CBHC / RCAHMW https://rcahmw.gov.uk On the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales Fri, 05 Jun 2020 08:47:22 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 Staff Picks: Favourite Images from the Archive: Killcrow Hill Roman marching camp https://rcahmw.gov.uk/staff-picks-favourite-images-from-the-archive-killcrow-hill-roman-marching-camp/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/staff-picks-favourite-images-from-the-archive-killcrow-hill-roman-marching-camp/#respond Fri, 05 Jun 2020 08:47:08 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19176 Roman marching camp at Killcrow Hill near Caerwent, Monmouthshire
Roman marching camp at Killcrow Hill near Caerwent, Monmouthshire

This is the tiny Roman marching camp at Killcrow Hill near Caerwent in Monmouthshire in July 2013. I remember this aerial discovery clearly as it was only the second Roman camp ever discovered in south-east Wales, an area of intense and prolonged conflict between the Roman troops and the Silures tribe for 30 years following the conquest of Britain in AD 43. Marching camps were temporary overnight camps for troops on manoeuvres in hostile territory – a time when south-east Wales was very different!

Roman camps in Gwent are exceptionally rare (only three are currently known) yet are instantly recognisable as the Romans built them to the same specifications from north Africa to Scotland. There are certainly many more to find.

On 22 July 2013, after a couple of hours of cropmark aerial reconnaissance across south Wales, this tiny rectangular enclosure with rounded corners leapt out from a ripening field. This is the sort of discovery that ‘pays for the flight’; it was difficult to concentrate on anything else afterwards! On a return flight a week later, the crop had entirely ripened and the marks of the camp had vanished.

Site Details: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/419220/details/killcrow-hill-roman-marching-camp

By Dr Toby Driver, Senior Investigator (Aerial Survey)

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Staff Picks: Favourite Images from the Archive https://rcahmw.gov.uk/staff-picks-favourite-images-from-the-archive-2/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/staff-picks-favourite-images-from-the-archive-2/#respond Tue, 02 Jun 2020 09:06:06 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19153 We have recently featured favourite images from the archive chosen by Commission staff, together with explanations for their choices. Here are some more:

The Jubilee Tower, Moel Fammau by Stephen Bailey-John, Facilities Manager

The Jubilee Tower, Moel Fammau
The Jubilee Tower, Moel Fammau

The Jubilee Tower on top of Moel Fammau was begun to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of George III in 1810, but it was never finished and largely destroyed by a storm in 1862. The base of the tower still stands and is familiar to residents of north Wales as an uncharacteristic blocky bump on the otherwise rolling skyline of the Clwydian Hills. When I was a child my brother and sisters called Moel Fammau ‘the mountain with a jelly on the top’.

Some of my earliest memories of being in the outdoors are on Moel Fammau, having picnics and playing hide-and-seek in the heather, and bilberry picking for home-made wine, pie and crumble. One year my Dad convinced us kids that the druids sacrifice a sheep in the inner ring of the Jubilee Tower at New Year so we tried to catch them. We were a day late but were still surprised at how little blood there was! As teenagers we used to go up Moel Fammau to see in the New Year. Some years the lights and fireworks from Liverpool and the Cheshire Plain were visible, other years we huddled up for warmth in the shadow of the tower as a wet gale ripped by.

The Jubilee Tower is my way-finder when I’m in north Wales – I instinctively know where I am in relation to it. And even after twenty years living outside the area, I still feel ‘home’ when I see Moel Fammau for the first time on a trip.

The Jubilee Tower, Moel Fammau: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32694/details/jubilee-tower-moel-famau-llangynhafal

Tabernacl Chapel, Aberystwyth by Megan Ryder, Archives Assistant

Tabernacl Chapel, Aberystwyth
Tabernacl Chapel, Aberystwyth

This photograph of Tabernacl Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Powell Street, Aberystwyth, was taken by Arthur Chater in March 1961. It is one of my favourite photographs for three reasons: 1. The vintage car taking centre stage. 2. The First World War memorial at the entrance. It was designed by Mario Rutelli of Rome, who also created Aberystwyth’s iconic (and risqué) town War Memorial. 3. This photograph provides a record of an impressive religious building which no longer exists. Built in 1785, the chapel was destroyed by fire and the site cleared for housing in 2008.

You can find out more about the chapel on Powell Street here: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/7157/details/tabernacle-welsh-calvinistic-methodist-chapel-mill-street-and-powell-street-aberystwythcapel-y-groes, and its First World War memorial here: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/32641/details/tabernacle-chapel-war-memorial

Social media

Other Images will follow in the next few weeks, on our social media channels: Facebook and Twitter.

Why not add your own favourite images from around Wales and share your stories with us? For inspiration, search our online archive Coflein. With 100,000s of images to discover, you will be spoilt for choice!

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Staff Picks: Favourite Images from the Archive https://rcahmw.gov.uk/staff-picks-favourite-images-from-the-archive/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/staff-picks-favourite-images-from-the-archive/#respond Wed, 27 May 2020 12:14:19 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19134 ‘Staff Picks’ During the next few weeks, we will feature a number of favourite images from the archive chosen by Commission staff, together with explanations for their choices. Here are the first three:

The view of ‘Coal Miner with his family’ by Lynne Moore, Library and Enquiries Officer

Coal Miner with his family sculpture, Llwynypia
Coal Miner with his family sculpture, Llwynypia

This bronze, life-size sculpture of a coalminer, his wife, and their baby was created by Robert Thomas and unveiled in 1993. It was commissioned by Rhondda Civic Society to commemorate the many mining communities of the Rhonnda Valley.

The figures – the miner in his working clothes, the wife holding the baby wrapped in her traditional Welsh shawl – look away, down to the valley of Rhondda Fawr.

What draws me to this image is their lonely, isolated, elevation within the wider landscape. They stand, cast from bronze, surrounded by concrete, in a world of coal; standing high in the sunny blue after a life (for him) spent below ground in the dark black.

There is a wistfulness, somehow to me, in this image:  whether to a former way of life (of living, working, and being part of a community), or as a reminder to us all of the small-ness of own lives in the landscapes which shape our lives and livelihoods, and to our being in the overall passage of time. They stand apart from the present day whilst also being part of the fabric of the past which underpins the current day – that within which our lives are lived. A comparison or contrast to today, a reminder of our history, and a symbol into the future. The human/s within our collective humanity.

Coal Miner with his family:
https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/419265/details/coal-miner-and-his-family-sculpture-llwynypia

Allotments at the National Library of Wales and Llangybi primary school by Helen Rowe, Information Officer

My favourite images are from collections that I have been lucky enough to catalogue – two in particular: the Central Office of Information photographs from the 1950s-1980s and the Aerofilms aerial photographs from 1919–1953. Both collections contain many outstanding images rich in social history and local interest, but these are my favourites:

Allotments at the National Library of Wales
Allotments at the National Library of Wales

This aerial photograph of the National Library taken in 1932 is a wonderful record of the first phase of the iconic building above Aberystwyth. Its unencumbered setting at that time is striking, but as a member of a community garden, what interests me most are the allotments.

When I asked people about them, they said they were for library staff to grow veg in their lunchtimes, which is a lovely thought, but there is more to it.

The first Librarian of the National Library, John Ballinger, was an enthusiastic gardener – he provided the cuttings for the first flower beds around the building and was president of the Food Production Association during the First World War.

After a bit of research using the fantastic free Welsh Newspapers Online  it seems the Library ploughed up the land for University students to grow potatoes as early as 1917 and offered the land for allotments in 1918. This was because of food shortages caused by enemy submarine warfare when the whole country was ploughing up land to grow food. In April 1918 The Cambrian News reported that the National Library were offering 200 square yard plots and by May they were dug and planted.

The Minute books of the Aberystwyth Gardens and Allotments Association, held in the National Library itself, contains letters from 1934 regarding the National Library plots. We can assume they continued to be in use during the Second World War too; and according to David Jenkins, commenting on the photo on the Britain From Above website, the land was used as experimental plots for the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in 1937.

With the revival of ‘growing your own’ and less car use, as well as more working from home and the plethora of online resources now available, might we see the return of allotments on this land which is now a car park, and would John Ballinger approve? The Aerofilms collection: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/archive/6200682/details/500

Llangybi primary school
Llangybi primary school

This is one of two photos of Llangybi primary school at playtime from the Central Office of Information Collection (COI), taken in 1970.  I moved with my family to rural west Wales in 1971 and went to a tiny primary school just like this. We had 20 pupils in two classrooms – the ‘big ones’ and the ‘little ones’, like a family. It was a time when girls were just starting to wear trousers (flared), wearing their hair shorter, and boys had longer hair so there was much less difference between them. I like the sheer vitality of the play – movement in all directions, energy unleashed.

The COI photographs dating from 1946–1984 were rescued from destruction by the National Monuments Record (England). Over 1000 black and white and colour photos relating to Wales were sent to us, the NMR in Wales. As well as schools, they show newly-built housing and roads, street scenes, shopping centres, mosques and the construction of major sites like Trawsfynydd nuclear power station and ‘Electric Mountain’ at Dinorwig. The COI was established in 1946 as the successor to the wartime Ministry of Information. It worked with Whitehall departments and public bodies to produce public information campaigns on issues such as health and education. These photos are a unique and valuable resource Illustrating the boom period and social changes after the Second World War and coincidentally providing some of us with memories of our childhoods.

Llangybi school: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/36967/details/graigwen-llangybi-school

The COI collection: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/archive/6210974/details/501

Social media

Other Images will follow in the next few weeks, both here on the blog and on our social media channels: Facebook and Twitter.

Why not add your own favourite images from around Wales and share your stories with us? For inspiration, search our online archive Coflein. With 100,000s of images to discover, you will be spoilt for choice!

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Using the National Monuments Record of Wales: Welsh places from your family’s history https://rcahmw.gov.uk/using-the-national-monuments-record-of-wales-welsh-places-from-your-familys-history/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/using-the-national-monuments-record-of-wales-welsh-places-from-your-familys-history/#respond Thu, 14 May 2020 10:46:02 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19071 With our daily lives disrupted this is a difficult time for many of us.  However, it also provides a unique opportunity for some people to carry out historical research, whether on the history of their house, family, or local area.  Unfortunately, like most archives, the National Monuments Record (the archive of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales) is currently closed to visitors.  However, that needn’t be a barrier to research; there are still plenty of resources available. 

This is the second in a series of blogs, each focusing on a different historical topic and how they can still be explored using our online resources.
This week’s topic is Family History.

Family photo connected to Bethania Baptist Chapel, Maesteg C639546. Donated to and digitised by the Royal Commission’s Digital Dissent project
Family photo connected to Bethania Baptist Chapel, Maesteg C639546. Donated to and digitised by the Royal Commission’s Digital Dissent project

Family history, or genealogy, has enjoyed something of a popularity boom in recent years.  Birth, marriage and death certificates, census, military and parish records are the bread and butter of genealogy and are well looked after by The National Library of Wales, The National Archives, and County Record Offices, among others.   These resources will enable you to build up your family tree with names and dates, but what next?  For many, the natural next step is to develop a deeper understanding of their ancestors’ lives and environment, and this is where we can help.

For many of us the buildings and places where our ancestors lived, worked, worshipped and spent their time are no longer accessible. Perhaps they have not withstood the passage of time or they are far away from where we live now. However, whether or not the buildings still exist or are accessible, we can always learn more about them.    

Read more:  For guidance on how to research areas of Wales read our blog on researching local history.

Homes

We hold information on a huge number of houses in Wales, especially those of historic or architectural interest, including workers’ housing, cottages and farmhouses, from council estates to grand gentry estates.  If your ancestors were unlucky enough to have spent time in a workhouse, prison or alms-house, or lucky enough to have lived in a mansion or plas, we may well hold photos and information on those sites.  Likewise, if they lived somewhere slightly unusual, perhaps connected to their workplace, such as a pub, lighthouse, schoolhouse or lock-keeper’s cottage, then these sites probably have entries on Coflein.

Workplaces

Coflein is a mine of information when discovering more about the places where your Welsh ancestors worked.  Perhaps they worked in a slate quarry in Gwynedd or a coal mine in south Wales.  If so, we have a wealth of information on these types of sites.  We also hold material on other industrial sites, ranging from factories to dockyards and railways.  Those whose ancestors  worked on one of Wales’ many farms may find information on Coflein, and it is also worth looking at the National Library of Wales’ excellent collection of digitised Tithe Maps.  Shops, offices, cafes, hotels and many, many other places of work are all well represented on our database and in our catalogue.

Penhyn Quarry near Bethesda in north Wales was once the largest slate quarry in the world and employed approximately 3,000 people in its heyday. Photograph C907414
Penhyn Quarry near Bethesda in north Wales was once the largest slate quarry in the world and employed approximately 3,000 people in its heyday. Photograph C907414

Places of worship

Wales has a rich religious history and many family histories will reflect close connections with places of worship.  Discovering more about these significant places in our ancestors’ lives, especially where noteworthy events such as baptisms, marriages or burials took place, can be fascinating and insightful.  Nineteenth- and twentieth-century Wales is often associated with Nonconformity and Welsh chapels are very well represented, both on Coflein and our sister website Welsh Chapels.  We hold information on every chapel in Wales and photographs of many.  However, chapels are not the only places of worship on which we hold information; churches of all denominations, synagogues, mosques and any other religious buildings are all represented.

To see a range of photographs from across our holdings on Welsh Places of Worship see our Gallery here.

Enquiry Service

Hopefully this blog has inspired you to use our resources to better understand your ancestors’ surroundings. If you have any queries about our resources or need advice on where to take your research next please feel free to contact us. Our enquiry team is made up of highly experienced information professionals, archivists and historians.  Like all staff at the Royal Commission the enquiries team are currently working from home.  However, they are responding to new enquiries submitted via email, phone or our website.  We may not have access to the physical archive at the moment, but we are happy to draw on a wealth of digitised material, online resources and the diverse experience and expertise of Royal Commission staff to answer your queries and help guide you in your research. 

Everyone is welcome to send us enquiries and there is no fee; we only charge for copying archive material, licences and datasets, which we are happy to discuss before you place an order.  

Rhodri Lewis

Further Information:

Using the NMR for Local History:  https://rcahmw.gov.uk/using-the-national-monuments-record-of-wales-local-history-from-your-armchair/

See our leaflet: Adding Context to your Welsh Family History Discovering the Welsh Past Online: https://rcahmw.gov.uk/discovering-the-welsh-past-online/

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‘Making the Link’: A New Project to Link the Lloyd’s Register Casualty Returns and the National Monuments Record of Wales https://rcahmw.gov.uk/making-the-link-a-new-project-to-link-the-lloyds-register-casualty-returns-and-the-national-monuments-record-of-wales/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/making-the-link-a-new-project-to-link-the-lloyds-register-casualty-returns-and-the-national-monuments-record-of-wales/#comments Tue, 12 May 2020 10:06:51 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19019 In an exciting new project, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and Lloyd’s Register Foundation will use the Lloyd’s Register Casualty Returns, available on the Lloyd’s Register Foundation website and on Internet Archive, to enhance the National Monuments Record of Wales (or NMRW), available on the website Coflein, and link the two records together. ‘Making the Link: Lloyd’s Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales’ brings together two invaluable sources of information for the maritime history of Wales, providing a basis and model for future research.

Many of the wrecks recorded in the NMRW already cite the Lloyd’s Casualty Returns as a source of information © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW.
Many of the wrecks recorded in the NMRW already cite the Lloyd’s Register Casualty Returns as a source of information © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW.

The Lloyd’s Register Casualty Returns and the NMRW

The Lloyd’s Register Casualty Returns record the loss of ocean-going merchant ships over 100 gross tonnes globally. Since 1891, these records have noted the size, type, and nationality of each vessel lost, as well as the journey the vessel was undertaking and its cargo. Most importantly for the purpose of this project, they also note the location of loss. This allows the project to trawl through the returns and note any losses in Welsh waters.

Once losses are identified, the details are compared with the NMRW. Where information in the Casualty Returns and the NMRW diverge, this is reviewed, and any new sites identified in the Casualty Returns added to the NMRW. Most importantly, we enhance the NMRW site entries with hyperlinks to the online PDFs of the Casualty Returns, allowing researchers direct access to these invaluable primary sources.

The loss of GRAMPIAN CASTLE is recorded in the Casualty Return for 1987, p. 30.  (Image: AP2018_278_002 © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW; Casualty Return © Lloyd's Register Foundation)
The loss of GRAMPIAN CASTLE is recorded in the Casualty Return for 1987, p. 30. (Image: AP2018_278_002 © Crown Copyright: RCAHMW; Casualty Return © Lloyd’s Register Foundation)

A National Record: an International Resource

Although the Casualty Returns are being used to enhance a national record, their international, global nature is inescapable. Events of international importance, such as the First Sino-Japanese War, the Thousand Days’ War, and the Russo-Japanese War, as well as natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, appear regularly. Losses are recorded not only near familiar ports, but throughout the world’s oceans and even lakes.

The First Sino-Japanese War appears subtly in the Casualty Returns (1 July–30 September, 1894, p. 6) when it is noted that the KOW SHING was ‘sunk by a torpedo’, its cargo – ‘Chinese troops’. © Lloyd's Register Foundation.
The First Sino-Japanese War appears subtly in the Casualty Returns (1 July–30 September, 1894, p. 6) when it is noted that the KOW SHING was ‘sunk by a torpedo’, its cargo – ‘Chinese troops’. © Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

This international nature reframes Welsh wrecks in global contexts. This is particularly striking in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as the Casualty Returns reinforce Wales’s central place in the global economy. Ships brought timber from Canada, Mexico, France, and Portugal to Welsh industrial ports, while coal flowed from across south Wales – Cardiff, Barry, Newport, Swansea, Llanelli – to every corner of the globe. Slate from Porthmadoc also makes an appearance, as does tin from Port Talbot and even timber bound for the shipyards of the Cardiganshire coast.

More humble goods were also transported. The OGMORE was on its way to Cardiff with a cargo of Scottish potatoes when it sunk in 1894. Going the other direction, the DOON was lost in 1903 with a hold full of stout, on its way to Ayr. Still, for many ships, Wales was not the beginning or intended end of their journey, and the role of Welsh waters as a thoroughfare is also readily apparent.

Although separated by several lines, the Casualty Return for 1 July–30 September 1900 p. 6 records the collision of the GORDON CASTLE and STORNMARN in Cardigan Bay. © Lloyd's Register Foundation.
Although separated by several lines, the Casualty Return for 1 July–30 September 1900 p. 6 records the collision of the GORDON CASTLE and STORNMARN in Cardigan Bay. © Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

In short, the Casualty Returns offer an international context to a national monuments record. By linking these two resources together, we hope that users will utilise both and gain a greater understanding of Wales’s maritime history. Each entry in the Casualty Returns records a story, many of them tragic, and can be a springboard to historical discovery. We hope that this project will lead the way in encouraging further links between resources and bodies, making both Welsh history and wider maritime history more accessible to all.

Dr Adam N. Coward, Maritime Research Assistant, RCAHMW

The website Coflein and image C643604 are Crown copyright and are reproduced with the permission of Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW), under delegated authority from The Keeper of Public Records.

This article has also been published on the Lloyd’s Registry Foundation website.

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