I was quite nervous when we arrived at Haverfordwest airport, and the four-seat Cessna is by far the smallest plane I have ever been in, but after meeting the pilot and completing the safety checks I was ready to go. Once we were in the air my nervousness was (almost) forgotten; the views were incredible!

Pembrokeshire from the air (K. Davies)

Our first port of call was the current Dyfed Archaeological Trust community excavation at St Patrick’s Chapel in Whitesands Bay. They had asked us to get some aerial shots of their ongoing excavation of the early Medieval cemetery and chapel, which had been exposed during the winter storms of 2013-14. From the air the site looked great, and we got some fantastic photos of everyone hard at work. The dig continues until 22 May 2015 with daily tours for anyone who wishes to visit the site.

Excavations at St Patrick’s Chapel, NPRN: 305394, AP_2015_1168

From Whitesands bay we headed south along the Pembrokeshire coast, and around Ramsey Island.  The sea was so clear that we kept an eye out for any ancient wrecks or fish traps that may be visible, though we didn’t spot any on this trip. We passed several impressive Iron Age promontory forts, including Clawdd y Milwyr (St David’s Head Camp) complete with circles of roundhouses inside, and took photos to update the records. We carried on over Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock, and got photographs of the beautiful gardens at Picton Castle, before heading back to land in Haverfordwest. It was an amazing experience – but I was glad to make it back to land in one piece!

Dinas Fach promontory fort (K. Davies)

We got excellent photographs to update the records, including some by me during my placement, and ensure that the ancient monuments of Wales are fully protected from human or natural damage. We didn’t discover any new archaeological sites on this trip, though every year the Royal Commission identifies dozens of previously unknown sites. However there were good signs of early crop differentiation so far this year thanks so the warm spring, so if we have a dry summer watch this space…

By Kelly Davies, Swansea University


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Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sister Ship to Gallipoli Landing Craft Lost in Welsh Waters





In the past month, when many nations have been commemorating the human losses of the Gallipoli campaign, the Royal Commission has discovered that a small vessel lost off the North Wales in 1948 was built to the same design as the Allied landing craft which took part.

Launch of one of the twelve x-lighters built by Irvine Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, West Hartlepool, in 1915. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bert Spaldin. (http://www.teesbuiltships.co.uk/irvine/aalist.htm)

The Gallipoli peninsula is in modern-day Turkey but in 1915 it was part of the Ottoman Empire – and the Ottomans were fighting alongside Germany. The Allied plan was to land forces at Gallipoli, move inland to take the capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) and take control the Dardenelles, a vital sea route into the Black Sea for their ally Russia. The rugged terrain and small number of suitable landing beaches created logistical problems. However, in February 1915, James Pollock & Son were asked on behalf of the Admiralty to design and oversee the construction of 200 motor landing craft. Twenty-seven shipyards in the northeast England and three on the Clyde were subsequently appointed to construct these X-lighters.

The Gallipoli landings followed a naval assault and began on 25 April 1915 at six beaches. The ground forces included the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), regular British 29th Division, and the French Oriental Expeditionary Corps. The Ottoman troops occupied good defensive positions and inflicted many casualties. Fifteen awards of the Victoria Cross were made amongst the Allied infantry and sailors in the first two days. So began a terrible eight-month ordeal. The X-lighters were eventually used to withdraw all Allied troops on 7-9 January 1916.

Later in 1916, a further 25 X-lighters were ordered by the Admiralty. The RIVER LOYNE was one of these - designated X 215 and built by J T Eltringham & Co Ltd, Willington Quay, North Tyneside.

X30, X31 and X32 being completed in dry dock of the Irvine Shipbuilding Company. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bert Spaldin. (http://www.teesbuiltships.co.uk/irvine/x301915.htm)

After the war, many lighters were sold off. This is how X 215 eventually ended up in the ownership of R Gardener of Lancaster, carrying stone from the Penmaenmawr quarry to Liverpool. On 8 December 1948, the vessel foundered off Puffin Island with the tragic loss of all its crew.

Although the RIVER LOYNE/ X215’s wartime history is still being researched, we’d like to take this opportunity to recognise the sacrifices made by people from so many countries and the bravery shown on all sides during one of the most iconic and controversial campaigns of the Great War.

Remembering all who gave their lives for their country but who have no grave but the sea.

Follow this link to discover first-hand accounts of Welsh soldier who took part:
http://www.peoplescollection.wales/node/443935

By Deanna Groom, Maritime Officer, RCAHMW


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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

From Wales to New Zealand and Back Again!





Llanelltyd Bridge (NPRN 95424) c.1830 watercolour, DI2015_0070

The generosity of the public in donating records to the National Monuments Record of Wales is always inspiring, but items seldom travel from the other side of the world to find a home in our archive collections. In the case of this charming watercolour of Llanelltyd Bridge however, the painting has made the trip both ways. Due to the incredibly kind donation by Avril Stott and David Haigh of Auckland, New Zealand, we are very pleased to add the work to our collections and make it available to the public. How the painting came to make its way to New Zealand in the first place is unknown, but the watercolour appears to be of early nineteenth-century date, and is typical of the sort of images painted by genteel tourists to Wales during this period.

The bridge, near Dolgellau, consists of five elliptical arches and is thought to date from the second quarter of the eighteenth century, possibly replacing an earlier bridge of medieval date.The painting views the crossing from the south and clearly depicts the village of Llanelltyd in the background, with the tower of St Illtyd’s Church prominent amongst the trees. A new concrete bridge was constructed in the 1980s to carry motor traffic, though the bridge continues to be used as a footbridge.

Llanelltyd Bridge from the southwest, 2008, DS2008_004_003

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