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.

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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 (https://hafodcommunitydig.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/day-5-tuesday/), 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 (www.rediffusion.info/BroadcastRelayService).  It seems likely then, that SRRS stood for ‘Swansea Rediffusion (or Radio) Relay Services’.”

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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: http://finds.org.uk/ 

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.  

 

CuSP is go!

A big thank you to everybody who came to our launch of CuSP (that’s the Copper Slag Project) on Monday night and showed so much enthusiasm for the project.

The evening started of with a cup of tea (as all good evenings should) and then Sophie spoke about last years community excavation at the Hafod Copperworks and the on going post-excavation work for the site. We hope to able to post the full report here on the blog in the next week or two, so keep your eyes peeled.  After Sophie’s talk a number of people asked some interesting questions about the project and Jan was able to impart the exciting news of a new sculpture for the area around Trench 3.  (This was the original entrance to the works by the Landore Social Club.)   Councillor White was also able to tell use a little bit about Swansea Council’s plan for the restoration of it’s historic buildings.  See the news story here: http://swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=57242

After the questions Jan talked about our latest community project, the recording of copper slag which has been used as a construction material.  There was huge interest from the audience in the project and we signed up lots of new volunteers, who will soon be out recording the history of Swansea.

Jan talks about our latest community project at the launch of CuSP.

Jan talks about our latest community project at the launch of CuSP.

Chris James, one of our volunteers in the Heritage Environment Record, was in the audience for the launch.  So when he was busy working away in the HER and saw some photographs of copper slag coping blocks he knew we’d be interested.  He wasn’t wrong!  This a photograph of a section of wall on the Tennant Canal:

Copper slag coping blocks topping a section of wall on the Tennant Canal

Copper slag coping blocks topping a section of wall on the Tennant Canal

So, the photographs have started to come in, but there are still lots of sites out there.  If you know of more or would like the chance to record some of Swansea’s fascinating history why not contact Jan and get involved.

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

 

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.

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!

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.

The lab makes the post

On Friday the renovation work on the Morfa Copperworks laboratory made the news in the Swansea Evening Post.  Make sure you watch the cracking computer generated fly-through of the copperworks, it really gives you a feel for how the site would have looked when it is was running.

http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/New-life-200-year-old-copper-lab-power-house/story-19921437-detail/story.html#axzz2hod6hKsP

Lab work

Last week Charlotte and I started the watching-brief on the clearance of the inside of the Morfa Copperworks laboratory. This is the first of the buildings to be prepared for renovation across the combined copperworks site. Unfortunately, we had to start with the laboratory because it is in a fairly poor state of repair, after a near catastrophic fire and the structural engineers were concerned it might fall down. This means that the debris from inside the building needs to be cleaned out, so that scaffolding can be put up to stop this from happening.

Having said that the Grade II Listed laboratory (LB 11690) is probably the prettiest building, architecturally, still standing at the copperworks. Built in the mid-19th century it has amongst other things a beautiful moulded cornice and frieze band (that’s the part of the wall directly below the eaves) in bath stone. When Taliesin Conservation, the company doing the renovation, looked at the cornices they discovered that blocks of stone were held in place by nothing more than their own weight and the pressure of the eaves above them! No wonder two of them had fallen down.

During the watching-brief we hope to find some of the equipment that the scientists would have used in the laboratory. As well as trying to get an idea of how the inside of the building was decorated.

On the first day we started to get a hint of this when a series of nice white glazed bricks, with rounded edges, were recovered from inside the first room. We think that these formed a partition wall somewhere further into the building. These bricks had a dual purpose as not only did they look nice, they were easy to clean in case of any chemical spills.

This is the remains of the laboratory roof, before Taliesin dismantled it, to give us access to the inside of the building.

This is the remains of the laboratory roof, before Taliesin dismantled it, to give us access to the inside of the building.

This is the roof of the Powerhouse, taken from the scaffolding around the laboratory.  This building used to house the steam engines that powered the copperworks and will be renovated soon.

This is the roof of the Powerhouse, taken from the scaffolding around the laboratory. This building used to house the steam engines that powered the copperworks and will be renovated soon.