What To Do In June at What To Do In June at Blaenavon World Heritage Site!

Summer has finally arrived, and with it, a slew of things to do in Blaenavon that cannot be matched. Whether you enjoy the low key exhibitions about the history and the making of Blaenavon or the nonstop action of an archeological dig, we wait with anticipated breath for both of them to begin!

Summer at Forgotten Landscapes World Heritage Site ©

Summer at Forgotten Landscapes World Heritage Site ©

Learn your history at an exhibition or a talk 

Enjoy a day at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre walking and talking through the history of Blaenavon exhibition. The Hidden Landscape of Forgeside began in May, but is still available to see. You cannot miss learning about the hidden history of Forgeside and the story of Aaron Brute’s Bridge, and best of all – it’s free.

The Education in Blaenavon is another exhibition that remains a must-see. Although it began in May, it ends on June 30th, so time is running short! A devastatingly interesting exhibition, you will learn about the history of education and the St. Peter’s School, opened in 1816.

The Blaenavon World Heritage Centre hosts another Talk on June 11th, Life on the Dole in Monmouthshire before 1834. How was Poor Law Relief delivered? What do we really know about Law before 1834? Your chance to find out awaits.

THE BIG JUNE DIG: Unearth the secrets of four ruined cottages

Digging up history! ©

Digging up history! ©

Spend a few days attending an archaeological dig with an expert at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre from June 12th – June 16th! The site of four ruined cottages promises to offer information on how they lived, what is preserved, how did they live on the land and more.

If you don’t want to actually excavate, you’re in luck! From June 15th through June 16th, there will be Archaeology Site Tours. Find out what the group has uncovered and learn about some of the customs of age-old occupants.



Festival time at Blaenavon World Heritage Site ©

Festival time at Blaenavon World Heritage Site ©

TIME TO PARTY! Attend the Annual World Heritage Day Celebration

Join the celebration of World Heritage Day from 11.30am-4pm in the Blaenavon Town Centre. Don’t miss the heritage costume parade, pony rides, live music and street entertainment on June 29th.

The Big JUNE Dig!

Dr Amelia PannettJune offers another exciting month with Forgotten Landscapes project at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site.  There will be one of the biggest archaeology digs taking place this year.  So we thought we’d have a quick chat with Dr Amelia Pannet who is leading the dig and find out what the community archaeology dig is all about.

Hill Pits Workday

Hill Pits Workday

The Community Archaeology Dig  on 12th – 16th June and is overseen by Dr Amelia Pannett MIFA, who’s the Project Manager for Archaeology Wales Ltd.



1. What is your role as part of the Community Archeology Dig?

Church and Archaeology sites 189The community archaeology dig forms part of a course that I (in my role as Project Manager at Archaeology Wales) am running for Forgotten Landscape Project (FLP). The course aims to train volunteers in the skills they need to run their own research project and how to monitor sites within the WHS to ensure their long-term preservation. For the dig itself, my colleague Sian and I will be training the volunteers in all aspects of excavation, recording and surveying.

2. How and when did you begin teaming up with the Forgotten Landscapes project?

I first started working with the FLP volunteers in early 2012 when we were compiling a Conservation Management Plan for the site of Hill Pits. This involved recording the different features of the site as they survive, looking at possibilities for future work and monitoring the features to ensure they do not deteriorate in the future. This initial work leads on to a programme of small-scale clearance at the site, revealing the footprint of part of the cottages associated with the mine, making it easier for visitors to understand.

3. Why is the Blaenavon area of such archeological importance?

Church and Archaeology sites 193Blaenavon is unique! The landscape contains a huge number of sites relating to all aspects of the industrial use of the area – from the very early scourings to extract coal to the modern workings at Big Pit. Aside from the industrial sites, for which Blaenavon is best known, there is a lot of pre-industrial archaeology, ranging from prehistoric burial cairns to the small hill farms that existed in the landscape before mining and ironworking came to the area, allowing us to see the evolution of the use of the landscape. The preservation of sites is also significant – although most are in a ruinous condition, a large number of post-medieval and industrial sites are still recognisable as houses or mine workings, which is fantastic for visitors who can visualise how people would have lived and worked in the landscape.

4. Could you briefly outline exactly what you’re working towards in June?

We are investigating the site of four ruined cottages and their associated outbuildings, fields and water supply. The cottages sit within one of the main areas of early mining in the landscape and date to at least 1820. We want to learn more about the development of the site – how did the occupants of the houses live and work the surrounding land, what did they have to do to ensure a fresh water supply and where are they likely to have worked. Our research so far has involved looking at old maps and documents and we have also started a survey of the site, producing a drawn and photographic record of its current state of preservation. This information will allow us to put together a series of research questions that we will then aim to answer through the excavation of a small number of trenches.

For more information see below or visit Blaenavon Visitor Centre:
Forgotten Landscapes Dig

Catch a Falling Star at Blaenavon, World Heritage Site


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Here’s a wonderful event happening on Friday 10th, so why not roll up to the “Whistle Inn” near Blaenavon to discover the stars and explore the galaxy, using a portable planetarium which will be focused on interesting phenomena in the … Continue reading

Free Talk: Early Railways of Blaenavon

Did you know the World’s first ever full-scale railway journey took place in Wales on 21 February 1804, on the borders of the Brecon Beacons?

On Tuesday, 19th February a very interesting talk is taking place at the Blaenavon Heritage Centre, by an expert on heritage subjects.

Railways from medieval times to full scale steam…  

The main part is a talk called ‘Railways Before the Rocket’, which explains the entire history of early railway development from antiquity, through Medieval mining railways in mid Europe, then to developments in Britain such as the use of surface railways and horse power.

Early forms of railway: German miner 1556 ©
Early forms of railway: German miner 1556 ©

Britain then led the world with the use or iron rails and the invention of the steam locomotive. The talk ends with the establishment of mainline railways in Britain by 1830.

This also places Blaenavon in a context and just as the ironworks opened in 1789 there was much activity regarding experimentation with early iron rails.  Blaenavon was one of a number of places experimenting and there is evidence for some of the world’s first iron railways.

Hill's tramway reconstruction of incline. ©
Hill’s tramway reconstruction of incline. ©

The talk will also look at Hill’s tramroad of 1818, which used current technology to full effect to get iron from the works down to the Brecon and Monmouthsire canal at Llanfoist.  This included several miles of elaborate tramway, the longest tunnel ever built for a horse-drawn railway and sophisticated inclines to move materials down gradients.  The talk will finish with a discussion on future excavation work that might answer some important questions about Blaenavon’s contribution to early railway development.

Built around 1818, this was the longest tunnel ever built anywhere for a horse-drawn railway. Pwlldu tunnel drawing ©
Pwlldu tunnel drawing ©

Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway is set in the heart of a World Heritage Site on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. 

Talk: Early Railways of Blaenavon

History & Culture: Trace the development of early railways from the Middle Ages onwards and discover the important role played by Blaenavon’s engineers’ experiments with the first iron rails and other railway technology.

Admission: Free

Telephone: 01495 742333 E-mail: blaenavon.tic@torfaen.gov.uk

Dates: Tue, 19 February 2013 – 18:30 – 20:30

Location/Venue: Blaenavon World Heritage Centre

Event: Woodland Archeology – 22nd February



Clydach Gorge ©TCBC

Clydach Gorge ©TCBC

Woodland Archeology Tour: Booking essential.
Fri 22nd February. 10.30 – 1pm

Join us on an exciting minibus tour which, together with several short walks, will explore a selection of archeological features relating to past woodland management in the area surrounding Blaenavon. Walks will cover some steep ground and will be approximately 2 miles in length.

The event costs £3 per person, and please be sure to bring suitable clothing (Walking books and waterproof clothing).

Meet at 10.15 at Blaenavon world Heritage Centre.

Telephone: 01495 742333 (booking essential).
Email : blaenavon.tic@torfaen.gov.uk

Cost: £3 per person