Public engagement is at the core of the work the Trust undertakes. To 'educate the public in archaeology' is one of our main charitable objectives and we do this through the promotion and dissemination of archaeological knowledge; outreach, education and community initiatives. The Trust provides a strategic and impartial role aimed at ensuring the recognition, understanding, protection, recording and enhancement of the diverse and vulnerable archaeological heritage of Wales. We believe heritage belongs to everyone and can be enjoyed by everyone. Our objective is to provide the infrastructure to inspire and support these aims; overcoming barriers to access physically, logistically and intellectually to make archaeology accessible to all in the community not just trained professionals.
During the course of the archaeological investigations at the former Ynysfach Ironworks, ahead of the redevelopment of the site for a new state of the art education centre, we were very happy to hold an open day on the 22nd October 2011 with Merthyr Tydfil College to display our findings from the archaeological excavations and to give the public a rare chance to take a tour of an excavation in progress. To help with the interpretation of the site we produced a number of information panels and leaflets detailing the history of ironworks and our archaeological discoveries. The open day proved to be very popular, so popular in fact that a second open day had to be arranged on the 5th November 2011.
The open days were very well attended with 350 members of the public on the first day and 150 on the second day. Heritage in Merthyr Tydfil is greatly appreciated by the local community and there was a strong concern that the remains of the former Ynysfach Ironworks should be recorded properly during the construction of the new education centre. The open days allowed the public to view the investigations and talk to the archaeologists, and along with the interpretive leaflets and panels, provided reassurance to the local community that the former ironworks was being recorded properly and that their heritage was being safeguarded.
The archaeological investigations also gained wider appeal with an editorial on the ITV Wales evening news program and a radio interview with BBC Radio Wales conducted by Roy Noble with our Site Director Rowena Hart.
Following the completion of the excavations we started the post-excavation process where all of the artefacts, drawings and records were analysed along with the undertaking of a detailed research programme into the former ironworks. To maintain public engagement we undertook a programme of lectures and talks to local history societies, and professional and non-professional groups, to tell the story of the excavations, the history of the site and what we discovered during our post-excavation research. The following is a list of some of the societies and groups we talked to during this process.