Heritage, but not as we know it

Friday 24 March 2017

Wales’s unloved heritage is about to be reclaimed by the next generation

Thanks to National Lottery players, young people across Wales are about to embark on a game-changing project that looks at the past in a whole new light.

The brand new ‘Unloved Heritage?’ archaeology scheme backed by Cadw and funded by the National Lottery will focus on activities in locations not often considered to be historical treasures. The scheme will also be delivered in partnership with The Welsh Archaeological Trusts and The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW).

Taking place in some of the country’s most deprived areas, seven projects will recruit young volunteers from all walks of life and inspire them to explore their local heritage through some unusual projects.

Richard Bellamy is Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, 'This is a truly exciting new scheme that has the power to change what we mean when we talk about heritage.

'The National Lottery funds all sorts of heritage projects, but it’s not always big old buildings and museums. Working in some key Pioneer Areas identified by the Welsh Government as well as other locations across the country, the ‘Unloved Heritage?’ project will help change people’s perceptions and inspire our young people, giving them new skills that they can carry with them for life.

'Thanks to National Lottery players, Wales’s overlooked heritage is about to be reclaimed by the next generation.'

From skateboarding to sailing

Projects have all been chosen because the value of the sites are not currently understood or appreciated and are not always viewed as rich in traditional heritage. In Bridgend and Swansea, for example, young skateboarders will use photography and film to map paths through the cities to create an exhibition and contribute to a new register of sites at risk.

In north Wales a group of young people in Dyffryn Nantlle will explore the heritage of slate quarrying, working with university students to undertake digital mapping using aerial camera drones and specialised apps.  

Rethinking heritage

Formal training will be available to young people taking part in the scheme, as well as the chance to gain plenty of new skills that they can use again in future study or work, such as tour guiding, exhibition planning and design and interviewing.

The project aims redefine what constitutes heritage — the spaces that young people will be exploring have no statutory protection, and aren’t always seen as ‘important’. Because they are not currently protected, these places are often vulnerable to vandalism and antisocial behaviour as well as demolition – so they are very much at risk.

Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, added: 'This National Lottery supported scheme will give our young people some fantastic opportunities to get involved in heritage in new and exciting ways, which is exactly what the sector needs.

'Heritage is vital not only for our economy but our sense of identity, and I am proud Wales is taking the lead in breaking down barriers to culture. I’m delighted that the Welsh Government Fusion programme is being supported by the National Lottery, which shares the same belief that heritage should be more accessible for all.

'Thanks to National Lottery funding, this new scheme will be a great learning and sharing experience for all heritage partners involved. Putting young people at the heart of how we work in the future, it will help change the way we view our heritage and show that it’s not exclusive to certain people. It belongs to all of us.'

To find out more about the sort of heritage projects the National Lottery can help fund, please visit hlf.org.uk.