Two interpretation projects located in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park – Walking with Romans and Blaenavon Ironworks – have been shortlisted for the coveted Association for Heritage Interpretation 2015 Discover Heritage Awards – for excellence in cultural and natural heritage interpretation in Britain and Ireland.
Both projects have been shortlisted in the Landscapes, forests, nature reserves, parks and gardens category which looks at the interpretation of cultural and natural heritage of the wider outdoors.
Walking with Romans sets out to encourage visitation and improve the visitor experience at two remote Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park with the aid of computer generated reconstructions and an audio which can be accessed on site with an App. The project was developed by Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Living Data, as part of the Romans in Carmarthenshire scheme and funded through the the £19 million Heritage Tourism Project (HTP), which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.
The World Heritage site of Blaenavon Ironworks has seen the installation of new interpretation including signage, a children’s trail and audio-visual displays, also funded through the HTP. An immersive sound and light experience has also been developed in the casting house to explain the iron-making process that made Blaenavon famous. The project has also seen the introduction of a model of the ironworks which enables visitors to understand the scale of the ironworks when at peak production. The project also included works to footpaths, landscaping and fencing that has enabled improved visitor access and ‘flow’ around the historic site. It has also seen four cottages used for the popular BBC Coal House series re-dressed with authentic furniture and fittings to depict workers’ cottages through the 20th century.
The AHI Discover Heritage Awards are the only UK and Irish awards to recognise excellence in all types and sizes of heritage interpretation, whether held in museums, historic buildings, visitor centres or any type of outdoor location. The Awards celebrate projects that best meet their interpretive aims and successfully communicate their key messages to their audiences.
Mrs Margaret Underwood, Member for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and representative for the Blaenavon World Heritage Site Partnership Board and Forgotten Landscapes Project Board said: “We are enormously proud that these two sites are within the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, and couldn’t be more delighted that they have both been shortlisted for this prestigious award. These two outstanding projects are clever, innovative and engaging – focusing on a sense of place in two very unique and historical environments. This is a significant achievement and only confirms to us the value of sharing the many stories associated with heritage sites. In our eyes they are both winners!”
Suzanna Jones, Interpretation Officer for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority responsible for the delivery of the ‘Walking with Romans’ project said: “We are grateful to all the skilled and knowledgeable people that have brought this project to fruition and hope that the shortlisting will encourage more people to explore and enjoy these Roman monuments.”
AHI patron and Honorary Graduate of the University, Dr Lloyd Grossman, who was awarded a CBE this summer for services to heritage, will announce the winners at the gala awards ceremony, held at the AHI conference on October 21, 2015 at the Hilton Central Hotel, Newbury. Each shortlisted entrant will give a two-minute presentation about their project. More information can be found at www.ahi.org.uk/www/awards/categories/