© Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion CymruOxford Archaeology North (OAN) have been involved in a 28-year study of Wales' countryside to survey unrecorded sites in moorland left "unimproved" over the years. Over 42,000 archaeological features have been recorded in the Uplands Archaeology Initiative since 1987. The findings will give a richer understanding of the importance upland areas have played in the past.


The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) has been collating the data from the fieldwork carried out by different organisations. The latest findings around Craig Aberserw in Snowdonia have been made by Peter Schofield and Hannah Leighton from OAN, who have recorded 4,500 sites and monuments since OAN's work on the project began in 2002.


Recently a Prehistoric burnt mound - a site showing fire-cracked stones, possibly used for heating water – has been discovered close to a popular path used by walkers on Snowdon. There are clearly many sites still waiting to be discovered, despite the popularity of the area with visitors. They have been surveying ancient structures, including abandoned settlements, burial monuments, old peat workings and sheepfolds, many of which were entirely unknown.


They have found evidence of more prehistoric burnt mounds as well as standing stones, possibly having ceremonial purposes or defining a route at Trawsfynydd. Mining sites have also been recorded, such as the landscape at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, Torfaen, once a major producer of iron and coal in 19th Century south Wales. A high number of medieval buildings and enclosures used for seasonal farming have also been recorded.


David Leighton, a senior investigator in RCAHMW's Reconnaissance Team, said the project had shown the extent and history of industrial exploitation in Wales, "often leading to spectacular features long abandoned. The future analysis of nearly three decades of survey data should lead to a deeper and richer understanding of the part played by the uplands in the history and culture of Wales."

More information can be found on the Coflein website, a national collection of information about historic sites in Wales.

Image: © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales  © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru