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Vol. 45 2001

Archaeological notes

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Industrial
TONDU IRONWORKS, TONDU, BRIDGEND
Since July 1996, Oxford Archaeological Unit has been carrying out a
series of projects at Tondu ironworks, commissioned by Groundwork
Bridgend. The site is of particular note because of its unique group of
scheduled structures: engine house, lift tower, furnace bank wall,
calcining kilns and three banks of beehive coking ovens all dating
from c.1842 to 1895/6. The crumbling remains, which were
completely derelict and largely lost in woodland in 1996, have been
dubbed 'the best-preserved Victorian ironworks in Britain' and it has
become Groundwork's mission to transform the site into a sustainable
educational and recreational resource for the region.
In-situ preservation
Works to consolidate the visible scheduled structures have now been
largely completed and archaeological investigation has allowed these
multi-phased structures to be properly understood for the first time.
Other works carried out during the last year have included the
conversion of the scheduled blowing-engine houses into offices and
the re-landscaping of areas of the site that had been covered with
modern concrete floor slabs and piles of dumped waste. Every
precaution has been taken to ensure that the landscaping works have
had a minimal impact on the site's ironmaking heritage and levels were
established that generally left surviving ironmaking period horizons
buried and preserved in situ.
Administration buildings and blowing engines
In order to aid the interpretation of the site, the remains in three areas
were chosen as exceptions to this strategy. Consequently, the
foundations of a pair of large ironworks administration buildings, built
c. 1860, were exposed and consolidated. Also the foundations of the
original blowing engines have been fully exposed and recorded. Prior
to their careful reburial beneath the floor of the new offices, two of the
UK's leading specialists, Ken Brown and Dr Richard Hills, were
commissioned to inspect the remains on site. By combining their
specialist knowledge and the archaeological observations, a wealth of
very detailed information was gleaned, regarding both the engines'
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