Report on the community excavation at the Hafod Copperworks

It’s with great pleasure that we can now publish the final report on our community excavation at the Copperworks.  We’re sorry it’s taken a while to get here, but we hope you enjoy it now.  Just click on the link below and read away.

Click to access Hafod_Copperworks.pdf

We’d just like to say a big thank you to all our volunteers and everybody that helped us on site and to prepare the report.  We hope to see you on another excavation soon.

The team

The end product of the copperworks

Back in the summer I took the opportunity for a trip on the Tawe river cruise, which was fantastic fun.  If you get the chance you should take a ride, it’s a really interesting way to see a different side of the city.

The Tawe river cruiser noses her way up stream.

The Tawe river cruiser noses her way up stream.

On the journey back the crew showed us a number of artifacts associated with the copperworks.  The most interesting of these to my way of thinking was one of the copper ingots, which would have formed the primary output of the Hafod Copperworks from the mid-18th century to the late-19th century, when it was owned by Vivian and Sons.

The ingot is lozenge shaped and divided into three peaks.  The central peak of which is stamped ‘V & S \ A’.  This particular ingot was recovered from the wreck of the Benamain, located some seven miles of Mumbles Head.  The Benamain was a London registered steam powered cargo ship.  Her final voyage took place on 28th March 1890, when she was bound for le Treport with a cargo that included 50 tons of copper ingots from Vivian and Sons.  On the afternoon of the 28th March she was steaming at six knots when she became stranded on the eastern side of Lundy in the fog.  She was refloated the following morning but floundered on her way back to Swansea.  Her crew was recovered by the pilot cutter Rival and the Benamain was left to sink.

A Vivian and Sons copper ingot recovered from the briny deep.

A Vivian and Sons copper ingot recovered from the briny deep.

Happily we didn’t have such an eventful voyage!

A view of hafod copperworks

A view of hafod copperworks

I was doing some research in the West Glamorgan Archives when I came across a delightful book by George Grant Francis, published in 1867, called ‘The melting of copper in the Swansea District’. In the book he describes all of the copperworks strung along the Lower Swansea Valley. Included with the description of the Hafod Works was this wonderful engraving. Note the canal bridge in the middle ground, this is what the cobbles we found during the excavation were leading up to!

Finding radio waves

Back in May last year, on Day 5 of our excavation, one of our voluteers Katrina brought in some finds for us to look at (, which she had dug up from her back garden.  Well Katrina has been at it again!  This time she brought her finds into the office for us to look at. The most interesting objects she brought in were a collection of ceramic insulators.  This is what I had to say about them in my report for our Portable Antiquities Scheme finds liaison officer:

“A total of fifteen fragments (weight: 1.356kg) of ceramic insulator were recovered from the area, equating to a minimum of six actual insulators.  All fifteen fragments originate from insulators associated with radio broadcasting and were produced by a company called ‘Rediffusion.  The broadcast relay services limited’, formed in 1928.

The fragments represented two different forms of insulator; the majority (80%) are dryspot insulators.  This form of insulator has a top which unscrews to expose openings inside the skirt and wire grooves to allow a telephone drop wire to pass through the insulator to provide a ‘dry spot’ from rain and decrease leakage loss.  The remaining 20% of fragments originate from radio relay insulators (Marilyn and Tod 1982); which would have been fitted to the outside of a building, enabling the radio wires to be safely brought inside.  The upper surface of one radio relay insulator is stamped ‘SRRS’.  By the late 1940’s Rediffusion had subsidiary companies operating throughout the United Kingdom, including one based in Swansea (  It seems likely then, that SRRS stood for ‘Swansea Rediffusion (or Radio) Relay Services’.”


We’re very grateful for Katrina for bring her finds in to show us, let’s hope she keeps discovering more interesting objects. 

If your interested in the Portable Antiquities Scheme have a look at this: 

A copper-bottomed dig

A copper-bottomed dig

I was doing a little research for our latest work at the Hafod Copperworks, when I came across this short clip from when Time Team excavated on the site.  The clip shows Professor Huw Bowen of Swansea University and Alex Pervays of Time Team discussing Morris Castle, Sir John Morris’ tenement for his copperworks, that looms over the Lower Swansea Valley.

It’s an interesting little discussion, why not watch it while your enjoying your pancakes this evening.  You could even go and visit the building and enjoy the fantastic views of the copperworks.  


Copper slag pavement

As well as launching CuSP Sophie will be talking about the results from last summers community excavation on Monday. Why not come along and learn more.

The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust

Back in July I talked about the watching-brief that Neil was conducting at the Hafod laboratory building (  At the time he came across a small area of pavement made of copper slag blocks, which he’d never seen used around the copperworks before.  Yesterday I found an area of copper slag blocks on Walters Road, identical to the ones used at the Hafod copperworks.  These blocks had been used for decorative effect and were interspersed with stone paving blocks.

Image  The historic mapping produced by the Ordnance Survey doesn’t show this alley existing till after the 1940s, suggesting that this area of paving is relatively modern.  On this extract from the third edition (1919) OS mapping you can see that the alley (marked with a red arrow) is occupied by part of a pub.ImageDo you know of any other areas of copper slag paving or pieces of copper slag…

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Launching the latest community work at the copperworks

Building blocks made from copper slag, in the canal wall.

Building blocks made from copper slag, in the canal wall.


Hello folks, I hope 2014 has being going well for you.  At GGAT we’ve been busy beavering away at putting together our latest phase of commuity archaeology work at the Hafod Copperworks – CuSP.  Otherwise known as the Copper Slag Project.  Our community archaeologist Janet will be launching the project on Monday the 17th February at 18:00 in the Hafod Community Centre.  Why not come along and see whether you’d like to take part.  Everybody will be very welcome, so come along and have a chat with Janet.

CuSP launch


Come and volunteer with Groundworks at the copperworks

Tools waiting for the off.

On Wednesday 27th of November Groundworks will be holding a volunteer afternoon at the copperworks. They are intending to undertake some clearence work in readiness for the new gateway, which is due to be installed after Christmas.
If you would like to come along and help out, Groundworks would love to see you there. They will provide all the tools and some gloves; all you need to bring are some sturdy footwear and a have-a-go attitude.
They will be meeting by the Park and Ride at 2pm. Hope to see you there!