Latest News

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Ancient Cwmbran Society

Here you will find all our latest news articles with the latest

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Update September 2021.

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for sticking with us through the ACS period of hibernation and lock down.

We are dusting off our trowels and creaking our old bones and getting back to work on the investigation of Cwmbran’s buried history.

Just the last 6,000 years of human occupation of this valley of Dewma (possibly meaning the Mother of God) as I believe Lord Hywell of Caerleon referred to it in 1179 AD, and of course our Mynydd Maen (Stone Mountain).

For over a decade we have been trying to understand the enigma of the walls, mounds of stone, walled well, stone lined springs and other large blocks of stone dotted across the woodlands and housing estates of Thornhill, Greenmeadow, St Dials and Fairwater.

Well my friends, I think we are finally beginning to get somewhere with the unraveling of this great mystery.

The Archaeological boffins of several Universities have come up with a new bit of tech, which is called

“Optically Stimulated Luminescence” .

Yeah, wow, a bit of a mouthful but don’t worry it’s also refereed to as OSL. which is fortunate for us less academic historical enthusiast’s.

It is all very exciting stuff .

This technique can date within a range when a stone was placed on the ground !!! I know outstanding ! isn’t it ! the possibilities are endless.

Anyway us ACS committee types thought we’ll have some of that, so we have commissioned Dr Tim Kinnaird of TV fame to come and do a bit of testing. We have already come up with some preliminary results of one area of walling which of course need to be confirmed with further testing. Butttt wait for it, it is showing a date between 100 to 300 AD, or about 1,800 years old. WOW!!! I mean WOW!!! that is old and it has massive connotations for the whole area, of course we need to do further testing but that is happening this month with results possibly before Christmas.

So watch this space people we may just be putting Cwmbran on the international Archaeological Map.

Kind regards to all,

Richard Davies Founder & Vice Chairman

Ancient Cwmbran Society.

Update June 2020

Well, it is a year since I last updated this web site, so I thought I write a little update because I know that you – our loyal followers- still follow these pages, possibly hoping for some news.

Well, the truth is that, sadly, the ACS is operational no longer, it exists in name only.

However, the friendships cultivated many tears ago, initially grown from a seed planted in the Cow Shed at the Community Farm some eleven years ago, watered by the rain we encountered on our investigations and fertilised by the rich alluvial soils we dug, persist and have flourished into something stronger.

Up until recent events put the world on hold, with an outbreak of a disease so virulent that it could bring society to its knees , our disparate bunch of former ACS committee members still met on a reasonably regular schedule for a chat, a coffee or something a little stronger.

In December 2019 we all met at the Greenhouse Public House for a lovely Christmas meal organised by Richard, and continued to have our monthly get-togethers at The Tamarind Bar and Restaurant until Covid 19 sent us all our separate ways.

During one of our social meetings, we decided to continue to fund the web site while funds are still available, so the good news is that this web site will continue for the next year, until March 2021 .

Will it continue beyond? I guess that will depend on the funds available and the interest in the content of the web site. I know for instance that one of our local schools has used our web pages to teach the kids about the history of the area, so we are still making a difference to the lives of people even if the Society is no longer active.

What I can tell you, is that even if we no longer fund the web site , I will try to move the content from our domain to something where we no longer have to pay fees.

Even if this is not possible, you may not be aware that these is an excellent web site called the “WayBack Machine” which takes archive copies of web sites for posterity. As long as you know the URL of the website you need, you can see the content of a long gone site, provided it has been scanned by the web archive.

The wayback machine can be found here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this

Stay safe and well , wishing you all the best from The Ancient Cwmbran Society .


The end is nigh !

Many of you, our loyal followers, have been with us since the ACS was formed some ten years ago with much fanfare and excitement.

We have done some great things over those ten years, we have brought about a sense of community in the area, explored our history, heritage and culture, entertained and educated, but eventually all good things must come to an end.

Our activity has been reduced over the past few years, partly due to increasing costs but mainly due to the measures put in place by the established archaeological profession which, to us, appear to have been put in place to make life difficult for small amateur archaeological societies to operate.

These measures have effectively stopped us performing any archaeological investigations affordable by a small organisation like ourselves.

The decision was made at our recent committee meeting to put the society into hibernate mode with a view to possible closure in time.

Our web sites will continue to be online until June 2020, our facebook page will be closing shortly.

The committee of the Ancient Cwmbran Society would like to thank all our past members, their families ( who have put up with a lot of muddy wellies), the experts we have met (and have been so grateful for their advice) the Academic community and the Council who were kind enough to let us dig on their land.

Best wishes from the ACS Committee Mike, Richard, Rodger, Glyn, Godfrey and Nigel .

The Birdhouse

Cwmlickey – Myndd Maen

An interesting post on the “Official Blaen Bran ” Facebook page recently caught my eye, which I would like to share with you ( with the permission of the original poster)

The member wrote

This is the bird house – in the first photo taken in it’s heyday and the second taken much more recently. Today the birdhouse is just a raised mound of grass with the odd flat stone poking out, constructed to hang grouse or partridge after a days out shooting .

He told me that the original photo ( shown below) was hung on the wall of the Lamb Inn and that he took a snap of it some years ago .

The Birdhouse on the top of Cwmlickey .
This strange looking building was used by the Hanburys for hanging partridge after a day out shooting

  ( original photo credit unknown) 

The second photo ( below) showed what is left of the Birdhouse today , now just a raised mound of earth and grass with some stones poking through.

Fynn the dog standing proudly atop the Birdhouse
(photo credit John Bradford)

There is another structure ( Click for link to google map view) on the top of Mynydd Maen which I have seen from a distance during my bike rides and dog walks on the mountain, which can be seen on the extreme left of the photo. This was a military structure seen in these photos

My father-in law ( Thomas McCarthy born 1917- died 2005 ) was born at the Upper Race and would often recount tales of the times he went swimming in Cwmlickey pond, and of the hours he spent walking the mountains and of the prize fighting bouts he entered in order to make enough money to feed his sisters as the only bread winner in the family after his father died. One of the tales he used to tell was of the times he would walk up the mountain to talk to the person who was on the gun because he wanted to join the army, but he was not allowed to because he was in a protected occupation as a coal miner. This must have been during the Second World War , when he was probably in his early twenties. Just a shame we didn’t listen a bit more carefully to the stories, but my wife recounts the times he would talk of the planes going overhead and of the time he was told off by an officer for being up there with the gunner. My father-in-law never made any mention of the Birdhouse, so presumably it had disappeared by the 1940’s

Location of the ruins of the Birdhouse ( yellow circle) and of the Military Structure (green circle) . Click the link below for live side by side mapping of the area. Interestingly the Military Structure is not shown on the Os 1 inch 1885 to 1900 map which suggests that it was a later ( World War 2 ? ) structure
Side by Side Mapping

The process of allowing game birds to hang was in order to improve the flavour and texture of the meat , and the birdhouse would probably have been designed to keep the birds, once shot, below a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, any higher the meat would degrade due to bacterial growth.

The next time I am up on the mountain, I will make the effort to trek across to these two features for a closer look at these little known but both important structures . I hope you found this as interesting as I did .

Many thanks



Sacred Sites Tour Report

Richard explaining the uses of Blackthorn to our walkers 

Saturday 24th November 2018 was the day we set aside  for our Sacred Sites Tour, led by the  indefatigable Richard Davies and ably supported by fellow members of the Ancient Cwmbran Society. 

The day started off  damp, misty and overcast with the threat of more persistent rain later on,  which unfortunately resulted in fewer attendees than  we would have hoped for  (once again proving to us that hundreds of  Facebook “Likes” do not equate to real boots on the ground )  however we were please to see many new faces, and were encouraged  that fifteen people were prepared to braved the inclement weather and come  on our  tour of Greenmeadow and Thornhill Woods, where Richard presented an impassioned thoroughly entertaining  tour of our archaeological dig sites which everyone seemed to enjoy.  As the weather deteriorated it was generally accepted that further discussion would be better suited to the consumption of hot beverages and biscuits back at Thornhill Community Center, to where our soggy band of explorers returned to  sit in relative comfort with hot tea and chocolate digestives to enjoy the remainder of Richards presentation. 

This  is known as the  “Banjo” area in Thornhill Woods . 
See section 6 in linked document for  details 

The Bronze Age Cist ( or burial site) in Greenmeadow Woods.

Members of the ACS excavating the Cist several years ago in better conditions 

Living Levels Launch Event

On Thursday 24th May 2017 , members of the ACS attended the launch of the Living Levels Landscape Partnership at the Lysaght Institute in Newport. The event was well attended with approximately 150 people filling the ballroom where we listened to a number of speakers including the lovely Miranda Krestovnikoff 𖣯 , who gave a very impassioned presentation about the abundant bio diversity and unique heritage of the Gwent Levels.  The ACS is excited to be part of this new initiative and we are looking forward to helping in whatever way we can when required. For further information please visit the project website 


The Lysaght Institute Newport

The newly refurbished ballroom looks lovely, and soon filled up with many people



New GPDR rules.

Although our Archaeological activities have diminished somewhat since our early days, we still hold monthly committee meetings and it is true to say that the core of the ACS is still very much alive and kicking.
We still hold a  list of our former members names, addresses and telephone numbers because one day we hope to offer memberships once again, but  due to a change to the rules which govern how we can communicate with you and new regulations on personal data (the General Data Protection Regulation) coming into force in May 2018, we are governed by law to adopt a new approach that relies on you giving us your consent about how we can contact you.
From 2 October 2018, The Ancient Cwmbran Society will ask its supporters to “opt-in” for  communications.
This means you’ll have the choice as to whether you want to receive our messages and be able to select how you want to receive them (email, phone, SMS or post).
Of course you can decide not to receive communications from us, which we will respect and remove you from our records.
Please be assured that The Ancient Cwmbran Society will never sell or share your personal data.
To view our privacy policy, please click here

Living Levels Update

Back in November 2016 we were rather excited to learn of a new project that was taking shape, namely the “Living Levels Landscape Project”

Well, we are pleased to learn that the bid for money from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been successful and that the project is going ahead.  The ACS committee has been invited to a  launch event in May and a History Day in September.  Where exactly the ACS will fit into this new initiative we are not completely  sure at the moment, but with such a large initiative taking place on our doorstep, we think  it will be great to be a part of it .

Here is a short film which explains why the Gwent Levels are so important.