Guides to Anglesey



O.E. Craster published a Ministry of Works guide to the Ancient Monuments of Anglesey in 1953. My 1972 copy is a 9th impression (with amendments). Price 17 1/2 p. Although the cover is in English the title page has a parallel title, Cyfarwyddyd I Henebion Mon. There is also a three page summary in Welsh at the end (pp. 42-44). The guide has is “Prepared by the Department of the Environment on behalf of the Welsh Office”.

The guide is organised by period:

  • Neolithic Age
  • Bronze Age
  • The Early Iron Age and Roman Occupation
  • The Early Christian Period
  • The Middle Ages and Later Period

In all, 23 sites are listed. Many have sites plans.



The 10th impression (1977; cost, 60 p) is very similar although the summary in Welsh is appropriately entitled Crynodeb (pp. 44-46). There is also a short list of further reading including three DOE pamphlets for Beaumaris Castle, Barclodiad y Gawres, and Bryn Celli Ddu. Notice the sublte change of title to Ancient Monuments in anglesey.A



The ‘blue guide’ was replaced by a yellow CADW guide (small format) in 1989 (revised edition 1994; cost £2.25) by Lesley Macinnes. This has an introductory section on the historical and archaeological background, and then groups the monuments on three ‘tours': Eastern Anglesey, Western Anglesey, and Holyhead. There is further reading, as well as a fold out map of Anglesey. The sub-title of the volume is A Guide to Ancient and Historic Sites on the Isle of Anglesey.

The replacement CADW guide is by M.J. Yates and David Longley (3rd ed. 2001). It has the sub-title A Guide to Ancient Monuments on the Isle of Anglesey.


MPBW Guide to Hadrian’s Wall

HW_card_MoWOne of the guides to Hadrian’s Wall is “A short Ministry of Public Buildings and Works guide to the monuments in the care of the State situated in Northumberland and Cumberland”. The price is 1 s 6 d. There is no date but the code ‘5/70′ probably indicates May 1970, and therefore just before decimilisation in 1971.

There are six ‘panels’ on each side. The front (with the cover) includes a map of the wall over three panels; my copy has annotations with the milecastle and turret numbers. There are two panels on the history of Hadrian’s Wall with a reconstruction of Walltown Crags by Alan Sorrell. On the reverse are details of the three main sites: ‘Corbridge Roman Station’, ‘Housesteads Fort, and ‘Chesters Roman Fort’. (For guides to Corbridge.)

A similar guide was published by the DOE for the Antonine Wall.

Old Sarum and the Office of Works Guide

The Official Guide to Old Sarum was issued by the Office of Works (Department of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings) in 1922 with 18 pages. The 1927 version has been digitised. (Price 6 d). The guide adopted the format of an introductory history, followed by a description of the key elements including the castle and the foundations of the first cathedral. The guide include foldout plans. Notice the advertisement for photographic film on the back cover.

Richborough Guides



The Department of the Environment (DOE) enhanced the former ‘paper’ guides issued by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (e.g. Lullingstone Roman Villa; Tretower)  by adding a ‘blue’ masthead. These were published alongside the fuller blue guidebooks (e.g. Stonehenge and Avebury; Bury St Edmunds Abbey). An example of this is provided by the 1978 (2nd ed.; reset 1983) guide to Richborough Castle by J. P. Bushe-Fox (Edinburgh: HMSO; price, 20p). This consists of 8 pages with a short history of the site and then a longer description. There is a single plan showing the different phases of the site. It is worth noting that the site was known as “Richborough Castle” whereas English Heritage now calls it “Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre“. This DOE guide had its origins in the 1933 Office of Works guide to Richborough Castle (reprinted 1936) at 33 pages.


The DOE guide was published alongside two separate guides for “The Saxon Shore” that placed Richborough alongside the other forts under state guardianship: Portchester, Pevensey, Dover Castle (with the Roman lighthouse), Reculver, and Burgh Castle.



The present English Heritage guide by Tony Wilmott covers both Richborough and the nearby fort of Reculver. This has 48 pages along with fold out plan of Richborough and site guides for Richborough and Reculver.

Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence



The standard ‘Blue Guides’ (e.g. Corbridge) for the Ministry of Works and the Department of the Environment were supplemented by some landscape volumes such as the ones to the Saxon Shore forts (and see also here). At the same time there were some general guides to the regions or specific monuments. This illustrated guide by B.M. Morley, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, was on Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence  (London: HMSO / Department of the Environment, Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings, 1976) [Cost, 60p]. There are six sections:

  1. Historical
  2. The Fortifications
  3. The 1539/40 Castles
  4. Gunpower
  5. The Development of Coastal Defence
  6. Open to the Public

A number of fortifications built by Henry VIII are now in the care of English Heritage and feature in the text:

The guide takes a broader view of coastal defence including the Late Roman Saxon Shore (at Portchester Castle) and Elizabethan defences at Carisbrooke Castle and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The Story of Silbury Hill



I can first remember visiting Silbury Hill in the 1970s and it has featured on many a journey. I have just finished reading The Story of Silbury Hill by Jim Leary and David Field (Swindon: English Heritage, 2010) [ISBN 978-1-848020-46-7]. Cost £14.99.

I was so attracted by the story of a monument in its wider landscape. There are nine main chapters, each with beautiful photographs and illustrations. Those who are interested in the History of Archaeology (and Antiquarianism) will find much in chapter 2, ‘Kings, Druids and early investigations’. John Aubrey’s sketch of the hill captures its essence. William Stukeley’s series of drawings were made in 1723 and 1724. There is a review of the opening of a shaft in 1776, and the cutting of the Royal Archaeological Institute’s tunnel in 1849. The Hill was purchased by Sir John Lubbock in 1873.

Chapter 3, ‘Into the 20th century: Petrie, Atkinson and the BBC’, considers the impact of television coverage of archaeological excavations and the exploration by Richard Atkinson in 1967. The antiquarian searches and archaeological excavations caused instability in the mound and this is covered by chapter 4, ‘What do you mean, there’s a hole on the top of Silbury?’ There are some interesting comments about press coverage and ttransparency

All this work, as well as the urgent need to stabilise the mound, provided valuable information about how the mound was created (chapter 5). There are important comments about the prehistoric landscape as well as the insects and plants. This leads to ‘Making sense of the mound’ (chapter 6). Silbury is then considered in the wider and evolving landscape, ‘Land, stones and the development of monuments’ (chapter 7).

One of the unexpected chapters was a consideration of the Roman settlement that grew up at the foot of the hill (‘From small town to Sele-burh’, chapter 8). The Hill lies adjacent to the main Roman road running from London towards Bath. How would this prehistoric monument have been preceived by Roman viewers?

The final chapter, ‘The timekeeper’ (chapter 9), looks at the modern reception of the Hill. There is the observation, ‘The monuments serve a social and spiritual need’. Yet there are comments about the impact of heritage tourism on a Wiltshire village that nestles around and among these prehistoric monuments.

The mound incorporates the activities, the behaviour and performance of people, the building of banks, ditches and mounds; basketful after basketful of actions that provide a biography of the local inhabitants. It is as good as any family tree. We are all a part of that dialogue, and our actions form part of the same story.

This is a book that covers so many aspects of the recording, conserving, preserving, and interpreting of a major heritage site.

Heritage Fortnight in Ipswich

Back on Track

Back on Track Heritage Lecture © Caroline Gill

UCS contributed two lectures to the Ipswich Heritage Fortnight: one on the Saxon Shore by Professor David Gill, and the other on Back on Track by Dr Geraint Coles. They were opportunities to present to a wider public the two projects that we would like to develop through Heritage Futures: the first linked to the benefits of heritage tourism, and the second to economic regeneration. We were impressed by the large audiences for both the lecture (as well as the Sutton Hoo conference where there was a waiting list). We are hoping to hold follow-up workshops to both lectures.