“The Archaeology Field School is just the first step in a wide-ranging initiative to regenerate the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ of Strata Florida and transform it once more into a centre of learning and celebration.”
In 2019, The Strata Florida Archaeology Field School opened its doors (and trenches) for the very first time for people both young and old, from different backgrounds, with and without experience of archaeology to take part in all aspects of an archaeological excavation at this important historical site. The 12th century Strata Florida Abbey (Abaty Ystrad Fleur) is a captivating, evocative and internationally significant site in Pontrhydfendigaid (known locally as Bont) in Ceredigion, Wales.
The intention is that the field school will have a considerable impact on skills training and jobs in archaeology and heritage; the field school will raise the profile of archaeology and provide people with exposure to a potential career path that they might not otherwise have considered, and which does not necessarily require a university degree. The UK is currently facing a shortage of trained field archaeologists, not helped by the dwindling number of enrolments at degree level.
One important aspect of the project is that the Strata Florida Trust are working with Breaking Ground Heritage, who specialise in promoting well-being and rehabilitation through heritage-based activities, specifically for individuals (largely but not exclusively veterans) with physical or psychological challenges. Making archaeology at Strata Florida as inclusive as possible, Breaking Ground Heritage and the Strata Florida Trust have been providing mentoring opportunities for both veterans and civilians suffering from isolation or mental/physical health challenges.
The field school is the first stage in transforming Strata Florida into a vibrant visitor destination, a place of learning, public engagement and appreciation of Welsh heritage and culture and a centre for heritage skills training.
The PR campaign aims to share Strata Florida’s very special history, archaeology, heritage and links to Welsh culture with as many people as possible, including members of the public, students, veterans and experienced archaeologists.
The field school will run for the next two summers until 2021, and it’s hoped, through PR support, the field school will lay the groundwork for a sustainable, long-term archaeological training school at Strata Florida.
The communication objectives were:
- To gain residential and non-residential participants for the summer school.
- To mark out Strata Florida as a place of, learning, training, research and discovery.
- To begin establishing Strata Florida as an internationally and nationally recognised centre for the celebration of Welsh culture, heritage and language.
- To position Strata Florida as a key UK tourist destination.
- To demonstrate the economic and social benefits being delivered to the local community and region from every aspect of the Strata Florida Project.
- To demonstrate aspirations to make Strata Florida economically and environmentally sustainable.
- To link the Strata Florida Trust, and all project partners to the success of the project.
National coverage has include The Times, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC Countryfile magazine and Country Life.
Regional coverage has included regular coverage on BBC Radio Wales, BBC News Online, BBC Cymru, BBC Wales Today TV, Heno on S4C, ITV Wales and features in the Cambrian News and Ceredigion Herald.
Industry coverage has covered Current Archaeology, British Archaeology, and the Heritage Alliance.