Would you like to join us to understand our landscape?

This project encourages volunteering to ‘Demystify our Landscape’ at the Cistercian Abbey of Cwmhir and its granges.

The project consists of a series of Expert led training course on aspects of our landscape that are open to the public. Following these training courses, attendees have been encouraged to stay in contact with the Abbey Cwmhir Heritage Trust and use the skills they have learnt from the training to help understand aspects of our landscape.

For 2021/22 this project has been supported by a grant from Wales Council for Voluntary Action.  Over this period we delivered 9 training events  – in Archaeological excavation; Botany; Geophysics; Bronze Age/photogrammetry; Geology; Vernacular Buildings; Landscape Archaeology and Medieval Plants. These training events have been highly successful, with many attendees giving excellent feedback, and choosing to join subsequent events. We have trained approaching 90 people. A number of these people have committed to do ongoing volunteering for us.

We have rebuilt our website so that it is more engaging for our volunteers and allows them to contribute on-line (see www.abbeycwmhir.org) and we have established a series of volunteer meetings (some on-line and some in person) to continue to encourage our volunteers in their observations and research, and to share the results. These include joining a weekly archaeological excavation and a monthly heritage research discussion group.

The project has been promoted on social media, through its website, through a contact list and by presenting to allied organisations such as Cambrian Mountains Society and Radnorshire Society. We have also made links with Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Mid Wales Geology Group. All these contacts are ways to encourage further volunteers to join us.

Overall, the grant funding from WCVA has enabled Abbey Cwmhir Heritage Trust to establish a substantial volunteer base of enthusiastic and engaged people who are very likely to continue to volunteer with us beyond the end of the grant period. We also have a wider group of people who have received some training with us, are aware of our activities and support us, and may become more active volunteers in the future – when we touch topics close to their heart or when they find that they have available time. As this wider group of people are on our contact list and can view our activities on our website and social media, we will be open to their involvement when they are ready.

We have received a range of extremely positive feedback from many of our volunteers and some of this is reproduced here:

“Thank you to the team for making it such an enjoyable uplifting experience, sense of adventure and enthusiasm conveyed by all”

“I enjoyed the exchange of ideas with others. Learning about Bronze Age life. Visiting Standing Stone”

“Exceeded my expectations!”

“It was a hugely enjoyable and informative day. Thank you!”

“I enjoyed the academic investigation and speculating on what we were finding, the exercise involved, the fresh air (What perfect weather we were lucky to have!), beautiful scenery and countryside; very friendly and nice social atmosphere. Excellent. Congrats to all who made it happen”

“I only did the Saturday mainly because there was so much to absorb that I couldn’t take in another day. However Saturday alone far exceeded expectations”

“Cannot speak too highly of this wonderful project”

“I enjoyed trying something new, working in a relaxed atmosphere, the sense of achievement at the end of the day, and talking to other people about what was being revealed by the excavation”

“Learning a new skill as a way of learning more about the historic landscape – plus being up on the hills was exhilerating”

“Absolutely exceeded expectations, infact brilliant day”

“So many things – fascinating buildings, the enthusiasm and knowledge of (expert), great site for lunch, fantastic afternoon landscape and super company”

“I really feel part of the group, though I can’t commit to regular volunteering, due to geographical distance. Big thank you to all organsers and contributors. Looking forward to more events”

“An excellent opportunity to deepen knowledge of one’s local community and feel more integrated within it, many thanks”

“I really enjoy these events and do appreciate the professionalism that goes into the organisation. Thank you.”

Our Field Schools were  based near Abbeycwmhir, Radnorshire. They were
24/25th July 2021 –  Dr Jemma Bezant – Hands-on archaeological excavation       (More information here)
14/15th August 2021 – Fiona Gomersall – How plants help us understand the past         (More information here)
3rd/4th/6th October 2021 – Dr Ian Brooks – Investigating our landscape with hands-on geophysical surveying    (More information here)
23/24th October  2021– Vic Pardoe – Using a drone to get a bird’s eye view of our heritage  (More information here)
20/21st November 2021– Dr Joe Botting – How rocks shape our landscape and how rocks have influenced man’s activities  (More information here)
22nd March 2022 – John Handley – on-line talk ‘Plants in the medieval period’ (Recording here)
5th March 2022 – Ross Cook – Vernacular buildings (More information here)
12/13th March 2022 – Dr Jemma Bezant – Be a landscape detective: from Desk to Field
12th/13th/14th June 2022 – Dr Ian Brooks/Matt Jones – Investigating our landscape with hands-on geophysical surveying
25th June 2022 –  Fiona Gomersall – Understanding our landscape through botanical field surveying (More information here)
If you are interested in being involved but have missed these courses, then please get in touch with Mel at history.abbeycwmhir@gmail.com and we will work out how best for you to link into this project.
It is our hope that, as a result of the training, attendees will be able to interpret our landscape more fully in terms of its heritage, geology and botany and that they will be inspired to stay in touch with us/join our group of community heritage volunteers – and feedback to us any observations that you make when visiting our Abbey and the granges (lands) that it owned. We are still interpreting the boundaries of these areas from historic records and drone surveys – but our best understanding so far is shown below.
It is our intention to collate these new findings and host discussions on-line, through our website and Zoom discussions, so that we can learn more about the fascinating history of our countryside.

The areas identified with hashing or outline are our best current understanding of the Cwmhir Abbey granges

This Demystifying our Landscape activity is being funded by Wales Council for Voluntary Action

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/Ou4nKh8BF-JaRFpWB64D-ffRxM6ksa1V5Y9giYDPF4sq6BAu7eUOBCjgSNxf47Qm0QS3ToGXzt4SPgJtQU9iq2G1C3taQnXTiw2_QV1MRJzC4aF8Sw-5P60xM0iP2p1ayCzQSL8                https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Q7GGkeHfvpKBX0yNpvfX4WUNziGMRi1v_wFnWeOlRlz2lqGeq1Q7JjyVUKtKzGaNgmbu2qyCA2-lQhmr9VyLRCWfGTPA4fkt36RftdkYzsBQKgOEbn50FRvl4NWaXCLCFfYDYHw                      https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/Tv3MejS7kLf5qk1MC6YDyYTCQ5mHJRqBRQ8BuKsyzdq8hFiJZn_E_MCeD6rCeiSxpfJavpOHtGIemSSALRlRBi69rWHFbbJIFYHJBRWsiQu1Fk9GDJx6hlH6ENN0255h-x--mBs