by Sandy Gerard

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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10. The explanation for Evaluation Trench 43 is not consistent with the evidence.
Evaluation trench 43 examined the mining pits. We understand that this had to be abandoned for health and safety reasons as asbestos cement was identified within the mining pits. Cotswold Archaeology had recorded much of the trench before the asbestos was revealed. However, it was clear that they are modern industrial mining features, parts of which could be removed by the development without significant loss to the historic environment of Mynydd y Betws
A truly remarkable answer. The excavation was limited to half-sectioning modern dumped material in these features and no attempt was made to reveal the primary deposits. It is therefore hardly surprising that the conclusion was wrong. A cursory glance at the Royal Commission volume for this area would have provided much more accurate results and an explanation for the depth of dumped material. This excavation was effectively abandoned even before the 1917 turf level was reached.

In the circumstances it is therefore difficult to accept that it is “clear that they are modern industrial mining features” as actually it is clear that they are not. Furthermore, the only matter that is clear is that it is now known that these remains were not recorded at all, with instead the work being devoted entirely to examining the rubbish that had been dumped into them. Given this, it necessarily follows that the Trust have no way of knowing whether a significant loss to the historic environment has occurred. At the very least an opportunity to understand the historic environment has been squandered. Are the Trust at least willing to admit to that? Why is the Trust satisfied that a heritage asset of some considerable age has been damaged without any proper recording?

11. The excavation strategy employed by Evaluation Trench 43 is very curious.
We do not agree with Dr Gerrard that the positioning of the trench in anyway affected the interpretation of these feature.
A trench that included at least one dump could have provided dating evidence and information on the character of the material being mined. The positioning of the trench meant that this potentially crucial information could not possibly be recovered. These features include three main elements – the pit, its fill and dump. The decision to look at only two is rather like excavating the ditch of a barrow but ignoring the mound itself. The decision to excavate these features in this manner may have contributed to the erroneous result.

12. The mining pits extend into the area of Turbine 16.
See 10 above
See 10 above.

The historic coal workings were largely ignored during the process. Why?

The historic coal workings were largely ignored during the process. Why?

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