Always more to be done

We manage a lot of our woodlands with assistance from grant schemes. As a charity this helps fund work that wouldn’t pay for itself and helps us manage our woodlands for the best of flora, fauna and sustainability.
You have probably seen a lot on these pages and our facebook page about our work at Pont-ar-Daf – helped by the Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW) scheme. We are about halfway through this management plan now and have the bulk of the major work done.

New plan up on the office wall to remind us what we have to do.

New plan up on the office wall to remind us what we have to do.

So to make sure we get no rest, we have just started work at Coed-y-Bwnydd with help from the Glastir Woodland scheme.
Coed-y-Bwnydd sits on a hill top above Clytha Estate, to the south-east. Possibly best known for its display of bluebells in Spring under a high canopy of trees, it is also an ancient hill fort with its large earth ramparts still visible and with a steep bank of trees below it with evidence of charcoal burning in more recent times.

Are we felling all the trees? Will we lose the bluebells? Are we stoning big tracks through the middle? NO. The aims are to preserve the sites features and character. On the top we will be working to push back the gradual creep of bramble and bracken on the ramparts and over the hill fort. This will help reveal the ramparts to show the sites previous life as a hill fort, as well as allowing more light to the woodland floor for a greater variety of plants to come through and support a wider selection of life, not to mention that it will make it a lot easier for you to get around.

Don't worry, it's only harmful if you are bracken.  Crushing it makes spraying easier and improves the chances of reducing it.

Don’t worry, it’s only harmful if you are bracken. Crushing it makes spraying easier and improves the chances of reducing it.

Already we have started by crushing and spraying bracken to hinder its re-growth on the ramparts near the north entrance.

To my right, waiting to be done...

To my right, waiting to be done…

As well as cutting the growth on the top, we have also been using a smaller tractor and strimmers to cut back where we can on the ramparts. Where it gets steeper, we will probably have to do this with volunteer groups as the many hands will make light work.

To my left, just been done.

To my left, just been done.

Down on the wooded bank we will be thinning the woodland edge to allow more light into the woodland and create a varied age structure that will benefit the wildlife on this steep undisturbed bank. At the same time we will be replacing the fence with the neighbouring farm to help keep the livestock where it should be after a few incidences of cows wandering the woods and hill-fort – apparently its not the easiest place to chase them out of.

So there we are, Coed-y-Bwnydd will be getting a little bit of care over the next few years to reveal its features. All this work will improve access around the site, so come visit and explore. We’re hoping for more flowers, insects and butterflies and better views across the site.

Tim – Woodland Ranger

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Brecon Beacons first rock art discovered

The first prehistoric rock art to be found in the Brecon Beacons, was recently discovered on ground cared for by the National Trust.

rock art

Brecon Beacons first art?

Alan Bowring (Fforest Fawr Geopark Officer) unexpectedly noticed a series of prehistoric engravings late last year whilst surveying on our ground – thought to be made by prehistoric farming communities thousands of years ago.

Alan, a geologist, was out investigating geological features on land managed by the National Trust and spotted a rock with some unusual markings on it.  Sensing this was unusual – he sought further advice from colleague Natalie Ward (Brecon Beacons Nationla Park Archaeologist) who had experience of recording such artefacts in the North of England.  The National Trust’s own archaeological survey had already highlighted Bronze Age features in the area and gave some context to the stones past.  In collaboration the rock art has been announced today after checks have been completed on its authenticity.  

Dr George Nash, Archaeologist and specialist in Prehistoric and Contemporary art confirmed what Alan Bowring had discovered was the first prehistoric rock engraved panel recorded in the Brecon Beacons.  Dr Nash added that based on the shape of the stone and its engravings, it probably comes from the Early to Middle Bronze Age period (c. 2500 to 1500 BC) and it probably served as a waymarker in the form of a standing stone for prehistoric communities navigating around the ritualised landscape more than 2,000 years ago.

“We might have been able to predict a discovery of this kind considering the large amount of prehistoric ritual sites in the Brecon Beacons but this is the first evidence of prehistoric rock art to be ever recorded.  There are no other later prehistoric standing stones within this part of Wales that are cupmarked (small hollows), making this one rather unique”, says Dr Nash.

rock art closer

Can you see the cupmarks?

The stone is approximately 1.45m long and 0.5m wide and the face contains 12 cupmarks of various shapes and sizes.  It is currently lying flat on the ground but it is possible that it once was standing (further archaeological investigation may be able to confirm this).   Dr Nash explains that cupmarks are the most common later prehistoric rock art form in the British Isles and Europe, but their occurrence in mid-Wales is rare.

Joe Daggett, Countryside Manager for the National Trust in Brecon said:  “Although I was initially  sceptical  about this stone’s markings the confidence in its origins is now clear, and it fits with the Bronze Age archaeology we have previously recorded in this  area.  We are really keen to get the right protection for this artefact and with BBNP support have been liaising with Cadw to start the process.   It is of utmost importance to protect this stone for future generations and to share this discovery in an appropriate way – a core purpose of the National Trust.   Our CBA Community Archaeologist, Charlie Enright, is arranging a number of archaeological recording and survey days in the coming weeks.”

Over the course of next week we will be undertaking a range of archaeological activities including:

  • Recording the stone with Dr George Nash.
  • Conducting a geophysical survey in the area surrounding the stone to see if we can find any evidence of past human activity below the surface.
  • Condition monitoring and a topographical survey of the surrounding archaeology.

Charlie added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to get local people involved in a multi-discipline archaeological project, work alongside and learn from professional archaeologists and other likeminded people, acquire new skills and contribute to our understanding of this fantastic site.  If people are interested then they should phone me straight away to book – places are limited!”

If you are interested in taking part – places are limited so please book by contacting Charlie Enright, Community Archaeologist at the National Trust charles.enright@nationaltrust.org.uk

No spade required

Fancy joining us on an archaeological survey?

Our community archaeologist will be surveying at Pont ar Daf next week, exploring the WWII tank defences and the old coaching inn remains.

13-16th February
For more information or to book a place on any of the dates above
please contact Charlie at charles.enright@nationaltrust.org.uk
Or check out Charlies blog – http://charlesenright.wordpress.com/

20140213 PaD Archaeology event