A race against time – to uncover the past
The Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden today visited Porth y Rhaw, St Davids, where Dyfed Archaeological Trust are leading a team to learn more about the site – which due to coastal erosion is quickly being lost to the sea.
This is the third season of community excavation, and the funding from Cadw, the National Trust and the Nineveh Trust, with support from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park - along with help from an enthusiastic team of volunteers– is allowing the Trust to recover irreplaceable archaeological objects and information before they are lost to the sea.
This year the excavation is concentrating on excavating a large stone-built roundhouse. Finds, including pottery and a blue glass bead, show that this house was lived in in the Roman Period.
Ken Murphy of Dyfed Archaeological Trust, said:
“Porth y Rhaw fort is an important site which can tell us a lot about life in Iron Age and Roman Pembrokeshire. Previous work has shown us that the fort may have been used for over a thousand years. Its interior contains the remains of prehistoric roundhouses, some of which had been re-built several times.
“Porth y Rhaw is suffering from active coastal erosion, much of it has already been lost to the sea, and this will only get more severe as we feel the increasing impacts of climate change. It’s essential that we recover as much information as possible before work on the site becomes too dangerous.”
Excavation and the recovery of evidence is just one strand of adaptation to climate change; something which the entire historic environment sector is currently working on. To help raise awareness of the risks and opportunities of climate change and the need for adaptation, the climate change subgroup of the Historic Environment Group (HEG) has published the Historic Environment and Climate Change in Wales Sector Adaptation Plan.
The Deputy Minister, said:
“We are already experiencing the effects of Wales’s changing climate. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme weather events are now familiar. The impact of these effects on our historic assets, which are irreplaceable, will have significant consequences for the historic environment as a whole as well as the people of Wales. We need to take action now to improve our knowledge and understanding of the threats and opportunities for the historic environment, and to increase our capacity and resilience to adapt and respond to the risks.
“This amazing site has revealed evidence of 1000 years of occupation, and it really is a race against time and the elements to obtain as much information as we can about the site – which tells us a fascinating story of our ancestors. I was also delighted to meet the volunteers working with the trust who have experienced substantial benefits to their own wellbeing as well as contributing to the project.”
This week, seven UK organisations have announced a new partnership to help tackle the impact of climate change on historical sites and our cultural heritage, and to share expertise.
The new UK Heritage Adaptation Partnership will see stewards of historic sites across the country – Cadw, Department for Communities Northern Ireland, English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Historic England, National Trust and National Trust for Scotland – pool research and expertise. Working together, heritage organisations from across the four nations will explore critical issues in how our historic sites and collections can adapt to the increasing frequency and intensity of climate hazards such as extreme flooding and heat, building the resilience of our historic environment.
You can keep up to date with the news from the Porth y Rhaw excavations by visiting the Dyfed Archaeological Trust social media pages, or if you’re in the area you can visit the site daily except Mondays, 9am-4pm, until July 8th