Rare Bronze Age Rock Art Discovered in the Brecon Beacons

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If you have seen the news this morning then you might have already heard about the exciting discovery of Bronze Age rock art found in the Brecon Beacons. Well now is your chance to get involved, we will be hosting a community archaeology project to investigate the history of this stone and see if we can learn more about its origins.

The archaeological investigation will take place next week (13 – 16 March) and I am going to need your help. Starting on Thursday 13 March rock art specialist, Dr George Nash, will be on hand to guide volunteers though the process of recording rock art. In addition to this I will be on site from Thursday to Sunday conducting a geophysical survey around the stone.

For more information about the sessions and details on how to get involved click the link below. Spaces are very limited so please book fast.

Rock art survey

Storey Arms Anti Invasion Defences

From the 13th to the 16th February 2014 we are going to be undertaking a condition monitoring and topography survey of the archaeology at the Storey Arms (located on the A470 between Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil, approx4 four miles south of Libanus). This event is open to members of the public to come along, take part and help us record the legacy that World War II has left on the site.

If you would like to take part then please email me at charles.enright@nationaltrust.org.uk or complete the form below and I will provide you of all the information you will need.

Check out the section below for the historical background of the site.

Event Poster

 

Storey Arms Anti Invasion Defences

Owned by the National Trust the Storey Arms contains a wealth of archaeology acting as a constant reminder of the threat of invasion the United Kingdom faced during the early years of World War II. The car park itself used to be the old Drovers’ road from Merthyr Tydfil to Brecon, and it is at this point which it passed the Storey Arms coach house.  The coach house was constructed in the mid 1800s and was demolished in the 1920s, all that remains of the Storey Arms are the ruinous remnants of its foundations.

The anti invasion defence network was constructed at the beginning of 1941 in reponse to the serious threat of a Nazi invasion of the United Kingdom.  Its purpose was to protect the industrial heart of England from a Welsh approach by an invading army. The topography here provided a natural defence against any invaders and this was complimented by strategically placed man made defences.

An enemy force advancing from the south would be forced to follow the natural lay of the land, meandering along the base of the narrow steep sided valley. On first approach to the Storey Arms the enemy would be faced with a long line of anti tank blocks on the north bank of the River Blaen Taf Fawr. The anti tank blocks extending east to west, blocking further access to the north. Navigating around the tank blocks would have been virtually impossible due to the steep sloping sides of the valley.

 If the enemy had been successful in breeching the anti tank blocks they would be met by a series of pillboxes located on a sharp meander of the river.

The defence network were manned around the clock by the Home Guard. Their duties were to man the pillboxes and conduct regular patrols of the reservoirs in search of paratroopers. The Home guard officers were issued with weapons but no communication devices, so should they spot an invading force they would have to travel to the nearest MOD camp at Brecon to inform the MOD and call for reinforcements.

 

 

 

 

 

Community (Military) Archaeology at Cwm Gwdi

For the past few weeks I have been planning my very own community project. I had picked my site (Cwm Gwdi military training camp), gathered information, collected the maps, wrote the project design, conducted the risk assessments, set up the teams and planned the tasks for each day.

 Finally last week everything fell into place and I went off into the field with my teams to begin surveying the site.

 Our task was simple…. Record the 20th century military earthworks and come to some conclusions on what they may have been used for, all whilst having a good time.

 Military archaeology is one of my favourite aspects of archaeology so Cwm Gwdi was of particular interest to me. The site contains a range of dug-outs and earthworks associated to military training activities.

 The site has been in use since the late Victorian era and allegedly used to prepare soldiers for the Boer War. Military activity continued on the site up until the 1980’s.

 The teams quickly set about identifying remnants of the military occupation of the site, locating key features such as dug-outs, slit trenches and ballistic banks. We came up with some interesting theories as to how the features might have been used.

 Once we were ready out came the measuring tapes so that we could make some plan drawing of the features, which I will be including in my report for the surveys.   

 The weather held off and we had a very successful week of surveying, with everybody (including myself) learning a new skill.

 The military camp covers a huge area and includes more archaeological features than we had time to record. There will hopefully be a return to Cwm Gwdi at some point in the not to distant future to carry on with the fantastic work already done by my volunteers.

 If you are interested in hearing me or would like to register interest for any future events then get in contact: charles.enright@nationaltrust.org.uk.

 

Here are some photos of the volunteers surveying at Cwm Gwdi last week……

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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.

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