Image shows an earthwork platform in the Elan Valley.

Earthwork platform in the Elan Valley

Over the past 15 years we have spent over 30 weeks walking the Elan Valley Estate and recording its archaeology and have to got to know the most of the uplands very well.

In 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 we carried out surveys of the areas to the northwest of the reservoirs for the RCAHMW as part of the Upland Initiatives Survey scheme.   This fieldwalking exercise was to record any archaeological features identifiable above ground, things like Bronze Age burial cairns, medieval hut platforms, post medieval cottages and features connected to the coming of the reservoirs in the late 1890s.  We found many sites that hadn’t been recorded beforehand.  Links to copies of our reports are included below, and by searching on the NPRN of a site on Coflein you can see any photos we may have taken of the site.

Elenydd North Part One & Elenydd North Part Two

Elenydd Central Part One & Elenydd Central Part Two

Elenydd South Part One & Elenydd South Part Two

Uplands Initiative Cwm Ystwyth Cwm Mwyro Part One small & Uplands Initiative Cwmystwyth Part 2

So that we could share what we had found we offered free annual guided walks for the Elan Valley Trust during the Festival of Archaeology.

We helped with work at Cwm Elan mine, digging a small test pits to check that the archaeology wouldn’t be damaged when repairs were carried out.   We also undertook a building recording of the buildings at Cwm Clyd before they were converted.

Cwm Elan Mine Smithy

Cwm Elan Mine Wheel Pit

Cwmclyd Level 2 Building Recording

Cwmclyd Bungalow

In 2016 and 2017 we played our part in the development of what became the Elan Links project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We prepared the Statement of Significance for the area, including its natural and historic environment and cultural components. We did a Landscape characterization of the Elan Valley Trust area looking at what made areas of the landscape special and we undertook a Heritage at Risk Survey, checking the known records as to which sites were potentially being damaged.

Elan Links Statement of Significance (incorporated into the National Lottery bid)

Elan Links Landscape Characterisation

Elan Links Heritage at Risk Part One

Elan Links Heritage at Risk Part Two

After that, as part of Elan Links scheme, we explored Maen Hir standing stone, Carn Ricet cairn and an earthwork enclosure at Lluest Abercathon.

Maen Hir – round up of the work done still to come but here’s a link to a talk we gave online about the site

Carn Ricet Report and a link to a talk we gave online

Lluest Abercaethon Evaluation Report and a link to a talk we gave online

By far the biggest piece of work we have done though is a resurvey of areas to the east and south of the reservoirs – 68 square kilometres in total.  Covid delayed the start of the field survey, the bulk of which was done in 2022.  We found some amazing sites, and more than doubled the number recorded.  Our report is available below in three sections.

Elan Links Upland Survey 2022-2023 Part 1

Elan Links Survey 2022 Part 2A Site Gazetteer

Elan Links Survey 2022 Part 2B Maps

We gave a talk at Carad on October 2022, after we had finished the fieldwork and answered questions afterwards.

You can also watch the talk we gave to the joint Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and Council for British Archaeology Wales dayschool in November 2023 about the survey.

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