CBHC / RCAHMW https://rcahmw.gov.uk On the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales Tue, 11 Aug 2020 08:35:09 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Royal Commission Archive & Library Bulletin of Newly Catalogued Material – April-July 2020 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/royal-commission-archive-library-bulletin-of-newly-catalogued-material-april-july-2020/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/royal-commission-archive-library-bulletin-of-newly-catalogued-material-april-july-2020/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2020 13:18:11 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19701 Archives

In light of both the Coronavirus outbreak and the migration of our records to a new digital platform we are presently unable to share our list of newly catalogued archive material with you. Please scroll down to view recent acquisitions to our Library.

Porth y Rhaw, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, view looking south-west, 2005
C841391    Ref. AP_2005_1723


All our books and journals can be found on the Royal Commission’s Library Catalogue and viewed in our Library and Search Room.

  • Fincham, Kenneth and Tyacke, Nicholas. 2010. Altars restored: the changing face of English religious worship, 1547-c.1700. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Forrest, Craig. 2019. Maritime legacies and the law: effective legal governance of WWI wrecks. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Hoggard, Brian. 2019. Magical house protection: the archaeology of counter-witchcraft. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
  • Hurlock, Kathryn. 2018. Medieval Welsh pilgrimage, c.1100-1500. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Lodwick, B.M. 2020. Cefn Celfi. Neath: B.M. Lodwick.
  • Minnis, John. 2016. Signal boxes. England: Historic England.
  • Padfield, Tim. 2019. Copyright for archivists and record managers. London: Facet Publishing.
  • Potter, Harry. 2019. Shades of the prison house: a history of incarceration in the British Isles. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press.
  • Pusill, Emma and Wilkinson, Janet. 2019. The Lido Guide. London: Unbound.
  • Townsin, Alan (ed.). 1954. Buses and trams. London: Ian Allan.
  • Williams, Robert Thomas. 1908 (Reprint). Enwau lleoedd yn Môn a’u tarddiad : yn cynwys oddeutu 800 o enwau lleoedd, hen a diweddar gyda’u hanesion perthynasol. USA: Kessinger Publishing.
View of coastal landscape along cliff line towards Wormshead, 1997
C430152    Ref. DI2008_0221    NPRN300251


  • AJ The Architects Journal Volumes 247 (Issue 06, 26/03/20; 07, 09/04/20; 08, 23/04/20 and 09, 21/05/20).
  • AJ Specification March, April and May (2020).
  • Anglesey Antiquarian Society and Field Club Transactions 2018.
  • Archaeoleg yng Nghymru / Archaeology in Wales Volume 57-58 (2017-18).
  • British Archaeology Volume 172 (May/June 2020); Volume 173 (July/August 2020).
  • Casemate Volume 118 (May 2020).
  • Chapels Society Newsletter Volume 74 (May 2020).
  • Community Archaeology & Heritage Volume 7 (Number 2, May 2020).
  • Essex Historic Buildings Group Newsletter Volume 4 (May 2020).
  • Friends’ Magazine and Newsletter – Friends National Museum Wales (April 2020).
  • Gower Society Newsletter Spring (2020).
  • Industrial Archaeology Review Volume 42 (Number 1, May 2020).
  • Maplines Spring (2020).
  • Montgomeryshire Collections Volume 108 (2020).
  • Railway and Canal Historical Society Bulletin Number 485 (May 2020).
  • Sheetlines Number 117 (April 2020).
  • Welsh History Review Volume 30 (Number 1, June 2020).
  • Welsh Mines Society Newsletter Volume 82 (Spring 2020).
  • Welsh Railways Archive Volume 7 (Number 1, May 2020).
  • Welsh Railways Archive Special Edition May (2020).
Thurba Camp defended enclosure, south of Rhossili, 2015
Ref. 652919    NPRN 301337

Journals: Current Awareness

  • Architects’ Journal – E-News (02/04/2020) Danish-inspired pioneer of Welsh modernism Graham Brooks dies, aged 92.
  • AJ The Architects Journal Volumes 247 (Issue 09, 21/05/20) p.4 Martin Edwards architects wins AJ Small Projects award for retrofit and extension on 19th– century house near Snowdonia.
Landscape view of North Wales coast, 1953
C889194    Ref. WAW049730

In line with Government guidance and National Library of Wales policy, we have closed our public search room for the time being. However, we value our clients and our Enquiry Team will continue to answer enquiries sent to them by email and telephone to the best of their ability, using the digital resources available to us.

Though we have been unable to answer the enquiries that involve access to the physical archives over the last four months, we are hoping to be able to do so again in the near future. In the meantime, we will do everything possible to assist you with your research.

Christopher Catling
RCAHMW Secretary

Contact us

If you have any comments or enquiries, please feel free to contact us:

NMRW Library and Enquiries Service
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales
Penglais Road
Ceredigion SY23 3BU

Telephone: +44 (0)1970 621200
Fax: +44 (0)1970 627701
Email: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk
Website: rcahmw.gov.uk

Croesewir gohebiaeth yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg | Correspondence welcomed in Welsh and English

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Eisteddfod AmGen 2020 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/eisteddfod-amgen-2020-2/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/eisteddfod-amgen-2020-2/#respond Fri, 31 Jul 2020 09:23:29 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19617 Having been held every year since 1861 (apart from the year war broke out in 1914), the modern Eisteddfod in Wales will be held again this year but in a new digital format – Eisteddfod AmGen (AmGen is the Welsh word for ‘alternative’). Launched back in May, most events and activities will be held during the traditional first week of August, running from Saturday 1 August to Saturday 8 August, making most elements of the traditional Eisteddfod available for everyone to enjoy from the comfort of their own homes. At the outset of the project, Eisteddfod Chief Executive Betsan Moses announced, “Like everyone else, we are extremely disappointed that we are unable to host the festival in Ceredigion this year. But we’re determined that everyone will have the Eisteddfod experience, albeit in a very different way, this year…With a chance to enjoy iconic lectures from recent years, live music sets and activities for learners, AmGen’s weekly programme will feature the same eclectic mix as a visit to the Maes.”

An aerial view of Cardigan Castle, the site of the first Eisteddfod held by Lord Rhys in 1176.

Along with its national heritage partners, the Commission will be supporting this year’s festival with a number of talks (held in Welsh), exhibitions and activities. These will be available via Y Lle Hanes Facebook page. Commission events will mainly take place on Tuesday 4 August under the themes Cofnodi ein Gorffennol ar gyfer y Dyfodol / Recording our Past for the Future and on Wednesday 5 August with Cymru a’r Môr/ Wales and the Sea. Commission talks on Tuesday will include a panel discussion on the Future of Places of Worship in Wales, chaired by Professor Nancy Edwards (Chair of the Royal Commission), and the four panellists, The Right Reverend Wyn Evans, Dr Cai Parry-Jones, Dr D. Huw Owen and the architect Elinor Gray-Williams (10am); A short introduction to Coflein and its uses in family and local history by Rhodri Lewis  (12pm); A History of Aerial Photography in Wales in Twenty Pictures by David Thomas (2pm,Maes D); Memory Archive (a discussion of free archive materials suitable for reminiscence work with people living with dementia) by Dr Reina van der Wiel (3pm, Maes D); A short introduction to the List of Historic Place Names by Dr James January-McCann (5pm). These will be followed on Wednesday by Making the Link: Lloyd’s Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales (an overview of a project that uses Lloyd’s Casualty Returns to enhance Welsh shipwreck records, including stories of some of the ships and lives lost in Welsh waters)by Dr Meilyr Powell (10am) and Recording Dinas Dinlle Hillfort by Hywel Griffiths, CHERISH Project  (2pm). There will also be a number of Commission’s exhibitions running throughout the week: Historic Ceredigion; ‘The Story of a House on a Hill’ (by the Ceredigion Heritage Youth Panel); Resources of the partnership U-Boat Project, 1914-18: Commemorating the War at Sea; the Commission’s latest publication, Cymru a’r Môr: 10,000 o flynyddoedd o Hanes y Môr/ Wales and the Sea: 10,000 years of Welsh Maritime History. In addition, there will be a range of children’s activities and many other talks and events created by our Lle Hanes partners: Amgueddfa Cymru—National Museum Wales, Cadw, and People’s Collection Wales.

Please visit Y Lle Hanes Facebook page for further information.

Don’t worry, if you miss any of the Commission’s talks and would like to view them at a later date, they will all be available on the Commission’s Youtube channel.

We hope you can join us!

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The Roman villa that made history: Abermagwr Villa, Ceredigion https://rcahmw.gov.uk/the-roman-villa-that-made-history-abermagwr-villa-ceredigion/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/the-roman-villa-that-made-history-abermagwr-villa-ceredigion/#respond Fri, 24 Jul 2020 08:37:56 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19488 Discovery!

Ten years ago this month, initial excavations directed by Dr Jeffrey Davies and Dr Toby Driver confirmed the existence of Ceredigion’s first (and still only) recorded Roman villa, and the most remote villa in Wales.

Roman villas are not common in Wales; fewer than 40 known or possible villas are recorded, and these are mostly in the south and east of the country. Abermagwr Villa was discovered as a striking cropmark during aerial photography in the exceptional drought of 2006, less than a mile from Trawsgoed Roman Fort. Parts of the cropmark had shown since the 1970s but had never occasioned any interest.

A geophysical survey as part of a television programme in 2009 revealed two projecting wings on a 20m long building – a classic villa plan anywhere else in Wales. Although suspected as a Roman building, the idea was so unusual for mid Wales that an excavation was essential to be sure.

A community dig to uncover the Roman past

In 2010 funding was obtained from the Cambrian Archaeological Association and others for an exploratory excavation in 2010 by Dr Toby Driver and Dr Jeffrey Davies, with loans of equipment from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust. This confirmed what was – and remains – the only recorded Roman villa in Ceredigion (Cardiganshire) and the most remote known in Wales.

Excavations continued at the villa in 2011 and 2015 as a lively community dig assisted by a local volunteer workforce, without whom there would have been no excavation. We welcomed over 300 visitors to an open day in 2011 and visited several local primary schools to show Roman finds before welcoming pupils to the excavations in progress. There was even a ‘children’s trench’ where young visitors could dig for themselves.

Romanised villa lifestyle that ended in flames

Although the villa was a comparatively modest late third- to early fourth-century AD house, it nonetheless preserved a range of evidence not found elsewhere. Its discovery changed our view of late Roman mid- and west Wales, hitherto thought to have been a ‘militarised zone’ with little interaction between the Romans and local populations and little adoption of Roman ways of life.

The villa was established around AD 230, at least a century after the nearby Roman fort was abandoned. It is likely the villa was built from military-cut stone blocks from the demolished bath house of the fort. It stood offset within a large double-ditched yard, probably used for corralling sheep and cattle from neighbouring farmland. Inside the house was a rustic clay kitchen floor and central open hearth with a bread oven against the wall.

The villa was occupied until around AD 330 when it was abandoned following a catastrophic fire. A cooking pot dropped on the kitchen floor which was never picked up showed the urgency of the evacuation. The heavy slate roof and oak beams collapsed, burning, onto the kitchen floor. There is evidence for the partial re-occupation of the villa ruins sometime in late-Roman or post-Roman times, but in more recent centuries it was systematically robbed of building stone and eventually was forgotten in the landscape.

A unique Roman cut-glass bowl from the villa ruins

The star find was fragments of an extraordinary late Roman cut-glass vessel– very likely a small bowl – which originated from the Rhineland in Germany. The vessel had been dropped in the small rear room of the villa and never picked up, possibly during the fire. Such bowls are not very common in Britain, and Professor Jennifer Price of Durham University described it as one of the finest examples of late Roman glassware from Wales.

She wrote; ‘Its quality is vastly superior to the rest of the glass vessels found at the villa, and indeed to virtually all the late Roman tablewares known in Wales…’

No bowl with an exactly similar decorative scheme has been found in Roman Britain, but some of the decorative zones are recognisable on other bowls. It was an extraordinary item of luxury for this modest villa, probably used for mixing wine and water at grand dinner parties and celebrations. It is due to go on display at the Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, following specialist conservation work.

Ceredigion’s earliest slated roof

The slate roof of the villa has also been subjected to one of the most thorough modern studies of the Roman slater’s craft, guided by historic slate specialist Bill Jones.

Due to the comparative softness of the local shale-slate used to roof the villa a range of marking-out lines – or slater’s marks – were preserved which do not survive at other villas. The marks show direct continuity in slating skills, practice and tools from the Roman period to the recent industrial past, and the presence of a specialist on site during construction.

The finished roof of pentagonal pointed slates would have been highly decorative. Bill Jones estimates approximately 6,600 slates were required for the roof of the main villa block, and around 2,475 slates for the separate smaller roofs of the wings. The entire roof would have weighed between 18-23 tonnes, depending on the different sizes of the Roman slates used, whose enormous weight was supported by substantial oak beams!

A short recorded talk on Abermagwr Roman Villa by Dr Toby Driver is available here:

Further information

The final report has been published in the journal Archaeologia Cambrensis, Volume 167 (2018), as Davies, J.L. and Driver, T. ‘The Romano-British villa at Abermagwr, Ceredigion: excavations 2010-15’. The report can be read here: http://orapweb.rcahms.gov.uk/coflein/6/647060.PDF

All the finds from the villa have been deposited in Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, with the best finds on display. http://www.ceredigionmuseum.wales/

The full archive resides with the National Monuments Record of Wales, Aberystwyth. The online record has 100 images to view and several PDF documents, including exhibition panels, to download: www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/405315/details/abermagwr-roman-villaabermagwr-romano-british-villa

By Dr Toby Driver

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SS Samtampa https://rcahmw.gov.uk/ss-samtampa/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/ss-samtampa/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 10:49:09 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19453 You may be aware that Coflein, the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), has over 180,000 sites in its collection. This national collection holds invaluable information on the historical environment of Wales.

Many entries in Coflein’s collection are martime sites, and the current project, ‘Making the Link: Lloyd’s Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales’, funded by Lloyds Register Foundation aims to enhance the Royal Commission’s records by linking directly to the Lloyd’s Casualty Returns.

Our previous blog introduced the project, and we are now well underway in discovering new, and rediscovering existing records that reveal aspects of Wales’s maritime history.

Coflein Samtampa

Among the hundreds of merchant shipwrecks in Welsh waters between 1890 – 2000 is the paticularly tragic episode of the SS Samtampa, a 7,000 gross ton steamer which was wrecked on Sker Point, off Porthcawl, in April 1947. Its Coflein record can be found here.

The Samtampa’s entry in Lloyd’s Casualty Returns for 1 April–30 June 1947, p.9
The Samtampa’s entry in Lloyd’s Casualty Returns for 1 April–30 June 1947, p.9

The Samtampa was originally a ‘Liberty’ ship, one of over 2,700 cargo ships built in the United States during the Second World War. These ships were mass-produced on an enormous scale to counter the Allied losses inflicted by the German U-boat campaign and provided essential logistic capabilities for the Allies. Although having a simple design and low production costs, the liberty ships demonstrated clearly the industrial might of the US in wartime.

Originally named the SS Peleg Wadsworth, the ship was acquired by Britain under the Lend-Lease programme and subsequently renamed the SS Samtampa.

On 23 April 1947 the Samtampa was on a voyage from Middlesbrough to Newport in ballast. In harsh weather in the Bristol Channel it developed an engine fault, and the Captain, H. Neal Sherwell, decided to anchor in Swansea Bay and attempt to carry out repairs.

At around 4.40pm, however, the starboard anchor chain broke, and in gale force winds the Samtampa was whisked eastwards across Swansea Bay. By 5.00pm the ship had been driven ashore on the rocks near Sker Point.

The Mumbles lifeboat, Edward, Prince of Wales, was launched just after 6.00pm and Porthcawl Coastguards attempted to get a line to the wreck from the shore. It is not entirely clear what happened during the rescue attempt, but the lifeboat, which was under the command of Coxswain William Gammon, was found the following morning battered and capsized further along the oil-strewn beach.

The gale during the afternoon and evening of 23 April 1947 was so fierce that the Samtampa soon started to break up, intially splitting into two and then into three parts, as huge waves smashed into the ship and threw her about. The ship became a total wreck within two hours.

Daily Mirror reporting the wreck of the Samtampa
Daily Mirror reporting the wreck of the Samtampa

The tragedy of this shipwreck is highlighted by the number of lives lost. Sadly, all 39 crewmen of the Samtampa died in the incident, as well as all eight lifeboatmen of the Edward, Prince of Wales. Newspaper reports noted that many of the bodies were covered in oil as they were recovered. Local residents had parked cars on the shore and had turned headlamps on for greater visibility during the salvage efforts.

The crew of the Samtampa, many of whom hailed from the north east of England, were all buried in Porthcawl. The crew of the Edward, Prince of Wales were all buried in Mumbles.

The day the Samtampa ran aground proved, according to the Daily Telegraph, ‘Britain’s roughest day since September [1946]’ with gales causing havoc across British shores. Another casualty that day was the 31,000-ton battleship, HMS Warspite, which ran aground near Marazion, Cornwall, during her last voyage from Portsmouth to the Clyde.

Part of the Daily Telegraph’s report on the Samtampa shipwreck
Part of the Daily Telegraph’s report on the Samtampa shipwreck

Setting the Samtampa disaster into greater context, it proved to be the only shipwreck of 100 gross tons or more in Welsh waters for the year 1947. Altogether, 200 ships of 100 gross tons or more were recorded by Lloyd’s as casualties during 1947, of which 32 were sailed under a British flag.

Coflein gives a grid reference of SS 78661 79492 for the shipwreck. Images held in the Royal Commission’s Royal Air Force Aerial Photography Collection show the wreck clearly at Sker Point.

Aerial image No. 3046 taken on 19 May 1947 from the Royal Commission’s Royal Air Force Aerial Photography Collection shows the wreck of the Samtampa near the bottom right of the photograph
Aerial image No. 3046 taken on 19 May 1947 from the Royal Commission’s Royal Air Force Aerial Photography Collection shows the wreck of the Samtampa near the bottom right of the photograph
Aerial image No. 0062 taken on 7 June 1948 from the Royal Commission’s Royal Air Force Aerial Photography Collection clearly shows what was left of the Samtampa
Aerial image No. 0062 taken on 7 June 1948 from the Royal Commission’s Royal Air Force Aerial Photography Collection clearly shows what was left of the Samtampa

With such a heavy loss of life, this incident remains one of Wales’s worst maritime disasters in recent history.

The story of the Samtampa reveals the harrowing human cost behind the cold statistics of casualty returns. As this project continues to enhance Welsh shipwreck records, one is often reminded to keep this human element in mind.

By Meilyr Powel

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Bronze, Glass and Gold: Prehistoric and Roman Treasures from Ceredigion https://rcahmw.gov.uk/bronze-glass-and-gold-prehistoric-and-roman-treasures-from-ceredigion/ https://rcahmw.gov.uk/bronze-glass-and-gold-prehistoric-and-roman-treasures-from-ceredigion/#respond Thu, 16 Jul 2020 11:34:49 +0000 https://rcahmw.gov.uk/?p=19435 This talk showcases rare and special prehistoric and Roman finds from the county of Ceredigion in Wales, a number of which are of national importance for Wales and the wider UK.

From a tiny gold prehistoric ‘sun disc’ found in Cwmystwyth to the Rhos Rydd Late Bronze Age shield from Blaenplwyf, the Penbryn Iron Age spoons from Castell Nadolig used for divining the future, and a unique Roman cut-glass bowl from Abermagwr Roman villa—this talk looks at some of the stories of luck and chance behind the archaeological discoveries. Many of the finds mentioned in the talk can be seen in the Bowen Gallery of the Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth.

Bronze, Glass and Gold: Prehistoric and Roman Treasures from Ceredigion

by Dr Toby Driver

Bronze, Glass and Gold: Prehistoric and Roman Treasures from Ceredigion

Darlith Toby Driver ar Bronze, Glass and Gold: Prehistoric and Roman Treasures from CeredigionToby Driver's lecture on Bronze, Glass and Gold: Prehistoric and Roman Treasures from CeredigionGobeithiwn i chi fwynhau’r sgwrs hon. Byddem yn ddiolchgar pe gallech ein helpu i gyflwyno a gwella digwyddiadau ar-lein yn y dyfodol drwy gwblhau’r arolwg ar-lein cyflym hwn. Diolch yn fawr! https://form.jotform.com/201954155881056We hope you have enjoyed this talk. Please help us deliver and improve future online events by completing this quick online survey. Thank you! https://form.jotform.com/201954295224052

Posted by Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales on Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Here is another opportunity to view the Royal Commission and Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum Festival of Archaeology 2020 online lecture premiered earlier this week on Facebook.

Dr Toby Driver is Senior Investigator (Aerial Survey) at the Royal Commission and author of a number of publications, including Pembrokeshire: Historic Landscapes from the Air (RCAHMW 2007), and Cymru Hanesyddol o’r Awyr/Historic Wales from the Air (RCAHMW, 2012) , and The Hillforts of Cardigan Bay (2017).

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