Garden blogs

My month at Middleton


My name is Emilia Hawthorne I am currently studying Archaeology at Cardiff University, and as part of my degree I have to do  a 4 week summer placement. I am about to start my second year, so have just undertaken my first placement here, at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

I chose this placement because I wanted some heritage experience as well as archaeological experience. The Garden provided the perfect opportunity for me to do this, with its rich history and archaeological opportunities.

What did I do?

I undertook a research project, which involved finding out as much information as I could about Waun Las Farm, the Peach house, past archaeological excavations and any interesting information about the estate that was not well known. I was able to use the Gardens well equipped library and archive for my research and the extensive Garden data base. I was also able to find a lot of information online from local newspaper websites. Some of this is available to download alongside this article, and could inform future research.

For my research into Waun Las I undertook a photographical survey of the house, which enabled me to write up a report on the different features in the house, such as the wallpaper, floor layout and fireplaces. Waun Las was a starter farm that was created by Carmarthenshire County Council in the 1930s and was a farm house and cow shed. It has lain empty since it was acquired by the Botanic Gardens.

The Peach House was proven to be more of a challenge as there is very little information about the type of plants that were grown there. What I have managed to find out from archaeological reports is that there were several phases of heating systems in the Peach house one being manure and the other heated water pipes.

Time onsite with the archaeologists was spent working on the old Llyn Mawr dam wall and the waterfall. We found that the wall structure had been damaged by previous modifications (probably in the 1980s), and that what at first looked to be a wall that was just 2 meters long turned out to bend round to the right and continue for another couple of meters. After this discovery the archaeologist surveyed the wall, plotted key points on the wall to be drawn out later. They recorded the wall before it was removed for the new dam to be built there. If the wall was left in, the dam would be weakened. I was also able to do some trowelling work on top of the water fall, to locate the earlier diversion pipe and to see if the stone work that the waterfall was build on was still in good condition.


What I have learned and gained from my placement

This placement has first and for most part been thoroughly enjoyable, I have found the restoration team and Dyfed Archaeology, very helpful during my placement.

I have gained many skills during my time at the garden, for example I have learnt how to conduct desk research using a data base, and have learnt surveying skills with the archaeologists, as well as cataloguing finds and photographs.

I feel more confident in this industry now and will take what I have learnt into my second year at University.

Emilia Hawthorn