Romans in carmarthenshire

On Saturday the 20th of July I gave a presentation at the Carmarthenshire County Museum as part of their celebrations for the Festival of British Archaeology. The theme for the day was the Romans and I gave my talk on the Dolaucothi Gold mines, the only known Roman gold mines in Britain, found right here in Carmarthenshire, South Wales.

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The Ogofau Pit: the Largest of the Open Cast Pits at Dolaucothi.

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The Lower Adit at Dolaucothi, used by the Romans to extract gold from the hillside

 Dolaucothi is one of the most archaeologically rich sites owned by the National Trust so there was plenty for me to talk about here. I focused my talk on how the Romans used water to make such a success of extracting gold from the site and the discovery of the water wheel fragment found in the 1930’s 100ft below the ground.

This was the first time I have had to give a presentation outside of education and was by far the longest, I am more used to my presentations lasting around 15 minutes! So to say I was a little nervous before hand would probably be an under statement.

I spent the lead up to the presentation visiting Dolaucothi, going on guided tours and the Roman workings and reading up as much as I could on the site…. All of which seemed to pay off!!

Once I got up in front of the audience the nerves quickly disappeared and everyone listened intently. Everyone seemed to enjoy it with lots of questions and discussion at the end.

I very much enjoyed giving this presentation and now that I know I can do it I look forward to the next opportunity!

You can check out Dolaucothi here….. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dolaucothi-gold-mines/

Archaeology, Dragons and Hillforts

Last week I got to take in the views of the most dramatic and beautiful valleys in Wales. I went on a two day field trip to the National Trust offices at Craflwyn, a foothill of Snowdonia (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/craflwyn-and-beddgelert/).

 After a very early start on Thursday morning we arrived at Craflwyn to meet with some other members of the National Trust archaeological team. After a brief catch up and team meeting we set off to explore some of the local archaeology.

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The team keeping an eye out for dragons.

First up on our sites to visit we went to check out the home of the Red Welsh Dragon. After a brisk walk up the hill side we arrived at Dinas Emrys, the site of the ancient hill fort. Dinas Emrys was first occupied in the Iron Age and then again in the 12th century, but the site is also shrouded in mythical tales of King Arthur and Merlin and is supposedly home of the legendary Welsh Red Dragon.

The site is currently part of an EDRF funded heritage program to bring to life the history of the site (you can find out more about this here http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355772161484/).

Day 2 of our field trip and another walk around the foothills of Snowdonia, this time to Hafod y Llan to view construction of the new hydro electric power scheme. The walk took us a short distance along the course of the river whilst taking in dramatic views of Mt Snowdonia, unfortunately not enough time on this trip to make it to the top though.

After a hearty lunch we set off on our long drive back to Swansea in South Wales but I will be back soon to conquer Snowdonia!!!

D Day Archaeology

I know it has been a while since I last blogged but I have been mega busy and I have sooo much stuff to tell you all, just as soon as I have the time. But in the mean time I want to tell you about something I did yesterday which seems quite timely.

Yesterday afternoon (6th of June, 2013) I was lucky enough to stumble across this little gem of a beach known as Ragwen Point.

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Ragwen Point.

Ragwen Point is under the care of the National Trust and is located off the beaten track in Pendine, Carmarthenshire. Due to its isolated location the beach is little explored which makes it the perfect idyllic spot, even on the hottest days of summer few people can be found here making it the perfect spot for a peaceful afternoon and a whole beach to yourself!

However, this isn’t just your typical beach, you won’t find arcades, chip shops or ice cream vans here. Instead are some unusual structures clearly suffering the effects of time. Although difficult to discern, you would be right to think that they must have been important at some point in history and they must have played some significant role in some form of activity.

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Remnants of wall structure.

 

 

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Concrete block structure.

 

Now rewind 69 years to June the 6th 1944 and Operation Overlord was just beginning, starting with the amphibious assault (Operation Neptune) of mainland Western Euorpe. Allied forces were storming the beaches of Normandy in a last ditched attempt to force the axis back into Berlin.  

Ragwen Point played a pivotal role in the success of this operation as it was used to train and prepare allied troops for the invasion. Probably chosen because of its isolated location it allowed the allied forces to train in secret without exposing any information of the operation itself.

Back in 2013 and what you are looking at is the remnants of the preparations for Operation Neptune. Ragwen Point is a living museum of the events that took place 69 years ago. It is hard to imagine that this peaceful beach was once ringing with the sound of live ammunition, the sea swamped with navy vessels and troops storming the beach, but the evidence still remains and Ragwen Point proudly displays its role in one of the greatest military operations in military history.

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Shell damage to concrete block structure.

Conference Time

Well it’s been a busy two weeks….Two weeks ago I attended a plenary of National Trust archaeologists in Birmingham. The plenary lasted two days and gave me the opportunity to meet my colleagues from other regions of the country and discuss their work and various projects. It was also a great opportunity to chat with the other archaeologists in a more casual environment over Chinese and Beer!

Not long after getting back from Birmingham I was off there again for another two days as just last week I attended the IFA conference. This was my first time I had the opportunity to attend the IFA conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! To anyone out there that is cautious of going as they think they might not know anyone… Don’t be!! It’s a great opportunity to catch up with old uni friends you haven’t seen in years, put names to faces of people you might have heard of before, read their work or even email, and finally do some networking and make some new contacts. I dont think I had a single minute to myself with the number of new friends I made to chat to and being continuously introduced to others. I also had the chance to scope out some of the previous and current CBA placement holders and chat to them about how they were finding their work and get some tips.

I spent much of the first day of the conference checking out the exhibits and networking. At the forensic archaeology AGM I was elected on to the Forensic Archaeology SIG committee which to me is a big achievement and will help me advance my career in that branch of archaeology. In the evening I attended the drinks social and went to dinner with a number of HLF/IFA bursary holders. Thursday was going to be a busy day so I was well behaved and went to bed the right side of midnight.

Thursday morning I went to the presentations of some of the previous CBA placement holders. This was very inspirational and gave me an insight into the great things that I can achieve on this placement if I knuckle down and work hard. In the afternoon I went to a workshop on how to demonstrate impact in archaeological projects.

Alas, my time at the IFA conference had come to an end. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend Fridays session due to other work commitments.

As well as attending conferences pver the past two weeks I have been getting stuck in to work back in South Wales and making preparations for some exciting projects to come….. Watch this space……

My new job and my first blog

 Hi, my name is Charlie and I am the new Community Archaeologist for the National Trust (South Wales). In this role I will be setting up lots of diverse (and fun) archaeology related projects for members of different community groups to get involved in.

I want to use this blog to discuss these projects and let you know about any projects coming up in the future that you may want to get involved in (so its worth checking back regularly to see whats going on!!!).

In the past I have been lucky enough to work all over Europe on lots of fascinating sites… From surveying WWI defences on the Western Frontline to searching for the Great Escape tunnels in the infamous Stalagluft III and some Holocaust related archaeology in the Ukraine. I have also worked all over the UK but this is my first time in Wales! I am looking forward to the year ahead and engaging directly with the public.

Check back regularly to read about whats happened and what will be going on…. There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved and I wouldn’t want you to miss out!

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