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In this guide

1. Our research

Many of Cadw’s projects and programmes contribute to our understanding of Wales’s past.

We undertake research directly on our properties in care, either to inform and complement our ongoing conservation and maintenance programme, or to support our interpretation and presentation activities.

We also support the investigation of the wider Welsh historic environment through our threat-related grant aid-programme to the four regional Welsh Archaeological Trusts, or as part of our assessment of candidate sites for designation as historic assets of national importance.

Much of this work has resulted in academic monographs and journal papers. We provide grants for the publication and dissemination of fieldwork projects that we have supported.

Cadw has supported and contributed to the establishment of a Research Framework for the Archaeology of Wales –

Cadw also supports research that will contribute to other aspects of our management and understanding of the historic environment. For example, understanding the value of the historic environment, assessing and identifying monuments and buildings at risk and understanding how visitors use and respond to our properties in care.

2. Summer visitor survey

We carry out visitor research triennially at our castles, abbeys, ironworks and historical sites all over Wales.

This is an opportunity for our visitors to provide valuable feedback on their experiences at Cadw monuments. The research helps us to continually improve our customer service provision: highlighting areas where we are delivering on our commitments; providing opportunities to engage with our teams on areas we need to address and ensuring Wales’s historic environment is accessible and inclusive to all.

The surveys focus on a number of different aspects, including:

  • Visitor profiles
  • Visitor experience
  • Satisfaction of the visit
  • Likelihood of returning
  • Potential improvements
  • Health and safety

The visitor research that Cadw undertakes contributes to the wider pool of research which is carried out by Welsh Government. Information such as visits to tourism attractions and locations of day-visits by tourists across Wales is available on the Statistics and Research Tourism section of the Welsh Government website.

4. Valuing the Welsh Historic Environment

The Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister’s advisory Historic Environment Group (HEG) of key stakeholder organisations, identified a need for current information on the economic and social impacts of the historic environment in Wales.  HEG asked the Valuing our Environment Partnership, led by the National Trust, to commission updated research and this was done via Ecotec Research and Consulting Ltd., now Ecorys.

Ecotec’s research was published in September 2010.  It shows that conservation of the historic environment contributes significantly to the Welsh economy through heritage regeneration schemes, employment opportunities, skills development and tourism.  It found that the historic environment contributes approximately £840 million to Wales's gross value added, some £1.8billion in respect of output and supports 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

The research comprises four reports:

  • the main research report – Valuing the Welsh Historic Environment detailing the economic findings and a number of case studies which demonstrate both economic and specifically social impacts
  • a summary report of the main headlines
  • a technical report on economic impact available as a web document 
  • a methodology or monitoring framework for organisations to use for measuring performance across the sector which is also available as a web document.

5. Twentieth-Century Military Sites

The military remains of the twentieth century are the subject of increasing public interest and professional research. Surviving military remains from this period are now significant historic features in the landscape in their own right. Communities care about military sites and many people have direct links to these sites through the wartime experiences of their parents and grandparents. Cadw has published a leaflet, Introducing Twentieth-Century Military Sites, explaining why these types of sites are important and why some of them may need to be protected legally.

Cadw is working in partnership with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, the Welsh Archaeological Trusts and others to help understand this subject and to inform the future management of what can be often vulnerable sites.

Some of the best-preserved examples of military sites have been protected by Cadw either as scheduled ancient monuments or as listed buildings. By scheduling a site as an ancient monument of national importance, it is possible to agree a management arrangement with the owner or tenant so that the site is taken out of everyday use and protected for the benefit of future generations. Although this is the preferred mechanism, listing a site as a historic building – usually when it continues in use - can also enhance the protection of a site. The military sites protected in this way have been selected following assessment surveys. Surprisingly, for such recent and robust structures, very few sites remain in good or complete condition.

However, designation is not the only mechanism for managing these sites. Cadw has published a guidance booklet for owners and occupiers on the management of historic military sites Caring for Military Sites of the Twentieth-Century. The booklet emphasises that the condition of these sites can be improved through simple conservation management actions.

Underpinning Cadw’s work is the need to understand and conserve monuments, sites and buildings so that they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. In order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of our recent military heritage, Cadw has commissioned historical and archaeological research on the subject. In 1994, Cadw co-funded Roger J.C. Thomas’s research into the nineteenth-and twentieth-century military structures of Pembrokeshire and from 1995 was involved with the Council for British Archaeology’s Defence of Britain project.

As part of this initiative, Cadw co-commissioned Neil Redfern to undertake research on selected classes of archive sources held at The National Archives, Kew. Studies have been undertaken on Second World War anti-invasion defences, anti-aircraft artillery sites, radar installations, coast artillery batteries, bombing decoys and the Operation Overlord embarkation associated with D-Day. Cadw has recently commissioned thematic studies of airfields and military aircraft crash sites.  Cadw intends to commission similar studies in the future.

Cadw also convenes the Twentieth-Century Military Sites of Wales Working Group, which provides Cadw with advice and support in its work. As well as these national programmes, working group members continue to investigate military sites in Wales and many new sites have been added to both the Welsh Archaeological Trusts’ historic environment records and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales’s National Monuments Record for Wales.

In addition to this national work, thematic work has been undertaken by other organisations, for example by Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust at the Royal Naval Propellant Factory at Caerwent, Monmouthshire and by Birmingham Archaeology at the Ministry of Supply Valley Site at Rhydymwyn, Flintshire.

Second World War anti-invasion defences

Anti-invasion defences were defence structures erected during 1940-41 to counter an expected German invasion. The whole of Great Britain was defended to some extent and many of these sites still survive. The Defence of Britain Project, administered by the Council for British Archaeology, was established to identify and record surviving anti-invasion structures.
It can be searched online, and the project’s final report can also be downloaded.

Prisoner of War camps

Information about Second World War prisoner of war camps can be found in English Heritage’s Prisoner of War Camps, 1939-1948 report, which provides a national overview.

Army Camps

A staggering number of army camps were constructed in Wales during the twentieth century. Collectively, they had a significant impact on the landscape and form an important element of Wales’s military history. English Heritage recently commissioned a documentary study of the evidence for the construction and use of army camps in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland between 1858 and 2000 as part of the England's Army Camps project.
Using published and primary source material (largely held at The National Archives), the project produced a historical overview report and gazetteers containing information about the camps, their origins, occupation and current use.
The gazetteer of sites for the Mid Western District, which includes many examples from Wales, can also be downloaded.

Crashed military aircraft sites

Cadw considers crashed military aircraft sites to be archaeological sites. Although they receive protection under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 and can also be war graves and sometimes contain live ordnance, they have been recognised as archaeological sites since at least the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979, which includes ‘crashed aircraft or the remains thereof' within its definition of a monument. These sites are not just collections of surface or buried artefacts awaiting casual recovery or rescue, they contain archaeological evidence about the aircraft and how it was maintained, evidence that will be lost if it is not correctly excavated, recorded and published. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is currently undertaking work to compile a database of all known military aircraft crash sites of all nationalities within Wales, both terrestrial and marine.

6. WCVA report on archaeological, civic and conservation societies

In February 2014, Cadw commissioned the Wales Council for Voluntary Action to undertake a research project to understand the health and activity of archaeological, civic and conservation societies.

Wales has a long tradition of forming societies to study the historic environment. In February 2014, Cadw commissioned the Wales Council for Voluntary Action to undertake a research project to understand the health and activity of archaeological, civic and conservation societies.

The brief was to establish the way the societies function, including their purpose, geographic scope, composition, financial support, activities, and online presence; how groups seek to develop in the future and how they currently work with other parts of the heritage sector.

The findings will be used to identify the opportunities for partnership working between the national heritage sector and archaeology, civic and heritage conservation groups.