The visitor numbers for sites in the care of Cadw and where an admission is applied are available. They give an impression of how heritage sites in Wales have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of visitors from 2017 to 2019 ranged from 1.3 million (in 2017) to 1.2 million (in 2018 and 2019). These fell to 197,331 in 2020, and then rose in the following year to 784,772.
The release of the 2022 figures later this year should provide an idea about the recovery of the sector.
Castles built by Edward I in North Wales had represented between 46 and 48 per cent of the total visitor figures for Cadw location between 2017 and 2019. In 2021 they represented 53 per cent. Beaumaris had more visitors in 2021 than it had before the pandemic.
A set of Roman barracks from the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) lies in the north-west corner in a location known as Prysg Field. They were excavated by Victor Nash-Williams from 1927 to 1929. Each of the four blocks that can be viewed would have held a century. The accommodation for the centurion was placed at the end of each block.
Properties in the care of Cadw will be re-opening from August following the COVID-19 lockdown (“Wales’ ancient monuments set to reopen in August“, BBC News 18 July 2020). The first to re-open will be the castle at Laugharne on 4 August 2020.
How do you interpret archaeological sites to make them understood by the public? This book looks at the influential work of Alan Sorrell: the subtitle, ‘The man who created Roman Britain’, perhaps indicates the impact of his work.
Roman Britain features prominently: Hadrian’s Wall (fig. 99; Cover), the Carrawburgh mithraeum (fig. 102a–b), Housesteads fort (fig. 110), Caerleon legionary fortress (figs. 1), 80, the forum at Leicester (fig. 25), London (figs. 87, 104a–c, 106), Caerwent (figs. 28, 84a–b, 86a–b), Wroxeter (fig. 118), Bath (fig. 119a–b), Llantwit Major villa (fig. 85), and Lullingstone villa (fig. 98c). Medieval structures in state guardianship appear: Harlech and Conwy Castles (fig. 54a–b), the Bishop’s Palace at St Davids (fig. 69), Tintern Abbey (fig. 65a) and Jedbergh Abbey (fig. 65b).
Looking to Greece there are reconstructions of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos (figs. 17, 105), excavated by Carl Blegen, and the Palace at Knossos on Crete (fig. 41a).
The section on his work for the National Museum of Wales was particularly helpful. The reconstruction of Maen Madoc in the Brecon Beacons was instructive (fig. 89). Sorrell’s work with William Francis Grimes was given prominence.
The commissioning of reconstructions for sites in state guardianship is presented in some detail. We are presented with the views of P.K. Baillie Reynolds, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments: ‘They should have a good public appeal’. Yet at the same time Baillie Reynolds opposed the use of such reconstructions. This was in contrast with A.J. Taylor: ‘I should, personally, very much like to see in due course Sorrell drawings of all our North Wales Edwardian castles’. The use of Sorrell reconstructions in the Ministry’s ‘Blue Guides’ is itself constructive.
Sorrell, Julia, and Mark Sorrell. 2018. Alan Sorrell: the man who created Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxbow.
Tintern Abbey was transferred to the Office of Works in 1914. The guidebook was prepared by the architect Sir Harold Brakspear (1934). Brakspear had helped to plan the ruins after they were purchased by the Crown in 1901, and before they were conserved.
A replacement ‘blue guide’ was prepared by O.E. Craster in 1956. This took the standard pattern of history followed by description. A plan of the abbey was placed in the centre pages.
Craster’s guide continued to be published into the 1970s. This included some elements in Welsh: Abaty Tyndyrn (on the title page, but not on the cover), and a short summary of just over one page at the beginning.
The centre page plan was placed on a fold-out plan inside the back cover. The glossary was expanded to include: ashlar, barrel vault, conversi, garth, jamb, lay brother, lintel, mullion, novice, papal bull, plinth, pulpitum, quire, refectory, screen, vestment and vestry. It also dropped: aisle, bay, boss, capital, crossing, floriated, sexfoil.
Craster also prepared the illustrated souvenir guide (1960; 2nd ed. 1964). It included historical background; a tour of the abbey; the first tourists. The tour is numbered on the plan.
The tour in the souvenir guide in effect turns into the card guide that continued to be published under Cadw.
The Cadw guidebook was prepared by David M. Robinson. This includes a history of the abbey, a section on building the abbey, and a tour of the abbey. A foldout plan (in colour) is printed inside the back (card) cover.
The Bishop’s Palace at St Davids was placed in State Guardianship in 1932. The official guidebook was prepared by C.A. Ralegh Radford. The first edition appeared in 1934, and the second edition in 1953. This starts with the history of the palace followed by a description of the remains. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.
The blue guide continued into the 1970s as a DOE guide, published on behalf of the Welsh Office. On the title page (but not the cover) the Welsh title is provided: Llys yr Esgob Tyddewi. It included a reconstruction by Alan Sorrell. A summary in Welsh is provided at the back of the guide.
The Cadw guide changed the title with the emphasis on St Davids (and note the dropping of the apostrophe). The author was by J. Wyn Evans, Dean of the neighbouring cathedral. It starts with ‘A Palace for Prelates: Historical Background’, and is followed by ‘A Tour of the Bishop’s Palace’. At the back is a section on ‘Bishops as Builders: a Summary of the Building History’ by Rick Turner. There is a plan of the palace inside the card rear cover. One page summarises the guide in Welsh.
The guide includes a section on St Non’s Chapel.
A revised version of the Wyn Evans and Turner guide was reissued in the larger Cadw format.
The Roman town of Venta Silurum at Caerwent, Wales, has impressive walls as well as the excavated remains of some the public buildings.
The original Ministry guidebook was prepared by Oswin E. Craster. It follows the standard format of History and Description, with a foldout plan inside the back cover. The later editions contained a reconstruction of the town by Alan Sorrell.
This was replaced by a Cadw guide by Richard J. Brewer. This contained a history followed by a tour guide. There is a foldout plan inside the back card cover. There are numerous colour illustrations including finds from the site.
A second edition of the guide, in larger format, was published in 1997.
A third edition in a yet larger format appeared in 2006. This contains details of recent excavations at the site.
The new guide also included a section on the nearby Llanmelin Wood Hillfort.
The abbey at Valle Crucis was founded in 1201 from Strata Marcella. The site was placed in State Guardianship in 1951.
C.A. Ralegh Radford prepared the first guidebook in 1953 consisting of the standard history followed by a description. A plan was placed in the middle of the guide. The 1971 edition included the Welsh name on the tile page (Abaty Glyn y Groes) along with a short summary in Welsh (pp. 21–22). The guide included a study of some of the early grave slabs.
The Cadw guide contained two sections: Valle Crucis Abbey by D.H. Evans, and The Pillar of Eliseg by Jeremy K. Knight (1987). This consists of the main sections: Historical background; the development of the abbey buildings; a descriptive tour of Valle Crucis. A fold-out plan of the abbey is printed inside the card cover. A short summary in Welsh was provided (p. 46).
White Castle lies between Abergavenny and Monmouth in the Welsh Marches. Its origins lie in the Norman Conquest of the region, but the earliest stone remains date to the 12th century. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1922.
C.A. Ralegh Radford prepared the guidebook for White Castle in 1934 (along with the other two castles of ‘The Three Castles’: Grosmont and Skenfrith). The DOE Blue Guide is partially bilingual. The title page (but not the cover) gives the English and Welsh titles of the site: White Castle / Castell Gwyn, and it was prepared by the DOE on behalf of the Secretary of State for Wales. The guide is in two main parts: history and description. However it is introduced with a short summary in Welsh (pp. 5–7). There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.
The 1991 Cadw guide for the Three Castles was prepared by Jeremy K. Knight.