Extra cobbles uncovered

In early November Charlotte carried out a watching-brief on the restoration work being carried out at the copperworks, in the area around the original entrance to the site. During the watching-brief she uncovered a short section of cobbles which would have lead down from the bridge crossing the Swansea Canal, in front of the works main gate, to the tow path running along the edge of the canal.

The cobbles looking from the canal tow path up towards the bridge.

The cobbles looking from the canal tow path up towards the bridge.

The cobbles viewed from the southeast, looking down towards the canal.

The cobbles viewed from the southeast, looking down towards the canal.

The cobbles can be seen clearly in this superb photograph of the canal and entrance to the works taken in the 1920s.

Swansea canal and the entrance to the copperworks in the 1920s. (Copyright Swansea Museum.)

Swansea canal and the entrance to the copperworks in the 1920s. (Copyright Swansea Museum.)

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Living history day got hot

At the living history day Dr Tim Young (an archaeometallurgist and experimental archaeologist) brought along his portable furnace, to demonstrate how copper would have been produced in earlier periods. Throughout the day he was helped by our resident glass expert Rowena, this is her working the bellows to pass more oxygen over the furnace.

Working the bellows on a copper furnace is hard work!

Working the bellows on a copper furnace is hard work!

As well as melting copper ore to produce copper ingots Tim and Rowena had a go at producing glass, using sand as their base ingredient.

As well as producing copper Tim and Rowena produced this white hot glass.

As well as producing copper Tim and Rowena produced this white hot glass.

Once the glass had cooled slightly (but was still pliable) it could have been worked into any number of objects including small bottles and little window panes.

Throughout the day volunteers provided guided tours of the Hafod and Morfa sites, including the recently refurbished laboratory building and the Whiterock Copperworks on the opposite bank of the river. To see some of the artefacts we recovered during the restoration work at the laboratory follow this link: https://hafodcommunitydig.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/collecting-a-chemistry-set/

Neil Maylan took groups of interested visitors on a tour of the recently restored lab building.

Neil Maylan took groups of interested visitors on a tour of the recently restored lab building.

Volunteers also took tours around the Whiterock Copperworks across the river.  This is the view from on top of the charging ramp.

Volunteers also took tours around the Whiterock Copperworks across the river. This is the view from on top of the charging ramp.

Perhaps my favorite part of the tour were the demonstrations of the new history points. At these stations you can wind-up a battery and listen to what copperworkers and ships captains might have said at the time the Hafod and Morfa works were open. They look and sound brilliant. Over 7000 people came and enjoyed the living history, I hope that you are one of them and that you had as much fun as I did. If not come down next year and have some fun!

One of the wind-up history points, crank the handle and listen to a little piece of history.

One of the wind-up history points, crank the handle and listen to a little piece of history.

Collecting a chemistry set

During the course of the watching-brief at the Hafod laboratory we’ve collected a cornucopia of chemistry equipment, so we thought you might like to see some of them.  Unfortuantley we haven’t been able to bring any of them back to the office because of the potential contamination.  The scale in some of the photographs is 10cm long.

High winds stop work

One of the internal walls of the laboratory partially collasped during the reccent high winds.

One of the internal walls of the laboratory partially collasped during the reccent high winds.

Unfortuantley the reccent storms and strong winds have meant that we’ve not been able to do much work during the last couple of weeks.  When Charlotte went into the laboratory today, she discovered that one of the walls had partially fallen down during the weekends bad weather.

Good job there was nobody under it when it did! We hope that Mother Nature will be kind in the next few days and enable us to do more work.

Where waters meet

Yesterday Professor Huw Bowen gave an excellent paper at the Where Waters Meet conference in Swansea on the copperworks. His two most salient points were:

1) Swansea was, in his opinion, the first industrialised town in the world. Where more people worked in manufacturing and associated industries than in agriculture.

2) Swansea’s copper industry was the first globally integrated industry in the word with raw materials being imported into Swansea from Spain, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, South Africa, Australia and North America. While finished products where exported as far a field as India.

Hopefully the copperworking area can be regenerated soon to show just how important and outward looking it really was.

Yesterday Neil carried out a watching-brief on the excavation of some trial-pits along side the Morfa Copperworks Laboratory building. A very grandiose building just up the road from where we were digging. During the course of the watching-brief Neil came across a floor surface constructed from copper slag floor tiles, with a depth of 10cm.

A floor surface made out of unusual copper slag tiles.

A floor surface made out of unusual copper slag tiles.

A close-up of one of the slag floor tiles foound by Neil.

A close-up of one of the slag floor tiles found by Neil.

This is fairly unusual and we’ve never seen it at the Morfa Copperworks before. More usually we see copper slag blocks used as decorative copping blocks on top off stone built walls or as building blocks in more hastily constructed walls. This can be seen in the walls that line the route of the Swansea Canal, where both copper slag copping blocks and specifically squared slag blocks have been used in the fabric of the walls.

Slag blocks outlined in red within the fabric of the Swansea Canal walls.  The copping blocks have slopping tops.

Slag blocks outlined in red within the fabric of the Swansea Canal walls. The copping blocks have slopping tops.

What else will the watching-brief turn up? Hopefull more exciting and unusual archaeology will be discovered by Neil.

Harriet’s Grand Tour

Here are a few photographs of Harriet’s tour of the copperworks during the open day. Kindly provided to us by Ivor Williams and Teresa Hillier, thank you both.

Down on the banks of the Tawe Harriet explains the forge building to her tour guests.

Down on the banks of the Tawe Harriet explains the forge building to her tour guests.

 

Opposite Trench 3 Harriet leads her charges into the tree line. You would never know there is canal behind there!

Opposite Trench 3 Harriet leads her charges into the tree line. You would never know there is canal behind there!

 

Harriet explains to her tour that hidden behind this forest of scaffolding is the pretty V & S (Vivian and Sons) engine shed.

Harriet explains to her tour that hidden behind this forest of scaffolding is the pretty V & S (Vivian and Sons) engine shed.

 

Tour guide, tour guests, volunteers and your amiable host discuss the site of the canal bridge.

Tour guide, tour guests, volunteers and your amiable host discuss the site of the canal bridge.