Experts will scan Hafod site for buried secrets
IT was once the epicentre of the world's copper smelting industry and now history hunters are due back on site at Swansea's Hafod Copperworks this week to discover even more of its hidden secrets.
Experts from Swansea University will be using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology to scan for historic artefacts buried underground over the course of time that could be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Swansea Council is working with Swansea University as a preferred development partner for the Hafod Copperworks site to explore regeneration opportunities that would preserve and celebrate its industrial heritage.
GPR uses high-frequency radio waves that transmit into the ground. The receiving antenna records variations in the return signal when the wave hits a buried object. Archaeologists often use GPR to survey sites of historic importance in the Middle East and the military have used the technology in the past to detect mines, unexploded ordnance and hidden tunnels.
Representatives from Swansea Council and Swansea University will be on site to meet a former Hafod Copperworks worker who will help them look in the right areas.
The Hafod Copperworks project team secured grant funding from Swansea University's College of Science to buy the GPR and a giant projector.
Swansea led the world in copper smelting about 200 years ago when the Lower Swansea Valley resembled an inferno of smoke and noise.
The 12.5 acre Hafod Copperworks site contains 12 Grade II listed buildings. The giant projector will beam images and footage to show how the buildings used to appear and operate on the site in their heyday.
Professor Huw Bowen, who's leading the project team on behalf of Swansea University, said: "The GPR will allow us to carry out even further surveys of the site and possibly unearth more artefacts of historic importance that may have been buried for well over a century.
"We're starting to take real steps forward on plans to breathe new life into a site that we all need to remember is of major international significance. It shows what can be achieved when organisations like Swansea University and Swansea Council work together for the benefit of the city."
The use of the specialised equipment will build-up to the start of a scheme that will include new tourist trails, a visitor gateway and an annual on-site event that will raise the profile of the copper industry and both its local and global history.
The Welsh Government is contributing £277,000 to the scheme through Regeneration Funding and Targeted Match Funding and £244,000 has been provided from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Welsh Government's £19m Heritage Tourism project.
Cllr Gareth Sullivan, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Planning, said: "The Hafod and White Rock sites were featured on Channel 4's Time Team last weekend and the profile of the site has rarely been higher.
"Our work alongside the university will help regenerate the site and preserve it for tourists and future generations to enjoy."
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