You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2013.

Unsurprisingly, the publication of the Erosion Counter in visual form prompted renewed attempts to rubbish it. A detectorist contacted CBA hoping they’d do so but was disappointed and has had to fall back on misrepresentation, quoting Mike Heyworth saying the Counter is “regarded with scepticism and even hostility” but omitting Mike’s crucial next four words: “by some vested interests“! So it’s very clear: CBA does not regard the Counter with scepticism!

Indeed, Mike went further by saying: (a.) “the key question is whether it provides a reasonable basis from which to consider the scale of the loss of knowledge caused by metal detecting when finds are not reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (in England and Wales). I think it serves its purpose in this regard, though inevitably the methodology behind the Counter is open to debate.” (b.) “I regret that it appears to be a minority of metal detectorists who follow the Code of Practice” (which of course is the Counter’s key message!)

So there’s we have it. It’s both funny and important: an attempt to get CBA to say the artefact counter is tosh has resulted in the opposite, two clear declarations by CBA: it considers the Counter “a reasonable basis” and it believes most metal detectorists don’t follow the Code of Practice! We’ve spent many years trying to show how outrageous are the countless press releases and articles that perpetuate the calumny that “the vast majority of detectorists are responsible” and at last it has paid off – thanks to the efforts of a single artefact hunter. Isn’t life funny?

Mr V. Interest, who doesn't listen to Heritage Brownshirts but has inadvertently let CBA tell them how it is. Oh dear.

Mr V. Interest, who asked CBA to say the Counter was tosh but was told it wasn’t and that most artefact hunters are irresponsible. Oh dear. Should’ve gone to PAS!

Update 28 March 2013:
Mr V Interest has just informed his readers of what really happened:

We finally hit the spot with the exposé of the dishonest Artefact Erosion Counter (AEC) and its ramshackle computation. The chief (and most unintentional) scalp was the Council for British Archaeology’s Director, Mike Heyworth.  I was somewhat taken aback that he’d thrown his academic weight behind such twaddle. I’m sorry he was made to look a lemon…”

No comment needed.

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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We continue Heritage Action member Sue Brooke’s story concerning Caerau Hillfort in Wales.  New readers should start at Part 1 or put Caerau in our search box to get up to date.

St. Mary’s Church, Caerau stands within a ring work on the Iron Age hilltop site. Information taken from the Friends of St. Mary’s Church webpages states:

The Friends, a small pressure group striving to protect the ancient church from further decay and destruction, has had its successes and failures. It had been a priority to save St Mary’s magnificent west tower which was still intact until the winter of 2000/2001 when severe storms finally caused its collapse. The tower had been on the brink of collapse for several years. Part of the tower still stands, and we are still trying to ensure its preservation. A future aim is for the tower to be rebuilt, as it was a saddleback tower and only a small number of towers of this type exist. The Church of St Mary’s is a Grade II* listed building. We think it disappointing that a prominent landmark such as this in Cardiff has virtually disappeared.

This organisation has campaigned tirelessly to preserve the remains of this beautiful church, with Delia Jay and Rosemary Lewis determined to ensure the memory of Father Jones, the local priest who physically rebuilt the church during the 1960’s, remains intact in the area. I applaud that, particularly as I met the man himself and could see how much of himself he had put in to this.

I became involved with this group almost by accident. Having become someone who asked many questions in the area, not only about the hillfort area but about the remains of the church I was pointed in the direction of this group. Working to engage the young people was what first led to the series of meeting that would take place around my dining table.

Someone, I forget who, told me about an organisation known at Communities First. Information from their website describes their work thus:

The Welsh Assembly Government set up ‘Communities First’ in areas in Wales that were facing the most challenges and hardship. Each ‘Communities First’ area has money from the Assembly to set up a Partnership of people who live and work in the area. The Partnership meets monthly to discuss and find solutions to some of the issues. The Partnership aims to get local people involved in improving their areas and their own prospects and we bring in funding and support to make things happen.

Well, that sounded good enough for me!

I was able to make contact with the brilliant Dave Horton, a Senior Development Worker in this organisation. He suggested that we may like to involve the local secondary school, Glyn Derw High School and the local Community Police Officer Nick. So we did. Then we sat around my dining room table, mugs of tea in hand, to discuss the issues.

From that we began to arrange more formal activities either at the church or at Glyn Derw High School. Theresa Condick at the school was welcoming of our overall aims and opened the Learning Centre for informal sessions with the young people who attend Saturday Club. And what fun we had. Theresa is person who works behind the scenes, with groups of kids in such a way that they actually voluntarily attend her sessions.

The first session involved me rocking up with an 1800’s map, a magnifying glass and some bits of pottery in hand. OK kids, I said, find your house on this map. It was rather unfortunate that these young people believed my birth certificate to be an ‘artefact’, but you do have to sometimes make sacrifices. It actually had not occurred to me, prior to this that I really was born in the last century.

Each year the Friends undertake a St. David’s Day Inspection (that is, as near as possible to March 1st) on the church site. Over the last few years this has involved some activities to engage with the local people, to promote the importance of the church and to endeavour to protect it from further harm. I have arranged activities at the church (weather permitting) with the children and young people from the area. These young people are so very interested in what you have to tell them. Costumes have been hand made to enable the kids to dress as Celts (sorry Dr Pryor, but they teach them this in school and I cannot change the curriculum), complete with longbows and arrows (with suckers, obviously), and they have been included in the St. David’s Day Inspections on-site.

In addition to this we have managed to involve other willing volunteers, dress them as medieval women and use them mercilessly in order to demonstrate such things as hand-fasting.

A big thank you to the very glamorous Amy Deans who was happy to remove her sunglasses, leave her little BMW sports car at the bottom of the hill and walk up in full medieval costume in order to help me demonstrate medieval health and beauty as well as the making of flower head-dresses before being hand-fasted on formerly consecrated church ground! You may not have thought about this but hand-fasting is a brilliant way to bring up subjects like coercion, arranged marriage, forced marriage, consent, religion and cultural differences, particularly if demonstrated by a BGT finalist!

Medieval handfast

Amy Deans, demonstrating that even glamorous young ladies don’t mind looking silly on times. Obviously we didn’t hand fast her to someone, that would have been taking things a little too far. Image reproduced with Amy’s kind permission.

Sometimes people visit the site because of its isolation rather than its historical importance. You can see the evidence of this all around. One of my most enduring memories of the events held was when I wandered off to look for the next group of visitors who were expected. I was wearing an historically accurate medieval costume, hand-made. I was veiled with a small bunch of herbs hanging from my plaited belt. As I rounded the corner there were two young men there, beer cans in hand. I gave them a cheery ‘good morning’ as I passed them, my cloak flowing behind me. I shall never forget the look on their faces.

So, from these little acorns big oaks were beginning to grow…

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Bet

“Silbury Hill on the Wiltshire Downs, the biggest prehistoric earthwork in Europe, no one knows what it was for, when it was made and who lies under it. And what strange rites went on nearby, here at Avebury? No one knows. This was the chief temple of northern Europe three to four thousand years ago, but we do know that the Bronze Age people who worshipped here, long before the Druids were thought of, were a peaceful people, highly organized and who made beautiful pottery. We know too that they shaped these stones and moved them on logs from a distant valley, “

Betjeman’s commentary on ‘Devizes’ from ‘John Betjeman in the West Country’ first broadcast 1962 and available on DVD as ‘Betjeman Revisited’. 

Betjeman features tonight in Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past episode 3 of 3: ‘Broken Propylaeums’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rd37j BBC Four 21.00

B.E.

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This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to theheritagejournal@gmail.com

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.

Times are tough. Another £2.5 billion of cuts are to be announced today. Heritage spending has already been slashed across the board yet in exactly 3 months from today another £200,000 is due to be spent to facilitate the annual, inflation-proofed knees-up at Stonehenge. Should it be examined or is it sacrosanct, in contrast to pensioners’ benefits and museums? Here are some actual figures of the costs it involves:

Security & Stewarding  £54k  (inc all security and stewarding, car park management and St John Ambulance)
Event Management  £13k  (inc risk management, health and safety and operation set up, dismantling and clear up)
Temporary Equipment  £56k   (inc lighting and technical production, tracking, fencing, toilets and event accommodation)
Land Lease Charges £10k (inc hire of land for car parking)
Signage & Printing  £2k (inc signage production and installation and conditions of entry leaflets)
Waste Management  £11k (inc litter picking, recycling and removal of all waste off site, cleaning of toilets)
General Site Maintenance £3k (inc general maintenance and operational support required before and after Solstice)
Consumables   £1k    (inc toilet rolls, waste bags and PPE)
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Total = £150k 
(plus other taxpayer-funded agencies including the police, another £50K perhaps?)
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That’s a lot if you’re a taxpayer so shouldn’t ways be sought to reduce it? Some campaigners say the high cost (a.) is a function of mismanagement and (b.) would be less if the event was extended into daytime so it would be more relaxed with less security needed.  For mismanagement read “duty of care” – so such criticism is hard to sustain. However, maybe they’re right about the daytime…

The success of the winter solstice lantern parade provides much food for thought.  It is held in daylight up until the sun sets and people don’t go inside the stones so not only is there far less need for security, less expenditure is needed on much else! It would be helpful if the actual cost of that event was published.

In addition of course, evidence is piling up almost daily that it equates with the way the ancients celebrated. It’s hard to imagine Druids or pagans arguing against authenticity else why do they go there at all? As for the non-spiritual attendees who just come for a free party, shouldn’t they simply fit in with whatever solution Druids, pagans and taxpayers deem most authentic and least expensive respectively?

The return from the Stones after sunset.  (c) Andy Rhine-Tutt

The Winter Solstice Lantern Parade: returning from the Stones after sunset. (c) Andy Rhine-Tutt   (Much enjoyment, no complaints, little cost, fewer monument protection and health & safety worries but  much authenticity and loads of scope for spirituality and ceremonial).

Update 5 April 2005:
Interestingly, at the Round Table meeting  of 4 April EH were asked a direct question by an attendee from OATS:
“We also asked that if the summer open access itself can not be extended, would they at least open the car park from late morning/middayish until the same time the following day. The response from EH and the police stated that this would cost them a vast amount of resources and money and so would not be done.”

Of course, that was effectively asking for an extension – whereas concentrating the celebrations on the sunset would involve the reverse, and by the same token that could presumably be expected to SAVE “a vast amount of resources and money”.

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Mr Connor at Stonehenge,  early-mid 1960's.

Mr Connor at Stonehenge, early-mid 1960’s. Kudos to my old friend Peter Appleton for unearthing and supplying the photo.

I always recall that my first visit to Stonehenge, and the thing that started my fascination with the past, was a school trip there in the early to mid 1960’s. But I’d never had any tangible evidence from that first trip, other than my failing memory, until now.

I was recently contacted via email, by an old friend from my primary school years. He had been having a clearout, and chanced upon some old photos of that school trip, which he thought I’d be interested to see. Sadly, the only photo in which I’d featured was multi-exposed, with shots of a coach/charabanc superimposed over three of us standing by one of the stones. Other shots showed classmates, many of whose names have themselves now been consigned to history, posing in front of the imposing trilithons and other major uprights.

But the picture I’ve chosen to share here, is of our form teacher, Mr Connor, spending a quiet moment alone to study a brochure, with the great stones as a backdrop. You can see some of the children among the stones in the background – no ropes to keep us out, or paths to stick to!

Alan S

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This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to theheritagejournal@gmail.com

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.

by Sandy Gerrard

In March last year 18 questions relating to the archaeological situation on Mynydd y Betws were asked. During May the answers provided by Cadw were published here. I also asked my local Assembly member (Mr Rhodri Glyn Thomas) to ask the Dyfed Archaeological Trust (DAT) the same questions and he kindly did this on my behalf. Having had no response in October I asked Carmarthenshire County Council for a copy of the DAT response and this was passed to both Mr Thomas and myself shortly afterwards. A commentary on the DAT response was then produced and sent to Carmarthenshire County Council. This series of articles present DAT’s responses in black and my own comments upon them in green. See part 1 of the series here.

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4. Why despite the fact that Evaluation Trench 36 was cut straight across the row it was not identified

The stone alignment is by its nature intermittent and it is perfectly feasible that a standard evaluation trench could miss this feature. Subsequent archaeological work in this area found only three stones and none in the area of T36 – please refer to the report- and therefore it was not identified because there was nothing to identify.

Agreed. Do any records beyond those on the planning portal exist for this intervention?

5. Was the possibility of protecting the stone row below the new road considered?

Yes, this was a consideration. However, it was decided that it would be better to archaeologically excavate this small area with a view to seeking information on the presence, date and function of the stone alignment. This information could then be used to determine whether the overwhelming remaining length of the stone alignment (c 700m) could be afforded protection as a scheduled ancient monument under the 1979 legislation.

That is good news. Is there a record of the decision making process? The planning condition notes that “in the event of any previously unidentified or undisclosed archaeological remains being identified during the course of the development the works on the Site which may affect the said remains will cease until a further programme of works in respect of the said remains has been agreed in writing between the local planning authority and the developer and that scheme shall thereafter be implemented.”

Why has this agreement in writing not been released? Does it exist and if not why not as this would clearly be in breach of the planning conditions.

6. Why was no evaluation trench placed across the obvious linear hollow labelled on the map as a hollow-way?

This is a post-medieval/modern feature and did not require evaluating.

How can DAT be sure that this feature is of post-medieval or modern date? It clearly continued in use into the modern period but without evaluation how can DAT know that it did not have earlier origins? This policy (if indeed that is what it is) is somewhat reminiscent of the early barrow diggers who were interested only in the central burial or Roman archaeological digs where the medieval remains were dismissed as unimportant and not worth recording. Who decides what is worth evaluating and what is the assessment process?

Length of hollow way destroyed without record

Length of hollow way destroyed without record

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For all previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box.

See also this website and Facebook Group

Dear Farming Colleagues,

You should read some detecting forums. It’s clear money is the main interest of many people and loads of finds aren’t being shown to us as a consequence. So I’ve been wondering what’s the point of us signing finds agreements? The Responsibility Code (for detectorists) says it avoids future ownership disputes. But it categorically doesn’t as by law they’re already our artefacts, no-one else’s. No archaeologist would tell us we need a document on top of the law as that only muddies the water and reduces the clarity of our ownership rights. With one exception: PAS (in conjunction with no other archaeologists nota bene) specifically recommends landowners to get a finds agreement! For whose benefit would that be?

Don’t do it. Sign nothing, especially if it contains the word “share”. By all that’s logical, legal, practical, safe and just it should be YOU alone who decides what (if anything) you give away, and then only when you’ve seen everything the detectorist has found, not before. So if you own land in England or Wales here are three simple rules you could show to a detectorist. No need for you to sign anything – nor indeed for him to either. It would suffice for him to know what you require of him as a condition of going on your land. No dishonest or money-orientated detectorist will wish to comply so it’s good for both you and heritage!

Silas Brown

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                    Notice to those seeking permission to metal detect

Rule 1  Keep one thing in your mind: it’s mine. Bring it to me before you return to your car. My brother may run your metal detector over you. I’ll show all items to PAS and then I may give some to a museum or to you. If you love history you’ll be pleased.

Rule 2  Do NOT say “let’s build a trusting relationship” (how’s that in MY interest, rather than just yours?) I prefer a structured, businesslike approach, not a pally one based on a bottle of wine at Xmas as from now on I wish to be 100% sure all artefacts found, whether many or few, valuable or not, reach me safely.

Rule 3  If you’re offended, read the Code. Archaeologists advise you to get an agreement “in writing” rather than trust me. So what’s good for Kev is good for Silas, see? Also, if we use a detector on you, imagine we’re airport security guards. Would they make an exception if someone said “just trust me”? If you object to being checked don’t ask for access to a plane – or my fields, OK?

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(For more from Farmer Brown put Silas in the search box.)
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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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Compiled by Sue Brooke

The following events will be taking place next month, why not add one or two to your diary and join in the fun?

SOMERSET:

3rd to 7th April 2013 – Network of Ley Hunters Moot. Wells Town Hall, Somerset.

For something just a little bit different to do over Easter week. This is outside of our usual remit, but some readers may find this of interest. This series of events run by the Network of Ley Hunters Moot includes walks on the Glastonbury Zodiac from Wednesday 3rd to Friday 5th and a coach tour on Sunday 7th. The main event will be held on Saturday 6th at Wells Town Hall. For more details please see the event website.

GlastonburyAbbey

CORNWALL

Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network CASPN/LAN Site Clearance. These events are a really good opportunity to get a bit more hands-on whilst helping to clear an ancient site in the landscape. This not only allows for physical preservation of the site itself but helps it to be kept safe for others to enjoy in the future. Please note that suitable footwear and clothing is needed although tools or any necessary equipment will be provided.
14th April 2013 – Treen Enclosure/Circle
16th April 2013 – Traboe North Barrow
More information is available from the CASPN web site.

Cornwall Archaeological Society
Regular walks and talks of interest:
The Society was formed in 1961 – it grew out of the West Cornwall Field Club, itself founded in 1935 by a group of enthusiasts who were studying the archaeology of West Cornwall.

WALKS – Every month there is an archaeological walk somewhere in Cornwall led by members or an invited expert.

TALKS – During winter months talks are given at centres in Truro and Liskeard by speakers, national and local (and including members) who are specialists in their field of interest.

ACTIVITIES – The Society gives opportunities for those interested in practical archaeology to participate in fieldwork and learn archaeological techniques. Members often take part in excavations run by the Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service (HES).

See the society website for details of all events.

Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE

Wiltshire Heritage Museum runs a large number of events, exhibitions and activities both for the general public and members of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society (WAHNS).

29th March to 1st. September 2013 – ‘The Splendour of Stonehenge’ – an exhibition from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum’s extensive collection of paintings, drawings, engravings, prints and photographs of Stonehenge. These date from the 18th century to the present day.

13th April 2013 – ‘The Romans who Shaped Britain’ – a lecture by Sam Moorhead of the British Museum. Based on his recent book of the same name (with David Stuttard, Thames & Hudson, 2012), this lecture will look at the lives of the generals, governors and emperors – and those they sought to rule – occupying this western outcrop of Rome’s empire .

Saturday, 13 April 2013 – ‘YOUNG WANHS: Round the Houses‘ – For Young WANHS Members – an opportunity to see volunteers reconstructing ancient roundhouses based on archaeological findings at Durrington Walls. See ancient roundhouses being reconstructed and try your hand at make hazel wattle fences and applying chalk cob (daub). This event is taking place at Old Sarum and booking is essential.

Saturday, 20 April 2013 – COACH OUTING: Archaeological Walk on Salisbury Plain
Roy Canham will be leading a walk to see the landscape surrounding the Romano-British settlement on Chapperton Down. This walk, inside the Salisbury Plain training area, is led by former county archaeologist Roy, who will highlight some elements of the site in detail. It also hoped to see views across the territory farmed from the settlement. Please dress sensibly with stout walking boots or shoes as the terrain is fairly tough. Bring a waterproof coat too as the weather on Salisbury Plain can be quite changeable!

For further details on all these events please see the museum’s website.

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, Peterborough

Flag Fen Archaeology Park. The Droveway, Northey Road, Peterborough, PE6 7QJ
24th April 2013 – ‘Meet the ancestors’ – At this event the whole family can learn how to excavate like a professional in the newly refurbished dig tent, discovering what archaeology can tell about the people who used to live in the area. Cambridgeshire’s Finds Liaison Officer will be available in the Visitor Centre for anyone who may have uncovered something locally. For more details see the Vivacity website.

Roundhouse

NORTH DEVON, BARNSTAPLE

Tuesday 16 April 2013 – ‘Some Designed Landscapes of Exmoor and North Devon’ by Simon Bonviosin. Historic Landscape Consultant.
NDAS was established in 1959, and for many years concentrated on providing lectures and visits for members. The society merged with North Devon Rescue, a campaigning organisation which had been instrumental in ensuring proper recording and excavation in the area, particularly during Barnstaple’s major redevelopment in the 1980s. The society continues to lobby and campaign for proper investigation and preservation of North Devon’s physical heritage. All lectures take place in the Castle Centre, Castle Street, Barnstaple at 7.30pm (parking in the large car park adjacent to the Library) Visitors welcome.
For more information see the society website.

KENT

Saturday 20th April 2013 – Council for Kentish Archaeology Conference

The Society was founded in 1857 and is now a registered charity with the following objects: To promote the study and publication of archaeology and history in all their branches, especially within the ancient county of Kent. Much of the County has been lost to London since 1857 so the “ancient county” is treated as including the London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham, as well as Medway and the administrative county. The Society’s interests are not confined to fieldwork. Its objects cover archaeology and local history in the widest sense. They include historic buildings, genealogy, industrial archaeology and local history though it is not always active in all these fields. The Society has over 1,200 members, many outside the County or overseas, and welcomes new members who support its objects.
The Conference is entitled ‘Roman Cities and Ports: Londinium and Ostia’. Speakers include:

  • Enclosing Londinium: The Landward and Riverside Walls – by Harvey Sheldon
  • The London Mithraeum – by John Shepherd

More details are available on the conference website.

LONDON

Wednesday 6th February 2013 to Thursday 21st April 2013 – ‘The General, The Scientist & The Banker: The Birth of Archaeology and the Battle for the Past
Exhibition at Wellington Arch, Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner, London – W1J 7JZ
In 1859 two extraordinary events changed the way people considered human existence: a flint hand axe was found in a gravel quarry level with bones of extinct animals, and Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s big idea and the discovery of the axe broke the Biblical version of history. Opening with the book and the rarely seen axe, this exhibition tells the story of what happened next – as archaeological pioneers battled to save Britain’s great prehistoric sites from destruction. In partnership with the British Museum, rarely seen art and artefacts bring to life a tale of Victorian prejudice and vision. Further details of the exhibition are available from English Heritage.

Newport Castle
WALES

National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
10th. April 2013 at 13.05pm. ‘A Very Fair Castle‘ on the River Usk – Newport Castle and its Marcher Lords. Archaeology lunchtime talk with Will Davies, Regional Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology, CADW. FREE ENTRY See http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?view=glance&site=cardiff

StFagans

St. Fagans: National History Museum. St. Fagans, Cardiff.
6th. April 2013. Drop in activity – Join our resident Celt for a look at everyday life in the Iron Age.
13th. April 2013. Talk: Bryn Eryr – How to Build a Roundhouse. Does Iron Age technology have a place in the modern world? Looking back at what we’ve learned from decades of building roundhouses at St Fagans.

St Fagans is one of Europe’s leading open-air museums and Wales’s most popular heritage attraction. It stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle, a late 16th-century manor house donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth. Please check the website for more details in relation to the timings of talks as these sessions are held both in English and Welsh.

Redevelopment Project – St Fagans: National History Museum has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Welsh Government to completely transform the visitor experience. Indoor galleries are currently closed as new exhibition spaces are built. The Celtic Village is also closed to prepare the site for a new eco-friendly exhibition space. There is still plenty to see and visit.

St Fagans: National History Museum is located 4 miles west of Cardiff City Centre, just off the A4232. For satellite navigation purposes use the post code CF5 6XB. FREE ENTRY but there is a small car parking fee, see the website for more information.

CaerLeon

National Roman Legion Museum

Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire dominated the civilised world. Wales was its furthest outpost and, in AD 75, a fortress was founded at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. The National Roman Legion Museum displays a remarkable collection of finds from Roman Caerleon, the base of the second Augustan Legion. FREE ENTRY

Location: Town Centre, Caerleon, Gwent. Follow the ‘brown helmet’ signs from the M4 (westbound junction 25, eastbound junction 26). For satellite navigation purposes use the post code NP18 1AE (recorded as ‘High Street’).  More information is available on their website.

Heritage Action member Sue Brooke continues her journey of discovery with Caerau Hillfort in Wales. New readers should start at Part 1 or put Caerau in our search box to get up to date.

Ok, so I’d had a real problem in what the Romans may have been doing here, above my garden. This site was isolated. Yes, a possible Roman road could be identified as the current A48 through Cardiff which leads to the Roman Castle in Cardiff to the east and the Roman town in Cowbridge to the West as Jeff had explained. But even so, surely there had to be a reason for a Roman Camp to be here. The site is’ Scheduled’ as a (possible) deserted medieval village. OK, well that’s good but why was it deserted and, where are the houses? Surely medieval homes would have at least have been akin to what we know about thatched cottages. There didn’t seem to me to be much evidence of that as there was no sign of building on the ground. It clearly was important locally as anyone who would listen to me would often be able to add a story or two of visiting the site, either to attend weddings in the old and now ruined St. Mary’s Church or as part of the Whitsun Treats.

Now, with Mark’s input this was getting really exciting! But, umm, could anyone tell me anything about the Iron Age?

More books to read. More Time Team episodes to watch and re-watch. As the episodes came and went I began to learn quite a bit about the Iron Age people and how they lived. I found I could buy some really old books on eBay or in local antique type shops. I learnt a lot. Then Dr Francis Pryor appeared on Time Team.

Now, I already knew of Dr Barry Cunliffe and, thanks to Santa Claus, had collected a couple of his books. I had even visited the experimental archaeological hillfort site at Castell Henllys (most definitely recommended, by the way!). But Dr Pryor just seemed to pop up. He then mentioned his work at Flag Fen. That was really convenient as my husband is from Peterborough and Flag Fen is ‘just around the corner’ to where his dad lives. I was really interested in this in relation to what I’d already read about Maisie Taylor’s work at Sea Henge. The recovered wood was taken to Flag Fen for investigation and preservation.

We visited, we were smitten and we became members. This was a bit different to your usual museum visit. You can wander around; in the round houses you can sit down or walk around, there would be a story-teller, in the grounds there would be a bloke making axes. You could touch and you could hold. Overall, you could learn. And yes, I confess, I did actually buy the T shirt. You should visit; it’s well worth the trip.

Making axes at Flag Fen, Peterborough
                        Making axes at Flag Fen, Peterborough

At a members ‘do’ at Flag Fen you could buy Francis Pryor’s latest book, and as a bonus he rolled up so he could sign it. It was actually quite surreal to be sat in a marquee with that bloke off Time Team, just chatting, sharing lunch and being friendly. We talked a bit about me being Welsh. It’s something us Welsh have grown accustomed to; the poking of fun at the accent, our rugby team etc. However, in this case it was the difficulties Francis Pryor has with the Welsh being described as ‘Celts’. But then, that’s a book in itself. However, I actually felt I could hold my own in these chats. But then Mr  B. suggested I should send my work to Time Team and get them ‘up there digging’.  Absolutely not. No way.

to be continued…

Postcards to friends of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

King

In October 1871 the vicar of Avebury, Bryan King, demonstrated the value of local engagement by writing to Sir John Lubbock:

“When you were here – I think that you remarked that you would not object to purchase the two meadows in this village containing the stones & part of the Dyke. Since then the farm of which they formed part has been bought by a land & building society and one of the meadows in question – though not the one containing most stones – is now on sale. I have just seen the agent who informs me that they are all ready to sell it … Now this meadow with its proportion of Dyke contains about 6 acres … I do not know whether you would care to buy this or to make an offer for it – but I write to you this information merely in consequence of your having made the remark in question about the meadows.”

The rest as they say is history – watch it on iplayer here
And tonight: Episode 2 of 3:
The Men from the Ministry BBC Four 21.00

B.E.

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This is part of a series of short “postcards” that anyone with something to share is welcome to submit, whether that is a digital snap and a “wish you were here” or something more involved. Please do join in by sending your postcards to theheritagejournal@gmail.com

For others in the series put postcards in the search box.

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